This is my something old, yet it is my daily remainder of new life and eternity.
These first months as the Strategic Relations Fellow with IJM have been kind of difficult in trying to adapt to a new culture that I assumed would be similar to mine. But guess what? It is not. There are differences.
I thought I spoke Spanish but it seems like sometimes I do not. I have had some interesting mistakes already; with simple words like “Hueco” which for me means “hole” but for Guatemalans is one of the worst words you can use to describe transvestites… uuups! Or how at home I call the lady that always sells me the fruit at the market “Caserita” but in Guatemala, “casera or casero” is used to describe your mistress or your lover… Ups again!
I think I might be experiencing some culture shock, or double culture shock. I am trying to learn the Guatemalan culture, and as I spend the rest of my time with the other Interns from the US, I am learning to be a gringo and I sometimes quote movies now! (Monica, why did you leave me?) But for the most part, I think I am still in the honey moon stage. I am putting myself out there to make new friends in and out the office, trying to find a church (I might have found one!) and stopping myself from the bad habit of comparing Bolivia and Guatemala. I mean, in all honesty they are more alike that different, I just happen to notice the differences because I am not a huge fan of beans, tortillas and guns on a daily basis 🙂
I am “borrowing” her story to help you understand why I am here.
It took me a while to realize who she was. “I am a survivor of sexual violence”- when those words came out of her mouth something clicked in my head, something broke in my soul… It was her! I knew her story.
I did not want to cry in front of her, but inside that is exactly what I was doing. I had already decided to move to Guatemala when I first learned about her. I mean, what has happened to her has always been one of my biggest fears.
Let me share with you this video, her story. Let me introduce you to Griselda:
Sexual violence against children and adolescents is one of Guatemala´s most horrible everyday realities. And by working alongside IJM here, I know I am part of a team that won’t stay silent about it, I am working with a team that will stand for freedom. And with your prayers and support, you are working with us too.
I am really thankful for God´s grace and for the opportunity to be in Guatemala and with IJM for another year. I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for this year. But, in all honesty, I am missing home.
I have had a couple of breakdowns so far, yes, I have cried.
Sometimes I feel that I am missing out. I am missing out on beautiful family moments. I am missing out on the opportunity to celebrate with people I love: engagements, weddings and the wonderful process of pregnancy for one of my best friends. At the same time, I am missing out on the opportunity to be there for friends that are struggling when parents past away, when family and friends get sick, when days are dull and the only thing they need is a shoulder to lean on.
When those days come and I am feeling blue, I am reminded that I am not here because of me, there is something bigger. I am learning to do the work of justice. I am learning that
“the Gospel of Jesus Christ supports the poor in their struggle for basic human rights, and (I am learning) to join them in their struggle”– (another quote from Henri Nouwen).
But you know what? I am also enjoying the fact that here I am not missing out. I am discovering, enjoying and learning to love: a new family, some new friends, a new church, a new job, a new culture. I will be a part of weddings, I will be a part of other celebrations, and I will also be given the opportunity to support people in their own struggles. I am blessed by the opportunity to be included in something that, if I had stayed at home, would never have happened.
But the thing that I am most expectant to see is how God will allowed me to be part of His work of justice, to be a part of the restoration process for Griselda and for other kiddos that have been sexually assaulted.
I am not missing out on God´s perfect will. And that is what matters the most.
- For wisdom and strength for me and for our team.
- For security for our staff here in Guatemala and around the world.
Praise God with me for:
- I have found a place to live! I will be moving there in June 1st.
- This month, we sign a Memorandum of Understanding with SETECA one of the most well-known bible seminaries in Latin-American. This will allow us to train more than 66 pastors and religious leaders on Child Sexual Assault, talk about Justice and what the bible says about it, and work with 10 churches that we hope will become Just Churches.
Much love and blessings to you all,