Although the rain was late, it finally came- and in grand style. One afternoon, the skies darkened and it just started to pour. It continued raining throughout the night, and I fell asleep to the rain tinkling on the tin roof above. When I woke up the next morning, I was greeted with a brilliant green- a treasure that had been there all along, but hidden underneath layers of dust. All of the corn shoots that have started to come up in Pachaj were vibrant, celebrating the new life of the rain, and the leaves were still adorned with jewels of dew from the downpour. I was amazed by the beauty of it all, and so thankful to God for this beautiful creation and the wonder of life and rejuvenation that He provides.
It was such a beautiful reminder to know that those gifts are still present, even though sometimes to recieve them we have to pass through dry spells and difficult times when we question if the rain will ever come. My life in Guatemala has in some ways been like the corn. Through some of the trials that have happened recently, I sometimes feel that I’m also coated with layers of dust and suffocating from heat and lack of water. Although I’m grateful to have the jobs that I have here, the work can sometimes be frustrating when I feel like my Spanish has hit a wall and when nothing I do will control a room of 11 toddlers. Sometimes I question if my skills and passions could be better used in other ways, and then feel frustrated and guilty for thinking that. However, God has shown me grace through these trials and I am so incredibly grateful for that.
While before I was never extremely passionate about my work in the health center, God has renewed my joy there. I deeply love, admire and respect my host mom, and something she said made me realize that my work in the health center is important even when I can feel like I’m not doing too much. She told me that she is so grateful that I’m there, since it allows her to do other work in the community (with water, health, women’s rights / empowerment, etc.) without worrying about what is going on in the health center. Hearing how much it means to her to have me there gave me new love for my work, rooted in my love and respect for my host mom. The work there really isn’t about me at all- it’s about serving others and loving them as I can, even if that love manifests itself in ways that I don’t expect. God has also blessed me with blossoming friendships with the nurse and the doctor, which I am so grateful for! In a culture when most social circles revolve around the family and people at church, it can sometimes be difficult to form friendships in other places. However, God is blessing me with friendships with these two women, and I am so so grateful for that! Even moreso I am beginning to get more joy out of the work itself, which is an amazing blessing as well. I never thought that I’d be able to help hold down a patient while a nurse and doctor cleaned an open wound, but when a little girl with Downs Syndrome came into the health center with a lesion on her leg, God helped me see His face in hers. The sight, the smell, everything went into the background, and I just looked into her tear-filled eyes and saw the eyes of Jesus. Holding down that little girl’s leg while the nurse was cleaning it reminded me of Jesus’ call for us to be servants and foot-washers, and in that moment God showed his immense love by allowing me to serve and love others in the small ways that I can. That experience was incredibly beautiful, and it is one that I will never forget.
There have also been trials in my work at the daycare, but once again God is showing His abundant and amazing grace. Work there started up again in mid-January after about a month-long break in December, but we went for months without a teacher (even though people from the office arrived on various occasions with promises that a teacher would come soon!). This situation was frustrating and worrying at times, and I began to doubt if a teacher would ever come. Aside from that, there were some worrisome situations that surfaced in the daycare regarding some personal struggles of some of the kids there. These situations seemed beyond my control, and one afternoon I arrived at a friend/ mentor’s house crying because I just didn’t know what to do to help. However, she just sat and listened to me, gave me words of wisdom and prayed with me, reminding me that God has me there for a reason (even if I don’t have all of the answers or help that these kids need). She also encouraged me to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and that I could be a vessel of God’s love to the children there. Her words rang true, and I was reminded that the most important thing these kids need is a loving example- something that I can continue to try and work towards each and every day. After praying this prayer, I have felt an abundance of love for these kids and know that it is God who is helping me love them better. I am so grateful for this, but also very humbled, because I know that through my own strength and effort it never would have happened as it is- when I tried on my own, I would only feel frustrated, exhausted and tired. Although the kids are still feisty and rambunctious, I know that I’m not working on my own and take great comfort and solace from this fact. As continued answers to prayer, the psychologist from the health center will also be working with the kids a little bit each Friday, and just today our teacher came! She’ll be coming daily- a huge blessing and help to doña Consuelo, and a great help to me too
Going through these struggles, I’ve realized that they’ve just made me more dependent upon God and so amazed by the ways in which he provides grace. I’ve also realized that my struggles are incredibly small in light of what others go through, and this has been a humbling and eye-opening experience (and a very necessary one!). I’ve come to realize that we are all like the corn; we all go through struggles and dry spells, and we all need that sweet, rejuvenating, life-giving grace that God provides. Right now my host mom Juana Herlinda is facing intense struggles with her health (ovarian cists, stomach and back pain, hemorraghes, etc…), and although it is not serious enough for an immediate surgery, it is still a struggle for everyone in the family and is worrisome to not know exactly what is going on in her body. However, throughout all of this she is holding fast to the Lord, and is confident that He will heal her (whether through prayers, a miracle, medicine or a surgery). There are so many other stories of people’s struggles, as well as their faith, and through it all it is amazing to see God’s fingerprints of grace upon their- and all of our- lives.
For this, I love the rain. It is a tangible reminder of the grace that we all need, and no matter what happens we can never, ever get enough.
Wow… the past few months have been incredible, and it’s really hard to figure out where to begin. First of all, I am just incredibly grateful for God and all of his blessings and provision. It is amazing to see how much God continues to teach me here, and I feel extremely blessed and grateful for everything that has happened. Here are some of the highlights from the past few months:
In the middle of February, one of my very best dear friends Jillian Abendroth came to visit me in Xela. She is spending this year working in Guatemala City in the International Justice Mission office, and so we’ve both been able to visit one another a bit since we’ve been here. It’s always a blessing to spend time with her and get to share with one another about our experiences, thoughts, and feelings (and also share a lot of laughs and goofiness too!). Her faith, joy, and love of the Lord inspire me, and it is a blessing to count her as a friend and sister in Christ. While she was here, she also got to meet some of my InnerCHANGE friends in Xela which was amazing as well. The InnerCHANGE team has been a part of my life since I first met them in January of 2010, and their lives, faith and love are also inspirations to me. I value their friendship and guidance so much, and it was wonderful for everyone to meet and make connections Since Jill was visiting during Lent, there were also special weekend celebrations throughout Xela to celebrate the coming of Easter. Different parts of the city were set up like carnivals, with rows and rows of food stands, flowers, and games for the little ones. We got to walk through the streets and take everything in, and it was amazing to be reminded of the joy of Easter in such a tangible way. Afterwards we entered a cathedral which was bedecked in purple cloth and had an image of the suffering Christ at the very front. While we were inside, people were constantly streaming in to pray, light candles and leave flowers. It was beautiful to see both sides of people’s devotion, faith and love in these two contrasting but deeply connected environments, and in the church I was just struck by the amazing love, faithfulness and grace of our Lord.
Even after a few days in Belize I was eager to get back to Guatemala, where I feel that my heart is more and more at home. As soon as we arrived in Guatemala again, March Madness began! (sorry basketball fans, I’m not talking about that… ) March was one of the busiest months that I’ve had here, but also one of the greatest. I spent a few days at Jill’s house this time, and it was great to see her again so soon after she had left Pachaj. One of the days that I was there I also got to visit the IJM office, which was a huge blessing. I was really impressed with how Christ-centered their work is, and how much all of their interns and employees seem to love the Lord. Each and every morning they start the day with a half hour of silence, to read the Bible, pray, journal… whatever people need. After that time they come together to reflect on a few verses and share prayer requests, struggles and joys in a corporate time of prayer. It was a blessing to get to be a part of that, and the day just continued to get better! As it turned out, the day that I visited was a special Hero Pin day. The main work of the IJM office in Guatemala is to help victims of sexual violence and abuse, and most of these victims are children or young teenage mothers. IJM helps to provide their clients with counseling, legal support, and a variety of other services, all through the love of Christ. Every few months, once clients have successfully passed through all of their legal processes, there are these special Hero Pin days when clients and their families come to the office for a celebration. At the office, all of the children and young women who testified in court recieve a pin that says “I’m a Hero,” and all of the staff and interns celebrate their success and their process of healing with a party just for them. We had pie and punch, and many of the kids came dressed up in their very best clothes to celebrate the occasion. Lots of pictures were taken, and lots of hugs, smiles and congratulations were exchanged. It was such a blessing for me to see, as an outsider, how much of a difference IJM is making in the lives of people here and how God’s love is being so tangibly shared through their work.
After spending a few days in Antigua, we made our way to Lake Atitlan for a day and then continued on to Xela, where my two families finally got to meet! The days that we spent in Pachaj were by far my favorites of the trip. The family welcomed us with open arms, lots of smiles and lots of delicious food. It was so wonderful to have these two worlds of mine come together, and it was an incredible blessing to see how my two moms especially connected right away. Despite the language barrier, it was a wonderful time together that just continued to get better over the course of those 4 days! We shared stories, laughter, and tears, and had times of worship together at the church as well as a blow-out birthday party for my mom, complete with a delicious traditional meal called estofado (beef stew with vegetables, served over rice), birthday cake, candles, prayers and songs. My sister and I both wore traje típico, and my mom wore one too for the sunrise service on Easter Sunday Another HUGE highlight of the time in Pachaj was when my family could meet the family of our sponsored child, Danilo. Danilo and his family also live in Pachaj and he goes to the Compassion International Student Center that is run out of the church that I attend here. We got to spend a beautiful morning and afternoon with Danilo and his sister, brother, mom and dad. Their family is so wonderful, and it was amazing to hear them talk so freely of God’s blessings and how now God has blessed them with an even bigger family- us. They ended up giving us an amazing gift as well; a traditional weaving from Cantel, that had my mom and dad’s names embroidered into it, as well as Danilo’s. When we saw their incredible generosity all of us started to cry. It was truly a blessed time, and it was so wonderful to be together as one family of brothers and sisters in Christ. Lesly, Danilo’s sister, clung onto Gracie and I, all smiles, and said that she had never had sisters before but now she does. We all got to play and run around outside with a soccer ball, and we enjoyed a delicious lunch together as a family. We departed in prayer, feeling incredibly blessed for Danilo and his family and so grateful that they are truly a part of our own.
I am constantly reminded by all of the blessings that I’ve truly experienced here so far, and all of the ways in which the people here have opened their hearts and homes to me and let me into their lives. I feel as though I really do have family here in Pachaj- with Juana Herlinda (my host mom) and all of the family there, Danilo and his family, and my friends, brothers and sisters in the church and the community. I cannot even put into words how full my heart was during these few days, when my families could meet one another and share time together just being in one another’s presence. I’ve never quite experienced anything like it, but it was a rich blessing and I am so grateful that God gave us all that opportunity. He has continued to pour out his blessings throughout the time here- both very difficult circumstances and incredibly joyful ones- and I continue to stand amazed at everything that God is doing. Life is blessed, and I am so grateful for everyone here and all up North as well!
Well, in all honesty I meant to write this post about a month ago, but time slipped away from me (as it seems to be doing more and more, recently!). Many more things have happened since, but I wanted to devote a post just to the month of January since it was pretty amazing. So, another post should (hopefully!) be coming soon, but here’s a little glimpse back into the first month of 2013
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
“Estén siempre alegres, oren sin cesar, den gracias a Dios en toda situación, porque esta es su voluntad para ustedes en Cristo Jesús.” 1 Tesalonicences 5:16-18
That was the verse on my calendar for the month of January, and it is certainly something that I witnessed throughout the month and am striving to work on more and more in my own life. This verse captures beautifully the way that I’ve seen people live here; obviously we are all humans and all have shortcomings, but I am amazed again and again by the faith, hope and joy of my family (and so many other people I’ve met!), even in the midst of really difficult circumstances. The month of January has been one of my favorites in Guatemala so far. It was filled with many wonderful things, but some pretty hard ones too. Even through the midst of the difficulties, God has been helping me to learn to rely more and more on his strength and to give thanks in all situations. As my host mom Juana Herlinda tells me, “you never know how the things that you’re experiencing now will help you in the future. Maybe it’s happening so that you can have more compassion for other people, or maybe it’s happening to draw you closer to God and help you to grow in faith. No matter what God can work through the good and the bad times, and we can always trust him. He is good!” That’s what I’m seeing and living here each and every day, and I am so grateful for these experiences that are helping me to learn and grow!
One of the things that made January an extremely special month was the fact that we had prayer services with the brothers and sisters of the congregation every single night of the week. This has been a long-standing tradition in my church here, as a way of remembering to start out the new year by dedicating it to God and spending more time in intentional prayer and community. Each night the service would be in a different house, and the hosts would willingly open their doors to everyone who came. It was such a gift to enter into so many different homes for these times of prayer and worship and to feel more and more a part of the church family. The services would also be directed by a different person each night, which was wonderful as well since everyone had an active part in making them happen. Every night we would share in times of worship and corporate and individual prayer, including prayers of thanksgiving, confession, illumination, and blessings. There were also scripture readings and a message, as well as a time for sharing our prayer requests and taking an offering. Each night would end with a snack provided by the host family, and time to just sit and enjoy the food and one another’s company. Seeing this example of faith and community, and getting the opportunity to participate in it, was a huge blessing and helped me grow both closer to my church family here and to God. This month of prayer was especially timely in terms of things happening with my family both in Guatemala and back in the US, and throughout it all I was reminded to give all of my burdens to God and rejoice in my circumstances, knowing that God is faithful and good. I really felt him carrying me throughout this month and reminding me of his faithfulness, and looking back I can see how the good times and the harder times were all full of blessings.
Some other special moments that happened in January included reunions with friends from Whitworth (a group of students coming to study in Xela, as well as some friends visiting in Sololá) and also some more consistent interactions and encounters with my friends from InnerCHANGE. All of these times reminded me of the wonderful communities that I have around me, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to invest in their lives and be filled with their love and friendship as well. Another highlight was our YAV retreat to Monterrico on the Pacific coast. On the retreat we had the opportunity to go on a boat trip through a mangrove forest at sunrise, where we got to see an amazing habitat with an abundance of beautiful and foreign plants and animals. We also were able to release baby sea turtles into the ocean at sunset, which was another unforgettable experience. All of these moments were testaments to me of God’s faithfulness and love, and it was incredible to be able to rejoice in the beauty of creation.
Along with the many moments of beauty and joy, there were also moments of great difficulty. My family here has been struggling economically, among other things, but throughout all of the uncertainty they maintain such a strong faith in God and give thanks for everything they have. They rely so much on his faithfulness that even their struggles are an amazing testament to me of how faith can look in our lives. Towards the middle and end of the month, I also started to struggle with health problems- a muscle injury in my arm from all of the paperwork I’d been doing at the health center, and then later a stomach infection that resulted from some parasites and bacteria left in my stomach from the month before. Fortunately with a few days of rest my arm injury went away relatively quickly, and the stomach infection was also resolved within about a week and a half after taking medicine, antibiotics and probiotics. Getting sick was a humbling experience, because it put a lot of things in perspective; just getting a receipt from the health center to buy some of my medicine made me think about all of the people who come in every day and don’t even have the resources to buy the medicine they need. I realized that it’s a blessing that I can buy medicine when necessary, and that I’m surrounded by people near and far who love and care for me. It’s a huge blessing to live in that reality, when daily life is so drastically different for so many people around the world. Realizing this was heartbreaking, but also gave me no reason for self-pity; even through sickness God was showing me his goodness and provision, and gave me every reason to praise. This whole month I felt like was a lesson about how to live in the way that 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 directs us to live: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Living this way, despite surrounding circumstances, is choosing a lifestyle full of richness and blessings. While I still so often fail to do this, the people here – and most especially God – are teaching me how to live more faithfully to this call of Christ, and I am incredibly grateful for it all.
Hola todos, y feliz Navidad!
Hola todos! My, it has been a long time since I’ve posted so I appologize for that. I’ve been busy with my family and my jobs here and just falling into the rhythm of life in Pachaj, and time has absolutely flown by (which I take as a good sign :)) It feels very fitting that I’m writing this post over Thanksgiving weekend, because I couldn’t feel more grateful for the things that God has blessed me with and has been teaching me here. I have an extremely loving family, and although I was hit with a wave of homesickness spending my first Thanksgiving away from home and missing my dad’s birthday, it is such a blessing to be surrounded by such kind and loving people at my home in Pachaj. I am reminded each day of the strength of the bonds of love between family and friends, and although I can’t always communicate with my loved ones back in the States, it makes me so grateful to have wonderful people in my life both here in Guatemala and around the globe.
Well, after almost 2 months of living in Pachaj there is TONS to update about. But, to keep things relatively compact I’ll just touch on a few of them here. The first that came to my mind is corn, believe it or not. There are cornfields everywhere in Pachaj, and they have turned into a common sight for me as I’ve adjusted to life here. Corn makes up the base of life for people in Guatemala, since tortillas or tamalitos are eaten with every meal each and every day (No, I’m not sick of them yet (I actually like them!), and yes, I can now make a decently round tortilla and fold the corn leaves for tamalitos! ). It’s now the time for harvesting the corn, which the families here will use for their food supply for the coming year. It’s been fascinating for me to learn more about this process and to see just how much the people depend on the crop. Since corn is a lifeline, many people that I’ve met and talked with have a deeply strong bond with their land, which I find very beautiful. They are also proud of the land they have, and it is almost a part of their identity. However, it becomes very difficult for families who have fewer economic resources, because many people are not able to afford plots of land to cultivate their corn. That means that they have to buy corn flower, which has fewer nutrients and also ends up being a more expensive investment in the long run. However, since these families do not have to pay it all upfront like they would for land, they are able to afford payments in smaller bits for bags of flour. The corn harvest is also intertwined with the weather, and my family has told me that the climate changes that have been happening can have big effects on the harvest. Once the corn is harvested and shucked, it needs to dry out in the sun before it can be stored for the year. However, if it rains consistently while the corn is outside, the corn can become moldy and the crop can be ruined. Usually the rainy season stops at the end of October in Guatemala and the corn is harvested in mid-November. However, this year it continued to rain into the first week of November, which worried the family. They’ve told me that they’ve noticed changing weather patterns in Guatemala, and sometimes wonder how it will continue to affect their lives. This just makes me reminded all the more of the importance of caring for our earth, especially for people whose very lives are so strongly tied to the land.
Another theme that has been coming up again is medicine, and how much of a difference it makes in people’s lives. My job at the health center has taught me a lot about medicine, and the importance of health education in general. Although I don’t really feel called into a medical profession, I am so grateful to be here and to be learning about these things. Health is a basic right of every person, and it has been heart-wrenching to meet mothers who can’t even afford to give their children food with enough nutrients to ensure their healthy development. All of the medicine and supplies that are given out at the health center are free for the people who come, which seems like a good and necessary idea in a place that has people with fewer (if any) resources available. However, the supply at the center is limited, and whenever the doctor or nurse prescribes a medication to buy at a pharmacy it is doubtful if the family can afford it. Partly as a result of this, one of the main focuses of the health center is on preventative medicinea and health education. The idea is that with more education, the families will be able to learn simple methods that they can use at home to lead healthier lifestyles (drinking purified / boiled water, eating more fruits and vegetables, practicing family planning, etc.) and hopefully not have to rely on the health center only after they need medical attention.
Another big thing that happened was that a medical mission team came into Pachaj and the neighboring communities for a week in early November. I got to spend the week with them helping out as a translator, and it was an incredible experience. I loved the chance to get to meet the team, and just being with them each day and seeing how grateful the people were when they received medicine was amazing. Many of the people we saw had parasites, and quite a few had diabetes as well. These cases reminded me once again about how important education is; many, though not all, of these cases could have been prevented if people knew more about the importance of drinking purified water and not eating too many foods that are high in carbs and sugar. The week was a mixed blessing, since it felt so good to help people doing the little that we could. However, some had cases that we couldn’t really fix (a lot of people suffered from nerves / nervousness from traumatic experiences in their lives), and most of the medicines, vitamins and parasite bars we did give out were only temporary fixes. I pray that the people we saw, and their families and communities, continue to stay healthy, and I hope that health education can continue in these communities to ensure a better future.
Last, but certainly not least, are what I can only describe as miracles that have happened since I’ve been here. It has been absolutely amazing to see the way that God is working here, since it is so far beyond my comprehension. I just know that I am humbled and grateful to be here in the midst of it all, even if I don’t know yet exactly what my role is or will be. The two things that come predominantly to mind are the stories of two little boys, Carlos and Danilo. Carlos is 12, and he had an extensive open-heart surgery before I arrived in Pachaj. He lives in a neighboring community with his widowed mother and 3 siblings. Although Carlos had been suffering from heart problems for years, his mother had no way of paying for a surgery for him. Last January, a medical team (many of the same people who I worked with!) met Carlos and wanted to do something for him. They, along with a group from a US Presbytery, helped to pay for the costs of his surgery in a hospital in Guatemala City, which never would have been possible otherwise. I got to meet Carlitos and his mom Rosa earlier this month, and immediately fell in love with them both. Carlos has the most heart-warming smile, and seeing him sitting there it was hard for me to imagine what he looked like a few months earlier – completely blue from lack of circulation. He is now a healthy and healing boy, still unable to run and play with his friends, but grateful to be alive and on the mend. We had a scare with him though, because he had a recent development of a little protrusion on his chest right after his checkup visit at the hospital in Guate. A little bump is visible right above his ribcage, and we didn’t know if he was in any danger because of it. We took him immediately to the hospital in Xela for an x-ray, and all of the internal things with his implant came back normal. When the medical team saw him a few days later, the doctors also said that the protrusion is ok, and that sometimes the sutures shift slightly while the chest bone is mending back together. It was so wonderful to see the reunion of Carlos and the medical team, since they could see him before and after his surgery and see how much of a difference that had made in his life. One of the most impactful parts of that week with the medical team for me was translating a message from an emergency pediatric nurse to Carlos’ mom. Susan has worked in emergency pediatric medicine for years, and she wanted to tell Carlos’ mom Rosa how brave she was, to bless and encourage her in this process and thank her for the way that she loves and cares for Carlitos. She passed along the message to me, and then I said it in Spanish to my host mom, Juana Herlinda. She then translated it into K’iche’ for Rosa, who spoke back to Juana, then me, and then Susan. Seeing the bonds of love between doctors and patients, mothers and children, and women of two very different cultures was incredibly moving experience, and as we all finished the conversation and gave one another hugs, we had tears of appreciation and understanding in our eyes.
The other little boy, Danilo, has a story that is perhaps even more intertwined with my own. Before leaving for Guatemala, my family decided to sponsor some children through Compassion International specifically from Guatemala, with the idea that I would take on one of the children as his or her sponsor upon my return. One afternoon my mom and I picked 3 kids from the Compassion website. One of them, Danilo, had been waiting for over 6 months for a sponsor and also needed special medical attention for a vision problem. He seemed like a natural choice. After we had made the jump and decided to sponsor these kids, we looked more closely at their information. Danilo’s description said that he lived in Pachaj. My jaw dropped and I called mom over; I had already received my placement information, and knew that I would be living in Pachaj! However, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much, since I had already looked at a map of Guatemala and discovered that there is another Pachaj about 2 hours away from where I’m living. When I arrived here and got settled in, I honestly have to admit that Danilo had slipped my mind. I was busy learning about my new jobs and getting into the rythym of everything around me, but obviously thoughts of Danilo hadn’t left my mom. One day on the phone she said, ‘Annie, I just keep getting this feeling that you are going to meet Danilo someday. Do you know if he lives there or not?’ I said I didn’t, but would ask my host mom. The next day, I was working at the daycare, which is my other work placement in Pachaj. When I came back for the afternoon, some of the kids had left and my boss told me that it was because they went to the Compassion center. I almost lost it, and asked her if the center was here in Pachaj. She said yes, just up the road! That afternoon as soon as I got home, I told my host mom the whole story and asked if she knew of a little boy named Danilo. She was amazed and laughed with joy, saying she would ask her sister (who works at the center!) if she knew of a Danilo with vision impairments. The next day, I got my answer. ‘Yes, there is a Danilo with visual needs who goes to the center! In fact, there are two. Which one do you sponsor?’ I was in utter amazement and disbelief to find out that one of those little boys was our new little brother. My host mom and aunt laughed, and we all agreed that this was obviously the work of God. I got to meet Danilo, his mom, sister and brother a few days later at the Compassion center (which, even more amazingly is at the church my family goes to here!). They are such a sweet family, and I almost cried on numerous occasions that afternoon from all of the different emotions spinning around in my head and heart. While the medical team was visiting Pachaj, Danilo and his family came one day with other kids from the Compassion center. There was an optimologist with the group who was able to see Danilo, and he daignosed his problem. Danilo has strabismis, which, Dave explained to me, basically means that the muscles in his left eye don’t cooperate with the muscles in his right. He needs surgery to correct it, and if done right away Danilo can recuperate some of the vision that he’s lost because of this impairment. I was blown away, and so grateful once again that little Danilo could see an optomotrist who could diagnose exactly what he needs. I’m also so grateful that I am living so close to him, and that I’ve met his family. They are a part of my life here now, and I know that God brought me here for a reason (and probably many!). I don’t know as of yet exactly what role my family and I will play in Danilo’s story, but I am without a doubt that he is my little brother here and that we’ll try to do whatever we can as appropriate to help him and his family. In just the two times that I’ve spent time with them I’ve felt incredibly blessed by their love and generosity, and feel that I’m receiving so much more from them than they know.
So, on this sunny Saturday in Xela I am thankful for many things: love, family, friendships, health, medicine, miracles, the beauty of the earth, and all of the ups, downs and complexities that this life gives us. Most of all, I am so grateful for God’s grace, sovereignty, provision, faithfulness and love, and the ways in which he is present in the journies that we all face. Happy Thanksgiving, all! There truly is so much to be thankful for, and I’m glad to be able to share just some of those things with you.
Many blessings and all of my love,