Good morning, everybody! I’m writing today in celebration of God’s faithfulness as I share the news about my placement for this coming year in Guatemala. I found out late last night where I’ll be living and working this year, and I wanted to share it with you all. (Sorry though, it kind of turned into a novel… so thanks in advance for bearing with me!) Although this placement came as a bit of a surprise at first, I’m extremely excited – and yes, a little more nervous! – about where God is calling me to be.
I’ll be living in an almost purely Mayan Quiche community called Pachaj, located in Cantel, Guatemala – a more rural location about 30 minutes outside of Xela by bus. I am so excited to be living here for many reasons; I already love Xela and have dear friends there on the InnerCHANGE team, so it will be a comfort to be nearby. I’m also really looking forward to the chance to live in a place that is more rural – there is so much beauty in simplicity, and I’m thrilled to live with and learn from all of the people in my new community. Furthermore, living in a Mayan community will be a completely new experience; I’ll have the opportunity to learn a new language (the Mayan dialect of Quiche!) and surround myself with a new and beautiful culture. I’m excited to learn about the culture and history of the Mayan people by getting the chance to live among them, and I know that this opportunity will be extremely rich and extremely challenging – especially with the difficult history of the Mayans in Guatemala during the Civil War and the continued oppression and exclusion that they face in society today. One of the beautiful things that I’ve discovered about life in Central America is the faith and resiliance of the people there, and I’m humbled by the chance to immerse myself in that once more – this time from a new, and equally beautiful, powerful, strong, and humbling context and perspective.
I can’t wait to live and to learn through the small things that life will bring each day. I need to remember to be patient and gracious with myself, though, since the learning curve will be steep! In terms of the work that I’ll be doing, it turns out that I’ll actually have 3 different but related jobs. The first one is working with the Comité de Salud, a community group supervising the local health clinic. I’ll be in the health clinic 2-3 days a week to accompany the health promotors and nurses in tasks that they need. I’m excited by the opportunity to get to know the community in this way, and it makes me smile that I’ll be doing work in health care (just like my mom, aunts and grandma… 🙂 ). I also heard that my host mom is one of the leaders of this organization, and she sounds like a wonderful, strong and inspiring woman. I’m very excited to live with her and meet her family!
I’ll also have the opportunity to work another two or three days a week in a community day care center in Pachaj, leading activities with the kids there and supporting the staff. I’m super excited to get my kid-fix in, and can’t wait to see what the center will be like! In addition, I’ll participate several times a year with programs at CEDEPCA (Centro Evangelico de Estudios Pastorales en Centro America – The Evangelical Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America). The CEDEPCA office happens to be in Guatemala City, where one of my best friends Jillian Abendroth will be living and working with IJM… perhaps this means that I’ll be running into her more often than I thought! My work with CEDEPCA may include accompanying groups from the U.S. to help with translation, supporting workshops with women, and helping with a few office tasks. Overall, these jobs sound like a mix and match of a lot of things, and I’m excited to dive in. Throughout it all, I’ll need to remember to embrace the ambiguity of whatever I may be called or expected to do, especially as I’m learning about how to live and work in my new home.
Right now all of this seems like a whirlwind, but I’m thrilled to see how God will be at work in the coming year. I’ve prayed that my YAV year will stretch and challenge me in new ways, and this is certainly an answer to prayer – even though a different answer than the one I had expected (working solely with kids in some capacity). Just goes to show me that I need to buckle my seatbelt and get ready for whatever lies ahead! 🙂 Now my prayer is for continued grace and humility, and that I will listen and learn with my eyes and heart open. I’m thrilled by this opportunity to learn and to love, and I pray to that God will equip me to do that well. He is faithful! Thanks too for your faithfulness, friendship, prayers and support. I am so grateful for you, and am excited to start this adventure together!