Hola todos, desde la linda Guatemala!
This is my first blog post from Guatemala! I arrived with Kate, Jensen and Rachel on Monday, and it was so surreal and exciting to realize that I was actually back. The time has been very rich so far, and I feel so grateful to be here. We spent our first three days together in a hotel in Antigua, which was a really nice way to start to get to know one another better and to become oriented to the area. It’s also been really great getting to know Marcia, our coordinator, a little better as well. She is a very gentle and kind person, and I am really excited to get to know her and her family over the course of this year.
For the past few days, we have started to settle in to our new homes in San Juan del Obispo, a little town about a 15 minute bus ride up the mountain from Antigua. I love San Juan del Obispo; it is very tranquilo, and is nestled among the green foothills of the mountains. While Antigua is a beautiful city, it is nice to be a little more removed from the tourist center of Guatemala and experience more of la vida guatemalteca. My host family here is so dear; there are about 10 people who live in the house, including a great grandmother (Cecilia, or “Mama Chila”) who has been my most constant companion since I’ve been there. She is very sweet and a little reserved, but she loves making sure that I am well taken care of and that I always have enough food to eat 🙂 My host mom is named Ana, and she is very kind as well. She is dedicated to her Catholic faith and spends much of her spare time working in the church. Right now she is helping to prepare the children in the community for their first communion, which will happen on September 22. Hopefully I’ll get to attend the mass! Ana and her husband have 4 children who also live in the house with us; the oldest, Rosita, lives with her husband and their adorable 5 month old son Joaquin in a little side house near ours. The whole family is kind, funny, and very welcoming, and I feel very welcome and comfortable with them.
I’m also taking some Spanish classes at a language school in San Juan, which are going well. It has been so much fun to be surrounded by Spanish once again, and a couple of times I’ve had to refrain from dancing in the streets when I walk past salsa music playing from a house or street corner, just because I don’t want to look too much like a crazy gringa 😉 haha. After this coming week I’ll get to start taking K’iche lessons too, which is really exciting! I know that the lessons could be very draining and difficult, but I’m very excited to learn the language and am looking forward to the chance to step into a part of Guatemalan culture that is still very foreign to me.
I am so glad to be here, and I can’t wait to see what this year holds in store. Especially after the YAV orientation at Stony Point, and having been here for almost a week, everything just seems to be right. I still have a deep sense of peace about this year, even though at the same time I know it will not be without its challenges. However, I still feel very much loved and supported by friends, families, other YAVs, and my team here. The day before we left for Guatemala, all of the YAVs were comissioned by different churches around the area. I went with one other girl to a church in Washingtonville, which also made me feel a little bit at home 🙂 The church I went to was a wonderfully welcoming community, and at the end of our time together they gave both of us a prayer shawl that had been knitted by their prayer shawl ministry! I have slept with that prayer shawl every night since I’ve been here, and it is such a wonderful reminder to fall asleep knowing that I am litterally covered in prayer. It also makes me feel more connected to my friends and family who are farther away, since I can tangibly pray for you too. Thank you so much for your love, your support, your thoughts, and your prayers. Know that you are also deeply loved and prayed for! Thanks for joining me in the start of this adventure – que Dios les bendiga!