Thursday, July 27, 2006

Monterrico Pt.1

This last weekend was the first of two trips that we get to take this summer. Ten of us took the opportunity to go down to Monterrico, a little beach haven in the south of Guatemala on the Pacific ocean. Two words: oh baby. (and here we have the walkway to the beach paradise...)

It felt like home as soon as I smelled the salt air off the ocean. Black sand beaches, palm leaf thatched-roofs, hammocks everywhere, it was glorious. A little hidden oasis still kept secret from throngs of tourists, Monterrico was one of the best vacation spots I have ever been to.

It struck me as hilarious that my last vacation, on a missions type trip as well, was in….Ottawa. In the dead of winter, staying in an over-priced hotel and enjoying tours of parliament hill, it was enjoyable, but simply HILARIOUS in contrast to this newly discovered beach paradise.

Monterrico Pt.2

Here's the crew in the hotel pool...ahhh, such sweet water-ful mercies.

I must devote an entire paragraph to a wonderful establishment called Johnny’s. If the Lord called me to it, I would quit Starbucks and work at Johnny’s for the rest of my life, that is how great this place was. Right on the beach, hammocks, anarondak chairs, and a volleyball court were all attributes to this open-air restaurant. Guatemala is big on liquados, a refreshing, blended beverage, usually made with fruit and sold anywhere and everywhere. Johnny’s has the best liquados ever, especially the one that translated to “sexy mama”, which combined watermelon, ginger and…some other delicious ingredients which are especially satisfying to the Canadian taste bud.

(can't help but love a little laundry-thatched-roof-hammock goodness)

Char and I enjoyed a wonderfully tranquil 6am boat ride, in one of those narrow boats that are manually pushed along by the dude with the pole. It was beautiful. The whole weekend was beautiful, and it was so good to see some creation that I could be in awe of. That’s one thing I miss about Ontario, the beauty is just not as evident here because it is tainted by garbage and danger. But the weekend broadcasted Guatemalan beauty in a way that was truly refreshing, and much needed.

If you haven't picked up on what I'm saying, let me spell it out to you. Y-O-U M-U-S-T M-A-K-E A T-R-I-P T-O M-O-N-T-E-R-R-I-C-O!!! I think it would make a good honey-moon spot one wouldn't that be just lovely.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Constructing Mountains

We are going into our third week here in Tizate and everyone is becoming comfortable with the schedule. Allow me to take a paragraph to praise our guys for all the hard work they are doing on the construction site.

The house project that is currently being worked on requires a 40ft retaining wall to be built first. Our guys have been pick-axing and shoveling, pick-axing and shoveling at the hard earth to prepare for this wall. The last few days have found them doing some trench digging, in order to bring down the height of the wall by four feet. It is a crazy amount of manual work in the hot sun, but they are troopers and keep at it. Pray that they would know in their hearts that they are literally providing a home for a family here, and for that knowledge to be a source of strength to them when the hours get long.

The family that will live in the new house currently live in a small, one room house built of metal sheeting, equipped with two double beds to sleep the four children and two parents. The mom is one of our Spanish teachers, so that relationship has already been established. The house is probably the size of a regular North American living room, so that gives you an idea of some of the living conditions down here. We are blessed to have this opportunity to help this family!

On Sunday a few of us hiked up a local mountain, and we had such a fabulous view of Tizate. We joined hands and prayed for our little community spread before us, and something in that moment was significant. It was easy to see from way up high, how God so easily holds the town of Tizate in His hand. It is easy to forget, and easy to get lost and overwhelmed by the many needs present here, but up on that mountain I was reminded that God was holding all of us in His hand.

Please continue to pray for the safety and health of our team as there have been various ailments ranging from severe bug bites, intestinal issues, stomach problems, lack of energy, sore wrists, allergic reactions and difficulty sleeping at night. There is also the expected spiritual warfare going on here, which different team members have been experiencing in different ways. Pray that we would be mindful of this, but not to fear as we serve He who has overcome. Thanks for reading.

Guatemala Antigua

Aside from being a fabulous blend of coffee sold at your local Starbucks, the city of Antigua has also proven to be quite fabulous...(i know, i know, put a sock in it, I just couldn't pass it up...)

So, allow me to introduce you to the lovely town of Antigua, which is a twenty minute chicken-bus ride away. Yes, I said chicken bus, regular school buses that have been driven down from America to be the local transport around here for the vast majority of those in poverty, and for your neighbourhood, myself and the team. Painted in typical Guatemalan flare, they are colorful and obnoxiously loud, with over-confidant drivers who roar around corners carrying sometimes two to three times their capacity of people. They are an experience, but like all new things, it too has become the norm.

Antigua is the tourist ville of Guatemala. There are many markets, both artisan and normal, and it is fun to wander around bartering with the vendors. “Muy caro” is my most frequently used phrase meaning, “too expensive” which is quickly followed by the typical bartering transaction and a potential sale. The streets have been left in their original cobblestone state, and there is lots of color everywhere. El Parque Central is quite the hangout for both the locals and the tourists. With big trees and benches all around, and a large fountain of lactating women adorning the centre, it is a nice place to sit and people watch. Sunday, Jenna and I were wandering around the park, and with a live saxophone playing over loud speakers, and lovers walking hand in hand everywhere, it seemed like the Paris of Central America. It also lights up quite beautifully at night. If you are ever in the area, don't pass it up.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

El Tizate Pt.1

Hola mis amigos!

I cannot take credit for these photos, as I have not yet busted out the camera. Thanks to team-mate Kev for capturing some Guatemalan goodness.

I have now been in Guatemala for a week, and every day I enjoy it more. There were some overwhelming sites and smells upon first entering the village of Tizate, my new home, but I am adapting well. I guess that could be considered my first experience of culture shock, minor though it was.

Our village is a twenty minute bus-ride from Antigua, and there will likely be a weekly visit into town, on Super Sunday, our day off. The girls` daily schedule starts off with breakfast (desayuno) at 7:30am, followed by 2.5 hours of Spanish lessons. Each one of us has our own teacher, so it is definitely an ideal learning environment. Every day I can speak a little more, which I am thrilled about. 1pm is lunch, and from 2-3:30pm, Nicole and I teach an English class for teens ages 13-17. We only have two students thus far, but it is a good time, and it is encouraging to see the improvement and their excitement. Following that class, Nicole and I are leading a women`s ministry. What this will look like we don`t know, but it will likely include baking, as there is some interest among the women to learn this skill. There is a baking facility available here that needs to be put to good use, so we are excited about this possibility.

My Spanish family is wonderful, four of us girls are living with a mother, Ana-Julia, her two daughters Ana-hudit, Leslie, and her son Misiel, 12, 9 and 14. They are really wonderful, and we feel at home already. Ana-Julia is a fabulour cook, and I am enjoying Guatemalan cuisine. Yeah for fresh pineapples and mangoes. Jenna is my room-mate, and we get along splendidly, and there are many laughs that erupt from our room.

El Tisate Pt.2

The beauty of this place is the people. They are so gracious and hospitable, our house was invited to a birthday party, which will remain a special memory for me. I’ve already decided to pack up three of the kids in my luggage to bring home to Canada. They have such joy here, and just come running down the street and jump in your arms. One of the little boys, Anderson, he has this cardboard cutout in the shape of a cross. We asked if it was a cross, but no, it was his toy airplane, and then a toy train, and then something else, etc. They have so little here and yet seem more content than a lot of children in Canada. What a concept. Note to myself for when I’m a parent one day.

A wonderful opportunity has come up for Jenna and I. We are taking on the massive project of painting a mural on the inside wall of the new building that Global Shore is working on, Casa Grande. It will act as a community centre for now, but there is hope that one day it will host a church. We have been sketching and re-sketching for the past week, and have come up with a VERY exciting proposal, which was given the go-ahead, and we will likely start next week. It will take up all of our spare time, but we are so thrilled to have this opportunity. You’ll have to stay tuned till the end of the summer to see a photo of the finished product.

Well, that is all for now. Please pray for the safety of our team, for the women especially, and for health. Pray for spiritual safety, as this is a place of oppression. Pray for the people of Tizate.

Love Kat

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The End of an Era

The asparagus season has come to an end, it’s true, it is true. I can't believe how fast these two months have gone by. This will be my last update from Canada, for we leave for Guatemala this coming Wednesday, the 5th. This is a final ode to the asparagus barn, and to Ontario.

(Here's an overgrown asparagus field I lay in last night)

O asparagus barn, how I shall miss thee!
Thou tender spears so green and tough
Make life in the barn sometimes rough
Though never would I choose to flee

The task of bunching able I endured
And shall mourn the loss of friends beside
Me in the barn to whom I confide
All deepest thoughts of which I am cured

O Beautiful Ontario! Not am I weary
Of thy lakes and fields, wind and grass
You’ve made me explore, not sit on my a**
And appreciate the greatness of Erie

(Self-portrait on my beautfiul beach...o how i shall miss thee)

And there you have it. I really have grown quite attached to this land, and I’m trying to figure out who I can marry in order to live out here forever! I spent three hours last night walking through the cherry fields, an overgrown asparagus field, and back over to my lake to watch a lightning storm. It was a wonderful time, getting “lost with Jesus”—I do recommend doing that sometime.