Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Last of the Last

A big thank-you to all for keeping up with this blog and taking an interest in my summer. Thanks to those who left comments, I read each one with delight. This will likely be the last entry for a while, or until the next exciting adventure, at which time the blog will be resurrected.

Global Shore ended yesterday, and I am currently in Edmonton until Friday, revisiting the homeland and the handful that I've kept in contact with over the years. It's good to be back.

The summer ended well. Three days of debrief back in glorious southern Ontario, with each student having the opportunity to share about the summer, the good, the bad, the growth, the stories. It was wonderful to see our leaders again, Ken and Julie, Robert and Carolyn, Wally and Shirley. They are truly wonderful people who have impacted my life. The same goes for my teammates. I can hardly believe that we are now dispersed across the country, or rather I am, being the only left-fielder out in BC. I will definitely feel the loss of this team in my heart over the upcoming weeks and months, for they had truly become as brothers and sisters. This has been the most positive missional experience, and communal experience that I have ever had. I think maybe this experience will really have changed me...that's always the hope, but not always the reality, but this time....I think maybe it's really happened. Heart change.

So, you've all (hopefully) been waiting on the edge of your seat for a first and final look at this mural thing that I keep talking about....well, here you have it. I didn't really get a good pic because I was out of time and my roommate had taken more...but her camera got lost during our travels home. So, this is the best that I've got, unfortunately. Key Concepts: "I have come to bring life, and life abundantly" John 10:10. God offers this abundant life to us, and if we choose life in Him, our response is the offering up of the best of our labours (our firstfruits) to him through a life of worship. There you have it. That's the main jist, but there is a lot of biblical imagery present, and because of that, there are nine scriptures painted throughout the mural encompasing those symbols too. Jenna did the figures, I did the trees, and we both did the background and fruit. The whole thing was just a gift from God, and we hope that it will continue to glorify God in the years ahead in Tizate.

I don't know what else to write. My head is full of memories and moments that can't be put into words and that you'll never hear about. My mind can see all the images that a camera cannot capture and that you will never see. I feel very full in this moment, full from this experience. Thanks again for reading, I've enjoyed writing over the months to the named and nameless. Take care.
Much Love, Katrina

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Won't Forget You

One more dinner, one more sleep, one more breakfast. The last week has flown by, and now I cannot believe that we are leaving tomorrow. Where did the time go? This morning I had a last hurrah in Antigua. What a wonderful city with so much character, O Antigua, I shall surely miss thee.

Here is a pic of my wee-little spanish teacher, Brenda. She is sixteen and wonderful. We had many a laugh, and I am certainly going to miss our spanish classes together.

Today I managed to photograph two graveyards, one for the wealthy, and one in the hills here for the poor. What a contrast. I went up with one of the families from town, and the little girls went right up to the grave of one of their friends who had passed away in December; an eight year old little girl who had fallen and hit her head. Fue muy triste.Here are our three wonderful English students, Jabes, Christian and Misael. Kev alternated lessons with me these last two weeks for some teaching experience, yeah Kev. What a great time we had with these guys! I don't know why I'm surprised, but believe it or not, I thoroughly enjoy teaching enlish.

Monday night we had a celebration for both the completion of the mural, and for the students of the music school. For minimal planning and minimal promotion, we were thrilled to have a crowd of 70 come out. Jenna and I had the opportunity to share the meaning and purpose behind the mural and the “Life of Abundance....” that awaits anyone who is willing. Stay tuned for photos....

And just in case you were wondering what chicken buses look like...
There are probably fifty of these guys parked near the market at any given time, in typical Guatemalan color. "Outrageous" is really the only word for them, and I can hear them blaring their horns all the way down the hill past Tizate. They are awesome...and I'm not even being sarcastic. Yes, there are many things that I will not forget about Guatemala... and chicken buses are one of them.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wind-down

Buenos Dias,

With just over a week to go, things are getting into wind-down mode. I will have to get used to alarms, sirens and crosswalks signals instead of hearing firecrackers, violent dogfights, and roosters crowing at all hours of the night. I will miss the crazy chicken buses and kids in the street and I will miss hearing my Spanish mom say “Si mi nina” which means, “Yes, my child” in response to saying her name. It is wonderful. But, let’s not start the sad business of reminiscing quite yet, I still have a week to go, no use in jumping the gun.
Our wonderful boys decided to bless us ladies again, and this time they carted us off up a mountain to an establishment called “Earth Lodge.” There we drank in the stunning view of the valley bordered by two volcanoes while lounging in anarondak chairs. Some of us went on a hike to scope out the view of the vast coffee fields in the area and later we enjoyed a marvelous dinner while watching a lightning storm. 75 flashes in one minute, can you even believe that? Add “lightning storms” to the top of the list to things I will miss about Guatemala.

Ok, I decided to jump the gun. Ana-Julia, our Spanish Mom, will undoubtedly top my Most-Missed list. She is such an incredible lady, and here are the reasons why. She makes the spanish language beautiful, gives her very best to ensure that we are comfortable and happy in her home, she has made it our home and embraced us as her children, her heart is bigger than the whole of Guatemala, carrying burdens of the community and the pain that exists here, and personifies the beauty that exists in the guatemalan people. I will miss my Spanish Mom dearly. Here's a shot of her, doing what she loves to do, provide for her four new children, big though they are.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Smooch Champagne

We just came back from our second incredible weekend away, and it was beautiful. Paradise, that’s what it was, minus the killer-man-eating-hugest-frickin’-spiders-I-have-ever-seen-in-my-entire-life! Go-ooooo arachnids!

Semuc Champey (sounds kinda like Smooch Champagne...both are good), a little hidden paradise of clean water pools. All natural, and well preserved, what a place! It did my little heart good to see that there are some areas of Guatemala that the government puts priority on to maintain a healthy, clean, natural environment, and I just lapped in the beauty.

There were these sweet caves that most of us enjoyed an hour and a half guided tour of, a tour that would never exist in Canada without a lengthy waiver form attached. In Guatemala, well, you take your life in your own hands and if you decide to sue, well, you just might get shot, so no waiver forms are necessary. It was the greatest adventure ever! Picture me swimming through a dark cavern in a mountain, with a candle in one hand to light the watery grave...I mean way...ahead of me. Oh yes, it was quite the spelunking adventure. And can you believe that there was a waterfall in there? No daylight, yet here was a gushing waterfall coming right through the mountain! We went under it and then jumped into the turbulent current yonder. What fun! I do recommend.
Here's the view from the mirador, the lookout, see all those tiny wonderful translucent pools? Yah, I was in them. dang. With Jenny. That's her in the pic. She's a "dang" kinda person too.

And now we are now safely home in Tizate with just over two weeks left. Incredible. The mural is going well (stay tuned....) and I am enjoying English class and am proud to say that I can converse half decently in Spanish to some kind person like my Spanish mom who will dumb down her speech and talk at quarter speed so I can understand. 'Tis truly wonderful.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

La Basurera

Hola mis amigos,

It seems like a lot has happened since I last wrote! If you saw that amazing race blog, just disregard it, we put a day on for our guys here, sending them running all around Antigua. It was a good time, and that blog entry was one of their clues.

Last Saturday, we went to the dump in Guatemala city with our Spanish teachers. It was a difficult day. It is the biggest dump in Guatemala, and 15,000 people live there. As I stood there looking at this foul place, two things came to mind. The first was, “We are destroying our earth”, and the second was “these people are living like scavengers.” There were hundreds and hundreds of vultures circling overhead, sitting in nearby trees, and ravaging through the trash alongside the people, and it was just horrible that these people had to live like these scavenger birds. It is not at all as God intended it to be.

These thoughts led to the question, “where is God in the dump?” Because we do believe that He is there, but the evidence is scarce. This is what I’ve concluded. There must be some form of beauty and hope present in the people that live there, because if there wasn’t, the suicide rate would be through the roof. That’s just my take on things, if a person finds no hope or beauty in life, why live, right? So, going on that assumption, yes, beauty and hope must exist in the dump, and it likely exists in the relationships there, between friends, and between family members. This is a universal thing that anyone, in any culture can relate to, the value of relationships. There may be vast differences between cultures, but when it comes down to it, the things we value are the same, people and relationships.

What else...I was talking to my mom here, Ana-julia, about the day at the dump, and we agreed that there is just a lot of hurt and pain in this world, and it’s a good thing that Jesus is coming back one day. That’s a cliche answer, but there is definitely truth in it. This past weekend, I was having a quiet time, and I was grieved by the fact that as a race, humans have managed to fail at fulfilling one of the only commandments that was given to Adam and Eve in the beginning, the one about having dominion over the earth and all that lives in it...aka, take care of this world. And another question I had was how was I going to let this experience change me? Because it should.

I did not feel guilt at the dump over cultural differences and the blessings that I have as a Canadian, because guilt like that is pointless and unproductive. But I do wonder how I will allow it to impact me. I hope to become a little more interested in what the garbage situation in Canada is...because we leave our crap everywhere too, or hide it under hills, or whatever it is we do with it, why do I not know? So to become educated. And maybe start a compost on our balcony (you can help me with that one Jess)...and just do something, because what is the point of an experience if you do not allow it to impact you? So those are my thoughts. And there is no picture for this blog, sorry folks. Just words, words, words.