“Latin America: impressive wealth and degrading poverty, splendid flowers and dusty broken roads, loving people and cruel torturers, smiling children and soldiers who kill. It is here that we have to hunt for God´s treasure.” – Henri Nouwen
This is my current reality. I have never seen such a beautiful place more full of hurt and despair. This weekend we took a trip to Lago Atitlan, a lake surrounded by 7 volcanoes, where the sun was shining and we were in the best company…yet the streets were lined with beggars and tiny children that only wanted a coca-cola to drink. We couldn´t walk more than a half a block without being asked for money. This is the place where finding God´s treasure will not only be the most challenging thing, but also the most awe-inspiring.
Anywho, last week, we danced. We learned to salsa. I think it might have been the most fun night I have had in some time. My cheeks hurt in the end from smiling so much. I danced with Gringos and Latinos and let me tell you, both are equally entertaining.
Thursday, half us made chocolate and half worked with a group of impoverished children…Chocolate making was super cool, but the joy of these children was incredible. Lupita and Alexander were my two perfect niños. Alexander was so tiny and was wearing a yellow, winnie-the-pooh sweatsuit and was a little monster. Lupita barely spoke but had the sweetest smile and rarely let go of my hand. I think they stole my heart.
We went to the lake this weekend where I ate a ton of ice cream and pupusas. But before overeating, we stopped at a women´s cooperative that was created by women who lost their husbands in the civil war. There are 28 women now and they all are single by the means of abuse or death. These women spend their days weaving beautiful blankets, bags, scarves, etc. They are working to educate themselves and other women of self-worth and how their value is not lessened by the presence of males. They recently formed a commitee that the men do not approve of because women shouldn´t have a voice. These women are strong. These women are brave. They are risking everything to have a voice and a life of their own. Seeing people like this makes it hard to believe that the next 24 hours, I ate what I wanted and bought what I wanted. It doesn´t seem right, yet there I was. The lake was amazing. We watched little Mayan children play in the streets and talked to vendors about their lives. Most of the chicas got hair wraps, and everyone ate ice cream.
Before we left, we visited a Mayan town with a Catholic Cathedral where the priest was assassinated by the Guatemalan army during the war. The blood is still on the walls. It never fails to amaze me that the people that went to Latin America to give a glimpse of hope were targeted as “terrorists” or “communists”. Why is it a bad thing to speak for justice and for peace? Why are we supposed to watch the poor be poor and the oppressed be oppressed? We aren´t. I now believe I am here to discover how exactly I am going to change this ideology; how God will use me show this whole world the joy of His Kingdom.
We left the lake and Katie and I moved to a new home, without English speakers. OH MY GOODNESS…I love my new family. Sandra and Sergio are the two funniest adults ever and have such a goofy relationship. They engaged with us so much already and are even working to pronounce my name perfectly. I am satisfied. Bonus: hot water all the time.
Today, we talked about religion in Guatemala and the importance of a relationship with Christ over a specific denomination. It was a controversial and confusing discussion, but it was awesome to see how each group member understands faith and religion. We are about to be stretched so far in our faiths and we are so excited to do so.
This adventure has barely begun, but I already feel like my life has been changed forever. I´m going to have to come back. I won´t be able to keep my feet out of this dust for long.
(This computer won´t let me put pictures up…Sorry!)