The Call // 2 16 18

So here goes nothing…. I am starting a blog!

I suppose my journey up until now started quite some time ago, but I’ll save you sometime and only rewind a few months. I was set up to graduate a semester early from Nation Ford High School in December of 2017, and since I had been accepted into the University of South Carolina and wouldn’t be starting my classes until the fall, I had a free semester to do with whatever I pleased. I felt pressure to do something meaningful and educational, so I began researching and applying for internships at production companies in Charlotte, NC. After scattered hits and misses, I landed and internship with a company that produced short documentaries on nonprofit organizations to help tell their stories. I thinking, “man, it really can’t get better than this!” But, God was watching me, and He knew that it could, in fact, get better than that, I just had to be patient and trust that in His time, I’d be called to something so much greater.

My boss had told me I would be set to start work in early January, so after the holidays I sent her an email to let her know I was so excited to start working, and to ask her when exactly she wanted me to begin. After a week passed by and I hadn’t received a response, I emailed again letting her know that I was ready whenever she needed me, but I asked her to just let me know that she was receiving my messages. Another week, and still, nothing. I attempted one last email, but by this point I realized that it wasn’t meant to be. So, I prayed! I trusted Gods plan enough to not be too upset about it not working out, because I know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. There is no point in worrying about things that are out of my control.

I continued to ask God what He wanted me to do with my free semester, but I didn’t feel particularly drawn by the spirit in any specific way, so I began simply searching for jobs. I knew at the very least a work place would provide me a new mission field, so if I couldn’t do something big, I might as well be faithful with something small. It wasn’t long after beginning my new job that I had to take some time off for my mission trip to Guatemala… I suppose thT brings us almost up to date.

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to serve the Lord in Guatemala with Christ the King church. While I was there, I didn’t think about home much at all, I just concentrated on doing my best to be the hands and feet of Jesus and share His love with everyone I came in contact with. By the grace of God, I am able to pick up the Spanish language very quickly whenever I am immersed in the Latin culture, so I spent a lot of time with children at the church and school talking with them and learning about their lives as I, also, shared my life with them. In the later part of the week, Pastor Erika and her daughter Rebe (the current English teacher) approached me and asked me to stay and teach English at La Promesa Educational Facility.

This was the opportunity I had been hoping and praying for for years, and I never thought I’d have the chance to do something this incredible before going to college! But how humbling it was to be reminded that no matter what plans and timeline I create in my head, God always has the final word, and His plan is ALWAYS greater than anything I could concoct in my mind.

I spent some time in prayer and announced to my team the following day that the Lord had called me to take the offer. I discussed it with my parents and we agreed that I’d return to the US with my team, then fly back to Guatemala a week and a half later to begin my new-and-improved internship!

Okay so I’m not sure how most people do blogs, it I think after that telling you that story, I’ll leave you with some encouragement; God always has a plan. Trust that His plan is always to prosper you, and rest knowing that you can never make a plan for yourself that is better than what He has in store for you. Have faith when you can’t see or don’t understand His plan. And if He calls you to do something loud and clear, don’t hesitate to answer with a bold, YES!

Grace & Peace (:

Carly

Despedida – 05 21 18

Maybe you are wondering why I didn’t write yesterday, maybe not. I decided to combine yesterday and this morning because 1. I was very busy packing last night and 2. I have lots of free time sitting in the airport today.

This morning the kids at the school had a grand despedida just for me. With each performance, my eyes welled with tears and I could not stop smiling. Their kid words and sweet hugs and creative and heart felt cards brought me a joy that I cannot explain. I was even dressed in traditional clothing and brought on stage to dance with Trecero Basico! It was such a special thing that they did for me and it was the most amazing way to end my time.

The last day and a half have been full of tears and hugs and love. It is so hard to say goodbye, but with every hug and every tear shed, I am reminded for the immense love I have for each individual. I have been truly blessed to live in this country the past three months, and it has honestly been the best experience of my life. Each child and each person I met has touched me, changed, and will forever have a place in my heart. The best part is, I know I will be back to see them all again, but even if unexpected things happen, I will be with many of them in heaven for eternity.

One of the next few days I will take the time to reflect on my trip as a whole and post one last blog (for now). Until then, I thank you all for following along and joining on my journey!

Grace and Peace!

Fashion, Fruit, and a New Friend – 05 19 18

Today I started packing my things. For whatever reason, I thought I would have lots of space in my suitcase returning to the US, but I was very wrong. It’s overwhelming packing up everything from the space I was so well settled into. Three months may seem like a short time, but when you think about the number of days and hours and minutes I spent living in my house here, I had plenty of time make it homey. Now it’s just a matter of deciding who I can bless with everything I am leaving behind.

Today, Bobby and I went to San Lucas. There isn’t anything special to do there, we just needed to get out of the house. I thought I had never been there before, but once we got there I knew exactly where we were – it was a place I had stopped several times on the way to and from the airport. I decided to get my nails done for graduation next week (because Lord knows I’m not going to pay the US rates to get my nails done). We grabbed a bite to eat then wandered around the Mega Paca. I bought some jellies…. yes, the ugly shoes that were popular over a decade ago. I am going to bring them back. I will wear them shamelessly and everyone will deal with it.

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Before leaving, we passed by another market place, so we stopped in to do some more window shopping…. except without the windows. There was a lot of interesting produce, so Bobby and I spent some time purchasing fruits and asking questions about what they were called and such. We found this really cool fruit called Paterna, which looks pretty much like a giant green bean. We tastes it and the white meaty part was sweet, and inside was a green seed which she said we should cook with salt and lime and mix it into a salad. We also bought cherries. Here the thing about Guatemalan produce: there aren’t any chemicals or pesticides used, so some fruits and veggies are a lot bigger than they are in the US, and some are a lot smaller. Here, grapes, cherries, and nectarines are all relatively the same size and, frankly, hard to tell apart from one another. Grapes and cherries are so big, and the cherries are a little less sweet, almost as if they were plums. Nectarines and peaches don’t grow to be quite as big, although peaches are closer in size to organic peaches in the US. Nectarines are just tiny. Here is a photo of Bobby with a carrot that she thought liked like it was on steroids, when in reality, the tiny ones in the US are probably the ones that are on steroids.IMG_3517

On the way home, we hopped on a fully-packed bus with a bunch of tired people likely coming from Guatemala City. I sat on the very edge of a seat with two other people. After sitting there for about 10 minutes, the old lady next to me started talking to me. She asked were I was going, and from there on I got to telling her the story of why I was in Guatemala and how I am leaving very soon and how I love the people and this country so much. She told me about her life too, but her voice was very shaky and hushed so I wasn’t able to understand all of it. I am so thankful for every interaction I have with the people here. My ability to speak Spanish is truly a blessing and a gift from God, because I took French in high school and don’t remember a single thing from any of my elementary or middle school classes.

Upon returning, we got rained on a little bit and we lost power too, but it was nice and cool all day. Today was just absolutely lovely.

My Last Day Teaching – 05 18 18

Today was my last day of school, and it was absolutely wonderful.

I had all my normal classes, then just like that the day was over. Nothing special, nothing different. It was wonderful. Thanks to generous donors, I was able to give each one of my students a new pair of socks, along with the letters I wrote each of them. As hard as it was knowing that this was my last day as an English teacher, I will still get to see the kids one last time on Monday morning before I leave for the airport, so there weren’t too many tears.

Not much else went on today. I spent a lot of the day clearing and reformatting donated lap tops and iPhones to give to the school on Monday, so that took up a good chunk of my day. During afternoon recreational time, I went back to the school and brought the kids a frisbee. The older kids were excited about it, and the younger ones were too, but they had no clue what it was. I started playing with them, and in no time they figured out that it was tons of fun. After that, I went to visits the chicitos, and I saw that Javier had wet his pants. When I asked him what had happened, he didn’t want to tell me, because he knew he didn’t have a change of clothes, and he also knew I wouldn’t pick him up in his urine-soaked pants. I went back to my house to try to find clean clothes for him to wear, but all I could find were my knee-length shorts. I figured they would probably be about the right length, but way too big around the waste. However, that’s nothing a belt can’t fix. When I finally returned, his teacher had found something clean for him to wear, but he still wanted to keep my shorts. The rest of the day he carried them around like they were his favorite stuffed animal.

I can’t believe I only have two days left in this country. These past three months haven’t exactly flown by, but still, I am no where near wanting to leave so soon! It’s so strange to think about how different things will be back in the US. I will move back in with my family, I will get a job that actually pays money, I will have to drive, I’ll always be talking in English, and I’ll never have to worry about running out of water or electricity. I’ll have wifi in my house, and when I don’t have wifi, I’ll be able to use cellular data and not have to worry about how many minutes I have left. I think the biggest change is going to be flushing toilet paper down the toilet. Here, the pipes are too thin, so toilet paper is disposed of in a trashcan beside the toilet. Not just at my house, but at restaurant and the airport and literally everywhere in the country. It will certainly be strange coming back to America, but I am excited for whatever God has next in my life.

Grace and Peace

Bracelets and Girl Time – 05 17 18

***Posted a day late because it was storming so bad last night I couldn’t get outside to where the wifi is!***

Today was absolutely wonderful… I wonder how many blogs I have started with that exact phrase. I am just so blessed to be living such a great life.

I only had one class this morning because after that, almost all the students in the school spent the majority of the time before lunch working on a special project for me. As previously mentioned, I am working on something called Futuro Brillante – The Bright Future Project. I contacted dozens of bakeries and nail salons in North and South Carolina asking for their partnership in raising funding for the kids at La Promesa to have classes in nail painting and baking, but unfortunately, I only received three responses, all of which were along the lines of, “We’d love to help but it’s against company policy to donate money.” Frankly, I was upset that I didn’t get more responses, but I am trusting in the Lord. If the success of this project is His will, which I believe it is, He will provide another way. Herein lies my point: the rest of the day the students spent making bracelets. I will take these bracelets back to the United States to help continue to raise funds for the project. They have already received $500 USD (3500Q), so the goal is to sell enough bracelets to duplicate that investment. I have no idea how I am going to do this, but I have many ideas and I am excited to see what the Lord has in store!

After school today, I went back to Bobby’s house to set up for our little get together we planned. Bobby was so generous to buy snacks and drinks and table clothes for us to sit on picnic style. Carlota made us some fried potatoes and I brought the jelly beans. By the time people began showing up, everything was ready, and all the food was out. Not all of the girls were able to make it, but the majority of them did, and for that, I am beyond thankful. We had a great time laughing and eating and messing around. Finally, everyone got together and quieted down, and I shared my testimony and some additional encouraging words with them. It wasn’t as intimate as I’d hoped it would be because I had to read a typed out translated document, but I know that was the best way to do it so that they could understand everything I was saying clearly. IMG_3431

After I was done sharing my testimony, I translated a few things for Bobby, but then things took a turn. One of the girls ran out of the room hyperventilating, sending everyone into a panic. I followed her outside and stayed with her as she calmed down, but to me it seemed like she was having a panic attack. She didn’t want to talk about it or tell anyone what may have caused it, but her sister told me that this happens to her every now and then, and that I shouldn’t be too worried because she just needs to breathe and rest. Bobby and I prayed over her, but if I know anything, it’s that there is power in prayers, so I would appreciate for those of you who are faithful to pray for her too.

I am now preparing for my last day of school tomorrow. I appreciate those of you have been praying for me, because as much as I am going to hate leaving these kids, I feel at peace about it. Part of my heart will always be here, but I am much more at ease with the situation than I was a week or so ago.

Grace and Peace

Lots of Letters and Crazy Hair – 05 16 18

I almost forgot to blog today!

Today was a very busy day for me. I had my oldest classes today which is always a joy because the many of the kids are my age or just a year younger. This was the last time ill be teaching them, however, because I only have class with them once a week. This morning and during lunch I worked on making invitations for the girls for a little get together we’ll be having tomorrow at Bobby’s house. I am excited to spend time in fellowship with these girls and share my testimony with them.

Other than that I have just been working really hard on some finally projects. I hand wrote each of my students a letter in Spanish and I’ve been working really hard on the to make them look really creative and beautiful, just like everything they ever made me. It is a lot of work, paper, cutting, gluing, writing, drawing, and cleaning up, but I want my kids to know how much I love each and every one of them. I hope when they see how much time and effort and love I put into making these cards, they will always remember how deeply I care for them. More than anything, though, I hope they know how deeply their father in Heaven loves them… somehow, more than I ever could.

Also I forgot to write about this yesterday, but my girls in Segundo Basico did my hair, then stole my phone to take pictures of me. I know I am crazy for putting these photos on the internet, but I wanted yall to see the masterpiece they made out of my hair…. not!

Grace and Peace!

Bombs and Papas – 05 15 18

Today was another fantastic day. I was woken up 6 times between 5am and 5:30 to the sound of bombs being set off at the Catholic Church across the street. I don’t remember if explained this in a previous blog or not, but these bombs aren’t destructive, they are just very very loud. Today I learned that their purpose is supposedly to wake up the dead. I don’t understand out some people could think such insane things.

School today was good. After my morning classes I had a bad headache again so I took another nap. When I woke up I went to the house of Bobby to hang for a while…. I just realized I typed that as if I was directly translating la casa de Bobby and it probably reads so weird in English but I’m not going to change it. I suppose this is how my brain functions now haha! Bobby and I went to buy some coffee cookies from our friend (who’s name I should know, but of course can’t remember). She had two of her friend in her store, so we got to meet them and I let her know that I was leaving Guatemala very soon and I probably wouldn’t see her again. She blessed me and I blessed her, and so, the goodbyes begin!

When we returned to Bobby’s house, she began to teach me how to fry potatoes like the people here do. I’m not sure if it’s different or the same as their the US because I just started eating Potatoes since I’ve been here believe it or not.

Okay it just started down pouring and I’m afraid I’m going to get stuck in the cabana again so you get a short blog tonight!

Grace and Peace!

My Marvelous Monday – 05 14 18

Somehow, Mondays in Guatemala are always wonderful. I feel like in the Us, everyone dreads Monday, and if anything goes wrong, the excuse is often, “Well… it is Monday.”  Here, Mondays never disappoint. I think it can be that way in the US too though! I am going to make that a goal upon returning.

School was great today, but I suppose I should start this morning when I got to the cabana for breakfast. When I walked in, I was greeted by two of the school girls who were cleaning, and boy, did they have their work cut out for them. The floor was caked in dried dirt. All the water that had flooded the night before had subsided, but it left behind a nasty mess! As previously stated, school was wonderful. Nothing out of the ordinary happen, but nevertheless, I had a great day. After lunch, I visited with the little ones for a little bit, then I went back to my room and took a much needed nap. Thankfully I only slept for about an hour, and when I woke up it began to rain!

After school was let out, I went to Alba’s house for dinner. Alba is a wonderful woman who attends the church and comes to school every day to set up a snack stand during the kids’ recreational time. She currently has one daughter attending La Promesa, and two older daughters who are involved in the church. I assume her youngest will attend La Promesa in due time, but for now she spends her days by her mother’s side. Last week, Alba invited me to her house for dinner, and by no means could I refuse! Alba (and Sandra) cooked for the team from Christ the King when we came in February, and their food was outstanding. Also, she makes the best papas (potatoes) and the most delicious helados (home made ice pops). She even shared her helados recipes with me, so maybe when I get home I can make some!

She made a delicious dinner for us tonight. Whenever I am invited to spend time with Spanish speaking families, I always get a bit nervous that it may be awkward if I can’t understand something, but even if I fail to pray about, the Lord gives me the words I need, and everything always turns out perfectly fine. It was just wonderful spending time with Alba and her two youngest daughters. While eating and talking we also put in a movie – Me before You (if you haven’t seen it, it’s on Netflix in the US and I highly recommend it). The movie was obviously in Spanish, but I am thankful for the English subtitles that it had! Overall, I just cannot express my gratitude for her invitation, and my heart is overflowing with love.

I hope you all had an equally marvelous Monday! If you feel as though you did not have a good day, I would encourage you to praise God in the midst of your trials. Everything is in His hands, and even when things are tough, He has a grand plan, and if you can fully rely on Him, you may see one day how everything happened for a reason.

Grace and Peace!

 

Singing and the Rain – 05 13 18

Happy Mothers Day to moms in the US and Canada! Thank God it’s Sunday!

This morning I had the opportunity to help lead worship at my church! It was an incredible experience and I wish I had stepped up and done this earlier. Between last night and this morning, I really felt like I was part of the team, and it was so nice to build stronger relationships with some of the people at the church. Everything went so smoothly. My throat had been bothering me all week and this morning when I woke up, I was very concerned, but the power of prayer never ceases to amaze me. After our time of worship, Abuelito gave a beautiful mother’s day message from the book of Ruth (one of only two books in the Bible named after women) and from Proverbs 31, which I would highly encourage you to read, especially all the women out there! 

After church, I went back to Bobby’s house for a delicious lunch. Carlota is the best cook, and I will for sure miss her when I am gone. Hopefully by the time I return, her house will be finished and I’ll be able to visit her in her own home! As always, I had a lovely day just sitting around and chatting with Bobby. We are great company for each other because we are the only ones who can perfectly understand and speak English, and sometimes it’s nice to not have to work hard to say what you want to say or understand what’s being said to you.

When I got home, I planned on taking a nap, but Abuelita invited me in to help her with her puzzle for a little bit. When he heard rain drops start to drizzle, I left and headed to the cabana to get some work done, but God had other plans. After not even five minutes had past, the rain was down pouring and water was spilling through holes in the ceiling. Another five minutes and the puddle outside the door had risen up over the door frame and began rushing into the cabana! I knew I had to leave, but I couldn’t get out without walking through murky, dirty, disgusting, insect-filled water which had risen half way to my knees. I quickly got to chairs, and stood on them. I continually took the one behind me and placed it on front of me over and over again until I got to a place where I could see the ground beneath the water running over it. I quickly and carefully made my way back to my house, sopping wet. That was an adventure in and of itself.

The rest of my day I have spent and will continue to spend resting, reading, writing, and watching my novelas*. I hope you have all had a lovely Sunday!

Grace and Peace!

*Novelas (Telenovelas): Mexican soap operas

Another Day, Another Adventure – 05 12 18

Another day, another adventure! I can’t let a single day go to waste!

Today I joined Bobby, Carla’s Family, and two of Bobby’s other friends on a trip to Antigua. We road the chicken bus into the city. Imagine a school bus packed with chicken so full that none of them can hardly move. Now, imagine all those chickens, except they’re not chickens anymore, they’re human beings, and now they really can’t move. In case it was unclear, there weren’t actually any chickens on the bus, it was just crammed full with people. Some seats had up to five people smushed into them and there were always people lining the center isle making it nearly impossible to pass by, get on, get off, get comfortable, or even breathe. Okay maybe you could breathe but there was absolutely no sense of personal space at all. It was a particularly pleasant experience, but it was a Guatemalan experience none the less.

When we arrived in Antigua, everyone was very hungry, so we went straight to our restaurant of choice: Ta’cool. It was my first time going there, but it was a wonderful experience! Our group ordered a huge tray of tacos and I was served my special picky-eater tacos (without any strange looks or raised eyebrows) and we feasted! The lemonade was also amazing, but I don’t think it had any actual lemonade in it. It was some type of fizzy drink with real strawberries and mint leaves in it. IMG_3329

After we filled ourselves up, we went to the rental park to relax for a bit. We found a nice bench in the sun beside the grand fountain, and the wind was blowing perfectly so that every couple second we were slightly misted. We sat there and talked and enjoyed the beautiful weather. After a while, we decided to head back to the market and get ready to catch the chicken bus back home. The market has all sorts of stuff, which probably goes without saying. Carla bought some makeup and I picked up some nail polish for myself. We also bought some fruit. I stocked up on mangos for the remainder of my time her in Guat. It’s crazy to think that I only have one more week in this beautiful place. I am sure it will be the best week yet!

This evening I had practice for worship tomorrow. I know the timing stinks, but I joined the worship team at our church so I get to sing tomorrow, Wednesday night, and next Sunday as well! Unfortunately, after that I will be gone, but I will absolutely not take the time I have left for granted. I have working hard all week to learn the songs in Spanish, and after tonight I feel confident about tomorrow and I am really excited! I was thinking that it would be so cool to sing a song in Spanish at a church in the United States to bring a little more diversity into it, but that’s a whole separate thought.

Grace and Peace!

Pizza, Pradera, and living in the Present – 05 11 18

Praise the Lord for this day He gave us!

Yesterday, Hermana Erika announced that we wouldn’t be having school today. At first, I was very upset because the time I have with my students is fleeting. I never thought I would shed tears over school being canceled, but there I was, surprising myself yet again. I decided, however, that I wouldn’t let the day go to waste. Bobby and I made plans to spend the day with several kids. Only two ended up being able to come, but the four of us had a lovely day.

Bobby treated us to a delicious lunch at Pizza Hut… I will stop right there to inform you all that Pizza Hut in Guatemala is actually delicious and nothing like Pizza Hut in the United States. Our personal pan pizzas were served to us on gourmet style trays with an array of breadsticks and a dish of marinara sauce. Not only was the service incredible and tasteful, but the food was delicious!

After that, we headed over to the Pradera to try out this new thing that is in the cafeteria. There are two egg-looking robotic chairs set up with a booth beside them reading Virtual World (but obviously in Spanish). This sight had peeked Bobby’s interest before, and we decided it was finally time to see what it was all about. For only 15Q ($2) one person could have a virtual reality experience, so we decided give it a shot! Bobby and Alejandra went on a roller coaster, and I probably had as much fun watching them as they did experiencing it. Sitting in these funky chairs, they were being jolted and jostled around and there were sound effects and air vents blowing on them. The funniest part was watching them both turn their heads in the same direction at the same time, but never knowing what they were seeing. Kenner and I  took a trip to outer space and played a game where we blew up space rocks just by making eye contact with them. For such a cheep price, we had quite a fun time.

After our adventure, we got some McFlurries and then headed back to Bobby’s house. I showed the kids some videos I had made of them and some videos of my family and friends and different places in the United States. In the end we all ended up eating popcorn, drinking Pepsi, and watching tape face on you tube. He was the perfect entertainment for the four of us because he is a silent comedian, and therefore, no translations or subtitles are needed for anyone. If you don’t know who tape face is and you want a good laugh, go search his name on youtube right now!

I am so thankful for the time I got to spend with my dear friends today. Not once all day did I get sad or think about the fact that I don’t have much time left. Thanks to the Lord, I am living in the present and enjoying every moment of this wonderful life He has given me. I cannot wait to see what adventures tomorrow will bring!

Grace and Peace!