Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Few Pics

Well, I took a few pictures yesterday, and uploaded them today. Here are a couple in front of the language school.

The guys, sitting on the curb. L to R are: Brent, Andy, Jake, Chris, Mike, and Jordan.

Brittany, sitting in the sun

This is CEMI. First, my bed. Isn't the bedspread pretty?

This is the door to my room, I share it with two other girls right now, but there will likely be one or two more later.

Here's the building where the guys sleep, and where our classroom is located.

Here's our classroom.

This is the pond on the grounds.

And this is the main building, where the kitchen, computer lab, keyboard, and common area are. The Karlsons (our directors) also live there.

Hope you enjoyed the scenic tour!

Two Weeks

We moved to Fuego University yesterday. Immediately after Spanish school ended, we loaded our bags into two, count them, two buses and drove about 15 minutes to San Pedro, where CEMI runs a little compound that hosts short term mission teams. It is SO beautiful here! We have dorm rooms with 4 or 5 girls in each room, all six guys together, and a lovely main building with couches, a keyboard, drums, guitars... and wireless internet in the whole place!

Over the next week, we will be taking the chicken bus to Antigua each day for language school. There are two theories behind the term "chicken bus." 1) people are packed into them like chickens and 2) they used to transport chickens on top of the buses.

Well, it's been two weeks since we came to Guatemala. Since then, I've learned quite a few things:

1. If you approach a one-way street going left, but want to go right, just turn onto it going left and back up.

2. The unofficial national sport of Guatemala is women watching.

3. Internet is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing when you have it, but a curse when you lose it in the middle of an IM conversation.

4. Spanish is incredibly similar to French, but easier to learn. The grammar is almost identical but the spelling is very basic and uncomplicated.

5. Volcanoes are fun to watch, especially when they puff smoke regularly.

6. It is possible to have Spring Fever in the middle of winter. Very possible.

7. Guatemalans in general are very polite and helpful, even if your Spanish isn't very good.

8. Widow makers are simple to use, even if pleasant. Getting hot water isn't hard, but getting hot water combined with plenty of pressure is impossible.

9. Cilantro is my new best friend.

10. God is good. But I already knew that one.

Keep praying for the team. We've got some people that aren't feeling well, and others are on a recon trip to El Salvador, visiting our ministry sites for later to plan things.

Monday, January 26, 2009


This morning we got up at about 8:15 and got ready for church. We decided to meet the other girls in Central Park and decide where to go at 9:00. Sunday is the day off cooking for our host families so we stopped by a bakery on our way and bought a little breakfast.

At Central Park, we visited with the girls while waiting for the others to show up. Also there was a street preacher, preaching in Spanish about the sin of mankind.

This is a tree in the park:

Then there was the man who sang a French song to us, he was sweet:

And the shoe shiners. Tiny boys wander the park, looking for people who have shoes needing shining. Two of them caught our eye and Brit offered to pay for Vanessa to get her shoes shined. She agreed, so the boys set up. They looked like brothers, the older one we found out was eight years old. The older one shined shoes while the younger one had the job of carrying around the bench for people to put their feet on.

The church we went to was called Iglesia Cristiano Vida y Fe (Life and Faith Christian Church). It was a Pentecostal church, with loud music and lots of excitement. I really enjoyed the fact that even though the words were in Spanish, many of the songs were originally in English so I could follow along quite well. The sermon was translated into English, which was really nice. Afterwards, they began slaying people in the spirit.

After church, some of us went to Las Palmas, a good Guatemalan restaurant. The food was amazing and we had a fun time together. Then it was off to nap and then read for awhile. Towards the end of the afternoon, we went to the Bagel Barn and used the internet for awhile.

Today has been a good day, and I’m ready for the week to come.

More about the Volcano

I wrote some more about the volcano while I was offline yesterday evening... here 'tis!

Well, yesterday’s hike up the volcano was great! I really enjoyed the hard climb, the excellent view, fun with friends, and practicing my Spanish with Myrna, Mauricio, and the guides.

We left the Spanish School shortly after 1:30, stopping at the Karlsons’ apartment to pick up Myrna. We then drove for a little over an hour to Volcano Pacaya. As soon as we stepped off the bus we were swarmed with little kids encouraging us to take a stick, “is very good.” From a little farther distance, older boys and men were yelling at us to get a “taxi” (horse) because “is hard climb.” We met up with our guides and put on sunscreen, then began the ascent.

The first part of the ascent was very steep cobblestones, then it turned into a steep dirt trail. We stopped often to take pictures and catch our breath. The view was breathtaking, looking down on a lake, Guatemala City, and across to three other volcanoes.

A little over halfway up, the trail became a lot easier, but turned into lava rock. From there we climbed from one rock to another to a place where molten lava was close to the surface and the rocks were really hot. There, we roasted marshmallows and took a bunch of pictures.

About six o’clock, the sun went down while we continued to take pictures, then we began to make our way down the volcano. At one point in the beginning of our descent, I jumped onto a section of lava rock and discovered that there was a tunnel underneath it… the rock broke underneath me, trapping my right leg while the rest of me sprawled forward. I scraped my chin and my fingertips on a ledge of rock, but other than that came out of it unhurt. After we’d gone a little further, Brent and Mike patched me up with their first aid kits and made sure that my wounds were disinfected. I now sport a lovely scab on my chin. =) Kaitlyn took a picture of me in my bloodied condition:

In our descent we took a different route than the one we used going up because it was shorter. It was also steeper, which made keeping one’s balance a little difficult, but it was a lot of fun. I had a good time practicing my Spanish with one of the guides. By the time we’d been going down for about 7-8 minutes we had to use headlamps to see the path.

We arrived back at the van at around 7:30, then had the drive back to Antigua. By the time we got into our individual houses in Antigua, it was 9:15 and we were exhausted. I washed my legs that were caked in dust, then crawled into bed, ready for a long sleep.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hiking an Active Volcano!

Yesterday, a bunch of our group climbed the active volcano, Pacaya. Our field director, Mauricio, and his wife Myrna joined us. We also had two guides, Roberto and his son, who have been guiding groups up Pacaya for many years.

The beginning of the hike was really steep, so we stopped regularly for breaks. The breaks were also great for taking pictures.

This was the volcano we were climbing, Pacaya.

L to R: Myrna, Kaitlyn, Mauricio, and Brent... on cooled lava.

The guide, Roberto

Kaitlyn cooking marshmallows over lava

Jake and Vanessa



Open end of lava tunnel




Kaitlyn and sunset

I'm out of time to write more tonight... I'll pot more details later!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday Evening Thoughts

Well, I got my computer out last night and wrote down a few thoughts... here they are!

Blog: January 23rd, 2009

Well, it’s been five days in Antigua, and I still love the town. The noise of the city is very different from small town WA or AB, but it’s still different from a big city in the US or CA. Every day, thousands of Guatemaltecos walk to work in the city, hoping to make enough to support their family for another month. We, on the other hand, walk to Spanish School and learn how to communicate effectively in a different language.

Sometimes the acquisition of Spanish is hard and slow work, and yet at other times it goes quickly, comprehension is high, and we start enjoying talking in a language different from our native one. As for myself, I find learning Spanish to be exciting! Yes, I get tired, and yes, sometimes it is frustrating that I don’t know what the other person is trying to communicate, but when I actually have a decent conversation with someone about something other than how they are doing, I come away incredibly encouraged!

Yesterday, for Impact Group, my team went for ice cream at Seritas (a chain spread throughout Guatemala) and then walked to the Spanish Embassy. At the Embassy, we used los banos (I mentioned that before) and wandered through different pieces of abstract art. These included a string maze, a prison cell that an artist lived in, stars filled with popcorn falling off a wall, a tiny wooden structure, huge beans, movies with ants carrying peace signs and national flags, etc. We wandered through and laughed at it. =)

Yesterday evening, Kaitlyn and I went next door to visit Erika and Vanessa in their house. After visiting briefly in their room, we climbed a ladder onto the roof and visited for awhile while looking at the stars and some of the nearby rooftops. It was beautiful, fairly quiet, and great companionship.

Today was the last day of Spanish School for the week. Nosotros no tenemos tarea para el fin de semana. Solamente practico. (We don’t have any homework for the weekend. Only practice) Tomorrow we will visit a volcano, hiking to the top and then staying until a little after dark so that we can see the lava better. I’ll see what I can do pictures-wise. =)

Let’s see, a bunch of you have wanted to see my schedule for the next while, so here it is:

January 19-29 == Spanish School, living in language homes in Antigua
January 30-February 5 == Spanish School, living at CEMI (Fuego), school in Antigua
February 5-March 10 == Guatemala Bible School, classes: PFIM & CA, also ministry weekends at our team’s church in Chimaltenango.
March 11-18 == Spiritual Retreat at Panajachel (Lake Atitlan), seminars and fun.
March 19-31 == Ministry Practicum in El Salvador (in teams)
April 1-5 == Chimaltengo, Guatemala (GBS), prep for returning/debrief/wrap-up
April 5 == Return to Prairie: Three Hills, Alberta, Canada
April 7-23 == Theology class
April 24 == Baccalaureate
April 25 == Graduation!

I hope this gives you a good idea of what we’re up to. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section!

Friday, January 23, 2009

More pictures

Jordan, who pretends to hate my camera.

Mike, my language partner.

Sarah (my roomie at Prairie) and Vanessa (great girl)(a poor picture)

After the Recon meeting, we had Impact Group, going first to an ice cream shop:

Then we went to the Spanish Embassy. Stephanie had been singing the praises of the bathroom, so we visited that, then looked at a bunch of the artwork around the embassy.

This is a display made of wood that Jordan really liked... and actually *wanted* me to take a picture of.

Abstract Art: Anyone know what it means?

My team, having fun with the abstract art:

The US flag, losing stars (symbolizing the disintegration of the Union?):

The back side of a church that was ruined in a huge earthquake:

The front side of the church and the Spanish Embassy (red building on right):

Discover girls walking along the street:

Brittany, having fun:

And the coffee shop where I get internet:



Well, I've now been in Antigua for five days, and I still love it! We have Spanish School every day, then the afternoons are taken up with sightseeing, schoolwork, or classes with PFIM (Preparation for Intercultural Ministry) and Cultural Anthropology.

The weather has been beautiful, getting down in the 30's and 40's at night and up to 90 during the day. Most of us already have a little bit of a tan, even though we haven't spent a lot of time outdoors.

This is the street outside the Spanish School:

Well, now that I have some pictures, I'll post some of them. This first is one that Vanessa took of the rest of us girls. Left to right our names are: Savana, Sarah, Erika, Brit, Brittany, Kendall, Abby and Kaitlyn.

This one I labeled, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." And it's so true! If we're going to stay well, we have to apply hand sanitizer really often.

We had a team meeting in Higher Ground (a coffee shop run by WYAM) and discussed who would go on the Recon trip to El Salvador and make connections with the churches we'll work with there in our practicum. Vanessa was the chosen delegate. During the meeting, I took pictures of a few of the team:

Brent and Stephanie, the engaged couple.

Brittany, the Albertan who looks like a California girl.

[more pictures in the next post]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Monday Evening

Blog: January 19

Today has been quite the adventure! After breakfast at seven at GBS, we loaded the bus and drove to Antigua, arriving there a little late for our first Spanish lesson. We are taking Spanish at the home of Jose Sanchez, the Director of Latinoamerica Spanish School. Jose Sanchez hires a number of Spanish teachers to come and teach at his house, so all of the Discover students were spread out throughout the house learning how to use Spanish. Mike and I were taking lessons from Lorena, who same woman who taught David (our director) Spanish his first year leading Discover.

After 3 ½ hours of learning Spanish, we quit for the day, getting a tour of Antigua in our teams and seeing the different places we would need to know how to get to. The places we went to included: Higher Ground (a coffee shop where most of our classes other than Spanish are held), the city square, the market, Las Palmos (a good restaurante), y el banko (where we could exchange money). Then, it was time for class.

Back at Higher Ground, we set up a couple rows of plastic chairs and BenQ, our projector. Today was Cultural Anthropology, and Jordan, Andy, and Erika were presenting their group project. After taking a brief quiz, watching the presentation, and taking part in a lively debate, we had a ten minute break to walk around before Mauricio explained one of our PFIM (Preparation for Intercultural Ministry) assignments, the Personal Testimony. Following that, we had 40 minutes before we had to be back at the language school to meet up with our host families. So, Brittany and I headed to the market.

No, we weren’t going to market to buy a fat hen, we were trying to find an adapter for Brittany’s computer cord so that she could plug her 3 prong cord into a 2 prong outlet. After several blocks of walking, we arrived at the market and began looking around. Boy did we stand out! Two blonde girls who were taller than most of the rest of the crowd (yes, I actually do feel rather tall here!). Well, we found the adapter and Brittany bargained a little for it… evidently not enough though… she thought 20 Quetzales was a great price (about $3)… and found out from Brent that 3 Queztales would have been sufficient. Well, live and learn. We left the market and began making our way back to the language school.

Back at Latinoamerica Spanish School, we gathered our things together and prepared to meet our host family. One after another, the different groups were taken to their host homes, while Kaitlyn and I waited to see where we would go. Eventually, Senor Sanchez told Kaitlyn, “You are the farthest away from here.” She was rather disappointed, but kept her reply to a simply, “Oh.” He then opened the door to the school and motioned her inside… imagine her surprise when it dawned on her that he was joking! So, we were introduced to our room, a lovely place in the house of Senor and Senora Sanchez. Not far to walk, either… oh well, no excuse for being late to school!

After unpacking a little and finding out what time dinner was, Kaitlyn and I went to the house where Erika and Vanessa are staying and invited them to go with us to the bank. They were happy to go, so we set off, watching our back trail and staying together, as per los instrucions. An hour later, we had queztales in pocket/money belt and arrived back at Jose and Karla Sanchez’s casa. This time, we met the other guests, Zach from Colorado, Cassie from Texas, and Roger from Montreal. Before dinner, we visited a little with them, then studied some of our Spanish notes and visited with each other also.

Dinner was a delicious meal of salade, rolled and deep-fried tortillas, bread, and bean dip (something that seems to be a staple here). Afterwards, we all played a game with dice and had fun learning more Spanish by speaking and listening. Then, it was doing homework and preparing for bed… which brings me up to the present.

Things seem to be going well here. I love Antigua! From the little children who love to have fun, to the adults eager to make you feel at home, to the cool nights and mornings with warm to hot days. I love this place!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Well, I'm in Guatemala. Chimaltenango to be exact. We flew all day yesterday and arrived at Guatemala Bible Seminary around 12 last night. After unloading our bags and figuring out which rooms we were in, we quickly made our way to bed.

Since then, we went to church (a long service all in Spanish), ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner, had our orientation for Antigua, watched people in the street and playing soccer, and finally got a little internet. When I have time to give a better update, I will. Until then, please pray that:

- We pick up the language quickly
- Safety for the team
- Health: some of the team started out not feeling well, and others aren't doing well with the food.
- Melinda: she's pregnant and tryin to take care of the baby.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

So... Yeah

Not sure it even needs to be said, but I haven't updated this in quite awhile. Where to start?

Let's see, since my last update I've finished a semester of college. I kept up with my studies pretty well, made some more friends on campus, played music, went to the Reserve (more on that in my next post), tried ice skating for the first time, and got fed up with group projects. =)

For Reading Break, I stayed on campus, holed up with books, movies, and assignments to work on. It was relaxing, and a nice time to catch my breath from the busy schedule.

I got involved with a prayer group on campus that prays for the student body and also specific needs as they come up. It's been really neat, and I appreciate the closeness we developed in praying for each other.

Pictures-wise, I guess I don't have a whole lot except for ones of the Reserve, which I'll include in the Rez-specific post.

I finished the semester on December 9th with a communications final and then an impromptu party. I flew home the next day in time to talk to my grandma for a little while before she died the next day.

Christmas break consisted of a LOT of activity, including, but not limited to, unpacking, ironing (and lots of it!), cooking, cleaning, a funeral, numerous family activities, Christmas caroling w/Awana, practicing music, learning a little Spanish, pre-reading textbooks, shopping for clothes for Guatemala, getting my last shot in the arm, and a little bit of sleep. I have to say, Christmas Break is named that in a more wishful sense rather than reflecting reality. I'd rather have that, and see my family, than have no break at all though. =)

I'm currently sitting in the Vancouver, B.C. airport, waiting for my next flight. The view here is gorgeous, mountains and snow. The flight from Seattle was even prettier, with row after row of steep, snow-covered mountains. The cloud cover was high enough, and our cruising altitude low enough, that we flew under the clouds the whole way. Well, in about 6 hours, I'll be near or at campus, in the land of almost-perpetual ice and snow. ready to hit the workload again.

Prayer requests:

- The next two weeks, I'll have one complete class, and part of another: New Testament is the complete class, and Preparation for Intercultural Ministry is a continuing one. Pray that I can focus on my studies and do well.

- I'll be preparing to go to Guatemala, as will the other Discover students. Pray that things would go smoothly.

- Pray that I remember to pray for you all. I do my best to remember you in my prayers, and if there's something specific you'd like me to pray for, let me know.