October 31, 2004

Mirror, Mirror

I am tired tonight. It’s a good tired, not a depressed tired—even though I have a feeling this is going to be a slightly depressing post.

As I was getting ready for bed tonight, I stopped in front of the bathroom mirror and took a long look at myself. Basically, I stared at my face for about 2 minutes solid.

It sounds kind of vain, I know, but more than anything, I was trying to figure out something.

You see, sometimes, when I look into the mirror, the face I see is familiar and expected. But other times, when I glance up, the person glancing back is a stranger.

Do you ever feel that? Do you ever see yourself in a mirror in an unexpected place and not recognize yourself? Like you’re walking through a store and all of a sudden you realize that you are looking into a mirror and that person coming towards you is, in fact, you?

Tonight, when I looked up, I didn’t know the person staring back. So, I took a minute to look at her. Her hair caught my eye first. It looked good. Healthy. Shiny.

I cut my hair drastically for the first time in 4 years right before I came here and I still get surprised by it. So, that noted, I understood why the hair looked unfamiliar. But, still, something wasn’t right. So I kept looking.

The next thing I noticed is that this girl looked young. She looked innocent and tired and maybe a little wary of life. I’m going to attribute this look as the by-product of moving the small town girl to the big city.

The people who are a part of my world right now have done a good job instilling a (healthy, necessary) fear of the city into me. It was hard to listen to all the warnings and cautions, but I know why they were doing it—partly, because it’s better to be aware than na├»ve, and partly because they wanted to cover their behinds. If something did happen to me while I was here, they don’t want the stain on their conscience that they didn’t tell me all the risks and scary stories.

This week I was finally able to buy a car, and I’ve begun to venture out into this huge, scary city by myself for the first time. The first night I drove home from youth, I was honestly petrified and prayed for safety and a good memory from the moment I started the car, until the moment the guard let me into the street. I was scared I would get lost. I was scared I’d bought a piece of junk car, or that the guy had ripped me off and it was going to break down even before I had the chance to get home.

Lord, I hope those noises ricocheting over my roof right now are fireworks, and not gunshots. This has to be the craziest place I’ve ever lived in my life. They shoot fireworks all the time. They don’t even celebrate Halloween here, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if they shot of some fireworks in honor of it.

Anyway, so fireworks and new cars and traffic and adjusting to big city life have taken away my sense of security. I haven’t yet come to the point where my fear doesn’t cripple me. Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis have managed to reconcile the fear and the reality that they have to still live their lives. I’m hoping this is the next big transition I go through; because I’m tired of the nervous knot my stomach turns into every time I step outside the house or the church. I know it’s smart to be aware and even to have a little healthy fear, but I can’t let it stop me from living the next 8 months of my life. If I don’t figure out how to balance this, then I’m afraid it will ruin my time here.

So beyond the hair and beyond the fear that is written in my eyes, I still couldn’t put my finger on what was the matter with the face looking back at me. Even after thinking about it for the last half hour, I can’t figure it out.

I wish I was more in touch with myself. Half the time, I am so deep into denial that it takes me weeks to understand why I react to things the way I do. Maybe I’ll understand this mystery by next week.


October 30, 2004

The 3 Week Hurdle

Three weeks.

I’ve been living in Guatemala City for three weeks today. It still doesn’t quite seem real to me. Maybe once I have gone home and come back again it will feel more like a reality that this is my home for the next 8 months. At this point, I am still not attached enough to this place to want to stay longer. I still have up the thick walls of defense that I used to help me survive these first weeks of transition. Knowing that I will be going home for Christmas has, I think, given me a false sense of security. I know that I will be leaving for a couple of weeks, and I’m afraid that once I go home, I won’t want to come back. I am already looking forward to that break a great deal. But I didn’t make this commitment lightly, and I don’t think I could bail on this place even if I wanted to. I couldn’t handle the guilt or the ramifications of what it would mean to my soul if I gave up on myself like that.

So, that being said, I am trying to settle in for the long haul. I am trying to at least tear chunks out of my walls so that I can make it easier on those around me. This isn’t the first time I’ve gone to an unknown place and situated myself into a community of people that don’t know me at all. However, since I have gone through this same process numerous times in the last 4 years, I know how I am coming off to these other people. And while I am just doing what I have to do to survive, doing what I instinctly do to cope with the upheaval I’ve just put myself through…I don’t act like myself. I don’t come off as the person I really am.

Maybe it’s not possible to do something like this and not build up the walls and defenses. I don’t know how other people react to it. I just know how I am. And since that summer in Wisconsin, I’ve been a lot more aware of how I appear to those people around me. I’ve tried to change, to soften, to trust more easily, to be willing to give of myself without spending the weeks analyzing and observing those around me.

I thought I did pretty well adjusting in Texas, at the time. But looking back, I can see the walls I built clearly defined around my personal life. There was one person who gave me the chance to start a friendship, but it took me so long to get comfortable with her and to allow her inside even that first wall, that I lost most of the summer before I came to the point where I was comfortable enough to seek her out.

Some days I think I’m growing up. There are other days when I still feel like a middle school version of myself.

So, I’ve been here 3 weeks. I’ve tried to get the lay of the land, so to speak. I’ve been watching, observing, stepping in when I pushed myself, trying so hard to relax that I think it is back firing somewhat.

I am fighting some of my personal demons again, and the struggle is one I thought I’d put behind me. For better or for worse, my personality is not the one of your typical youth minister. I’m can’t get on the same maturity level as middle school kids, I’m not loud—even when I want to be, I know nothing about video games, I hate talking about bodily functions, I don’t even want to be a part of a huge youth group that has over 100 kids each week. And you know what, more power to those people who can interact that way with teenagers. But I had to accept a long time ago that that just wasn’t the way God put me together. I’m still trying to reconcile that fact with the calling I feel God has placed in me. Sometimes though, when I’m not looking, Satan creeps into my head, disguised as my self-esteem, and tells me that because I don’t fit the mold, I can’t do this. That there is no way I can be effective by just being myself.

Being here these 3 weeks, working with a youth minister who very much fits into the stereotypical youth minister mold, Satan took some pretty good whacks at my heart and even has me doubting not only my ability to stay here through my commitment, but also questioning my life and my calling/purpose.

I’m speaking at youth this coming Thursday and I think this is what I am going to share. I need to be willing to make myself vulnerable to these people. How else are we supposed to grow and fellowship with one another if they know I’m holding out on them? And trust me, teenagers have incredible radar with that stuff. You can’t fake anything with them. They know it.

So, I’m going to put myself on the line.

Maybe I’m growing up after all.


October 28, 2004

What's Really Going On

Living in Guatemala is different than I expected it to be.

Someone asked me my first week if Guatemala was what I expected, and my honest (at that time) reply was that I didn't really have any expectations coming here, so I couldn't say one way or the other.

I said that, I can see now with hindsight, because I was so overwhelmingly surprised by Guatemala that it didn't even register to me that this was most certainly different from what I expected. I was just trying to deal with the day to day changes and unexpectedness that I couldn't comprhend what was going on around me.

I don't know if I can say that I like it here, yet. My view of this country is greatly tainted by the fact that I live in the huge, noisy, dirty big capitol city. There have been occasions when I've managed to break out of the city limits and caught sight of breathtaking scenery and towns that wrap themselves around your heart. But those glimpses have been few so far. I can say with certainty, that I don't like living in a big city. The traffic, the fear, the crowds--they are all oppressive. I miss trees and open spaces and grass.

Beyond the physical aspects of the city that I wasn't expecting, life here is simply just different. The pace of life has a completely different rhythm. It's next to impossible to get anything done quickly, or in an efficient manner.

But, I am adjusting. I'm learning the streets, I'm figuring out how to order food or how to call for a taxi. My Spanish classes are going well and all those tenses and grammar rules are slowly coming back. I got put into the intermediate class at the language school I go to, and it is certainly a challenge to keep up. Some days I feel like I've gotten the hang of it and I get bored in class. But other days, I sit there wondering how in the world am I going to figure this out. I can't speak in English because my professor refuses to answer to it, although I'm pretty sure he can speak English. The rest of my class is a small world microcosm in it's make-up. It's about 50% Asian, with a few Europeans, and an Arab guy just for flavor. There are two other Americans in the class, but they aren't so good about coming every day, so they don't do me much good. 2 hours every day is a big chunk of time, and I'm already kind of tired of going every day. We get next week off because of a conference and I'm looking forward to it like it's Spring Break or something.

My life really is that sad.

Actually, it's not sad at all. It's crazy. Insane. Predictably weird. Lonely. Fun. Exciting. But not sad. Maybe a tinge of the pathetic since my weekend plans include reading three books on the 6x8 piece of grass these people call a back yard. But not sad.

So, here is post #3 for the day. Hope you enjoyed.


The High Days

Well, I published the catch-up posts I promised. They are a week old, so they lack some of the pep and good mood I've got going on this week. Last week was a rough one in some ways, and the only way I have to vent any of that is to sit with my laptop at night and write it out. It's completely healthy to do that, and I'm not going to take back what I was feeling, but I don't want you to think that I'm ready to pack my bags and head home. Cause I'm not.

Today is a good day. I'm in my office at the church right now, and sitting outside in the parking lot is my new car. In some ways, I'm not terribly excited about this new car thing, because it's kind of a piece of junk. But this car is very important to me. This car represents my freedom! My independence! My sanity!!

It was an amazingly long, drawn-out, tedious process to buy this car. And honestly, I am not even sure what all was done. My Spanish skills are improving, but when they are talking about cars and insurance and government papers, my vocabulary leaves much to be desired. Luckily, I had a lady at the church who helped me through it all. I basically just signed papers and then handed over cash. I had no part in the haggling, the inspection. I was just the bankroll. It was kind of fun, but also kind of frustrating.

I really need to get to work on some things for tonight's program, but I felt it was important to share some good, uplifting news since all those other posts are kind of pessimistic.

I'm doing better. And I'm certainly busy, which alleviates 75% of the problems I was having last week.

Buenos noches mis amigos.


The Low Days

Thursday, October 21, 2004

So I’ve been homesick.

Not terribly homesick. And really homesickness was just the result of frustration and boredom and the feeling of uselessness. So, actually, I wasn’t homesick. I was mad.

But I still would have thought twice about it if you’d handed me a plane ticket Wednesday morning.

I’ve looked forward to being here for so many months, and now that I am here, I am disappointed. I rushed to get down here. I worked hard. I swallowed my pride and asked people for money. I got stressed out about money and coming here. I tried to make myself as ready as possible for this adventure.

So, I get here. My boss said he’d take it easy on me for a while so that I could just adjust to my life and my new surroundings. So, as I’m closing in on the end of the second week, I am frustrated. I want to do something. I want ownership of something.

I’m thinking I’m not going to make a good intern.

I think I’ve pin-pointed the source of my frustration back to this summer’s experience. I went to Texas to be an intern, and yet, when I got there, I had no one to intern under. I had some great parent volunteers who helped shoulder the responsibility, but I got to be in charge. I got to work and program and really dig my hands into that youth group. I got to have ideas and see how they worked. I got to ease my way into the position and do things my way, with my true personality and feel comfortable about it.

So, I get here, and I am the intern. Just the intern. In the truest, purest since of the word. I do the grunt work. I clean. I make the ba-jillion small boxes so my boss can have an object lesson. I find the games. I type them up. I sit on the sidelines while someone else leads the games I worked so hard to research. I mentally scream in frustration when that someone puts his own spin on the game, which makes it complicated and not work. And I feel guilty when the games are a flop or don’t fill the time needed.

And it would be one thing if this were a paid internship. It would be another thing if I were working for some youth minister guru. Instead, I get a man who desperately needs help, but doesn’t know how to delegate. A man who thinks he is the guru and thinks I will put up with his to-do lists and attitude just because I am privileged to be called his intern.

Wow. So I guess I’m a little bitter. I knew I was frustrated, but I didn’t realize just how mad I am about this situation.

The thing that really gets me is this: Guatemala City is a huge city that has more poverty and crime than any place I’ve ever been. There are little kids who will juggle fruit in front of your car, then come to your window to see if you’ll give them money. There is a man known throughout the city because he will stand in front of your car at the stop light, pull out his mat, stand on his head and bicycle his feet. He gets back up, put his hat on, and then goes car to car to get handouts. People sell everything on the streets. And I mean, literally, in the streets. They weave through traffic and take advantage of every stop light and stop sign to hawk their wares. Some sell fruit, other phone cards, and yet still, feather dusters. I even saw a guy selling accordion file folders today.

So, I’m living in this city that has so many people in need, and I sit around frustrated because I have nothing to do but wait on people to pick me up. I came here because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help these people. Instead, I make boxes out of computer paper and clean up the glasses and move and arrange chairs.

I can already tell you that I’m going to really like some of the kids in this youth group. That I will get attached to some and get really involved in their lives. But these kids, while they have their own set of problems and need people to love on them and be there, they have such a privileged lifestyle. For the most part, at least, they do. I know that God brought me to Guatemala for a reason. I know that there is no way all these doors would have opened if it hadn’t come from God. At least, I think that is true. I don’t want to even think about the possibility that I’ve gotten myself into some huge mess simply because I was trying to control my life again and not letting God guide me.

So, if God brought me here (which, I really think he did), then I guess my problem is that I haven’t quite figured out my purpose here.

Guess it’s a good thing God gives us patience to endure these times of uncertainty and frustration. I just wish I had a little more right now.


Playing Catch-Up

Here are some offline entries that I'm just now getting to post. Forgive the detail oriented writing. I haven't had time to spiff it up and make it read better yet.

10/16/04 8:46 PM

Well, this morning I slept in until around 9. I actually woke up around 6 or so, but I knew I had nothing to do, so I made myself stay in bed longer. I got up and got dressed and had breakfast all before 9:30. After being home for so long and sleeping so late in the day, it is hard for me to believe that my body is ready to go at 7 or before. I don’t really have to fight waking up in the morning, and really I fight to make myself sleep longer. I know it’s because of the sun. It is so bright in the mornings, and I can’t get used to sleeping with the eye shade thing yet. Maybe when my days are a little busier and I get more tired, I will be more inclined to sleep past 7.

Anyway, by 10 today, I was wondering what in the world I was going to do with my day. I knew I couldn’t stand sitting around watching TV all day again. My hips were hurting like they do when you spend too much time in bed or sitting. Charlotte rescued me by letting me go with them to the Ambassador’s house to swim in his pool. So today, on my one week anniversary of being in Guatemala, I went to the Ambassador’s house. Somehow, my life just seems to be too crazy. How do things like this happen to me?

Still, sitting around the pool, I was bored out of my mind. I wanted to run around screaming I was so tired of sitting. And while I am eternally grateful for these people who’ve taken me into their house and their family, they are a bit odd and sometimes I just feel a little uncomfortable around them.

But, praise Jesus, I was rescued. One of the teachers at CAG who also works with the youth at Union, took pity on me and invited me to go out to dinner with her and some of her friends. We went to Antigua. And man, I felt alive for the first time since I’ve been here. I fell in love with the city within the hour, and I had a deep yearning to stay longer and explore. I felt relatively safe for the first time since I got here. I wish I could live there instead of here, but it’s too far away from the church and on the wrong side from the schools I’m going to be working with. We ate at a place that was pretty much catered to gringos, but it was still very good. I hope that those girls continue to invite me to things, because I really enjoyed talking to them and hanging out with. They are my chance at having friends here, and I don’t want to screw that up.

It felt good to get out of the big city and it gave me hope that I’m going to not only just survive these coming months, but I may even enjoy some of them.


10/17/04 7:16PM

Today, I taught Sunday school for the first time. Things went really well, so I’m hoping that means Paul will back off a little and give me some space. I really want this man to trust me and to see that I am a capable person. I think I’ve figured out that Paul has been doing things on his own for so long, that now that he has help, he doesn’t quite know what to do about it. He’s not really good at giving up control, and delegating isn’t something he has totally figured out yet.

Tomorrow I go to take my Spanish placement test, so long as I have a ride there. I hate asking Charlotte to continue to shuttle me around. I cannot wait to get a car. Maybe tomorrow till bring a great little car at a price I can afford.

I’m looking forward to learning Spanish, but I feel a little funny about it. I am not sure why I have this hesitancy about it. I’ve been around people who’ve been here maybe a year and they seem to be so fluent and most of them didn’t take classes. I know I will learn this language and be able to use it eventually, but I wish I could flip the switch in my head faster. I think part of it is just letting myself look like an idiot. Part of it may also be feeling uncomfortable and out of control. Because if I start speaking in Spanish, I am more likely to put myself in situations where I am vulnerable and less able to protect myself and understand exactly what is going on around me.

I get to go climb Picaya this weekend. It’s one of the volcanoes that is in Guatemala City. It’s supposed to be awesome. I’m sure I will be out of breath from the altitude and from sitting on my butt for the last week. Man, I miss the outdoors like you would not believe. There is this garden plot that these people call a backyard, but it totally does not fill my need for open land. But open land is non-existent in the city because there isn’t room and it isn’t safe to have parks. I think that is why I enjoyed Antigua so much. There was a fountain and trees and open land. I mean, the city is the city, but it wasn’t a 30 minute drive to find a field.

I’ve never lived in a big city. I’m not sure I like it.


October 26, 2004

Coming ASAP

I promise I have at least 3 posts from the last couple of weeks already written. They are just on my laptop, which I don't bring into the office very much. Once I get a car and have a little more mastery over my schedule and life, I will be able to get my laptop into the office and these posts updated pronto.

Pictures coming too!

Lo siento mis amigos.


October 12, 2004

A Critical 10

I've been trying to capture every sound, sight, and smell these past few days so that I could bring them to you in this, my first post from Guatemala. The crazy traffic, the warm balmy days, the faces that don't look like the ones I usually encounter...it's all been so overwhelming.

People have been asking about my transition and they keep using that term, overwhelming. And I, in my typical prideful fashion, tell them that I am doing good and that I'm not to that point yet. But, here, I will admit it. I am overwhelmed. My boss and my fellow youth worker are very nice and have taken great pains to make sure I feel comfortable, and are trying to ease me into this new world and job as slowly as psssible. But they are kind of confusing. Their personalities are from opposite ends of the spectrum, and I can't quite connect with either one of them.

But despite my step from being whelmed into overwhelmed, I am still doing good. I know that much of the pressure I feel is self-induced and is not coming from these new people I work with. The family I am staying with is wonderful. The husband is a diplomat at the embassy, so I am priveleged to live in their beautiful house. They have an adorable family, and I've already grown to love their two little girls. I will be with them for the next two months or so, and once I get more comfortable with living in someone else's home, I'm sure it will be a very enjoyable experience.

I've seen some of the city in the last few days, but I have to admit that I am somewhat scared about exploring it on my own. In fact, it's not really a good idea to do anything alone down here, so I will have to find a friend soon who can play tourist guide.

I admit that I was a bit naive in my coming to this country. I knew it was a dangerous place to be, that the government hasn't always had the best reputation, and that the city especially has a high crime rate. But there is so much more to it than that, and this has probably been the number one factor in pushing me towards overwhelmingness. The embassy classifies things on a scale of 1-10, with a 1 being completely safe and peaceful, to a 10 which is the most dangerous. I was also told that they have things on a security scale of safe to critical. Well, Guatemala is both a 10 and a critical country. I just didn't know, or understand. I researched pretty well, I thought, so it was a surprise to me when after the intial greetings were given, that I was given some kind of security advice from almost everyone I met. The car I buy will have windows tinted almost black so that no one will be able to tell that a gringa is driving it alone. I live in a gated community, and even there, I am not allowed to walk by myself. I shouldn't drive after dark, especially by myself. There is a guard at the church parking lot. The police have a reputation for being corrupt and untrustworthy.

I knew that being a white woman would mean I would be at risk for certain things...but I just didn't understand what is was going to be like.

Luckily, I have all these people around me who know what to do and are giving me plenty of advice. I know they are trying to scare me so that I don't go and do something stupid and to instill a healthy paranoia of the city I call home for the next 10 months.

Hah. I just realized that I was typing on a Spanish keyboard. I didnt even look at it.

I'm probably going to start taking Spanish language classes with the woman I live with. She attends a school that has fairly cheap lessons, and I really do want to learn more. Hopefully that will work out.

Well, I guess I better get back to work. I've been given a ton of books to read about the Third Culture Kids I am going to be working with. I have so much to learn, so I better start.


October 9, 2004

I Dream Of...

You may not know this, but my last semester of college, I worked at a coffeeshop. They opened up February of this year and they were desparate for help. Which, in all honesty, is why I got hired. I knew nothing about coffee. I couldn't even really make coffee, and Lord knows I don't drink the stuff. Plus, I was still in a walking cast from my last surgery, so it's not like I was even quick on my feet. But regardless of all that, they still hired me. I'm not even sure they checked my references first. Or ever.

Though it probably slowed my recovery time down and caused the bout of tendonitis I got in my ankle, I really enjoyed my job. My boss loved me and trusted me with a lot of responsibilties early on. The last day I clocked out on the computer, the main menu was hidden and the worksheet was up. I was listed under management along with my boss, while everyone else was listed under another category. Not that it really meant anything, cause we all got paid the same, but it still made me feel good. And made me wish I'd asked for a raise...but that's just being greedy.

Probably the most bizarre thing about my stint as a coffee barista is the simple fact that I never drank anything I made...even the "regular" coffee. I could make these wonderful lattes with foam you could stand a spoon in (which, btw, is the actual test for foam...how dense it is and whether or not a spoon could be propped up in it. Who knows where they came up with that one). People still tell me that things don't taste the same now that I am gone. But I never even tasted a single Turtle Mocha. I loved the fruit smoothie things, but beyond a sip of a Chai Latte the day I was trained, I didn't touch a drop of the stuff. I have no idea why my drinks tasted better than most, when I followed the same drink recipe as everyone else.

Walking (or really...limping) into a job like that was kind of scary. I knew nothing about what I was being hired to do and I wasn't sure if I could do it. Thankfully, everything worked out beautifully and it was a great experience for me and for the coffeeshop

Tomorrow evening, I will be walking (and, hopefully, not limping) into a new job. It's one that has elements of the very familiar and comfortable in a setting that is totally new and maybe even a little scary. I've done this job before, and I have succeeded. But, I've never done this job in another country and it has me a little on edge. I know they aren't going to expect me to step off the plane spouting schedules and programming, but I still feel this pressure to impress and assure them that they made the right decision in hiring me.

I'm flying out of Nashville tomorrow, with a slight layover at IAH, and then landing in Guatemala City by about 8PM their time...which I think is our Mountain Time Zone. I can't believe I am sitting here writing that and it's completely true. No embellishing or taking liberties with the truth. It's really going to happen.

This week has sucked. I've been stressed out on levels that make me want to throw up. Every second of every day. It's been worse than the lime episode.

Well, maybe that's being melodramatic. Cause let's face it...it would take a whole lot of stress to top that particular experience.

I have had a nightmare every single night this week. I woke up twice this week crying and in a cold sweat. I have always had very detailed dreams with usually weird twists and situations, but I can't remember the last time I dreamed such morbidly scary dreams.

I went to see my friend who has the sick baby for a couple of days at the beginning of the week. Most of the nightmares have centered around her, usually with her dying. I'm sure that they come from the situation she is in with her son, and all the grief and pain I feel about that. Plus, I love this woman pretty fiercely, and having her in pain is not something I'm handling great. I tried to put on a brave face and not make her burden any heavy by sharing my load. But I think that is why the nightmares started. I'm hoping they go away soon, because it sure makes for an exhausting night.

I've also been stressed about packing and tying up all the loose ends that have been floating around since I came home. That stress will get instantly better the moment I hand over my over-the-weight-limit baggage to the airline and can just stop trying to remember if I did everything. I'm counting the hours until I get that release. For now, though, I'm stuck with the rock at the bottom of my stomach, and a suitcase that is too full and a pile of things that I have to decide whether or not they make the cut.

The decisions will be made soon enough, the night will pass, hopefully without another crazy dream, and tomorrow will be here before I know it. And tomorrow is it. It's the day I've been waiting and working towards since April when that email slipped into my inbox and changed my life. I don't know when I'll be able to update, but I'll write when I can. So until then...take care and please pray that I have the courage to step off that plane and follow this path that has appeared before me.


October 2, 2004

Newsletter 1.0

Friends Posted by Hello


I have been home this past month, taking an unplanned vacation.

When I took the job in Guatemala at the beginning of the summer, I thought I'd be home for 2 weeks maximum in between ending my job in Texas and leaving for Guatemala. However, my support raising had a slow and discouraging beginning, and it soon became obvious that I was going to be home for at least 4-6 weeks.

In all honesty, it took me almost a month to be grateful for this "unplanned" vacation. Moving back home after a successful college career was not something I had ever planned on, nor expected. Sleeping in past 10 every day and reading myself to sleep every night soon lost its appeal. I was depressed and discouraged. I did not understand why God was putting this road block in my path on this journey to Guatemala. I was ready to go! I wanted to feel effective and useful.

I wanted a reason to get up before 10— besides watching TBS's Primetime in the Daytime and unloading the dishwasher to prove to my parents I wasn’t sleeping the day away.

It didn't really hit me until my one month anniversary of being home why I was here. I was reading Don Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz (which I highly recommend, by the way), in the rocking chair on my back porch when God smacked me over the head with a 2x4. I think God can speak to us in nudges and gentle whispers, but I definitely think I am more of a 2x4 kind of girl.

Victoria, he said, You are going to have needed this vacation. Be grateful that you have this place to come to and parents that allow you to crash at home when you need to. Be grateful that I'm going to use you. But, please, trust in my timing and in my plans. You are not wasting your time by being here. You are resting your mind, your body, and your spirit. This adventure you are so excited about is going to stretch you in ways you haven't even thought about yet, and I need you to be ready for that. So, for now, just RELAX and enjoy this time. Trust me on this. I know what I am doing.

Needless to say, I was a little stunned by the clarity of that moment. From that moment on, I have tried to leave my worrying at God's feet, and just take advantage of the time I have been given. And in all honesty, it was when I stopped stressing out over support-raising and money problems that God began to bless me in incredible ways. In a matter of weeks, I was given over half the money I needed. I have been, and continue to be, overwhelmed by the love and generosity that has been shown for me and for my mission. I will never have the words to express how grateful I am that I have been given the opportunity to make this dream a reality.

I was able to buy my plane ticket for October 9th. I will be returning for a couple of weeks at Christmas, so this first leg of my journey is only a couple of months long. However, I will be returning in January to stay until June, or until I run out of money.

I am excited about the challenges and adventures that God has planned for me, and I am eager to start this journey. However, I am thankful for this vacation, even if I haven't always had the best attitude about it.

I plan on writing an update/newsletter each month to keep you abreast of my work and experiences in Guatemala. If I have your address wrong or if you move, please send me an email at victoriaseyler@cten.org so that you can continue to receive one. Also, if you'd rather not receive the mailings, please just drop me a line and I promise to stop rambling in your general direction!

Just know that when I take those first steps off the plane in Guatemala…when I take that first gulp of Central American air...when I laugh a nervous giggle before I jump into this adventure with both feet...know that you are there with me. In my thoughts, in my prayers, in my heart. You are part of that voice that tells me I can do this. And I will never be able to thank you enough for that.

Let the adventure begin!

Grace and Peace,

PS This is the mailing I am sending to my support list. I know some things have been repeated from other posts, so just overlook those parts. I'm not advertising the blog for now, plus most of the people who gave me money are older and don't even understand weblogs. I will continue to post and mail out the newsletters as I go, but if you want to recieve mail from me, just drop me a line and I'll add you to the list! muchas gracias!