Life So Far

I think this is going to be a pattern: me having way more to tell you than I am able to. So much has been happening these past couple of weeks and I am so blessed to be a part of it. I have been going, going, going, non-stop and I LOVE what I’m doing! Since my last post, I finished up my time living with Seth and Leslie in San Felipe and moved to Fernando and Marianela’s house in Jocotenango (where I stayed for 5 days), and then I moved to my semi-permanent residence with Carlos and Telma in Magdalena. It was such a blessing for me to be able to live with these two families before I settled in at Carlos and Telma’s. They were a great help in my transition! On Tuesday the 17th we had our last staff meeting with Fernando before he goes on a three month (well-deserved) sabbatical. It was nice to also have fellow SI workers who are in the process of joining staff in the Dominican Republic come for a visit. I had met them when I was at the SI office in California in January. Our 7 summer staff for the first session (May-July) arrived on the 18th and I have enjoyed helping out with leading them and getting them settled in Guatemala. I will be leading the orientation period for the summer staff for the second session (July-August) so I have been paying close attention to how it is done, though I have been through it three times myself, already. Since I am now on full-time staff, it has been interesting to me to see how my role has changed from that of summer staff and I can see just how helpful and important the summer staff are to us. It is a blessing to have the seven of them here to help us! I have also been trying to help Seth out as much as possible as he has taken on the role of Interim Field Director while Fernando is on Sabbatical. I enjoy helping out with logistical things such as reimbursing staff for job expenses and leading the summer staff.

Our first team of students arrived on Monday the 23rd for a two-week outreach. One group is from Canada and another is from Greenville! It has been a lot of fun to interact with the students as they are taking part in such a transformational experience in Guatemala. This past week has been a period of “passing of the torch” for the health clinic site. Maurine has been great in helping me take on the responsibility of site leader at the clinic site as she is beginning to hand the reins over to me. Yesterday (Friday) was her last day at the clinic and I will be completely leading this site from here on out. It is a bit overwhelming as it involves a lot of responsibility to run the clinic. SI has a new pediatrician (the first in the area!) and a new nurse who are AMAZING! I am excited to be able to work with them. Our clinic schedule for when we have students looks like this:

Wednesday: Clinic in El Gorrión

Thursday: Convalescent home in Antigua

Friday: Clinic in El Gorrión

Monday: Clinic in El Gorrión

Tuesday: National hospital in Chimaltenango

Wednesday: Clinic in El Gorrión

Thursday: Convalescent home in Antigua

Working with Dra. Sara Romero in the clinic has been very inspiring for me. We always have more patients than we are able to see in a day. The patients come early to get a number and then wait for hours before they can be seen. It is very sad when we have to turn patients away. Dra. Sara gives such great, quality care to the patients. Wednesday in the clinic we even got to experience Dra. Sara pulling out the Bible with a couple of her patients and sharing some verses specific to the trials they are experiencing now. (Jeremiah 30:12,17, Psalm 51, Joshua 1:6-8) It is great to see not only the physical healing but also healing in the soul. Many people in these communities are suffering very difficult situations including abuse in the family, alcoholism, and extreme poverty. There are a lot of deeeeeep wounds that will take a long time to uncover and heal. It is great to have a doctor that is so perceptive of the deeper needs of her patients and is so faithful to follow up with them on a personal level.

I am happy to be living in Magdalena with a Guatemalan family that I love to death as I have worked with them over the past couple of years. We have completely bared our souls with one another and we have been completely vulnerable in sharing our testimonies and lives. I truly feel like they are family. Carlos and Telma are my mom and dad, with Kati and Pabel as my sister and brother. Mirna and Luis are neighbor kids who have been raised by Carlos and Telma and are basically part of the family as well. It has been great to be able to spend this time with them, being incorporated even more in their daily lives. Mirna and Telma have been teaching me how to cook and I have been helping out in the kitchen a lot and even helping Carlos and Telma with their homework as Carlos is learning English and Telma is working on completing her elementary education. We commonly spend the evening laughing so hard we cry! I love being with this crazy, goofy family that exudes the joy of the Lord. The big Magdalena 12K race is coming up in July and we are all very excited about it. (God is so good to provide me with a family that runs!!) I participated in this race last year with Carlos’ team and Mirna and I ran it together both for the first time. I have been so busy with my SI responsibilities that I have not been able to train much yet, but hopefully I will get the chance to do so soon. The people here have never had the opportunity to work with a running coach, so they are eager to hear what little I can share with them from my running experience. After we ran together Monday, Telma, Mirna, Pati and I were all sprawled out on the kitchen floor together stretching our IT bands.

Fun Story: Thursday night, Mirna was showing me how to make tortitas de carne. I was excited to have this experience with her. I walked with her to the tortilleria to buy hand made corn tortillas (which we eat every meal). We walked to the butcher to buy some ground beef (only ½ pound for a family of 5. Can you imagine that!?) Then we went to a tienda to buy fresh bread (it’s really cheap here, same with the tortillas) and vegetables to prepare our meal. Everything was fresh. They don’t use any canned or frozen food. It is quite different than what I am used to! 🙂 While we were in the tienda, I was talking with the lady who owns the store (Doña Alicia) and she realized that I speak English and she asked if I would mind chatting with her 17 year old son who is learning English. So I was helping Melvin with his English for a couple of minutes. It was so sweet! When Mirna went to the store on Friday to buy ingredients for Friday night’s dinner, they were asking for me but I was busy translating Marcos’ testimony time for the team. I am looking forward to continuing this new friendship with this family who owns the tienda down the street. The meal that we prepared was kind of similar to meat loaf patties with spaghetti. We mixed the ½ pound of ground beef with tomatoes, onion, and one egg and made little patties (tortilla-style) that we fried. The majority of the food, besides the noodles, was tomato. Subsistence living is quite different than what we are used to in the states. The whole meal for the five of us (not including the cost of the noodles) only cost about 40 Quetzales, or about 5 ½ dollars.

This is the street that I live on. (My house on the left) You can see our advertisement for the animal feed that the microfinance site is producing.

The kitchen in my house, with fresh sunflowers. Flowers are very cheap here because they are so easy to grow. We spend hours around this table at night, telling jokes and laughing late into the night.

My room, all moved in. There is an extra bed where other staff members who live in Antigua (ie. Nivia) can spend the night when they have an early morning devotional the next day. There is a small berry tree outside my window that the sparrows like to visit.

Rex and Rudolph, Kati and Pabel’s new puppies that live up on the roof. They are so much fun! Praise God for providing me with some pets once again!

Hiking with the students in the forest. This is the beautiful paradise, just a 10 minute hike up the hill from my house.

I love where I live! It’s so fun to show students the exciting things that wait for them in the forest! God’s creation is so beautiful!

The teams sharing a song with the congregation at Monte Sinai Church.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Messenger
    May 29, 2011 @ 19:23:07

    Hola, You sound busy but having a ball down there. Be careful driving! As I remember traffic signs are optional. I could not find where you are in an atlas. Most of what I know is relative to Guatemala City and Antigua. I will be in Costa Rica in less than two weeks. The mission we had gone to before did not have an major constuction projects, so no one signed up last year. I will be in slum areas around the capital of San Jose. The first few days will be distributing glasses. The rest of the time will be construction of some sort. We will miss your semi annual visits. God bless you, Britney. David.


  2. Laura Stephens
    May 31, 2011 @ 15:40:08

    Dearest Britney, every time I read your blog my heart swells with such great joy at the thought of you and our family in Magdalena and surrounding areas. I love you, am praying for you, and am so so thankful to have you in my life and that God is blessing you with that position in Guate. Please, give my hugs to Marcos, Carlos, and Telma. xoxoxo


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