Monday, January 31, 2011

First, Amusement.

Papaya.  On my very first trip to Central America, I traveled with a group of friends to Honduras.  Remembering that first trip makes me smile.  I could make sense of nothing more than Hola!   And I’m really not kidding here.  As you can imagine, the word was WAY OVER USED that particular week.  Nonetheless, we were warmly welcomed and invited into a culture and language I have continued to explore over the last 9 years.

On that trip to a small village in Honduras, Pastor Ed taught us a song that I can only recall a few lines from, but they are the significant lines pertinent to this very post.  I like bananas, I think that mangos are great, I like papaya-PAPAYA??!!??-Oh yeah, but nothing can beat that sweet, sweet love of God.  (OH WOW!  Looky there, I just remembered the whole song!)

Papaya.  You either love it or you don’t.  And I’ve been told that very thing by more than a handful of folks over these years.  In Costa Rica, Virginia and Mercedes really taught me how to enjoy papaya, add salt and lime.  It’s really tasty, actually!  Well, I went to the market a few days ago and bought a papaya.  First, I don’t buy papayas in the states.  I don’t know why, I just prefer other fruits and my minimalist outlook on grocery shopping…you also have to buy a lime.  I know, I know it’s just a lime, but really it’s probably more so because of… Second, it’s a tedious process to eat papaya.  It’s not like a banana, or an apple you can grab and eat, or a handful of grapes.  It’s a process and quite frankly, I think the reward for the work is not quite the same as that of a delicious watermelon or cantaloupe!  So, I bought a papaya (I know, you're thinking get to the point!). 

Papaya.  It had been looking at me every time I opened the fridge so I pulled it out last night and began the task of stripping the poor thing to get to the meat.  In the middle of my conquest, two of the older gals came over for help with their English homework.  After a while, I offered my half completed papaya and they gave me a funny look.  No les gusta? (You don’t like?)  Oh sure, they like it ok, but apparently I was not cutting the papaya correctly.  Yes, there is a right way to do it. (Ok, really?!)  So, they laughed at me as I sat at the table and finished skinning the poor thing. 

Papaya.  Note to self, first strip it of its coat, then slice in half, then scoop the seeds.  So I left the skin on!  I wasn’t going to eat it.

I like papaya.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mi Casa & POP

Well, I figured I should give you some sort of a picture to work with, a reference of sorts.  I know when I say, they live in Casa A, you might be thinking something along the lines of a ranch style home, or a big cement building, or a shanty with a tin roof and sides.  Yes, I've seen some form of all of those, but here are a few pics for visual folks like myself! 

Casa A 

Prince of Peace School 

Independent Living Houses 

Guesthouse- my home for now. 

Entrance-Living Room-Dining Area

Kitchen and more dining  

Monday, January 24, 2011

HUGE thanks!

Over there to the right, that number keeps growing and I just wanted to say thanks.  I sure wish you could get the hugs I've been getting, but hope it's sufficient to tell you, you're the bomb!  The number of contributors is incorrect, many of you have made cash donations which went into the ChipIn as "1 contributor" instead of three.  Anyway, many thanks from down south-where the birds are singing and the school bell is ringing!  Off to recess with my friends.

One last thing…what a gift it was to have such a lovely send off from PDX!  A weekend with my mom for our almost annual mom's/daughter's weekend with good ol' friends, a shower for Baby Hayes, time with dear roommates and friends, and a covering of prayer from my Gospel Community.  I left my Gospel Community Tuesday night and had a very full heart!  Thanks y'all! ;)

Megan, Jean, Sara, Mom, Janet, & Vicki
@ Muddy Rudder for some good pizza!

Mariya, Leah, and Terri- Gospel
Community family

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In the Beginning


It's so hard to know what to write about.  Or rather, it's so hard to know where to start.  There is just so much I want to share, but it will take time and the longer I'm here, the more I'll really be able to accurately portray what's happening here @ Prince of Peace.  I would most definitely rather tell you about these young ladies, but I've still so much to learn about them and their stories.  In the meantime, I guess I can share what life has been like the last couple of days and a few pictures of some of the lovely ladies I've been hanging out with.

Their living situations…there are 5 different living quarters for the girls.  The younger girls, from about 6-15ish, live in houses with house moms (Laura, Violeta, and Maria).  There are two of these houses, three tias (aunts) and two houses and each have several rooms with 3 or 4 girls sharing a room.  The tias rotate so they have days off.  Each of these homes have 19 girls at the moment.  Casa A and Casa B.  The houses themselves are quite large with big living areas as you walk in, a small kitchen (the cooking is done in the main kitchen over yonder), a long dining room, bedrooms downstairs and upstairs, a huge front porch, a small tv room off the porch, and an area down a few steps where the girls wash their own clothes.

I've been spending my time in Casa A.  I think tonight, I finally have their names down, phew!  There are many of them and their names are not usually familiar.  Por ejemplo, Dairyn.  Looks kinda like you'd pronounce it "Dare-in."  No!  And the girls certainly worked with me on that one.  We sat on the steps of the house as I continued to try to say it right.  "No, No!  Dairyn!"  So, as much as I can tell at this point:), she is "Die-E-din."  We'll see as I progress!!!!!!!!!!!!:)  Ah, love.  And I'm here for another 3.75 months!  Lord, help me-save my heart.

Vanesa, Rosa, Mayra, Dayana, Alicia, and Gaby

The other 3 houses are for the older girls and considered “Independent Living” homes.  Actually, it’s more like 2 homes and a set of apartments.  Anyway, there will be more to come on the older girls as I get to know them better. 

I see the girls during meals, hanging out before and after, a bit of time at school during recess, and yesterday during school.  I shadowed the English teacher because I will be taking her classes for a week while she and her husband travel back to the US.  I’m pretty excited.  I think we’ll have fun.  You can still say a prayer for me.  Spanish is quickly coming back and I'm able to fumble my way through conversation, but I want to be able to communicate in class with them.  The girls who are not as shy are helpful, but I'm pretty sure I’ll be dragging my dictionary along on those days!

I took my camera to dinner tonight.  It’s hilarious, some of them don’t like their picture taken (which really makes me sad.  I know it runs deep within them, but I’ll still be pumping them with doses of affirmation.), others love to pose, and others run off with the camera and have fun!  Es bueno!

Dulce and Gaby 
Lastly, to make you suffer along with me and to cause you to pray, today, on a car trip with Dr. Jim, I learned that two of these sweet things are true orphans.  They can be adopted, but Guatemala’s government stopped adoptions to the US (and maybe other countries???) because of the rumors that children were being adopted and then sold for their organs.  I hate writing that, but I do recall hearing something similar in Mexico.  Anyhow, I asked if they could be adopted here.  The answer?  Yes, but most of the families here want babies.  Seems the same as home.  Tonight, after we finished dinner and while carrying our plates to the kitchen and stacking our chairs, the older of these two girls started crying.  Something about the grilled cheese sandwiches we had for dinner caused a memory of her mother to come to mind.  Hug ‘em and hold ‘em tight.

Some of Casa A's ladies. 

And one last thing, I'm beginning to test an idea---is it ever possible to give too many hugs?

Photo to the right: Standing-Velveth, Maria, Dapne, Marjorie, Gabriela, Rosa, Flor, Alicia, Viviana. Sitting-Dulce, Blanca, Yulisa, Mayra, Vanesa.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm in Guatemala!

I’m here.  Art and Nancy gathered me from airport, which was a breeze compared to what I’ve experienced in the past.  By the time I walked off the plane, made my way through the airport, grabbed my bags and walked through customs/immigration, a mere 20 minutes had passed.  The flight in was beautiful, rolling hills, lakes and volcano(s?).   I took a few pictures so you could see what I saw, but I doubt the camera has done justice.   Sorry, my camera is up in my house.  (Fixed that, here they are.)

Initially, I believed I would be staying in a room and sharing a bathroom with some of the girls in one of the houses.  They have dropped me off in the guest house-3 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, 2 bathrooms, back deck overlooking the rolling hills and neighbors' homes.  Um, royal treatment???  I’m not sure if this is permanent, but it’s beautiful.  I have my door open and can here the younger girls up the hill from me playing outside, laughing and screaming.:)  And the birds, I love those birds.

The home is situated on top of a hill (not really a hill or a mountain, but I’m not sure what to call it) and if trees weren’t blocking my sight, I’d have a view of the valley.  I’m guessing you can see it from somewhere on the property.  (I checked that out later today, yes.  The view is wild!  BIG city.  And over in the corner of the living room, hidden in an armoire, is a TV.  This is good for the following reason, I heard the older girls come over here to watch TV…I’m already thinking about making brownies and hanging out with them!

I was given a quick tour this afternoon.  POP is on 8 acres, I’ll have to take pictures to show you all the buildings-school, independent living homes for the older girls, houses for the younger girls, team quarters for groups that come in for weeks at a time, offices and a few other homes…and a clinic.  I’ve got so much rattling in my brain, but I’m going to wait to share what Dr. Jim, Nancy and Art shared with me this afternoon.  Basically, what they are doing here and how the thing runs.  It’s amazing, lot’s of moving parts to make it happen. 

The girls are already checking me out!!!  So curious, they are.  They are making me work (Spanish), but they also know some English so I’m making them practice too!  Most of them are pretty shy, a few are not and they’ve just run up, grabbed my hand and had me following them (participating in hide and seek).  If they are in groups of two or three, watch out!  The shy veneer disappears and they are comfortable and curious. 

Mi Corazon es bien.  My heart is good.  I have a lot to learn.  The things I have already heard about their stories, I’m glad to see they have smiles on their faces. 

Sorry if this is choppy.  I’m living on a few hours of sleep and I just wanted to post something quickly to give you an update.  

And yep, the weather feels like spring.  They say it's eternally spring here:).   

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This is what packing looks like right now.  Yep, pretty darn organized.  Nope, still haven't put it all in a bag.  I guess that's the easy part, right?  I'm usually fairly good about making sure I've covered all my bases and haven't forgotten a thing.  I'm not sure this time.  I THINK I have what I need, but I guess I just have to wait and see!:)  The ONE thing I definitely have stowed, hydrocortisone cream.  Why?  Because one night in a little town in C.R. I was attached by mosquitos.  My entire left arm was one big inflamed bite and anything resembling anti-itch cream was hours away.  It was one of those memorable events you hope never happens again. Watch out mosquito, I'm armed this time!

What's the one thing you usually forget?

Monday, January 17, 2011

25 HOURS...

And counting.  The time has arrived and I'm feeling fairly prepared.  No, I have yet to actually begin packing a bag (my heart just skipped a beat), but I'm organized and ready to throw it all in and head out.  I keep checking my list, it keeps shrinking, then growing, then shrinking.  The stress of leaving is not so much in the details on this side, but the lack of information on that side.  This is not due to poor communication, the people at POP (Prince of Peace) have been quick to respond to all of my inquiries.  This is just how it goes, ya know.  It’s a fine opportunity for me to sit back and ENJOY the ride as it comes.  In most cases, yes, I’d like to know the end of the movie or book and no, it doesn’t ruin the story for me.  So, this is where I just show up on time and take one step forward.  CHECK 

I have two planes to catch. 
#1 Portland to Houston-leaving PDX @ 11:50PM
#2 Houston to Guatemala City-arriving @ 12:18 PM Wed.

Thank you for already loving these girls.  The Giving to Guatemala ChipIn will be increasing even more here in a few days.  I push a few buttons on this side and it appears over there (insert a glance to the right side of this blog) as it continues to grow!  Thanks, thanks!!!  And, I’m packing all sorts of goodies you all have passed my way the last few weeks.  I’m excited to spread some love.:) 

Stay tuned, I’m hoping to give you a tour and make some introductions here shortly.

Oh and yes, there will be someone at the airport expecting me!  CHECK

(Shrinking list, CHECK.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Two Weeks and Counting

Time just keeps moving along and I'm headed to Guatemala.  In exactly 2 weeks, I will be sitting on an airplane on my way to spend the next 4 months at Prince of Peace Home for Girls.  It stills seems unreal, but I keep checking items off my list believing that this hope will soon become the reality I've been talking about for the last several months.

I've been waiting to write this special post, waiting for the busyness of holidays and for a chance to wrap my head around the support so many of you have already offered.  Caught off guard and overwhelmed, I'm extremely grateful for the offers of support, well wishes, and prayers.  And, I hope you follow me as I share life with those young ladies on this very blog.  I have a feeling it's going to be exciting!!!

I wanted to offer a way for you to partner with me.  It is not necessary for me to raise financial support for this trip, but I am raising money in an effort to provide clothing for the girls.  After some email exchanges, I became aware of the need for clothing, especially clothes the girls can wear to church.  Because I will be traveling alone, I have limited space (and hands) in taking extra luggage filled with these clothes.  My hope is to raise money as a gift to these young ladies and to provide for a simple need.  I would love for you to join me in this.

Financial gifts are possible through PayPal.  If you have a PayPal account, you can click on the ChipIn button on the sidebar of the main page of this blog (over there on the right, "Giving to Guatemala").  If you do not have a PayPal account, and do not wish to create one, please send me an email and we'll find a way to make the contribution happen:)! Email Steph.

Tax-receipts are not provided if given through the ChipIn on this blog.  Please send your tax-deductible contribution to Prince of Peace Ministries, P.O. Bo 1344 Mt. Sterling, KY 40353.  Please make checks payable to Prince of Peace Ministries.  Also, if you mail in a contribution, it'd be great if you'd send me an email so I can add your contribution to our goal!

Thank you all, for following and encouraging and supporting.  I can't wait to share details on life and learning as I move into 2011.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Powers, It's Good To Be Here

Christmas and New Year's, over already and onto a new year!  I was just talking this morning with my mom and Uncle John, 2010 was a blink.  And now it's time to start writing the story of 2011.  I wanted to share some fun pics of my time at home so far.  I've had a ball seeing family and a great time showing Annie and Karin my hometown.  Thanks to my mom and dad, we were busy playing like country folks play!  Happy New Year to you.

New Year at the TL.

Before the unwrapping, they were excited

Buzz Lightyear, "To infinity and beyond!"


We drove four-wheelers up the ridge to shoot.

The beer can with three bullet holes!
Our tour guides!