Thursday, March 31, 2011


Can you hear the giggling???  Oh what fun it is to play and color with these girls.  I had my laptop in the salon for the sole purpose of playing some Abel Zavala for the girls as they colored pictures for their sponsors.  It crossed my mind that I should have my camera and then I thought, “Ah! Photo Booth!”  So, we took some a number of GOOFY, CRAZY pics and a few just need to be shared.

It was especially sweet because today is Blanca's 8th birthday and she was full of smiles, hugs, and love.  This little one is usually uninterested in hanging around and passing out hugs!  I've learned with her, she comes around when she's interested in giving or getting attention.  Today, she was so different.  She was by my side frequently and always with her arms around my neck or leaning against me, giving me her wonderful toothless grin.  It's really starting to kill me…I still have time left here, but I'm starting to think about leaving and UGH!  I feel a horrible sense of, "What was I thinking?!?!"  How in the world is it possible to spend time in this context and then leave?  It seems so unfair to all parties included…like purposely setting out to break your own heart along with the others!  In the beginning, some of the older girls asked, "Stephanie, will you come back here?"  OF COURSE!  I know that.  Last week, Adela started to question me about when I was leaving for Oregon and we began to calculate how much time I had left---she looked at me, I looked at her-tears started to form and I interrupted, "NO Adela!  We're not doing this now."  And we laughed the thoughts away.  I love these girls.  I am zealous about fighting with and for them and it is so unfortunate that for most of you, reading this is as close as you will come to experiencing this immense treasure.  How disappointing, second rate and flat!  (I have a way to fix that, I just need a week of your time!  However, know that you've been warned-you'll be crushed too, for the good.)  Today I had lunch with Casa A and visited with Tia Blanca.  This very topic was a part of the conversation and I told her I don't think I can leave here without planning a return trip.  I know your minds are running with questions based on this post and the last.  Yes, I'm returning to OR in late May.  I have an extremely important graduation to attend on June 3.  Yes, I'm still moving forward with school.  No, I don't have any plans after May.  Still surprised?  Me too!    

Ok, I'm done for now.  No, one more thing.  My birthday is coming and all I REALLY WANT is for that ChipIn to grow!  AND MAYBE A SLICE OF TRES LECHES TO CELEBRATE  ;)

Happy 8th Birthday Blancita!  Your smile is a keeper! 

This is before they really figured out what was going on.  Pure curiosity here.

Oh, oh effects!!!!!

Starting to get the hang of this=funny faces! 

Mayra working very diligently on a special letter to her sponsor. 

Yeymy has this one patented. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Third time is a charm.

This is the third time I've attempted to write this post.  I'm struggling, sitting here right now, trying to figure out what I want to say.  This post is not an update on life at POP or the girls.  It's me and it's for those of you who have been following the back to school for a second degree adventure.  I wrote late Saturday night and again this morning, but didn't publish what I wrote.  It felt like I was jumping the gun and maybe not being as honest as I wanted to be, telling only part of the story.  So, I just need to throw this info into the collective knowledge regarding that big ol' application to OHSU.  

We had a plan, mom and I, and she followed through without a hitch;).  Thanks mom!  The letter from OHSU arrived Friday and I received an email from mama J Friday midday with news of being placed on the alternate list.  The letter was actually quite nice, "…the committee has reviewed your application and recognizes your strong academic potential and fit…we are still very interested in your candidacy.  Therefore,…"  fill out this additional form blah blah blah.  So, the door isn't actually closed, but who says, "No thanks," to OHSU?

The good news is, I made the alternate list.
The bad news is, I made the alternate list. 

I'm so thankful for all you faithful family and friends who are FOR me and who've been hanging around all weekend checking in with me.  I'm good.  I'm staring at an abyss that exists beyond May without plans.  So, there is much yet to be determined.  Surely by now you know,  I'LL KEEP YOU POSTED. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thoughts on this particular day.

This morning, four of the girls here are leaving for their audencias.  What is that?  This is the time they go before the judge with Vilma, the social worker at POP, and/or Dr. Jim and their families.  This is the time where the judge decides if the family is ready for the girl(s) to return or if it is still better for them to stay at Prince of Peace.  Sometimes the girls are excited.  A few weeks ago, Virginia had her audencia and she was so excited to be going home to live with her older sister.  This morning, on my walk, I saw these four girls and a range of emotions.  On one face was excitement, on another anxiety, and on one, well, she's just stoic.  This morning I'm listening to this and am praying for peace-peace-peace for Eloisa and Eugenia and Yaneth and Vanesa.

I'm thankful for a God who is full of grace, peace, and justice.  And I'm grateful for a God who WILL NOT relent when it comes to the lives of these girls.  As well, I'm glad He WILL NOT relent when it comes to my own heart and yours.  

Lilian Yaneth 

Eugenia y Eloisa 


Last night Ana came over to visit.  We had tea and hot cocoa and chatted about everything under the sun:). Ana is one of the older girls in Independent Living.  She is beautiful and full of pranks and spunk…and the more we visit, the more I see a soft heart and a desire.  As we visited last night, she made a comment about her mom and how she (Ana) came from El Salvador to Guatemala.  I asked her if she would share her story with us (Lauren and I).  She is the first girl I've asked to personally share.  It's such a tender thing to share openly, but I sensed it was a good time for connection and I felt she'd be willing.  She smiled and proceeded to lead us through her history and at the end of the story said this place, Prince of Peace, is an answer to her prayer to God.  A prayer she prayed as a little girl.  She defines POP as her other family.  "We eat and sleep and go to school together here.  I have two families."  So strong are those ties!

Many of my thoughts this week have been toward adoption.  These conversations and living among these girls has emphasized and magnified this = our position and our adoption into the King's family.  That Third Day Children of God video is still playing on this computer screen!  The song is good, but the video has a particularly strong impact, God does not see us with the labels we generally place on one another.  We are His daughters and these few months, I am living among some of His most treasured possessions!

God thanks.  Thanks for Your RELENTLESS pursuit in our lives.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Third Day-Adoption

Gretchen sent me an email last night with the subject line, "to make you cry".  I decided not to open it last night and this morning it was waiting for me, this video.  Thanks for sharing, G.

Folks, it's worth your 5 minutes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fragments-idiomas, boys, and more.

Fragments, why?  Because there are too many good little bits to let them fall between the cracks.

Part One:  Maricruz y Esperanza 

On most evenings during the week, Maricruz leaves POP at 5PM with Esperanza and they make their way down the boulevard to pick up Fabiola after school.  I try to catch Mari before she leaves the office because I thoroughly enjoy these ride-alongs!  It's a great time for me to check out the city, catch up with these ladies, and practice Spanish.  First, I must say, they are excellent learners and speak English very well.  It's easy for them, and therefore easy for all of us, to communicate in English.  However, this week I told them, "Hey.  I really need to practice Spanish.  So, I'll speak in Spanish, you speak in English."  OH MY did we laugh.  I mean laugh!!!!!!!!  The kind of laughing that makes you feel good.  The kind of laughing which lightens the load (and causes me to be free in fumbling through my vocabulary).  I ask questions about signs or idiomatic expressions and practice my verb conjugations.  (I especially like it when I get those conjugations correct and Espe encourages me with, "Wow!  You are very smart!;)  )  Anyway, here is an example in an attempt to invite you into one of those traffic-jammed-ride-alongs.  I often hear folks here using the courteous excuse me in a few different forms.  Easy.  Perdoname or disculpe.  This second word, disculpe does not roll off my tongue.  Instead, I like to say discuple.  Yeah, hard to point out the difference.  Look again.  I want to pronounce the "p" before the "l".  Maricruz and Esperanza could not stop laughing, neither could I.  They kept saying it, I would repeat, they would laugh.  From there it turned crazy and goofy as I began to incorrectly pronounce all the words they have so gingerly corrected.  I AM NOT an auditory learner. NUNCA!  If I can't see it, you can bet I won't be able to pronounce, let alone remember, the word!  Ahhh, but it makes for a good time.

Part Two: Mabel's Curiosity

Mabel:  Do you have a boyfriend in Antigua?
Me:  What?  A boyfriend in Antigua?  Me, no.  Why?  
Mabel:  You came back from Antigua looking beautiful and _______. (Hand gestures for something similar to walking the runway!)
Me:  (Laughing- more- and a little more- still laughing- now Mabel is laughing)  Are you serious? Really?  (More laughing at her gestures.)  No.  I didn't have time to find a boyfriend, I was too sick all week.
Mabel:  Really?  (She makes a face, cocking her head and squinting her eyes as if to say- I'm not buying it.)  Are you sure you don't have a boyfriend in Antigua?  We all (she gestures to the house and other girls) thought you looked more beautiful (which I took to mean I had some sort of sparkle about me after returning).  
Me:  Wow, thank you for the compliment.  Maybe I'm sparkling because I can have a conversation with you now because no, I do not have a boyfriend in Antigua.  (I have a hunch they doubt that I'm going to Antigua for school!)

THAT conversation took place on the porch before evening devotions with the rest of the house. THIS conversation took place after devotions.

Mabel:  Estephany.  How many boyfriends have you had?
Me:  (Smile.  This girl is curious.)  Toda mi vida?  In all my life?  Serious?
Mabel:  Yes.
Me:  (Counting on my hand explaining when and how long and why we went separate directions.)
How may have you had, Mabel?  (Lots of giggling on her part!)

I'm not sharing this to tell you about a boyfriend in Antigua.  I'm not sharing this to tell you about my past relationships.  I'm sharing this because it made me smile for many reasons.  One, I'm having a conversation with a young lady who I STRUGGLED to converse with my first few weeks here.  I asked her if she remembered that first week and how hard it was to communicate…we both laughed!  Two, this is evidence of girls growing up and their interest in boys. :)  And, these are the beginnings of conversations we should be having.  Three, I was able to express to Mabel the importance of finding un buen hombre-a good man-who knows and loves God.  I've often thought about these girls in the distant future.  Chances are, they will one day marry.  But who will he be and what will he be like?  Will they break through their family of origin issues or will they fall into destructive relationships?  I HOPE for them and I pray for their futures.  I know I'm not alone in those prayers and I'm thankful to know there are MANY who love these ladies and are battling for their futures in prayer.

Part Three:  ChipIn

You may not have noticed, but I have.  The ChipIn over there on the right, it's growing:).  Gracias a Dios y gracias a ustedes!  It's still wrong…we're at 30%!

Part Four:  La Cocinera 

I have set out with intent to have some fun in the kitchen here.  Over that past few years, my time in the kitchen has diminished.  (Wait, I'm not sure if it's ever been my forte!  Yes, mom, I hear you.:)  )  I love to bake, but cooking is different.  Anyway, I realized this is a great time because I can't use the excuse of homework or plans with friends to get out of making a meal.  First on the list was Caldo Real- typical soup here in Guate.   Lots of vegetables in a clear broth---beef, chicken, pork etc.  The soup was good and I found a new-to-me vegetable, guisquil.  It's also known as chayote, vegetable pear, and according to wikipedia, in the States our slang term for this yummy veggie is old people lips.  Made me curious and I'm going to hunt for it when I get home.  Have you seen this in your local grocery store?

Part Five:  The Run

It has been a few months since I've moved at a pace faster than 4mph.  No, I cannot just walk out my door here and go on a leisurely run through the neighborhoods for a few different reasons.  #1 It's not a good idea for reasons of personal safety.  #2  It would be a hill workout every time and honestly, I'm not into hills.  I run Terwilliger when someone tells me it's part of the training, not because I feel like running hills.  So, for the first time since I arrived, I went running, albeit on a treadmill.  Surprisingly, I did not miss the Portland neighborhoods I usually run through, I did not mind that I was on a machine, I didn't mind that it was 5:45AM, and I didn't mind that I forgot my ipod.  I was too happy to be running.  I will quickly admit, I'm not a runner.  I'm not that person who says, "Oh, I miss running, I only went three times last week."  No.  I run because it's exercise, usually free, and it allows me to slow my brain down for a while-thank you endorphins.  Lauren and I found a gym up the hill and another one down the boulevard to check out another morning.  I'm hopeful this will become a regular occurrence because though I'm not a runner, I run.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


It has been a week unlike the others.  No reason.  Not better or worse, different.  I spent a week away at language school and returned with grammar help and a less functional ability to speak.  REALLY?  I think, in part, I'm able to more easily recognize my abuse and misuse of this language.  My best comparison/reasoning jargon, things usually get worse before they get better!  I feel like I have a clamp over my mouth and I don't want to engage-that's not good at all.  Or, I'm stuck over thinking, agh!  So, I'm headed back to school this week and am hopeful this will be a push forward rather than a floundering set back.  Hopeful, I am.

Meet Lauren.  She starts med school in the fall and is here for a few months, working
in the clinic and lovin' on these ladies.

A little fun, par for the course on most days!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

She Speaks

Tonight, I heard it.  It's not the first time, no, but it is the first time I've heard her addressing her friends, "Chile cuatro por Karen!  Chile cuatro por Suleyka!"  It made me so happy, hearing her voice, speaking.  Not responding, speaking!  Can you understand what I mean?  It's the freedom the majority of us have from the start.  The opportunity to speak.  First, yes, responding to our parents and adults, but then addressing and leading in conversation with our siblings and our peers.  Calling out on the playground, harassing our older brother ;), speaking to our friends over the fence.  Freedom.  As far as I know, this is it for her!  It's new and it is lovely to watch.  I go get crazy after dinner with those girls because I'm enthralled with her transformation (and well we just have a great time, ALL of us)!  Maria, Maria, Maria.

Here she is.  You've seen this face on here before, but maybe you'll also be able to see some of what I'm seeing---a person, full of beauty-no longer a shell of a human.  Maravilloso!

ProgresiĆ³n de Maria…

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Habakkuk 3:19

The Sovereign Lord is my strength!  
HE makes me as surefooted as a deer, 
able to tread upon the heights.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

For Sara!

"I need some pictures of Antigua so I can see where you are."  This is the message I received early last week.  Here you go, my dear Sara!  Antigua is nice.  It's a place for walking (with caution). There's an abundance of cafes, restaurants, little markets, and language schools.  I did not have a particularly great week there, something like the flu which meant I spent way too much time on my bed with flashcards while the sun shone and the markets called.  However, I did meet some really wonderful people who live in the same neighborhood as POP.  And that means…I will stay at POP and drive over in the mornings with a few others in the coming weeks.  It's a quick 20-25 minute drive and much easier for me to be here rather than living with a family there.  I'm glad to be back.  One of Antigua's charms, the doors!  I was constantly wanting to take pictures of the doors, but knew I'd be disappointed with what I actually captured.  Annie is on her way here the first week of April, with her camera, and I already communicated that I have dreams of a "doors" installation for her next photography project.  Yes, Annie, it's time.  ; )

Meet Antigua...

In the morning, before the streets are crowded. 

My favorite time of day, up with the sun. 


Plaza Mayor in the middle of Antigua. 

One of many cathedrals. 


My residence for the week. 

The "Arco" and Volcan de Agua 


Thursday, March 03, 2011

March 4-Happy Birthday Mom!

Oh, it's a day early, but I wanted this to be posted for tomorrow so you can enjoy it all day!  Mom, I hope you have a wonderful day.  I love you and am so thankful you are my mom.

Taking care of business…she's a lady with multiple talents!  Love this picture taken of her over
New Year's weekend this year.  It was a GREAT, full weekend. 

The girls at Principe de Paz sure know how to send out a birthday message.  Hoping this starts your day and celebration with a HUGE smile.  

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

So Thankful!!!

Look over there to the right.  That little tracker Giving to Guatemala keeps on climbing and I am so very thankful!  Honestly, it means so much to me to have so many of you following along and giving to these girls.  Young ladies you've never (or at least not yet) had the opportunity to meet.  One of the recent donations is from a gal I lived next to during my freshman year @ OSU-Wilson Hall!  I see her on facebook, but had no idea she knew I was down here.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Ok, the part of me that likes exactness is taking over for a moment!  The ChipIn is incorrect.  Some of you have sent money directly to Prince of Peace.  So, the correct reading is more like "Raised $1050 of $4,000."  That means we're @ 26.25% of the goal.  Why $4,000?  A number I landed on because I knew it would make me pray and was beyond what my closest friends and family would give.  It seriously makes me pray!  Why April 12th?  Well, first of all it's my birthday!  Number thirty-four…treinta y cuatro…34!  I decided for my birthday this year I'd like to give a gift, but clearly this is a gift I can't give without you.  However, I will let the ChipIn run until the goal is actualized.  So, I still need some help! ;)