Thursday, April 28, 2011

Photo Update-I heart POP.

Flowers for my 34th from Deisy and Maricruz!

Anay and Lucerito 

Dafne with her candy after the Camp Sonshine Easter Egg Hunt!

Sarai reads to me, "Abba's Child" -B. Manning…how appropriate. 

Flor, Joselin, Marsha and Mabel. 

Velveth showing her Guate pride and prepping for the Camp Sonshine USA-Guate futobol (soccer) match. 

Deisy showing Sarai her freshly painted face.

Get off the road, here come Sylvia, Yohana, and Ana. 

Yohana, beautiful. 

Beautiful Yoselin advertising for Pepsi! Go Guate! 

Mayra aka-Hembra and me-aka Agorita.   

Reyna, Alyssa, Evelyn and Marielos prepping for the game. 

Eloisa, sus ojos! Que Bonita! 

Alicia going all out! 

Odilia, Carol, and Lupita. 

Lisdenia loves her team! 

Girl can jump! 

Maria and Rosita at the luau.  

A fantastic night to cap off a great week with Camp Sonshine!   

Eugenia looking beautiful.

Suleyka making it to the finals in the limbo! 

Dulce, que bonita! 

Blanquita's toothless grin is about to disappear. 

Getting a little love from this sweet chick! 

Velveth looking like she's up to something, as usual! 

Lisbeth and Marielos baking in Casa B. 

Fernanda and I-laundry day! 

xoxo Maria xoxo 


Karen, Maria, and Daniela kind of doing laundry. 

Love this-Rosita, Dulce, and Viviana 

Yes, Guate has a Starbucks on the OTHER side of the city.  We made it an evening outing.
Lauren, Ninoshka and Maricruz.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Present Risenness"

A new phrase I gathered from Brennan Manning, "present risenness."  "The Jesus who walked the roads of Judea and Galilee is the One who stands beside us.  The Christ of history is the Christ of faith."

Celebrating His risenness today, His presence with me in everything.  He is alive.  He is risen.  Death is conquered.

***Meant to post the following earlier this week!***
Brennan Manning is quickly climbing my "favorite authors" list.  I just finished his "Abba's Child" and I recommend it.  I love his writing, probably more so because he is weathered.  He doesn't speak from the vantage point of theory, but experience.  He's been through the up and down.  He's gone inside to search the depths and I appreciate that he writes from a rich, muddy, imperfect, humble, and balanced perspective.  I imagine him with a husky voice, relaying life and reality-the here and now and in the life ahead.  As he imparts wisdom and engages me in his stories, gut-wrenching realities and thoughtful prompts, I imagine him speaking at me.  He pauses often to make me uncomfortable with silence so that I might dwell with the discomfort he often leads me to, with great purpose.  And here is where I attempt to listen.  To listen is difficult.  It means putting to a halt the constant rattle I live with, a rattle I've come to recognize as both a help and a hindrance.  You, too, might know exactly what I'm talking about.  How often I (we) don't pause to truly listen.  I'm working on that this month while I'm still away from the fast and furious pace of los estadounidenses (gringos-north americans-you get it).

A few highlights I'm choosing to share:

  • In light of this week leading up to Jesus Christ's death and resurrection...Pharisees invest heavily in extrinsic religious gestures, rituals, methods, and techniques, breeding allegedly holy people who are judgmental, mechanical, lifeless, and as intolerant of others as they are of themselves-violent people, the very opposite of holiness and love, "the type of spiritual people who, conscious of their spirituality, then proceed to crucify the Messiah."  Jesus did not die at the hands of muggers, rapists, or thugs.  He fell into the well-scrubbed hands of deeply religious people, society's most respected members.
  • …the heart of it is this: to make the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth.  Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.  God's love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth.  Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.  …We discuss it.  The basis of my personal worth is not my possessions, my talents, not esteem of others, reputation…not kudos of appreciation from parents and kids, not applause, and everyone telling you how important you are to the place…I stand anchored now in God before whom I stand naked, this God who tells me "You are my son (daughter), my beloved one." …The ordinary self is the extraordinary self-the inconspicuous nobody who shivers in the cold of winter and sweats in the heat of summer, who wakes up unreconciled to the new day, who sits before a stack of pancakes, weaves through traffic, bangs around in the basement, shops in the supermarket, pulls weeds and rakes up the leaves, makes love and snowballs, flies kites and listens to the sound of rain on the roof. …While the imposter draws his identity from past achievements and the adulation of others, the true self claims identity in it's belovedness.  We encounter God in the ordinariness of life: not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary, mystical experiences but in our simple PRESENCE IN LIFE.
  • Standing on a London street corner, GK Chesterton was approached by a newspaper reporter, "Sir, I understand that you recently became a Christian.  May I ask you one question?"  "Certainly," replied Chesterton.  "If the risen Christ suddenly appeared at this very moment and stood behind you, what would you do?"  Chesterton looked the reporter squarely in the eye and said, "He is." … The Jesus who walked the roads of Judea and Galilee is the One who stands beside us.  The Christ of history is the Christ of faith."
  • Everything that is comes alive in the risen Christ-who as Chesterton reminded, is standing behind us.  Everything-great, small, important, unimportant, distant, and near-has its place, its meaning, and its value.  Through union with Him (as Augustine said, HE IS MORE INTIMATE WITH US THAN WE ARE WITH OURSELVES), nothing is wasted, nothing is missing.  There is never a moment that does not carry eternal significance- no action that is sterile, no love that lacks fruition, and no prayer that is unheard.  "We know that by turning everything to their good God cooperates with all those who love him.-Rom8:28  The apparent frustrations of circumstances, seen or unforeseen, of illness, of misunderstandings, even of our own sins, do not thwart the final fulfillment of our lives hidden with Christ in God.  The awareness of present risenness effects the integration of intuition and will, emotion and reason.  Less preoccupied with appearances, we are less inclined to change costumes to win approval with each shift of company and circumstance.  We are not one person at home, another in the office; one person at church, another in traffic.  We do not pass rudderless from one episode to another, idly seeking some distraction to pass the time, remaining stoic to each new emotion, enduring with a shrug of our shoulders when something irks or irritates.  Now circumstances feed us, not we them; we use them, not they us.  Gradually we become whole and mature persons whose faculties and energies are harmonized and integrated.
Enough, I know.  Read the book if you're a doer, an achiever, a list maker, or just in need of a reminder of why He loves us.  Not what you did, what you're doing, or what you plan to do.  He just does.  Next on the list, waiting on the table, is another Manning book!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sometimes I start with one intent and end up writing something quite different!

Ok, I just need to set the facts straight again!  Apologies, the first ChipIn went dead as soon as April 12th came around.  I didn't realize it stopped accepting donations once the date passed.  So, that's why you see Giving to Guatemala #2!  The money (by the way we're actually at 52.6%!!!!) will be lumped together and passed along to POP at the end of my time here.  THANK YOU!

Speaking of the end of my time...I asked you to pray for my remaining time, that I'd be present HERE until the end and continue to invest in these ladies.  Thanks for praying.  Please keep praying.  I'm afraid I may have to cut my time short so that I can go pee in a cup in Oregon!  Seriously?!?!  Yes, my drug test needs to come back (can take 10 weeks???) before classes begin and I don't know if they'll give me an extension on the date.  Orientation is June 10, so soon!  Frazzled, but praying and trusting.  Yes, I can be ready physically, but emotionally and mentally-I'm not there yet.

This past week I've been staying in Casa A with the girls.  We had a large team here -Camp Sonshine- for the week and needed extra sleeping space for one of the families.  It has been a great week.  The girls are out of school for Holy Week and they've been entertained with skits, water games, teaching times,  relay races and more!  This morning was BIG.  My eyes are still sensitive, yeah, you know.  The team performed a drama this morning.  Honestly, some of the dramas I've seen can be a little cheesy and you wonder how things are going to turn out.  This morning was special, very special.  The presence of God allowed these girls to spend some time grieving while there were safe people around to grieve and pray with them.  I really feel like trying to explain to you all that happened will only cheapen the actual experience, so I am going to refrain from going into too much detail.  I will say, I don't know if I've ever been in the presence of others where the walls are let down and there is serious crying, screaming and crying.  It was safe to do so.  It was accepted.  They were surrounded.  For some of the girls, it seemed as though it was a release, or at least part of the process of releasing.  Many of them feel they are to blame.  And of course there's that big looming, 'Why?'.  When there are no clear reasons, moving forward is difficult.  And forgiveness, it is a necessary step so that they may experience freedom, 'Yo soy libre!' .  Without forgiveness, they carry the ugliness along with them and it keeps them from really walking in freedom.  It's that way for all of us.

You won't relent until you have it all.  For there is love that is as strong as death, jealousy as demanding as the grave.  Many waters cannot quench this love.  You won't relent until You have it all.

Here's the beauty and here's what I believe, Jesus Christ came to take the weight of all that sin and pain and grief.  God promises beauty for ashes and we spent time praying and proclaiming this over these beautiful lives.  He won't relent until He has it all.  Today, we acknowledge this: He was crucified that we may have life and life to the full.  I believe that for these girls.  I believe that for my life.  I believe that for every life hidden in Christ.

Praying you have an Easter weekend that is meaningful to the gift of life that is offered to you, freely.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

God, SOS

This is where I falter.  This is where my nerves start going crazy and my insides are constantly on edge.  This is when I need help.  It's when I hit exhaustion because sleep does not come easy.  It's when my heart's walls have been penetrated and moved and I feel as if I'm being pulled in multiple directions.  It's when I get short-sighted and do not focus on the long term hopes and dreams.  It's when I begin to make other plans, when I reconcile failed plans with the ultimate Planner, come to peace, start dreaming about other possibilities and then am suddenly jerked into another reality.  A good reality.  A reality I've hoped for.  When a dream seems too good to be true and then it comes to pass.  When the hopes of coming back here later this year for a few more weeks or another month are suddenly put out because a new reality holds the trump card.  My heart aches tonight, a lot. It's a good ache, sure.  It still aches.

Father help me.  Overcome the limits I place on Your GOOD and FULL OF LIFE plans for my life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Forget what I said,

OHSU called today and I'm in. I'M. IN. Yes, they had an available slot and yours truly has accepted the offer!  I am in shock…jumping up and down screaming with Lauren in shock.  :)

Laugh with me!

This morning, Maricruz, Lauren and I went to Club Co. (Guatemala's Costco) to buy some bulk food for the team this afternoon.  When teams are here, they head up the mountain with 8-10 of the older girls and take beans, rice, oil, and sugar to families that POP has formed a relationship with.  On our way to buy the food, Maricruz started telling us about her IGA English classes.  She studied English last year and has started again every Saturday for 6 hours a day.  She was explaining about her class and said that there were a lot of "old people" in her class, "like 30 or 31."  I started laughing and she realized INSTANTLY she has just dug herself into a hole and was sitting next to an old person!  We all got a good belly laugh out of that one and I told her it was ok if she called me old, it's a compliment.  I'm still laughing.  I needed a good laugh.  Thanks Mari!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I keep saying and thinking I have 6 weeks remaining of the four months I planned to be here.  Six weeks is good, easy, still feels like plenty of time.  I just met reality.  I have 32 days left.  THIRTY-TWO!  Four-and-a half weeks.  When Annie was here visiting, we spent some time processing the internal and external factors carving out my time and talking about how to really do well at investing in these remaining days.  I know this time will be fast and I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't a little bit homesick for family and friends.  So, pray for me-that my head and heart would remain in the present.

Tuesday was a great day, a birthday I will remember well.  Thanks for all the love.  I was oblivious to the planning going on around me last Sunday/Monday/Tuesday.  The independent living girls threw me a surprise party and a few fireworks went off!  To top that off, even more fireworks exploded when the cake came out!  And guess, what.  Maricruz, Lauren, Marjorie, and Estephany made me tres leches!  That was my one selfish birthday request (from a previous post).  Not only did I party with these fine ladies, my mom threw me a party on skype- cousins and kiddos, brother, Mom and Dad, Aunt Lor and Uncle JB.  Finally, the little ones don't get shy and quiet when they see my face on the computer screen talking at them.  I got kisses and lots of faces pressed against the screen.  I'm sure that computer needed some love and attention after the party.  The kids even helped blow out the candles after I made a wish (yep, she made me a cake-thx mom).

This Saturday is the kick off for Camp Sonshine, a team of 18 folks from the states will be here to basically put on a week long camp.  The girls look forward to this and are more than excited to be out of school all week for Semana Santa, Holy Week.  I'm expecting a full, crazy, fun week and will be back to share some pictures soon.

I know I keep talking about her and by now you know I'm a little bit astounded by her transformation.  Should I be?  Isn't transformation what takes place in an environment of love, care, provision, gospel?  I am shaken by her process…it is a VERY clear picture for me of the life and transformation and freedom I have received in Christ.  Maria.  You are teaching me.  This is from 'Splash Day' and it makes me smile.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Listen, since it's my birthday, I'm going to take this opportunity to make a little more noise about these ladies I'm living with.  It's not easy living with 53 girls, getting to know their personalities, and witnessing the wounds and battles of life play out in their stories.  Oh, I've shared and will continue to share the smiles and laughter I'm able to capture in a photo or a video, but believe me-they have bad days too.  Days where they are a little more quiet, a little sad.  Days where they show up looking a little more tired than the others which sends me into a flurry of internal questioning.  "Why does Eugenia look so sad today?"  "Was she awake crying last night?"  "Is she sad today?"  In my limited Spanish, I'm able to ask the simple questions…Yes, in fact, she is just a little sad today.

These girls are caught up in a cycle that is known the world around.  A cycle that is disrupted by a caring person who tells an authority, who then removes the young lady from what she has known as home and places her in a foreign land…I've come to know this foreign land-Principe de Paz.  Clearly, it's only foreign for a time, the time it takes her to adjust depending on each individual girl, but it IS foreign and I can't imagine the weight and breadth of emotions these girls feel when they enter this place.

Each girl has her story.  Every story will stir and break your heart.

Just recently, another one of the younger girls lost her mom.  The neighbors came to share the information with the staff and the young one.  While many waited in the office, Kay spent some time talking to the neighbors about the remaining family members.  The neighbor said that it was better for the young girl to stay here rather than go live with family members.  According to the neighbor, here is a safe place where she should be kept.  This is the clencher, the Spanish word this lady was using for 'here' or Prince of Peace, is the same word they use when they are burying the deceased.  This neighbor sees this place as a place to bury the girls until they are older, maybe old enough to then leave and fend for themselves out in the world.

I'm not particularly fond of that concept, bury them until later.  It sounds stagnant- just put 'em in a home until they are 18 and then send them out.  Thankfully, that IS NOT what POP is doing!

Education is and always has been the door to moving forward.  Get them reading, learning, understanding concepts, develop their minds so they can think for themselves, give them experiences that are meaningful to changing their lives.  Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.  Those things are happening here, YES!  However, it all comes with a price tag and education in Guatemala is NOT free.  Sure, there are public schools, but I haven't heard anything good about those schools.  The girls living at POP attend Puerta de Esperanza, the school on the property.  However, once they reach a certain age/level, many of them leave campus to attend private schools that align with their chosen career path.  They basically make this decision at 9th grade and then attend high school or collegio with a particular area of emphasis.

Education is the door out of the cycle from which they came.  It's the way these girls wipe out the ghosts of the past and find a new future full of possibility.

A day in the life a 15 year old POPster:

-She rises at 4AM to do house chores with her housemates in the Independent Living housing.
-She leaves for school @ 5:30AM because she and her "sisters" all attend 5 different schools and Salvador must drop each of them off for their 7AM start time.
-She attends classes from 7AM until 1:30 or 3 or 4PM.
-She arrives back to POP around 4:45-5:15PM
-She may take a quick nap (if she didn't sleep on the drive), but then she starts her homework and helping with meals etc.
-She studies ALL EVENING LONG and usually turns out the light LATE.

She is more than impressive to me!

And that's just one of the schedules.  They all rise early (5:30 is sleeping in and I'm the one rising at 5:30!), work hard and do their part to keep this place running!  Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of play, but they are learning to work together and it's amazing to watch the wheels turn here!

Here's the bottom line.  These girls need education.  Education is expensive, from books and supplies to uniforms and shoes, it adds up QUICKLY when we're talking about 53 girls!  Education off campus is more expensive, but the school on the property-Puerta de Esperanza-also requires supplies and paying teacher salaries.

What am I asking?  Give.  :)  It's my birthday, I don't need a present, but I'd love to give these girls something more than I am capable of giving alone.  The ChipIn is continually growing… thanks for that!  I'm hoping today will be another surge on the meter!  The correct percent is 44.37%, $1,775 of the $4,000 goal!  From the deep of my heart, thank you.  How/where do you give?  Click the ChipIn on the right or here.

Finally, here's a gift for you!  It's long, but I've been back-logged in posting pictures so I threw them all in and added two of my current favorite tunes.  Hang out for a few more minutes and enjoy the smiles!

Monday, April 11, 2011

On the eve...

Oh my, what?!  Tomorrow is my birthday.  This morning I skyped with my mom and she asked, "What are we gonna do for you?"  I told her to bake me a cake, take a picture and then email it to me.  She laughed and didn't think that was a great idea because it would just be Mom and Dad eatin' some cake.  So, today she called all the cousins and kiddos and tomorrow we are partying on skype!  This will be a first and I'm excited to see everyone.  I've been missing Powers this week.

Thirty-four, where did you come from?  Whatever your response may be, I'm glad to see you.  I welcome you because, thank God and because of His hand, you accompany sweet memories and a bit more wisdom.  

Tacotento, yum. 
My birthday celebration officially began last Satruday.  Annie treated me to dinner and dessert on her last night here.  And as we made our way from the restaurant, the watches in the joyeria caught our eyes.  So, for my birthday this year, I have a brand-new, red watch that reminds me of swatches (Am I aging myself now?).  We just need to find swatch-guards now!  Thanks A;).

Admiring our new watches and giving the salesman a good laugh! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Annie, you have the gift of capturing thought-provoking images and this time it happens to be in the faces of these stunning, Guatemalan ladies.  Thank you for sharing your gift, thank you.

I've many photos to share, but wanted to throw out a teaser.  Aren't they gorgeous!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Rockstar Holiday

At least that's how we felt when hanging out in the courtyard or on the rooftop patio at our hotel.  Annie arrived Saturday night and we took an early morning taxi (eventful!) on Sunday to Antigua, spending our early mornings interpreting the streets taking pictures, walking through our days in the colorful markets, and moving through Antigua without an agenda.  No agenda meant plenty of time to catch up on life!  (Gretchen and Karin-we've been reminiscing about our NYC holiday!)

We are back at the home with the girls.  Annie is taking more photos and I've been filling in as the English teacher again this week.  I'll post some of those pictures of the girls soon…but here are a few from Antigua.

Photo credits to Annie!


One of the many processions leading up to Semana Santa, Holy Week. 

A serene escape from the busy streets, skyping from the rooftop with Karin:)!

From the rooftop patio looking toward the Central Park Cathedral. 

Sunrise (sigh). 



Business and culture, modern and ancient.