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Guatemala & Mexico – Spring 2007

Journal 1 – January 16, 2007

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We began our journey at 2 a.m., leaving the cold Harrisonburg night and the warm gathering of friends and well-wishers. A lot of us slept through most of the traveling and arrived in Guatemala City early afternoon. We had a slight delay over some confusion of the timing of our arrival and the whereabouts of the CASAS bus. Eventually, we made it to CASAS/SEMILLA—and what a green and welcoming place it was.

Four days later, not even a week into this cross-cultural, when I think about that first day it seems like it happened so long ago. It has only begun to sink in that we are sojourners and not tourists. We have all made good beginnings with our families. The conditions are different, but even here in a place that seems so strange at times, there are familiar things.

I have gone to church twice with my Guatemalan mom (mi mamá Conny) and both times the experience has been unlike anything I am accustomed to. Used to a staid and tranquil Mennonite tradition of hymns and reflection during services the raucous and joyous worship of the Guatemalan Mennonites came as something of a surprise. The songs are long, loud, and energetic. The people sing, clap, stomp, yell and cry. The message is energetic and the emotions are intense. It is truly living in the moment—breathing and singing only for God. It was a breathtaking and alienating experience. This intense faith seems so vibrant and alive. If I prayed aloud while the pastor prayed (as the entire congregation does) would my church understand?

We will come from this experience of crossing cultures with many changes and new ideas. Our new experiences will shape our thoughts and ideas as we live in this new culture and create new thoughts when we return to the familiar culture of home.

- Lucy Barber