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Guatemala & Mexico – Spring 2007

Journal 5 - March 18

These past few weeks have been full of transitions. The morning of March 2nd brought tears of sorrow as we said goodbye to our Guatemalan families that did an amazing job stepping in for our families back home for a month and a half. Personally, I had an incredible time with my family. Mine was a bit less traditional than the rest; I had only two sisters, one 20 and the other 30 years old, and no parents. We spent many nights together chatting about life, drinking tea, and playing Jenga. Before we knew it we had become a tight unit, sharing household responsibilities and an intimate familial bond that I will never forget. I learned how to be a better sister, host, friend, mother, and caretaker for having lived with my host family. I came away with much more than I ever expected to gain. I came away with two sisters with whom I look forward to sharing the rest of my life with through letters, emails, and hopefully a visit sometime in the future. I would go back in a heartbeat.

In the same day our homestays came to an end, so did our language classes at CASAS. For me, this was the first time I had a class with only two other students. It is amazing how much more can be accomplished when the class has the chance to get to know each other well enough to feel totally comfortable sharing and making mistakes with each other. Much like my homestay, quickly our class became a family unit that laughed and learned together. Saying goodbye to our maestros was a sad moment but what was to come was so exciting that our sorrow was soon transformed into excitement. The end of classes also meant the beginning of our long awaited week of free travel. Although it was hard to leave what had become our comfort zone, the transition out of academia and into a week of relaxation and fun was, as you can probably imagine, not a difficult one to go through.

After repacking our things into two big backpacks and one school bag, myself, Michelle, Valerie, Jaime, and Laura were off on our long journey to Placencia, Belize. Our nerves were high because we left so much of our trip unplanned. We knew roughly how we were getting to Belize but didn’t have any hotel reservations or anything else planned. Well, our nerves were quickly calmed the minute we arrived at our laid back pseudo-Caribbean paradise and I have to say that not planning anything was the best thing we could have done for ourselves because our entire trip went off without a hitch. We arrived safely, quickly found cheap beachside housing, and hit the beach. The rest of the week was filled with enjoying live music, dancing, and karaoke at the Barefoot Bar, snorkeling around a private island who’s owner we befriended, spending nights playing Mafia with the guys from our group who met up with us later in the week, learning creole on the beach from some young locals, reading, journaling in hammocks, eating fresh gelato, sleeping in, napping, taking hot showers, and chit chatting late into the night. The beauty that we enjoyed all around us in the water, the sand, the sunset and the people was a reminder that God is real and all around us. The way that everything worked out in the best way it possibly could have was also a blessing. Reflecting back on our week on cloud nine, more than anything else, it was a reminder that we live in a world created by a very deliberate God and that every day we need to give thanks for the life we have been given to enjoy it.

So now we find ourselves in Mexico, embarking on the next part of our journey which I believe will prove to be very different from anything else we have experienced so far. At this point there isn’t much to report on Mexico but I hope you all have enjoyed reading about what are lives have been like here in Latin America. Hasta luego. Que Dios les bendiga!

- Erin Murray