¡Hola nuestros amigos!
So here we are after our first several days in Guatemala sitting in t-shirts in the middle of winter, enjoying the gorgeous view from our school, CASAS. It has been nice to start settling into a routine here as we get up each morning around 7 and begin Spanish class here at 8:30. The classes are very small – with two to three students for every teacher. Class is difficult but we can definitely tell that our Spanish is already improving. We have class until 12:30 and then it is lunchtime. The food here (at school and Guatemala in general) is AMAZING. We had mentally prepared ourselves for rice and beans all day everyday so now that we are having chicken, papaya, pineapple, plantains, and salads, we are ecstatic. Unfortunately, the change in diet, schedule, and water has been hard on many of our bodies. Many of us have felt quite under the weather this week, but we’re remaining optimistic because we know that our bodies will adjust and we will quickly feel fine again.
After lunch, from 1:30 to 4:30, we do something as a group. Yesterday we went to the Central Plaza and the market (both are gorgeous) and today we are having a siesta and time of rest. We have already discovered a shopping center within walking distance of the school and after lunch several of us like to walk there and purchase pastries at Isopan (a wonderful bakery) and explore the city. Around 4:30 we return to our host families and it is there that we do our homework, talk with our host families, sometimes pretend to understand them, but overall enjoy experiencing Guatemalan culture and life with them. The two of us are extremely grateful that our families typically eat dinner around 7 instead of 9 or 10 like some families.
So far the things we like the most about Guatemala are the pretty flowers, the different sounds of the birds, plantains, the view that we have at CASAS of the mountains and the volcanos, the bright colors, and the willingness of people to open their hearts and homes to newcomers such as ourselves.
We thank God often for the caring people who have taken us in as their own. Although we are all having different experiences, it is meaningful to see God working in each family and student. Each morning we look forward to getting to CASAS to share and hear stories from everyone’s evenings with their host families. Many of our families attend church on Sunday. Andrea had an interesting experience at her first Mass, where the priest asked her (in Spanish) to collect the offering. She accidently agreed and found herself a part of the service. Cluelessly she attempted to follow the example of the other collectors but completely missed the part where the collectors kneel before the collection baskets and bless themselves. She felt relieved when it was over and could return to her seat. Each experience is an opportunity to learn and grow and we are thankful for the ways in which we have been able to connect with the people living in Guatemala, our host families, and each other as a group.
Overall, the last several days have been busy but have been full of promise. We are excited to be here and are thankful to God for health and peace. We are so grateful for your continued prayers and we look forward to sharing more stories soon.
– Andrea King & Savanna Lester