Becoming part of the family

As we approach the end of our time in Guatemala, I have been thinking about my many memories here. Many of these are memories are from the time I’ve spent with my host family. From the first weekend, as they had to listen to me try to speak broken Spanish, to the time when I actually figured out how to say a joke in Spanish and we laughed a lot. Here are some other memories and common occurrences in my house:

  • Laughing with my family while I try and say tongue-twisters in Spanish.
  • Singing with my sister to the radio as loud as we can, whether we know the words or not.
  • Yawning with my mom while my brothers and dad talk for a long time during Sunday dinner.
  • Yelling at the dogs that always run in front of our car.
  • Eating chicken from the Guatemalan restaurant Pollo Campero.
  • Exchanging confused looks with my siblings because I accidentally said something in English without realizing it.
  • Watching movies, Spanish soap operas and always lots of soccer.
  • Smiling when my mother introduces me to their relatives as her daughter.
  • Praying in a small group in church in English and being prayed for in Spanish.

I think the last experience I am going to have will be crying when I have to leave them. However, I am so grateful for this family, my second family, in this little corner of the world. Becoming a part of this family is one of the many things God has blessed me with on this trip. I will always be thankful that they were willing to look past my inability to speak Spanish and love me as one of the family.

-Jessica Goertzen


This past week went by really quickly.  As I talked to the rest of the group, they shared the same feeling.  The first couple days of the week, we were in the Department of Alta Vera Paz.   We visited Coban (the capital of this department) and San Pedro Carcha. I would like to add some of my thoughts about the weekend, since we stayed there until Tuesday.

The trip to Coban and Carcha has been my favorite weekend trip so far.  One of the reasons I enjoyed this trip so much was because I was able to make “Mennonite Connections.”  My mom (in the U.S.) was a MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) missionary in Carcha for 10 years.  She worked as a nurse/health educator from 1975 to 1985.  Because of this, I was able to meet many people who knew my mom.  I was able to see the place where she lived, some areas where she worked, as well as a health book that she wrote in the indigenous language, K’ekchi.   Being able to experience and see some of the history of my mom’s life was wonderful.  I also enjoyed attempting to learn some K’ekchi, and relating to the students at Bezaleel, the school where we stayed.

We arrived back in Guatemala City on Tuesday afternoon and we were all feeling tired from the long weekend trip.  When I went home with my host mom, she informed me that we were going to my sister-in-law’s birthday party later that night.  This was enjoyable, but I was glad to have a two hour siesta before the Taylor Wenger, Heather Tieszen, Kelsey Zook, Alex Wynn, Sarah Parson, John Gullman, and Laura Beckler display their purchases from the coffee finca fiesta. We then had two and half days of classes before we headed to Santiago Atitlan.  Those class days flew by, and we were excited for another weekend trip.  We left Friday morning, and got back Sunday afternoon.  We had opportunities to browse the market, learn about a cooperative, ANADESA, and relax with the group.  I especially enjoyed the boat ride to Panajachel.  It was about a 30-minute ride on Lago Atitlan, and then we had time to shop in the market and eat lunch.  Something I have noticed in our weekend trips is the community dynamic our group has.  It is easy to have fun with our group, and it’s also easy to have time of reflections and discussion.  Even though these things do come easily a lot of the time, I really appreciate both the fun times and the reflective, more serious times.  I praise God for each person in our group, and am glad we can all experience this Cross-cultural together!

-John Gullman