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These past couple of weeks

I have now been in Guatemala for a little over 2 weeks. I arrived on September 22nd and stayed in Guatemala city for a couple of days with my host family (Pastor Elry, his wife Liz, and their son Samuel). That Sunday I came to Quetzaltenango (Xela) to begin language school. I am staying with another host family here in Xela that was assigned to me through the school. I have my own room in the house and I am fed three meals a day.

Typical meal here in Xela. I am becoming more spoiled by the day 🙂

Everyday I have classes from 8am-2pm with my private tutor, Nancy. Nancy has been teaching me grammar basics and helps me practice speaking Spanish. She has also been helping me learn more about the Guatemalan culture including religion, customs, and food. I have learned to make mole and fried plantains, visited San Francisco el Alto on market day, tasted the best taking chocolate (made from cacao trees here in Xela), visited the first church in Central America, and much more.

My weeks have been full of Spanish classes, delicious food, and many opportunities to explore. Everyday after class I return home for lunch, usually with a couple of relatives of my host family, and then I go exploring. My first week here there was another student from California who was also studying Spanish. She had been here for 5 weeks before I arrived so she showed me around Xela. One day we attended the International Tourism Day celebration that was happening in Central Park. There was music, food, and a cultural dance performed by some Guatemalan girls that told the history of the Mayans. We also attended a cooking class where we learned to make mole and fried plantains from a Guatemalan pro (a mom). Mole is a sauce made with peanuts, sesame seeds, chilies, and chocolate. It will definitely be something I will be eating in the future.

Mole and fried plantains

Last week I traveled back to Guatemala city (Guate) to attended the 500 years celebration. The celebration took place at Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias in Guate and there were over 1000 people present. There were many different choirs, bands, and singers present that sang versions of “Castillo Fuerte” (A Mighty Fortress) and other famous music. Even the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, was present and the President of the LCMS church, Matthew Harrison. It was a very beautiful celebration commemorating the 500 years of the Reformation.

On Saturday, a team from Tennessee and Colombia came to Guatemala to work with Pastor Elry in Amatitlan (where I will be working after my time here in language school).

I got to experience a little of what I will be doing in Amatitlan and I loved it! I can’t wait to share that with ya’ll in November!

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Summer Time

I am excited to share that I have raised 85% of the support needed for my mission! Thank you to all who are partnering with me financially and through prayer. Thank you to Trinity Klein and the So They Can Fund that has generously gifted me a grant. Thank you to St.Mark and all its members for continuously supporting and encouraging me throughout the years. I want each and every one of you to know how much your gifts and kind words mean to me. Thank you for partnering with me to continue the work God is doing in Guatemala. Please keep me and the Guatemalans in your prayers.

What have I been up to this summer?
Summer Camp! For two months (June and July) I worked as a summer camp counselor at St.Mark. I was the lead teacher for the 3rd-5th grade class and we had a blast! I enjoyed being able to spend my summer with the kids who I have seen grow so much over the years.
God also placed some pretty amazing coworkers in my life this summer. Not only did we enjoy each other at work but we also built strong relationships outside of work. My coworkers have been such an encouragement to me this summer that it will be bittersweet to leave them in September.
This past Sunday Pastor H. spoke on Ephesians 2:8-10: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God_not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

When I reflect on this I am humbled. God made me to do good works, works that He is preparing me to do. He sees the needs of people, needs that I sometimes can’t or choose not to see. Yet He has chosen ME to meet those needs through the good works He has prepared for me. Knowing this gives me the confidence to know that I will be in Guatemala because of what He has prepared. The people I talk to, the people I serve, the people I grow close to will all encounter these good works that come from Christ Jesus

Oh the day that I am able to begin on this journey God has prepared for me in Guatemala!

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Where it all began

Me and Noe, one the kids that attends bible lessons in Xaya

Let me tell you how it all began.

I had just completed my freshman year at Concordia Texas and had moved home for the summer. God had been putting these different thoughts in my head about going on an international mission trip. I had been looking for different opportunities, preferably one that was low cost as I was supporting myself through college. At Concordia I had met a wonderful woman named Pat who is the Director of Can-Do Missions and signed up for a Fall trip to Guatemala. I had been on a mission trip before but I didn’t know that this one would change my life. That October (2014) I spent a week in Guatemala with Groundwork Guatemala. Each day we would travel to different areas and spend time with the kids playing, singing songs, and learning about Jesus’ love. I still remember our first day in El Rincon. We were waiting for the nurses to set up the clinic so I started playing soccer with some of the kids. We were playing right in the middle of the road, dodging cars, bikes, and cow manure. When it started to rain the kids didn’t even think about stopping and we played on! I remember having a feeling of peace and happiness that first day. I asked God that if the desire I was feeling was from Him that He would bring me back again. He sent me back 6 more times.

Visiting the school in Buena Vista

VBS with a group of almost 200 kids

After my first visit I returned to school with confidence. A confidence in the fact that God was calling me into ministry and I prayed every day that He would send me to Guatemala. I learned to be intentional in my daily life to make His will my will and to keep my eyes open for opportunities to use what He had given me to share His love.

When it came time to find an internship placement there was no doubt in my mind where I wanted to go. In December 2016 I returned to Guatemala with my program director and a couple of other students to participate in the second Guatemalan Youth Gathering (Conectados). After many conversations an opportunity came up to work with Castillo Fuerte Lutheran Church and the Santa Cruz Mission in Amatitlan, Guatemala!

Fast forward six months and here I am. As I am preparing both financially and spiritually I cannot contain my happiness for what is ahead of me but at times I am also scared out of my mind. I used to say that I had no fears when it came to leaving because I knew that it was something God wanted me to do. Now that leaving home has become a reality I find it harder to accept the fact that I am leaving my family and everything I have ever known. But I know that God will place people in my life that will make my transition feel like I never left home.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

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