Greetings once again from beautiful Guatemala!
Since you last heard from us, we have travelled, explored, and partaken in wild adventures that I’m so excited to share with you. Our group dynamic was a little different over the course of this last week as we travelled; we were split in half, and for the first bit of this travel time, one group went to Semuc Champey in the North, and the others ventured down to Santiago Atitlan. After a few days, our two groups switched locations.
Reflecting upon this time of separation, many of us definitely felt the absence of those who weren’t there; in such a closely-knit community like ours, we’ve formed deep bonds with each other. Not interacting with half of our group for many days was definitely strange. However, the distance wasn’t as difficult as many of us were anticipating, mainly because our time spent in San Juan del Obispo is pretty independent and we’re not all living in the same space all of the time, like we were during first semester. Nevertheless, when we all reunited at the end of the travel week, many smiles were present, hugs were shared, and stories excitedly told.
Up in the North, several hours from San Juan, we visited a beautiful, natural series of swimming holes called Semuc Champey, located deep amidst the mountains! The crystal blue waters, towering cliffs, and waterfalls blew us all away. Throughout the course of our day there, we swam in the sunshine, went cliff-jumping, and went caving with only candles as a source of light. We encouraged each other through the dark caverns and enjoyed each other’s company throughout our time there. The swimming and sunshine were a very welcome break from studying Spanish!
During our time in Santigo Atitlan, which is located on stunning Lake Atitlan, we learned about a project Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is sponsoring here in the community. The name of the project is Anadesa and, through this organization, there is a program in place to educate and empower the local Indigenous women, along with providing education and tutoring to their children. During our time with MCC, we partook in a cooking class with the women of Anadesa, were taught about their traditional clothing, and learned some of the history of Santiago Atitlan. Discovering about the persecution and tragedy in this beautiful city’s past, during Guatemala’s civil war, weighed heavy on our hearts, but we could definitely see God working in the people of this place. We were encouraged by the warmth and the joy that the locals had; laughter was often shared with locals during a ride home, while children smiled and played with us on the streets. We were also staying with Mayan host families during our days here, which was a very different experience for most of us when compared with our host families in San Juan. For some of us, we couldn’t communicate with them as they didn’t speak Spanish, but it was still a great experience and opportunity to learn about different parts of Guatemala, and to learn how diverse and beautiful the people of this country are.
Because of these days of travel, we had the opportunity to not only adventure together, but to see how beautiful God has made Guatemala. The diverse landscapes and warm culture is simply amazing, and we’ve all really begun to feel at home here. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! Until next time,