group San Pedro

[post written by Kiera and Noah and originally posted on their blog]

Hola chicos,

It’s been an interesting time readjusting to being home, so I apologize for such a late blog entry! Luckily, with all the time I’ve had being cooped up at home, I’ve been able to take some time to fully process the different aspects of my experiences in the beautiful and colourful country of Guatemala. Although our trip had an unexpected ending, I see it now as only a small bump at the end of the road. Our entire semester was a phenomenal experience, right up until those last moments together before be parted ways.

Our last two weeks in Guatemala were spent in San Pedro las Huertas in a beautiful compound, where we also spent our first week of the semester, waaaay back when we first arrived in Guatemala. We were isolated together in some close living quarters, which was definitely a challenge at times. But we all made the most of it by enjoying each other’s company…and two weeks of catching up on some well-needed napping! The time we spent there felt like we were trapped (mostly because we were), but, looking back on how we dealt with the crisis, I realize that it helped me develop a greater sense of patience and grace. We all process everything differently and learning how to care for one another in the individual ways that we need is a true quality in becoming a disciple of Christ. It is a gift to have the ability to extend compassion and understanding to others (and yourself!) when you might not have the energy to be positive or giving, especially in the most rocky of situations.

Also, side-note: big shout-out to our fearless leaders (Rae, Kathy, Karissa, Luke and Shawn) and Tim & Renee from the Outtatown office who kept us in safe and careful care until we were back on our doorsteps in Canada! I don’t know what we would’ve done without you all!!

Kiera and Lauren airport

Amidst all the chaos we were facing, we had a little graduation ceremony during one of our mornings, as we couldn’t return to Winnipeg for the official ceremony there. It was simple and sweet, and we even had it broadcasted live through social media so that our parents, guardians, and friends could watch and be a part of our celebration! It was an exciting but sad day knowing these would be the last few moments we would share together as an entire group, but I won’t forget the 6 months we had together making memories and developing as individuals. On March 27th, we made our journey back to Canada, parted ways at different airports, and made it to our homes safe and sound with no hiccups along the way!

Our group had such a variety of people from very different backgrounds and beliefs. One might think that this would divide us, but I think it brought us closer together, allowing us to learn more and to teach each other how to accept differences in others and in what we are used to. Geographically, our group also has very widespread roots; coast to coast to be exact! And although we may now be physically far from each other, I know that the friendships I’ve made are people I can count on and that we’ll see each other again.

It’s very difficult to try and sum up the semester in a few words or even in a single blog post because explaining an experience like this one honestly can’t be put into words (unless maybe I wrote a very long book). I saw and did so many things and grew in such unexpected ways. I learned more than I thought that I could in 3 months, which seems like a long time but, in reality, flies by way too fast!

The best way I can describe this semester is that I’ve been given new wings that will carry me on into the next stage of my life. A large chunk of my semester was not only learning about and experiencing things around me, but also within me. I needed personal growth in self-confidence, direction, boundaries, faith, devotion…the list goes on! Even still, I didn’t complete all the growing that I wanted to, but the areas that were in desperate need of TLC got the kick-start they needed.

I see my heart and mind a bit like a garden, and let me tell you this garden was well overdue for some trimming and replanting! Outside of our busy schedules and continuous excursions, I found the time to sit with God and let him take control so he could give my heart a makeover. It was a painful start because the hardest part of replanting is digging up the old roots that are in the way, but seeing my sprouts of a renewed and healthier faith brings me indescribable joy.

Acknowledging my struggles and my downfalls over these past few months has given me tools to overcome them and not let them define who I am at my core. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in my emotions or mental health battles and feel like there isn’t a light at the end of this tunnel. Sometimes it seems like I fall down into a dark pit of despair, but if I would just look up I’d see God’s hand reaching out to me, never giving up on calling me back to the safety of his embrace. My time away from home has truly changed me from the inside out and opened my eyes to the things in life that are not seen, but felt by the heart. And I hope to continue growing and changing, being molded into the woman God has designed me to be.

Documenting this trip has been such a pleasure and I’m sad to say this will most likely be the last blurb I’ll be writing about my time away from home. So, if you want to know more about our trip, don’t be afraid to ask because I love talking about every bit of it!!

Thanks again for reading,

Kiera & Noah

Kiera and Noah W.JPG