After a long five weeks at home, all the Outtatown students were reunited at last in Atlanta, Georgia, during our layover. Anyone could see how joyous the reunion was, judging by the smiles, the hugs, and the excitement on everyone’s face. Our Outtatown community is a very close-knit, tight group, which makes the times apart hard but the times together beautiful and fun.
The break itself had a variety of responses from different students. Some found it very long and very boring, as loneliness made itself present. Others found it a nice way to relax after the busy first semester that Outtatown brings; constantly busy and moving. They felt rejuvenated and ready to tackle another semester in Guatemala. Still others were happy to be back home to see many friends and family members they hadn’t seen for three months, and therefore were busy with life at home once again. Overall, the entire body of students were ecstatic to be back together and headed for a different country and a new adventure.
The phrase used most often in the first week of our stay in Guatemala would probably be “This is so beautiful!” From the volcanoes, to the foliage, to the vibrant colours of the houses and stores, Guatemala is a beautiful country through and through. Orientation week proved to be both an informative time as well as a time of relaxation and enjoyment of simply being here in this country. It was also a much-needed time to become accustomed to the culture and way of life in Guatemala, in addition to reconnecting with friends we hadn’t seen in the past five weeks.
This past weekend we stayed at SEMILLA, a seminary in Guatemala City that prepares its students to live out the reign of God with justice and peace today. Many groups stay there as they have rooms for guests to stay. During our time at SEMILLA, we learned much of the history of Guatemala, as well as some parts of their culture which are hard to learn about but important to know. For example, we went to an overlook of the garbage dump in which so many people work, including young kids, to support themselves; we also visited a mall, which was such a harsh contrast to the poverty at the dump.
After our time in Guatemala City we went to church in Antigua. It was a beautiful service and amazing to worship together despite the language barrier. There was English translation for everything, and the verses of songs alternated between English and Spanish. It was beautiful to worship the Lord together.
Then came the moment of both excitement and anticipation: meeting our host families. With a couple of exceptions, not one of us spoke Spanish beyond the point of the bare minimum, causing some anxiety regarding this moment. One by one, our names were called, and we left with a family we’ve never met before and with whom we do not share a common language. As each student goes into this week, please pray for us as we try to learn Spanish and become accustomed to the culture and schedule of Guatemala. It will be amazing to see everyone grow through this uncomfortable situation, and get to know the host families better. Adventure is right around the corner!