Tuesday, March 12, 2013


So I am pretty sure everyone already knows this, but I like to think of this blog as something we will go back and read later in life, like an old journal, so I wanted to announce that we are moving to PORTLAND, MAINE!!!!

Everything happened really quickly… Dan and I have been applying and interviewing for jobs for a couple months now (really ever since we came back from our December trip). It has been an emotional process and at times, very challenging. I found it extremely difficult to work full-time then come home and job search. As they say, “job searching is a full-time job”. Even though Dan and I tried to stay positive I think we were both feeling weary from trying to maintain that balancing act.

So a few weeks ago I interviewed for a job with Safe Passage/Camino Seguro. It went really well and they stressed that they wanted to fill the position asap. But then I didn't hear anything... until a couple weeks later all of a sudden, they were asking for my references, requesting a second interview and offering me a job! In a crazy turn of events I was offered TWO jobs in ONE day! :-O But that is a story for another time….

After weighing our options, Dan and I decided that moving to Maine was the right decision. Since then everything has been a whirlwind as we've tried to wrap up our jobs here and figure out logistics for our big move. Our last day at Mayan Families is tomorrow- Wednesday, March 13th. Dan and Lucia fly out this coming Friday, March 15th and I fly out the following Friday (the 22nd). So much change! And so fast! But we are really excited and happy!

I will share more later about my new position and other details, but for now I just wanted to let everyone know and ask for your prayers. One of the most stressful parts of our move has been figuring out everything with Lucia. It turns out moving a dog from Guatemala to the US is quite complicated! Luckily, we have someone helping us who is truly an angel (and an expert on puppy transport). Please pray that we can have peace as we finish our jobs, say goodbyes, finish packing and move out of our casita. Also, that everything goes smoothly with Dan and Lucia’s travel- from traveling to the city to everything with the airline and that they both arrive Stateside safe and sound.

That’s it for now! Cheers to a new adventure! :)

If only she was still this small!
Then transport would be easy! We love her so much!!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Finding Balance with the Past and Present

Over lent, I am planning on writing a blog post at least once a week. I think it will be a good way for me to reflect on this Lenten period while sharing about our past many months in Guatemala (something I have been struggling to do lately).

I wrote a blog post (forever ago) about our last trip to the states in May about the joy or reconnecting with friends and family. This blog post contains some of my reflections from that trip, and then combined with more thoughts and reflections from the most recent stateside trip this past December.

My last many years living stateside, I became a little frugal. I would rarely ever purchase new things. I would wear my clothes and shoes until they were literally falling apart, much to the dismay of Rachel. My only large purchase in about 5 years was my laptop, which took a while to save up for, and was not an easy purchase for me. I tried to stay in the most affordable apartments within reason, was very stingy with gas/electric/AC (my previous roommates Mark and Joel could attest to this a great deal), and would generally only spend money on gas, my cell phone, food, and a few drinks out here and there.  In fact, the only thing I ever splurged on was maybe an item for cooking and good food, but I would go to 4 different grocery stores to find each food item I wanted at the best deal, and generally would only buy things on sale. Now I would not call myself a cheap person, but instead a simple person with simple needs.  I just am not the type of person who buys things on a whim; I rarely am sucked into getting something simply out of want.  I have no problem with people who buy more things than me; it’s just how I am.

So going when going Stateside this past December (especially on a Guatemalan salary), I struggled greatly… not because I was fighting the urge to want everything, but I more or less struggled with the “why” of it all. Why all of a sudden now do I want every little thing around me? Why am I getting frustrated and arguing with Rachel about how to use the gifts people are giving us? Why am I worried about fitting the maximum amount of items in my return luggage to make sure I can bring down every item I desire? And maybe the most important question for me at the time, how can I justify partaking in these luxuries and still find a connection with those I work with and live amongst on a daily basis? Maybe a more specific question to my context: is it disingenuous of me to strive for equality and uniformity with my Guatemalan community, and then indulge in a lifestyle many here in Guatemala could not even dream of? It is perplexing, and therefore frustrating to have these questions when I have been accustomed to a much simpler lifestyle abroad (even more so than my simple prior Stateside lifestyle).

These feelings/questions were culminated in two events. The first, believe it or not, was at a Trader Joes.  For many who know my love for all things food (cooking and eating), you probably know that TJs is nirvana for me. Delicious, affordable, healthy food, free samples, the friendliest staff ever, smoked Gouda cheese… (just started salivating thinking about it) what is not to love? Well…what I did not love was this overwhelming guilt of buying a bunch of food purely for pleasure and indulgence. Buying food I survived just fine without for a year. Every time I picked up an item, I would go through a similar thought process…

1.     Oh man! I used to buy these all the time! They are delicious, I MUST HAVE THEM!
2.     Ehhh, look at what I already have in my cart, looks like I already have some stuff, is this necessary?
3.     Maybe I can get this and put back this other thing in my cart as a compromise.
4.     Hmmm, but I really want that other thing too.
5.     DAN! Come on buddy, what are you doing? You don’t need that, put it back!
6.     I’m sad and confused, let’s keep walking…
7.     Oh Man! I used to … (rinse and repeat)

I could not help myself; there was a constant struggle between two opposing sides inside me. One side that felt I had every right to obtain these delights I have missed, and the other side making me feel guilty for wanting to waste my money on frivolous objects that serve no valuable purpose in my life.

The other event was with Rachel; we were given a somewhat expensive gift (for us) to share and do with as we please.  It was a very generous gift and we were and are very grateful for it.  The problem came when Rachel and I debated how we wanted to use said gift, which then turned into a full-blown argument in the middle of an appliance store that continued on our drive home.  Eventually, we were collectively saying something similar to number 5 from above. We both asked each other, what are we doing? Why are we arguing about a free and generous gift? And then the biggest question of all: if this item in question is causing us to argue, are we better without it?

I think this is the age-old question: are we better without the items we indulge in? If we are indulging in something, then most likely it is something we do not need. Let us take chocolate cake for example: cocoa, white sugar, white flour, butter, eggs, milk, and maybe vanilla… all mixed together to make a delicious treat.  Many fitness/health instructors would say that this is an unnecessary commodity, and we are better without it. From a nutritional standpoint, they would be 100% correct. What about with the expensive gift we received?  It most certainly was not essential to our well-being. We could easily live without it. So why have it then?

A famous 4th century theologian named Augustine really struggled with these questions involving items of a materialistic nature. In his most famous work, Confessions, which is basically a combination of his journal, autobiography, and theological insights, he commits a whole section to his struggles with materialism.  If you think I am being melodramatic above concerning these things, you should know that I have nothing on Augustine in this respect. His big thing was trying to understand how worldly items and desires negatively affect one’s relationship with God and with others. His conclusion was: they did.  Maybe a modernized understanding of his conclusion is in the words of Notorious BIG in his lyric, “Mo’ money mo’ problems”, but instead of just money: more of everything, more problems.  Anything past the essential has the ability to hurt our relationships with each other.

There is plenty of truth to Augustine’s concerns with materialism. You do not need to look further than the Guatemalans and Bolivians I have met.  I consider many impoverished Guatemalans I see daily as some of the happiest people I have ever had the pleasure to come across. In some cases, some of the most content people I have seen here do not know where their food will come from, not in a week, but in the next day! And not for themselves, for their children.  In Bolivia, one of my first and favorite observations was with watching the children at school.  Some of these children went to school in the same clothes almost every day, but you would never know it by their emotions. The only thing they cared about was playing soccer with a plastic ball on a cement basketball court, and having fun with their friends while doing it. I remember thinking then, “I can probably learn so much more from these people, despite their little education and social standing, than they can learn from me.”  I should point out though, that learning simplicity from Bolivians and Guatemalans, is not that simple. Mainly because, I will never be Guatemalan, and I can never forget my upbringing. The simple fact that on a moments notice, no matter what our situation is here, after the swipe of a credit card and 9 hours, we can be gone from Guatemala entirely, just shows how we can never fully embrace the simplicity of Guatemalan life.

So to bring this full circle, how do my struggles with materialism (from my Stateside heritage) mesh with my desire to find simplicity (learned from Guatemala and Bolivia)? More simply put, how can I connect with God and my community through simplicity, while also respecting where I came from?


I had to write a big paper on Augustine’s Confessions.  I remember struggling with accepting some of the things Augustine said on materialism in the paper. After my professor read it, he said to me, “Daniel, I think you missed a little of Augustine’s point. The sin is not enjoying a piece of chocolate cake; it is enjoying 3 pieces of chocolate cake.  The sin is not finding ways to leisure and enjoy life; the sin and disconnect with God, is being wasteful and using your time to always benefit yourself instead of building up the community around you.”  What that professor said has always stuck with me, especially right now. It screams the same message that I have been rediscovering the past year.


Of course, balance and moderation with everything is a lesson we all learn.  But in this case, is balance between two (or more) cultures and the lifestyles that come with them.  From my North American disposition, balance teaches me that there is nothing wrong with indulging in a little, and from time to time it is important.  Also, the US is our home no matter what, it is our heritage and upbringing; there is no changing that. It contains the majority of people who love us and support us.  It contains a large part of our community that will always care about us. When we go home, it is a time where support is shown though a reconnection to our roots. And one thing that happens in this time of support, is gift giving. It is one way of receiving and giving love. 


Then of course, balance learned in Guatemala reminds me to slow down and appreciate every single day God gives me.  Balance here is one that allows me to enjoy my upbringing and the items of wealth and prosperity that have come with it, but in a way that I continue to own materials instead of them owning me. Balance here shows me that life is about today and the people in it, so much more than food, clothes, my bike, smoked Gouda cheese from TJs, etc. can ever be. Balance here is what Matthew 6:25-34 is all about: not allowing the worries caused by the things in your life, and all the worries of tomorrow, affect the joy and contentment of today.


There was a Guatemalan woman with her children who was unsure if there would be enough money to buy food tomorrow. When asked, “What will you do tomorrow for food if you do not have enough money?”, she simply responded, “Today I am making food for my children, I will figure out how to feed them tomorrow, tomorrow.”

Coming to grips with that sort of calmness and contentment… this is the simplicity I want to take from here. Meshing this simplicity with who I am… this is the balance I seek.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Celebrating Carnaval

This past Tuesday (February 12th) I had the chance to celebrate Carnaval or what we know as Carnival. This tradition which originates in Brazil is also celebrated here in Guatemala, but on a lesser scale. The children dress up in costumes similar to how we celebrate Halloween in the United States. There are parades and special treats. The kids dance and celebrate and have contests for the best dancer and the best costume. Since many of the families cannot afford to rent a costume they get very creative making costumes out of recycled materials or out of things they find at pacas- the Guatemalan equivalent of a thrift store. One woman told me her daughter dressed up like a tourist sporting a backpack, shorts, and agua pura- a bottle of purified water, which made me laugh. Those gringos sure love their agua pura! 

The best part of Carnaval in my opinion is the tradition of cracking cascarones (painted eggs filled with confetti) on people's heads. During the weeks leading up to Carnaval colored eggs are sold in the market, but kids also make them at school and at home. On Monday I visited one of Mayan Families' Preschools in San Antonio Palapo and the kids were filling painted eggs with confetti. I learned a new word this week- pica-pica/confetti.

We had a group visiting from Canada that has given a lot of support to an elementary school in the rural village of Tierra Linda so I traveled with them on Tuesday to visit the school and to see the Carnaval festivities. It was a pretty fun time minus the little girl that smashed an egg on my head when we were leaving. I didn't mind the confetti in my hair, but apparently no one taught her the art of cracking the egg in your hand then throwing it on the person's head. For more info about Carnaval see this blog post by a Guatemalan woman living in the US.

Below are some photos from the celebration.

Watching the fun. Notice the pica-pica in their hair!

Some members of the group dancing with the kids.

Pure joy!

I had confetti EVERYWHERE!
She was the one responsible for my day-long headache.
Thanks a lot butterfly! :-P

Two sweet little girls that I made friends with.
Thanks to my friend, Patti, for the photos! :-)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Being Los Padrinos

I started writing this and then life happened! This was from the beginning of December 2012. The school year here culminates the end of November/beginning of December. Although it’s late I still think it is worth sharing about this experience…

A couple weeks ago on a Friday night I ran into my Guatemalan boss, Sandra, in the Dispensa Familiar’s (the Guatemalan equivalent of Walmart) parking lot. She said there was something she had been meaning to talk to me about and please forgive her for talking to me here- in the parking lot, but… I was thinking “Oh my gosh! Am I being fired or something? In the parking lot of the Dispensa!?”. Haha. Sometimes Guatemalans crack me up. She ended up asking me if Dan and I would be willing to be the padrinos for an upcoming graduation ceremony.

At Mayan Families we use the words padrino (for a man) and madrina (for a woman) to refer to the children’s sponsors. Literally, the words translate as godfather and godmother (the plural los padrinos means godparents). The goal is for each student to have a padrino or madrina so they can continue studying year after year. Some very lucky students get the chance to meet their sponsor if s/he comes to visit, but it’s oftentimes luck of the draw.

Although Dan and I work full time in the Education/Student Sponsorship Program we are not sponsors so I was a little confused as to exactly why Sandra was asking us. Even though I didn’t fully get it I figured that it was an honor to be asked so I immediately said yes (without even checking with Dan. Whoops!). The following Monday I discovered that each of Mayan Families’ seven Preschool Nutritional Centers would be having a graduation ceremony for the students moving on from Preschool to Kindergarten in 2013 (as mentioned above the school year here runs January- November). Now if you don’t already know this you should know that Guatemalans love parties! They love parades and really any reason to celebrate so it should have not surprised me that they would have an incredibly formal graduation ceremony for preschoolers.

All the kiddos waiting for their diplomas

Dan and I were asked to be the padrinos for the Mayan Families Preschool graduation here in Panajachel- the town where we live and where Mayan Families is located. We were asked to dress in our finest attire and arrive around 8:30 am to the preschool. On the day of the graduation we walked in and I quickly observed that all of the little ones were decked out in full caps and gowns. And wait, what was that? A wall covered in cut out metallic letters SPELLING OUT OUR NAMES! Lol. Here is a pic in case you don’t believe me! ;)

The backdrop of the graduation ceremony- HANDMADE by the teachers!

I eventually figured out that even though we are not officially sponsors we were acting as representatives for all of the sponsors who for obvious reasons could not be there. We had a pretty big role in the ceremony. We had to walk in with the students in a procession then we sat on opposite ends of the stage until it was time to give out the diplomas. We did that together hugging each student, congratulating him/her, then taking a bunch of photos with him/her. (My cheeks hurt so bad afterwards from smiling so much!!!) We also gave each student a present which included a stuffed animal and big piece of candy- another photo opp. So many photos! Also included in the ceremony was listening to the Guatemalan anthem (twice! It is the longest anthem ever. See here if you don’t believe me), said the Guatemalan pledge of allegiance (well Dan and I listened) and my favorite part- gave our awesome commencement speeches. Yes, we had to give speeches in Spanish in front of all the students, parents, teachers, and other Mayan Families representatives (the director, our Guatemalan boss, etc.)! Too bad I don’t have a video of it. ;) I thought they were pretty inspiring until I heard the Guatemalans’ speeches which were way better. I think we did pretty well though for being extranjeros!

After the ceremony we took some more photos and were served a delicious typical lunch. Oh and I cannot forget that we were thanked during the ceremony and given really sweet presents of traditional fabric woven on a back strap loom!

After the ceremony with our presents
All in all, it was a special, memorable experience and even though I had to chuckle a few times at the formality of it all, it was really sweet of them to ask us to be the sponsors. I hope this is the beginning of a lifetime of learning for all of the students that graduated! :)

If you’re interested in sponsoring a student please see here. I am particularly working hard on trying to find sponsors for University students. If we do not find sponsors for these students in the next week or so they will not be able to study this year. For more info please email me at rachel[at]mayanfamilies[dot]org or my personal email address. Thanks!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Celebrating Thankfulness

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:4-7

This Thanksgiving marked my 4th Thanksgiving abroad. Even though I should be used to it by now I always get a little homesick. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I love it even more than Christmas even though Christmas is a whole season and Thanksgiving is just a day. My first Thanksgiving away from home was when I studied abroad in Costa Rica. I remember having a dinner with my LASP classmates. Nothing too fancy. The second was when I lived here in Guatemala in 2008. I was lucky enough to be invited to a "real" Thanksgiving dinner by my good friends, Traci and Jared. We had an awesome dinner with other local NGO workers and volunteers. That Thanksgiving marked the beginning of my tradition of making broccoli casserole no matter where I am. It's one of my favorite holiday dishes and something my aunt has always made for Thanksgiving dinner.

Last year, Dan and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a married couple in Bolivia. It was also his first Turkey Day (my family's nickname for Thanksgiving) outside the US. While I don't think anything can really compare to our very special Bolivian Thanksgiving last year, we of course wanted to celebrate in some way.

On Wednesday night my bosses (a married couple who are Australian and American) hosted a grand feast. They provided TWO turkeys, gravy, stuffing, and more. They also asked everyone to bring a dish. With over 40 attendees it was packed and there was a TON of food! We brought along a green bean dish that I found via Pinterest. It was a hit! I was dying for pumpkin pie and my prayers were answered! We forgot the camera so you will just have to take my word for it. It was delicious! We had a team here this week working with Mayan Families so they came, along with all of the foreign workers and some other local Americans and Canadians.

Dan and I decided to host our own little gathering on Thanksgiving Day since after all, our bosses gave us the day off. Also, Dan loves cooking so he wasn't going to pass up the chance to be in the kitchen all day. We invited some of our close friends here in Pana and had a delicious dinner including: homemade tofurky (tofu cooked like a turkey), mushroom stuffing with walnuts, homemade mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, broccoli casserole (my contribution), corn on the cob, and cranberry sauce (bought at a local gringo store. A bit of a splurge but I just had to have it.). Dan spent ALL day cooking and everything turned out delicious!

the feast!
For beverages, we had wine and beer. And for dessert, we had carrot cake, brownies, gluten-free carrot bread with homemade cream cheese icing, and a special Swiss treat that translates to "moist cookie" I think. It was similar to a brownie, but with banana in it. I made a new friend here who is from Sweden and it was her first ever Thanksgiving celebration. It was nice to keep the tradition going of sharing Thanksgiving with people from other countries even if it was just in a small way! :)

my plate full of Thanksgiving goodies

celebrating with friends! :)
Besides from eating until I nearly burst, I also got a chance to go for a quick swim and reflect on what I am thankful for. Even though we are far away from family I am grateful for each one of our family members and I cannot wait to see them all during Christmas! I am also thankful for:
~ my amazing husband
~his patience, encouragement, & constant love
~ his fantastic cooking skills
~ the chance to live and work in a beautiful place. Guatemala is abounding in beauty 
from the lake to the people to the textiles. It's bursting with it!
~ jobs where we learn and grow
~ good health
~ our beautiful little family including the pup!

hoto credit goes to:  http://www.naomifigueroaphotography.com/
Lucia lounging in the yard w/ her chewed up ball
Photo credit (for the Lucia pic) goes to Naomi Figueroa Photography.

I leave you with this- A psalm for giving thanks. 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his; 
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

~Psalm 100 

May we all take a moment to spend time reflecting and giving thanks and praise for all the good things and people in our lives!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Something I’m Really Excited About

For those of you who follow me on Facebook you know that I am kind of freaking out about our upcoming trip to the States in December. One fried described me as ecstatic. :) Last year we spent Christmas in Bolivia and although we tried our best to make it “our own” it was still extremely difficult to be far away from our loved ones. We chopped down a tree, decorated it, and made delicious homemade Christmas cookies, but it just wasn't the same. Although there are some things I really dislike about Christmas (mostly the commercialization and extreme consumerism), excitement still wins over.

Last time we were in the US (this past June) we had a chance to speak at my in-laws’ church. We shared about what we’re doing here in Guatemala and how we see God working in and through our lives. After the service we stood in the lobby with a little table answering questions, handing out prayer cards, and receiving donations for ANADESA- the NGO I worked with here in Guatemala in 2008 and 2009. We brought some handmade beaded key chains and Christmas ornaments made by the women’s co-operative of ANADESA and we gave them to people who made a small donation. It was through this experience that my mother-in-law, Debbie, had the idea to do what we're going to do in December….

Debbie is going to host a small open-house party at the Katyl’s home in Northeast PA where Dan and I are going to sell handmade, fair-trade Guatemalan goods.   Most of the items we’ll be selling are from ANADESA’s co-operative of 20 women located in Santiago Atitlan just a short boat ride from where we now live. I just visited them yesterday to put in an order and the more I think about this the more excited I get! We will be selling mostly jewelry since that is what people were requesting last time. We’ll have tons of handmade beaded bracelets, some earrings, Christmas ornaments and key chains. I also plan to take some change purses and small bags made out of used Guatemalan textiles. We will have a presentation of sorts that explains more about ANADESA and Mayan Families (where we currently work) and we will be using the profits that we make to make a donation or to buy more goods to sell the next time we come home.

An example of the types of bracelets we'll be selling
Lots of people that come to Guatemala do exactly what we’re doing so I think it’s a good idea. Many people in the US have never seen the plethora of amazing artisan goods here in Guatemala. It’s truly amazing what the people (especially women) here create and how they have passed on these traditions generation after generation. Although it is a little scary since we are investing a few hundred dollars in this venture, I am hopeful that we will have a good turnout and that people will want to buy the products.

For those of you that live in Northeast PA please come out to our open house on Sunday, December 16th at the Katyls’ home and help us spread the word! (Dan and I plan to create an Evite soon to make inviting people even easier.) I realize that most of our blog readers live in other parts of the country or world so for all of you, please check out our good friends’ online store featuring hand-made, fair-trade Guatemalan artisan products- Las Casas: Make Life Fair. We met Jenny and David while they were working here in Guatemala with Mayan Families and they quickly became very good friends. They have since returned to the U.S. and launched their own business which is like a small scale Ten Thousand Villages. Please check it out and tell your friends! 

I think we can all agree that Christmas is a time of crazy consumerism. I know I have fallen prey to buying stuff I don’t need or even truly want. Why not use your dollars to support a worthy cause? With these products you receive a unique handmade product and you can also feel good knowing you are supporting indigenous Guatemalan women! :) 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

And the verdict is....

What is that saying? "Tell God your plans and He laughs" or something like that. I think that is actually what happened up there in the Heavens a few months ago when I declared, "There is no way that I am staying here [in Guatemala] through December! No way!". My good friend and former co-worker, Jenny, may remember me saying this. It was during an especially frustrating time at work.

As many of you know (or may have suspected due to what one friend called my "cryptic" Facebook statuses), Daniel and I have been applying and interviewing for jobs for months now. At times I have felt like an interviewing machine. I was joking one day that I could interview in my sleep! Spanish and English. Individual interviews and joint interviews together. We have been busy and for me, it has been an emotional process. I don't know about other people, but when I interview for a position my mind starts whirling. I start thinking about what it would be like to live in such and such a place, to work with such and such NGO, etc. I envision what our lives would be like- the day to day, the adventures, and the challenges. I think of the good, the bad, and the logistics of how we would get there, how much time we would commit, what our finances would be like. For me, job searching is a complicated process that involves more than just an hour for an interview. It involves my heart, my mind, and considering how it will affect my little family. I say all this to explain where I have been the past few months. While Dan is way more relaxed when it comes to things like this, I tend to be much more high-strung. I am a planner and I like to know what we are doing and when. I often ask Dan on the weekends, "Ok. So what's the plan?". By that I mean what are we doing today?, what do we need to accomplish and how are we going to accomplish it?

Rewind to a couple weeks ago, Dan and I interviewed for a job with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Honduras. MCC is the organization I worked with here in Guatemala in 2008 and it has always been a dream for Daniel and me to work with them as a married couple. It felt a bit surreal to interview with our "dream NGO" and we were relieved that the interview went well. (Interviewing as a couple is a really interesting experience. Imagine doing an interview with your significant other, answering questions side by side! It can be tricky, but I feel like we are getting it down.). After the interview the waiting game began. As someone that is naturally a worrier, I tried my best to keep praying in order to keep the anxiety at bay. I won't go into detail because it'd just be too confusing, but while this process was going on with MCC we were also interviewing with a couple other NGOs here in Guatemala and in other Latin American countries. We were juggling a lot of possibilities and I found it challenging to keep it all in perspective. It was definitely a test of my patience, faith and trust. I kept praying asking God to give us direction, but Dan and I were both struggling to understand where God was guiding. For me, it was difficult to have all of this going on while also balancing work and our everyday lives here. We didn't tell many people here about all of this because the result would greatly affect how much time we have left here and we didn't want to alarm anyone.

Well, on Friday we finally got some clear direction. We were not accepted for the position with MCC in Honduras. The other jobs we applied for did not work out for one reason or another and although we were offered a position with an awesome NGO in Costa Rica, we decided that it is not the right fit for us right now. After receiving the news from MCC, Dan and I both felt a sense of clarity- God is not calling us anywhere new right now or in other words, God is telling us to STAY PUT! Well, surprise surprise! I can just imagine God up there in heaven having a good laugh at my expense. :)

Celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary in August
This was obviously neither the plan nor the answer that we were expecting, but I guess God likes to throw curve balls sometimes. Although our lives are not perfect here in Panajachel, as I posted recently we are finally feeling settled and content. Despite the challenges we face with our current positions, we feel like God is working in and through our lives here and like staying a little while longer is the right option for us right now. Just how much longer, you ask? Well, we don't have an exact answer to that. It all depends on what happens and on which doors open. Right now we are thinking we will stay until spring or summer 2013. We are hopeful that there will be new positions opening up with MCC in Latin America that we may be a good fit for, but at this point we really don't know. Our hearts' desire is to work with MCC, but I am trying to trust in God's timing with that. As I was telling someone recently our "next step" could be something we don't even know about at this point. Time will tell.

So for now, we are digging in our heels and committing ourselves to being here. We are being present and taking a break from looking for what's next because honestly, it has been a pretty exhausting process! We are focusing on work and play, on friendship, community, and our lil' two person, one puppy family. AND we are really looking forward to traveling to the US for Christmas! (Thank you to our very generous family for that amazing present!!!) Thanks to all of you for your prayers during this difficult time! I know it hasn't been easy on our loved ones, especially our immediate family, when we tell them we don't know what we are doing or where we're going. We appreciate the prayers and encouragement we have received from many! And remember if you have been thinking about coming to visit us in Guatemala, you still have time!! ;)

I will leave you with this verse that was shared during our worship service today. It was reminder to me that God is working and continues to work in our lives here even if at times, we struggle to see it.

Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:18,19