Saludos y bendiciones desde Tarrytown, Nueva York. Yes! New York! It surprises me too, still hesitating when I fill my cup from the faucet. If you had asked me the question a couple of weeks ago, if I would be returning home anytime soon, I probably would have laughed and looked slightly confused. Although my life was not normal in Guatemala, I was working very hard at maintaining a narrative that it was. I was actively trying to disassociate from the Jenga game being played out in front of me, watching blocks of Guatemalan life begin to teeter.
Gossip of restrictions soon lifting was common amongst friends despite the lack of any evidence to make it relevant or helpful, often lending itself to further disappointment. We were desperately holding on to anything resembling hope, even if it came from a place of desperation. I would say it was the three-month mark when we slammed into an unwanted and postponed reality check. As the rainy season poured in from the Pacific, our psychological, social, and physical safety nets started slipping away. US and Guatemala relations were also worrisome. The possible closure of airports, social unrest, and long months of further isolation ahead tipped the scales, and I evacuated to the US on a repatriation flight.
Guatemala seemed to have the virus under control, but with limited data on its spread within the country, it's still hard to know where the country stands in terms of case numbers. It would be safe to say though, with an influx of deportees arriving untested to a country with underresourced medical services and brittle economy, Guatemala is neck-deep in a humanitarian crisis. I am conflicted by my thoughts about the direction the country is going because although I am grateful that President Alejandro Giammattei has been methodically enforcing restrictions to safeguard the public, the most vulnerable have had to pay a high price. However, when we reflectively peer in the nexus of poverty as scandal and poverty of spirit, we can also find significant growth and change.
Having been home a week, I can see how much I grew out of the darkness. Four months of curfews, lockdowns, and a long list of other restrictions was an indescribable experience. At times I was sad, often lonely, and regularly confused. Now I'm learning how to use those feelings to grow deeper in my understanding of the meaning of solidarity in suffering and what I believe is a unity in Christ. I'm no longer in that environment, but I'm gaining new energy and strength in this one because of that discomfort. Since returning, I have a lot more on my to-do list, and I'm in love with all of it. I can also honestly say that I can't wait to return to Guatemala when the borders reopen to initiate programs put on the backburner during the pandemic.
An update on current work is as follows:
1. Continued work on the bulletins for Centro Camino del Amor (see publications tab)
2. Working on the UTO Grant for the proposed Diocesan food bank out of Centro Camino del Amor
3. Creating resources for a human rights workshop for priests in the Diocese
4. Coordinating a human rights workshop for Episcopal youth this week
5. Organizing a Cristosal human rights workshops for Episcopal youth (participant will be from IARCA and the US) for the coming month
6. Allocating funding to various projects we have received funding for (recently receiving funds from the Diocese of Texas to develop multiple online platforms for Centro Camino del Amor)
7. Attending an online Cristosal course on human rights during COVID-19
8. Developing virtual workshops with Eddy Garcia for multiple demographic groups
10. Facilitating and supporting the weekly youth group recently developed for the Youth Ministry Committee to get to know each other better (Atreveté-té)
My Spanish has also gotten a wee bit better.
I want to note that this work has not been made possible thanks to me.
It is thanks to all the incredible people I have met along the way.
The people who never stopped listening to my broken Spanish
The people who rode on chicken buses with me to help me find my way
The people who left me food outside my step just because
The people who guided me to the page they were on in the prayer book
The people who trusted me to tell their story
The people who opened their doors to a stranger
The people who laughed with me when my jokes weren't funny
The people who remembered I was vegetarian
The people who taught me street slang
The people who invited me inside prisons
The people who showed me they're scars to prove it
The people who advised me what streets to avoid
The people who greeted me at my uber to keep me safe
The people who danced with me when they knew it was what I needed
The people who held me when I felt weak
The people who hugged me when I wept from missing home
The people who called me just to check-in
The people who pushed me to keep going down bumpy roads
The people who believed that I was capable of more than I ever thought I was
This year has been wild, scary, beautiful, absurd, exciting, fun, sad, joyful, and everything in between.
But, what made it incredible... were the people who joined me on this adventure of a lifetime.
July 2019 Sermon:
"Looking back at all my journies, they end up perfect because of and not despite the twists and turns. I think God enjoys keeping us on our toes. This year with YASC will keep us all our toes as we inch closer to God's mission-love."
God did good.
Let the next chapter of loving adventure and overflowing growth begin.