Jen's Entry #1
todos y todas!
the first of what will hopefully be monthly updates of my time in
Guatemala. This one will be a long one as everything is new and
interesting. We are doing, seeing, feeling, thinking so many things,
it's hard to Keep track. As my dear friend Charity said in her first
update, "It's hard to narrow a massive life change down to a
Jen Thalman in
started the list of things we are seeing here that you won't see in
the US. She said I
could steal it and add to it. So
here are some highlights, for details click on
"tid-sit-us") "Things you don't see in the US".
Jen's additions to the List of
cheese that you buy in a cornhusk
cooking over open fires in their kitchens.
sticks as long as my arm
* Old US school buses painted every color under the sun used to go
between towns and cities (There is even a small Fairfax
County school bus here. It hasn't been painted over yet.
I've seen it twice)
* Jen drinking black coffee. (Milk is expensive, so most families
donıt use much and if they do, it is often powdered.)
* Lots of
other things I can't think of at the moment.
We will be adding to the list as the year moves forward.
my website where you can keep track of our goings on in Guatemala.
My mom is maintaining this page for me.
It has journal entries, Prayer requests, links etc.
It will have soon pictures and a reading list (right mom?)
Ok, so now
to the good stuff. First
and foremost let me introduce my friends here, as I will be talking
about them quite a bit, I think. There are 5 YAV's here in
Guatemala. Charity (on left in tan) is from Northern Idaho. She just finished her
studies and Lewiston College where she studied English and Theatre.
She is a reporter at the Lewiston paper as well!
Brian (navy blue shirt) is From Dallas, where he also just completed his
studies in disaster relief. Scott and Gabby (the other two, not me) are our resident "marrieds".
They are from Austin and both left corporate jobs to come do
this YAV thing in Guatemala.
currently living in the city of Quetzaltenango -about 4 1/2 hours by
bus on a two lane mountain road west of Guatemala City.
Quetzaltenango is also called Xela, which is a shortened
version of the Mayan name for the city.
We are guided and watched over by Joe and Selena Keeseeker
who are our site coordinators. They have lived here for 2 1/2 years
and are wise and supportive in every way.
Martin, Victor and Lydia work with Joe and Selena.
Martin lives with his family of 8 in Cantel just outside of
Xela where He also makes bags, jackets and shirts out of typical
Guatemala fabric. He will also be the host Dad for Gabby and Scott.
Victor lives about 2 1/2 hours away from Xela by bus and commutes in
every day. He is also a
pastor. Lydia lives in
Xela with her two children and also makes and sells handmade aprons
in the local market.
I love us! God has granted us a great support network here (not to
mention the 60 other YAV's in 11 other countries).
We are able to laugh, sing, process, discuss, support and
help. I really do feel
blessed that we have this time to be together to learn about each
other and to support each other through this transition.
I am well taken care of, thatıs for sure. We are all just a
little bit kooky, which makes for a lot of fun. Itıs interesting
that Joe and Selenaıs and Xela have become my new comfort zone.
Soon it will be time to move from that, too.
In four weeks I move to Malacatan, down the mountain near the
border with Mexico, a place I know nothing about.
It's exciting and scary at the same time.
But who would have thought that Xela would enter in to my
comfort zone. I will
have faith that Malacatan will also soon be within my comfort zone
and I will
support I need there too.
of this newsletter is an excerpt from my journal. This is just a highlight; really, as it would take a month to
report all that has happened. I
hope this and future updates give you an idea of what we are doing,
seeing and experiencing.
August 30 Fuentes Goergines
lunch we went to Fuentes Georgias, a hot springs not far from Xela.
We drove up a steep winding mountain road to get there. On the way
up we saw many indigenous women walking up the road carrying heavy
loads on their heads. There
were many plots of land with crops growing -- cabbage, onions
(scallions really), carrots, beets and other veggies.
The field was way up the steep -- I mean steep, like
practically vertical -- mountainside. Selena told us that the
farmers often have to tie themselves to something to keep from
falling down the mountain. I
don't know how they even get up there to tie themselves to
anything. If they fall they would easily fall all
down the mountain to their deaths.
Just growing food for some is a life theatening endeavor. Could you imagine if everytime you went to grocery store you
feared for you life (Those of you in the D.C. area have a little bit
of understanding about that after the sniper thing last year).
Iım amazed at the amount of work people do here.
There is no resting.
we climbed closer to the top of the mountain, the crop fields grew
even steeper and steeper. The colors were brilliant. The brown of
the dirt was deeply brown and the multitudes of greens were
profoundly green. We
climbed and climbed into the clouds. Martin
drove with care around the sharp steep turns until we arrived at the
natural volcanic hot springs
From Left: Martin, Charity,
Brian, me, & Selena
View from the top
We piled out of
the van and up the stairs. It
was so beautiful, like a paradise.
We were walking with God among the clouds.
There are bungalows there where you can stay the night, but
they turn the electricity off at 10:00pm.
Each bungalow has a fireplace., though. We reached the
springs. Steam rose
from the warm green water. There
were happy people swimming, laughing, and playing.
We saw some of the first gringos (This is generally a term of
affection here as opposed to an insult) there aside from ourselves,
of course. We quickly
changed in the not so pleasant bathroom and dove in; well, walked
into actually. It was
too shallow to dive. It
was amazingly warm and
There was a mossy rock cliff that went straight up out of the
plants around the springs with leaves so huge you could use them for
a blanket. I asked
Martin what they were called but he didnıt know.
We spent about an hour literally basking in the beauty of Godıs
now I hope to have many more updates to share with you over the
next year. Thank you
all for your prayers and support.
Here are some pics of Jen's new digs...
Casa de Jen
Jen with new friends
And they all said,