Far from what I once was, but not yet what I'm going to be

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Meet Raul

Bear with me as this is the hardest post to write thus far.

Raul touched my life in ways I cannot express. This boy taught me so much.

I didn't really get to know Raul until the third day working in the village. But we hit it off right away. I've never had such a connection with a person. EVER. And so quickly!

This boy taught me what love is. I have never felt so loved. I have never loved like I love this boy. And this love developed immediately. It's probably the strongest truest love I know.

The kids that were major trouble makers (like the kid on the right) were fine around Raul.

 His smile, laughter and love are contagious. You can't help but soak it all in and pour it right back out.

He taught me SO much Spanish while in the village. We had many laughs and smiles. Even though I really don't know much Spanish, for some reason we understood each other. We speak different languages, but I kid you not, when he spoke I just knew. When I spoke, he just knew. It was truly amazing. A gift from God.

You've seen this photo in an earlier post
But you didn't know Raul yet!
So here it is... Again ;)
By the time I started talking with Raul, Ruth had already captured my heart. But this boy stole it from the moment we spoke to one another.

He was so helpful. So kind. So fun. So happy. So silly. So loving.

I have many memories that I will share with this boy until the day I die. He touched my life like no one before - and I know no one else ever will the way he did.

You can't help but be drawn to Raul. Just like these boys are
Don't know what's up with Raul's face in this one haha
But it's pretty much the most EPIC photo bomb EVER
He's an adventurous one.
And the truest friend anyone could have
This boy is so precious to me. In ways I can't explain. In ways you won't understand.
Just another shot of Raul with other
children in the village.
They're seriously drawn to him!
On the last day working in the village, I was a big ball of emotion. But I had to fight it. Knowing that I was leaving this precious boy and friend crushed my heart. CRUSHED IT. During a break from laying block, Raul pulled me aside. He gave me a bracelet. It said "Te Amo." Translation: I love you. I will cherish this gift forever.
And if that wasn't enough to push me over the edge emotionally, leaving the village definitely accomplished that.
The whole village gathered to see us off...
Raul in the very front
What was the last sight I saw leaving the village? This.
He ran down the hill chasing our van. Me crying of course. And naturally we get stuck in a mud puddle. He runs up to the window and places his hand on the window. I put my hand on the window holding it up to his. No joke, the most emotional, heart-breaking yet loving moments of my life. (Didn't get a picture because I was crying ridiculously at this point.)

I miss this boy more than you know. More than he knows. I pray each night that I will see him again. I know the Lord hears my prayers. I hope he makes this happen. And if not, Raul will always be in my heart.

What an amazing boy. 9 years old and he changed my life. Forever.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Meet Ruth

The sweetest little girl I ever knew. Ruth is 9 years old and the first born in her family. She is SO strong. She helped carry those huge and heavy blocks down a hill with us. She had more strength than I do for sure. She followed me everywhere. And I loved every second of it. She even followed me to the bathroom! And when I came out of the bathroom, every time she would be sitting there waiting with a bucket of water she ran and got for me to wash my hands in.

She told another girl on the trip that we have beautiful hands. Morgan, in response, said "YOU have beautiful hands Ruth!" And Ruth's response was, "No, look how clean they are. They are so beautiful!"

These people don't have running water. They have wells. And is the water even clean? MMM no. Not really. Not safe to drink for Americans.

In her eyes, cleanliness is beauty. Some of us can't stand to go a day without a shower. . . These poor Guatemalan people have never had the luxury of taking a shower. Maybe rinsing off with a wet cloth; but they don't even have soap.

She sat here everyday and watched for hours as I worked. Laying block. So patient. So happy. So smiley! I love this girl so.

She was so patient with me and my crazy limited Spanish. And even took the time to teach me a little bit. Her smile so warm and friendly. Melting my heart away each second I saw it. And smiling seemed to be one of her favorite things to do. Because it was rare to catch her without a smile.

The last day, Ruth wanted me to meet her mom. I was so honored that she wanted her mom to meet me! How cool! What a big deal! She ran home and dragged her mom out to where we were working and introduced us. Beautiful moment.

My sweet beautiful Ruth with her mom

Ruth stole my heart from day one and she is a beautiful girl that I will never forget in all my days. So loving. So giving. So generous. So sweet. SO INCREDIBLE. I love you, my sweet Ruth!
This is Ruth and her best friend Maura
Some of my last moments with these sweethearts.
Ruth is the one with her arm around me :)
Maura, Ruth, and Romelia.
These three were inseparable and glued to me every second
Oh how I love that smile
The three best friends that anyone could have
Love her!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The People

WARNING! This post is a wake-up call
WARNING! This post may make you feel spoiled and rotten
WARNING! This post is a sad reality of what other parts of the world suffer through
WARNING! This post may change your attitude and outlook on your current living situation

Let's start off with a description of the people collectively.

These people are poor. When you think of poor, you might think of the boy you went to school with that had  dirty, ripped clothes. Or the girl who couldn't afford a new dress to go to Prom. They're not that kind of poor. .

These people are REALLY poor. Do you know how much money they make? $8 A DAY. Minimum wage in Arizona is $7.65 AN HOUR.

What does the average family look like in Guatemala? 20 children. TWENTY. That's not a type-o! That's real life. And it's "normal" to lose 4 children somewhere along the line.

Men work, while the women stay at home with the children. One income per family. $8 a day. To feed you, your spouse, and your twenty children. . . Doesn't add up does it?

You think your house is small? Not enough bed rooms. Not enough bathrooms. Your bed isn't soft enough. You need to sleep with two pillows instead of one. You need plenty of room to sprawl out in your sleep. You need your own room to relax and spend some time "getting away." You need a bigger TV. They don't have ANY of these luxuries. This is where they live. One "room" for the family. Sleeping on the hard ground. No pillows. No one gets their own room. Everyone is cramped.

The people who live in the block house with "Victoria" written on it are considered wealthy.

Education is not a high priority in Guatemala because the families need the children to help out with the family farm. They grow most of their own food, so they don't have to buy much. They make most of their clothing, because they can't afford to buy any for the family.

Guatemalans are the hardest working people I have ever known. They work all day every day. Rain or shine. Sunday-Saturday. And we sit at home complaining that having Saturday and Sunday off just isn't enough.

We complain about having to go to school, when the children there are dying to go to school so maybe they can live a better life and provide for their future family better than their parents were able to provide for them.

The new leader of Guatemala is placing a higher priority on education. He is actually having the government pay families to send their children to school. But some families still can't afford having their children somewhere other than working the fields.

Still, they're so happy. So content. It's beautiful. It's amazing.

All they have is each other. And each other is what's most important.

Next posts will point out a select few that changed my life forever. . .

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Beauty

I promised you more on my trip because the last post was just an intro. This post is dedicated to the natural beauty we saw all around us everywhere we went.

(Most of these photos taken by Ryan Brase)

The photos really don't do it justice. Guatemala is definitely the most beautiful place I have ever been. It's the poorest place as well. God is such an incredible artist. His creation in Guatemala is breathtaking. Stunning. Gorgeous. Tear-jerking. Heart wrenching. UNBELIEVABLE. You have no idea.

The clouds are coming!!

This is the biggest volcano in the country.
"The Handsome One"
Way out yonder is the ocean

This photo should really win an award or something. . .
Ryan is amazing with a camera.
This natural light is stunning.

Another volcano
Love what the black and white does to a photo
This shot is out of a window
of the church we built


Went on a hike with a few peeps.
We found a waterfall!!
No  big deal.
The farming of corn and potatoes is a big deal in

My apologies for all the pictures beginning to look the same. Everything is so green and beautiful. So many gorgeous mountains. And the volcanoes! Oh so cool. The scenery of the trip didn't disappoint. There is beauty all around.

The next post will have more in depth, meaningful stories and memories in it. PREPARE ;)