Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On Being a Missionary: Day 1,063

I was very frustrated by something that a fellow missionary said on Facebook tonight, and I responded poorly.  He stated the following: "We could really use a visit from good friends from the States. Fun together, laughter, cards, a few good conversations and a few tears followed by an intense time of prayer. Any takers?"  Now, the reason I responded poorly may have something to do with the fact that I've lived in the same town as him and his family for 2.5 years and we have never done anything together despite the fact that we were the only missionaries in the town until recently.  However, much more than that, it has to do with the fact that we're missionaries.  I don't know if he reads my blog, but I do read his.  I know what his family is going through right now, and I have been praying for them in all of this.  The fact of the matter (i.e. my opinion) is that we are both missionaries (as well as the other family who has moved in to town who I assume knows about his current situation as well).  We are Christians.  We may be "divided" by what church we attend or by what population we serve, but we are all Christians.  That means we should stand together and not be divided.  That means in times of struggle we should stand together...without needing something or someone from the States.  Yes, I have my community I serve, but if my brother falls down and I do not pick him up, what kind of person am I?  What kind of ministry can I claim to be serving in?  I can take time for you so that you can keep doing what God sent you here to do.  I hope you can do the same for me.

That's all for my rant for tonight.  If any missionary or even any Christian out there wants me to take time out of my life to help him or her through a struggle, I'm here for you.  Please just don't piss me off first.  We're all in this together.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A little more of the reason: Day 1,048

It's not often that I share my personal life with you, especially not parts that don't apply to the ministry.  However, there is another factor which plays into my decision to not move (or rather another little inconvenience which made it look like God was saying, "Not this, not now.") which I'd like to share with you and have you praying for.  Those of you who are my friends on Facebook already know about this, but I'd like to share it with the rest of you.   Back in March I was diagnosed with two problems which interact with each other resulting in a mess which is quite difficult to untangle; it seems as if neither one can be fixed without the other one being fixed first.  As a result, I--with the help of some friends and doctors--have decided to go on an elimination diet, a fairly strict one.

Elimination diets are pretty unheard of here in Guatemala, and due to the very precise nature of them, they can pretty much only be accomplished in places where there are lots of foreigners because the stores in those areas cater to foreigners and their weird whims.  Moving to Los Encuentros would have made this a little more difficult as it would require figuring out where to buy the stuff on my diet all over again (and turning down lots of invitations--extremely rude--from my excited new neighbors).  Staying where I'm living with all my old neighbors and easy access to Antigua (tourism capitol of Guatemala) is going to make this much easier.  And while in some ways this diet would be easier done in the US, it really wouldn't be.  I already eat a 95% "natural" diet, none of that prepackaged stuff or preservatives.

So, why am I telling you about this?  Well, I'd like your prayers and your recipes. This is the diet which I'll be following with a few other changes.  There is no fruit allowed on my diet, and many of the allowed foods are not accessible in Guatemala (although my odds are higher in Antigua).  I'll be making a pretty exhaustive list of what is allowed later today once I buy my notebook for the diet.  I'll also be starting the diet on Thursday, September 5th, for those of you who want to be with me on day #1.  Thank you in advance.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mission Moment: September Newsletter

 The end of August will mark the closing of one chapter on this mission journey and the start of another. It will also mark the 1-year anniversary of living in this house, and we've just passed my 2-year anniversary of living in San Antonio Aguas Calientes by a few days. So, all-in-all, I can jokingly say that the time is right. However, it's not with a little sadness that I'll be leaving this town. I've made many good friendships here, some even recently. It's conveniently located. It's tourist-friendly. Its roads are all on maps (at least the parts of town that I frequent). And yet, looking forward to the future is also positive. My new “next-door neighbors” are people who treat me like a daughter. I'll be able to visit Antigua (and many of my old friends) pretty much every weekend. Kaqchikel—the native Mayan language—will ideally become second, er, third nature to me. I don't really know what the future will hold for me, though; so I'll take the rest of this to tell you about this past month.
On July 22nd, I welcomed a young woman named Madeline into my house. She is from the Ann Arbor area, and has a cousin who attends the school where my mother works (which is how she learned about me and what I do). She has a heart for helping people, especially kids, and has felt drawn to Central America. We have spent the past month allowing her to explore mission opportunities near Antigua and even took a trip out to let her see what I do in Los Encuentros, Solola. The first two weeks, she served at a project in San Felipe de Jesus called God's Child Project. This organization has many different projects which it runs including a malnutrition center, a homeless shelter, and an after-school program. During her two weeks, Madeline got to experience each of the different projects that they have there.
After that, Madeline has spent these next two weeks working at a project here in San Antonio Aguas Calientes called Paso a Paso (Step by Step). This project is much smaller (and much younger), but it operates an after-school program as well. However, it offers additional support to the families as well. The children here receive lunch 3 days per week. They're offered a safe and structured environment with discipline. And, most importantly, they are offered a lot of love. This program could do a lot more if they had a little more funding, and Ana Luisa, the founder and coordinator, is going to work to set up a sponsorship program for the kids.
Besides the work that Madeline has been doing, we've also taken some time out to see a little bit of the country (nothing I haven't seen before), a bit of the crafting (we're even learning to weave), a bit of the culture (we attending a VERY traditional wedding), and a bit of the food (some of which I have prepared, and some of which I've commissioned a friend's family to prepare). Right now, she's learning how to sweep with a spray bottle in one hand. (Sweeping a concrete floor seems to send very fine cement dust into the air unless it is sprayed in advance and kept wet during the sweeping process. This dust then settles on and sticks to EVERYTHING.) She has also learned to wash clothes by hand. Yes, there are things which frustrate her now and again, but as I have told her mother, I believe Madeline will be back.

The care and keeping of a missionary
I especially ask for your prayers this month as I start up in a new place and get situated in the community. I ask for your prayers for Madeline as she goes back to the States and considers everything that she has seen and done and asks for God's direction for her life. I ask for your prayers for Antonella who has been my “guard dog” over the last two years as we look for a new home for her. (My new home comes pre-guarded and wouldn't be safe for a new dog who doesn't know the area.)

My mother mentioned the possibility of her sending a care package to me in October. I know not all of you do e-mail, and I'd like to mention again that I love hearing from you and how you're doing. Also, for those of you who do use the internet and e-mail, my e-mail address is asimmer@gmail.com, and I have a blog (like a journal, and it doesn't require you to log in) at http://GringaOnTheGround.blogspot.com in case you want to hear stories and get updates more often than once per month. Thanks for being you, for your love and support.