Guatemala: Almost One Month In.

Dear friends and family,

Thank you for praying for me as I get settled in! Many of you have sent emails and texts to ask how I am. Thank you! It means a lot.

The last three weeks have gone quickly. I bought a car and have driven it a few times! I was nervous to drive it here but driving is going well! It’s nice to not have to take chicken buses everywhere. Having a car means that I can get to church in half the time, run errands quickly and easily, I’ll be able to drive to the capital city to do my residency paperwork, and once the birth centre is built, I’ll be driving back and forth to it (1 hour drive) frequently. Having a car is a huge blessing! In the next few weeks I will perfect my parallel parking 🙂

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My trusty Rav4


During my first and second week, I spent a lot of time trying to find a house to rent. It’s much harder than in Canada because nobody uses the internet to list houses. Everything is done word of mouth. I spent several hours walking from tienda (small corner store) to tienda asking “do you know anybody who is renting a house?” They would answer “let me think…hmm, actually, my brother’s sister-in-law’s mother Josefina has an empty

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The town were I live, San Antonio Aguas Calientes

house. She lives two streets over, across from such-and-such tienda, beside the green house.” So then I would try to find the house, and ask for Josefina. It was frustrating and discouraging a lot of the time. I felt like I was on a wild goose chase that never ended. I’m going to be living with a friend, Taryn, and we might have found a house. We still have to work out details but it looks hopeful. Nothing for sure yet, but once we find one I will post pictures. Currently I’m living with Daryl and Wanda Fulp + their family in their group home for kids with special needs. I would appreciate your prayers as we continue to look for housing options.

 

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A typical street in my town


Last week I went to Escuintla to see where the birth centre will be built. Here is a post I wrote on Facebook about it (find me on facebook to watch the video I posted of the location of the birth centre):

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to Escuintla to see where the birth center will be built! I took this video to give you some perspective. You can see where there is already some foundation laid; we will be building on that. There will be 4 birth suites with full bathrooms attached, a clinic room for prenatal appointments and consultations, a room where I can sleep overnight as needed, a small kitchenette both for my use and the use of families of patients in labour. It’s going to be amazing! While we already have all the funding in place, construction actually hasn’t started yet…but hopefully soon! I’m anxious to get working. In the mean time, I have a couple months to get settled and spend time preparing curriculum because I will be training local girls from this community to work with me.

Behind that line of trees is the Escuintla dump. Trucks are bringing in loads of garbage non-stop and families swarm it to find food and things to sell. Escuintla is HOT compared to other parts of the country, so you can imagine the smell. This is an ideal place to start my work in Guatemala. The community is extremely receptive to and thankful for our work. There is nobody providing similar services so we aren’t stepping on any toes. This community is one of the poorest places I’ve seen and has much, much need. I’m excited, grateful, and humbled that God has called me here to serve Him, serve His people, and to be an ambassador for His Kingdom of love.

It’s hard to estimate when the clinic will be built, but I will keep you posted.

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The foundation of the birth clinic

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The city dump is directly behind where the clinic will be built. We are building right in front of this tree line/fence


Leading up to my flight to Guatemala, people would ask me how I was feeling. Usually I would answer that I just felt numb. Happy? Sure. Excited? Not particularly. Anxious? Yes. Sad? Yes. It’s not that I didn’t want to come here. If you know me, you know that I’ve dreamed of this for almost a decade. I AM excited to be here. What I wasn’t excited for was the leaving, the settling in, navigating the house-hunting situation; I wasn’t particularly excited for the new.

Leaving my family was hard. Is hard. I miss them a lot. Sometimes I’ll try to call them over the internet, but I never get a good connection so it’s frustrating for them and for me, so I just hang up because I can’t understand what they’re saying. It can be tiring giving people updates about things when it feels like nothing is really happening.

“Have you found a house yet?” No.

“How about now?” Still no.

“Do you have your car yet?” It’s still at the mechanics.

“When will the clinic be built?” Not sure.

“How come it’s taking so long to find a house” Read above.

Don’t get me wrong. I want people to ask me these questions. I want people to be interested! THANK YOU for checking up on my and asking how I’m doing and being interested in how I’m settling in. Sometimes I just feel like nothing is happening and it’s hard to keep telling that to people over and over again.

In the midst of all of this, I’m so glad to be here. I’m happy to be walking in God’s will. I have peace that this is God’s plan, so I trust that everything will fall into place. In Guatemala things happen slowly, life goes at a slower pace here. Perhaps this is how God is going to teach me to stop rushing and to just be in His presence. I have a few months before the clinic will be built and I want to take advantage of this time because soon enough I will be very busy here. I’m confident that God will use these “slow months” for his perfect purpose.

I’ve been doing a study of the book of Matthew about discipleship. More than anything, I really want to be a good disciple of Jesus. Discipleship is the application of Christian truth to the present. “What does God want me to do about this relationship?” “How do I deal with this situation?” “How do I deal with the fear that I have?” “What does God expect of me on a daily basis?” The most important thing is to learn what Jesus is like. Going through Matthew is teaching me how Jesus responds to people, situations, problems. Looking at Jesus as a king in Matthew shows me how he responds to authority and how he provides for His people. What attitudes are important to Jesus? How should I respond to suffering? All of these situations arise in Matthew and I get a front row seat to see how Jesus responds. In turn, I am learning to emulate Him. It’s a good study.

I want to end this update by asking you to listen to a song that meant a lot to me in 2013, and this week I heard it again and it’s impacting me again in a deep way. “Cry In My Heart” by Starfield (click here to listen). The lyrics speak of being in a familiar place while still feeling unsatisfied. I can relate to that because I know Guatemala, I love Guatemala; but it feels different this time. It’s like I’m afraid to open myself because I’m afraid of failing, of not being good enough, of not even helping. I know that those are lies, and that’s why the song is important to me right now. This song has become my prayer this week.

There’s a cry in my heart for Your glory to fall, for Your presence to fill up my senses

There’s a yearning again, a thirst for discipline, a hunger for things that are deeper

Could You take me beyond? Could You carry me through? If I open my heart could I go there with You? For I’ve been here before but I know there’s still more

oh, Lord, I need to know You

For what do I have if I don’t have You, Jesus?

What in this life could mean any more?

You are my rock, You are my glory, You are the lifter of my head, lifter of this head


I’m excited for what God is doing! Thank you for reading this, for praying for me, for thinking of me!

(PS – I have a Guatemalan phone number and can use iMessage and WhatsApp so message me privately if you would like my number)

Love,

Stephanie

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2 thoughts on “Guatemala: Almost One Month In.

  1. My mind is blown on every newsletter! It is incredible to be tracking with you on this journey from the beginning. Teresa and I are super moved!

    Michael Kotsopoulos Pastor, Faith Community Church of Alliston (705) 984 – 6305 | Meeting at the Gibson Centre Check us out:faithcommunity.ca IMPORTANT: The contents of this email and any attachments are confidential. They are intended for the named recipient(s) only. If you have received this email by mistake, please notify the sender immediately and do not disclose the contents to anyone or make copies thereof.

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