On January 7th, for the first time in a post-Covid world, I packed my bags and headed down to Guatemala. When Covid hit, it had already been 1 year since I had been to Guatemala, and after cancelling our March 2020 trip, my time away quickly added up. I needed to go to take all of the incredible donations our supporters had donated the year before, which we had planned on taking in March. Although our English classes had prevailed without all of the bright, new materials, we wanted to start 2021 with the students as excited as possible. And, on a personal note, I needed to go to Guatemala for me. Nothing sets my soul on fire more.
Sure, there were new stickers on floors and signs at entrances... but "my Guatemala" was the same. Every Guatemalan welcomed me excitedly, happy to see visitors once again. It's funny how we've learned to smile with our eyes.
I landed and went straight to my hotel for the rest of the evening. I sat on the balcony and soaked in the volcano filled view, not fully knowing if it was the warm breeze or the flames within that were warming me.
The next morning, bright and early, I headed to Hogar Miguel Magone (HMM), the children's home we help support. This is where most of our students reside. I shook with excitement! I arrived to an incredibly warm welcome. No hugs, but extra love! Not much had changed... some walls had been repainted and Christmas decorations were everywhere I looked. The children were so excited to have visitors again! When I arrived, they were in the middle of an activity that involved 5 different stations. Small groups spent 20 minutes at each station. There was an art station, soccer, bingo, and more. I had wondered how they were managing to keep 85 kiddos sane during a lock down!
After lunch, we headed in to town. I was excited to meet with the local school director so he could show me around the school that most of the children attend. It was empty of course, as classes are still being held virtually. The Guatemalan government hopes to begin in person learning in March.
When I returned, I had the pleasure of giving a guitar lesson - and then got a personal concert form all of the HMM musicians! They played and I listened, well in to the night.
The next day, our English teacher Monica came to help me unpack all of the donations for our English classroom. The English classroom looked incredible, even before she began putting up the new decor! Check out the video:
I also got to sit in on an English class, which I must admit, brought tears to my eyes.
And afterwards, to celebrate the beginning of a new school year, we had Guatemalan hot dogs (mixtas) and the local version of snow cones (granizadas) - The kids LOVED it!
Although my time with the kids was short, it was fruitful. Waking up at the home and seeing their daily routine (as if I wasn't there at all) was amazing. Seeing a normal breakfast and a normal dinner; a normal bedtime and an early morning rise. What has always impressed me so much about HMM is the extraordinary love that shines through in ordinary activities.
I can't wait to be back. Until next time Guatemala!