Please pray for me as I am in Guatemala from Jan. 29 – Feb. 11. My flight is scheduled for 8:00am tomorrow. The first week of my trip will be spent in Antigua. I’ll be studying Spanish at La Unión Spanish School and staying with a family assigned by the school. It is a full immersion program. I’ll study for four hours each morning and then I hope to spend my afternoons doing plen air painting around this beautiful city. Stay tuned for the art gallery in March! The image above is one that I did there in 2019.
The second week is dedicated to the church. I will be working with Pastora Karen Castillo, the bishop of the Lutheran Church in Guatemala (ILAG), to teach three different groups of pastors as they come to the Lutheran Center in Guatemala City for annual training.
This is my third trip to Guatemala since 2017. The first two happened because I was an associate pastor at Easter Lutheran Church in Eagan, MN and it was part of my job description. I was the pastoral liason for a delegation of Easter folks who wanted to learn more about our partnerships with ILAG. CLICK HERE to read all of my blog posts from those trips.
I loved those trips and fell in love with the country and the people of Guatemala. I have a long history with this country. My parents first took me there when I was a young teenager and we lived in Detroit. They were scouting out a location to take a group of adults to help one of the missionaries that our church supported. That trip happened in 1981. Little did I know then that we were there during the bloodbath of the Civil War that decimated the people with whom I currently work.
I also have a familial connection with Guatemala. One niece and one nephew are indigenous Guatemalans, born in Guatemala and adopted by my brother and sister-in-law from an orphanage there. Another nephew’s biological father is Guatemalan. His White, American mother gave him up for adoption in the states to the same brother and sister-in-law. When I am in Guatemala I see my family.
One thing frustrated me during my last two trips. I don’t speak Spanish. The language barrier is very difficult. So, in the Spring of 2020 I decided to start studying the language. I’ve been doing Duolingo every day since then (today is my 988th day streak). I also took 20 private lessons with a tutor in Antigua on Zoom last year.
My Spanish is still not very good, but I have broken the initial barrier. That is why I will be doing one week of immersion next week. I hope to get to the next level where I can actually understand people when they speak in normal rhythms. Pray that my mind will be sharp and my heart open to really absorb the language and culture.
I had a meeting with Pastora Karen last week on Zoom and we spoke in Spanish the whole time, so that was a positive experience with the language. She is very patient with me and she encouraged me to do our lessons with the pastors in Spanish. She will be there to translate when needed. Pray that it all goes well.
Thanks for reading this far. I do plan to blog during the trip, so keep in touch. You can sign up for my daily posts below.
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That sounds like it is a great opportunity to rekindle some youth memories and make new ones with new connections as well! We will be praying for you, your safety and the connections you make!
What a wonderful trip you have planned. I am so happy you are able to spend time with our brothers and sisters with ILAG. God bless your trip to Guatemala in every way in every place.❤️❤️
Steve, be safe and faithful that the holy spirit will guide your trip! Thank you for all you do!