The Adventure Begins

My flights in wing pictures. Winking smile

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Greetings from Guatemala!

Well, so much happened in the first few days of my time in Guatemala that this may be quite an epistle! 😉

My parents took me to the airport early Thursday morning, September 7. I met Benj and Holly’s family there. All our flights went well and I always had someone to hold my hand while we were in the airport. 😉

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We arrived in Guatemala City at 11:30 AM. (Currently the same as Mountain Time)* From the airport we PILED into two taxis and went to the Mission (Mennonite Air Mission’s headquarters).

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Stuffing the luggage in. (clip_image003[1]: Holly)

We were at the Mission the rest of that day. Friday morning we grabbed cornbread muffins for breakfast and left about 6:30 and headed to Immigration to get Guatemalan Passports for the children and renew Benj’s. That involved a lot of standing in line and keeping the children entertained. But by 11:30 we were leaving with passports in hand.

We went to Burger King for lunch. After that we headed to the Toyota dealership and got the truck serviced. They had a very nice waiting area so we just made ourselves at home. We put the children down for naps and I even had a nap myself. Here’s a couple pictures from that afternoon:

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We were happy with some complimentary beverages and snacks. 🙂 I thought Jun made a cute little slug with a curl on the top while she was taking her nap. (Right)

Saturday we got up even earlier and headed to a friend’s place for the day. That was a much more relaxing day than Friday. She lives near the coast so we went to la playa (the beach) for part of the day. I really enjoyed that.

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We had a picnic lunch under the thatch before swimming.

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We left that evening after supper and headed to El Chal, arriving around 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning. After church we went to Stephen and Brenda’s for lunch. Then Benj’s dropped me off at the girls’ house where I am living. I had a nap and started unpacking before church in the evening.

Monday I was at home all day just unpacking, doing laundry, and settling in. Here is my first meal I cooked myself in Guatemala:

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Beans, rice, and (corn) tortillas are definitely staple foods here. I love the food, but am still adjusting from a high protein, low carb diet to a low protein, high carb diet. Have to figure out how much to eat to keep me going, but hopefully not make me too wide. 😉 I’ve been walking home from Benj’s which is about a 40 minute walk, so that is helpful.

Things are kinda getting into a pattern here with my work schedule but it’s still flexible. We have revivals this week starting Wednesday evening which will make for a busy week. You can pray for the speaker Ernest and for the town of El Chal. Pray that evil would be driven back and God’s light will shine forth!

Life is going pretty well here. I still have a lot to learn as far as Spanish is concerned but I am adjusting to the culture pretty well otherwise. I once in awhile forget to throw my toilet paper in the trash can rather than flush it (they don’t have good sewage systems so flushing it would plug things up), and I sometimes long for hot water, but these are just small bumps in the road.

God has been good. I have been amazed time and again how he has worked out small details to be just right.  What an amazing God we serve!

On a lighter note: The other day Lanet looks at my feet and says, “You have pudgy feet.” Me: “Yep.” Lanet: “That’s because they have lots of blood in them!” That is very good to know! Winking smile

Thanks for your prayers! -Rachel

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View from Benj and Holly’s house

 

*Guatemala does not do Daylight Savings, so currently we are the same as Mountain Time. After time change in the States we will be the same as Central Time.

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Back To School

And it’s that time of year again. Depending where you live, school may have been in session a couple of weeks or it may not be starting for a week or so.

People have asked me how it feels not to be teaching again.

I loved not having to worry about coming up with a theme this summer and work on classroom stuff. I had plenty of other things to be doing…and somehow I still didn’t get as many projects done this summer as I would have liked. Sad smile 

It does feel a little strange to think of “my kids” going back to school and I won’t be there.

But I know I made the right choice. And that knowledge gives me peace and helps me trust my future and the future of “my” students to God.

I think I had promised you some poetry posts this summer and I have not kept that so far. So here goes.

Here’s a poem I wrote when I was in school. Maybe when I was in 7th or 8th grade?

School

Rush, rush, rush, now don’t be late.

We must be ready by eight.

Hurry as fast as you can,

For here comes the school van.

We want to be at school by eight-thirty.

Is everyone ready and pretty?

Can we make it in time?

Yes, we will be on time.

At school we learn to divide and multiply.

“How does this all work?” we repeatedly cry.

In history class we learn

How our great nation was torn.

In science class we learn

What makes this earth turn.

 

All our stomachs are growling

When we take a rest from learning

And our lunches we begin to eat.

We must eat to keep us on our feet.

 

In grammar we learn of adjectives and adverbs, too.

Do you know how to use these to describe your shoe?

In Bible we learn of God’s attributes;

Sometimes we even have a few disputes.

Literature is a fun class.

We often have a few laughs.

 

At the end of the day,

It is our time to play.

We like to run and shout.

This keeps us from being stout.

 

Time to go home at last!

Our day of school is past.

 

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What Next?

So, maybe most of you know by now what I am planning to do next, but this is for those of you who don’t; or those who would like to know some background.

For those of you who would rather not read a long, wordy post explaining all the details, here is the short version: I am moving to Guatemala.

For most of my life I have had family living in Guatemala. When I was 7 or 8, my parents went there to visit my dad’s brother’s family. Before they went Mom listened to Speedy Spanish tapes and used the Rosetta Stone Spanish program on the computer. I grew up hearing about Guatemala and desiring to learn Spanish.

When I entered high school, I signed up for the Spanish course with the thought in mind of going to Guatemala as a missionary someday. I got my passport in 2010? with hopes of going to visit my cousins in Guatemala, but that didn’t happen right away. But, finally, in 2013, my cousin Connie and I went for a 16 day visit. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with our cousins in Guatemala! We helped Holly around the house, visited the school one day, and spent some time at the clinic. We also got to go swimming, zip lining, and shopping. Benj told us we could move there whenever we were ready. Winking smile

Well, time went on and I wasn’t sure if God was actually calling me to Guatemala. Maybe that was my own plan and not what He had for  me. I decided not to push it. I had found my niche teaching school in Colorado. For the time being that was my mission field.

Then I decided it was time for a break from teaching. I tried, in my head at least, to have a plan laid before I said, “No.” I thought maybe I could stay in Colorado even if I wasn’t teaching.  I wanted to so badly!! Someone wondered why I would rather stay there than live in Virginia. I found it very hard to explain or put into words. Now I might be able to put it more into words. I felt like Colorado was where I truly found myself; where I could just be me and be liked for me. Not judged on how conservative I was or how well I could play sports or by what my family was like. I also love that there aren’t near as many people in the West. I love the wide open country, the beautiful mountains. It’s something I feel inside. I can’t really put it into words. But it is there nonetheless.

As is natural, when people found out I wasn’t teaching, they  wondered, “What are you going to do next?” My reply, “I don’t know yet, I am just waiting for God’s leading.” Sometimes I got tired of saying this. You know, most people have things more in order. They don’t just quit a job with no other job on the horizon.  I felt a little weird, but at the same time I was at peace with my decision. I knew God was leading. As the school year wound down, though, it was hard to still not know what was happening. I wanted to demand an answer from God but knew I could not. I knew He would reveal the plan in His own good time. But it was hard to have patience.

Things just didn’t seem to be working out for me to stay in Colorado, but I kept hoping, not really letting go of my desire. Then I heard of a mission opportunity. It seemed like maybe that was what I was supposed to be doing.  I prayed about it. I talked with people about it. I wasn’t sure about it, but it seemed like maybe God was opening a door. So, finally I checked into it. I kept praying. In the end, that did not work out, but it accomplished something for me. Through that, I was able to give up my desire to stay in Colorado.  So when I got asked to help my cousins in Guatemala I had already processed the thought of leaving Colorado. I still had to pray about it. Think about it. Ask people’s opinions. Find out more information. But in the end, I agreed to go. It felt so good to be able to tell people, “I am moving to Guatemala next.”

But then there came another question that posed a problem, “How long will you be there?” My answer, “Indefinitely.” Now, this does not mean I will be there forever. It just means I don’t know how long God will have a purpose for me there. I plan to be there until God leads me somewhere else.

And, as others have, you may be wondering, “What will you be doing there?” This is somewhat easier to answer. I will be helping my cousin Benj and his wife Holly and their 5 children. In Holly’s words, I will be her “personal assistant.”

People also wonder, “Are you excited about going?” This has been a little harder for me to answer. At first I was just getting out of school and trying to recover from that. Going to Guatemala was a distant happening that I had no strong feelings about. But, as the time draws nearer, Yes, I am excited. Excited and a bit apprehensive. I loved it there when I visited, but I know moving there will be different. I know it will present lots of challenges. Sometimes I wonder if I am up to that. But I know that I need stretched. That it will be good for me to get out of my comfortable little box.

So I have been trying to study some Spanish. Trying to get things in order here so I am ready to head to Guatemala the beginning of September. I feel like things are not coming together as quickly as I would like, but I am trying to not let all the things I want to get done pile up in my mind and weigh me down and stress me out. I am trying to stay calm and hand my problems to God. But if you don’t hear from me much the next while, don’t be surprised. I have a lot of things to get done and a lot of people to spend time with.

Another question I got tired of answering was, “When are you leaving for Guatemala?” I had to keep answering, “I don’t know. Maybe the end of August.” When I got asked to go to Guatemala, I told them that I was willing to go, but wanted a few months at home with my family. Some time to recuperate from the school year. A chance to catch my breath. And they graciously agreed. My summer has been fairly busy, but I have had some relaxing days. Some healing days. For which I am very grateful. I appreciate everyone’s prayers! I would ask for you continued prayer support as I go to Guatemala. I feel I have come to understand more about myself and how to deal with being overwhelmed, but I still covet your prayers! I decided when to go to Guatemala by when my cousins were coming for a short furlough. So once they had their tickets I had a more definite answer. I will be traveling back with them after they are in the States for a few weeks.

If you would like to do more than just pray for me, you can help support me financially while I am in Guatemala. If you are interested, you can email me at tropicslvr1992@gmail.com or my mom at kmsewsalot@gmail.com and we can give you more information about that.

Adios! Buenas noches!

-Raquel

P. S. 1 – I still hold a dream of possibly living in Colorado some day, but only God knows. Smile

P. S. 2 – Did I ever write a blog post about my visit to Guatemala? I’ll have to check. Anyway, here is a picture from my time there.

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Catch Up—Part 4

And here we are in Virginia!

So after traveling all night to Pennsylvania and spending some time there, I arrived in Virginia Thursday night, June 8. The next day was Mother’s birthday. To celebrate, we girls went with her for lunch. I don’t think I have any pictures of that, but we had a good time.

The next day was my cousin Josh’s wedding near Chambersburg, PA. So we drove up there for the day. I was a server and did not bother to take time to take pictures. :/ They had a very nice wedding and reception and we are happy to have them living in Virginia. Smile

I began the next week trying to recover from the busy weekend. I worked at unpacking and cleaning the house. We were hostess that weekend so Darla and I had to clean the house and prepare food for that.

Homemade Bread

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The next week we began working at the flowerbeds around the house. Mom and Darla had got them planted, but they still needed some more work. I love doing outside work. Here are some pictures of what we’ve done.

First project was to cut down these peony plants and weed and mulch the bed. We got it finished just before it started raining.

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I always forget to wear gloves when I mulch so my hands end up looking like this when using black mulch.

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I dug out at the end of this flowerbed to make a spot for the birdbath. I should have dug out a little farther, but I think I’ll leave it for the time being.

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This flowerbed ended up being more work than I thought. It was edged in river rocks. We took those all out and put in new edging. Hopefully this will make for easier upkeep.

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That weekend was youth conference so we once again cleaned our house for company. We had a fun weekend with our friends and learning about our relationship with God and with our parents.

Since then I have continued to stay busy with housekeeping, cooking, flowerbeds, gardening, photo editing, and studying.

Cooking and baking are pretty high on the list of things I enjoy doing. Whether it is cooking up something for myself or feeding my whole family, I love trying new recipes. Here are a few food pictures from the summer.

Black Raspberry Delight made with raspberries Darla and I picked on the farm where we live

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If you are looking for a delicious healthy casserole for your family, look no further. This Spaghetti Squash Casserole is a keeper.

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And I always love a good salad. The perfect complement to almost any meal.

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Some trim healthy pancakes with berries and Greek yogurt. A delicious healthy breakfast.

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Two more flowerbeds done.

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So, you may wonder, has the transition back to Virginia from Colorado been hard? Since I have always spent the summer at home with my family, it doesn’t seem too different. And the transition back into church and youth life here has not been as hard as I thought it would be. That is not to say it is not without glitches. There are many little things that come up that remind me how much I’ve changed in the last 5 years and how much of a Colorado girl I have become. But I am enjoying my time with my family and having some time to recoup from the stress of school life. And I also know that God has a purpose for me here and I want to be willing to be used of Him to fulfill that purpose.

You may also be wondering, “What’s next? You aren’t teaching school in Colorado next year and surely you aren’t just going to live at home with no job for the next year.”

So in my next blog post I will address the question, “What next?”

Also I hope to do a blog post on our youth canoe trip and a visit from our cousins from North Carolina.

See you next time! Au revoir!

Catch Up—Part 3

And now for Michigan! Winking smile

It was rather rainy the first while and we didn’t do too much.

One afternoon we went with Marcella and Fanny to the greenhouse and got some plants.

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One of my favorite experiences while in Michigan was eating Brook Trout. They fry the fish whole (no guts, tho). Winking smile If they are small you can eat the whole thing, including the head. I didn’t eat the head of mine. Smile The tail is a special delicacy. Very nice and crispy, kind of like a potato chip. What a delicious meal! Thanks, Mike, for inviting us!

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I also got to help Connie do some discing for a farmer by Germfask. I really enjoyed the chance to do that!

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Farming in Michigan is a bit different from Virginia. Notice those white birds behind Con’s tractor? Those are seagulls. A different sight than what I am used to! We were glad for the cabs on our tractors. Winking smile

I had an interesting experience while helping on the farm the second day. As we were discing, my disc started piling on the left front corner. Here I had a bad bearing. So I had to take my disc back to let Edgar fix that. While he was working on that he told me to go with Jennifer to help load a cow and calf.

We headed over to her farm to do that. Before loading the cattle we needed to put them through the shoot and pull some afterbirth out of the mom and give the baby a shot. It ended up being a little more complicated than we thought. Jennifer and I did manage to give the calf its shot, but we couldn’t get out the afterbirth. Edgar came over to help us.

Here the afterbirth was fermenting inside the cow. Yuck! As Edgar started getting it out, it smelled terrible! I didn’t think that much of it at first, but I started to feel a little woozy. So I sat down for awhile. As that wasn’t really helping, I went outside to walk around; but it just wouldn’t go away. My vision was mostly blacked out. I went back in the barn as they were finishing up some stuff. Edgar was trying to talk to me, but I don’t really recall what about as I was not very focused.

Then, although I didn’t want to, I said, “Jennifer, I’m going to faint.” And I sat down by the wall. Jennifer kicked into nurse mode (she is a nurse), asking me if I had breakfast and if I’d had anything to drink that morning. I answered her questions while her dad went and got me water. I never did pass out, although my vision went totally black.

Meanwhile, Con’s disc had a bad bearing and she wondered what was going on. She finally got ahold of Edgar and he told her I was having a “spell.” She was like, “What?!”

After sitting and drinking some water, I began to revive and my vision started coming back. Once I could get up, we got in the truck and headed back to the main farm for lunch. Till lunch was over I had a headache, but felt much better over all. Con said we could go home, but I decided to stick it out and keep discing. I was glad when we headed home mid-afternoon, though. It was the strangest fainting experience I have ever had, it felt like it drained my energy and left me with a terrible headache.

I was rather embarrassed at fainting over such a thing, but Edgar and Jennifer were super nice about it.

That evening  we had planned to go fishing. So once we got home, I washed out the boat while Con went to work at the shop. I also got a nap in and was able to enjoy a nice evening of fishing. Thanks, Lyle, for taking time out of your busy schedule to take us fishing!

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Thank you, Con, for sending me these fishing pictures!

And, thank you, Lyle and Connie, for putting up with me for so long. Winking smile I really enjoyed my time with y’all!

After a week and half in Michigan, I got a ride in to Virginia with Lyle and Connie. We drove to Pennsylvania and were there for a part of a day before heading on down to Virginia.

So, see you in Virginia next time!

Catch Up—Part 2

So, here we are in Wisconsin. My main purpose in going to Wisconsin was to take pictures at my cousin Kendra’s wedding. I went a few days early so I could spend a little extra time with her and also see where we were going to be taking pictures.

My first day there was spent with Stan and Kendra. I worked on their wedding program awhile in the morning and then we went to run some errands in town.

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Trying out a pose.

 

Time to set up for the reception.

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Aunt Lily and her girls were in charge of table centerpieces. They did a great job!

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Rehearsal

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The Big Day

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The happy couple

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The wedding party

 

At the reception

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The getaway

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So now I need to edit wedding pictures!!

 

After the wedding I went with Lyle and Connie to their place in Michigan for a couple of weeks. I’ll meet you there next time. Smile

Catch Up—Part 1

So, I have been kinda quiet the last month. You may be wondering what I have been doing since school is out. I will attempt to catch you up on my life. Smile Be prepared for it to be a rather long post. Winking smile

Well, first off I had to sort through everything at school and clear all of my stuff out and prepare things for the next teacher.

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This is only one of the piles of trash I threw out. I think it was maybe 3 trash bags in all.

Thankfully, a girl from Georgia took a lot of my decorations so I didn’t have to pitch them.

I also did some projects I hadn’t had time to do during school, like organizing this construction paper.

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L to R: Before. During. After. Smile

I also made a filing system for student records. (Below)

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Besides sorting through my school stuff I also had my stuff at the house to go through.

I took quite a few boxes to yard sale and then what was left I took to Salvation Army.

Here is the car full of stuff for yard sale.

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Once I sorted things at school, thing I had to figure out where to go with those things at the house…

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I packed up three boxes of books and sent them to Virginia. Media mail is wonderful! Winking smile

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I did have some fun times amidst my packing and sorting. Smile

I helped Brenda clean church the one day and then we went shopping.

Another afternoon I went for frozen yogurt and to paint pottery with some of the church ladies to celebrate Ashley’s birthday.

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Something else fun I did was take a mini vacation with Brenda. We went to Ouray and went shopping and hiking. Then we spent the night at Box Canyon Lodge where we enjoyed soaking in the hot springs. Ahh. After a laid back morning the next day we headed to Montrose and had lunch and did some more shopping.

Cascade Falls

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The first picture is water from one of the hot springs coming down over the rocks. The second pictures is the hot tub filled with water from the hot springs.

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And the view from the hill above the lodge.

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I was privileged to be able to attend  my student Micah’s graduation party before I left Colorado.

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The Saturday before I left the men were working calves so we went to watch and enjoy the sunshine.

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So much stuff to try to pack. And so much left behind. But finally I got it all sorted.

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When I got to Grand Junction the lady at the check-in counter was fussy about the weight of my suitcases. No luck with getting a couple extra pounds through this time. Then when I got to security my backpack and carry-on (purple one) were so full they pulled them out and searched them while I sat there quite impatiently but trying to be patient. I got to the gate with only a few minutes to spare, hoping and praying they would not fuss about my stuffed carry-on. The gate attendant looked at me and said in a kinda grouchy tone, “Next time don’t bring that big of a carry-on. We have to follow FDA regulations.” I just said, “Ok” and quickly hurried on through, thanking God that I had been able to get it on the plane!

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Amazingly all my flights went well and I made it pretty much on time to Wisconsin.

I will continue the story in Wisconsin next time.