Friday, June 29, 2012

rain boots.

These little people make me happy. 

it's just life.

Well we have hit the 25dayawayfrommyfamily mark. I can't believe it has been three weeks since I left Maryland, and two weeks that I have been in Guatemala. This post is probably going to turn into a random assortment of memories and quotes because there are so many random awesome things that have happened. :) 

A few nights ago, I took a walk on the cancha after dark and was just thinking and praying and randomly looking around so grateful for this place. Then I turned the corner and the motion-activated light turned on and I freaked out. Too many scary stories lately. Haha. 

The house parents at the toddler house are absolutely amazing. Like so funny, encouraging, godly, and really really awesome. Billy, the house dad, has these one-liners that make Taylor and I laugh so hard I sometimes forget to breathe. Being with their family reminds me of God's faithfulness - I was worried about who I would be working with. But God has given me such great people and new friends to work with in the toddler house.

Speaking of working with people in the toddler house, there is a girl named Julia who is a junior in high school who is here for a month and a half. She is AMAZING. We have really gotten along well. She's so sweet. Again, so grateful to God.

We were out of cocoa puffs and frosted flakes and our team had a minor breakdown. We have since recovered the frosted flakes, but the cocoa puffs have yet to be bought. 

The little kids are so precious. Lately, they have been calling me by my name (it took them a bit to learn it) and it comes out as "Eyye." I am also called "mi amiga" by many of the little ones. It's so sweet to be connecting with them, holding their hand across the cancha, and to have them trust me is one of the sweetest things in the world. I had doubts (again, unbelief in my faithful God) that these kids would trust me. But it seems that I have become a member of their family and for that I am grateful. 

Well, Beka just found Nutella and I also found out that I am going to the mall with some of our team tomorrow. On that happy note, adios. :) 

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Yesterday was possibly the best day of my life thus far. ;)

It started out at 5am, which wasn't exciting. I probably didn't get out of bed until 5:15, but I took a shower and got ready. We all loaded on to the bus at 6am, our team and a few others from Houston who were here for the week.

that yellow. 

The 1.5 hour bus ride to Antigua was pretty quiet - everyone slept. We pulled into the bus terminal and the first thing I noticed was all of the color. The stores are all painted in bright colors and the market was filled with colorful fruit, garments, hammocks, you name it! It was so wonderful for this color loving girl. :) We split up in the square and want to different breakfast places. The one that my group was originally going to go to wasn't open yet, so we ventured to Luna de Miel, a French crepe place. Oh my stars. I got a Nutella and strawberry and it was possibly the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. We ate our crepes, drank our smoothies, and laughed about how Tori was totally going to drink at least five cups of coffee that day.

The upstairs of the building was open so the boys went up there to check it out. Tori, Heather and I soon followed. The view was amazing. The volcanos all around and the breeze blowing - yeah it was really cool. And of course we took pictures.


profile pic. 

After breakfast, we headed around town. We visited churches, ruins, and walked a TON. Such good exercise haha. Again, the colors and architecture never ceased to impress me. They did good.

So after I got left behind (hehe inside joke) we had SALSA. I wasn't feeling well so I didn't participate in the first part, but I jumped in later and boy was it fun! Can I just say that I am so proud of the three guys on our team who danced? They didn't want to at first, but we convinced them otherwise. They did awesome. ;) The teacher was so fun and really got into it. We all want to keep salsa-ing now. :)

We stopped by the choco museum and some of the team got the makeyourown Mayan hot chocolate. They brought cayenne pepper, hot milk, chocolate, and honey to the table and you stirred it up. The guys didn't think they were putting enough cayenne pepper in so they kept dropping in more and more pinches. Then... they got to the bottom of the cup. Not all of it had dissolved. ;)


We grabbed a few loaves of bread from the amazingly wonderful smelling panaderia and headed towards where the shuttle would pick us up for the volcano hike. Yes, you did hear me right. We hiked a volcano.

It took another hour and a half and lots of car sickness (for me) to get to the base of the volcano. There is a small town right underneath it that was absolutely beautiful. When we got out of the shuttle, children came up to us asking if we wanted to buy walking sticks. We took a quick trip to the bathroom and started the trek. Out front was Ben, Chris, Tori, Aaron and I. It was a good hike - like seriously beautiful and definitely just a bit tiring ;) We took the wrong path for a little bit (Chris said he told us he thought we were not on the right path - I didn't hear him) but we made it back on the right one in no time. We started pulling away from the dirt trail and green bushes, and into the lava masses. There was sharp lava rock all around us and ash underneath our feet. The stillness was haunting. We came upon a lava jewelry store ( a tiny shack really) and bought some stuff. Definitely a cool souvenir ;)

When we got even further up, it began to get hot under our feet. Of course, the jokes about how the volcano could erupt any second or explode and blow us all to smithereens and how we would roll down the hill as fast as we could, abounded. That's why I love my team. Haha. We played hot potato with the extremely warm rocks, roasted marshmallows over the hot air rising from the cracks, and climbed. Oh how we climbed. We were like monkeys with no fear, scrambling over the rocks. Yes, we fell a couple of times. But I think it was worth it.

heather :D 





taylor smiled. hehe. 

Over and over again I couldn't believe that I was on top of a volcano, with some of my favorite people, enjoying God's creation, and laughing and having a wonderful time. It's like one of those things you don't even imagine doing. All of us kept saying, "How was this not on our bucket list?" I am so grateful for that opportunity.

The hike down was fun, trying not to slip on the ash and dirt on the super steep parts, taking the shortcuts the little boys found, and thinking about food. When we finally made it down, some of us changed out of our sweaty clothes (tmi hehe) and piled back into the bus. The driver turned up the music loud and we danced for half an hour haha. So epic. Then, people went to sleep. We are such a sleep oriented group. Back in Antigua, we headed to McDonalds for dinner where I had a chai tea latte and a yogurt parfait. Um, that latte was literally the best thing I have ever had. I was kind of skeptical of McDonalds... and lattes. But I was more than happy with it and enjoyed every sip. It took us forever to find the bus but once we did, we settled in and waited for the ride home to start.

Chris, Tori and I were in the back (where the naughty kids sit... apparently). Chris started telling scary stories and Tori and I were freaking out. The dark bus, outside being dark, and a tired mind do not go well together. ;)

Once we got home, we all settled into bed. It was a wonderful and amazing day. All of it. So grateful for the time to get away and explore Antigua with awesome people. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

back + better.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman 

Well I guess it's time for some sort of massive update. :) 

For the past week, I have been on and off sick. It was pretty bad earlier in the week with much time spent... in the bathroom. Often, I was tempted to complain or question God's plan for me while I am here. Why would I travel all the way to Guatemala, giving up my time, and then get sick? Selfish thoughts obviously. God has a perfect plan for my life - here in Guatemala, and back at home. I didn't see it at first, but now that I am better, I realize that God was growing my complete trust in Him. I spent a lot of time praying during my sickness and asking God to renew my mind with truth and not let the lies seep in. God is faithful. He does answer prayer and He did give me much grace to not just endure sickness, but persevere through it. Plus, my team is amazing. They provided me with Sprite, Gatorade, lots and lots of rest, and constant prayers and asking "how are you doing?" So so grateful they are in my life. :)

I am in the toddler house!! I think I have mentioned it before, but it is quite exciting. Definitely physically (and sometimes mentally) exhausting. But worth every minute. This morning, I got there at 6 and left at 2, for their naps, and then back at 4 until 7. These are my days. Long but fun. It's rainy season here so we stayed inside and watched movies. 

My Spanish is improving which I am so grateful for. Something I prayed for a LOT before coming here was that I would be able to communicate. God is giving a lot of grace and He is humbling me through the toddlers as they point out my mistakes and correct me. It's good. :) Today, I was putting shoes on one of the girls and I kept saying, "ZApatos" with the accent on the first syllable. Another girl said, "No! No! ZaPAtos!!" She was so serious. I almost laughed. 

These kids here are the sweetest. I am so grateful we get to be here for two months and form real and true friendships with  them. The house parents at the toddler house are the best. They are from Boston, and have three kids of their own. I have gotten to know Amanda, the house mom, and she is super nice. It's wonderful because the house parents speak English (obviously) so I can learn Spanish, but also not be completely confused and lost when helping out. It's a win win situation. Again, so grateful for that blessing. 

We celebrated Ben's 20th birthday yesterday, complete with cake, balloons, and blowers. I really think our team is secretly a bunch of five year olds. We throw cereal at each other and just laugh and laugh and laugh. I sound like a broken record, I know. But these people keep me sane daily. I need that downtime in the evenings. :) 

On Friday we are going to Antigua for the day! I think we are planning on hiking a volcano. No big deal. I'll let you know how it goes. :) 

PS. I'll have pictures later. They are taking wayyy too long to upload right now.

Adios. :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I'll do a wordy post soon but for now, here's a picture of our amazing team. They are my favorites. :) 

(click to enlarge)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Tonight, I attempted to eat a chocolate covered banana, but my body reacted with an allergic reaction. So I took a Benadryl and I honestly feel like I am under anesthesia. So, bear with me. This post may be a bit incoherent or jumbled. ;)

By the grace of God, I can say I am over my 24 hour stomach bug. I feel completely better, which is a great thing because it was my first full day with the toddlers. I got up at 6:30 (after hearing about a dozen alarms go off at different times. haha living with 13 other girls is interesting ;)). I had breakfast and headed up to the house around 7:40. The morning seemed especially long because 10 of the 14 toddlers were in school. So, with the remaining four, we played outside a TON. Playdough, walks, playground, everything Julia, Taylor, and I could think of. The kiddos came home and we had lunch around 1. The break from 2-4 was honestly one of the best things all day. ;)

We went back to the toddler house around 4:15 after their nap, fed them their snack, and did an activity with the other missions team that is here for the week. It involved gluing pieces of paper and cotton balls to make a rainbow and clouds. It got messy.

Dinner was at 6. Team meeting at 8. These end of the day meetings are honestly my favorite. Being with my team is the best thing ever. We always share highs and lows from our day and it's neat to hear how everyone else's day went. We laugh so hard and long about everything. I think it's because we are so tired that we are almost delirious. ;)

A scripture that has been serving me lately is Romans 12:2. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transferred by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Lately, if I have been tempted to complain, I remind myself of truth and "renew my mind." This is so good for my soul. To complain is to not be thankful and to not be thankful is to doubt God's goodness in my life. I am so grateful for grace and people to support me in this. Thank you all again so much for your constant prayers. As Melissa said today, "Isn't it cool that we all know of people praying for our team?" It's very cool.

And for the record, I had my earphones in this whole time and no music was playing. That happens a lot. I'm off to bed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


So, on Monday, Kaley and Beka were delayed because their plane ran out of gas and they had to land in El Salvador instead of Guatemala City. While we were waiting for them, all of us were confused as to exactly what had happened. Aubrey said, "You can't just land someone in the wrong country!" It made me laugh super hard. Don't know why exactly, but yeah. We are pretty cool over here.

We got assigned to our houses! There are many houses at Casa Bernabe, each with a different age group and divided by gender except for the babies and toddlers. I got assigned to work with the toddlers and I am SO EXCITED. The house parents (people that are basically like parents to all of these kids) are amazing. The toddlers are adorable. I introduce myself as Eliza (pronounced Elisa) because it's easier for the kids to say, and a little boy shouted after me as I left, "Adios Eliza!" I melted. They are precious. All of the children are.

Yesterday, a local Christian middle-school came in and put on a game day for the kids complete with piƱatas. It was really special. I met a couple of the super super sweet middle-school girls and we talked and exchanged email addresses. They spoke English really well, I was impressed, and they helped me with my Spanish. For that I am grateful. :)

It was a beautiful day in Guatemala. Usually the weather each day is sun, rain around lunch-mid afternoon, and then sun again.  Yesterday it was sunny and in the high 70s. It's technically their winter but I'm not complaining. I wish winters in Maryland would be like this. :) We have taken tons of walks and played with the kids outside a lot. I feel like I have been saying "ten cuidado" a lot which basically means be careful. Being around toddlers, well, they could do anything. :)

God is very present here. This campus is such a place of beauty and love for the Lord. The staff here is absolutely incredible. My team is ohmygracious wonderful. The kids, well, there aren't any words for how precious and sweet each child is. God loves them all and you can't help but adore them as well.

Right now I am eating some peanut butter crackers that Lauren kindly gave me and taking sips of water. Something didn't sit well with me and so I threw up last night and I am in the process of getting better. I slept until 12:45 so that definitely helped. I haven't been outside of our room so I don't know if the orphanage has collapsed around me but I assume everything is okay. ;)

I'm excited to get out and about again! You know me, I can't sit still for very long. ;)

Monday, June 11, 2012

so grateful.

There's a song by Chris Tomlin called. "God of This City." I first heard it last year at Local Missions and fell in love with it. Some of the lyrics say:

You're the God of this City
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You are
You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the peace to the restless
You are

As I have been around here, I have seen that God has great plans for Casa Bernabe. I am so excited that He has chosen me to be a part of those wonderful and exciting things. Today, we woke up early + prepared everything for the Westmont kids! :) They arrived around 7:45 and trust me, they were properly welcomed. ;) We had breakfast together and got to know each other. Afterwards, Tori, Heather, and I gave everyone a tour of the place. Some people went to the baby house, some people went up to the fire pit and talked, and others went to run or take naps. Tori, Aubrey, Aaron and I went exploring with Juan Manuel, a house parent here. He took us through the woods on some cool paths and we came out by the beautiful garden they have. Tori, Aaron, and I weeded for a bit (it's actually quite relaxing! ;)) and Aubrey took pictures. I'm so excited that there are quite a few "obnoxious" photographers on our team, myself included! :)

We have been hanging out for the rest of the morning. I'm right outside our room - Tori and Heather are next to me eating granola and crocheting/friendship-bracelet-making, and Aaron is asleep on a chair across from me. Everyone else is resting, they had a long night! Lunch is in an hour - the food is amazing here. Like, what in the world.

God is so amazing. I have been learning to seek Him in a new and fresh way that I have never felt before. Prayer is becoming a more "normal" thing to do, which sounds horrible, but it is so refreshing to always be praying. A few nights ago, Heather and Brooke woke up to noises outside of the room and I felt sick. The only way I could be comfortable was on my back, and I have a hard time sleeping on my back. The next morning, we were talking about our night and found that we all (except Tori ;)) had had some sort of  interesting experience. And then in an instant, we realized we hadn't prayed. I kinda figured that something along the lines of spiritual warfare was going on, but I didn't say anything until we talked about it. Last night we prayed, and everything went smoothly. It is so comforting to know that our God is bigger than any evil power in this world. He is stronger, more great, and so loving. He cares for His children. I am so grateful to be a part of this community that recognizes and celebrates that fact.

Thank you all for your continued prayers. We feel carried. We are excited to pray about our assignments tonight and start work tomorrow. This weekend has been filled with downtime while we waited for the rest of the team, and know that they are here, well we can't wait to get started!!

I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your day/evening depending on where you are ;) Dios te bendiga! 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

just pictures.

This is my home for the next two months. You are allowed to be jealous. ;) 


Friday, June 8, 2012

casa bernabe.

Right now, I am in the "courtyard" of Casa Bernabe, listening to the children upstairs playing loud games of musical chairs or whatever is similar. Their laughter is ringing throughout the house. What a joyous sound.

If you were to talk to any of us when we first woke up, we probably wouldn't have responded. It was 2:45am. And, yeah. We groggily took showers and ate granola bars. Slowly, we said our goodbyes to the staff and loaded up the car. The ride to the airport was quiet - people were sleeping and staring into space. Security went by quickly, and we found our gate. The first flight to Atlanta was only 40 minutes. We all slept... some more than others. ;)

Long layover at Atlanta. We found a Starbucks and I got a Chai Tea Latte. Tori and I watched a Psych episode, Heather took a nap, and Ben watched his own TV show. Pretty chill. We boarded the plane early and I fell asleep as soon as we got on the plane. We were all so. tired. today.

Let me just stop and say here that I wasn't prepared for the view that awaited us in Guatemala. The mountains are stunning. The houses are full of color and it is such a beautiful contrast to the green and lush trees. Customs went by really quickly which was a blessing. We were picked up by the sweetest people from Casa Bernabe, and we drove through Guatemala City and up into the mountains. On the car ride over, there was a seven year old girl with us. She mentioned a camera so I brought out mine. For the rest of the trip, she was fascinated with my camera. She took pictures as I said, "aqui (here) and que bueno (that's good!)" It was a fun little connection we shared despite the language barrier. ;)

The afternoon was filled with meeting some of the children, getting a tour of the beautiful campus (pictures coming!) and lots and lots of downtime. Heather gives really good back massages so she helped to work some of the knots out of my back from all of the carrying of the backpack. :)

After dinner, Tori, Heather, Ben and I went down the infamous 108 stairs to search out the garden. Apparently, Ben hadn't seen fireflies before. The conversation went something like this.

Ellie: Oh look fireflies!!
Ben: I haven't seen fireflies before.
Ellie: What in the world Ben!!
Tori: Oh look! There is a butterfly! I mean firefly!!
Ben: Whaat...? Oh my GOSH.

It was epic.

We have been spending our evening doing devotions and blogging. Our room has 14 bunks, so we can't wait for the rest of the team to show up and fill them! Right now it's 10pm, in Maryland it's midnight. So I'm slacking a bit. Off to bed I suppose.

Much love!

and we are off!

the staff and teams

our guatemala team minus the westmont folks :) 

and our crazy amazing food we ate one night.

It is 3:07 in the morning. June 8th. My team will be off to Guatemala shortly.

I'd love to give an update on yesterday - our last day in the United States until August 2, but I have no time. ;) I am sitting in the living room surrounded by South Africa's luggage (sounds weird) and Brooke is in front of me doing some computer and last minute work. This home of mine for the past three days will be left behind soon and I will venture on to NEW adventures. Thank you for your continued prayers, and we covet them as we fly internationally to the place God has called each of us.

Much love to all, and I will see you in Guatemala.