Saturday, November 9, 2013

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Hello one last time everyone,
  I know, I know, it's ridiculously late to be finishing this last blog post when I'm already back in the states.  But I just wanted to give all of you my final thoughts on my trip back home.  The flight was long and boring and baggage claim was a disaster but I guess that is what's to be expected when traveling out of the country.  However the most difficult part for me was not the actual travel, but the goodbyes.  I don't think I have ever had such a difficult time saying farewell to such a wonderful group of people.  The day before I left, Rachel and I participated in heart-wrenching farewells and we basically ran out of tears.
  But even as I cried my eyes out, a realization hit me.  Growing up, my favorite movie was Mary Poppins.  I loved Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke and the music, and the story line, and just everything about the movie.  The only part that bothered me was the ending.  Mary leaves the kids and that stupid parrot umbrella tells her that they are going to forget her, after all Mary did for those kids, they are going to forget her and move on with their lives with their parents.  It always bothered me but in a very depressed moment as I walked down the steps of the center, it dawned on me the similarity of that scene and the situation I was facing there in Guatemala.  I finally understood why Mary was perfectly fine leaving behind the kids she loved so much.  Because she loved them she knew that it was the best thing for them.  It may seem obvious, but making the connection between the two situations was a major eye opener for me.
  The main thing that God taught me while I was in Guatemala is that it wasn't about me.  Just like in my Mary Poppins analogy!  Working with the teams, nannies, and kids was one of the most spectacularly stressful experiences of my life, and the best part was turning out a more humble person.  This experience taught me how to love and serve people no matter the situation and I can't be more grateful for the lesson. 
  All of you could not have been more supportive of my journey and I can't thank all of you enough and I hope that when I go back all of you will tune back in to follow my adventurous adventures!!
  Love you all so much
  Love,
  Cierra 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Antigua in All its Glory Part II

Good Evening my readers!
  I am so sad that my time here in Guatemala is coming to a close but I have such fond memories of my time here.  All these pictures are a huge part of those memories so I hope you enjoy them!  These first ones are of the church we visited on Sunday.  The video of the baptism is super cool to me because the girl (Rosa) should not have been there that day.  You will hear the pastor say something about it being remarkable that Rosa could be there to be baptized that day, that's because Rosa just recently had heart surgery.  I didn't get to hear her full story, but I know God is working in her life and she was being obedient to his call for her to be baptized.


Camino's Cafe is a cute little shop Rachel and I got to visit and pick up some coffee from.  It is a business of the church and they are doing a great job.
video


 This is the outside of the hotel where we stayed the weekend

This was the "soccer" field the guests can play on

It was getting dark so sorry it was a little blurry, but I had to show you all the amazing lucious plants growing all over the outside of the hallways and rooms.


The lovely Olivia!

Sunday night, we headed out to Hotel Rosada to celebrate Alejandra's birthday.


These two creepy guys greeted us at the door

This was the menu

This is a candle (and I'm Captain Obvious)


I promise this is just my lemonade

The BEST fetuccini I have ever put in my mouth, it was made with cream sauce and fresh shrimp and crab...yummy


Alejandra got her very own pinata and tres leches to celebrate
video
 

This was one of the lanterns I told you all about in the last post! Isn't it beautiful?!

Love
Cierra

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Antigua in All its Glory

Hey everyone!
  Tonight is a little bittersweet as I begin the daunting task of packing my things to head back to Arcadia.  Laundry mode is switched on and my back is killing me from hanging it all up in my room one last time.
  As promised, here is part one of all my photos from mine and Rachel's stay in Antigua. Bear with me as you scroll. The rest of this post will be in the captions of the pictures.  First, the Mayan temple ruins:

The large circles of sky used to be covered by domes on the roof


My personal favorite section of the temple, the fallen pillar

I was there, and saw this with my own eyes.  I still don't believe it can be real.

There are some obvious modern amenities... ahem, the trash can photo bombed me...

Most of the arches still consist of the original brick work



Excuse the water bottle...

The guide did not tell us where these door lead

A plaque dedicated to the history of the temple

Down down down into the catacombs.  I couldn't take pictures down there because it was soooo dark.  But let me assure you it was not at all creepy, just awesome.

A good perspective on just how tall the arches are


I think this looks Microsoft background worthy

There were pigeons EVERYWHERE
Me, Rachel, and Olivia (one of our lovely translators)
Now for the Chocolate Museum!

Dreaming of chocolate perhaps?

Pablo teaching us the evolution of the chocolate bean through the cooking process



Pablo showed us how his grandma ground the chocolate beans

The best way to open a coco bean pod? Smash it!

Pablo showing us how the Mayans dried out the coco beans

Olivia was taking a ton of pictures of us...after the 10th pic of Rachel and I, this was our reaction

The chocolate got EVERYWHERE especially on Casey's fingers

Lots of flavors to choose from

Caught red-handed...

Time for the refrigerator

The finished product

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vacation Time Again!

Good morning my lovely readers,
  Rachel and I are staying in Antigua again for one more weekend and I have to say, we are having a blast! I left my lap top back home at the center so I'm currently tapping it out on my phone so bear with me if there are some mistakes, my thumbs are cramping...I am going to post as many pictures as possible from this weekend and I'll post the rest (that are on my camera not my phone) on Tuesday when I get back to the center.

Best. Smoothie. EVER. Period exclamation point.

Room service because I had a migraine one night :(

The church at the square illuminated at night! The floating orb in the middle-upper-right is a lantern :) Tangled anyone?
The interns (former and current) at dinner

Church on Sunday morning at Ilglesia del Camino!

I thought my job was tough...
If I could die of a good smell, I would have died in this bakery
My new purse

The arch! At night!!

Best cheesecake I have ever put in my mouth. Seriously.

Part of my fabulous breakfast.


So I was journaling this morning, and I decided to give all of you a peak into my mind by transferring my journal entry onto this blog for you to read! So without further babbling, my slightly abridged journal entry:
  "Good morning! I am currently laying in my hotel bed, eating a piece of dark chocolate, waiting for Rachel to wake up, to go down to a 5 star breakfast.  Yes, yes life is good. I have had the most incredible weekend! Let me just give you the rundown on Kaysey first.  After much adue and stubbornness, we finally got Kaysey (a former intern visiting with us) to the hospital after being violently ill for days. Turns out she has gall stones and is flying back to the states hopefully today. (Side note: Don't worry about her, she is in no pain now and it's no longer an urgent situation, it's all good.) 
  So Saturday wasn't that great. Sunday was another story!  We started our day with a leisurely breakfast before catching the hotel shuttle to bilingual church in downtown Antigua. The service wonderful and it encouraged me to re-read the book of Matthew and search out all 49 commandments of Jesus. 
  After church, Rachel and I split up from Art, Ilvie, and Howie in the market and shopped for the rest of the day minus our stop at McDonalds for some of the best smoothies ever! 
THEN, we came back to the room and chilled out and showered for just a little while before we all headed off to dinner for Alejandra's birthday. I had the most amazing fettuccine with crab and shrimp. After dinner I had a fabulous-as-always cafe con leche that I thoroughly enjoyed. Following dinner, there was a traditional Guatemalan folk dance (that's name escapes me) that I got dragged into...so I just danced with the masked man and shook my maraca.
  Finally, Howie, Rachel, and I rushed to the square to see the floating lanterns be launched into the inky night sky to celebrate Antigua's 35th anniversary as a part of an educational organization.  It. Was. Breath-taking.
  I love it here in Antigua so much but I can't help but think about my babies back at the center. Today is our last day at the hotel, then I get to go back home. It's funny how the center has become "home" in my mind. When I walk through that front door, I know a sense of relief  will wash over me. Of course, that's as long as the first kid I see is my Hugo!
  Last time I was away, my sweet boy Andy Alfredo was taken home, then right before I left this weekend, I ha to say goodbye to little Tony.  So really, I have no idea if tomorrow I will be happy or sad when I walk through that big iron door and discover what, if anything, has changed while I was away."
I hope you all enjoyed that!
Love,
Cierra