*The names of the children from Casa Gloria have been changed.*
Hola friends and family!
In the past two weeks, I’ve experienced both the sadness of departures and the excitement of new beginnings. I said bittersweet goodbyes to my loving host family and wonderful friends in Antigua (pictures #1 and #2). I could not have made it through my time in Antigua without these people – they truly made my experience so special!
Although it was hard to say goodbye, I was also eager to start my next adventure with Casa Gloria! As a reminder, Casa Gloria is both a children’s home and a dog ministry (picture #3) that is located in Santa Cruz, Guatemala, about a six-hour drive from Antigua. The trip to Casa Gloria was long, but not uneventful. At the time, Casa Gloria had a 7-year-old boy, John, and his nanny who were staying at the heart hospital in Guatemala City so that John could recover from his surgery. My host dad was kind enough to drive me to the hospital to pick them up and then drive the three of us to the north side of Guatemala city where we met Jenna, the founder of Casa Gloria. (Fun fact, Jenna’s maiden name was Jenna York…kinda crazy right?) We still had a four-hour drive, so we didn’t end up making it to Santa Cruz until about 2am. Although it was the middle of the night, my new host mom graciously brought me into her home and made sure I was comfortable. I truly have been blessed with the best host families!
Over the next few days, I played at least a hundred games of Uno with my host siblings, began learning the names of all of the kids, nannies, workers, and dogs at Casa Gloria (pictures #4 and #5), and attempted, only somewhat successfully, to tortear (make tortillas). Thankfully, everyone has been very gracious and kind with me when I forget names and mess up tortillas!
I’ve come to discover that there is never a dull moment at Casa Gloria. Each day is filled with surprises, love, adventure, and opportunities to learn and grow. During my internship hours, I’ve helped the kids with their homework, tasted green lemons – no, they are apparently NOT limes (picture #6), taught English classes, received Spanish lessons, taken dogs to their chemotherapy appointments (picture #7), and began creating Christmas cards for all of Casa Gloria’s sponsors. I even participated in Ally’s quinceañera (picture #8)!
Outside of my internship, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my host family. My host mom has eight siblings and most of them live nearby in the same neighborhood. Every night, a new aunt, uncle, or cousin meanders into the house to eat dinner with us or just to hang out and conversate. Their family reminds me a lot of my own, and so, in some ways, this helps me not miss my family so much, and in others, makes me miss them more. That being said, my host family has truly embraced me and made me feel extremely welcomed and loved!
Before I traveled to Guatemala, I tried to eliminate any expectations I had so that I could simply experience things as they happened. A few things that I can safely say I was NOT expecting, however, are the incredibly large amounts of delicious food that my host mom puts in front of me at every meal, the fact that I’d quickly have to get over my fear of cockroaches, and that I would get asked to play my guitar and sing the same, two Spanish songs (the only ones that I know) on a daily basis. Nevertheless, each day here is a gift and I would not change any of it!
As always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers!
Much love y hasta la próxima,