Roses

I made it! I’m finally here in Guatemala! After three days of training, our group of Peace Corps Trainees (PCT) were ready to meet our host families with whom we will live for nearly three months. This photo shows a portion of our circle as we gathered to meet our new host parents. A lot of us were pretty emotional–it felt like we were being adopted! Some of us are older so it was funny to meet our host moms/dads who are close to our own age or even younger.

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Here’s my host madre-hermana, Irma, (left) with her friend who is also a host mom.

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Once I was unpacked, late in the evening, Irma took me to her church a couple of streets away. She is very involved in her Catholic church and she was part of a team of volunteers decorating the church for Sunday service. I only stayed a few minutes whereas she stayed into the wee hours of the night, making huge flower arrangements with roses for a special mass celebration on Sunday.

[I should say here that roses (well, any type of flower, really) and crystals always cheer me up. I placed a pile of dried rose petals and a box of crystals on my dresser in my new host home. It made me feel instantly at home!]

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Apparently the majority of Guatemalans are either Catholic or Christian Evangelical. We were told that we are welcome to attend religious services with our host families, but it is certainly not required. Having been raised Catholic, it is like home to me in spite of its complex and sometimes shocking history (especially for me as an indigenous person). But I cannot deny that I have also found refuge in the church throughout my life, or rather, not in the church as an organization, but the physical space and in the prayers and songs and most of all, in communion.

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San Dionisius is the statue in the back, to the right. He is said to have been martyred by being beheaded after which he picked up his head and walked six miles. The statue shows him holding his head, can you tell? That’s determination and grace!Determination and grace, I guess that’s exactly what we’ll need as PCVs but always with our heads on!

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