25 October 2010


Hello faithful followers!
Hope all are well-- Just wanted to let you know that I finally have a mailing address here in Guatemala!

Juli Smith
Apartado Postal No. 142
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala C.A.

---- Very important: Please do NOT send BOXES. Apparently they are much more likely to end up in Guatemala City and never make it out. (Mailer envelopes are the way to go)

I think it takes about 2-3 weeks for stuff to get here, but if you let me know if you send something, we´ll make sure to go to the post office to check the box more often :)

Thanks world!
bendiciones, juli

20 October 2010


Happy Día de la Revolución!

Well world, I´ve been here in Xela for a week and a half, and I´m really liking it (except when I got sick last week- boo)! I´m living with a family here, and they´re absolutely great! Guadalupe (the mom) is one of the hardest working people I´ve ever met- and 6 out of 10 of her kids (all daughters!) still live at home, ages 24-14ish. Also, 2grandkids live here, so it´s quite a full house- but I do have my own private room, so I get privacy (but not much quiet, haha) when I need it. As expected, it´s been a little hard/awkward to find my place with this family, but they´ve been really warm and welcoming, so that´s been great. I´m learning to tortillar (make tortillas), too-- soon I´ll be ready to wed once they´re nice thin circles... but for now, let´s just say that it´s easy to tell which ones Juli made, haha. Otherwise, we also bond a lot over the telenovelas/ music videos that are on TV 24/7. Especially since my 2nd work project has yet to be found, I have a lot of free time to bond and watch novelas- so it´s not a totally bad thing!

My job is great! I´m helping cook lunch and then sit and eat lunch with the ancianos (elderly people) through a program that the Episcopalian church I go to does. It´s a really wonderful program, because most of the ancianos don´t have family, so they´ve created their own there at the lunch program-- and I´m slowly finding my way into it. It´s a really really neat program- the only problem is that it´s only like 3 hours a day, so I really feel like I have time to do another project, too... so like I said, that´s int he works (hopefully).

This photo is of my street and the bus I take every day into Xela. (Don´t ask me about the ¨Car Wash¨-- I have NO idea what that is-- that´s just one of the English phrases that never changed into Spanish around here, and I have never seen evidence of cars being washed there.) The other photo is a random shot in Xela proper, and my feet are in the Parque Central of Xela.

That´s my little update. Hope all are well :)
bendiciones, juli

15 October 2010

Jesus said "Follow Me" 87 times

Hello world, my fellow YAV Tina introduced me to this song, and I'm loving it, so I thought I'd pass it along...

Bryan Sirchio, "Follow Me (87 Times)"

I met this preacher from Australia, He read the Bible searching for its dominant themes, And he counted 87 times when Jesus said... "Follow me."
Well you know that got me thinking, Maybe that's the bottom line of what "Christian" means, 'Cause "I follow Jesus" is deeper than "I believe." 'Cause it don't take much to mentally agree With a set of beliefs written down in some creed. Now don't get me wrong, we need to know what we believe, But lately I've been wondering...

Am I following Jesus, or just believing in Christ?
'Cause I can believe and not change a thing
But following will change my whole life
He never said, come, acknowledge my existence
Or believe in me I'm the 2nd person of the Trinity
But 87 time he said... Follow me

But if I'm a follower of Jesus, Then why am I such a good life insurance risk? And why, when I do my giving, do I still keep so much when so much hunger exists? And if I follow Jesus, then why do I have so many friends among the affluent, and so few among the poor? And if I follow Jesus, why do missiles and guns make me feel more secure? And it don't take much to mentally assent To a statement of faith we can confirm and forget, But following will change our lifestyle if we get it and more and more I'm wondering...


Yes, we need to know what we believe, to follow the Jesus who's real
God save us from the Christ's we create in our image (you know what I mean...)
The Jesus who's as left wing or right wing as we, The one who baptizes our cherished ideologies, The one who always seems to favor our side against some enemy

Now I don't mean to sound self-righteous, God knows I've got more questions than answers to proclaim, But its been over 20 years now since Jesus called my name, So forgive me if I'm mistaken, But there's something wrong with a lot of churches in America these days, And I think the Spirit's trying to tell us There's a question that the churches need to raise...


Are we following Jesus? Or just believing in Christ?
'Cause we can believe, and not change a thing
But following will change our whole life
He never said, come, acknowledge my existence
Or believe in me, I'm your first class ticket to eternity...
But 87 times he said... Follow me...

Cool song- hope you all enjoy it, too, friends!
bendiciones, juli

11 October 2010

back from the campo

Well world, I´ve returned from the campo and am back in Xela and moved in with my (permanent) host family. Wow, what a week we had there... We stayed with an indigenous host family in an aldea (rural community) called Pachaj about 35 min outside of Xela.

So Andrew, Tina and I stayed with one family, and Laura and Kath with another. In our house there were 4 generations, and only the last 2 spoke fluent Spanish, and even then, it was their 2nd language-- quite a different scene than gringolandia (Antigua). During the day we had spanish classes and in the afternoon, we hung out with our families... and I´m not gonna lie, world, it was tough. For starters, there was no bathroom- instead, a pila (see below) and a BYO-toilet-paper outhouse (which was right next to the pig pen, so I´ll let you connect the dots on that one), and only bucket baths (with water boiled on the wood-burning stove). The entire community is IN the corn fields, so everything was made out of corn. Tortillas, bread, rags, food, coffee, EVERYTHING... and there was only one main road, the middle 1/2km of which was paved (??), and everything else was super skinny passages through corn and dirt paths.

So yeah. It was really challenging --a lot more so than I thought it would be-- but even so, I'm really glad that we got to experience this facet of Guatemalan life- it reallly really gave me (us) some perspective on farm-life, immigration, poverty, and rural Guatemalan life in general.

bendiciones, juli

01 October 2010


It´s nispero season, world!

What´s a nispero, you ask? It´s a little fig-sized orange fruit that grows on trees here. I think they taste like sweet kiwis-- but they have 3-6 big seeds inside (which you don´t eat). Also, you have to peel off the peach-like skin. They´re yummy.

Allegedly they only grow in Guatemala, Brasil, Japan, and Spain (talk about random places)... and apparently ¨all¨ of Guatemala´s nisperos come from the little town where we´re staying... so tinseltown is all atwitter. My fam has gone up ¨into the hills¨ multiple times to collect baskets and baskets of nisperos from the trees, and then they have someone that will sell them in the market in Antigua... seems pretty common that most people here have this little side-business during the cosecha (harvest time) of oct-dec. This also means that in Xela it will be a lot harder to find them... so my Spanish teacher said I should eat as many as I could before I leave (bc surely my life has been changed now that I´ve tasted this sacred fruit)...

So that´s just a little seasonal update from me to you, world.
bendiciones, juli


Hello world and Happy Día de los Niños!

If you´ll excuse me, I´m going to get on my soap box for a second...

This is a short movie (we´re talking like 20 min) that´s called ¨The Story of Stuff.¨ It talks about where our stuff comes from, how we get it, and why we feels the need to have so MUCH. Kind of opens your eyes when you think about how your little radio could possibly cost $4.99 after the journey it´s made and the people that needed to be employed to make/sell it. And why do we allow ourselves to be on that hampster wheel of working to buy more to feel better to work to buy to feel better...? Now I´m not saying we should all stop buying things, but couldn´t we actively work to use 99% of our stuff for more than 6 months?!

Also -- Sarah McLaughlin has a really cool song/music vid along these lines, too. It´s a few years old now, but still quite eye-opening...

Just a few thoughts for you to chew on, world.
Hope all´s well with whoever´s out there reading this...
bendiciones, juli