Thursday, June 28, 2007

The FAQs

When I tell people I’m going to Guatemala I always seem to get the same questions. So here they are answered in one place...

Frequently Asked Questions

What the heck are you doing in Guatemala?
I am going to be volunteering with an organization there called Camino Seguro/Safe Passage ( I will be working with children whose families make their living in the Guatemala City dump, which is the largest landfill in Central America. I will be living with a host family in Antigua as a part of the experience and riding a bus to the city each day to work.

What made you decide to go?
As many of you know, I have long been haunted by the fact that so many people live in extreme poverty while I have so much. A couple of months ago we were doing a series of talks on poverty, and I was overwhelmed once again by looking at my lifestyle when it is laid side by side with the rest of the world. My friend JR was speaking about what Jesus has to say about the poor (which by the way, is quite a bit, and I’m not sure how we in the American church can keep missing that, but it seems that we do). So I had this recurring thought as I sat there: I can’t live like this anymore. I have to do something. So this is my first step in doing “something”.

Why Guatemala?
I don't have a very good answer for this one. I’ve been there before and really liked it; I love the Latin American culture. I spent one day in Antigua, Guatemala and loved the place, and at that point I vowed to return for longer someday. So this is that someday. Really, once I stumbled onto the website of Safe Passage I knew that this was where I wanted to go, and since it’s in Central America it was somewhere I could go inexpensively.

Is this a mission trip? Who are you going with?
Depends on how you define mission…for me it is. I think this is part of who I am and what I was made to do, thereby making it part of my mission. It’s not with a ministry or church group (which is really what most of you are asking), but as I said earlier I think it lines up well with how Jesus calls us to give to those in need. My friend Melissa Lewis is going with me. She lives in Denver and just graduated from seminary with a degree in counseling, and for her, this trip is to learn more Spanish, work with children, and put off the “real world” for one more month. And we’re both excited about hanging out with each other and having good conversation, in English and Spanish, for the next month.

Can you speak Spanish?
Hablo un poco, pero entiendo mucho. I usually know enough to get by, but I am hoping that after four weeks in Guatemala I will be much better with my Spanish. Also, I’m planning on spending at least my first week in language school while I’m there.

Is it safe?
Mostly. I will live in Antigua, which is relatively peaceful. However, I will be working in Guatemala City. I won’t be living in the city because it’s not safe for us to do so. Basically Guatemala is a developing country so the idea of “safe” that we have in the developed world is harder to come by, and there is some pretty serious gang activity in the city. Also, this is an election year, so there is likely to be more violence as they approach elections this fall. But honestly, the biggest risk for me as a tourist is having my stuff stolen on the street, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.