03 August 2011

el fin

Well, world, I'm back in the U S of A., and my year in Chacos has officially ended. It feels really nice to be able to go on a run without fear of abduction/ robbery/ getting chased by dogs/ being stared at, and it's really nice to not have to clorox fresh fruits and vegetables AND to be able to cook when/what/how much I want... but it's so quiet at night that I can't sleep without my fan going and ipod, and all the lawns are so manicured and perfect, and everyone speaks English, and it's SO hot! ((Copious amounts of Diet Dr. Pepper help nicely with that last one, though...))

There are many many things to get re-used to as I re-acclimate to my home, and get prepared for in San Antonio... But it feels nice to be home, and I'm thankful that I made it home sin novedades, or without troubles.

Thanks again for praying for me, supporting me, and following me through this year. It's been hard but beautiful and completely life-changing.
bendiciones, juli

Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do: God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act. -Proverbs 24:12

PS: Here are all of my photos from the year... https://picasaweb.google.com/julierinsmith

01 August 2011

Farewell, Ciudad Vieja

Chacos leaving my street

my last night in Ciudad Vieja (with my host parents)

28 July 2011

hoy en ocho

¨Hoy en ocho¨ is a very common Guatemalan phrase that means litterally ¨today in 8,¨ aka a week from today.

On Wednesday morning, my host dad said this to me at the breakfast table-
¨Hoy en 8, usted [yes, 6 months later and I am still addressed using formal usted -- I am very important, afterall] va a despertar en su propia cama¨ Or, ¨A week from today, you´ll wake up in your own bed.¨

So so so weird. Today is my last day in Ciudad Vieja with my host family, tomorrow we start our YAV closing retreat, and then I fly to DC Tuesday morning. Seriously unbelievable.

Thanks for your prayers and support, world. See you in less than ocho (primero Dios).
bendiciones, juli

26 July 2011

¡ gracias !

Dear family and friends,

This past year in Guatemala has most certainly been the most challenging, stretching, growing experience that I have ever had. I changed contexts completely, from my college apartment in Oxford, OH to living my life in Spanish with large Guatemalan families in a developing country. I´ve had to live in challenging situations of family turbulence, gotten to know people that live with daily questions of how to make ends meet, as well as seen the very real effects of draughts and floods in areas with no infrastructure for repair.

This year I’ve also gotten to build incredible relationships through my host families and with my fellow YAVs. I´ve gotten to experience great joy in attending family weddings, quinceañeras, and Sunday afternoons when the whole family gathers for a meal. I´m so thankful for these parts of my experience here, because they´ve helped me to get a real glimpse of life in Guatemala and I feel fortunate to have gotten this year-long peek into such a different context, as well as to have a Guatemalan family to come back and visit in the future.

For all that I have experienced this year -the good, the bad, and the ugly- I am thankful. Though challenging, I know that God perfectly crafted this experience for this point in my life, and I am so thankful to all of my supporters for making it possible. Thank you for your donation, for praying for me, and for following my journey this year! This truly has been a partnership, and I could never have made it through the year without such a great support network, so thank you!

I have learned so much this year- about myself, about my faith, about Guatemala, about loving people, about serving, that it´s hard to know where to go from here. After a year of learning so much about Latin America and its people, I feel I want to still be in a highly Latino context, but that I want to be closer to home, and so I have decided to do another year of service through the Young Adult Volunteers program, this time in San Antonio, TX. I will be working with primarily Latin American women who are victims of violence through a coalition of organizations seeking to end domestic violence and abuse. I´m very excited to work with Latinos, especially women, from this side of the border, and to get to live intentionally in a house with other Christian young people who are YAVs. I feel that my time in Guatemala prepared me for this next experience, and I hope that you could continue to partner with me in this next chapter, as I continue to discover where the Lord is leading me.

Thank you again for your ongoing support as I finish this year in Guatemala, and for continuing the partnership into next year´s new adventure in San Antonio.

Bendiciones, juli

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now." - Philippians 1: 3-5

20 July 2011

a trip to the circus

Oh yes, you read right, world -- I went to the circo this past weekend with my host brother and his 3 kids. Why yes, they do have circuses in Guatemala, but let me tell you-- It was no Barnum & Bailey...

So first off, I was somehow picturing a fair or a petting zoo or something, but no- This was the real deal. ´Big top tent´ and all. The show included but was not limited to... 2 little people, 2 strippers, several minors, 2 monkeys, 1 llama, 1 pony, and approximately 3 actual acrobats. Let me give you the play-by-play...

Act 1: Trampoline by 2 little boys and 2 little people (1 inexplicably dressed as a devil??), supervised by 2 random guys. Umm.. Impressive because I couldn´t do what they did... Buutt that´s not saying much.

Act 2: Clown named Hamburguesa. Annoying / creepy.

Act 3: Flying wrap-yourself-in-fabric man. This one was legitimately really cool... Especially because everytime the guy went up in the air, it was because a man, a boy, and a little person were pulling on the rope to make him fly. Yep.

Act 4: Clown again. This time my host brother´s kids went up as volunteers to leap frog with the clown.

Act 5: Man in steel wheel. This one was legitimately cool, too-- He spun around in all different directions

Act 6: Clown with unicycle. Uhhh... ?


Act 7: Strippers. Yep, that´s good for the kiddos. Maybe I´m exaggerating, but they were essentially wearing underwear and ¨dancing¨ to Cintura Sola. I was uncomfortable.

Act 8: Really young and flexible girl. She was pretty impressive... and also like 8. I tried not to think of a life as a little girl in the circus.

Act 9: A very sad monkey came out on a leesh with Hamburguesa the clown. He didn´t really do much, but the kids loooved him.

Act 10: This time Hamburguesa came out with a pony. Again, just walked around a bit, but then he got some audience members (again, my host cousin) to ride the pony.

Act 11: The Grand Finale! Hamburguesa with a llama. Why a llama? Well why not?! Oh, and one more thing- The monkey was riding the llama. That´s not something you see every day. So very bizzarre.

And that was pretty much the whole show. It was a little bit of everything, to say the least. And I´m glad I could go... but I don´t know that I ever want to go to the circus, in Guatemala or elsewhere, again.

bendiciones, juli

16 July 2011


Si Dios quiere (if God wants)
Primero Dios (literally, ´God first,´ but understood as ´God´s plans first´)
A ver que dice Dios (we´ll see what God says)
Si Dios me presta la vida (if God lends me the life)

These are a few of the many super common Guatemalaisms that I have come to love this year. Why? Because I love the way that in making any plans (See you tomorrow, Let´s have lunch, I´ll be right back...), most Guatemalans will add in ¨See Dios quiere¨ or ¨Primero Dios¨ -- reminding me that, no matter what plans I feel I can make and commit to, God always has the last word.

For example, my fellow YAV, Katharine, got appendicitis about 5 weeks ago and had to have an emergency apendectomy here in Guatemala. Everything turned out pretty much fine after about 2weeks straight in bed healing. She had classes to teach and exams she´d planned to adminster, but nope! Didn´t happen, because God´s plans came first.

I feel that God has been constantly teaching and re-teaching me this year that my life is not my own, my plans are not my own, and that God is bigger than anything I can even imagine. Lots of stuff didn´t turn out the way I thought it should this year, but that´s okay, because God gave me different / even better adventures. As I finish my last 3 weeks here, and prepare to be thrust back into the US, to my parent´s house in Alexandria for 3.5 weeks, and then to start brand new adventures in San Antonio, I´m trying to adapt the ¨Primero Dios¨ mentality. I have things I want to do to round off this year, and things I want to do once I back to Alexandria-- but the Primero Dios mentality tells me that I can make plans, of course, but need to gracefully accept when they don´t quite turn out as I had expected, because God had something better in mind. Grace in flexibility - Yes, world, that´s a hard one for Juli to learn.

Hope you have a great weekend, world. See you stateside in about 2.5 weeks (primero Dios)
bendiciones, juli

Also, for more on Katharine´s all-star-ness, read her blog! http://www.katharinecurles.blogspot.com/

13 July 2011

¨If you are appalled by what you see here, please don´t try to start a revolution for us- a revolution from which you can flee when the real bullets start flying. If you really want to help us, go back to your own country and work to change the policies of your government that explot our country and keep our people so poor.¨
- - Dom Hélder Câmara, archbishop of Recife, Brasil- probably the poorest part of South America