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A letter from YAV Emily Brewer in Guatemala

January 25, 2010

Email: Emily Brewer

The year 2010 got off to a good start for me here in Guatemala. I started this year with a tan and a few extra pounds, both signs of a good Christmas vacation. My Guatemalan aunts and uncles also all like to remind me when they see me that I have gained weight ... they tell me I am getting "bien gordita" (cute and chubby), which is a compliment here, because it means I like the food and am eating well. Most of my pounds are from paches, the traditional Christmas food here that is made of either rice or potatoes with meat and some combination of raisins, prunes, bell pepper, and chiles all wrapped in a giant leaf and boiled. Bethi's (my host mom) entire extended family came over a few days before Christmas to make these (they made 500!) to eat and trade with other family and friends. So, needless to say, I ate a LOT of paches. I think I ate about 50 over the course of eight or nine days.

Right after Christmas, one of the other volunteers and I went to a little island near the Mexico border called Tilapa — no cars, no restaurants, and one hotel — that we got to by walking to the dock in the town where the bus route ends and paying a local $1.50 to take us across the water to the island. We spent a few very relaxing days there taking walks on the beach, talking with the few other tourists at the hotel, reading, and napping in hammocks. So that’s how I started the year with a tan and some "happy pounds."

On January 8, my brother, Ben, came for a spur-of-the-moment visit. We had a lot of fun traveling together, hiking, and hanging out with my family, who is already asking when he's coming back. Also, while Ben was here, on the 14th I had to go back to work after about a month off. I was kinda sad that my month of eating lots and traveling was over, but glad to get back into a routine and to see the other people who work at La Fraternidad. I am also excited about taking on some more responsibility at work this year, now that my Spanish is decent and I know a lot more about the organization itself. I am going to start leading some group-building activities with the newer groups and helping to come up with some new ideas for Bible studies and activities in the group meetings. I will still be mostly working with the Pastoral de la Mujer, but will also get to spend some time with the coordinators of the other two programs of health and organic agriculture.

So all in all, 2009 ended well, and 2010 started off promisingly. I hope it was the same for everyone reading this! Peace!


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