The view from where I was staying!
June 23rd 2013 I traveled to Antigua, Guatemala all by myself! What an amazing trip it was, buy boy was I ready for it to be over!
Let’s back up about a year. I started researching ways to volunteer and give back + wanting to visit a Spanish speaking country, I decided to look for opportunities abroad. My hopes and dreams were buried in Mexico – I love the people, the language and it would be one hell of a ride! After months of researching I came across an organization that specializes in volunteering abroad at very reasonable prices. I contacted them with one million questions and finally decided I would do it! The only problem is I didn’t have peace in Mexico. Not anything to do with everyone around me telling me that I would be kidnapped, murdered and greeted by the drug cartel, but I just didn’t have peace. I continued to research. Guatemala? Where the ham sandwich is Guatemala and why do I feel the need to go?
I researched Guatemala and the work they do over there. Spanish speaking? Volunteer opportunities. Okay, whatever. I’m game. During this time I was going through a battle between what I wanted for my life and what God wanted for my life. I never heard from God, but I thought going to an entirely new country was a good time to start listening. I prayed to God ‘Is this what you want me to do? Can I go to Guatemala?’ I really wanted to go at this point, but didn’t and definitely wouldn’t go if I didn’t feel the peace of God. One day I was cleaning my apartment and Jesse Duplantis (One of the funniest preachers ever) was on TBN. The TV was muted and I just happened to turn it up. At the exact moment I turned up the TV Jesse says, ‘you’re waiting on an answer from God, and maybe God is saying I trust you enough to just go!’ I lost it! OMG – God did you really just confirm something? To me? WOW! Immediately feelings of doubt and selfishness set in (the enemy). No this can’t be God. I heard what I wanted to because I want to go to Guatemala, it has nothing to do with God.
I walked out of my bedroom and into the living room and James 1:8 dropped in my spirit ‘A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.’ OMG. This was God! I was so overwhelmed with feelings of acceptance. I felt accepted into the body of Christ, like I can hear God too, (as if that validates my Christianity.)
I paid the registration fee through the organization and I was set to go. Only thing left to do: Tell my job, my family and prepare to go.
That didn’t go as easy as I thought. I was met with resistance, not concern. I was told that I did not hear from God, God would never tell me to go and on top of all of that, do I not understand the dangers of going to another country such as Guatemala? I was so confused. Why are people not supportive of my decision to do good in the world?
I was set to leave in less than 3 months and circumstances were not any easier. Within 2 months of my departure date I opted not to go. Not because I had other plans or because I chose to do different, but because I was met with fear and I allowed it to consume and guide me. Turns out, it was in God’s plans. What happened the next 6 months was truly mind-blowing. I was changed and those around me were changed. God absolutely was in my corner and I knew it!
I accepted that Guatemala wasn’t in the plans for that year, but the peace I had with this place- maybe another time?
Fast-forward 6 months. I began researching again. I wrote the organization and told them I was back on board. At this point I didn’t know what the heck was going on, but I was going to Guatemala. Again, met with resistance, this time it was a bit worse because I had already been through it and I’m sure people were thinking why didn’t she get it the first time. WE DON’T SUPPORT HER GOING. Oh well! I set a date, June 23rd and I’m off.
During this time fear began to creep into my heart. What if this isn’t the will of God, what if everyone was warning me against something bad that will happen if I go? Then I thought, ‘what if I do go and nothing bad happens, what if I have a great time, what if I hear God over there?’ I made a decision to continue moving forward no matter the noise.
Due to financial issues, I decided, at the last minute, that I would travel to Guatemala alone instead of with an organization.
You could bet all hell broke loose! Now you’re really gonna get kidnapped, raped and murdered! You’re for sure out of God’s will. You’re definitely tripping!
May 2013: I left my job, I left my set place and I moved back home to Indiana. Everything was grand until the feelings of WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST DO showed up!
So much happened, but I kept moving forward. I never allowed my mistakes or misunderstandings to stop me from what I felt called to do.
The day finally came. Sunday, June 23rd was here and I was in a car with my uncle, my dad and his female friend traveling to the airport.
God you’re with me. God you’re with me. God you’re with me. I continued to recite this in my head. Was I freaking out? A little. Did I have peace? A ton. What God with me? Without a doubt.
Indianapolis to Chicago. You can still end the trip here Angel, you’re only 4 hours from home. Chicago to Houston. You could pay for a hotel, beg the airlines to let you go back home, you’re still in America Angel. Nope. We’re (me and God) are still going.
Houston to Guatemala City boarding group 1. Oh crap! This is it.
Bienvenido a la ciudad de Guatemala!
I am in Guatemala. OMG. I am in Guatemala. I couldn’t believe it. I was so shocked. I got my backpack, walked outside and looked for my driver holding a sign with my name on it. I met Raul, a Guatemalan who grew up in Guatemala City now living in Antigua – I’m assuming because the party scene is better
The trip to Antigua took about an hour. I seen women, men, children and animals. I seen restaurants, cars, trees and a beautiful sky. I felt peace and the fear I had turned into common sense. I wasn’t afraid anymore, but alert.
Me and Raul spoke about life in America and why I was in his country. I didn’t want to tell him the things others warned me about because I thought it would offend him, this is his country – his home.
I arrive at my destination that I would be staying at for the next week. On top of it being a long day in airports I was a bit nervous about walking the streets of Antigua alone. I’ll rest tonight and tomorrow I will definitely face any fears I may have!
Monday morning came and I woke early – 7am! Called my family to let them know I was still alive and I hit the pavement. I walked all over the city alone! Not once did I feel threatened! I was doing quite well with my Spanish and made it a point to speak to everyone I passed! Hola Señora! Buenos días Señor! Everyone spoke back! It was beautiful. Here I was in Antigua, Guatemala all by myself speaking Spanish and I’m still alive! God, we did it. OMG!
The next few days were great until I began feeling sick. Body aches, headaches and stomach cramps. Don’t kill me, guys, but I did not get any shots. I know I know! I thought, maybe if I get some medicine, it will be gone. The following day it was still there. I began to freak out. I didn’t have the extra money to change my flight but I knew God had me.
At this point along with being sick I felt as though I seen what I came to see. I did what I came to do and it wasn’t even about Guatemala.
My last night there it all hit me like a wall of falling bricks. This was bigger than Guatemala. I learned things in the process to Guatemala.
1. It doesn’t matter how deep it gets or how hard it is, keep moving forward.
2. No one has the right to discuss, confront or challenge the relationship between you and God.
3. Fear isn’t always bad. There is fear that warns you and there is fear that paralyzes you. Feel God’s peace and differentiate the two.
4. Never allow someone else’s opinions affect your ability to conquer anything God says you can.
5. NO matter how many nos you hear, all you need is one yes from God to proceed!
And THAT is what Guatemala taught me! I will definitely visit this beautiful country again in the future, it has taught me so much about me and for that I will be forever grateful! It was the first country I visited and I will not stop there!
*Oh and I called the airline a few times letting them know the situation and finally, they waved the $375 fee! Ain’t God good!
Have a wonderful Holiday! May God make all of your DREAMS come true! Never stop moving forward!