GUATEMALA

If you happen to follow me on instagram then you may have seen that our family took a team down to Guatemala for the week to serve with a local church. This was the first trip we have done with the kiddos of this sort. The sort where they see things that make your heart ache, where toilet paper can not go in the toilet, and water must not be used unless it comes from a bottle. They both made me proud in so many ways. They played through language barriers, worked hard daily doing things that even the adults struggled with, and most importantly they loved well and smiled throughout the days even when most of our team became ill. They traveled how I like to. Soaking in the sites, colors, and smells. They even picked up a little spanish along the way. My heart swells. 

We served with Inn Ministries for the week. They are a group of people that love deeply and made us all feel like family. It was a mix of locals and people who came from the US to serve for an extended period of time. We helped with building projects, we did activities, spoke about Jesus, and played with kids that had next to nothing yet had a joy that surpassed all.

Although we remain picture-less when it came to our visit to a local children's hospital and a remote village I pray that the images remain within me forever. The hospital only had two children at the time as they ran out of supplies. Without medicines, diapers, and even a simple Tylenol for fever makes treating the beautiful children next to impossible. They are then turned away in hopes that the next hospital has what they need. One nurse that we got to spoke with works 12 hour shifts and rides a bus an hour and half each way. She is dedicated and wore the most beautiful smile. The surgery room has been closed for some time as they need the supplies to fight infection and anesthesia even though they have willing dr's. My heart ached in this place. I pretty much lost it once I was able to get in a quiet place once we were back at the inn. Even now I can't help but have tears run down my face. Could not imagine not being able to get Ellie or KJ help because the hospitals are without the supplies they so desperately need. You can see one story of a toddler we got to pray over here.

In the village they lived in huts with dirt floors and bathrooms that were behind a plastic sheeting outside. The community is tight and they all help raise the children. Even the children that no longer have mothers or fathers. We were able to bring food and a water catcher so they would not have to walk 30 minutes each way for a bucket of water. I was able to speak with the woman who has become a sort of president for their group. The one who let the inn ministries know that a way to get water could change their lives. Some of the children get to go to school, but normally by the age of 13 they must drop out to help sustain their village. This was not a place of sadness though. It was a place where children's laughter ran true. One where they did not even have a ball to play with, but found a game of tag the most exhilarating. I am grateful they were willing to share with us a bit of themselves.

The last couple of days we had tourist type days where we got to learn more about their culture and see some of the most beautiful cities. The days were long yet felt so full. On our final day we got to go to Antigua. The Mr and I are already talking about heading back so we can explore more. The stone streets, architecture, and the volcano need at least three days to truly soak it all in.

Our team above is a group of people that will forever be etched into my heart. They worked through sickness, exhaustion and forever with a smile on their faces. I can't wait to see what God has in store for them as they grow for most were still within the college years. We all now share a bond of going above and beyond what seems possible and experienced things that are hard to swallow within our cushy lives. They treated Ellie and Kj like sisters and brothers and for that I will forever be indebted to them. The trip would not have been the same without every single one of them.

SIDE NOTE: on sunday KJ got a little fussy after we asked him to get off the wii-u for a second to help with something. A few minutes later he came back in all distraught and informed us that he was grounded for two days. Of course we told him he could not ground himself, as we know he was exhausted and oh so sick, but I am grateful that he took a minute to realize all the things he had in comparison. He realized that he had so many things and they had nothing yet were so happy. I pray that sticks with all of us. Especially since I realize this computer that I blog from costs more that most people will ever have in their entire lives. Now that humbles me like no other.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. - Galatians 5:15

WEST COAST TRIP - LA

Our last stop of the trip was LA. We were all pretty tired and sick at this point so we took it easy. Well except Disney Land day, because that is so worth every once of exertion. It was the first time in years that it rained in LA apparently so we stuck to exploring in the car a lot. We all love driving around and exploring neighborhoods so it was still a win. We did take half a day to go to the Getty and we were in awe. The building itself was so inspiring. They had umbrellas at every entrance to the expansive grounds so it made it extra fun for the kiddos. We took in gorgeous views at Griffith Park. We went to both Santa Monica pier and Venice Beach. Venice Beach is a little more laid back with surfers and less people in general so if I were to only go back to one that would be my choice. It was also close to the Venice Canals which we LOVED. It was so much fun exploring the quaint little area. We also happened to come across the best War Eagle {orange and blue} house I ever did see. Oh, and we may have had in-and -out burger four times. It was so gluten free friendly and yummy plus close to our hotel so how could be not.

WEST COAST TRIP - PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY

So this may be the longest consecutive trip posting yet. You may have seen via instagram we bought a house and are doing a rapid remodel. Will share more at the end of the week! For today I am going to live life with the memories from our trip. It held a lot less mess. HA. On the last leg of our trip we drove from San Franciso to LA via the Pacific Coast Highway. It was absolutely incredible. The Mr and I are already planning our 15 year anniversary to Carmel and Big Sur in a few years. The whole area deserves time to soak it all in. We stopped and hiked along the coast a bit and toured all the cute homes in Carmel. Who knew a drive could have ended up being one of our favorite parts of the trip.