- Jami Pond
- I am studying Psychology and Sociology at Utah Valley University, and working at a treatment center for troubled teens. I love life, being with people from all cultures, speaking Spanish, and traveling all over the world. I will never stop laughing, dancing, singing, enjoying, appreciating, and just being.
Monday, July 19, 2010
I cannot believe our second week in Guatemala is over. It has been on of the most amazing and fastest weeks ever. Each day we continued to go to the orphanage and it was so good that we were there so much so we could develop relationships with the kids and have them remember us personally. Even though none of us spoke Spanish and the kids knew no English, in some way we could all communicate and understand each other. I loved when these kids would just hug you and sit on your laps, speaking super fast Spanish to you and you just laughing and saying "Si". On our last few days at the orphanage, we ate there with the kids and stayed all day so we could be with them in school and in the afternoon for play time. All us girls brought a lot of toys and donations for the kids that we were able to deliver personally to them the last day. It was fun to see their faces when we would even just give them candy or stickers or balls and they would be just so happy! I brought a bunch of balls the last day and when I handed them out the kids were just going crazy. It has been so neat to be staying in a small city because just after two weeks, we have all got so comfortable about the area and feel like we know everyone! One experience that was really neat was we took all these kids that worked in the park to mcdonalds for lunch one day. We got them all happy meals and they played in the play ground and I have never seen happier little children. I think being little kids in poverty in Guatemala that have to constantly work, they never really get a chance to be kids and have too much fun. I will never forget their bright and shining smiles in that moment. Since I had signed up for this program and we had made it official we were going to Guatemala, I knew that there was a specific reason we picked this country and I knew there were certain people we were suppose to meet. Coming to the end of this trip I have found those people I was sent personally to meet and I have never been so spiritually impacted and influenced in my life. When I first met this cute family in the park, I did not think much of it and just said hi to them a few times. Every time we would pass through central park where they worked, I would get this strong impression to be with and help this one specific family. The mother Maria, her son Danny, and her two younger daughters, just had the most clear and most vibrant light about them that made me feel such a connection to them and desire to help. The second time we saw them, I spent about an hour just running around the park with her son and goofing off. We invited her to church every day we saw her but I was never sure if she would actually come. The third time We went back to see them, we made sure we brought a Spanish book of Mormon so we could give it to her as a gift. It was really neat because my friend Shelby came prepared with her testimony in Spanish written in the book so she could give it out to someone and she knew it was just for them. When we handed it to her, we tried with broken spanish to tell her how much it meant to our church this book and if she read and prayed about it, it would bring her and her family much happiness. I was so sad to leave this family each day and I would just think about them in the night, hoping we had a little impact on them and hoping she would read the book. When Sunday morning came I was just so confident and knew that Maria would come to church even though she lived very far and had to walk and it was very early in the morning. As 9 finally came and I was awaiting anxiously in the park, there was no sign of Maria and her family which was very disheartening. All the girls I was with kept saying they needed to be on time to church but I just kept getting the feeling that they would come, so I told the girls to go and I would wait a little longer. I sat there in the park wondering how Maria was feeling about everything we had told her and wondered her thoughts about us and the church. I prayed that she would be open to it and understand why the other 8 girls and myself had such a powerful and strong testimony of it. I was just pacing back and forth in the park and kept looking at the time wondering if this is how missionaries feel every Sunday waiting for investigators to show up. It was very anticipating! Finally, I turned around and to my surprise I see a little girl with pig tails hobbling down the side walk with one hand in her mothers and my precious 6 year old Danny running to me. I had never felt so much joy and relief in my life to see this family approaching me in the distance. I scooped up Danny in my arms and felt a few tears run down my face just knowing that this child and his family and come. I walked hand in hand with this cute little boy and we all just came in church in the front row all together. All throughout the meeting I just prayed that this family would feel the strong spirit that I was feeling in the moment and would want to know more about it. After church, the missionaries got their number and we left. I took the whole family to this really nice restaurant and the kids got to play in the play ground and I hung out with Maria. Later, I got pictures developed of Maria's kids and I, and I wrote messages to them in spanish that I would miss them and be praying for them always. When I gave them to Maria, she was just so grateful and her eyes filled up with tears. It was one of the hardest things saying goodbye to this beautiful and wonderful family I had met, but I know they will be protected and filled with God's love for them as I prayed and thought about them from that day on. I am not sure if Maria read the book of Mormon and I am not sure if they will ever go to church again but what I do know is that I was guided to this certain family by the holy spirit to bring them the knowledge of the gospel and to shower them with Christ's perfect love and light. I will never forget this amazing adventure to Guatemala that I have had in my life and will never forget the people I met and the feelings I have felt. This trip has only been a small glimpse of what my mission will be like and I look forward to having these types of experiences daily when I am in Argentina. I have never felt such truth and fullness for anything in my life than the knowledge I have for this gospel and the feelings it brings me. I hope to bring it to as many people as I can, not only on my mission, but throughout my whole life because I know that if I listen to the promptings of the spirit and am constantly full of love, I will meet people and be places that will change me forever.
Monday, July 12, 2010
I have been in Guatemala now for exactly a week long. So far, I feel like I have already had the most amazing and rewarding experience being here. One thing that I got to do that was very fun was I met with a local at the school for an hour and she would teach me Spanish and I would teach her English. It was so interesting to find out about her life and be practicing my Spanish at the same time. I could not believe this girls strong desire and determination to learn English. She was 22 years old and has grown up living at an orphanage practically her whole life. Her father past away when she was five and her mom did not have the money to take care of all her kids so she had to send her there for good. Since she has lived there for so long, she now works at the orphanage and because of that gets the schooling she needs to learn English and get a degree. I could not believe this girls story and it inspired me so much, knowing the things she has experienced in her life and how much strength and passion she still carries in her heart. She was telling me that the orphanage has become her family and she is very happy there. Last Thursday, our whole group was able to switch to volunteer in the same orphanage so we could all be together. Even though my sister and I loved working at the hospital, we were happy to finally be with our friends and be able to play with all the children. We have to take 2 different buses to get there and it can get a little crazy. The buses are packed with so many people so sometimes you cannot even sit down. Once arriving, there was about 300 kids of all ages just running around outside playing on a little play ground and playing games. They were so thrilled to see us and gave us so much love just within a few minutes of knowing us. I could just sense how much they desired to be held and loved from any of us visitors. They would not stop smiling at us and jumping into our arms. There was one little boy named Carlos that has problems with his legs. He limps while he walks but has the biggest personality and most beautiful heart. He was always just laughing and making funny faces, bringing everyone around him joy. Just that first day of us working there brought me so much excitement and joy just knowing we would be with these kids for another week. It meant the world to me just to be in their sweet and innocent presence, providing them with unconditional love. This weekend we traveled on a bus 9 hours to a place called Sumoc. It is up in the mountains where it is so green and just breath taking. There were these teal pools we got to hike to and swim in. We also slept in these hut like houses that where in the middle of the Forrest. It was definitely a cool trip and well worth the long drive. We also got to go tubing down a river that was really fun. We got back on Saturday night so we were able to attend church on Sunday morning. The spirit was so strong in the chapel and it just felt so comforting and peaceful to be in the church and to partake of the sacrament. Later, my sister and I were walking into the town when we came across a familiar face. We spotted this little girl in traditional Guatemalan clothing, laughing and running down the street with her mom and brother. We realized we had met them in the park the week before and adored this little girl. She had little dimples on her cheeks and was always smiling at you. The mother was happy when we came up to the kids and showered them with attention and love. The mom asked us if we wanted anything and because we had taken pictures with her kids, I felt we should give her a little something to pay her back. We sat there in the streets for a while and just played with the two kids. I have never seen such a beautiful and happy little girl in my life. I knew that these poor family had very little because the mom, Maria, was on her own with these 3 small children the ages of 1, 3, and 5. The little kids, Danny and Victoria, kept going through my bag and looking at my books and in my journal. I showed them pictures of my family and friends that were in my journal and they were just so happy to be with us and bonding. Their precious little smiles honestly lit up the whole park as we were all to hanging out together. The mother Maria seemed so grateful for us to be playing with and loving her children. As we left this cute family, I promised to come back and see them again on Tuesday in the park and told them how much I appreciated and loved them. I gave the mother a lot of money and hugged her goodbye. I know we ran into this family in the park for a reason and I know that we have the potential to help and love them while we are here in Guatemala. I pray for this precious family and hope they are always in safety and are happy. As we left the park on the way back home it was poring rain. As we were running, I noticed in the corner of my eye a young girl limping alone in the rain. I stopped to look at her and noticed she was missing both arms and one of her feet. She could barely make steps down the rode and was trying to shield herself from the rain. I wondered how on earth anyone could abandon this poor and helpless little girl at her age and in her poor condition. I walked up to her and put money in her purse for her since she was not able to. I look her directly in the eyes, being speechless and my eyes filled with tears, I hugged her fragile body and smiled. I know that God loves all his children and regardless of their outside appearance or of their lifestyle, I know he would want us to give to them love and to shine our light before them. I hope this little girl knows how much she is loved by her Savior and I hope through others on this earth and through their service, she will receive that kindness and love and always feel joy. I am so happy to finish such a fulfilling week here in Guatemala and I cannot wait to see what is to come for the rest of the trip.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The yellow church is actually the hospital in Antigua that my sister and I work at. I fell in love with a little boy named Roberto who lives there that is special needs. He is about eight years old and he was born completely deformed and his limbs are very twisted so he is not able to stand or walk. At first I did not think he knew what was going on or who I was but every time I would pass his bed and say his name he would get a huge smile on his face. Another boy that was two beds down from him was throwing pillows at him which I thought would make him mad but only made him full of laughter. I definitely think he has quite a sense of humor. I would always go by him and tickle his hand and kept saying his name and he would always just beam of joy. I knew he was getting to know me and was grateful for my love towards him. Every time I would pass him he would put him hand in the air. I kept asking people what he wanted but they said he just does that and not to worry. I knew he was trying to communicate to me and I knew he wanted me to do something for him. I finally noticed he was pointing in the air to the outside so I picked him up and carried him outside in the sun. He was very happy and I knew this was what he wanted. He was desiring to go outside and feel the warm sun on his face and play like a normal kid. I held his small deformed body in my arms for a while and even though he was fragile and he was heavy, I felt him nuzzle his face on my body so I was sure he was content. We then put him in a car and rode him around the courtyard making loud car noises and getting him laughing and smiling a ton. He kept pointing somewhere else and although it was challenging I just wanted to find out his needs so I could make him happy. I figured out that he was pointing to a large swing that was made for just for kids in wheel chairs so he could swing back and forth. We put him on it and I have truly never seen a happier child. This moment alone was well worth my trip to Guatemala. To put that kind of joy into a special needs kids life and to show him unconditional love was more fulfilling than anything I have done. Before I left that day I made sure I stopped by his bed and looked into his eyes and promised to see him tomorrow. He looked a little sad but I know that I will be able to bring that same bright smile on his face sometime this week when I return. I will make sure of it. Until then....CHAO!!!
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
We all finally made it to Guatemala! My sister and I got in on Sunday night and were the first ones here. We got to our house late at night not knowing anyone or what we were suppose to do. Our house parents let us in and barely spoke any English. They took us to our room and just told us buanas noches. My sister and I just looked at each other confused and wondered what we do next. No computer, Internet, or TV...what to do?!! We kind of just laughed and unpacked, trying to get comfortable with our small room with barely anything in it. The shower leaks barely any water out and we were without towels, soap, toilet paper, or drinking water. we were a little perplexed and we didn't want to bother nor go find out house parents in the dark night since the probably went back to sleep and do not even speak English. How do you say "we have nothing in our rooms" in Spanish? We tried just having a positive attitude about it and read a little scriptures together then went tried going to sleep. Easy for my sister to do since she knocked out right away but I was having some issues with sleeping. It was hot in the room and I kept hearing noises outside all night that were freaking me out. I am pretty sure I laid awake most of the night but I was on benadryl so I was a little out of it anyway. At 7 am there was a knock at our door and our house mom was saying that breakfast was ready. After we ate and got all ready, we were escorted to our school and we were still the only ones that were in Guatemala so far from our group. When we got to the school where we would be having meetings and Spanish lessons, we met up with four other girls we knew that finally arrived and we all had orientation. After that we all went to our family house and most of our group had got in! We all had lunch together and got excited for our trips just taking pictures and practicing our Spanish. We got a little tour of the town which is so beautiful and colorful! The people are so friendly and everything is in walking distance. There are so many huge catholic churches here of all colors and so many green pretty parks. You can see a volcano in the mountains from where we are staying! In the afternoon we all split up and went to our separate projects. Mostly all our group is working in an orphanage but me and my sister got assigned to work at a hospital in the city that is for abandoned orphans. We had no idea what we would be doing but we knew that we were there that day for a specific purpose and certain people needed us. As we walked in we noticed that every single kid was special needs and handicapped. They were all very deformed and could not even move from their beds nor talk. This was on of the saddest things I have ever seen. Each kid seemed like they wanted so much to be able to look at me or say something but they just could not. We would walk around and feed them bottles and just be next to them giving them comfort. I was feeding this boy Julian for a while and tears just began to fall down my face as I tried focusing on his inner beauty and pure spirit that was inside of him because I knew he just wanted to speak to me. He looked so lost and trapped and I felt so bad that I was not able to fix his condition or make him normal. I knew in no way were we capable of fixing them but all we needed to do was to show unconditional love and patience to these helpless children. I just looked at all of them wondering what their story was and how could their parents just leave them be, especially because they were handicapped. I thanked God for these precious children in that hospital room in the moment and I thanked God for the nurses for their sacrifice and service towards these kids. In a recent book I read, it talked about how in heaven spirits choose to come to this earth and are aware of the things they will learn, experience, and what their needs and bodies will be like. It said that a special and perfect soul in heaven will look down and enter into a handicap body to teach the family members of them or their community the way of love and patience. It also said that the spirit does know it will be a challenging and hard life but they are willing to get through and do it for the benefit of others. I thought that was such a neat part of the book and going through this experience here in Guatemala has already proven to me of this truth and that our heavenly father loves all of his children and if we are able to love them no matter what they look like or what they do, we will become more Christlike and have a more worthwhile and fulfilling earth life. I feel so blessed to be here with my sister and learning about the culture and people of Guatemala. I cannot wait to see what else is in store for us on this trip and I will keep all you readers updated. Until then...ADIOS!!!