Friday, November 16, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Yuly Hoffens Elis receives my book donation at Xela Aid in San Martin, Guatemala
An Amazing Adventure!

My trip to Guatemala was beyond anything I ever could have imagined! There are many reasons for that, but the main reason was the Guatemalan people, for sure.

Prior to registering for this extraordinary trip (which was a collaboration between Art Ambassador for a Colorful World and Xela AID) we began sponsoring this little girl. Her name is Catarina. When we decided we wanted to pledge to support a child in Guatemala, Catarina's biography stood out to me because she stated she liked to read, and wanted to become a teacher so that she could provide for her family. The other factor in making our decision was that we were hoping to support a girl - since we have three awesome, grown sons already! To say that we hit it off with Catarina would be a gross understatement. She's absolutely wonderful in so many ways: Kind, considerate, appreciative, and so intelligent. We're honored she is in our lives.

Since Catarina likes to read, we gave her these two books in Spanish: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle and An Old Gray Cat, by Tono Malpica. (I bought the latter book in a tiny bookstore in Antigua, Guatemala.)

While Catarina loves to read, she discovered for the first time that she also loves to paint! My husband Michael, is so smitten with this lovely little girl - and so am I. We hope to return to Guatemala in 2019 to see her.

I was honored to be pictured with these women & little girl who live in San Martin.
The Mayan people are hesitant to be photographed, believing that a piece of their soul might be stolen. However, I was able to "visit" with these three for some time, while Michael painted nearby. They were actually anxious to be photographed!

All of the beauty, color, and love of the Guatemalan people filled my senses while I was there. I have completed an outline for a middle grade novel inspired by Catarina. The picture on the left is of me writing the very first sentences of the new book (albeit it the first draft), while sitting in the Xela AID center in San Martin, Guatemala.

I did more research for the proposed MG novel while we were at Lake Atitlan in Jaibalito, Guatemala. If you are interested in receiving updates to this current project, click the link, then scroll down that page to register to receive my author quarterly newsletters:  

Lake Atitlan - Jaibalito, Guatemala

There are so many positive things I took away from Guatemala, far more than I gave. (If you've ever done any volunteering, you know what I mean.) However, during this season of thanksgiving I'm reminded that not only do I have so much to be thankful for, but so do the people of Guatemala. Their dignity, work ethic, kindness, and love brought me to tears while I was there. Prior to actually meeting a person we all sometimes make negative prejudgments - I know I did about Guatemala. However, I now see that country as a hidden jewel among other more affluent nations. I was honored and blessed to meet so many extraordinary people while we were there. The Mayans of Guatemala, in there traditional colorful clothing, are the most stunning people. We're already planning to return to that beautiful country, with its deep valleys, soaring volcanic mountains, and historic cathedrals and architecture. Then, too, there is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Antigua! All in all, Guatemala truly is the Land of Eternal Spring.

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