– by Anna Zofchak

Today was a very nice break for the group. We were able to visit Antigua for the day.  During this time we put aside many of the harsh things that we have seen and experienced during this week.  I sometimes feel that we, myself included, forget that in a short amount of time we all get to go back to a comfortable lifestyle and take a break from all that we have seen. While there are others here who do not get to do that at all.

With our time in Antigua, we were given the opportunity to visit several churches in the area. Many of the church had the most beautiful art.  We were told about how during Holy Week the people will bring out these statues of Jesus Christ depicting the Stations of the Cross. What was so amazing to see, is how they focus so much on the suffering that Jesus went through. I think of it as more of a time of celebration and giving thanks to Jesus for suffering for our sins. Many of the statues of Jesus have bruises, cuts and blood, depicting how much pain he went through. These statues were quite gruesome and were hard to look at. Yet, these statues are a constant reminder to us that he had suffered for our sins. In my experience I have not seen such gruesome statues that showed the wounds that were inflicted upon him. I feel that we tend to forget how much he had suffered for our sins and that these statues do remind us the pain that he went through for us.

 

– by Carla Castañeda Yupanqui

After some heavy days filled with processing new, harsh realities, we were able to take a break from our mission to engage in more tourist-like activities. Not only did this opportunity allow us to engage in some much needed self-care, it also served as a chance to understand the history and culture of the people we had come to serve. As soon as the morning began, despite the early rising time, the excitement to explore a new place could be felt. Although I was very excited to go this adventure, I felt a bit sad to leave the Valley, even if it was for just a few hours. As I said goodbye to some of the girls as they ate breakfast, I promised to come back with lots of pictures – making this my new mission to have more to talk with them about when I came back.

Taking in such a culturally-filled city like Antigua is a true privilege.  Despite growing up in the U.S., having experienced my own culture and patrimony in Peru allowed me to have a different perspective than that of my colleagues. Although Guatemala and the city of Antigua have their own cultures, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia walking through the busy streets, hearing my mother tongue being spoken, the zooming of the moto-taxis, and seeing faces that looked like mine. The sights offered by Antigua are one-of-a-kind – whether it was the ruins of the Capuchinas, or the café with the view of the Volcán Agua, or the famous mirador with the serene, lone-standing cross standing above the sprawling city. Experiencing all these surreal moments reminded me: the Guatemalan people, those we have come to serve are people of a rich culture, one that cannot be ignored and must be recognized by us. As we are called to serve those in its most impoverished and disadvantaged communities, we must also dig through the harsh and often sad layers to truly see the beauty in their culture, their ancestry and their history.

 

 

 

 

 

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