Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Disclaimer-This is a non-mission post, but it's a life post so I think that's fitting too.

It's Thanksgiving break right now and for the first time this year my college made the decision to give us the entire week off of school. This is a much needed opportunity to catch up on sleep, homework, and everything else that I've been putting off before entering the stressful last couple of weeks of college. I was sitting in my room today trying to figure out where I wanted to hang a painting from Guate and a Cross from Honduras (Yes, I realize I've been home for three months, but these things didn't have priority until now, okay?) and I realized I don't have to move them from my desk because in about six months I will be moving. In six months I will be living in some amazing place that I don't know where that is yet and I have let that completely terrify me for a long time.

This summer I started to read The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in Guatemala and there's this line where he says "Avoid fear, though fear is simply the consequence of every lie." I love that line for so many reasons, but mainly because it points out that everything that you fear is because somewhere along the way you believed some lie and that is the reason you're fearful. We are taught so often that you need to have your future completely planned, you need to know exactly what you want to do, know all the steps it's going to take to get there, and that you're not allowed to be unsure about the "big" things. I think I finally started to realize that that way of thinking is one of the biggest lies I've convinced myself to believe and as a consequence I've allowed myself to fear the uncertainty of my future. Sometimes transitional periods in life can leave you feeling like a big mess of split ends, but I've been learning that it doesn't have to be that way. I've been learning that it is 100% okay to not know what I'm doing because I have these insane dreams that change weekly or even daily.. and that's okay. I've been learning that fear is often one of the biggest things that keeps me from my dreams and I can change that. I've been learning that it's okay to not have all the answers and that it's okay to let all of the possibilities in life completely thrill me. I'm learning that the fear of figuring out my future only has the authority over me that I allow it to.

We are taught so often as little kids that God has our future completely planned out, but I think sometimes as adults we don't understand what that means. We stress about huge decisions or even small ones and forget that ultimately God takes care of us if we put our trust in Him. We need to realize that yes, sometimes what we're meant to do comes with a lot of work and effort, but if you're spending so much time worrying about something that it is ultimately taking over your life and consuming your happiness I think you're second guessing God. I think by doing that we are saying that our plans for our life, our decisions, and our worry are worth more of our time, attention, and heart than Papa God is. We need to realize that whatever is not from God will ultimately fall apart on its own and that what He has planned for us will be there EXACTLY when we need it to be even if it doesn't feel that way. We do not realize how poisonous stress and worry are until we lay them down to God. So whenever I realize that something is causing me stress or worry I've been working on giving it to God and having him show me something to be thankful for about that situation.

While I am filling out applications to colleges I'm thankful for the opportunity to take my mask off and be vulnerable to failure in a society that is constantly fighting to try to hide their vulnerability but I'm learning that to be vulnerable is to be alive.

While I am stressing about finals I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to live in a country where education is so available, I have a family that supports me in school, and teachers who work hard everyday to help us succeed.

When I think of how scared I am to have to say goodbye to so many friends and people that helped form the person I am while I was growing up when I leave in six months I am beyond thankful that I have been so blessed to know so many amazing people.

While I am in a season of waiting I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn that sometimes God calls us to be content in our discontentment. That's exactly what waiting is, being content in your discontent and trusting wholeheartedly that He will provide for you.

God has your entire future planned so stop stressing and start living in Him and you will encounter your beautifully pre-planned destiny.
Sunday, September 14, 2014

The pain of missing people is real.

As missionaries we learn to live with the constant flow of people coming and leaving our day-to-day lives. Before you meet someone you've seen their paperwork and you know that you have ten days or two weeks to get to know them, their hopes and dreams, and be a part of their story or you meet locals and know that you have them a little longer but when it comes time to leave you'll have to say goodbye to them. After so long the goodbyes are no longer long, dramatic, and tear-filled but short and sweet see ya laters. We learn to deal with goodbyes in our own way.. Whether it's working on different friendships, journaling, keeping busy, whatever it is everyone deals with it in their own way. Sometimes you meet people and you fall in love with them.. not in the typical American dating way but in the way that you can already feel the flip in your stomach and the stab in your heart that the goodbye will bring before you even finish your first conversation. When you meet people and create a relationship with them you have to know that you will be missing them after you say goodbye. The pain of missing people is real. I know this because I've felt it over and over again in my own life.
People are precious and they are unique. Every individual is going to leave a mark on our lives and we must allow room for that. The ability to love means openness to loss; we must embrace it even though we don't like it. We have to. We have to move forward and sometimes that means leaving people behind, and sometimes we're the ones left. But that's okay. Because we learn that we will run into people in random places that we thought we'd never see again and some people we were convinced we would be with at least once more we will never see. But that's okay too. You learn to live fully in every moment you have with that person because goodbyes teach you to love people when and where you have them. I don't think this only applies to mission life but I know you definitely notice it more.
We are called to know each other's pain and help each other walk through it. We want to help each other to not numb out the pain of goodbyes and become calloused but to remain soft and radiating  love like we are called to. Our job is to help each other feel what it means to love someone even when it hurts and what it feels like to let someone go. I think when you accept that anyone can leave this world at any time it helps knock down all the walls and boundaries and you resolve not to toughen your heart towards people. Then you can love them with all you've got because we know soon we'll all be gone anyway. We can appreciate people while we have them because even though our presence is temporary we know the investment of ourselves in relationships is ultimately eternal.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Poco a Poco

So this blog post is inspired by my insane longing to be back in Central America because missing everyone is way harder than it should be... I've been back in California for almost two weeks now and I still find myself constantly reliving moments and memories from throughout the summer. I decided to make some posts to share some of my thought process dealing with being home and maybe start finding clarity through actually having a time to breathe and process after this non-stop summer.

So this post is titled "Poco a Poco" because that is literally my new favorite phrase.. I've heard it forever but it finally got real meaning this summer. One day our LTV coordinator was talking to all of us in the house and she mentioned that we were looking to name the new office building for the mission and of course we were all super excited and there were a million ideas (which, let's be real, most would never actually work) but then someone said "Poco a Poco" which means little by little. Now, it never actually ended up getting named that but when it was said it instantly seemed to fit the building, the mission, our work, our lives, and it became my motto for the summer... or maybe longer.. it still is so I don't know how long that is going to go on for. ;) Then I came home and I was talking with a friend of mine about mission work in the past, this summer, and possibilities for the future and teasingly I was like, "one day I want to change the world," and he just kind of paused for a moment and replied, "Are you serious, Kenz? You've already started to change to world! Granted you're not known all over the world yet like Ghandi or Mother Theresa but everything you do through your mission work or every day at home is changing the world little by little. I believe that one day you're gonna change the world in a radical way but until then little by little is all you need" Woah. There is was again! Poco a poco.. or little by little. Then today that converstaion was relplaying through my mind and it got me thinking, I've been away from Guatemala for 30 days and every day since then I have gotten at least one message through social media from someone from there. every. single. day. for 30 days! That's huge to me! It is such a blessing that I got to meet so many people this summer that care enough to try to keep me a part of their lives. I don't know about you but writing someone means you care about or miss them because they impacted or changed your life in some way and impacting lives is changing the world in my opinion, maybe little by little but change is still change no matter the situation or size. Throughout the summer people kept saying some variation of "thank you for making an effort to get to know the Guatemalan people." That one was big to me. Thank us for getting to know them? How about thank THEM for showing us their homes, introducing us to their families, and letting us be part of their story for a little bit! I think it's really beautiful how humble the culture there is and we got to see that maybe, just maybe, taking the time to talk to someone, getting to know a little about them, talking them about the insane love of Papa God, and giving them time to just listen to whatever they have to say can make them feel special, like they are worth something, that someone cares about them and that, that is a way to change to world poco a poco.
Saturday, August 2, 2014

Brigades, adventures, and my despedida

(The LTV family the morning I left)

The second half of July flew by even quicker than the first. The mission was packed with people every day since the last post. We continued to go to all of the regular projects (coffee, reforestation, stoves, and the various construction sites) and create relationships with the volunteers that came. There were also two medical brigades the past couple of weeks. I want to thank both Ohio and Wisconsin for letting me come along. The three days that I got to be with the Ohio brigade and the day I got to be with Wisconin were so amazing. Thank you to all of the doctors, residents, and students for your patience with my translating and willingness to explain and teach me about everything from general problems to ear/eye/throat exams to pharmacy. Our house was up to eight people which definitely made everything an adventure. :) One Saturday we all got to get away and go to some hot springs about three hours away near Quetzaltenango (Xela). We also got to go to our neighbor's house to celebrate her son Jonathan's birthday and learn to make pupusas which were so delicious! Wednesday I lead my last tour in the morning, went to the cemetery, and did my final goodbye house visits. Then that night we had my despedida at our house complete with cake made by Katie, my favorite people, and games. Then Thursday I flew home. It's still so surreal that this summer is over. It was such an amazing experience and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be able to do everything. I'm on my way to the east coast to visit my brother for a while but I will try to post more Guatemala things soon.  

(Working the pharmacy with the ohio brigade)

(Gracie and I in the chicken bus on the way to the brigade) 

(My brigade team one day) 

(Steve and Annie Grass :))

(Last day with my stove workers)

(One of our neighbors, Anderson) 

(Teaching Mario about dares one night at Toliman with frosting mustaches)


(Coffee in the bodega)

(Seeds, baby trees, plastic, and hole cutting machine at reforestation)

(The amazing person that makes reforestation run) 

(Soccer at the women's center)

(Housemates hacked the ipad)
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July, oh how you have flown by.

(Loving on littles in Totolya) 

It's been a long time since I've blogged! Life here is Guatemala has been crazy busy but so perfect at the same time. When I got back from Honduras we had about 100 people here at the mission (which is so many for us!) and our volunteer coordinator left for a few days so it was a crazy transition back. Life has pretty much been the same for the past few weeks. Monday through Friday we take groups out to work. Our projects are the same still; stoves in Xejuyu and Nueva Providencia, Coffee, Reforestation, building the road to Providencia, construction at the clinic, and starting to build a school in Totolya. Weekends are pretty much free. Saturdays we have been trying to hike in the mornings and play soccer and Sundays are our free day (unless we go on the boat with groups). One Sunday I got to go to a convent near Panajachel so that was pretty cool and last Sunday we got hike up and see a water project that's going on right now. My parents and some friends came for a week so that was fun. Also Fourth of July we took a boat trip and the cooks made us fried chicken, potato salad, and Apple pie. It was super fun that they did that for us! My phone broke so I don't have many pictures anymore. But I'll try to post some of the Facebook ones. :P  We have a few new long terms so now there's seven of us in our house. Also he last Saturday we got to learn how to make Guatemalan tamales by some women at asociación IJATZ which was super fun! We have down time today. Only five people here but tomorrow the groups start to come in and we will be back up to 100 people in a couple days. 

(Fourth of July boat trip with grace) 

(Coffee bean sorting)

(Tour translating)

(Convent near Pana)

(Stoves with Wilmer, Ricardo, and Liz)

(Tamale making)

(Reforestation filling bags to plant trees)

(Music with the parents' group)

(Watched the final World Cup game at cabaña. Still bummed Argentina lost)

(On top of the world in the cemetery)

(Smoothie making with josh and grace)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Redheaded Guatemalan in Honduras

(Honduras mission team June 2014)

So a lot of people have been asking me to post about Honduras because I'm back in Guate. To be honest I haven't had any time to process anything yet so I'm just gonna post what we did every day and then I'll definitely post more later and almost all my pictures are on my camera so those will be later too. 

Thursday, June 12th.

I woke up around 5 and left for the airport. I had such a smooth flight thanks to everyone who was praying about that! I got to Tegucigalpa and found everyone right away which was a blessing. We drove to Comayagua to Casa Guadalupe which was our home while we were there. Such a gorgeous place! The outside chapel is pictured above in the group photo. We had some time to get settled, had mass (Louisiana's priest), ate dinner, prayed evening prayer, had holy hour, listened to a talk from Carol and went to bed. I was with a group from Louisiana so I was literally the only person not from their group or there long term. Haha definitely a fun experience. 

Friday, June 13th.

We got to sleep in until 6 but I woke up a little early which meant I got to get ready before everyone was in the bathroom. We started the morning with an hour of personal prayer which is a daily thing there. We had a lot of talks by the extended termers because we were in formation before going up to the mountains. I got a super bad sore throat so I got started on medicine that day thanks to the friars clinic so I could translate in the mountains. We had mass, rosary, liturgy of the hours, and holy hour (we do all of these everyday so I won't repeat them every time unless there's something else to say).

Saturday, June 14th.

Woke up at five, got ready, had an hour of personal prayer... I discovered the inside chapel that day so that became a typical personal prayer spot for me because usually no one was in there except sometimes the priest from the Louisiana group. We had some more talks and a Spanish lesson. Then we got assigned our mountain mission teams. We met with our teams and got assigned talks and what not for the mountains. It poured rain during holy hour and we sang Let it Rain which was so fitting<3 We all went to the room of a girl that was super sick with Dangai that night and just prayed and sang my favorite song and everyone could just feel the presence of the Holy Spirit everywhere. I think we all got a huge reminder of the power of prayer that night. 

Sunday, June 15th. 

We woke up, packed, had personal prayer which I did in the chapel again, had breakfast, cleaned Casa Guadalupe, and rode two busses up to Santa Elena which was probably about four hours away. First bus I rode on the floor and second I sat squished between a Honduran and another American. We went to mass at the church in Santa Elena which is the church that all of our mountain mission towns were based out of. We stayed in an empty house. 

Monday, June 16th. 

We woke up, had personal prayer, went to breakfast, had mass in Santa Elena with everyone before we all headed out to our villages. It was announced that the roads were too muddy because of all the rain that cars could no longer make it to our aldeas to drop off supplies, water, and guitars so we had to leave everything behind except the clothes we were wearing, and extra shirt, socks and underwear, and toothpaste and toothbrush to make room for supplies. We then walked a couple hours to Quiscomotes (our village) through mud carrying water and guitars. We had lunch, did a children's program (music, talk, skit, project, and more music) then had a holy hour and mass which I later found out was the first holy hour they had ever had in the village. Talk about powerful. Our village had no electricity so that made it super fun because at night you could see more stars than I've ever seen in my life and fireflies! On our way back from dinner I swore I was not going to fall (which everyone was because walking through muddy hills without electricity is hard) and right then I fell and sliced my hand open on barbed wire but our Delegate saved me haha. 

Tuesday, June 17th.

We woke up, got ready, prayed morning prayer as a team went to breakfast (our meals rotated between houses in the community). We started house visits that day. We went to eight different houses. Just talked with people, got to know them, listened to whatever they wanted to talk about, read the bible, and prayed with them. It was definitely a powerful experience. We had some intense houses but Renan was so powerful with words. My house visit group was a Honduran, seminarian Renan, who only spoke Spanish, a young adult American boy, Landon, who only spoke English, and me. So it was interesting to say the least. After lunch we had another kids program then we had a teen program (music, skit, talk, testimony, and more music). I did the talk on Drugs, Alcohol, and Vices and gave my testimony. Then we had an adult program (music, skit, talk, testimony, more music). 

Wednesday, June 18th.

We had breakfast, liturgy of the hours, and went to 9 more house visits. They went way smoother because we were getting in the hang of it and getting a lot better about talking about certain topics. We did the kids program, Ashley did a super awesome talk. Then for the teen program Landon did the self esteem talk and testimony. It was really awesome to see how interested the boys are because most of them don't have good male role models. Everyone was teasing me at dinner that I speak 5 spanishes: Spanish of Guatemala, Spanish of Honduras, Spanish of Quiscomotes, Catalan Spanish, and kenzie Spanish. :') 

Thursday, June 19th. 

We woke up, cleaned up the church, and one of the other groups came to our church for the teen retreat. We sang a ton of songs, did dramas, talks, and sang more songs. Then Ashley had to go back to Santa Elena because she was sick. We had lunch and did seven more house visits. Then we did the kids program and we went to coffee at the delegate's sons house like we did every day. We had dinner and Renan (our seminarian) brought us all personal head scarves and said goodbye/ thank you speeches to us. We went back to the church and had a final candle light family service with tons of singing. The whole community got up individually and gave a thank you speech and that killed me. We were all sobbing. One lady got up and said "You came to share in our sorrows but instead you gave us happiness" which I think is a really good definition of mission work. I think getting told by the people we experienced God through that they experienced God through us was really huge. 

Friday, June 20th. 

We woke up around 5, said goodbye to our family, and caught a ride to Santa Elena (praise god!) I always enjoy riding in the back of a pickup. We caught the buses back to Comayagua and we stopped to use the restroom and this super sweet little old lady talked to me for like five minutes and gave me three "pensamiento" flowers. We got back to Casa Guadalupe, showered (which was needed after not showering all week in the mountains) ate lunch, and just kind of caught up with everyone that we hadn't seen for the week. My friend Cece who lives there came to visit with her husband so that was nice to see someone from home haha. It was nice to have holy hour back in the outside chapel. We got to stay up super late because almost everyone was at a funeral. 

Saturday, June 21st. 

Woke up, got ready before everyone woke up like I did everyday just by luck in Comayagua, and took my hour of personal prayer in the inside chapel again. We had the final mass with the priest from Louisiana because he and Ashely left that day. We had breakfast then I went to a different aldea with some people and worked with the missionary of Charity sisters to do a mini holy hour, talks, and music for people preparing for first communion and confirmation. I was in charge of the youngest kids which was so fun! We had a talk on the Eucharist and colored pages about first communion and sang some fun little kid songs. Then I went back to Casa for lunch and went to Casa Misericordia which is a home for mentally challenged and abused girls and women which was absolutely beautiful. We got to go and hug, hold hands, laugh, and just love on all of them. They sang the divine mercy chaplet and everyone was singing at different times and in different tunes but it was literally the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. They're just so innocent and full of joy. We sang a lot of songs, did crafts about guardian angels, played hot potato with water balloons (whoever had it when it stopped got it exploded on their head), and were just there to talk and love. I did some laundry in the pilas before dinner. We had holy hour at the JPII center where the extended terms live. They have THE most gorgeous chapel. 

Sunday, June 22nd.

We slept in, had breakfast on our own during personal prayer, then had Corpus Christi mass with the mom's group followed by a procession with the Franciscan Friars. We had a talk by Carol which was absolutely amazing and then we left for our fun day. We went up to this place that was a waterfall that lead into three different pools in like the middle of a forest. We played around there all afternoon and came back for dinner, cleaned up, packed, and had an extended holy hour. It was full of rain and thunder and lightening which made it so beautiful and all the the adults and long terms were just around to pray with everyone. The power went out so we finished in candle light (Easter vigil style) which is probably my favorite thing ever. If you know me you know I have an insane love for fire so it was a perfect way to end the last night. 

Monday, June 23rd. 

Woke up, got ready in a couple minutes because the power was still out so showering wasn't an option, and spent the morning in the chapel while everyone packed. I had the chapel completely alone which made me super happy. We cleaned up and went to the Poor Clare's for mass. Father Francis Mary gave an amazing homily about selflessness. I talked to him for a while after and then said goodbye to almost all the extended termers. We drove to the airport and hung out for a while. Then I said goodbye to Louisiana and the rest of the extended termers which was so hard. Louisiana's flight was about six hours before mine so I literally just hung out in the airport all day and read a book and a half. There was a point where I was literally the only non worker sitting in the gates so that was super weird. My phone wouldn't work but it was super nice to not deal with people or technology yet. So over all it was a blessing. The flight went super well and I was back in Guatemala City that night. 

(House visit group: seminarian Renan, Landon, and me, plus roommate Claire) 

(One of the dramas)

(Quiscomotes church) 

(Quiscomotes team: seminarian Renan, Ashely, me, Margarita, Claire, Landon, and Leo)

So throughout most of the time that I was there I was getting teased that I was Guatemalan because I flew in from there and "am living there" and one of the Hondurans was saying "the Guatemalan is going to speak in Spanish of Guatemala now so pay attention" whenever I would speak. I was so blessed with my mountain group. Everyone was so amazing in their own way and I'm so happy I got to spend the week with them even if we were the misfits. But our leaders Renan and Margarita were especially amazing. They are both amazing examples of what it means to truly give your life over to God and let him do amazing things through you. Every time they would speak there words were just so anointed that you wanting to listen to everything they had to say and because they're Honduran they helped us connect with the people on an different level because they know the culture.  
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Goodbye Guate, Hello Honduras

(Stove in progress)

So today was a normal day. Woke up, went to stoves until lunch, painted the church some more, had some downtime to read in the biblioteca alone until dinner, played mafia with Scranton, and came home to pack. 

So I just wanted to post to tell y'all that tomorrow I head out to Honduras for two weeks and I won't have internet while I'm there but I'll be sure to post when I get back to Guate. 

Please keep all of us in your prayers!

(Reading in the biblioteca is one of my favorite things)