2013 recap.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 -easily one of the craziest years of my life. It started off bittersweet as we knew we would be leaving the city we loved that May. If you've been around this blog long enough, then you know that Mitch and I are kind of in love with Nashville. You can read why in this post..
Once we moved away from Nashville our nomadic life began. 7 long months of living out of a suitcase and wandering the western hemisphere. 6-7 weeks of our summer were spent on mission trips in both Atlanta and Puerto Rico. We split up the following months between FL, AR, and TX to see as many friends and family as we could before departing for Guatemala. And since Nashville is kind of our home base, that is where we spent our last month in the states.

This nomadic and expat life made for some very emotional days. During our 7 months of being "homeless" I would often think to myself, "Are we crazy? Is this normal?" And I would always answer no to both questions. I knew we weren't crazy for this is what God had been preparing our hearts for since we were both 18. And no it was not normal. (But then again, what's normal, right?) Deep down in my heart I knew it was worth it. God was shaping us, refining us, and allowing our hearts to only rely on Him.

I kind of felt like Philip in Acts 8. God took Philip from the thriving ministry in Samaria and basically told him to go to the desert. For us, leaving Nashville was really hard, but God was sending us to Guatemala. Not that Guatemala is desert like, but it was a different experience, an unknown adventure. I'm not really sure what Philip was thinking when God told him to go, all I know is that he went.

Sometimes, hard days and moments in our lives are some of our best experiences. Maybe not so much when they're happening, but in hindsight those are the moments when we grow. I am so excited about our life here in Guatemala. We have already experienced hard days and frustrating situations, but God is at work and I'm so glad to be a part of it.

Just a few highlights from 2013

Enjoyed our last moments of living in Nashville.

 Spent 4 weeks in Puerto Rico…

…and 2 weeks in ATL 

My best friend joined the diamond club and got ENGAGED! 

Mitch and I traveled to Arkansas, Texas, and Florida visiting family and friends.

I turned 25 and celebrated it in Nashville!

And we moved to Guatemala!

2013 was filled with fun memories, hard memories, and lots of adventures!
This will be my last blog post of the year, folks. Thanks for coming along on this beautiful adventure with Mitch and I. Looking forward to many more adventures in 2014! We will be spending this holiday season with family and friends in the States! So I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For this week's post I thought I'd do something a little different. Since moving to Guatemala we've gotten a ton of questions about our life here. So instead of answering them all 1,000 different times, I thought I'd share them here. By the way, it's totally okay to keep asking us questions. If you have more, keep them coming!

1. What is your day like?
This is a tricky question to answer because each day looks fairly different. Because we're still newbies here in Guatemala, we still have some things we're trying to get settled (Visas!). Of course, we still do normal, everyday things like clean the house, go to the grocery store, etc. If you've ever been in some sort of ministry you know that this too can look different each day. Right now we are focused in on one village where we are teaching both the children and adults. Eventually we will be working in multiple villages at one time. Soon we will begin teaching a missions class at our church in hopes of training local believers to take the gospel to their community. Mitch will also begin preaching soon! We have studying that we do too… like preparing lessons for the village, reading we do for Trek-X, and I am currently trying to finish an online ESL(English as a Second Language) class. We are also spending a lot of time building relationships with the locals- people at church, our neighbors, the villagers, and the owners of our home. We are excited about the open doors God is giving us to make His name known.

2. Do you have a car?
Yes! This is a huge blessing for us. Now we don't have to take the sometimes scary public transportation! And of course now we have access to many other villages.

3. What do you eat?
The first month we were here, we were eating hotel food. It was pretty much beans, beans, and more beans. I like black beans a lot and as a vegetarian, beans are a good source of protein for me; but here the black beans are refried and they eat them every day. So basically I am super thankful we have our own kitchen again. Let's just say I haven't had a black bean since we moved into our home. We pretty much eat the same stuff we would normally eat. However, some things are hard to find. I sent Mitch on a mission one day to find butternut squash and he had no luck. There are certain things we like that we can't find, but we are definitely not going hungry over here.

4. Can you drink the water?
No! Mitch brushes his teeth with the water, but we don't drink it. The locals don't even drink it. Occasionally when I'm lazy I'l wash my apple in it, but I haven't gotten sick. However, I try and wash all my fruits and veggies in the pure water.

5. Do you feel safe?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If you aren't aware, Guatemala is one of the most dangerous countries in the western hemisphere, with Guatemala City being in the top 5 most dangerous cities in the world. I'm not meaning to scare anyone, but this fact has made us more alert and aware of our surroundings. We know God is with us and watches over us, but we also must use wisdom and be on guard at all times(especially since we're gringos).

6. Can you come back to the states whenever you want?
Pretty much, yes. We've been asked this several times because there are actually some mission organizations that do not let their missionaries return home until after a certain number of years. Mitch and I are so thankful that's not the case with us! We can return whenever, but the $$ to fly home would come out of our own pocket. I will be returning at the end of next July for my best friends wedding and Mitch will join me a week after. We will be spending the month of August in the states.

7. What are the villages like? 
First of all, Cuilapa is surrounded by approximately 35 villages, which is roughly 20,000 people! We have just began to scrape the surface. Most of the villages are pretty similar in look. You may drive up to 30min-1hour just to get inside. Sometimes there are dirt roads, sometimes there are no roads at all just rocks(cue 4wheel drive!). The people live very simply as they do not have much. Some villages may not even have a school. But they are full of precious kids and hopeful mommas.

8. What do you miss the most? 
This is an easy one. Family and friends! We're thankful for the friends we've made here, but sure do miss the one's back home.

9. How can we pray for you?
I love when people ask this because it encourages us knowing we have people praying for us.
You can pray for our Spanish to continue to improve. Mitch and I went into this with the huge advantage of already knowing some of the language. I can't imagine being here without any knowledge of Spanish, but we still have a little ways to go before fluency. You can pray for salvation. There is so much work to be done here. Sometimes it's overwhelming to think that Mitch and I are just two people amongst a sea of lost souls. But I'm reminded that God is a big God and he can do immeasurably more than we can imagine. Please join us in begging God for salvations and for workers of the harvest!

10. What is the religion there?
The predominant religion is Catholicism. Most of these Catholics don't know God though. They are Catholic simply by birth. We have also been surprised at the amount of Mormons here and have already seen two American mormons in Cuilapa. While at the grocery store one day we noticed a couple that looked very much like us-gringos. We started talking with them and come to find out the are Jehovah's Witnesses from the States. Because no one here owns a Bible or really knows God, Mormons and JW's can enter into the villages and easily convert the people. Contact us if you would like to donate Spanish bibles. We want to get them in everyone's hand.

11. What's the weather like?
So I've already posted here that Guatemala is the Land of the Eternal Spring and it really has proven itself. Lately the weather has been in the 60-70's. It's perfect! But we're told that summer is just around the corner from February-May.

That's all for now. Maybe later I'll post a part 2. Thanks for reading and I hope this gives you a little look into our lives in Guatemala!

A Guatemalan Thanksgiving

Friday, November 29, 2013

Obviously our day was a little bit different from a Thanksgiving in the states. We missed being with our family, sitting around watching football all day, wearing warm clothes (even though I hate cold weather), and putting up Christmas decorations. 
We enjoyed having people over to share our holiday with, catching a NFL game on our laptop, waking up to perfect weather in the 60's, and hanging a small string of Christmas lights up in our living room. 

Mitch and I hosted our first Thanksgiving meal. Guatemala doesn't celebrate this wonderful day, but we weren't going to let that stop us! We found a turkey in Guatemala City and several other ingredients we needed to make all the Thanksgiving goodies. And pumpkin pie- you can't celebrate the day without it! We had our neighbors and the Pastor's family over for a meal. We enjoyed our feasting and good company. 

Some things we are thankful for this year are:
1. Being in Guatemala- the good days and the hard days  
2. Our family and friends who we miss like crazy. We've both lived away from family since before our twenties, but somehow when you cross borders, it's a little harder to be away. 
3. A car! We are beyond thankful to have a car to get around in and a way to reach the villages! 
4. New friends we are making here in Guatemala. I was a little worried before we moved here that we wouldn't find friends our age, but God has been so good to us and we've already made friends with some great people. 
5. The Father's love, grace, and provision for Mitch and I  
6. And you-our readers, supporters, and prayer partners! 

We hope all of our state-side friends had a fabulous Thanksgiving day! Let's continue to thank the one who is worthy of praise. 

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." Psalm 118:1 

Home sweet home.

Friday, November 22, 2013

 The saying "home sweet home" is more heartfelt now than it ever was before. Mitch and I are finally getting settled into our home after traveling straight for 7 months. It feels so nice to have a place to kick your feet up and call your own. As fun as the traveling was, I missed having a place to come home to. It was a hotel here, a guest bedroom there and quite frankly it got kind of old. We are so thankful for the pretty places and faces we saw, but sure are glad to have our own space again.

Once we arrived in Guatemala, we had no place to live. While it was nice having someone clean your room everyday at a hotel, we were going a little crazy (or maybe that was just me). It took us about a full month from when we arrived in Guatemala to when we moved into our house. And once we moved in there was still a lot of work to do. The home has been sitting empty for 2 years so needless to say, there was a lot of cleaning and repairing to do.

I was hesitant to show photos since our home is not complete, but it's probably going to be a slow process of adding things here and there (our living room and guests bedrooms are pretty empty). We're just thankful for our own bed and our own kitchen (again, I think it's just me on the kitchen).


One thing I love about this house is the natural light that comes in. As you may have read in this post, Guatemala is the "Land of the Eternal Spring" which means lots of sunlight! We also lucked  out on scoring both a washer AND a dryer.

I am so thankful for our stove and fridge. We got both of them together for $168. Even for Guatemala that's cheap! We have a total of 3 small bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. That means plenty of room for guests (hint, hint)! We will actually be welcoming our first guest in January and are so excited!       

Our home has its own set of quirks. Like the electric wire running from the light bulb into our shower (but praise God we have hot water!), or the big wet spots on our concrete walls from some water damage, and of course the bugs. Everyday there are bugs. But then there's the blessing of being able to go on a walk or jog in our neighborhood without feeling scared. What a treat for this excersize-loving girl!

It's a simple home, with simple decor. It's not much, but it's enough. We are just so grateful for the Lord's provision and we hope you'll come and visit.

Organic Church

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mitch and I just finished a book called Organic Church. First off let me say-phenomenal book! I say this about a lot of books I read, but this one is by far one of the best. Organic Church basically talks about taking the church to the people instead of vise versa. “The key is not in the building but in bringing the Kingdom of God to the people He is calling out.” The author talks about some of his firsts churches he started which came from coffee shops. As I was reading, this made so much more sense! Why do we try and lure people into a building? Why not go to where the people are?! Through this model, we form relationships with people and we do life together. “Jesus’ plan is for us to identify a pocket of people who do not have a vital Kingdom witness. Then we enter into relationship with those people. We inject the Kingdom virus right into the darkness, and a church is born there from the changed lives. “ 

Not only do I think this model is how we as believers should be living, but it makes it to where anyone can do it. Just like Jesus intended when he said Go, make disciples, baptize, and teach them to obey (paraphrase). That’s a command for all of us, not just your pastor and not just missionaries.

In order for us to see a harvest of people coming to know Christ, we need to be actively planting seeds. And you know what happens when you plant? You get dirty. Sometimes it’s messy and sometimes it’s not, but it’s a task that requires work and persistence. The Bible talks about 4 different soils and only one of them will reap a harvest. All we are required to do is plant and if we find good soil, we’ll see a harvest of transformed lives.

Organic Church was such a refreshing read. It’s one of those books that you just keep going back to. I really wanted to write on it because I think it’s something the ordinary, everyday Christian needs to hear. You can be a part of changing lives with the power of the gospel. It’s not an option, but a command by Christ himself.
So where do you start? Start within your own network of people-your neighborhood, work, school, friends, and family. Don’t try and create a new community. “Church should happen wherever life happens.” Just bring Jesus to lost people and watch how He will change others lives and yours too.

Land of the Eternal Spring

Monday, November 4, 2013


Right now in the States scarves are being worn, pumpkin everything is everywhere and a nice, crisp breeze is in the air. Growing up, I never got too excited about this time of the year. Probably because fall doesn't really exist in Florida. When Mitch and I moved to Nashville I experienced my first real fall. It was beautiful. But winter was never too far behind so fall was like this nice prelude to something miserable (I despise winter). So needless to say, I've always been more of a spring gal. It's when everything is brought to life again and I love it. 

All that to say, I am so happy to be living in "La tierra de la eterna primavera," or the land of the eternal Spring. Guatemala is such a beautiful country and with that comes beautiful weather. The capitol, Guatemala City is such a pleasant place. Cuilapa, where we live, is a little bit warmer which makes me feel right at home. 

I praise God for seasons, for everything has a time and place. And I praise him for bringing dead things to life. 

Happy fall to everyone in the U.S. We're going to enjoy our spring/summer weather here! 

*Coming soon: A tour of our home! 

San Pedro La Laguna

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Have you ever had your breathe taken away by nature? Like so much so that you can't stop starring at it? I experienced that this past week on multiple occasions. You're probably going to get tired of hearing me say how beautiful Guatemala is, but it really is a beautiful country.

I feel like I connect so much with the Lord through nature. His creativity is outstanding.
Exhibit A:

 The cool thing about this view is that we saw it everyday from out hotel! Like right outside our door. 

We met up with a group from GBSI (Global Business Solution Institute) on October 18. Half the group being from Pensacola. We rode with them to San Pedro La Laguna where we worked all week. Note, this place is about a 7 hour drive from where we actually live. But oh how it was worth it! It was so great seeing familiar faces and some amazing scenery. 

Although we were in the same country, we saw a very different side of Guatemala. 
Not only was it beautiful, but the people were too. And look how colorful and fun their indigenous clothing is! We don't really see a lot of this where we are. 

We spent most of the week helping plant seeds. The group brought over 20,000 seeds to plant in order to help the community! They also built a chicken house featuring 200 chickens (that's a lot of eggs!).

Mitch and I always accidentally kind of match. Whoops

Took a boat ride across the lake to Panajachel. So amazing!

What a view! 

So this was one of my favorite things about the week. Just kidding, but I did eat 3 of them within 6 days. No shame. Warm, flakey bread stuffed with chocolate. Gosh, I'm spoiled. And then there's Mitch with his gigantic latte.We were in heaven.

I'm kind of kicking myself for not bringing my "real" camera along on the trip, but the iphone camera got the job done. Despite being sick twice, we had a great week! We're so glad GBSI invited us to join them for the week. Can't wait for more trips to San Pedro La Laguna. It was such a refreshing trip.

This week we will slowly begin to move into our little home here in Cuilapa. I AM SO EXCITED to have a house again. It's been 7 months people! 

But God is good. He's always good. Praising him for last week's adventure's and his breathtaking creation.

Hiking adventures

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cuilapa, Santa Rosa, Gutatemala (Our home for the next 2 years)!

Thursday we were dropped off in Cuilapa and got acquainted with Pastor Mario and a little bit of the city. 
The next day we went around touring the city, which is pretty small. Mitch jokes that it is like driving around my parent's neighborhood, which is probably pretty accurate in size. Our friend we were with asked us if we wanted to see a waterfall. Thinking we were just going to do a drive by we said of course! Who wouldn't want to right? ...

Little did we know that we would be going on such an adventure. We got out of the truck, met another fellow from the church and we began walking. We crossed a busy street and started walking through a corn, bean, and coffee field. Our walk quickly turned into a strenuous hike. This hike was unlike any other though. There was no trail. The "path" was very narrow. It was really rocky. And it was wet which = slippery! Oh and downhill! Have you ever hiked downhill? It's nearly impossible.
The very top is where we started and we hiked down. 
I almost slipped about 15 times. It could have been very bad. But we kept going hoping that this crazy hike would be worth it.
As we made our way through the rocks and the mud we eventually saw this beautiful site. So, what do you think? Worth it?

Our tour guide, Fito

All this hiking took place before noon! Needless to say, the rest of the day we were exhausted. My legs are still sore. In the end, I'm kind of glad I blindly went on this adventure. Of course, I wouldn't recommend that all the time. Mitch and I will probably ask more detailed questions before agreeing to "see" a waterfall or whatever. But sometime's these adventure's are good for the soul. The physicality of it and witnessing this hidden gem of God's creation was really worth it. 

I feel like we have officially been initiated into Cuilapa! What a welcome! 

City adventures

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In some regards Guatemala City is very much like any other big, metro city. Public transportation is everywhere, traffic is horrible and there are a plethora of young urban professionals. The city is broken into zones. Some zones are upscale, modern, and full of charm. And like any large city, there are places (or zones) that you should avoid. We were told that if someone were to drop us off in zone 18 we would survive simply because we're short and small like most Guatemalans. But I'd rather not find out! 

We've been staying in Guatemala City longer than expected, but it has actually turned out to be a blessing. I've already experienced sickness while being here and am thankful that the hotel is only a block down from a pharmacy. We've also had the pleasure of meeting with 2 other American missionary families and they have been such a huge help to us. And now we have new friends too! The extra time in the city has also helped us get things squared away with immigration. 
You might notice from the photo that we found a Starbucks. We have already deemed this as one of our getaway places. It's like a little piece of home. 

Thursday we move to Cuilapa, Santa Rosa. We will finally meet the pastor we'll be working with and begin our house and car search. House hunters international Mitch and Amanda style coming your way! We are so ready to begin our adventures in Cuilapa and can't wait to see what God does! 

100th post and the big move

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Writing my 100th post from Guatemala City!

We awoke October 1st around 4am in order to catch the 6:30am flight out of Nashville (Who does that anyway? Ok, it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be). We gained an hour when we arrived in Guatemala City around 11:30am. Needless to say, we were (and still are a little) tired! But we're so glad to be here finally. 

Our first few days here will be spent in Guatemala City (the capitol) getting those necessary things done such as Visas, cell phones, looking for a car, etc.

Here are some recent photos from this past week:

Enjoying our favorite Nashville coffee house, Fido, one last time.

Birthday number 25! Celebrating at Cantina Laredo…yum! 

At the age of 25 I bought my first pair of reading glasses. I'm way too young to feel this old.

A beautiful Saturday stroll in Franklin, TN with my love.

Visiting with my lovely mom!

Our favorite things one last time. Frozen yogurt for me, Starbucks for him. Mitch will be okay though since the coffee here in Guatemala is apparently amazing. The ice cream however, not so much.

And we're off! This bird's eye view never gets old. Beautiful

I want to say thank you to all of our friends, family, and supporters for all your love and encouragement .  I know some of y'all are just as excited as us for this new journey. Photos from Guatemala will be coming your way soon! 
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