Archive for May, 2011

28th May
written by Michelle


♥   the short version   ♥

he asked a question. i said yes. and we couldn’t be happier!

(now, i know some of you want a few more details. don’t worry i’ve also included the longer version)


♥    the long version    ♥

Some of my favorite things in life are handwritten notes, thoughtful, little gifts and SURPRISES. And Thursday May 26th was filled with all three.

I was at work all day. We had a talent show that evening and Gerber had told me the day before that he wanted to come watch. I said he really didn’t have to. I mean watching 5-10 year-olds dance and sing and march around the stage is usually only entertaining when they’re your own. But he came. (and he came carrying a latte for me, too!).  For the next two hours we watched the kids perform, talked to the other teachers, walked around and joked about how it was almost year ago when we were here in the same place watching another school performance.

He kept asking when it was going to be over. I knew these things tend to go on and on and on. He said he was hungry, so we left. He asked if I wanted to grab dinner. And really, all I wanted to do was to change out my uniform that I had been wearing for the past 12 hours. (yes, I now wear a uniform to work every day. That’s another story altogether) We drove to my apartment, but there wasn’t parking on the street where he usually parks. He was acting a little weird, and asked me if I would park the truck. Which thanks to many stick-shift driving lessons I now can do all by myself : ) So he hopped out and I drove around the block and parked the truck.

And then I opened the door to my apartment and saw this:

♥     ♥     ♥

I was confused. And surprised. And I even asked out loud, “What is this?” He had set candles on my table and a beautiful bouquet of flowers resting on top of a huge box. At this point I’m thinking…Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. It’s not my birthday. Oh, my gosh, this is IT!

I opened the box and inside was a journal. But not just any journal, it’s a journal that he gave me 10 months ago the day after we started dating. 10 months ago he wrote a list all of the reasons why he liked me. And since then we’ve added pictures, lists of things we want to do together, and memories. I had written reasons why I liked him and had given it back to him. He brought with him to California and gave it back to me for Christmas and then I gave it to him when we celebrated 6 months. This journal has very little monetary value, but it is one of the most precious things I own. In fact if there was a fire in my house, I would probabaly grab it and my passport!

I opened it.

And inside he had written a list of reasons why he loves me.

I started reading the first page.

And then another.

And another.

And another.

♥     ♥     ♥

I was overwhelmed because I realized how much He knows me. He sees me for who I am.

And he loves me.

There was another box inside and I pulled it out to find a beautiful card with a poem that he had written for me - in English and Spanish.

And then there was another box. A simple, little brown box. I opened it, but it was empty. Confused, I looked at him…

I have a question to ask you before you get what was in that box.”

And then he got down on one knee, held my hand in his, and with tears in his eyes he looked at me and told me that he wanted to spend his life with me.


And then, he asked:


Will. You. Marry. Me?


With a huge smile:


I. Said. Yes!


He started crying. And I started screaming.

I still couldn’t believe it. I think I said oh, my gosh, oh, gosh, oh my gosh at least 30 times. I kept looking at him and then at this beautiful ring on my finger, thinking how did this just happen?

♥     ♥     ♥

It’s this surreal feeling because you can’t really anticipate or plan for it. We sat on the couch, smiling and called our parents. One conversation in English. One in Spanish. From different countries and cultures. But they both shared how excited they were for us and how much they had been praying for us and the person we would one day marry. We called my sisters and brother and then texted a few friends.

Finally, I did in fact get to change my clothes. And he took me to dinner at my favorite, little restaurant here in Antigua. We laughed and talked about how we met 3 years ago and how we never imagined that we would be here together. In love. Engaged. And excited to spend our life together. We reminisced about the past 10 months of dating and how much we have learned. We dreamed about what’s next. And because we’re both pretty practical we also talked about the challenges that are to come. Marriage is a lifetime commitment that is made of a thousand small, daily choices to love and serve someone else. And, that sounds like it takes a lot of work. But, good work.


My Promise

In spanish the word fiancé is “prometida.Literally, translated it means, promised. I like that. I am promised to Gerber. And my prayer and promise for this season is that:

I will continue to love God first. I will give us grace as we learn together. And I will remember that a wedding is a one day celebration, but building a marriage will last a lifetime.

Gerber, I love you. And I am thrilled to spend the rest of my life with you!

24th May
written by Michelle


It’s a good question really. A matter of language and identity. What is your nationality if you are from the United States of America? Most of us from the good ‘ol  u    s    of   a would say, “I’m an American.” From young ages we are socialized to sing, “I’m proud to be an American” and we are indoctrinated with the idea of the “American Dream.” However, what happens when you live in another country, another country in the Americas?


What happens when you begin to realize that actually “America” is a continent divided into three parts: North, Central and South. Then, what do you say?


In Spanish there is a word for someone from the United States. They’re called an estadounidense (or sometimes more commonly referred to as a gringo). If you’re from Germany, you’re an aleman. If you’re from Mexico, you’re a mexicano. For someone who likes words and language and how these very two things are often a deep reflection of a culture, it’s interesting that we, too have names for someone from Germany (a German) and someone from Mexico is a Mexican. But yet we don’t have a name for someone who is from the United States?

Proud to be an America (sometimes)

There are many things that I am proud of about my country. It is a land where our founding fathers fought for the freedom of speech and the separation of church and state. A land where humble farmers and wealthy business, men and women, rich and poor have the right to vote, attend public school and own property. A land where “I can do anything” is  embedded in the very fiber of our country and “the American Dream” runs deep through our veins. The United States has thrived because we have been encouraged to create, to change and to empower.

However, there are more times then I’d care to admit that I am embarrassed by my country. I often feel the need to apologize for the actions we have taken. I get angry that we strive for equality and a land of freedom, but we abuse and exploit our own workers. We consume absurd amounts of energy, gas and natural resources without acknowledging the effect on the rest of the world. We often use our power and force in unnecessary ways. It makes me ashamed that we claim to be united, but we still judge and divide people based on the color of their skin. I get frustrated when we, The United States of America, take advantage of others. We misuse our power, our influence and maybe our name, to do what we want to do.


Where Are You From?

So here I am. Living in a new pais. Where the most common question I get asked is, “De donde eres?” Where are you from? I usually respond, “de los estados.” From the States. Yes, I am from the States. And I am thankful and grateful for where I was born and how I grew up. Are there changes we can make, of course. Maybe the first one being… I ask you, Dear Citizen of the   U    S of A, What do we call someone from The United States of America? Do we have a name that is our own? A name besides an American? An United Statesian, perhaps?

If you have lived or traveled abroad where do you say you’re from?

23rd May
written by Michelle

When I came to Guatemala my first DIY project was this Pottery Barn inspired chalkboard. I made it 1) to fill up empty wall space in my apartment and 2) to write down my weekly schedule and things to-do.

Well, apparently my weekly schedule has not changed since March. If you look closely at the picture you’ll notice that I have written “Steph comes (sister)” and “Andrew comes (brother).” That was a good three months ago! It’s not that I haven’t done anything different since then, it’s just that the idea of planning out my week and writing some weekly schedule doesn’t happen as often. At least not in the same way I am used to.


A New Schedule*

The word schedule here is always accompanied by an asterick that signifies: *tentative, this may change. The school where I work, the relationships I have and the country where I live often operate within this assumption.  So in my effort to live here and live well I have adapted (well, I am still adapting- it’s an on-going process really). Of course, I still like to make plans and schedules, however I now know that on any given day things may change. I will always be a J (for those of you who speak Myers-Briggs) and I am convinced that type J people may get more done in life, but I am also learning that they (ok, I) can waste a lot of energy and stress planning, preparing, worrying and then re-doing when something doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes I envy type P people (i.e. my boyfriend) because they can respond to changes with an ease, flexibility and even a little excitement! (which I don’t think I will quite ever understand)


The Things That I Would Have Written on My Calendar During the Past 3 Months


We took our 7th-9th graders (Basico) to a three day Campamento about 2 hours from the school. And they loved it. The crazy games, sleeping with your best friends, the campfire, meals together, worship nights, prizes, dress-up night and probably just being away from home. I enjoyed most of it. Minus the 5:30 am wake-up calls with a trumpet. (not kidding, 5:30 in the MORNING!)

There is something special about taking kids away from their normal surroundings and putting them together for 36 hours. Good things happen. Funny stories. Hopefully some spiritual growth and learning. And powerful conversations. I kinda thought I had “finished” my years of camp when I left high school ministry in Santa Barbara. Guess I was wrong.


Teaching English continues 3 days a week at Vida y Esperanza with these lovely maestras and 1 day a week at Proximos Pasos with these precious girls (see below). I will always love teaching; however, it has been a challenge adjusting to a new system and a different way of teaching. Not to mention that I now teach in “Spanish,” even though I am teaching English.


This has probably been one of my favorite parts of work so far. Getting to coordinate and plan (“plan” is used loosely here) when teams from the States come to severe here for a week or two. I like being able to connect with them and be a bridge between the country where they and I come from and the country where I now live. I like listening to their ideas, questions, and observations. And I like being able to explain and share a little what I’ve learned about Guatemala and how God is a lot bigger than country lines and languages. This team of stunning college students is here for a month working with Gerber and another staff member building water filters and latrines in a community near Antigua. I get to join them for dinners, conversations and whenever translating or touring in Antigua is needed.

Back to My Schedule*

It’s Monday afternoon and I am going to attempt to write on my the calendar for this next week. Of course with an * next to everything that is planned.

What’s on your schedule this week?

18th May
written by Michelle

The thing is I have them. Lots of them and sometimes I find they bring more  disappointment and discouragement than I care to admit. If you’ve followed my blog you probably know that I’ve written about expectations before. For better or worse, it’s kind of been this recurring theme during this season of my life.

So, my friend and author, Paul let me guest post again on his blog All Groan Up. You can check it out here.

10th May
written by Michelle


Today is Mother’s Day in Guatemala. And let me tell you Dia de la Madre is a big deal here. So much so, that at 3:45 in the morning (which to me is still very much night time) I awoke to fire crackers outside my door and loud speakers strapped to a van blaring a happy mother’s day song! (no joke at 3:45am!) I am not a mother yet, but I don’t think I will ever want this kind of greeting.

But these kinds of occasions do make me think about my mom and other women in my life who have loved, encouraged, listened and helped me become who I am today.

•  •  •

I know very little about motherhood. And in many ways I cannot even begin to fathom the depth of love or constant sacrifice that fills, entangles and burdens a mom’s heart. But I do know that the love of a mother is deep, interwoven and affects EVERY single part of your being.

•  •  •

So if you a mom or a mom-to-be,  know that I have nothing but respect, appreciation and admiration for who you are and what you do. And to my Mom, my biggest supporter, most faithful blog reader and consistent package sender, Happy Mother’s Day. I thought about buying you some of these roses, but figured a picture would have to do.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

9th May
written by Michelle

I met Dee-Anna 7 years ago at an unlikely event. We have never lived in the same city or attended the same church. Our friendship has spanned across boyfriends and breakups, job changes, roommate changes, weekend visits, road trips and LA traffic, intentional phone chats and skype dates and seasons where it was just plain difficult to keep in touch.

We have moved across town and states and now countries. And Last week she flew down to visit me!

For 5 days we lived together. Hung out. Walked around. Drank Coffee. Hablamos en español. She came with me to my classroom and met people who are important to me. She got to know Gerber and see why I love him. We dined in-style and ate avocado tomato toast not once, but twice. We traveled to the lake. Laughed and told jokes. We made time for naps. And tears. Played silly Spanish games in the car. We listened and encouraged and told stories that start with “Remember when…”

I am convinced friends like Dee-Anna are a rare and special gift. And it reminds me how worth it is to show up and be part of some one’s life even when miles and jobs and busyness can create distance.

“..because there are things you can’t know, and questions you can’t ask, and memories you can’t recover via email and voicemail [and skype]. It’s about being there, about being there to really see what’s exactly the same and what’s totally different about each of us.” (Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist)

Thank you, Dee-Anna. Thank you for coming. And bringing with you the best gift possible- your friendship.