Entry by Toyomi Yoshida
It has been four days since we have left the US to come to Guatemala, and we have been going on full schedule. Due to the physically demanding nature of the trip, we were told that self care is important before and during the immersion. We were told there would be a lot of time spent riding in a van, a lot of listening to people’s stories (translated from Spanish to English). Also before the trip, we read essays by Latina feminist theologians and excerpts from books on Guatemalan history, particularly around the war and migration. Now we are hearing stories directly from leaders from the Mayan community, ex guerilla combatants and people who have migrated to the US and have come back to Guatemala. This means I am now in the same space as some of the people who share history with people in the stories I read before arrival. When I read the assigned readings I had a sense of not knowing what to think except having a renewed sense of commitment to justice work. Being with the Guatemalan leaders now, I feel the same way, except with the new bonding and relationships, things get increasingly personal. Maybe because this and also the fact that we are a cohort made up of people who are sensitive and caring, there are a lot of emotions floating around and I cannot seem to hold back tears. This is while hearing about the hardships people have gone through, but also in joyous situations. One of the cohort members shared a yoga practice during the morning devotion yesterday, and someone (a Mayan spiritual guide) who had limited movement in their shoulder for months was able to fully extend his arm after the practice. The miracle happened before my eyes and I was deeply moved.
There has been a lot to take in, and it seems like we have been here for a longer time than we actually have. I am grateful to be here, and am looking forward to developing more relationships while I am here.