• Jess

My Visit with Elizabeth

I was originally also scheduled to meet Keilyn today. Unfortunately, there were circumstances that made it impossible to see her. In order to protect her privacy, I am unable to share details publicly.

Today's visit with Elizabeth and her mom, Margarita, started at the community center. Elizabeth was very shy, which I was kind of expecting based on her letters. She gave me a small sign that she made for me with a lovely message on it, welcoming me to Guatemala. Then she opened her gift bag. She loved her photo album and was very excited about the watercolors! She also seemed very happy with the necklace I brought her, which had a small letter "E" on a chain.

After a quick tour of the community center, we were on our way to Walmart. Elizabeth initially wanted to shop for clothes. She's very petite, though, and we ran into the problem of finding clothes that were both small enough for her and age-appropriate. She managed to find a few things, though. The family picked out lots of groceries, and Elizabeth got a few school supplies. I think the prize for most random purchase went to a package containing pipe cleaners, pompoms and googly eyes - I'm not sure what her plans were for those! They also got a fan, some kitchen supplies, and Elizabeth chose a couple of books. Needless to say, we left our shopping budget in the dust today, and I don't regret it even a little bit.

It was still on the early side when we finished shopping. We hadn't planned much else, since the day was originally supposed to be split between two visits, so we were headed toward an early lunch when we looked out the window and saw... Sky Zone. Now, I've never been to a Sky Zone, but I saw it on Undercover Boss once and it looked like a fun place, so I pointed it out, half-joking. It turns out that the Children International folks on the visit had never been there either, and the next thing I knew, we were circling the block to check it out.

If you've never experienced Sky Zone, it's essentially a giant space full of trampolines. It's divided into different areas. Over the course of 90 minutes, we did them all! We started out getting acclimated in the freestyle area. Then we checked out the warrior obstacle course, which was really, really not my most successful event. It was fun watching Elizabeth try out the different challenges, though! (And thankfully she had gotten pants and a top at Walmart, because the very pretty dress she was wearing when I met her was definitely not trampoline-friendly.) Next, we moved over to basketball, then dodgeball (where my strategy consisted mainly of hiding behind people taller than me). We also jousted, and then finished up by using a trampoline to launch ourself into a big foam pit. By the end of our allotted time, we were all sweaty, exhausted and exhilarated. I think it's safe to say that Sky Zone will be suggested to future visiting sponsors to Guatemala City!

After our trampoline workout, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant. There wasn't a lot of talking--everyone was too tired by then--but I did learn that Elizabeth has one more year of high school after this year and then wants to go to university to become a lawyer. She said she has always enjoyed defending people's rights. I also learned that she loves flowers, which makes her unique among her five siblings. After eating, we went back to the community center to say goodbye to Elizabeth and her mom. Unfortunately it wasn't possible to visit their home - my CI interpreter explained that most of the families who use this particular community center live in 'red zones', which are areas that are basically safe for the people who live in them, but very definitely not safe for outsiders.

We all said a very emotional goodbye at the community center, and I promised to come back for another visit as soon as I can. Today's visit was very different from the one on Monday--Elizabeth is much more reserved than Sonia and Lesli--but I had a wonderful time and am already looking forward to the next opportunity to spend a day with her.

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