The following blog was written by one of our Guatemalan volunteers, Irene. She has volunteered with Athentikos as a translator in the past, but this year she took the chance to become a workshop leader. We are incredibly grateful for her creative and passionate spirit! 

Hi! My name is Irene and I’m a student of translation and interpretation from Guatemala City. Last year I had the opportunity to work with I AM ART (IAA) Camp during Fall 2015 at Oasis. As several times before, I was prepared for a normal week of interpretation, but this one just changed my life and my way to live. I’ve been a Christian since I was 7 years old but I’ve never seen the love of God expressed through art like I did last year. I was the interpreter for Amelia and Tina in their self-portrait workshop and I loved everything about it! I loved their creativity and the way they worked with the girls, even with the language barrier. The love of God could be felt throughout the whole week and I just knew that I wanted to come back and work with IAA again!

On the other hand, besides my interpreter profile, I am also an artist. I’m a drummer, bassist and singer. This is why I fell in love with Athentikos — because they use art as a tool to spread the word and love of God. As a Christian, I’ve seen and heard of God’s love and care through words but as an artist I’ve never seen how it can be expressed in such a powerful way: no words, no long sermons, nothing but ART. I completely understood that we are God’s Masterpiece, and that if He has given us gifts, we must use them to serve others. So, I took the challenge and jumped into a new adventure, leading a workshop at the Art Camp Fall 2016 at Oasis.

This year I was beyond excited to go back and see the girls again. What I didn’t expect was that my love for that place and all the girls was going to be greater now! I cannot express how different it is to be on the side of the interpreter and the side of the workshop leader, both of them are awesome experiences but way different. As an interpreter, I didn’t have to care about what project I was going to do, how much material I was going to use, how conflict day could match with the week project, etc. When I decided that I wanted to participate, I didn’t have a clue about what kind of workshop I was going to teach. I didn’t feel prepared to be a workshop leader and sometimes I thought about declining the invitation and just interpreting, but I knew God was calling me to do something different this time. I was worried about whether the girls were going to accept me, or if they were going to like our workshop. I was worried that my personality was not going to match with theirs, but once again, God surprised me.

This year Ale, a friend from church, and I led the dance and rhythm workshop. It included jazz movements and a very basic drum technique. We were really looking forward to the camp. She didn’t know what to think since this was her first time working with Athentikos and I didn’t know how to react since this was my first time as a workshop leader. I wanted the girls to have the best experiences and to leave every worry in God’s hands. I wanted them to express whatever they’ve been through, with art, and it surely happened, but it also worked with me and Ale too.

Last year I didn’t have a strong connection with the girls because I was focused on my role as an interpreter, (as I’ve been taught, the good interpreter is the invisible one). I thought that this year just being a “workshop leader” would mean things were going to be different and the connection with the girls was going to be quicker, but it didn’t work like that…at the beginning of the week the girls were shy and a little distant. They would get distracted by the staff from Oasis that were helping us and it made things a little bit harder. By Wednesday (Conflict Day) we knew each other a little better, but that day we had a perfect connection with them. We got the chance to share with the girls the little things in our lives that have been a conflict to us and how to overcome those dark moments. They opened their hearts and allowed us to know their past. From that moment, for the rest of the week, things got better. We were blessed to have girls not only from Oasis, but also from two other houses of girls that have suffered sexual abuse. All of the girls are examples of forgiveness, love, fight and strength!

Our workshop was divided into various activities: dance, rhythm and crafts. The main idea for our craft was to work on a t-shirt that the girls were going to use for their final performance. We got to Oasis on Sunday, they gave us the list of the girls, and with that came a huge surprise! The t-shirt sizes were way smaller than our girls’ sizes!! We worried, panicked, and lost track of what was going on and what was going to happen. Thank God, creativity came upon us and we decided that the t-shirts were going to turn into a scarf. That changed part of our project but in the end, I think it worked better than the original plan.

My heart melts when I see the pictures of their lovely and innocent faces! Their hearts are huge and their future is astonishing. I will never forget these girls, how much they taught me, the way they made me feel when they called me “tía Irene” (they call “tías” the people that’s in charge of them, or the ones they appreciate), and of course how God worked through all of us with the amazing gift of arts.

I just get to think about the story written in 2 Kings, chapter 3. Two kings approach Elisha to ask for help, but before he gives them the prophesy he asks for a musician to come with him. Then when the musician starts to play the power of God came on Elisha. I would like to say that all the artists of this camp can be compared to this musician. I would say: “and when the artists overflowed with their creativity, the power, healing and love of the Lord came upon these girls.”

I know it wasn’t because of us, but it was through us. It happened because we are attending to our call. Well done Team Oasis 2016! We made it!

– Art transforms pain into purpose. –

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