Sunday, October 13, 2013



 i'm engaged!

As in, I have a fiance.  Like, a future husband.  As in, I'm going to get married.  (eeeeeeeeee)

Clearly, a lot has been going on since I last posted about my trip to Guatemala.  Here are a few key things that have happened (since May, jeesh.): 

Went to Ireland 
Fiance moved to Nashville ( not fiance yeeeet) 
Fiance became fiance (!!!)
Engagement Party in FL 
Engagement Party in Nashville 
Began Adjunct teaching at local University 
Some Wedding Planning went on
Work Work Worked a lot
Watched some Gator football in Gainesville
Ate a lot less sugar for a while  :-(  
Fractured my hip (or found out rather, who knows when it happened).  ( also, am I 82? seriously, second stress fracture in a year!)

And guess what?  We're going to Italy in just a few short weeks!  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

wooo i'm engaged. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

post-guatemala thoughts

I hoped to write about my trip to Guatemala immediately after returning, but the thought of putting all that i was feeling into words seemed overwhelming.

But now that the sore muscles have healed, the sunburn has stopped peeling, and the bugbites have all disappeared I am better able to compartmentalize all (erm... some*) of my thoughts.

Ready to hear (uh...read*) them?

here is #1:

Guatemala is 100% my favorite place in the whooooole world and I will always love it and I always want to go back and I never want to leave when I am there and the people are amazing and the work is so rewarding and I never feel as alive as when I am there so can I go back now please?

I wonder why...

thought #2.  returning.


At first, part of the heartbreak of leaving, as is sometimes the case with short-term missions, was not knowing when/if I would be able to return.
Now, upon reflection, I realized that I was being dramatic.  I've made it back 4 times.  It is home.  I will return.

# 3. impact

This was the first trip where I was able to see the impact our work will have.

Like, really see it. 

I knew we were forming concrete structures and laying pipe that would be there a long time.  But, I had to embellish a picture of a fully-functioning, self-sustaining water system and what that would actually mean for the people. Even seeing the change start to take effect, like more local involvement, more spigot availability and people washing clothes in a pila with ease.
 But it wasn't until this trip that I was able to see the transformation. Seeing how much Julio and Roberto have learned and how far the Water Committee has come, seeing how the valley has forever impacted the lives of my dear friends, the Hatchells... it was amazing!  Now there are more homes where they have spigots in their front yard! Most homes have at least one cell phone and access to a solar panel charging station!  And, though we'll continue to take data and track the effect of the project, all of these impacts will lead to more possibilities for girls, previously forced to walk to get water twice a day, miles at a time, to be able to receive higher education!
All they have to do is call up the water committee if the water goes out.

God, who does not lie

titus 1:2 
"[...] in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began."

"Faith is not working up by will power a sort of certainty that something is coming to pass, but it is seeing as an actual fact that God has said that this thing shall come to pass, and that it is true, and then rejoicing to know that it is true, and just resting because God has said it."
Faith  says not, 'I see that it is good for me so God must have sent it,' but, 'God has sent it, and so it must be good for me.'"
(Streams in the Desert, May 1)

When you think about your "calling," in life what comes to mind? 

from a very timely article sent to me by tana, summarized:

 ...The word "calling" in the bible is translated most often as the general call to salvation—the one God issues to all people (klētós or klésis).  So, the Bible’s use of the word “call” is very rarely about specific life direction or vocational ministry.

Certainly, God calls us at times to act or move in specific ways. But first and foremost, God’s call is a beckon to all people to enter into a saving relationship with Him. 

To answer this call of God means that every breath, every thought and every action now flows out of the truth that you have reoriented your life tow the one true God. 

We see this in Paul’s challenge to “live a life worthy of the calling [klésis] you have received” (Ephesians 4:1)."

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ulpan Valley - this time.

bear with me, because I'm about to share my heart.

As I explained, inmylastpost, I have been to the Ulpan Valley in Guatemala 3 times now to participate in water-related projects.

We've probably all heard about that one time...

(I still have the scar, in case you haven't)

Though in the past I've gone on student teams with Lipscomb University Engineering Missions Program, THIS TIME I will be going as part of a team of professional engineers from around Nashville with Engineers Without Borders. The ultimate goal of this specific EWB- Project Ulpan partnership is to provide the Ulpan community of Sejabal with a fully functioning and completely self-relient water system that serves every household clean, unaffected drinking water. 

How do we do that?  This project will take a different approach than past trips, but as always, our practice looks more or less like this:

1. locate the water source

Maybe by simply asking the people where they are, or by walking up the mountain yourself. 

Some instances are easier than others.

2. isolate freshwater from outside contaminants by constructing a spring box

spring box lid.

spring box!

trust me, it may not look like it but, they really work!

3. lay pipe to convey water to other locations

4. install spigots and pilas along the way 

pila. used for washing clothes and dishes and collecting water in containers 
spigot. self explanatory.

And of course, as with EVERY TIME with Project Ulpan,

5. involve the community every step of the way

Community members are empowered by forming a "Water Committee" that is involved in the design, construction and long term maintenance of the system.

The members also become economic stakeholders in each water project.  Residents must invest an initial contribution (amount varies case to case) to begin the project and continue to pay a usage fee.  Sometimes their contribution is monetary, but it can be anything from labor, construction materials, farm crops or even livestock and chickens!

but this time.

But THIS TIME step 1 will include mapping the entire community with GPS devices first, marking the locations of common sites such as houses, schools, paths, roads and known water sources,

this is what we'll be doing this April.

Back in the US, we'll be organizing them nicely onto a computer program looking something like this:



we'll combine that spatial information with household survey results !!!

Results like:

the level of education,
occurrence of water borne diseases,
incidence of miscarriages,
availability of sanitary latrines
proximity of clean water,
general understanding of proper hygiene...

(still not sure what the excitement is all about?)

Think about it.

We will be able to track the incidence of water-borne diseases spatially and temporally

or even,

Link the average level of women's education to health and availability of water 

And by including the locals in this data mapping, we'll empower them to track this information using the program we created long after we're gone.

We can document how lives have been changed by this project!
(and projects like these!)

this is Julio.
He started as a boy with a notebook, following us around and answering questions we had about his village.  One of the few who not only knew Spanish, but was learning English as well, he is now the Valley's local ambassador for all of the water committees and officially titled the leader of the "Project Ulpan Water Board."

So.  This project isn't just about education,

or health,

or even water, 

It is about changing lives

like mine.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ulpan Valley - a background

I have gone to Guatemala 3 times on "water mission trips."

But what exactly does that mean?

With another trip coming up next week, I thought it would be helpful to clarify for those of you who have asked -sometimes on numerous occasions- what we do when we say we're doing water missions.

There is the technical aspect to our projects that I am probably more inclined to put the focus on, as those details are what actually fill my mind leading up to a trip. But first, let me tug on your hearts and show you who are the people of Ulpan Valley.

Ulpan Valley lies in the Alta Verapaz region of north/central Guatemala, a region referred to as the "corridor of death," having one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

There is also a history of economic oppression in this region.  Many families saw their land taken by German and Spanish explorers and then were allowed to continue to work the land as indentured servants of sort.  Technological advances of recent decades began to influence the area but these people, with no economy to speak of, poor health and little education, were at risk of being left in the dust unless they could reach economic independence. 

Local depiction of the Ulpan community Benitzul

  In order to provide a solid economic infrastructure that involves and empowers the community rather than distributing charity, Project Ulpan created a plan of action that incorporates the community members in the overall development plan, and the implementation of economic, technological and health/water related projects.

From Living Water's "Plan of Action" for Project Ulpan:
"A total of 17 Communities comprising over 7,100 individuals are now a part of Project Ulpan, with the possibility of adding more in the near future.  Each of these communities are unique, and each are considering which aspects of Project Ulpan might most benefit them, but one common thread runs through each community: the need for clean and accessible water.  Because of this, Project Ulpan recognized the need to standardize a “Plan of Action” for assessing, designing and constructing water systems in the communities [... ] Project Ulpan is a deliberate long-term organization dedicated to helping God’s people in this part of Guatemala."

Clean, uncontaminated water sources are scarce in this area, forcing the women and children to walk up to 4 miles in some areas to collect water, usually twice a day. For this reason, very few girls make it past primary school education. The people as a whole speak the Mayan language Kekchi (english spelling) but only the educated males are ever able to learn Spanish.

By installing something as seemingly basic as a spigot (shown above) to bring fresh spring water from farther up the mountain to each home, we can not only improve the health and general wellness of each person in the valley, but may empower them to take their health, education and wellbeing into their own hands and provide the possibility of a future most of us take for granted to these girls who never had it.

Ulpan Valley - part II will explain more about the specific projects implemented - as well as what we will be doing when I return this April with my local Engineers Without Borders chapter. 

If you would like to support us prayerfully and/or financially, it would be greatly appreciated!

To give financially, click this link -->  MissionsGiving
and then follow these instructions:
1. Fill in the blanks as follows
Name: Mallory Peterson,  or EWB Nashville
Type: Donation
Trip: Guatemala-EWB
Amount:  specify amount
 Fill in the rest of the sections with your billing and payment info and you are good to go!
Thanks for your support and time! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

a belated goodbye

this post is in honor of my cat Bear
who recently passed away due to old age. 
I got him when I was 5 years old.

  May 11, 1993 - Feb 9, 2013

that's right.  my little kitty lived for 20 years! 


come on, no cat of mine would be a wimp.

april 5th

I am going back to Guatemala in 5 weeks.