I got it! I got my first tattoo!
For years I’d been thinking about getting a little tattoo somewhere on my arm or wrist, but I never really knew what I wanted. Until I arrived in Guatemala and the thought of getting a tiny cross on my wrist became a daily thing. And as time passed by and I could see the finish line of my time in Guate in the distance, I actually started making plans. Because there was one thing I knew for sure: I had to get it in Guatemala. So for weeks I searched for good tattoo shops, talked about it with people and even tried to make appointments to go with friends. And then there happened to be a tattoo convention with Megan Massacre (if you watch NY Ink, you know who that is) and I was a 100% ready to go and get my tat. But then I got a message that it might not be the best place to get inked, so I quickly tried to make an appointment at another shop. Unfortunately, they replied two days later.
A few weeks went by until I had finally picked up the courage again to transfer the first deposit to Soul’s Anchor Tattoo Studio in the fancy part of Guatemala City. I had checked out their website a millions times, Googled the guy that was going to ink me, found out quickly he had three kids and a wife and I thought that this would be my chance. On Monday I got a message back saying they had a spot for me on Friday at three in the afternoon. So excited!
On Friday I was nervous all freaking day and my body hurt from tensing my muscles so much. Luckily, I had an appointment at the Cuban embassy first, so I wouldn’t have to sit around being nervous all day. After obtaining my Cuban visa (one step closer to home!) I ordered an Uber to get me to the tattoo place. I was all by myself, because nobody could go with me. But eventually, that was a good decision. When I walked into the studio I was introduced to Mafer, who was going to place the cross. After months of waiting, thinking and being nervous it was finally about to happen!
Only one minute after I placed my arm on a pillow, the tat was there forever. The pain was bearable but I would never understand how people can endure the scratching for hours… I didn’t want to be a softy, but man, it did hurt! Mafer wrapped the fresh ink in a piece of plastic and I was good to go. After two hours I could finally remove the plastic and carefully wash the tattoo. What a beauty!
So why the cross, I hear you think? Because it is a reminder of God’s unconditional love for me. Just like the tattoo, He will never leave me, like He says in Deuteronomy 31:6.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
When I am down, lonely, happy, scared, frustrated or desperate, He will be with me. This cross is also a reminder to not be angry, to love my neighbor, to care for others, to do everything that is in my power to love the world like Jesus loved it. It will always remind me of what I have learned and seen here in Guatemala. I’ve been robbed, I’ve been sick, I’ve been lonely and scared, I’ve had fights and doubts, I have lost people and I have received people, I have lived and I have loved. Just like the tattoo, following Christ has been a decision I made for life. And I will carry them both with pride.
(The tattoo is healing properly, it is still swollen and it is leaking out a little bit, but I hope that will go away soon!)