Hey there. If you are here right now, it’s likely because you watched my Wednesday storytime on either Facebook or Instagram. And I’m glad you’re here. I’ve shared the excerpt from One Woman Can Change the World below, along with photos of Fuego and Acatenango.
You can purchase One Woman Can Change the World wherever books are sold.
If you look on the back of the Guatemalan fifty-cent piece, you’ll find a flower. It represents beauty, art, and peace. Its name is Monja Blanca, “White Nun,” a rare orchid so named because it looks like a holy woman kneeling in prayer, the brilliant white blooms contrasting with the purple flowers of the orchids around it. I love the story so much that I collect the coins every time I visit the country just so I’ll have them to share the story of Monja Blanca’s glorious truth.
I picture the Monja Blanca as a woman with nearly everything she needs to grow and bloom on her own. She needs no pollina- tion to blossom. In fact, the Monja Blanca lacks only one thing to thrive. She needs support to stand. A fence post or tree trunk provides just the strength she needs to rise. Now, if you were to go to Guatemala to find the Monja Blanca, you might have to wait a while. It takes her fifteen years to bloom, and then her flowers last for only a short season.
Also in Guatemala, you’ll find a landscape dotted with volcanoes. Many are active, and the puffs of smoke that rise each day are reminders of the power that lives beneath the peaks. The most active of these volcanoes, Fuego, spews smoke and ash daily, and its lava flows are a constant threat. I’ve seen the sky light up with fire and felt the earth quake with Fuego’s anger. In fact, in 2018, Fuego erupted with such force that pyroclastic flow took out an entire village within seconds. Scientists say the people in that vil- lage likely never knew what happened, as the white-hot liquid and volcanic rock moved at speeds of up to seven hundred miles per hour.
Fuego seems hell-bent on destruction.
But standing next to Fuego is its sister, Acatenango. Yes, I also see Acatenango as a woman. She’s a quiet giant as she faces the fury of her smaller, disgruntled twin. Acatenango is best known as host to hiking expeditions structured around watching Fuego. But she is also famous for her coffee. Some of the most flavorful beans in Guatemala are found on her plantations—plantations that are enriched by the volcanic ash of her twin. Fuego’s fire gives birth to Acatenango’s strength.
You might wonder why I’d liken a lily and a volcanic mountain to women. It’s because of Tia Lilly and Lucy, two powerful souls living on opposite sides of the world. To me, Tia Lilly is like the Monja Blanca. And she is raising up orchids all around her. You’ll find her on a Guatemalan hilltop at Hope & Future, a home for young women who have been sexually exploited.
And I see the beautiful redemptive story of Acatenango in Lucy, a former nun who now cares for children and families living with HIV in northeast India.
Like Tia Lilly and Lucy, I believe you are like the Monja Blanca. And the redemptive strength of Acatenango lives in you too.
The orchid blooms in its season. The coffee that tastes the best is born from the worst of circumstances. Strength is revealed in weakness. Things take time, and time takes its toll, and yet we rise. Culture may tell us there are limits to our usefulness and that disruptions and delays are the enemies to our success, but trust me on this: there is no “too soon” or “too late” or “too long” or “too lacking” in you. God’s strength is found in you right now.