It’s Saturday morning in Guatemala. The teaching is done, we have a work day at the school today and only a few more days ahead of us here. Over the last three days I have watched countless of our youth interacting with the school kids here in classes, on the concrete soccer ‘field’, basketball court, baseball field (all three of which are the same place and all three things can and do get played there at the SAME time). I’ve watched girls laughing together, take pictures together, do hair and share hairbands. I’ve watched guys hang out, play sports, sit and talk and act just like any group of guys I would see in Wadsworth. I’ve watched leaders talk with teachers and kids, color, do chalk, and play sports. I’ve met some wonderful people, those that are translating for us and those that have students that are sponsored here at the school. I’ve seen absolutely beautiful countryside that gives all glory to God for his creation. I’ve seen what we would call poverty in the homes of those here but for them it is their castle and it is beautiful.
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
I have continued to dwell in Jeremiah this week and as I focused on verse 13 today. I have thought about all that I have seen this week and have watched these youth, leaders and myself look for Jesus in everything that we have done, every interaction we have had and every part of our days and I can say that we found him and he has found us.
May we continue to seek him over these next few days and may he continue to bless us and the people here abundantly.
Wow. Where do I even begin. God has definitely shown himself to me on this trip. The moment we stepped into the school and greeted all of the young kids with a cheek kiss I knew I was not in America anymore, mostly because I have no idea what they are saying. As we taught our classes I quickly learned that I should have paid more attention in Spanish class, and I also learned if you pick one kid up you have to pick every other kid up 50 times. But Len challenged us through the week to see God in situations and needless to say I did. I think God worked more in my life then in the kids sometimes. I realized that lanuage is not a barrier to having relationships. I felt closer to some of the kids I’ve known for three days over people I’ve known in America for years. That’s just God showing up. I’ve been hearing stories of these children’s lives and I realize how much God has protected them from the world. In America we use a bad family life for an excuse when a kid is rebellious, but not a single child had disrespected me or seemed to be on the wrong path in life. They have faced so many obstacles and have so little but yet they give so much and they do it with the biggest smile on their face. They love to make you smile and their little giggles melt my heart. They are all so open about God and their relationships which inspires me. I have never felt so open to talk about God. My mom told me have dangerous Guatemala can be and its not always the safest, but not at one time did I feel anything but love and affection. I just hope we can bring some of this love, affection, and openness about God back to America. God has shown himself to me and everyone else so much in Guatemala like yesterday we walked to a house and it was sprinkiling when we got there and as soon as we entered the house it was pouring rain. God has perfect timing though and as soon as we were about to leave it had stopped and sprinkled a little bit. God was there in the storm but also in the silence without it. God has shown me to not look at the world but to look at the experiences and see him in the world.
I saw Jesus today…
Sticky love filled kisses
Twinkling chocolate brown eyes
Great big bear hugs that never want to end
Crocodile tears streaming down cheeks
Helping hands reaching out
Loving words being spoken
Lots and lots of belly laughter
Friendship with no common words
Timid eyes saying, “notice me too.”
Thankfulness for being alive and having a mom and dad
Hope while saddened by profound loss
Big smiles with bright white teeth
Generosity beyond measure
Common bond because of common love for Jesus
“They will know us by our love. ”
So be it. Amen.
I just finished a typical Guatemalan meal of eggs, fried bananas, fruit, and black beans. I am proud to say that I successfully tried everything. However, I am looking forward to eating a peanut butter sandwich at the house. I have had so many new experiences these last two days. We crammed 30 people in a 12 passenger van which was fun. We also are on what they call “Guatemalan time” which means if someone tells you to be ready to leave in 5 minutes, you may not leave until 15 minutes later. I got to actually teach a class which was so fun for me to do, especially because I may want to become a teacher someday. All these experiences have taught me so much about being humble, patience, and just valuing the people you have in your life.
I met a little first grade girl whose name is Ilene. She has such a sweet spirit and such a hunger to learn. She loves to be loved on but doesn’t come out seeking attention. She is so patient with me when I am trying to understand her Spanish and it just amazes me. We played with chalk and on the playground today and as we played I would teach her English and she would teach me Spanish. At the end of the day she came up to me and said “Adios! I love you!” She then pointed to my bible and asked what it was. I told her it was Jesus’ book. I also told her that Jesusloves her and I wish you all could have seen her face. It was full of joy and love that It about brought me to tears. She then made sure that Jesus loved me too. It really moved me and I was so filled with the Holy Spirit.
I also am thrilled at how close our group has gotten with each other. I for one am much more comfortable with everyone in the group. It’s been such a fun ride with everyone and I can’t wait to see what God wants to do with us!
Continuing where I left off yesterday in Jeremiah we read this,
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.”
??Jeremiah? ?29:12? ?ESV??
God had just got done telling the people of Judah that had been exiled that he had a plan for them. That he would prosper them. He then outlines what their response will be to that. The very first thing he tells them is that they are to call upon him and pray to him. God then tells them that in response he will hear them.
Will. This is a word that is repeated through the verses following eleven. They WILL call upon him and pray and God WILL hear them. It’s a declaration and a promise. God tells them that when they do a certain activity he will respond in a specific way.
It’s also a reminder and promise to us as well. We are called to pray, to seek the Lord. Not just when we are in need but at all times. He wants us to do this. This isn’t something that is just for those that were exiled from Judah but to all that are exiled. Those that are apart from God. Those that are not in the place that God has destined for them yet. I think that includes us as well. We aren’t in our final place with God but we are in his earthly kingdom doing his work. I am seeing that here in Guatemala this week as I watch these students interact with the local school kids, through he leaders as they interact with the teachers. And for any of this to work as God intends we have to come before him and seek him. We have to be open to him and hear from him. We have to call upon him and work in his strength and power as none of this can be done on our own.
So as I begin my day I will call upon him, I will ask for him to meet us all here and I know that he will hear us.
if you asked me to describe my first full day at the Amigos school it would be “wow”. It started with roosters, dogs and fireworks waking us up and my first Guatemalan shower. To educate you, the showers in Guatemala have exposed light bulbs with live electric wires running from the light to a device that serves as a shower head/water heater. It’s affectionately known as the widow maker and you are told not to touch it when the water is on or you will get shocked (never mind the fact that water is pouring through it and onto you). Because water is at a premium and only turned on every few days we take “military showers” – get in, get wet, turn the water off and layer up then turn it off and rinse.
This was followed by my personal devotion time and breakfast. We then left the school where the guys are staying (and where learned tonight what a Guatemalan cockroach looks like – BIG) and joined the girls at their house for devotions as a group. As we came back into the school we were greeted by the children lined up in two rows and us walking through them. It was a crazy feeling that I really can’t describe. We greeted each and every child with a fist bump or peck on the cheek and then watched as each class performed for us. It was beautiful and humbling to see each class share their love with us and welcome us.
We then headed into our rooms to teach. I quickly learned that trying to put more than four computers on wireless at once was not going to work as it took it all down so I rolled with a big lesson here: improvise. This meant that the computer lessons would now just reference computers instead of actually using them. By the last class things seemed to be working out well and I felt much better about teaching computer programming terms without computers. Recess times were great with lots of coloring, soccer, link tag and just hanging out with the kids. The afternoon classes went smoothly and we finished for the day.
We had an opportunity tonight to then walk through the streets and visit the home of one of the people that was acting as a translator for us. The walk was challenging as the streets of the town can be intimidating. When we walk we walk in a close group and with he men on the outside and we are definitely a sight to see for the locals. During the visit we learned a bit about our host and the culture here.
I haven’t mentioned the language. It’s crazy but dealing with these kids who speak very little English has not been near as hard as I expected. The love learning English and trying to communicate with you. Coloring pictures and then saying the English word and asking them for the Spanish is a fun way for me and for them. In addition the food has also been wonderful.
There are more thoughts but it’s late and I need to get some sleep before my second day of teaching.
My experience so far has been anything but ordinary. First of all, the plane trip was an experience I haven’t gotten to experience in a long time and it was fun to see the whole group on a plane together. Guatemala is something like what I imagined but at the same time it was completely different. The people are so friendly and all the kids want to do is talk to you. The food is wondrous and I could not imagine what it would be like to live here. There are definitely certain challenges, like the toilets and walking in the streets with a group of us, or even just a couple of us. The most comforting thing is that I have my dad with me. If he wasn’t here I would not be as comfortable in this situation as I am right now.
As we woke up in the morning we got ready and then met on the roof as a group. We prayed and talked and then sang a song at the end. We sang “Open the Eyes of my Heart” and it was just a normal start to the day. We walked over to the school and were greeted by a sea of smiling and happy children as we greeted all of them. We sat down and the kids gave us a presentation. The grades sang for us and you could feel the presence of God. The fifth graders sang “Open the Eyes of my Heart” and I almost cried. It was not a coincidence that they sang the same song we sang just a little bit earlier on the rooftop.
I had been completely freaked out about teaching. I wasn’t sure about how I was going to overcome the language barrier or just teaching in general. The morning groups weren’t scary. The afternoon with the older kids started to worry me. We got to 9th grade and I was freaked out. It didn’t seem like they wanted to interact as much because they were older. The next class was a gift from God. I was extremely blessed by the eighth graders and their need to interact with us and learn from us. This whole trip is going to be a blessing. I’m so thankful for this opportunity.
First day in the school was amazing. It was so great to meet the kids and teach them. It was really fun hanging out with the kids too. It was weird yet cool to see what a thing of bubbles, chalk, or chocolate could do for the kids, it made their day! They were so excited to see us and we all felt very welcome. Even though there was a language barrier, we still were able to communicate with them. So far it had been great, I can’t wait to see what God has in store to do with our group in Guatemala.
As I sit here in the quiet schoolyard of the Amigos school in Guatemala I am reading over the Bible verse I am focusing on for my teaching this week.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
??Jeremiah? ?29:11? ?ESV??
It’s a familiar truth that we are probably all familiar with yet as I read further it’s what I was reading that made we realize this is the right verse for the week and for me. I am teaching computer programming – in English – using Angry Birds. Crazy? Maybe. It’s through a very cool site called code.org and explains how things programming is a set of instructions to complete a task. If the instructions are followed properly then the goal is accomplished. If something is not, the you start over.
See the similarity? Just like creating a successful program requires a plan and specific steps to follow God has a plan for us, a purpose for us, and if we follow his plan he tells us he will prosper us. It may not always make sense at first – for the people that Jeremiah have this message to, the exiled of Judah, it may not have made any sense. They had been instructed by God to seek the welfare of the city they had been exiled to, to multiply and raise families. I can’t imagine it made sense at the time. And I’m not going to get into what prosper may or may not mean (though I will say it does NOT mean we will be healthy, wealthy and without problems) but I know that God’s idea is going to be better than anything I could think of.
The beautiful thing is that God doesn’t just make that promise to the exiled but he provides them with the steps. I am going to be reflecting on those steps the rest of this week during my devotion time and hope to blog about those.
Pray request for today would be that each of the groups teaching would feel comfortable and secure in their material, that God would use them and that they would continue to make connections with the kids in this school.
The flights were great today, everything went smoothly and we didn’t lose anyone (or anything) it’s crazy how no one follows driving rules here, cars are weaving in out of “lanes”. Once I got to the school I met the kids and got engaged in a high intensity soccer game, then we watched the kids do their music class. The scenery is great and I know God is going to do great things this week. “We’re not in Canada anymore” – Cuyler A. Adams