Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Unedited Version of My Experiences at Vacation Bible School El Chal 2013, All Summed Up in a Easy-to-Read, Brief but Detailed Form

First of all, this blog post is way over due. The last blog post was posted on November 17th, 2013. That was a month and a day ago. I know that I’ve been slipping in the frequency of blog posts lately… but over a month? No excuses, Ricky. You have readers out there. And since I’m leaving on a jet plane tomorrow this is pretty much the last opportunity. So here is what I call “The Unedited Version of My Experiences at Vacation Bible School El Chal 2013, All Summed Up in a Easy-to-Read, Brief but Detailed Form.” I’m all for concise titles.

Day one (Dec 2)

 Well, I guess before I start with the actual days, I should explain how the event was organized and what my duties were. Lydia Zook had everything really well organized in “Stations.” Two people were in charge of each station (activities, coloring, story, craft, snack, and craft. There were two time slots for craft. Unfortunately. That was foreshadowing. Learned about it in grade twelve. Keep reading) and two people in charge of each age group. Pedro and I were given the 13 years and older boys, so our job was take them from station to station and keep them under control. Easy, right?

Day one (still Dec 2 but for real this time)

  • ·      Just so you don’t get too confused, I’m going to tell you right away… each day will be described in the form of bullets. May as well get used to it.
  • ·      Up until about five minutes before starting time, Pedro and I thought we were going to only have one student. Not because 13+ boys didn’t show up, but because we were standing in the wrong spot. But seriously, the boys should have obeyed the location of the teachers and not the sign that said “13+ boys line up here”
  • ·      We gave each boy a nametag. Nametag. That is one word according to my spellcheck. I bet you didn’t know that before!
  • ·      Just before entering the school for the start of Bible school, five or six teenage boys showed up that are kind of known as the “bad guys” in these parts.
  • ·      The first half of the day went rather well. The boys behaved through the assembly, activities, and the colouring. I couldn’t believe that they just sat there quietly and coloured. I guess tough guys wear pink and like to colour.
  • ·      Then we headed to snack. They were pretty good there, too. I could have probably included “snack” in the last point but it’s too late for that since this is the unedited version.
  • ·      Then we headed to craft. That was a mad house. And it was for 40 minutes instead of 20.
  • ·      Story time with Stephan went really well after that because Stephan is just cool like that.
  • ·      Finally everybody was gone, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
  • ·      Stephan told me that it only gets worse from here.

Day two  (Dec 3)
  • ·      This time Pedro and I were on the ball, and we stood in the right spot.
  • ·      A few more “bad” guys showed up but that didn’t faze me. Much.
  • ·      The first half of the day went well again. They behaved only a little bit worse in the first four classes. I thought they did all right in snack but the cook did not agree. More on that later.
  • ·      Then it was time for crafts. I can’t remember what the project was called but it involved smearing cement onto a board and then “drawing” a picture with broken pieces of glass. When done right, it looks really awesome. When done by a bunch of teenagers who couldn’t care less… different story. Basically, all the bigger meaner ones hogged all the materials from the smaller, calmer ones that actually wanted to work. Kendra Martin, the teacher, did a great job of organizing it and explaining it, but 25 boys yelling and running around being a pain was just too much. We decided something would need to change.
  • ·      Stephan calmed them down again in the story time with a lesson on “feet washing.” I admire that guy.

Day 3 (Dec 4. Just by adding one to each day number, you could figure out what the date was, and I wouldn’t have to type so much)

  • ·      In our staff meeting before starting time on day 3, the cook mentioned that she didn’t appreciate the way my group of boys acted during the snack time. She suggested that I take them to eat in a different place. On the other side of the property, on the street, it didn’t matter to her as long as they didn’t eat in the kitchen. I had to agree.
  • ·      The first half of the day went all right, only slightly worse that day 2.
  • ·      When it came time for snack time, we grabbed our watermelon pieces, and headed for a walk on the street. Every once in a while I had them stop and recite memory work. When they finished their watermelon pieces, of course they started throwing them at each other, but the cook was okay with it, because we were far away.
  • ·      When we got back and it was time for craft, I told them that we were going to do things a little differently. I then divided them into two groups. I just said, “You go here. You go there…” and sneakily put all the bad guys in one group. Then I told the good group to go follow Pedro and do the craft like normal. “And you guys,” I said to the bad group, “Will be coming with me.”
  • ·      I then took them to the street and told them that they weren’t behaving well at all yesterday in craft class. I said that I didn’t want to chew them out, just take a break for craft. Then I gave them two options. Go home, or do activities with me. “No one wants to go home.” They told me. So I pulled a long piece of twine out of my backpack, and told everybody to grab on to it, and run until I said stop. I heard them saying, “Hey, let’s pull on it so he can’t run!” and they did. “Oh yeah,” I said, “One more thing. You can cooperate in my activities or I can send you home right now.” They ran. I had written five activities on five pieces of paper and put them in a container. After a while, we stopped running and I had one of the guys pull out a paper. The activities involved “Ninja”, “spoon and tennis ball” relay, the “Cuando yo a la selva fui” chant, the “everywhere we go!” chant loosely translated into Spanish, and “red light/green light.” I actually had fun, and I think the boys did too.
  • ·      They listened during story time. (See a pattern going on here?)

Day 4 (Dec 6)

  • ·      Actually, it was the fifth. That was a test to see if you were paying attention to my math idea from the previous day. I hope you didn’t have to scroll up and double check.
  • ·      Junior, one of the main bad boys didn’t show up. I didn’t miss him but kind of did miss him at the same time.
  • ·      The first half of the day of the day went all right.
  • ·      In fact, the whole day did!
  • ·      In craft, the good guys worked on their craft in one room while the bad buys worked on their crafts in another room. Although they weren’t angels, they did get some stuff done.
  • ·      Story was great.
  • ·      I decided that I kind of liked vacation bible school.

Day 5 (Dec 6. The final day)

  • ·      The whole day went fairly smoothly as far as I can remember.
  • ·      Junior didn’t show up on this day either.
  • ·      I was able to look at some of the boys and find changes in them from the first day to the last. That was encouraging.
  • ·      And since this is the unedited version I can say this here and it’s is okay. The highest number of kids that came was 267 on Wednesday.

It was pretty amazing to be a part of God working in the lives of so many children… And although I lot of the boys in my group came just to be annoying and get attention, I like to think that in each one of them a seed was planted; that each one of them took something away from the week that they wouldn’t have if the event wouldn’t have happened. Let’s pray that God would continue to work in their lives! 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

"Yellow, White. Yellow, White."

In the past month, Neil’s have had quite a lot of company around. That keeps things interesting. Also, Pablo Yoder and Howard Bean came to Guatemala to speak at the General Institute. They also made things interesting. And now that the interesting things are over for a bit, I feel more like I do now than I did when they were happening.

In A Nutshell…

On Friday (Oct 18th) evening, Neil’s family took the night bus into Guatemala City to pick up their son, Tyler. He flew into the city on Saturday, and they got on a bus Sunday afternoon for the return trip to El Chal. Neil called me sometime on Sunday evening and told me that I should go to bed because they were having bus trouble, and wouldn’t be arriving until much later than they had thought. He said he’d wake me up when they were closer. Since I had to take some people to catch the bus for the city late that evening anyway, going to bed would have to wait. After the dropping two different people off for two different buses at two different times I finally got to bed at about 11:30. I woke up around 1:00 AM to my phone ringing. If my phone waking me up in the middle of the night wasn’t a miracle to begin with, then the fact that I talked to Neil, comprehended what he said, and set my alarm for 1:45 AM before falling asleep again, was. At about 2:00 AM an old, junky bus pulled over, and Neil and his family filed out. They all looked about as tired as I felt. All of them, that is, except for Dylan. He came bouncing off the bus and was talking like he’d had twelve hours of sleep. I met Tyler, even though I couldn’t really see him because it was dark. We hauled their pile of luggage home and went to sleep. The next morning at breakfast, everyone looked and acted pretty tired. Everyone, that is, except for Dylan. He was as energetic and talkative as ever. I think he was pretty pumped about hanging out with his older brother again. I could relate with him a little bit, I think. Older brothers are just pretty awesome.

Dylan's "new" room
Neil and Lucinda's "new" room
The first thing we worked on when after Tyler arrived was finishing the work in the two bedrooms upstairs. Just the trim and the floor needed to be finished, so it wasn’t too long before we were done. I’m sure Neil’s and Dylan are happy to be able to sleep in their own rooms again.

On Sunday, (Oct 27th) Neil’s family, a few of the staff girls, and I went to Mopán for the afternoon for a picnic. We all managed to pile into one truck, and although the weather wasn’t exactly ideal, we made it. No one complained… much. We arrived there to see more water pouring over the falls than I had ever seen there before. We ate burgers and hotdogs for lunch. Due to the wet and damp atmosphere, everyone was cold, and swimming didn’t seem like the best idea. But my theory is if you endure the hour-and-a-half long, bumpy, gravel road ride you have to jump off the falls at least once. And if you jump in once you have to do it at least one more time… and so on. Although the water was fairly frigid, I thought jumping in was worth it.
Only a little bit wet and cold
The following Wednesday evening was the “Clausura” or final program for the school students. The evening before we had a church cleaning instead of regular service so that the church would be nice and clean for the program. The only thing that I had to do at the program was show a clip from the “José” movie that I had helped make with the Basico students. It seemed to be a bit of a hit because Wesley got rid of about thirty DVDs after the program. Quite a few people even stayed after the program to watch the whole thing projected on the wall. The students did really well with the acting and Wesley did an incredible job of organizing and directing. Kudos to them!

The whole school singing!
Grades seven and eight… these were my english students this past year
They prefer studying english over singing
"José the movie"

On Monday morning (Nov 4th) I woke up at about 3:00 to get ready to leave for the General Institute. I had to gather a few people around and take them to the mission so that we’d all be ready to leave by 4:00. I was pretty sure that all of our stuff and us were not going to fit into the Toyota van, but Douglas had other ideas. I’ve always thought that my dad is the best at taking large amounts of luggage and fitting it into the smallest amount of space possible. I still think that… but Douglas comes pretty close. For the first half of the trip to the capital, I had to sit on a wooden bench in between two seats. The bench didn’t have a back, which made sleeping a little difficult, but my high levels of sleepiness evened things out. We got into the city at about 1:00, just in time for lunch. I was in charge of a children’s class each afternoon, and Lucio was my helper. We had lots of fun learning memory work, acting out Bible stories, playing games, and doing activities. On the last day, we had a “gum” hunt. The stories were the parables Jesus told about the lost sheep and the lost coin. To illustrate how each one of us is important to God, I didn’t let them eat the gum until every last package was found. It seemed like a great idea, but afterwards, I wasn’t sure if I got through to them because they were to busy chewing gum.

Another really good thing about the institute was seeing Howard and Barb again. They didn’t show up until Wednesday, so I had to wait two long days before I got the package they brought from my family. Howard had one talk in the morning and another one in the afternoon on Thursday. I switched my children’s class timeslot with Gerber just so that I could hear Howard twice. It was really nice to be able to hear him speak again! At one point Howard was talking about examples of church members disagreeing over the smallest things. He told us the story of a church that got into a big argument over whether to paint the new church walls white or yellow. They even called in a third party to “break the tie.” The third party guy thought they should just paint the walls black because of the sadness of the situation. From the audience Byron immediately pointed at the white-and-yellow striped canvas of the tent we were in and commented that those people could’ve learned a thing or two from our church. “Yellow, white. Yellow, white.”

Pablo Yoder from Nicaragua was also at the institute. He is a really good speaker as well. His way of explaining things with stories and illustrations makes him really easy to understand… even for someone who doesn’t have Spanish as their first language. His messages spoke to me, and I came home from the week feeling spiritually refreshed, happy, and just really generally pretty glad that I went.

I got home to a house full of visitors. I actually got home to an empty house but I definitely saw signs of visitors. The house actually wasn’t empty, but I thought it was at the time. Anyway, after I took a nice long nap, Neil’s returned from Ixpanpajul and Santa Elena with Alvin Jr. and his family. That’s when I found out that Lucinda had been home resting because she was sick with Dengue fever. Alvin is Neil’s friend from the states and he brought his family to Guatemala for about two weeks. They have four girls and one boy. It was quite an experience for the children since they had never been too far from home before. The whole family seemed to enjoy it, and I’m sure it is a memory they will treasure for a long time.

Top 5 Highlights…

>>Planting beans with Lucio and Pedro. One morning Pedro, Lucio, and I went out to some field to plant beans. It was an interesting experience! There were no tractors.
>>Empanadas for supper. Neil picked up some empanadas for supper one evening while Alvin’s were here. They took forever to arrive, but they were well worth the wait!  
>>Food at institute. Because food at institutes is always so good.
>>Going to a graduation party with Kevin and Chito. Since I was their dad for a day, I took them to a grad party for someone I didn’t know… and still don’t. We arrived right on time but no one else showed up until almost an hour later… just a little awkward. The food tasted pretty good but left me feeling a little sick. I’m not sure how this made it into the highlights.  
>>Getting a burger from Stephan. Stephan spent most of the week of institute “baby-sitting” the guests at Byron’s house so that Byron could take care of his responsibilities at the institute. Stephan sent me a message telling me how good the burgers were. He even sent a burger for me in a package labeled “Proof for Ricky.”

Top 5 Quotes…

“I don’t know who is your wife, but you are going to be my dad tomorrow.” – Kevin

“A bachelor is someone who washes the dishes right before he eats instead of right after.” – Tyler

“Hey, if you toot your own horn at least you know your batteries aren’t dead yet.” – Alvin

“I never complain either… when I’m sleeping.” – Alvin

“I shouldn’t try to do so many things at once… like wear a pink shirt and pick up a cup.” – Stephan (after dropping and breaking a glass cup)

Spanish Vocabulary…

Peregrino (peh reh GREE noh) – it means “pilgrim”

Memory tool: Pippen’s (from the Lord of the Rings) real name is Peregrin, and  he kind of reminds me of a pilgrim.

Fun Facts…

>>It’s a tradition around here to have pizza on Friday nights.

>>It’s a tradition around here to have pancakes on Saturday mornings.

>>I like weekends.

>>Coke makes a great “treasure” for a treasure hunt (more on this next blog J).

More to Add…

One really awesome thing that happened over institute was Pedro accepted the Lord! That is a huge answer to prayer!
This weekend the youth group from the city came and spent some time with our youth group. It was a lot of fun, and I’m sure the next blog post will have more information about it.
And a third thing… keep praying for me that I’d grow in my relationship with God, and as I relate to and be an example to all the young guys like Pedro, Lucio, Edix, Kevin… (I could go on) that I hang out with.
Dios les bendiga ricamente!