Monday, 25 March 2013

Geckos One... Ricky Zero

Nothing too exciting happened during these past two weeks, for the most part. Spike (the mission’s dog) didn’t kill any pigs, I didn’t go parrot hunting, and nobody broke their collarbone. One might even say it was a routine fortnight. Who knew that those existed?

In A Nutshell…

On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning I taught English again in grade four. I am slowly becoming more comfortable at the front of a classroom full of Spanish speaking students. This past week I didn’t even have a “real” teacher at the back of the room. I was the real teacher! Imagine that! However, I am soon about to become uncomfortable at the front of the classroom again. At the end of this month, I start teaching English in grades 7 and 8 as well. That is just scary. The boys from those grades already like to mimic my “gringo Spanish” by saying Spanish words without rolling the “r”. Unfortunately, I can actually understand them better when they talk like that. It tempts me to make fun of their English in return, but that would probably be very bad of me. Teaching English is fun though; I really enjoy it.

One morning we got up early to pour more of the foundation of the new school building. We are really becoming efficient with these “early morning cement pourings.” We finished right when it was time to eat breakfast. I love when that happens. On Wednesday afternoon, I helped out with a community project. A whole bunch of people from El Chal came to help pour the floor for a new community building. A whole bunch of other people from El Chal came to watch the floor get poured. Everybody helped out with eating the free lunch that was supplied by some local ladies, though. The floor did get poured, and I’d say it was a successful day for everyone.

On Thursday Stephan and I started making a new classroom. The grade 6 classroom happens to be right where we want to build the new building, so it needs to go away. The students that use that classroom moved to the grade 8 classroom, and the grade 8 students moved to the new classroom, which is an open garage on the mission property. Was an open garage I should say. Now it is a classroom. We cleaned out all the junk and put of walls on three sides of the room. On Saturday, a boy from grade 5 named Carlos helped me hang the drywall. Not exactly what you’d call “roomy” but I think it will do.


…and after. 

If you need your garage transformed into a classroom, give us a call

On Sunday we had our church service by the lake! We all piled into a bus in the morning and drove to town called San José. After the service we had a meal by the lake. Everybody pitched in with bringing the food. Lucio and I had the responsibility of bringing juice. We made our juice on Sunday morning before we left for the lake. Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow, I say.

Church by the lake! That's me off to the right with my shirt have untucked… that was unintentional

On Tuesday the new house parents came to El Chal. Neil and Lucinda are their names. Along with them came Trisha and Dylan, two of their kids. Edgar and Sadie “trained them in” for the rest of the week before leaving for the city on Saturday. I’m going to miss them… they were good house parents… but I’m sure I’ll get along just fine with they new ones too.

This past Friday I took a group of people that were visiting El Chal to Tikal to see the Mayan ruins. It was an extremely hot day, and we travelled in a crowded Mitsubishi van that lacked AC, but I still think everyone enjoyed it. Cliff and Carolyn from Ontario went along as well as Tim Corver (house dad in the city) and some of his relatives. Cliff kept saying things like, “If I was young like you guys, I’d see how far I could run up that stone ramp before I fall” and of course those of us who are young had to try it. No one broke any bones, thankfully. We ate at a Pizza Hut in Santa Elena on the way home.

This is me sitting on a part of a temple at Tikal

It is not uncommon to see a gecko here in El Chal, Guatemala. I personally think that geckos are amazing creatures. The fact that they can run full speed across a ceiling without falling down intrigues me. However, they must not really like humans, because you never see them for long. One time, during a meal we saw three geckos run behind the clock that hangs on the wall in the kitchen. How many did we see run out from behind the clock? None. Naturally, I assumed that they hang out back there. So later that evening, when everybody had gone to bed and I was coming back from brushing my teeth, I slowly sneaked up to the clock. I quickly yanked it off the wall and saw… absolutely nothing. Geckos one... Ricky zero. Fortunately, I see it as one of those “lose the battle… win the war” situations.

Top 5 Highlights…

>>Watching the kids hit the piñata. One kid has a birthday and everyone gets candy? I say “yes!”

Yay! Candy!!

>>Swimming. On a hot day, it just really feels good to jump into some water. Any water really.
>>Going to Tikal. This was my third time being there, but I still enjoyed it. Stephen claims that it is possible to go to Tikal too many times… I guess we will have to wait and see.
>>Trying to figure out Edix’s riddles. Edix is a 16 year old guy how knows quite a bit of English. As a way of teaching each other our languages, we give each other riddles. Riddles in Spanish are more difficult that riddles in English.
>>Playing baseball with the basico students. They’ve definitely got some learning to do, as far as baseball rules are concerned, but it was sure fun to play baseball again!

 Top 5 Quotes…

“Do you mind hurry-upping??” – Kevin

“They’re just a bunch of health nuts. Actually, you could probably leave out the ‘health’ part.” – Anonymous*

Me: “The Mayans must have sacrificed a lot of people… I wonder if that’s why they went extinct.”
Random guy I didn’t know was listening: “Yup. That’s part of it.”

“Never turn down meat for desert.” – Cliff

“I’ve told you not to exaggerate a million times.” – Anonymous*

*these quotes are anonymous to the general public

Spanish Vocabulary…

Vaca (VAH cah) – it means “cow”

Memory tool: picture a cow in a field with a vacuum cleaner.

Fun Facts…

In Guatemala…

>>Geckos and other types of lizards are plentiful

>>Toads like to craw into shoes… don’t ask me why. Yes, I learned this the hard way. From now on, I’ll keep my shoes inside.

>>There are five tuktuks for every one person (okay, so I made that one up)

>>The local paca (used clothing store) has “Everything for 5Q!” days. Every item in the store is less than a buck.

>>there is still Coke J

More to Add…

It is definitely hot in El Chal these days. It seems to be getting hotter. I can't complain about that, though. Hot definitely beats freezing cold. Also, a work group from Pennsylvania is coming to help lay block for Phase 2 of the school construction this week. There are a lot of blocks here just waiting to be made into a wall. This past saturday we unloaded a flat-bed full of blocks my hand. That was a work out. 

Thank you for continuing to pray for me! God bless!!


  1. Cool Connection: I don't know if you remember the Burkholders from when our family visited. They were houseparents in the city for a short time. I was hanging out with their son Tyler for a little bit this past weekend at Reach.

  2. Hey Rick...I like reading your stuff:) keep it up! Tom