January 21, 2012

Weekend Update

The top ten events from the last two weeks…in chronological order…

10) Sunday Service. At our church the other Sunday, there was a very upbeat time of singing and dancing. One woman, moved by the Spirit, even made her way up to the front with her hands in the air, dancing and praising God. It was quite beautiful, actually. The thing that got me was when she walked back to her seat and I noticed her shirt said “Hip-hop Don’t Stop.”

9) Going mute. I lost my voice for five days. It is hard to teach without a voice, or voice that sounds like a honking goose. My students and I just awkwardly whispered for a couple days.

8) “What I Did for Christmas Vacation.” It’s an assignment almost every elementary teacher gives their students. I learned that shooting off fireworks is a big tradition here on both Christmas Day and New Years Eve. Therefore, I got a variety of answers involving fireworks. “We berned fireworks,” “we burned fayr wrcs,” and “we pern fire words.”

7) Happy Birthday. My “room mom” planned a surprise party for me during lunch at school, complete with Dominoes pizza and a heavily frosted cake. I had no idea it was coming…hence, the “surprise party” part. The biggest surprise might have been when one of my students yelled out, “Mrs. Broekhuis, you have cake all over your butt!” Sure enough, there was pink and white frosting slathered all over my backside, and I had NO idea how it got there. Nothing a few wet wipes couldn’t handle.

Then, my “room mom” planned a dinner out with all of my parent’s students. We went to a very nice Italian restaurant. We ate very good food. They gave a nice speech. And the restaurant’s TV’s played “Happy Birthday” for a very, very long time.

Then, some of our dear teacher friends bought me a big cake and we watched “The Sandlot.” Classic.

6) Altitude. Getting back into the altitude makes me tired. How did I know? For three evenings straight all I want to do is turn on our new electric, life-saving blanket, curl up, and fall asleep. And then I look at the clock and it is 8:30pm.

5) Student Quotes.

“Mrs. Broekhuis, will you tell us when you are going to have a baby?”
“Mrs. Broekhuis, it smells like die pig!”
“Mrs. Broekhuis, you are the awesomest teacher in the whole universe!” (That one was my favorite.)

4) Fruits and Nuts. Every couple of days our doorbell rings, and it is our neighborhood fruit venders: two kids, about 10 and 12 years old. They are friendly and kind of crazy, but we enjoy seeing them and practicing our Spanish. The other day, they told us that they sold some fruit to a man sitting in his car. He bought Q30 worth of fruit and paid with a Q200 bill. They gave him his change and went on their way. When they got home, they looked at the bill more closely and realized that the man had paid with a fake Q200. Not only did they lose a lot of good fruit, but they are out Q170. Pretty crappy.

3) Basketball and Ladies Night. Collin is gone for the day at a basketball tournament on the coast. He is playing with the same team he practices with every Tuesday and Thursday. Hence, all the lady teachers are gathering for dinner and salsa dancing. Nope, I don’t know how to salsa dance.

2) Career Day. For social studies, five out of fourteen parents have been coming into class to talk about their professions. To give you an idea of the social-economic class of our school…the presentations include an engineer, a lawyer, two doctors, and a psychiatrist.

1) God is Faithful. Through all of the readjusting and getting back into life and work, God is faithful. We thank him for our work, our students, our friends, our family, and all the blessings in between. Just as the first graders begin their prayers: “Dear God, thank you for this beautiful day.”

Grace and Peace,

 Feliz Compleanos a mi...

Where's Mrs. Broekhuis?

January 7, 2012

Home, Sweet Home?

Christmas break is done; we finished our whirlwind tour of the Midwest. After three weeks of Christmas parties, games, a lot of talking, and a lot of eating, we are at the Grand Rapids airport. We are gathering our luggage and preparing to say goodbye. I turn around and I see it again.

My mom is crying. 

It’s not like we have never had to say goodbye before. We have shared thousands of the easy, casual, “see you later” goodbyes that happened every school morning from age 4 to 18, as well as many weekend nights in high school. But we have also shared a few of the emotional, rather gut-wrenching goodbyes, like the first time I left for college, the day I got married, and the first time Collin and I moved to Guatemala.

No matter how much I love Guatemala, and how much I enjoy teaching and being overseas, I will never enjoy having to say goodbye. I know these kinds of goodbyes are never forever, but they are still hard.

Saying goodbye means that the next time you see your nieces and nephews, they are many months older, many steps stronger, and many words smarter. Saying goodbye means that you miss out on watching sisters play basketball and playing late night card games. Saying goodbye means that your life and work are a lot of miles away from the people that know you best. 

Before moving to Guatemala or ever traveling abroad, my dad would often ask me, “Have you counted the cost? Do you realize what it will cost you if you do that?” He was not talking about money. I would often ignore the statement, thinking it might discourage me. But it wasn’t a statement meant to discourage, rather, a simple tidbit of truth.

Moving to a foreign country, no matter how developed it is, comes with a cost. Following God’s will for your life, no matter what it might be, comes with a cost. Luke 14:26-27 says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

God placed a desire in our hearts to move and work here; we chose to move and work here. And most of the time I don’t mind the quirks of living in Guatemala: not being able to flush toilet paper, a cold house, lukewarm showers, Spanish everywhere. But what takes a little extra dose of God’s grace and comfort is being so far away from the people Collin and I call family. It’s not easy.

Thankfully, our break was long enough that I look forward to getting back to work, to seeing the 14 smiling and often toothless faces that remind me why I love living and working here so much. I look forward to getting back to work and also seeing the new co-workers and friends God has blessed us with since moving here, the people that make it a little easier to be far from family. And I look forward to the day when Jesus comes back and my joy and work and life are in the same place as the rest of our family. An eternity to spend with them in heaven is worth the cost of spending life on earth fulfilling God’s calling and will for our lives.

Frederick Buechner once said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

That place for us right now is in Guatemala. But dear family in the north, we miss you already.

Grace and Peace,

A few pictures from our trip home. Unfortunately I was only good at taking pictures the first week.

 Riley and Collin, playing a very intense game of Mario Kart.
 Aubrie and Kaylee at a lovely reunion of friends!
 My niece, Felicity. Also a toothless first grader.
 A wonderful symbol of home, the family table all set for Christmas day. All but one of those bottles are grape juice, so no worries.
 Love these girls. Crazy cousins.

At the Wisconsin vs. Michigan State game with Collin's parents. So fun and exciting!