March 19, 2012

March Madness

This month has been wonderful, exciting, and filled with a little madness...more than just from the basketball tournament. (Collin is still in mourning. Pour Dukies.)

Spiritual Emphasis Week
A previous teacher, his father, and another couple traveled from Colorado to lead the event. The week consisted of daily chapels, VBS-like stations for kids, and an hour of games in the afternoon. It was a tiring, but very blessed week.

More Visitors!
Kayla (Collin's sister) and Jana (dear friend from Dordt volleyball) traveled together to visit us this past week! After a wretched trip with plane cancellations and many delays, they finally made it to Guatemala, and they even still looked a little excited to see us. We took advantage of Jana's Spanish skills by giving them a map and sending them to explore Xela on their own during the day. Then after school we would get to spend many fun hours eating around town and playing card games. We especially enjoyed having them meet our Spanish teacher over brownies and chocobananos and an small earthquake.

During their visit we got to go to Antigua for a night. It was the first time we had ever been there. We spent most of our time looking at the churches and ruins in Antigua. There are many ruins there from a huge earthquake that happened in the 1700s. We also spent some time shopping in the local market. We loved the warmth, and we enjoyed every bite of delicious food, slurp of ice cream, or beautiful view of the mountains and volcanoe outside of Antigua. (Thank you, Rod DeBoer.)

Church History
A family from school took us on a tour of the historical churches around Xela. It was so interesting! We got to see the first church built by the Spaniards in Central America. We also got to see the first convent in Central America. 80 percent of Guatemala is Catholic, and most of the churches we saw were Catholic. We also some Mayan chapels, where Mayan rituals are performed. Apparently, a Mayan cleansing ritual is to smoke, drink liquor, and then spit it on each other. So interesting.

Weekend in Mexico
We went to Tapachula, Mexico to renew our 90-day visas this past weekend. That may be the last time we get to go, as we have applied for 2-year missionary visas. Those will cover us for the next two school years.

It's the Fourth Quarter already?!
This week is the beginning of the end! Today was the first day of the 4th quarter. It is crazy how time flies! We have parent-teacher conferences again this week. In Spanish. Thank goodness for translators and forgiving parents.

Homeward Bound
We plan on coming home on June 3. We will be home for two months, staying with Potgeter parents in Michigan (right, mom and dad??) We plan to fly back to Guatemala on August 1. Kendra will be working at Scrap Scribble 'n' Stick and Collin will be landscaping cemeteries (Thank you, VanEngens!!!). Collin will also be golfing. And Kendra will also be spending free time with sisters and nieces and aunties at the pool.

First Grade Funnies
It has been awhile. There are so many to choose from...

Me: What did we learn from the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel?
Student: That you have to be hot in order for God to love you?

After discussing our dinosaur story in reading, one student randomly blurts, "I imagine that a long time ago dinosaurs elected a president."

Teacher: What are some good habits?
Girl: Taking a shower every day.
Boy: I think there's a jacuzzi in the girl's bathroom.

Story Title: The Colors
Page 1: I sleep in a red bed.
Page 2: I eat orange porrige.
Page 3: And I eat yellow jello.
Page 4: I use a green machine.
Page 5: I play with blue glue.
Page 6: I play with a purple circle.
Page 7: I have a black crack.

Me: First graders, this week's spelling test might be kind of hard, but I know you can do great!
Student: Mrs. Broekhuis, I think it will be easy, peezy, lemon-squeezy.

Grace and Peace,

ps. A few pictures...

 The famous arch in Antigua.
 The "Mono Loco" restaurant.

 Family and friends. Forever.

Church Tour around Xela:
 The first church built in Central America by the Spaniards.
 The first convent in Central America. The displays inside are covered in gold.
 The church we see in pictures every time we go to Pollo Campero. Therefore, we named it the "Pollo Campero" church.

March 4, 2012

Enjoying the Walk

Walking: An activity we partake in often. Because we need the exercise. Because we enjoy each other’s company. Because we don’t own a car.

Walking with God: an activity we should partake in every day. Because we need the guidance. Because we enjoy the company. Because we know that God is bigger than just going to church on Sunday or spending one special week at school thinking about Him.

Our latest life challenge is to simply walk with God: Spend time with Him. Get to know Him. Recognize the blessings He gives us in our everyday lives. Cherish “learning” moments. Enjoy the people, work, and circumstances God has placed in front of us. Here are a few of those blessings, learning moments, and circumstances…

Blessing: Staff Retreat
Right before I wanted to pull out all my hair due to “first year teacher” stress, it was time for our annual staff retreat. We got to spend one night at the only resort in Guatemala. Our activities included beach volleyball, waterslides, a lazy river, napping and reading in the sun, eating, mini golf, massages, and swimming. Oh my, it was wonderful. A few pics below...

Learning Moment: Elementary Food Drive
“Mrs. Broekhuis, I brought something for the food drive!” Excited, he pulls the mushy McDonald’s packet of ketchup out of his pocket and sets it on a pile of canned beans and rice bags.

My initial thought was to laugh, borderline scoff at my student. A packet of ketchup? Seriously? Will that really help the poor street children of Guatemala?!

But then I catch myself. No, he did not bring a huge box of food purchased by his parents. No, his donation will not feed an entire family for a week. But like the poor widow in Mark 12, he gave everything he himself was able to give. And he gave with a joyful heart. God loves a cheerful giver. If only I would give like that.

For: The Maya Mesoamerica Mission Feeding Program
Food drive goals: collect 300 items and make 35 care packages.
Food drive blessings: 385 items and 42 care packages. Praise God!

Enjoying the People: Visitors!
Dad and Mom Potgeter, Madi, and Savannah all made a trip down to Guatemala. Dad and Madi were with a mission team from Moline Church, building houses all week. Mom and Savannah came to hang out with us at school in Xela.

The first graders loved their visitors. They especially enjoyed celebrating Mom’s birthday, and listening to Savannah read to them after lunch. My mom left a few treats for me to share with them after they left. I said, “These treats are from Mrs. Potgeter and Savannah.” My student replied, “Don’t talk about Mrs. Potgeter and Savannah. It makes me miss them too much!”

We met up with the mission team, Dad, and Madi in Panajachel. We were able to go zip-lining (thanks to Dave and Donna Westhouse!!!), and we spent some time haggling in the market, and eating at some yummy restaurants. A few pictures below...

What a pleasure to share our lives and work with family! We are looking forward to our next visitors this weekend, Collin’s sister, Kayla, and our friend Jana!

Circumstances: Apartment Shopping
There is no such thing as an “ideal” apartment in Xela. You can’t find an apartment that includes a nice location, a well-functioning shower, the perfect amount of space, an affordable price, and perks such as cable and internet. Those apartments don’t exist down here.

But there are certain circumstances facing us: All but eight-ish teachers are leaving at the end of the school year. Some are returning to the states, some attending grad school, and some simply called to new schools in different parts of the world. So next fall we will be second-year IAS teachers, trying to welcome many new staff members, hopefully not still living in a one-room apartment with just a bed and three chairs.

So the search for a new apartment began. Choosing one was not as easy as we thought or hoped it would be. We honestly had to pray to not be selfish, that our motives for a more spacious apartment would be to serve others through hospitality, not just so we that the only rooms in our house are our bedroom and bathroom.  

And once again we feel God gently leading us. We will probably move during April or May.

Enjoying the Work: Student Love
Given to me on a busy morning...reminding me how blessed I am...

“Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. Before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” (Genesis 5, Hebrews 11)

Enjoy the walk.

Grace and Peace,