October 16, 2012

Silly Skit Night, etc.

Lately, we have been busy. Lately, we have been having a ton of fun. Lately, as always, we have been very blessed.

Here is a look at what we've been up to lately:

Silly Skit Night
Every year the Student Council puts on Silly Skit Night. Any students and teachers can present a silly skit. Here are the videos of what we were involved in.

"If We Were Not in First Grade"
This is a remake of the Young Life skit "If We Were Not in Young Life." I adapted it for my first grade class. I think they pulled it off pretty nicely.

"Body Fusion"
A workout for all levels, put on by a few of the female staff members.

This is Body Fusion.

"The Backseat Boys"
The evolution of boy bands, put on by a few of the male staff members. Hilarious.

Meeting Up With Friends
Heritage CRC (Byron Center, Michigan!) sent a group to work at an orphanage called Eagle's Nest. It is in Solola, a little more than an hour from where we live. So of course we had to stop by for a visit!

Anna! Who would have thought we would get to meet up in Guatemala?

They were also very nice enough to take down a care package from Mom and Dad Potgeter. As you can see, all the necessities were included:

We were almost out of peanut butter. And we rarely have chocolate in the house. And I could always use another Etna tshirt.

Bible Study
Every other Monday we have High School girl's Bible Study at our house. There are around 10 teachers and students each time. We are studying the book of Ruth, and really enjoying it. There is a lot to learn about Christian discipleship from a Moabite woman who chose to leave everything familiar in order to follow God and to care for her mother-in-law. There is a lot to learn from a man named Boaz, who was truly concerned for the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners just as God commands. There is a lot to learn from the God who took care of them both and who always keeps his promises.

Here is our group, having a jolly good time.

The first quarter of school is done! Parent-Teacher Conferences are on Thursday.

And we are still working on our vowel sounds. :)

Grace and Peace,

October 7, 2012

Atorado: Spanish for "Stuck"

We went to Guatemala City to apply for a 2-year visa with our dear friends Crhistian and Liz. The plan was to wake up early on Thursday, make the trip to the Immigration Office in Guatemala City, present our papers and take a visa picture, and return to Xela the same day.

Let us tell you what actually went down.


1. Woke up at 3:30am, left our house at 4am, and made the 4 hour drive to Guatemala City. Bad.

2. Ate breakfast at Pollo Campero. Good.

3. Arrive at Immigration Office. Present our papers to apply for a 2-year visa. Good.

4. Wait 20 minutes. Find out that our United States background check was rejected because it was more than 6 months old. (This means that we have to send our paperwork to the U.S. Embassy to get it reapproved and then return next week to Guatemala City to present our paperwork again. This also means that we wrote substitute teacher plans, woke up very early, and made a very long journey for no reason.) We did not even get to take our 2-year visa picture. Bad.

5. Got into the car to make the 4 hour drive back to Xela. We stop at an amazing restaurant along the highway called Rincon Suizo. Let's just say a big barbecue chicken sandwich and a Reese's crepe were involved. Good.

6. Three hours into our trip home, at about 3pm, traffic comes to a complete stop on the mountain highway. We are at highway marker km. 162. Bad.

7. We learn that ahead of us at highway km. 170, there is a road block and over 500 people protesting. No cars may pass in either direction. We learned the protests began at 6am. We also learned that people were protesting multiple things: energy prices, teacher schooling requirements, as well as new mining practices around the country. Bad.

8. We turned the car off and sat on the highway for 2 hours, waiting to see if the protests would end and the highway would open. (Thank goodness Grandma Potgeter taught me to always carry a book in my purse. Good.) Crhistian taught us the Spanish word for "stuck," which is atorado.

We were "atorado" for 2 hours on the highway. Bad

Every 15 minutes we saw either a police truck or ambulance going toward km 170 to break up the protests.

9. Suddenly, all of the same police trucks we saw passing as well as many other cars were headed in the opposite direction in retreat. They are yelling at all of the cars to turn around and go back the other way. Nobody would be passing through this highway tonight. The protests turned violent: a truck was burned on the highway, tear gas was used, bullets were fired, 7 people were dead, and 34 were wounded. Very bad.

10. We turned our car around, realizing we would not be returning to Xela that day. We decided to go about an hour back to a town called Panajachel. Good.

11. We called our friend who lives in Panajachel to see if we could stay with him for the night. He is out of town. Crhistian's friends who also live in Panajachel are also out of town. Seriously? Bad.

12. We arrive in Panajachel. We eat a yummy dinner. Good.


13. We go to a little store to buy toothbrushes, toothpaste, and sample size shampoos. Good.

Our provisions.

14. We walk the streets to find a hotel we can stay in. Bad.

Hotel Shalom. Ironic name. But good.

15. We wake up and put yesterday's clothes on. Bad.

16. The sun is shining and it's a beautiful morning. We eat an amazing breakfast. Very good.

Fried chicken or deep-fat fried french toast?
Looking good...smelling worse.
We will never get sick of this view.

17. We head back to Xela with no problems and get back to work by 11:15am. Good. 

A drive-by picture of the truck that was burned in the protests. We learned the protests lasted until about 8pm, which makes 14 hours of protesting.

An interesting few days. God always protects and provides. Good. There has not been any more protesting in the past few days, but please pray for both peace and justice in Guatemala!

Grace and peace,

October 2, 2012

Jesus Really, Really Loves the Children!

The "Day of the Child" is celebrated on October 1 in Guatemala. For many it's a day to think about how children are special and cute. For many it's another day to spoil their children, which was no different for our classroom. Some very kind first grade moms brought in a party of pizza, carrots, and cupcakes for lunch and gave each child a special goodie bag to take home.

Don't get me wrong, I am all about pizza parties and candy, but for many less fortunate children, this random holiday is about so much more than that. It's about children's rights in Guatemala. It's about making sure children are being taken care of and that they are getting everything they need. 

Because many children in Guatemala are not being taken care of.

On October 1, many children in Guatemala did not get to stuff their face with pizza and candy. They simply got to wake up to another day of too much work and hungry bellies.

So as a first grade teacher, in a third world country, teaching those who are in every way set up to succeed...I try to pass on a few facts that dig a little deeper than pizza and candy.

Fact: Many children do not have enough food to eat each day.

1 out of every 2 children in Guatemala suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Fact: Some children die of common illnesses because their families cannot afford medicine that costs a few dollars.

Some of these common illnesses include pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. 

Fact: Many children in Guatemala do not get to go to school.

Many families cannot afford to send their children to school.
(Ceipa student we sponsor.)

Some people don't think that girls should go to school to read and write, but instead should stay home and learn how to cook, clean, and take care of children. Girls as young as 12 marry and have an average of 7 children.

Many children have to work to help provide for their families, such as these two kids who go door to door selling fruit all day. 

On average, Guatemalan children contribute 30% of their family's annual income. Many children shine shoes, wash cards, beg, or do street performances to earn money for their families.

So as a class we talk about these facts. Not necessarily all the details, but the overarching facts. We talk about what we can do.

What scares me the most is that my students have all the right answers.

"We can help them!"

"We can give them money!"

"We can give them food and a house!"

But what if we need more than Sunday School answers? What if for real changes to happen in Guatemala we first need to make real changes inside ourselves? What if we first need to humble ourselves, to address some very prevalent racism, and to realize we aren't better than those we offer help to? What if we need to start by realizing that "separate" is not "equal?" What if we need to cry out to God for all that's wrong with this country? What if...??

They are only in first grade. I am only 23. But I have to hope that these "dressed for success" students will embrace the light of Christ and someday make the changes and the difference in Guatemala that a few gringos from the United States cannot make. I have to try and strive and hope and pray.

One of my favorite quotes from Heaven is For Real: For Kids is this: "Jesus really, really loves the children!"

Because he does. Check out Matthew 19. He embraces children, blesses children, and loves children.

Jesus loves the little children, 
All the children of the world!

Feliz Día del Niño!

Grace and Peace,