Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last Day in the Guate

Finals wrapped up about two hours ago.  I'll hop on a buss for the city (Guatemala City) in another two hours and then I'll fly home tomorrow morning.  I'm rather shocked that my first four and a half months are over.  I feel like I've learn a lot and am very ready for a break.  I'll be in Colorado for most of my Christmas break, save for a weekend in Tulsa for the Rice wedding, so if you want to hang let me know.  But before I fly out I wanted to write my last blog of the semester.  I've tried several different styles with this thing, and I hope you've all enjoyed it.  This is a list of the 10 most important things I'v learned while living in Guate, so have fun reading!

Never say you'll race a 6th grade student and then loose.
Always dance at your students christmas parties.  Always.
Tacky Christmas Sweaters are to be worn at Tacky Christmas Sweater Parties with friends and not out in public.
Always hike with friends.  Never hike alone.

Never be afraid to jump, the waters not that cold.
When the Teacher asks you to dress up for a presentation, you should do it.
If you can grow a stache do it, if you can't, do it.
If you see a funeral procession walking towards the cemetery join in and have some fun!
Catholics enjoy processions and you should too.
Don't ever go anywhere expecting to remain the same.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Walking and my driving addiction

Hello, my name is Brendan Scott and it has been four months and eleven days since I last drove a car.  Or as my students might say, "drived a car."  Before I left for Guatemala I didn't know I was addicted to the open road; the high speed freedom of 70 mph and a full tank of gas.  But I quit that high octane ride, cold turkey, for a much slower means of transportation.   Walking.  

Besides the morning ride on the micro (pronounced meek row) bus, which takes me to school.  I walk everywhere.  First I walk to the bus stop.  Then I walk to the middle school building, which involves a nice flight of steps down a beautiful hill.  Then I walk around my classes, while helping my students learn that it's drove and not drived or loan me, not borrow me.  I'm also trying to teach them that I wont let them barrow tissue paper, because I sure don't want it back after they blow their noses in it.  But the thing I hear the most while I'm walking around my class room is a simple question.  My students constantly ask, "Can I go to the bathroom."  Frankly I don't know if they can or not.  I'm not their doctor, so I don't know their medical history.  I can't tell what they can or cannot do.  But if they really need to go I tell the they may go to the bathroom.  It is fun having the power of permission.  After school I ride the bus to the gym.  At the gym I lift weights and run.  Then I take a nice twenty to thirty minute walk home.  On the walk home I pass three pinata shops, two other gyms, two hot dog stands, a beer factory, a park with a big star of David in the middle, and several hundred Guatemalans speeding by in their cars.  

Seeing a car gives me the shakes.  I want to drive rather badly.  I know the benefits of walking everywhere.  I feel healthier and I've probably saved a ton on gas, which is good because my stipend definitely couldn't cover how much I was spending on gas before I left.  I was so addicted to driving I was traveling from Denver to Boulder almost three times a week. That drive had nothing to do with wanting to see my friends.  Now I walk everywhere and I've started having dreams about driving.  I guess the old saying of you never know what you've got until its gone is true for me and my car.  I'll be back in Colorado in a week and I think the first thing that I want to do is drive.  Maybe then I'll miss my daily walk home from the gym and all of the crazy drivers that swerve to try to hit me.  But for now I am longing for home, not to stay their permanently, but to be able to drive around for a little bit and recharge my battery.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving!!  This was my first Thanksgiving away from my family and so I really didn't expect to eat well.  I also expected to be a slight bit lonesome, but as these pictures will show you I was neither friendless or foodless over Thanksgiving.
These are the friends I got to share my thanksgiving meal with.  The Parents at the school provided a huge Thanksgiving meal for everyone, almost 300 people, and the food was
This was the massive amount of food the parents provided for the teachers.  What a great way to celebrate an American holiday in Guatemala.  I also had a large dinner on Thursday over at my friend's house.  Both times I left thinking that I never needed to eat again.  That's a Feast.

And finally this was how I spent my Thanksgiving day.  I hiked up La Muela (The Muller) with some friends.  It was a beautiful hike and I had a great time.  Thanksgiving to me is about friends, family and food.  I usually spend my Thanksgiving eating and eating and watching football and eating some more.  All done with and around my family.  This year I didn't have the opportunity to be around my family, but as you guys can see I  was blessed with a few friends to spend my Thanksgiving break with, and sometimes friends are as good as a family.  I want to close with a question.  What is Thanksgiving to you?  

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Sometimes I feel infatuated with God.  My love can be a fleeting feeling.  I want more than that for my life and the love I fill with it.  I want to love deeply and love with reason.  I want my heart to beat in rhythm with God's, like a guitar strumming in rhythm with God's drum beat.  My heart desires to express my love for him when I'm worn out and broken.  To love him when I'm full of awe and gladness.  My love should be deep, maybe as deep as the sky and as close as the air.  I know that at times it's not.  I worry about what others think of me.  I know friends don't satisfy the way God does.  I don't want to worry, I want to be profound and to live with a strong secure love.  

Can I find joy in the simple things?  Sheets that fit.  Air to breathe.  Legs that carry.  Mountains to hike.  Hands that write and feel.  Eyes to see.  Sunsets to view.  Mouths to feed.  Mouths to chat.  Conversations in spanish.  Conversations in English.  A child's laughter.  Ears to hear.  A child's cry.  Friends that cry.  Friend's laughter.  Friends to love and be loved by.  Too often I look past these moments and float on with the breeze.  My feelings flutter with the wind.  I don't want to fly where the wind blows.  I want to be firm, yet changeable, because God's love is at work in my life.  Changing me to be alive in him.  Making me more than I am right now.  

This is a prayer I'm praying for my self.  There's a couple more days until Thanksgiving break.  I'm ready to sleep in and have a long weekend.  I'm pretty sure my kids are ready for the break too.  After Thanksgiving there's only three weeks until Christmas break.  This semester is flying by and God has really taught me tons.  I can't wait to see what's next.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about friendships lately.  I guess I've had friendships on my mind because I'm relearning how to make them, in a new culture none the less.  I've found out that making friends here is very similar to making friends in the states.  It takes time.  Fortunately I've been down here for a little over three months and I'm starting to make some good friends.  Yesterday I went to a beach called Champerico with a couple of my new friends; Laura, who graduated from Union High School in Tulsa, and Kristin, who also goes by the name Scarface because she has a nice Harry Potter scar on her forehead.  
While I was at the beach the crashing of the waves started me thinking about how people change when they make friends.  Each time a wave crashes in on the beach sand is dragged back out to sea and the beach is changed.  Maybe its only a slight change, but a change none the less.  The sand that was loosed from the shore is now out to sea.   There is no stopping this beautiful natural process.  Until the end of time waves will break on the shore and pull little parts of the world apart.   

Like ocean waves friendships pull little parts of your world apart.  A good friend will crash in on you and pull you out into the water.  They will not leave you the same.  I feel like I am making a few friends that are really challenging me.  Kristin is the art teacher at my school meaning she's payed to be creative all day long.  When I talk to her I feel challenged to be more creative with my writing and my English class.  I can tell that she expects greatness out of her friends.  A good friend wont let you slide by or underachieve.  They'll crash in on you and pull you out to sea where life is a bit more dangerous but probably a lot more rewarding.  
I could have stayed at the beach all day long, just sat in the sun, and had a great time.  But the real fun didn't start until Laura and Kristin got me to jump into the water and let the waves pull at me.  We played in the surf for a long time.  The waves were huge and the black sand on the beach was hot so staying in the water was a little more appealing.  Friends will take you to that place.  Little bits of you will be taken away as you go, but in the end the I think you'll be a better person than when you started.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Seasons: Invierno y Verano

I am now ready to say that the rainy season has ended.  I arrived in Guatemala on August first and it rained.  It has rained almost every day I've been down here, but as of this week it has officially stopped.  The loud noise you heard last week was the entire population of central America shouting for joy because the rain has stopped.  During the rainy season it was borderline psychotic to leave your house without a rain jacket or an umbrella.  I only did it once.  

As my spanish teacher explained to me tonight Guatemala really only has two seasons.  Rainy and dry.  Notice this does not include Summer, Fall, Winter, or Spring.  During the rainy season it is warm and rainy and during the dry season it is cold at night and hot during the day.  Not much change.  I really missed the changing of the leaves last month.  I love driving through the mountains watching the Aspen leaves turn from green to golden yellow and red.  The cool crisp air biting at your lungs in the mornings.  Other than football and hunting that's what makes September and October great.  

Here in Guatemala September and October are filled with rain, but every once and awhile the air would feel crisp and if you closed your eyes you just might be able to trick yourself that it was fall time in the rockies, only until the rain starts to fall again.  Then the air doesn't feel crisp at all.  It just feels wet.  No me gusta mucha lluvia.  (I don't like a lot of rain.) My spanish teacher taught me that one tonight.  But like I said the rainy season is over.  Now in the mornings it is cold, cold, cold out.  Something like forty degrees and then by the mid afternoon when the sun is at its zenith it might be eighty degrees out.  Maybe a little less maybe a little more.  It is now November and that means hiking and sunshine.  It is hard not experiencing the seasons, but experiencing a new culture seems to be worth it and I am thankful for that.  I know that I'll be longing for a little snow here soon, but in the mean time I'll enjoy being able to hike up the volcanoes that line my horizon.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Paul writes in the book of Romans for everyone to submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  (Romans 13:1) Simply meaning God's in control so trust in him.  God is greater than the government that is in place, or the government that is going to take control.

If you've been hiding under a rock with your fingers plugged in your ears while screaming lalalalala you might not know that it is election day back in the states, and everyone here in Guatemala is all a buzz.  It's as if their country is electing a new president.  I was able to vote by mail in ballot about two weeks ago, so hopefully my ballot arrived in on time.  Before I sent in my ballot I showed each one of my classes what it looked like so they could understand what it takes to vote.  (For some of the amendments it takes a masters degree in political science to know what you are voting for.)  With all of the buzz and excitement in the air about the elections I am also sensing a little bit of fear.  
It almost seems like the election process is as scary as Halloween to some people.  People are likening one candidate to the boogie man and then the other to Chuckie.  I've read a couple of facebook statuses saying that you need to vote for one candidate or you're not a true American or Christian.  That sounds like fear and bad logic to me.  I don't think fear is an appropriate response to the coming change, cause God's in control.  I don't like change much, but I am learning to trust God with my future.  I took a big risk in coming down to another country to teach.  God has been with me the entire time I've been down here.  I came down here alone, leaving all of my friends behind.  Since arriving down here God's blessed me with a few friends.  And I say if God can look after me, a rather insignificant person in the scheme of the world, how much more do you think he's concerned with the United States of America.  

Yet fear and hatred still exists between the parties.  Does that amount to a lack of trust in God?  Yes, I have an opinion on they way I think the government should work, but in the end does it really matter?  Jesus says in Mark twelve that the most important thing for me to do as a follower is to "love the lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength," and the second greatest thing for me to do is to "love my neighbor as myself."  There are probably a thousand different ways to honor him and love my neighbor, but no matter what way I do it, what matters is that I'm loving those around me and honoring God while doing it.  I believe this is what is important and I am pretty sure that I can love my neighbor no matter who is my president.  

So this is what I'm going to do.  I am going to trust in God and believe that he will bring everything around for his glory no matter what happens.  There is no reason to treat election day like Halloween.  

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mexico and Extortion

I experienced a couple of new things this last week.  Sushi for one.  I'll let my buddies back in Boulder take a moment to catch their breath.  I know you are scratching your head in wonder.  What got Brendan to try sushi?  We couldn't get him to eat it, ever.  He refused and ate pizza the last time we tried.  What brought about this big change?  Lets just say some people are a little more persuasive than others.  I will also admit that I didn't like it, but I figured I needed to try the sushi roll because I was in Mexico and you know the old saying, when in Mexico eat Japanese.  Or something along those lines.  
Mexico was another new experience.  Now I've been to Mexico before, but I've never been there to renew a visa.  Walking across the boarder from Guatemala to Mexico was very interesting.  The Guate site was very crowded, people everywhere trying to sell you something or get you to exchange money with them.  It reminded me of the Mexican side of the boarder near Juarez, dirty and dangerous.  I walked through with my hands in my pockets trying to make sure no one else snuck their hands in there as well.  While the Guate side was a reminder of third world poverty, the Mexican side of the boarder was clean and peaceful.  There weren't any beggars or hustlers.  I know that Mexico, just like any country, isn't all that great, but it sure seemed like a peaceful sanctuary compared to what I'd just walked through.  
After a brief stay in Mexico we crossed back safely to Guatemala.  Leaving behind cheap movies and bad Sushi.  (Side note we saw The Strangers while we were there because the main Character's name is Kristen McKay, which is the name of the art teacher at my school.  Only she spells it Kristin.  Well, she really wanted to see the movie because of this fact.  Half way through she was scared, screaming, and regretting her movie selection.) Leaving Mexico was easy.  Entering Guatemala was difficult.  The official didn't want to let us back in.  We'd only stayed in Mexico for one day instead of the typical three days required to renew a visa.  So, we bribed him with cigarets and booze.  Factually not true, but we did accept his request of 10 Q each to re-enter the country (should've been free).  I'm sure he pocketed the money.  This experience made me wonder, do you work with a corrupt system so you can continue to share Christ's love, or do you hold to your standards, meaning going back and waiting three days?  We payed and returned to Xela a couple of hours later.  

I know that 10 Q isn't all that much, a little more than a dollar actually, but it is the fact that there are people out there that are willing to bend the rules for profit.  This was small amount, but the guy still had an asking price.  Do we all have asking prices?  I hope that I can't be bought off.  I mean I guess I'm not my own to sell, I've already been purchased by Christ.  But what about the people who see money as their salvation and are willing to put others in danger just to obtain it?  Things work a little different down here.  In the presence of such poverty money is a get out of jail card.  I'm not saying Guatemalans are greedy, more so needy.  And when you are in need money sure seems like a good answer.  Maybe that is why the man requested 10 Q from each of us.  Maybe he needed the extra money for something noble like a starving child, but most likely he just wanted a little extra cash.  Greed is ugly, it can turn a fun weekend with friends into a sour experience.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I pooped my pants.  Not today, not this last week, and not even while I've been in Guatemala, at least not this time.  I pooped my pants a couple of years ago while I was skiing in Vail.  I was on my way down the mountain and only made it as fare as mid Vail.  Some of you know this story.  It is pretty funny and has always gotten some good laughs.  Well, I decided to share this story to my middle schoolers during chapel.  I thought it would be a good ice breaker.  I thought this was a good story for them to connect to me with.  I mean everyone poops.  
Well, as I wrapped up my story.  One of the eighth graders shot his hand into the air.  I thought he was going to ask a question.  He had something else planned.  "Yes," I said acknowledging his raised hand.  "Well, this last week I peed my pants," he said.  I told him I had heard about that, and tried to save him from divulging further detail.  He didn't stop.  "I had to go real bad and I got 'it' stuck in my zipper.  I couldn't get it out and so I started to flip it around and I ended up peeing all over my pants."  No shame.  I was laughing hard at this point.  The other teachers rushed out of chapel crying laughter.  I couldn't leave because I was in charge.  "Okay," I said calmly after I'd taken a deep breath, " yeah, I'd heard that."  I was trying to move into my talk, but he continued.  "I got it cut on my zipper," just like this has happened to every man, which is a false assumption.  His friend replied, "And he had to get a band aid."  Simple pandaemonium.  Boys and girls rolling on the floor with laughter.  If I'd wanted an icebreaker I'm pretty sure a glacier had just broken free.  

I gave the students about a minute to laugh it out then told them to regroup.  This worked rather well.  Then I smoothly moved into my talk about how to be a lover in a dangerous time.  We've been sharing how to fit our lives stories into God's greater story, even our poop and pee stories.  I think that the rest of my talk went well, but I don't think anything will top the self admitted peeing of the pants.  The kids at this school are amazing.  That is all I have to say.  If you want to know more about my own poop story or about what I talked about during chapel let me know and I'll see what I can do.  

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fantasy Football

In the last couple of months I have become culturally fluent in a couple of areas.  One is snapping my fingers together like I am tapping a can of chew.  Everyone does this down here, even the women.  If you want to fit in around Guatemala you need to learn this action.  I don't mean you need to learn how to chew, but how to snap your fingers.  This isn't a regular snap and to achieve the action you must touch your thumb to your middle finger and whip your hand up and down resulting in a popping sound.  I learned how to do this in the seventh grade from a hispanic kid.  Who knew I was learning how to be fluent in another culture.  

The second area I have become fluent here in Guatemala is Fantasy Football, American football that is.  Okay to be honest this isn't really a Guatemalan thing, but more so an IAS teacher thing.  I am still fundamentally against the game.  I drafted a few players that play for teams that I hate, Justin Fargus and Darren McFadden, whom I promptly traded for Tony Scheffler.  I decided that if I was going to play a game that forced you to cheer for teams you typically hate I would fill my roster with Broncos.  For the first two weeks this worked beautifully.  Since then I've gone winless.  I have a good team, but they just haven't been performing well.  I bring this up because this is what "we" do down here.  From the bus drops us off at school to the time it picks us up at the end of the day you can find someone working on their fantasy roster.  When a trade or some other type of roster move you might see one of the teachers snapping their fingers together like a Guatemalan.  

Right now I am not snapping my fingers together like a Guatemalan or enjoying fantasy football.  My status among the teachers is slipping.  I might be connecting with the students and teaching them how to speak correct English, but I sure can't seem to pull together my fantasy team.  Living in another country sure is hard.  I feel like I'm being stretched like too little butter over to much bread.  From teaching to fantasy football to figuring out how to fit into Guatemalan's culture I don't seem to have a minutes rest.  I am loving it though.  I know I'll look back at this experience and smile.  Maybe I wont win my fantasy league.  Maybe I'll never learn the language and only be able to communicate with my Guatemalan friends through the finger snap.  But even so God is creating something in me.  I can feel it and I am excited to see what it is and where all of this goes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dia de los ninos!

If you can't do you teach if you can't teach you teach PE.  You might recognize this quote from the Jack Black movie "School of Rock," but I'm pretty sure it didn't originate there.  I remember living by this moto in middle school.  Even in college if anyone asked me what I wanted to do with my English major I would've answered not teaching, I wanted to do.  So it comes as big of a shock to me as it probably does to everyone else that I'm teaching in Guatemala, let alone loving it.  I think I am loving it because I am connecting with my students and slowly being able to share my faith with them.  

I'm real big on community.  I like being around people.  So when I was working at Cherry Hell Hole Country club and being forced to wait hand and foot on people who didn't want to know who I was.  I knew I needed something else.  My parents challenged me to look outside of the country, which I did.  God promptly directed me to Guatemala and then some how tricked me into teaching.

Here is what I love about teaching.  The kids.  I love them and long to see them grow into adults who are actively pursuing Christ.  I still don't think I'm the best teacher, but I sure hope God is using me.  I'm slowly getting to know my students better.  In the last two weeks I have been to dinner at one of my student's houses and then to a party celebrating the day of the Kids.  The dinner was great and the party was hilarious.

Just incase you're wondering, you did read the day of the kids, or the "Dia de los ninos."  I remember, as a youth, wishing for a day completely devoted to me, other than my birthday or Christmas.  I mean parents have Mother's day and Father's day.  My request for a Kid's day would always result with a reply of, "every day is kid's day."  Well, here in Guatemala October first is a day completely devoted to the kid.  It's celebrated with pizza parties and presents.  I was invited to the seventh grade party after school where I was served pizza, pop, and candy, which I ate gladly.  Only to regret the food later.  At the party all of the seventh graders were decked out in halloween garb.  (Yes they are a month early, but who cares!)  They even had a haunted house.  One of the girls was dressed up as a bunny rabbit so I asked her several times how long it took her to grow out her ears and whiskers.  Oh the joys of being a teacher.  

Then today in PE I had a great discussion with my guys about life and girls.  I hope they heard what I had to say about God and his greater plan for our lives, who knows.  I really have enjoyed getting to know my students on a less formal level.  I feel like I'm their teacher, but also a person that can relate with them and share Christ's love.  I feel like the later is happening slowly, but is happening because I'm taking the time to know them.  So I might not be able to do or teach or teach PE, but God is using me anyway.  I hope.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comer con Brendan

Just this last week my host family bought me real milk.  100% leche de vaca.  Making my breakfasts 100% more enjoyable.  Cereal and Milk are like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, together until the end.  I could consume a gallon of milk a day and eat cereal every meal.  So for the last month-and-a-half I had a difficult time downing cornflakes with dried milk, which I thought was just one of the small hardships of living in another country.  But now I am back to pure cow milk!  I have, however, found that most everything else about the food down here is not a hardship.  It is more like a blessing.  I still haven't tried everything down here, but I've eaten almost everything that is "worth" eating and have made a list of my favorite foods.  Buen pervecho (Enjoy)

-Flour tortillas made by Naomi, my host mom.  These aren't your regular home-made tortillas that look like Africa.  They’re a treat all by themselves.  She puts a bit of sugar into her dough, which makes them extremely delicious.  At the size of my head I can eat them as a stand-alone meal.  

-Chocobananas are a mix of banana and chocolate and heaven.  Naomi sells them to make a little extra money, but about twice a week she sends me to school with a couple of bananas that have been dipped in chocolate and frozen like a Popsicle, a true Guatemalan treat.

-Pache is a meal made with either rice or potatoes; I prefer potato.  It is muy rico with a texture that is soft and pleasing similar to mashed potatoes.  They wrap the rice in am oha leaf, which is a large green leaf and very similar to the leaves that Elves used to wrap lambus in, and then serve it hot with a slice of chicken in the middle.   It is great for a snack or a full meal.  

-Pancakes, okay these aren't a local anything, but my host mom makes great flapjacks.  Again, I am sure she puts about a pound of sugar into her batter.  My host mom makes these for breakfast about once a week and when she is cooking them in the kitchen directly bellow my room the sweet aroma lifts me out of bed.

-Scrambled eggs with refried beans are more common down here than beautiful women with dark eyes.  I've had this dish for both breakfast and dinner.  If you add a little picamas hot sauce to the eggs you get a nice spicy meal.  Sometimes my host mom adds peppers and cut up hotdogs to the eggs, which makes me happy.  When I am served eggs for dinner, I typically make an egg sandwich with pan and a paste of refried beans.  It fills me up and is good and cheap.

-Tacos are good down here.  Can you believe that?  As I mentioned last week, I had a great taco at the fair the other week.  I've also ventured out into the street for a tasty taco.  And I’ve been treated to a taco or two at home.  All three have been different and delicious.  I've eaten crunchy, soft, and amazingly soft and crunchy together.  (I know your thinking of taco bell, but stop this isn’t the four for a dollar Rockies special, this is the real thing.)  The best thing about the tacos is the flavor of the meat, simply a miracle, which cures all of the taste buds in my mouth.  I’d eat a taco any day if I could.

-Chevres are cheap hotdogs sold on the streets.  They’re served with mustard, a sourcrout like mix, ketchup, and mayo.  I don't like mayo so I make sure the street vendors don't ruin my chevre with it.  I think the best part of the chevres are the silver stand they are sold from.  They’re similar to ice cream stands you’d find rolling down the beach down the beach on a hot day.  I walk by a set of stands every day after I leave the gym.  The aroma is intoxicating.  It's all I can do to walk all the way home with out buying a dog and ruining my workout.

-Home cooked chicken with rice and beans is another typical meal I've been served for dinner and lunch.  Everyone jokes about how much Latin American’s eat rice and beans, but honestly I've only had this dish a few times and I've enjoyed it each time.  Today I had fried chicken with rice and corn off the cob.  It was delicious, but probably not healthy.  

         You can tell that I am eating very well down here.  I didn't list all of my favorites here, because I already listed a few last week when I talked about all of the food I ate at the fair.  My older sister, Katie, predicted that I would lose weight when I came down here.  Her prediction was based off of the change in diet.  Well, I have lost weight but that is only because I've been running and lifting weights almost every day at the gym.  I'll need to keep my gym membership if I plan on eating as well as I am right now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

La Feria y el Grito

Independence in Guatemala means two things, the fair and the grito.  La feria, as the locals call it, is a mix of rides that would never pass safety standards in the states and food, which easily pass my standards, as well as make other things pass through my standards.  The fair lasts for a little over a week and is extremely fun.  The grito, which is Spanish for the shout, is like our fireworks celebration on the 4th of July.  Except they throw a concert into the mix and give a shout out at midnight.  Both of these events are something a person living in Guatemala must experience.  I started salivating for the food at the fair about the moment I first heard about it, which happened August 1sth (the day I arrived in Xela).  Can you blame me?  All the greasy Guatemalan grub a guy could grab and crazy rides.

  Guatemalan’s official Independence day was last Monday, the 15th, which was celebrated with a gigantic party lasting from Sunday night until early Monday morning.  This was definitely one of my most enjoyable nights in Xela, even though no one gave a shout out at midnight.  The best part of the grito (just a little spanglish here) was hanging out with the crazy Guats, which was highlighted by convincing a friend to kick a sign because she was mad at someone.  She asked me to hold her drink, which I accepted and she preceded to kick around the sign and knock the drink into my face. Yuk, about as bad as crazy corn.

  The grito was a blast and something no one should miss if they are in Guatemala, but wasn’t the food fest that I had been looking forward to for a month and a half.  I’d say it was a good appetizer to the main feast.  On Wednesday night, the 17th, the main course finally was served.  Oh what a dish!

  I shall start with the rides first, because if you eat first you will throw-up, heck even if you don’t eat first you will throw-up.  I rode two rides and cut my self off.  I was way too dizzy and sore.  The first ride, the tagada, which is Spanish for ride of death, or ride at your own risk, was insane.  Even some of the Guatemalan’s won’t ride this one.  More people watch this ride than actually tempt their fates by getting on the ride. 

The tagada looks like a large upside down frizbee.  A bench sits along the outer rim with only a couple of bars behind it for “safety.”  Riders sit on this bench and hold onto the bars as the ride spins and tilts up to a 35-degree angle, riders have to hold on because there aren’t any seat belts.  Then it starts to bounce up and down in an attempt to throw the riders off the bench.  At all points on this ride death is a possibility.

  At about half past six I tempted my fate.  It was starting to get dark out, lights were bursting to life. I sat down on the hard red bench, no seat bets, remember.  I grabbed the “safety” rail behind me with my right hand, my other hand was blocked by Tony, who sat down next to me, pinning me neatly in the middle of himself and Josh.  Not a safe place.  The ride started to spin, tilted up a little making my butt slide off the seat.  Josh started kicking my legs, trying to make me slip off the seat.  I resisted.  The ride started to spin faster; then it stopped.  No time to relax.  At this stage the real danger started.  Still at a tilt the ride started to bounce me up and down.  I flew up out of my seat, or jumped as one of my students recalled who was watching from the crowd.  Fate would’ve taken my life if not for my iron grip.  I landed back on the hard bench with a thud and quickly readjusted my body so I could fend off both Josh and Tony.  This worked beautifully.  With my body turned to the side so my back was facing Tony and both feet up on the bench next to Josh’s butt.  I started pushing with all my might and nearly pushed Josh, who is about twice my size, off the bench.  The ride continued to spin and bump, but as a cowboy masters the bull, I mastered the ride.   Bruised, but satisfied I excited the victor. 

  The next ride conquered me.  It spun me up, down, inside out, and upside down.  If there was a way to spin a rider this ride spun me that way.  When the ride ended I nearly puked.  Puking would have ended my night, before the main event, which meant no more rides for me.

  Around 7 p.m. we moved into the food tent, not a moment too soon.  The clear night quickly turned into a flood.  Perfect time to eat.  My first dish was a Burrito con pollo.  Amazing! During the burrito feast I tried a bite of crazy corn.  Let me just say, yuk.  Although the Guatemalan’s don’t agree.

Next, I walked through the maze of eateries to the taco booth.  I ordered my new favorite dish, a taco on a soft flour tortilla with beef, hot sauce, and a lime. This taco was the highlight of the night, at least food wise.  My stomach was starting to feel full, but I still had so much more to try.  After a small break I grabbed a plate of pizza.  The crust was light and fluffy, but enough to make me full.  There was so much more I wanted to try, but alas I only had room for one bag of churros.  Unfortunately the consuming of the churro meant saying ciao to the Guatemalans.  I had to get to bed so I could teach the next day.

  I wanted to stay and continue to eat with the Guatemalans, but I had to be responsible, and buy a churro on my way out.  Churros are fried bread with sugar dumped on top.  This desert was fabulous.  I scarfed down my churro and was surprised to find about a cup full of sugar at the bottom of my bag.  Quickly I dumped the sugar into my mouth and called it a night.  To anyone living in Guatemala this is a must.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


J.K. Rowling is a genius. Not because her books are so entertaining (which they are), but because she describes school life so well. I’m sure she must have taught at some point in her life. During my month of teaching I have found that I may be actually teaching at a Guatemalan Hogwarts. There are some very interesting similarities between the schools. And yes that means magic. Actually, no that doesn't mean magic, but I wish it did. But there are similarities between Christianity and magic so I'll substitute there.

Here in Xela at the Inter American School we have everyone from the Weasly clan, families that have five or more students at our school, to Harry, the orphaned child. Rowling nailed the private/boarding school sibling atmosphere. There are so many brothers, sisters, and even cousins at this school that the assemblies must feel like big family reunions. Rowling’s depiction of middle schoolers also rings true. I could probably name at least one Neville here at IAS and probably even a Draco. I have a Hermoine or two, life is fun teaching over achievers, but then I also have the under achieving Ron or Harry.

I don’t have a kid that is the chosen one, just a couple that think they are. A couple of my students enjoy bending the rules, but I don’t think they really mean any harm. The other day I noticed that a couple of my kids had written their names on their desk with white out. Clearly damaging school property. Very disrespectful. I gave them all a middle school detention. Filch would have strung them up their toes, but we don’t work that way here. I think it’s stupid that they did that. The kicker was their reason for doing it. One of the guys, a squirrelly little sixth grader, told me he wrote his name on his desk so he would know where he sits. Sadly he was telling the truth. I mean didn’t we all learn from Harry and Ron that some rules are meant to be broken? I mean who really cares if the students don’t listen in class or do a lazy job on their homework? Wait a second what kind of example was Harry setting? I mean he did save the world, but does that really make him so great when he was constantly breaking the rules in school?

The students aren’t the only ones that have Hogwarts counterparts. The teachers also share some similarities. I think if I were to relate myself to a Hogwarts teacher I'd probably have to say I’m Hagrid, mostly because I have a full beard, no wait not true. I mean because I have no teaching experience. I’m learning how to handle a class. Two weeks ago I wouldn’t have known what to do about the white out incident, so I hope to move up to the level of Madame Pomfrey soon, or even Gilderoy Lockart. But that might be asking a little too much.

With all these similarities between the two schools I have noticed some differences. I think the one thing where IAS is not at all similar to Hogwarts, besides the fact that our students can't perform any type of magical incantation, is the fact that we don't have any school sports team. They all like soccer, probably as much as Harry liked Quittage, but we don't have any inner school competitions on the soccer field, nor do we have any games between other schools. As the PE coach this kind of makes me sad.

Our focus is elsewhere. We work hard on teaching the kids how to speak and read English. This is kind of like their magical power. Sounds lame, but it will help them get into better schools and open up all kinds of opportunities for them around the world. The fact that we are teaching English in Guatemala is one of the biggest similarities to Harry Potter for me. It is like we are set apart from the rest of the community. The school is set apart even more because we are a Christian school. I think the struggle of how to live a Christian life in a non-Christian world is one of the hidden themes in Harry Potter. As a Christian we are different and set apart from the world. IAS isn’t perfect but neither was Hogwarts. What matters is that our end goal is to honor Christ and I think we are doing that.

I came down to Guatemala with the blessing from my friends and church family. And I've taken the responsibility seriously. I think it is very important to share my love for Christ with all of my students. I don't preach in my classroom, but I'm forming relationships. This is what matters.

I need to go back and read Harry Potter again so I can become a better teacher. It has been my reference point to teaching so far and I believe if I had a better working knowledge of the books I might actually start to become a great something or other. I am truly enjoying my time down here and I hope that this blog has encouraged at least all of you to go read Harry Potter.

Food Review Blog coming soon!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I feel a little disoriented.
   This feeling could be explained away by the fact I had a 101.4 degree fever on Friday.   I still taught all of my classes, which included lecturing on the writing process, discussing current events, giving a spelling test, of which I would not have aced, and administrating a quiz for my seventh graders.  They didn't fair so well.  During each class I had to fight off the urge to vomit or fall over because I was dizzy.  I think I got sick because of something I ate, but I don't really know.  I know I need to start getting more sleep.  For the most part my kids were really good to me because they could tell I wasn't feeling well.  They're just fortunate I didn't give the quiz to the sixth graders and the spelling to the seventh.  
Or it could be linked to the fact that my watch doesn't work.  The battery died about three weeks ago.  I'm still wearing it because I have a watch tan to protect, but I'm getting a little tired of looking down at my watch and being told that it is 6:45 a.m. and knowing that it might really be around 2 in the afternoon, maybe.  Or maybe it's because the clocks in the school are set ten minutes behind Guate time or is that ten minutes ahead of Guate time (And what really is Guate time?) and the middle school's clocks are behind the rest of the schools clocks, which makes my day longer or shorter, I'm really not sure.  Outside of the school where Guate time is supposed to be the standard I have noticed something odd.  At the gym both of the clocks are way out of whack.  If you go upstairs to where the cardio equipment is the clock says one thing and if you go downstairs where the free weights are (I spend most of my time down here, I'm a beast) the clock says another thing.   So I never really know what time it is.  The only place where I am sure of the time is at home sitting by my computer, which has the correct time according to GST (global standard time, a term I might or might not have made up).  
But here I am in Guatemala living on Guate time, not really knowing what that really means, but living on it anyway.  I know that if someone wanted to brainwash me this is how they would start.  They would constantly keep me in a state of confusion.  Maybe Guatemala is trying to convince me to live a more laid back life style.  Wait, I'm already laid back.  Maybe they just want me to forget how the rest of the world works and realize that I should live my entire life down here, but then again the clocks could just be wrong.  This is the third world after all.  I have been here a month and well, I think another month will sort things out a bit more. 
God is teaching me a lot.  I'm still not sure what I think of teaching.  I have up days and down days.  I am ready for the rainy season to end so I can go hiking more.  Maybe I just feel disoriented because I am used to an easy life where I don't have to deal with much.  God is teaching me how to face my problems.  I don't have a job where I can check out at 5 when I get home, if it really is 5.  I'm working with lives and thats a whole different ball game.  These kids require my time and my love.  I guess the thought of responsibilities alone is a little disorienting.  But God has my back, and that is a good thing.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Loving the Rockies!

Early June 2007 the Rockies were mired in another season of futility.  Their record was somewhere around 25-30 and they looked to be going no where.  That summer I went to Disney land with my family to celebrate a bunch of graduations inside the family.  My dad just received his Doctorate from Fuller Seminary, my older sister Katie had just graduated from NMSU after seven grueling years with her bachelors degree, and I was just about to graduate from the University of Colorado.  Emmy had just conntinueated (the spelling dictionary doesn't even know this word), but I don't think this really counted for anything and I'm still not sure what it really means.  All I know is she was in the 8th grade and she was on summer break before she started High School.  My mom and my Brother-in-law Michael were allowed to come on the trip even though they weren't graduating from anything.  I guess we let them come because we love them.  Well, anyway we were in Southern California and going to Disneyland as a family for the first time.  This was a not a first for my parents nor was it a first for Michael, but as a 23 year old it was a first time for me.  I don't think I was to old to go, but I sure wouldn't have minded being able to ride all of the amazing rides at a younger age too.
  However, this is not about my first magical experience at Disneyland.  This is not about how I sang Yo Ho (A Pirates life for me!) as I floated through the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, nor is it how my mom waived to Barre Rabbit right before we splashed down on Splash Mountain.  This is about my love for the Rockies and how they gave me a little treat this season. 
 If anyone were to look at the family photos from the trip they would notice me wearing a well worn out Colorado Rockies hat.  During the previous season I started wearing my hat everywhere to show everyone that the Rockies had true fans.  Now remember at this time the Rockies had yet to do anything to garner any respect.  So here we were on our family vacation, me clad in my rockies hat, and my mom asks, "Brendan, why do you still like the Rockies? They aren't any good."  I was shocked.  My first thought was of my Grandma who had been a die hard Rockies fan almost her entire elderly life.  She probably would have told my mom to do something crass.  I, however, had a little more grace.  It took me a minute to regain myself.  I didn't think my mom would ever say something that ridiculous.

Calmly I replied. "Mom, a true fan loves his team no matter what.  I'm not a fare weather fan and I will stick with the Rockies no matter what."  Little did I know that my faithfulness would be rewarded.  Last season the Rockies swept the Yankees.  How about that, the Yankees.  Any other year for a true Rockies fan like me I would have been able to live on that sweep alone.  But the Rockies didn't stop there.  As June rolled into July they continued creeping
 up the standings.  By Late August they were five games back of the Padres for the west and four games over five hundred.  I think at this point I was really hoping for a winning season, nothing more.  September of 2007 blew me away.  All of a sudden they couldn't lose.  Every game they had to win they did.  During this stretch I wore my rockies hat very proudly, but I would have still worn it with my head held high even if they hadn't been on such a great run.  On Friday September 28th I finally went to a game.  The stadium was packed.  Jeff Francis was pitching against Brandon Webb.  And wouldn't you know my luck the Rockies lost.  The game was hectic, we had runners on in the 7th 8th and  9th but just couldn't score.  I felt so let down.  I figured the magical season was over.  I was wrong.  The regular season ended with the Rockies in a tie for the Wild Card Spot with the Padres.  

What followed next was the greatest game ever played in baseball history.  I know some of you will argue with me on that fact.  But I want you to know this, I'm right and you live in an East Coast centered media bias and need to get your head out of your, um well anyway.  The game was a back and forth battle with the game going into extra innings.  What a thrill ride.  In the top of the 13th the Padres scored twice.  My entire family groaned.  My mom was even there watching with anticipation.  Almost all hope was lost.  How could the Rockies score three runs to win it?  They hadn't produced any type of scoring threat since the 6th.  But against Trevor Hoffman, the greatest closer the game has ever seen, the Rockies scored three runs.  The last a dramatic head first slide into home plate by Matt Holliday, the real MVP (again East Coast Bias would claim differently).  His chin bleeding he rose in triumph.  I was ecstatic!  The Playoffs!  The Rockies made quick work of the heavily favored Philies and their MVP short stop, who wasn't even as good as our short stop Tulo (the real rookie of the year), and then they took care of the Diamondbacks to sweep their way into the World Series.

Just a side note on the east coast media bias.  The Rockies had the best deffence ever in baseball history and didn't win a single gold glove.  How do you figure that?  Popularity contest, maybe?  And what about the fact that Tulo finished near the top ten in MVP voting where E5 Braun who won the rookie of the year didn't even finish in the top 20 for MVP voting.  Weird, huh?

The World Series was a let down, but I'll settle for National League Champions any day over missing the playoffs again.  Their ride to the World Series was nothing short of amazing.  They won 21 out of 22 games to get there.  No other team has ever been that hot.  Unfortunately they finished ice cold.  8 days off before the fall classic cooled their bats off.  I still loved every minute of it.  I saved every newspaper article I could.  I'm all about memorabilia, but I was also thinking of my Grandma.  She loved this team more than anyone.  She would have had a crush on Tulo and would have been so happy for Todd Helton.  I cried when they beat the Dbacks to reach the World Series.  I was excited for my team, but also missing my Grandma.  She would have loved this entire experience so much.  I credit her with instilling in me the love of my team.  We used to watch the games together.  Back when the Blake Street Bombers lit up the night.  So I saved every article with her in mind.  Maybe when my mom asked me that ridiculous question back in June of 2007 I should have said I love the Rockies because my Grandma loved the Rockies and I love her.  I think that would be my real reason.

To me watching a Rockies game takes me back to her small apartment.  It takes me back to my youth.  It also reminds me of lazy summer evenings with my dad.  He loves the Rockies too.  But he lets his emotions sway his loyalty a little.   He gets mad at them more than I do.  Watching the Rockies reminds me of the love I have for my family.  It is something we all share.  My little sister Emmy has even started to follow the team!  

This brings us to this last Friday night.  I was feeling a little lonely and a little left out.  Most of the guys had gone out of town and I was left behind to sit and read or watch tv.  It is hard being the only new guy who didn't already know anyone down here.  Friendships don't just spring out of no where, they take time.  And a month in I am still working hard to form connections with the guys down here.  So instead of feeling lonely and sorry for my self I decided to watch tv.  I was flipping through the channels, most everything was in spanish and so I didn't know what was being said (I don't start lessons until next tuesday), but I hit a channel with something familiar on the screen.  A baseball player.  The team that was up to bat was the Padres.  I figured I would watch some baseball even if I didn't like either teams playing.  Then I remembered that the Rockies were playing the Padres this weekend.  And sure enough Aaron Cook was on the mound for my team, the Rockies! 

What a treat.  A little slice of home at a time when I was feeling a little home sick.  I watched the entire game.  I got to see Garrett Atkins blast two home runs out of pitcher friendly Petco Park.  To me this game was as meaningful as game 163 that blasted the Rockies into the postseason and ended the Padres season.  Neither team has been as good this year as they were last year.  The Padres suck and the Rockies have been inconsistent at best.  They have been playing well recently, but they need to do more than that.  I am not sure they will make the runl like they made last year, but I will love it if they do.  Heck I'll love them if they don't.  They gave me a treat Friday night when I needed it most.  As I watched the game in spanish I felt at home.  I'm not sure anything else could have comforted me the way watching the Rockies did that night.
Quick update on my life outside of baseball.  The second week of teaching was fun, but by friday I was ready to have a day off.  I am getting more comfortable with my Spanglish.  Yesterday I went on my first hike.  One of the other new teachers who has lived down here for a while took me up above the city.  It was beautiful and just what I needed.  Its hard being a mountain boy living in the middle of a city, even if the city is small and surrounded by mountains.  I am going to try to make sure I go on a hike at least once a week.  Again, thanks for all of the prayers.  I love and miss all of you.

Also you might notice that I'm not wearing my NL champions hat in the last two pictures.  That is because I am superstitious and am trying to make the Rockies win by not wearing my hat.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

First Week Teaching

I would like to say a big thank you to all of the teachers that took time out of their lives to help educate me.  This includes my mom and my dad.  They are great people and great friends.  After teaching for a week I now realize how much work this profession takes.  I am learning that I must dedicate myself to my work so that my students receive the best education possible.  This means I can only check twice an hour instead of four times.  This is going to be very difficult to do since I just joined a fantasy football league (I'll explain more about this later).  I will still need time to see how the Broncos are doing.  I know they lost this weekend, but by half time when the starting offense left the field they were winning so that is good enough for me.  I am still concerned with their defense.  Hopefully they can turn it around by the time the season starts.  The way the Rockies are playing baseball season will be over soon, which kills me to say, but that will clear up more time for me to work on my lesson plans.  Or as I call them, my game plans.  Another thing that will give me more time to get my work done is the closing of the Olympics.  I am very proud that the United States did so well.  I am still a little bitter over them losing the Gymnastics team Gold to the Chinese.  They should not have lost considering they won Gold on all of the individual events except one or two, not to mention the cheating commies (sorry had to say it).  I have been spending way to much time reading about that controversy.  I have also been reading about the U.S. men's basketball team.  I didn't get to watch any of the games because of the time differences and such, but I am very relieved they won gold.  I really expect nothing less.  I mean we invented the game.  So now that most of these things are wrapping up I'll have plenty of time to game plan.  I'll just have to learn how to work the Broncos, CU Buff's (cool story I was walking around town the first weekend and I saw a CU Buff sticker on the back of one of the cars!), the Rockies (threw September at least!), and fantasy football into my busy teaching schedule.
Here are my first impressions of teaching.  I am blind and my students aren't.  They can spell and I cannot.  I surprised them with a pop quiz spelling test and they all aced it.  I would have failed this quiz miserably.  As a matter of fact if there wasn't a little thing called spell checking most of this blog would look like it was written by a first grader instead of resembling the writing of a fifth grader.  How did I get a job teaching sixth grade English?  I am pretty sure
 they are smarter than me, or better students than I ever was.  I have been enjoying my time with them in class.  On Monday we played a couple of icebreakers.  I think they enjoyed it because they keep on asking to play more games.  (If anyone has any game ideas you should share them with me.)  On Tuesday we actually opened the books and I taught a real lesson.  Shockingly I have been very comfortable in front of the classroom.  I am working my hardest to be fair, but strict.  I cannot let my students walk all over me.  My seventh grade Latin American History class is a little bit more difficult.  Not because of the students but because I don't know the subject as well.  The seventh graders are also quite a bit more talkative than my sixth graders.
I think something else that is helping me stay calm while I am teaching is the knowledge that I don't have to be the greatest teacher ever and I don't have to expect to be amazing at it either.  I didn't go to school to learn how to teach.  And because I don't have any background in teaching I know that I need to lean on God for support rather than my own knowledge.  With that being said I am starting to realize that I have something to offer to my students.  God is showing me how to lead them and use the gifts he has blessed me with.  I have 11 sixth graders.  They are all learning how to use their lockers and turn in assignments for different classes.  My seventh graders seem to be very comfortable with this middle school thing.  They don't like homework
, but when they do turn it in they typically do a very good job.  My eighth graders are a mystery.  Mostly because I haven't had a class with all of them yet.  That will change tomorrow.  My middle school PE class is very funny.  I had them run and do stretches this last week.  Lets just say most of these kids are out of shape.  I'm working on fixing this situation.  My high school PE class has been fun.  I only have 6 guys and they are all very willing to run around and be active.  
So far my typical teaching day looks a little like this.  I teach a first period class, what class it is depends on what day of the week it is.  Then I have two hours to plan or check my email or read up on the most current sporting news.  If I am on top of my game I can use this time to relax a little more.  Then at 11 I teach the first part of my English class.  Then we have lunch.  I have enjoyed my time at lunch because the kids don't mind me eating with them.  They all really want to get to know me.  In fact in my seventh grade Latin Am. History class I was asking them what they wanted to know for the class and one of the kids said they wanted to know about me.  Pretty sure they were just trying to get out of doing class work.  After lunch I teach the second part of my English class.  Then I teach my Latin American History class.  By this time the seventh graders are ready to be doing almost anything but sit around in their seats.  High School PE, my last class, is all the way back up the hill.  The school is built on a hill and is separated by grades.  Middle schoolers are all the way down the hill.  This hill is ridiculous and most of the middle schoolers struggle to walk it every day.  I am starting to get used to it, but it's still not fun.  My high schoolers seem to appreciate the fact that I have to
 walk up from the middle school building because it gives them extra time to dress out.  That is my teaching schedule as best as I can give it right now.  My middle schoolers are adorable and I am very glad that I came down to Guatemala to teach.  I think my favorite thing about teaching so far is getting to know my students.  I have assigned a couple of projects where my students have to tell a little bit about themselves.  They are all so unique.  My favorite assignment so far was my biography assignment I gave to my sixth graders.  Most of them wrote the most caring things about their moms, some wrote about their best friend, but each assignment was just so cute.  Not all of them were done correctly, but cute none the less.  Reading over them really made my day.  I was sitting in my little office/storage room listening to Darrell Evens and grading the assignments and the song "I am so in love with you" came on.  Darrell really captured the way I was feeling right then.  God has me where I need to be and I am really grateful for that.  Besides learning how to teach and keeping up with all of my sports teams I have been keeping myself busy by hanging out with the other teachers.  I am now a regular at the gym.  I hope to be back in tip top shape as soon as possible.  On Friday night I went out with a group of teachers to celebrate Becky's, a fellow middle school teacher, birthday.  We made our way around town and some how ended up at a dance club.  At the dance club I made a fool of myself.  But I had a very good time anyway, plus I had to dance off all of the tres leche. 
Yesterday was the fantasy football draft day for the league I joined. I have fundamental  problems with fantasy football.  I don't like how it forces people to cheer against their own team.  Like when the Broncos play the Raiders on Monday night football here in a couple of weeks I am going to be forced to hope that both McFadden and Fargus have good games because I drafted them onto my team.  I really just took both of them because I didn't want anyone else to have them, but now I have to root for the Raiders.  Dad you can disown me.  Maybe I'll just trade them so I can feel okay about myself.  The only reason why I am playing fantasy football is to fit in.  Okay I know that sounds bad, but I am in another country and well I want to be able to do things with my friends down here.  My team is mostly made up of Broncos.  I am a homer and I know it, but I couldn't not pick Brandon Marshal and Jay Cutler and Eddie Royal and Andre Hall.  My team is going to be sick.  After the we completed the draft (it only took 2 hours) we all went to the soccer game.  I didn't get lost this time, but I almost got stuck in the rain with out my rain jacket.  Fortunately it stopped raining right as we were leaving for the stadium.
The game was very boring.  In the first half the forwards were not running creative roots and their touches were lackluster.  But in the second half, while I was using the restroom the Super Chivos (Xelaju's soccer team) got a penalty kick.  I made it back down to my seat just in time to see the goal.  I jumped onto the fence with every-other crazed soccer fan and screamed my guts out.  This was repeated when they scored their second goal and repeated again when we thought they scored their third goal.  I still don't like soccer, but I had fun with all of my friends at the game.  I do have to say that I still don't think anything beats a good CU football game.  I am sure going to miss singing the fight song with all of my friends in Folsom Field.
Things that I didn't mention from this week; Chinese food, Montazoma's revenge, farting in class, and the decision never to have Chinese food again.  I have eaten out on the street a lot and in a coming blog I will write about all the great food I have had.  I am waiting until the fair when I get to try all kinds of cool food.  I also used a Brian Regan sketch explain the I before E rule.  Which goes something like this I before E except after c and and when sounding like a as in neighbor and weigh and on weekends and holidays and all throughout may and you'll be wrong no matter what you say!  They also know their plurals.  They now know that the plural form of box is boxen.  I think I might start to write more often so the blog doesn't end up being so long.  Again, I am working on putting up pictures.  I have been busy teaching so give me a break.  Also, I would like to thank all of you for the prayers and emails.  I am grateful to have you guys in my life.

I just added a few pictures.  The top one is the middle school building I teach in and the other one is at the soccer game.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Flexibility is Key! and someone is using my toothpaste.

Word around the street is that Michael Phelps is a beast, but is scared to compete against me in the 100 meeter splash and flail.  I own that event.  Everyone here in Guatemala, or at least my host family and all the teachers at school are enamored with his abilities.  I just wish I could swim normally let alone set world records every time I get wet.  I'm also very pleased to see that the Broncos dominated Dallas.  The starters won the game 14-0 and the second string played a solid game as well leading to a 23-13 game!  The Rockies have won three in a row, which wont get them back into contention, but it's a start.  I am loving that I have been able to stay on top of my sports teams.  I also found out that We get ESPN Thursday night college football, which means I will get to watch CU play at least once this year!  Things are on the up and up.

Now to the stuff that matters.  First, I want to thank each and everyone of you who have emailed me with encouragement.  This las week has been very busy, but fun.  On Monday the girl who was to be teaching English with me in Middle School didn't show up.  Apparently she was very sick.  On Tuesday she still hadn't made it to school.  By Wednesday I was starting to get worried that she was going to back out and I would have to teach her classes as well as my own.  By Thursday it was announced that she was not going to be teaching at IAS (my school, check it out at  Michael, the director, asked me if I was willing to be flexible and I told him I was up to doing whatever.  Later that day I found out that I would be teaching sixth grade English and seventh grade Latin American History, instead of seventh grade English and sixth grade Old Testament Bible, Jason (aka Tank) moved up from fifth grade to middle school, and they found a new teacher to replace Jason's empty fifth grade position.  Jason majored in Theology so that is why he took my Bible class, which forced me to switch classes as well.  As a result of these changes I had to re-plan my classes.  This was a little stressful, but I got everything completed.  I know that God is in control and will use me as long as I step forward.  I am very glad that I came down here to try something new.  I just hope that I continue to live each day in the present.  As long as I don't think about how long it is until June I'm fine. 
All of the returning teachers arrived this week, which was very cool.  They have been a great source of information and really have helped me plan out a lot of what I am going to be doing in my classes.  I will now be teaching sixth grade English, sixth grade Geography, seventh grade Latin American History, seventh grade current events, eighth grade current events, middle school PE, and high school PE.  Teaching sixth grade English will be interesting.  Mostly because I'll be teaching spelling.  I am slightly unqualified to teach this subject.  Something like the blind leading the blind.  I'll do my best but if these kids come out knowing how to spell we'll all know a miracle occurred.  I at least know something about history, so that change won't be too bad.  I'm very excited to start teaching tomorrow, or let me put that a different way, I'm excited to meet the students and a little nervous about teaching.  But, I am learning to trust God with the things I really don't have control over.  I can't make myself a perfect teacher in the time I was given to prepare.  All I can do is put my best foot forward.  Like I said the returning teachers have been great and I am going to use them a lot.

Another good thing about the returning teachers is the fact they want to hang out and do stuff.  I joined a gym with a couple of the teachers on Wednesday and I have gotten back into running.  My knee has been feeling fine, which excites me.  What doesn't excite me is I get winded after 1 mile.  Oh well.  I do enjoy going to the gym and I know I'll get my endurance back.  None of the other male teachers work out at the gym so I go with Randi (she is from Nashville and teaches High Science and middle school girls PE), Becky (she is from Houston and teaches middle school science), and Liz (she is from Florida and teaches third grade).  All of the guys talk about or actually play sports.  I might try to practice on one of the teams.  But I enjoy going to the gym.  I want to stay healthy for life.  On Friday after the gym we met with some of the other teachers for drinks.  I had a weird lemonade drink.  Not sure I liked it.  I had a lot of fun though, and I'm excited to see how my new community continues to form.  I'm really enjoying where God has me right now.

I have been going to Palabra en Acion for church the last two weeks.  They provide translators, which is great because I am only starting to learn spanish, my lessons start this week; I hope.  It is a Pentecostal Church so they stand up a lot.  The service is 2 plus hours long, but the service is very enjoyable.  Although I don't think I should stay up until 3 a.m the night before church again.  At least I got up and made it to church by 8 a.m. and I was able to stay awake and pay attention to the service.  So I guess that is a good thing.

Last night a group of us went and watched Michael and Tank  play basketball against a team from the coast.  I love basketball but it is really hard to pay attention to a game when the scoreboard isn't working.   I was pretty sure Xela (pronounced Shea la, the team Michael and Tank play for) was blowing out the other team, but apparently they only won by 4 points.  After the game we all went to a birthday party for a couple of local guys.  It was rather crazy and there were a few hot words between a few of the Guatemalan's who had probably consumed a few to many free beverages.  This was my second venture into Xala night life.  I think I want to learn how to salsa dance so I can  be more of an active participant in the revelry.  I guess I'll have to see if I can fit that into my busy schedule.  Lets just say it is very very very last on the list of things to do.

Top on the list of things to do is to find out who is using my toothpaste.  I have been keeping my toiletries in my room and twice I have found my tube of toothpaste squeezed from the middle and I only squeeze from the bottom.  I need Monk to come down here and solve this case.  I just think its weird that someone is coming into my room to get my toothpaste.  If they want to barrow some just ask.  I'll say yes because I wont know what they are really asking about because they'll be speaking Spanish.

Last thing I wanted to say was I am very grateful for all of your prayers.  I was feeling rather lonely last week and this week I have felt very comforted and accepted by the people I am working with.  I'm not a lone.  Each of you are here with me through your prayers.  God is with me and will use me tomorrow when I start to teach the sixth grade class how to spell.  God can raise the dead, surly he can use me to teach them how to spell.