Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Break

I'm sitting in the airport right now, waiting for my flight. Yes, it's that time already-- the time when multitudes of college students are released from the confines of their studying and are unleashed on the unsuspecting world. Although on my way home, I have one project yet to finish. In spite of this, I am confident that break will be good, and that I will finish my last bit in plenty of time.

Going home? Yes. Looking forward to it? Yes. Having gotten 9 hours of sleep between the last three nights, I think it'll be nice to try for that in a single night. "Dream on," you say, "that'll never happen." Yes, I realize that it's chances are low, yet I continue to hope, because, after all, that is the foundation of Christianity. [maybe I'll blog on that a little later, hey?]

'tis all

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Another month has gone by, and it is time again for an update. What have I been up to in the last month? I've written about 70 pages of papers, read countless books, had numerous conversations, and made innumerable cups of coffee/tea. It's been a good month.

For one week during the middle of November I took a course in Calgary. We did five days of class, 6 hours of class a day. It was fun, mostly because I did it with all the other senior interns in Explore and Discover and we were able to hang out together outside of class time. It also snowed, and I was the driver, so I got a lot of practice driving in Alberta snow. 'Twas fun, but I've now had my fill of that variety of winter driving.

Last night Discover had their big fund raising event, raising money for our ministry practicum in El Salvador. The girls put a ton of work into it, and it went off well. We did coffee, punch, and tons of baked goods. Also had live music and live and silent auction items. In the two hour event we made over $2200! I was quite impressed by the entire event and how well they pulled it off.

In personal news, God's been teaching me to depend on Him more. I've been able to develop good relationships with a bunch of the girls in Discover and it's been fun to see what God's done with that. He's able to do abundantly more than we ask or imagine!

A verse which has stood out to me lately is Daniel 11:32b, "but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action." This verse reminds me of three things: 1) I need to continue pursuing God so that I can truly know Him; 2) in what I do know, I must stand firm; and 3) if I know God and know what I should do, then I am obligated to take action on it. It's been neat to see what effect this perspective has on my life.

What's next? I have four more class sessions, one more paper, two finals, four meetings, and a bunch of random things to finish up before I fly home a week from today. It's gonna be good!


Sunday, October 31, 2010


Obviously it has yet again been a couple more months and I am finally updating all y'all again. Here's a rundown of my activities in the last while:

September: I went down to Montana and went white water rafting in the pouring down rain (5-day trip). After that we went camping for a few day (beautiful weather), and then headed to Spokane, WA. In Spokane we did our ministry skills overview: the students spent 9 days learning about community development, church and urban ministry (my focus), and TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages). During that time we lived at a sweet mansion on Liberty Lake and cooked all our own meals together.

October: We began October with our ministry skills specializations. For a week my group lived in downtown Spokane and volunteered at several places (feeding ministry, youth ministry, homeless ministry, etc.). We also partnered with a church there to learn more about ministry and be involved with their ministry a little. The other two groups focused on community development and TESOL respectively. After finishing specialization, we returned to Montana and did some classes. I mostly did homework... and spending time with students... and spiritual formation class.

Now? Well, I'm back at Prairie, starting in on classes. I'm doing Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, Principles of Managing Not-For-Profit Organizations, Acts, and finishing up an Urban Strategies distance ed course, not to mention Spiritual Formation and my internship stuff. It's keeping me busy, but it's fun too-- which is good.

A couple words on Perspectives: If you're a Christian, you should take the course. It's designed for anyone to do. You can be as involved as you want: auditing it, doing the basic work, certificate level work, college level work, or graduate level work. The course is about what God is doing on earth-- His global purpose-- and how we can be involved. It has the power to change your perspective on involvement in missions forever. What does it mean to be a "world-class Christian?" How do you support missions from where you live? What is involved in reaching people who have never heard the Gospel before? Can a Muslim also be a Christian? Is the Great Commission only found in the end of the Gospels, or is it something woven throughout Scripture? Were the Gentiles an afterthought/something God just included because the Jews weren't responsive? All of these questions, and hundreds more, are addressed in the course. Written by experts in their field and people with experience as well, the articles are both interesting and informative.

That was more than a "couple words," but as you can see I'm a huge fan of Perspectives. If you're interested in taking it, let me know-- I can connect you up! While it's been a lot of homework for me (since I'm taking it for credit), it has been well worth the effort and quite enjoyable. As an Intercultural Studies major, I've studied a lot of things related to other cultures and missions, and this course brings everything together in a very coherent and intriguing manner!

Well, that's all for now!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Here are some pictures from our backpacking trip:

The view into a valley we had just hiked out of:


My pack

Climbing down the chains-- my favorite part of the backpacking trip!

Catching Up

Well, after another extended break, I'm returning to my blog. After realizing that my latest post was July 6th, I hope to make amends by posting a few times in the next couple days. Considering that there are few who actually read this, well, I hope you enjoy it.


I returned to college in the end of July. After joyfully reuniting with the rest of my staff team, we headed out on a backpacking trip in the Kananaskis area of Alberta. It's kind near Banff, if you know where that is. We hiked near streams, lakes, and mountains, with beautiful views and great company. Parts of it were challenging, but most of it was just good fun. Raining once a day, there were no problems, except for when our tarp leaked and my sleeping bag got soaked. Oh well, I like spooning with people for warmth anyway. =)

After a few days of hiking and a solo day with God, we returned to Calgary and spent a few days living downtown and getting to know the city. We went straight from backpacking to church (without having showered). Yes, that church definitely had a smoking section that day... camp fire smoke is far superior to tobacco smoke, thankfully. We wandered the city, observed, talked with people, made artisan bread and ate it with random strangers, watched a GreenPeace protest, studied up on different aspects of the city (art and oppression, badges of wealth and signs of poverty, and social estrangement and physical isolation), and served at the Jesus Loves You Society, a place that serves single mothers and their kids. Overall it was an excellent period of group bonding and learning how we work together.

After returning to Prairie we started in getting ready for the students to arrive. This included designing our teams for the year, writing up descriptions of our leadership areas (job areas), getting the details in place for our trip to the U.S., and mentally preparing for another year of serving the students who were to arrive soon.

Students arrived on the 20th. From that point on, things have been busy! More to follow....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reflection from time in the Word

I was reading one of my favorite psalms this evening, Psalm 63. It begins as follows,

"O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water."

While these words are an accurate reflection of my heart's long-term desire, it is not my heart's constant desire. I am not constant in my longing for God. Another psalm says,

"My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my hear and flesh sing for joy to the living God." (Ps. 84:2)

Such good words! Yet truly, I find that a more accurate reflection of my heart's state is often found in Psalm 73:2-3,

"But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."

The gift of the poet is that he can put words together in such a way that touch the hearts of others. Yet the Christian's life is not poetry. It is not even skillfully written prose. It is more often broken, almost falling apart, envious of those who are not constrained by a relationship with a holy and righteous God, and seeking to become more consistent in its right desires. Yet that is where the power of the Christian's life comes from. Not that he is able to produce a perfect life, devoid of fault and which everyone around is compelled to emulate. No, rather that he is able to live in honesty, admitting the times when he fails or falls, constantly picking up the pieces and continuing to live on.

The Christian life is not about perfection. That will have to wait for heaven. It is about constancy, and continuing to pursue a relationship with the God who has provided a way to know Him personally.

Oh, how did Asaph (the guy who wrote Psalm 73) solve his problem of envy? Check this out:

"But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end." (73:16-17)

Meet with God and consider the end of the matter. Check out the rest of these psalms. It'll be worth it, I assure you. (Psalms 63, 73, and 84).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Late May

As so obviously stated in the post title, it is now late May. I'm home again for the "summer", or rather until the end of July, when I take up internship duties again and return to my main life of travel. Until then, I'll be posting on here some of my doings at home and thoughts on life. Hope you stick around to see what my little grey cells can produce. ~grin~

Until later, which might be sooner instead.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A collection of postings

Well, I'm back from Practicum. We did a ton of things, and I'll give a more full explanation of activities in due time. Until then, here's a collection of writing that I did during practicum. Enjoy!

March 17th:
It’s a gorgeous day here in El Salvador. From my hammock on the 2nd story I can see quite aways up the hillside. There’s bamboo growing behind one house: 25 or 30 feet tall. Behind another there are palm trees, coconut palms, and bana trees. Looking across at the hill, there are some little trees growing around a radio tower. I see a bit of chain link fence in the distance and conjecture that it marks some property.

Firecrackers explode, the sound reverberating off the hills. Roosters crow, hens cluck and coo, and birds chirp and sing. The metal roof above me is crackling, expanding as it warms up. Now plant leaves are twitching from a slight breeze… now quivering with a bit more.

The morning is comparatively cool, probably only 80 degrees out. The humidity makes up for less heat though, causing one to wonder if it is possible to truly be cool again. It’s amazing how quickly one can forget.

Two months ago yesterday we left Canada, driving, flying, and then driving again. Two weeks and four days from now we will be returning to Canada—by bus, jet, and van. Before then, though, we have things to do. We must teach English do carnivals, watch guitar lessons, make pupusas, finish homework projects, and many more things. Oh, and Jordan and I have to translate El Salvadoran Spanish, which even we don’t understand most of the time.

March 18th:
Going for a drive today, we climbed into the back of the pickup and took off. Up hill, down hill, around sharp corners—the breeze whipping our hair all around us. A little respite from the midday heat, as well as time to chatter away in English except when getting descriptions of the scenery from Pablo and William

“Eso es el vocan San Misael.”
“This is the volcano San Misael.”

We zipped through numerous little communities, learning assorted facts about the area’s history, people, and needs. Eventually we arrived at our destination. Descending from the pickup, we began climbing a hill overlooking all of Cabanas. From the top we could see Cabanas, 3 volcanoes, Rio Lempa, Honduras, and areas close to San Salvador. Pictures, pictures, and more pictures, we then strided across to another hill with a slightly different view. Memory cards full and camera batteries dead, we returned to the truck, ready to descend the hills and return to Victoria.

But no, we turned away from Victoria and drove towards Sansuntepeque, stopping at a viewpoint on a corner. Quickly erasing unneeded pictures and trading out batteries, we took pictures and admired the view of the sunset. Laughing, chatting, and playing with William’s son, we enjoyed the peace of the sunset, interrupted only by cars zipping along the road and disappearing around the corner. The sun completely down, we finally returned to the house to eat dinner.

March 20th:
It’s a quiet evening on the El Salvadoran border. I can hear a few lone birds chirping, and many crickets or other night-loving critters. As I swing in a hammock, a cool breeze plays over my face, reminding me of the former intensity of the day’s heat. The sun has set beyond the hills, and the world has turned gray, as the moon begins to show itself from behind a distance hill. The red lights on the radio tower flash intermittently, reminding low-flying aircraft of the treacherous terrain below. Thinking of aircraft reminds me of a story told here about the townspeople of Victoria and the surrounding villages. When the civil war reached the border region of El Salvador in 1982-3, the military had a base in Victoria. This meant that many civilians were killed in guerrilla attacks on the military base. On March 18th, 1982, many villagers tried to escape to Honduras by sneaking to the Rio Lempa and swimming across it. The military found out about their attempt to leave, however, and began attacking the people, with helicopters, planes, tanks, and soldiers on foot. Many people died that day. Tonight, however, everything is peaceful. I hear some reggae music as a truck drives by, showing off its good sound system. If people spend money on nothing else here, they spend it on a sound system. Another vehicle revs its engine as it accelerates down the street. Stars are beginning to appear, contrasting with the darkening night sky. Now it is dinner time, and this will end.

March 20th:
I played soccer with some kids today. Some of the boys at the carnival didn’t want to play the other games, so we started kicking around a soccer ball. So, there I was, standing in the sun, chasing boys who were kicking around a little ball, and having the time of my life. Up the ball went in the air, down it came again, connecting with my head as I butted it toward the other end of the “cancha.” The boys yelled and off they ran to retrieve the ball and bring it my way again. The hot sun shone down on me while chicharras sang from the trees. Other kids yelled as they played with a jump rope and did a bean bag toss. Girls sat on a mattress as they got their hair braided and face painted. Music blared from the stereotypical latino sound system, brought in by a woman from a development organization in Victoria. We played and played, never tiring of the game, always excited by new developments and enjoying the feel of dirt on our feet, playing in the rough road.

March 21st:
Sunday morning, fiesta time. Normally Sunday mornings are the quiet part of the week, the peaceful part. Well this one certainly is not! There are loud speakers outside in the park, blaring music, advertisements, and announcements about the day’s events. Vehicles drive past and drop people off at central park, one pickup unloading 20 people from the back. It’s the 30th anniversary of the death of a guy by the name of Romero. The day is celebrated by Catholics in Central America, as he is known as the intercessor for the poor here. They celebrate with traditional foods, dances, popular music, and more. We’ll go out later and see the celebration, but for now we’ll be content to stay inside and listen.

Church will start soon. We’re having two services today—a Spanish one at 10:30 and an English one at 11:30. I offered up a sermon on my MP3 player for it: Total Trust, by Joshua Harris. I think it will speak to the team pretty well.

March 21st:
We went to the pool today. Well, you could say that we went to the pool. We hopped in the back of a pickup, all 17 of us, drove for half an hour down dirt, stone, and a little bit of asphalt roads, and then arrived at a pool. We quickly stripped down to our swimsuits and hopped in the pool. Lo and behold, the pool wasn’t as clean as we thought it was. Sure, the water was cloudy, but that wasn’t the problem. No, the problem was that there were floaties in the pool—floaties of chicken poo. Disgusting! We waded around a little, pretending to enjoy the water for the sake of our hosts who had brought us there. Then we exited that pool and went to the kiddie pool. Obviously chickens didn’t bathe as much in that one, and we splashed around in it for awhile. We tossed a coconut back and forth, as well as a plastic Claro ball. A true tropical paradise… coconut, dirty pool, and fun people.

March 22nd:
Built chicken coops today. Jon was in charge of it, but he understands pretty much nothing of what people here say, so Jordan and I did a lot of the organizing. We started by having the whole team go to the hardware store while Pablo purchased materials. We bought wire, wood, and nails, which actually took awhile, because the men working there had to cut all the wire to the exact length needed. It probably took an hour. Then we split up in groups and went to our respective construction sites. That’s where the problems started.

We were let into a house and then left there. Charlie went with Don William to drop supplies at the other location and we were left alone. Well, alone with the woman of the house. She zipped out a stream of words that I barely caught the drift of… something about taking the supplies out back. So, we took the supplies out back, introducing ourselves to the woman of the house. When we had all the materials at the back, she let out another bunch of words which indicated to me that we needed to see where to put the house… whether in the back of the yard-area, or closer to the house. So, we looked around and eventually decided to put it in back. There was a make-shift chicken shelter in the corner, which we began pulling apart in order to clear land for the coop. While we were doing that, we realized that we had nothing in the way of tools—no hammers, saws, or anything to measure with. I asked the woman about it, and she said that a neighbor had a saw and that there was a hammer somewhere. So, we stood around a little.

Then Pablo, Rosa, and Charlie showed up. At the same time a saw arrived, along with a hammer. Pablo had a measuring tape, so we began sorting things out a little. They decided that it was better to build the coop closer to the house, so we cleared a different area. Pablo showed us a little of what we should do to build a door, so we started on that while a couple members of the family began digging holes to put the corner posts in. I went up to help them with the corner posts, because we had too many hands sawing wood and measuring down below. Pablo left again, leaving us to decide how best to finish the project. We broke for lunch once the door frame was done and the corner posts were finished.

When we returned from lunch, Shorr and Chantelle began putting wire on the door we’d made while Jon and I figured out how to attach the roof. We sawed, hammered, held a makeshift ladder, carried tin for the roof (and cut ourselves on it), and chatted with the girl from the family who was helping us. By 3:30, the project was done; we took a picture with the family and headed back to Funde Familia, where the directors were just arriving.


So, there's a little taste of things. Hopefully some day I'll put up some pictures. Until then, cheers.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

El Ășltimo fin de semana

Well, we passed through our last weekend of ministry in Chimal and are now preparing for continued travel. Here's a little summary of the weekend:

-- Saturday, we were picked up by Mardoqueo around 8:45, then stopped at the market for a couple things. Arriving at the house, Carmen made breakfast for us, and we visited a little. Then it was kitchen adventure time!

Shorr wanted to make Chocolate Zucchini Bread, so we started with that. Carmen looked on, helped, and asked questions about it, making notes so that she could make the bread again after we were gone. Just before we started baking it, company showed up! The pastor and his wife, along with Katharina, Kristen, and their host parents and baby came to take a look at the farm. Kristen and Katharina's hosts are getting a religious wedding (they already had a civil service)and are hosting it at the chicken farm where Mardoqueo works and lives. We visited with them, made them pina coladas (without alcohol), let them taste the bread, and played with the little girl. We also got to see an indigenous women hand weaving for a little while.

Back to the kitchen, we made lunch (Guatemalanized version of Chow Mein) and then most of the group went to a double wedding. Evidently our church is having a rash of people who want to have a religious ceremony, since they became Christians after getting married. I stayed back to rest and write an essay... yeah... you can give me a hard time about that. =)

The family arrived back from the wedding and we watched a movie... I can't remember the name... it was in English, with subtitles in Spanish which suited all of us quite well. You can learn new vocabulary that way. =) Then, Shorr taught the older guys, Josue and Luis, how to play Dutch Blitz while I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Carmen looked on and took notes, and I asked her questions about different things in the kitchen. When I had about 2 dozen cookies baked, I let the group know that they were available for consumption... well, they disappeared quickly enough! It was a good thing I made a lot more cookies after that; by the rate at which they disappeared, I'd venture to guess that they were appreciated.

After the cookies were done, I joined in Dutch Blitz. We played and then visited until close to midnight. Man, I enjoy that family!

-- Sunday. Breakfast. Church. Ninos con Bendicion. Celebration. Baby shower. Guatemala City.

Going through this quickly: we ate breakfast, went to church, had some cool kids perform marimba and traditional dances for us, ate lunch with our host families and the kids at the church, went to a baby shower briefly, and went to Guatemala City for dinner.

To elaborate a little on some things: Ninos con Bendicion is a group from San Antonia Aguas Calientes. Through sponsorship and giving presentations on Guatemalan music and culture (marimba and dances), the kids raise money for their education and their families. We met the group at a viewpoint on the way to Quetzaltenango last weekend and Mardoqueo invited them to come and perform at the church.

For the celebration, we had a dish that is traditional from San Martin... a town near Chimal. We got to visit with our host families, the worship team, and the kids. And it was fun. =)

Baby shower: well, the baby hadn't been born, so we got to see what a pregant Guatemalan woman looks like. ~laughs~ Okay, it's not all that different. We listened to a sermonette by the pastor's wife on training children and discipline, played some games (I was voluntold to do a word scramble in Spanish... didn't manage that one), and then crept out one by one, as we had to leave the party early in order to beat the traffic to Guatemala City.

Guatemala City: we asked our host family at breakfast Sunday whether we could buy them dinner that night. Well, they agreed... and then asked if we wanted to go to Guatemala City for dinner! And so we agreed. We drove there, looked around at the old building and the massive central park, and then went to a brand new mall. As Mardoqueo told me, the mall is 2 years old, and was built for the really rich people in Guatemala. Huh, couldn't tell by looking. [/sarcasm] We wandered around a little, then went to the food court and ordered pizza. Yup, you bet. We went all the way to Guatemala City for pizza! It was good pizza though, if that's worth anything. =)

After dinner, we dropped off some leftover pizza for Luis who was working a 31 hour shift at the hospital. Then we dropped off Mardoqueo the younger, Josue, and Anna (their cousin) at their house. And so, back to Chimal to sleep and recover.

-- Monday. We ate breafast, then sat at the table visiting for another hour and a half. It was a lot of fun. I translated a lot though, which wears me out. =) Then, off to the seminary for debrief!

And so went the weekend. This is probably my last update until April. Looking ahead, here's what we're doing:

- Thursday we leave for Finca La Loma, where we will have a spiritual retreat.
- Sunday (the 14th) we take off for El Salvador, arriving in San Salvador sometime in the afternoon.
- Tuesday (the 16th) we leave San Salvador for our practicum location: Victoria Cabannas... it's near the border of Honduras.
- Friday (the 26th) we leave our ministry site for San Salvador.
- Sunday (the 28th) we leave San Salvador for Panajachel, Guatemala.
- Thursday (April 1st) we return from Panajachel to GBS.
- Sunday (April 4th, Easter Sunday) we return to Canada!

Please pray for us: health, wisdom, endurance, team unity, safety, and that God would use our ministry to reach people for His kingdom.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ministry Weekend #3

Well, we're closer to the next weekend than to the previous one, but there's still time to update you on what's been going on in my life.

Last weekend we drove to Quetzaltenango. The view on the way over and back was stunning. Hills, mountains, valleys, people, animals, trees, etc... there was beauty all around. We went a little out of our way to stop at Chichicastenango too, which was really cool. In Quetzaltenango we went to the place that a nephew of our host owns and is fixing up. The plan is for him to turn it into an antique-style restaurant, with a great view of Quetzaltenango. We also went to the central park and a museum right next to it, then visited the sister and brother in law of our hostess. We drove back to Chimal in time to catch the end of youth group.

Things went well over the weekend. We had some good visits with people and really enjoyed sharing in the church's ministry.

Right now I'm with the other interns, taking a study retreat. We have a little cabin on a hill, with a couple rooms, living room, and a really fun kitchen. There's one burner element that works (well, it heats to medium) and a microwave... and quite the eclectic mixture of cooking equipment. Yesterday we slow-cooked a roast and veggies on the single burner in a tea pot! =)

This evening we head back to GBS, resuming the life of staff meetings, team meetings, ministry, and other stuff. Next week we'll be taking a spiritual retreat, then traveling to El Salvador on the 14th. From then on, internet connectivity will be at a minimum.

Time passes quickly! We've been in Guatemala since January 16th, almost 7 weeks ago. A month from today we will be flying back to Canada, done with another trip to Central America and ready to see our friends on campus again.

As always, prayers are greatly appreciated. Prayers for health, protection from spiritual attack, wisdom, perseverance with homework, and good team relations would be great.

Any questions? Comments? Things you want to hear more about? Feel free to comment!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ministry Weekend #2

Well, the weekend is over and done with again. Here's a little review of what happened:

We began Saturday morning by being picked up by our host family at the Seminary at 7:30. Then we drove to Guatemala City, where we ate breakfast at the guys' house and picked up Luis. Then, guess what? Off to the beach! We zipped along at break-neck speeds (ok, not really), and eventually arrived at the beach. Well, not exactly at the beach. We arrived at a river. The river is one of two access points to the beach of Monterrico. So, onto a ferry we drove... a two-care ferry, powered by a little outboard motor. Yeah, that was pretty sweet. =)

We put-putted down the river, watching birds, turtles, and trees. The area we floated through is actually a conservation area, protecting the trees which grow in the water... it kinda reminded me of pictures of parts of Louisana with the trees growing out of the water with long roots. Finally, the boat docked and we drove off it into the town of Monterrico.

Monterrico is one of those beaches with "black" sand... dark sand that they call black. It's pretty neat, but with the warm sun it's also hot on the feet.

Arriving in Monterrico, we drove to a little animal world. I don't know what else to call it! There were sections with crocodiles, iguanas, turtles, and fish. They actually raise sea turtles to release back into the ocean, allowing tourists to pay a little to release a turtle themselves. I took a bunch of pictures, but, wouldn't you know, can't really upload them easily! (remember the computer issues?)

After taking pictures of the contained wildlife, we ate a little snack and headed on down to the beach! Into the water we jumped, laughing at the massive waves. We still were very aware of the strong current, so didn't go in deep. Ah, more sunscreen! Trying not to get burned, we, along with our host family, slathered on SPF 50 sunscreen and relaxed in the sun.

Eventually it was time to return, so we showered, changed into normal clothes, ate lunch, and headed back to chilly Chimal. Back in time (well, a little late) for youth group, we participated in that and had fun with the group. We had a snack afterwards of chuchitos, so we didn't really need dinner when we returned to the house.

Saturday night our host mom's sister, bro-in-law, and kids arrived, so we had even more of a housefull. It was fun to meet them and visit. =) We stayed up late chatting, eventually turning in around midnight (yes, that's late here).

Sunday we got up, breakfasted, and went to church. Part of our team joined their worship team which was really cool to see. In the afternoon we visited more with our host family and their relatives. Nap time came, and then some friends from church came over to have fun and visit with us.

They brought a box mix of Ghiradelli brownies, which they wanted to try and make just right... evidently the last two efforts had been hard as rocks. Well, this time it worked perfectly, and we had amazing brownies to snack on while we played Charades. Now, when I say "played Charades" I mean this in a loose sense. When Spanish is your mother tongue, it is much more simple to come up with synonyms and connections that if it is not. As it was, many of the options we were given had to be translated, and then we had to have sharp ears to hear the exact word that we were looking for. It all worked out though, and everyone had fun.

Also to snack on during the game, we had a mole of fried plantain (fried plantain in a chocolate/cinnamon/something else sauce), tostadas with beans, tostadas with salsa, and fresh tamarindo juice. It was quite the party!

Eventually the church family left and we settled down to a little visiting. The guys left for Guatemala City, and we soon retired to bed. Monday morning we got up, ate breakfast, and returned to the seminary. And thus ended another weekend.

Monday was a day of meetings, 7 to be precise. Debriefs, briefings, discussions, interviews, and more discussions. All for good though. I was really happy with what happened during the team debriefing.

Tuesday (today) we went to the beach again... but a different beach-- San Jose. Most of Discover went this time, and it was a fun time of relaxation, warm sun, and water.

Well, that's all for now. If you have questions or comments, feel free to ask!

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Christianity and Commerce Project

For my Christianity and Commerce project I decided to investigate the influence of globalization on local markets and local perception of globalization. This idea was sparked by a trip to the market when I discovered that most of the knives in one tienda were made in China. I decided that I really wanted to know first off, what percentage of items in the market was made outside of Guatemala, and second, what the public opinion was of this. To investigate, I spent many hours in the markets in Chimaltenango and Antigua, interviewing vendors, inventorying items in shops, and interviewing shoppers. Before starting, I wrote a specific list of questions to ask each person with whom I talked.

The list of questions for interviewing vendors included questions such as, “Where do the majority of your goods come from?” “Do you have a preference for what type of each thing you stock you buy?” “Why?” “What do you think about items which are made outside of Guatemala?” “Do you think it is good or bad for the economy to sell items from other countries in Guatemala?” I used these questions to start conversation and begin the learning process.

I also created a short list of questions for interviewing shoppers which allowed me to understand how they made their purchasing decisions and what they thought of products which were not made in Guatemala as well as what they thought the effect was on the Guatemalan economy. I ended up going to 3 markets: 2 in Chimaltenango and 1 in Antigua. The one in Antigua has several sections, and I tried to visit all the sections.

I began my interviewing in Chimaltenango, visiting with vendors who sold clothing, pots and pans, plastic ware, CDs, dry goods, technology, and other things. Overall, the vendors seemed to have an accurate sense of where their goods come from. One man that I talked with, Jorge, gave me much information on the types of goods that vendors will get from other countries. For example, most Guatemalans prefer cooking pots that are made in Mexico. This is because the pots made in Guatemala are aluminum, and not very durable. Pots manufactured in Mexico are stainless steel and last a long time, so both vendors and customers prefer them. Despite this, there were many varieties of pots and pans sold, ones from Indonesia, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and China.

When I was looking at clothing in the market, I found one thing that was very interesting. Most of the clothes were made in Guatemala, yet many of the brand names were American. In talking with the vendors selling clothes and shoppers in the vicinity, I found that people tend to prefer clothing that comes from other countries, either because of the price (clothes from Taiwan and Korea are cheap) or the quality (Mexican durability). It was interesting to note that both in the realm of clothing and pots, people commented on the durability of goods from Mexico.

In Antigua I interviewed in the tourist artisan market as well as in the modern local market. Most of the people selling items in the artisan market were indigenous Guatemalans, and they made most of their own goods. Items sold in these shops were purses, belts, knives, resin boxes, machetes, skirts, guipils (traditional blouses), and headbands. One lady I talked with, Brenda, told me that her business is a family business. Her siblings (15 total) make the items which she sells, with the exception of the guipils, because different guipils are made in different towns. Three of her brothers make resin-coated boxes, and other make the purses, knife handles, and other small items in her shop.

At another shop in Antigua I visited with a man named Juan, who told me about the paintings that he sold. The most popular paintings were those that pictured city scenes in either Antigua or other popular cities. The painters live in the towns surrounding Antigua, and Juan goes regularly to buy new stock from them. I found it interesting that, although the people who bought the paintings were tourists, they do not buy the authentic traditional form of Guatemalan painting, but rather paintings which represented exactly what one saw in Guatemala.

Comparing the sources of items in Chimaltenango and Antigua, there was really no difference when comparing the same items. There was, however, a notable difference when one compared the source of tourist souvenirs and items which were marketed to Guatemalans. The items marketed to Guatemalans were from around the world, while tourist items were from Guatemala.

Public opinion was in favor of selling imports from other countries. Differing reasons were given for this, however. Some people believed that it was important to have international trade in order to encourage the growing Guatemalan economy. Others believe that it was beneficial in providing all the items that people wanted. Some people did oppose this idea of globalization—it is interesting to note that all of the people who opposed globalization were indigenous people whose livelihood came from goods crafted in Guatemala.

The issue of globalization was difficult to address, because of the limited understanding that most Guatemalans have of it. When I asked people the reasoning for goods from other countries being marketed in Guatemala, they tended to reply that it only made sense. If they could get items that they wanted from other countries, why not? When I asked them about the term globalization, they immediately responded in the affirmative that yes, it is a form of globalization.

I found this project to be a very interesting one to do, with far more information gathered than could be shared in a short report. A few more notes from my interviewing:

- Guatemalans are oftentimes very friendly. More often than not when I asked vendors if I could ask them some questions for a school project, they offered me their seat.

- I got preached to several times by vendors... obviously there are a lot of Christians in Guatemala =)

- When you first start looking around a market, the sheer number of things there is overwhelming. When you start writing the exact items down though, you soon realize how many of the same item are in the market.

- If you visit with a vendor, they're more likely to give you a good price on an item. I got lots of offers for things which were far below the normal starting price simply because I'd visited with the shop owner for 10 minutes.

- In North America we seem to have this idea that globalization is messing up specialization of different regions. While in some ways this may be true, people still value the unique items of aculture simply because they are unique, so I highly doubt that cultural items will be entirely done away with.

If you all have any comments on this project, or questions, feel free to ask!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another update

Well, the first ministry weekend is over. My team is working with a church in Chimal called Su Gracia. The pastor there has been really nice, letting us get involved with whatever we want. Last weekend we did a lot of watching, but this weekend we'll be doing more actual ministry.

The weekend started Saturday morning with our host families picking us up. Shorr, Helen, and I were picked up by Mardoqueo Valasquez Gomez. On our way to his house, we picked up his three sons who work and study at university in Guatemala City during the week. At the house, we met his wife, Carmen, and daughter, Elisa. Then we ate breakfast together.

After breakfast we went to the market with Carmen and the oldest son, Josue. It was pretty fun, since it was a market in Chimal that I hadn't been to before. When we got back, we went for a long walk around the chicken farm that they live on. Unlike many chicken farms in the U.S. where it's basically a bunch of massive barns, this farm had 5 sections, separated by tree-covered land. There were a few random cows and horses, as well as a few vegetable gardens. It was really neat being out in nature a little, rather than in a noisy city.

Getting back from the walk, we ate lunch and then rested for a little while. Youth group was that afternoon/evening, so we headed into town for that. The youth group at Su Gracia is really neat. We worshipped, played some games, shared testimonies, and listened to a lesson. The second oldest son in my family, Luis, translated a lot of it for the people in our group, which was pretty cool. After youth group we ate dinner, visited for awhile, and then went to bed.

Sunday morning was church. It was pretty typical for the Ladino churches I've been to in Guatemala. The pastor preached a great sermon on (I think it was) 1 Thes. 4, talking about our need for holiness. In the afternoon we went to an outdoor church service in an empty lot a little bit outside of Chimal. At the end of things we led a little activity for the kids... they seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. Then it was back to our home to rest a little, visit with our host family, bid the sons goodbye, and head to bed.

And thus ended the ministry weekend. Monday we returned to the seminary and spent the day in different meetings, debriefing, briefing, debriefing, planning, etc.

On Tuesday I went to Antigua to work a little on a project that I have for my Christianity and Culture class. For the project I have been interviewing vendors and shoppers in the markets in Chimal and Antigua as well as inventorying the products in their shops, seeing the effects of globalization on local markets. I'll be posting the results from my project on here in a few days. =)

The process of choosing interns to join the staff team for next year has begun, and I can tell that the decision will be difficult. You can be praying for wisdom as we work on interviewing applicants.

Oh, and another note: my computer's fan quit working, so I'm using a program computer right now. I have the files I need from my computer, but no pictures. So if I want to upload pictures, I'll have to use someone else's computer. Yet another opportunity to practice rejoicing in everything. =)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Today we visited the ruins of Iximche, the first capital of Guatemala. Although one might think that the first capital would be really popular, in fact the place is not crowded by visitors.

We left about 8 in the morning and ate breakfast at a buffet on the way. The restaurant is really fancy, with a beautiful view of a valley. The food in the buffet was typical Guatemala food for the most part: fried plantain, boiled plantain, beans, bean paste, tortillas, cantaloupe, watermelon, cream, salsa, eggs, and coffee. It was quite the feast!

Keryn and her food =)

A lady making tortillas:

Instruments in the restaurant:

After breakfast, we continued on to Iximche. There we got a tour and description of some Mayan beliefs from a Mayan woman who came with us on the trip.

A sun dial:
The Mayan woman
Our amazing field directors-- Alex and Evy:

Then we got to look around at the ruins.

The End.

Well, that wasn't the end of the day, but after looking around at the ruins, we eventually got back on the bus and returned to GBS in order to debrief and eat dinner.

Looking ahead, we have our first ministry weekend coming this weekend. My team is working with a church called "Su Gracia"... Your/His Grace. It's in Chimaltenango, about a 20-25 minute walk from GBS. Saturday we'll go to our host homes and then in the afternoon see a movie with the youth group. Sunday we have church and then in the afternoon they're doing an outdoor evangelical event. Our team will be leading an activity for the little kids. You can be praying that it goes well.

Since Valentine's Day is on Sunday, when a lot of the students of GBS will be gone for ministry, the seminary is celebrating Dia Del Amistad on Friday evening, with a big party in the gym. I'm a little bit apprehensive about it, considering what it held last year... oh the Latino awkward moments! I'm sure it will be fun too. There's always a lot of laughing and teasing at such parties. =)

Well, I guess that's about it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lessons from an elephant story

News update: we traveled to Chimaltenango yesterday (Thursday). Now we're here at GBS, the seminary, established in our own rooms. Tonight the GBS students/faculty did a little welcome celebration for us, which was pretty fun. It's been nice to see people that I know from last year.

Two people got their bags slashed on the bus from Antigua to Chimal: one lost her wallet w/some money and drivers' license, the other didn't lose anything, just has a hole in his bag now.

This weekend is mostly cultural experiences for the students. They're all optional for me, so I can either have a busy weekend or a quiet one. We visit our ministry site as a team on Monday to meet with the pastor and plan our first ministry weekend. You can be praying that it goes well, as none of us are fluent in Spanish.

Now I'm sure that you're wondering what the elephant story is about. For one of my classes I'm reading a book called "The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society." In the beginning of the book, Lesslie Newbigin shows us how we often look at the story of the blind men and the elephant from the wrong angle. Here's the section:

“There is an admirable air of humility about the statement that the truth is much greater than any one person or any one religious tradition can grasp. The statement is no doubt true, but it can be used against the truth when it is used to neutralize any affirmation of the truth. How does the speaker know that the truth is so much greater than this particular affirmation of it—For example, that “Jesus Christ is the truth”? What privileged access to reality does he have? In the famous story of the blind men and the elephant, so often quoted in the interests of religious agnosticism, the real point of the story is constantly overlooked. The story is told from the point of view of the king and his courtiers, who are not blind but can see that the blind men are unable to grasp the full reality of the elephant and are only able to get hold of part of the truth. The story is constantly told in order to neutralize the affirmation of the great religions, to suggest that they learn humility and recognize that none of them can have more than one aspect of the truth. But, of course, the real point of the story is exactly the opposite. If the king were also blind there would be no story. The story is told by the king, and it is the immensely arrogant claim of one who sees the full truth which all the world’s religions are only groping after. It embodies the claim to know the full reality which relativizes all the claims of the religions and philosophies.”
- Pages 9-10, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society, Lesslie Newbigin

Sunday, January 31, 2010


This post will be mostly pictures, to give you a glimpse of some stuff I see around.

My team visited the Spanish Embassy. This is what you see when you first walk in:

My team, getting ready for a picture:

Modern art exhibit. Exhibit 1: the pencil drawing created by fan.

Exhibit 2: what to do with a giant bean?

Exhibit 3: philosophy.

If I draw a point on a leaf of paper, I am a doodler.
If I draw a point on a hundred leaves of paper, I am a philosopher.
If I draw a point on a thousand leaves of paper, I am a mystic.
If I draw a point on a hundred thousand leaves of paper, I am a conceptual artist and can make riches and fame.
Social values depend on accumulation.

We're at CEMI now, a missionary compound outside of Antigua. This was a little before sunset looking towards a volcano. [sidenote: I watched the sunset-- it was gorgeous-- and afterwards realized that I should have taken pictures... your loss]

Yes, we have cloudy sky in Guatemala sometimes

So much clouds that it covers a lot of volcano... you'd never believe how high of a cone is hidden by this cloud.

What season do you think it is? Oh right, it's Spring! [Guatemala: the Land of Eternal Spring]

A pretty flower:

Thursday, January 28, 2010


God’s been teaching me something: the difference between waiting on Him and resting in Him. To wait upon the Lord is a good thing, and there are many promises given for those who wait upon him (e.g. Is. 40:31). But waiting is an active thing. When you wait, you may tap your toe, wondering when the waiting will end. The Apostle John saw a group of people who were waiting in Revelation 6:10. “They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long…?’” This is an example of waiting. The person who waits returns again and again to God to mention their request anew, anticipating the time when the answer will be made known. This is not the person who rests in the Lord, however.

Resting in God is characterized by peace. The person who is resting in God knows that he has what he has asked for, but that he must wait for it to be realized. This perfect confidence in God’s sovereignty allows him to rest and be content, not worrying about when the future joy will arrive. A.B. Simpson expresses this thought well in his song, “Once it was the Blessing,”

Once 'twas busy planning,
Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring,
Now He has the care;
Once 'twas what I wanted,
Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking,
Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

The person who rests in God has an understanding of God’s revealed will which allows him to live in the moment, stick out hard stuff, trust God, and be free from anxiousness and worry. I wonder, can I truly learn how to rest in God?

In other news:
- I have had stomach pains for the last little-over a day
- Things are better, but I'd love prayer for health... I never had problems with the food last year, so this was rather a surprise.
- We leave our language home tomorrow. We'll continue to take Spanish lessons next week, but will be traveling in from a little bit out of town.
- The moon was pretty full and beautiful tonight... you should take a look. =)
- There are two new people in my language home now: one is a former Discover student who finished interning with the program three years ago, the other is a guy from Quebec. 'Tis fun.
- Those going on the Reacon trip to El Salvador to begin planning the student practicum are leaving Saturday. Please keep them in your prayers.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week 1-- Check

Well, the first week is over. We are 1/3 of the way through Spanish school, 1/3 of the way through our time in Antigua, and 1/11 of the way through our time in Central America (approximately?). During this time, we've made many mistakes in speaking Spanish, had many cups of Guatemalan sweet coffee, enjoyed many tortilla-based meals, taken many pictures, gotten a little sunburned, and climbed a volcano. Here are a few pictures from the week, mostly of the volcano hike.

My buddy Aidan, during a staff meeting:

Alex and Evy, our new field coordinators:

Evy, with their dog Spike:

The church where we hold a couple classes and chapel:

The view of a couple volcanoes at sunset from my house:

Shorr, trying to decide which little boy to rent a walking stick from:

A prime picture opportunity, evidenced by the number of cameras out:

One of those prime pictures:

Keryn, the happy hiker:

Another prime picture:

Alyssa, goofing off:


A horse "taxi" that followed us up quite aways:

Volcanoes in the distance... can you tell that we've climbed higher?

Pacaya puffing off smoke... yes, this is the volcano we were on.

The last bit of the climb... pretty steep:

Helen's knee, after falling on the lava rock:

Keryn, with the dog that some of the girls carried down the volcano:

A restaurant sign on the way back:

Me, with a rather tired/forced grin:

This next week we're continuing language school. I'm practicing my past preterite and past imperfect tenses, and learning to differentiate on when to use which. It's fun and going pretty well.

Please pray for the group: health, safety, good spirits, and ability to assimilate Spanish.