Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Update Part 4

The highest highway pass in Central America 10,000 feet.
This summer was the first time in many years on the mission field that we were not able to return to Canada for furlough. This was somewhat disappointing and challenging for us (especially for the kids) since it is hard to get away from work and to find a decent place to relax. Also the challenge we have living in a city is that it is hard to find an affordable place with a yard. When the kids are in school it is much easier as they spend a good part of the day at school, but during the holidays it is much harder as the kids are house bound most of the day. Thankfully the summer went by fairly quick and to avoid the kids being behind the screens all day we had them involved with sporting activities most days. We registered the boys at a nearby soccer academy and they had practice for an hour each day for 4 days a week. We also signed Nico and Jesse up for a soccer tournament on Saturdays. After playing games for several months Jesse's team did not make it to the playoffs because his team was always playing shorthanded. This was quite frustrating for the parents as it is not fun watching your children putting up a good fight, but losing each time because they are playing 1-2 players short (they play 6 against 6 on a small field). However, Nico's team made it to the playoffs and ended up winning 3rd place. They should have done better, but in one of their final games they did not have enough players either. Also for the 3rd place game they lacked a player and Jesse ended up playing with them even though he was in a different age group. It is fun watching the kids play and even watching them practice. It is neat to see how they are improving with each practice and game. Ellen had gymnastics 3 days a week for 2 hours each day. These activities kept them busy for at least several hours a day and they also spent quite a bit of time playing with friends.
We planned to go on some outings as family, but in the end were not able to do much. Work and other commitments kept us from doing many of the things that we had planned. However, we were able to spend a few days in Xela (Quetzaltenango) with the kids with a team from Holland who were building a school. The kids helped out and it was a good experience for them. After this we spent a day at a beautiful water park which was very enjoyable for all of us and with that the holidays ended.
Doing VBS at a school in Quetzaltenango
School started August 14 and we had to get back into the school routine. The kids are in school from 8:00 till 3:15 except for on Wednesday when they finish at 2:00. Jesse is in grade 2 and he was able to get back in the routine quickly. We were a little concerned (although not too concerned since he is a bright boy) about his reading ability since thee school kept on telling us that he was a little behind in that area. However, he had a his first test results back for his reading ability and he more than doubled the goal that kids his age should have. Nico and Ellen had a harder time getting into the routine since they are now in middle school. This means that they have lockers with a combination lock, different teachers, different classrooms, being the youngest kids in the new building, not having teachers remind you of what you need to do for homework, etc. This caused some problems for them and they got several slips for not handing their homework in on time. After a few weeks Ellen surprisingly adapted. Nico on the other hand has had a much harder time and it probably did not help that he was sick for a few days. He had several emotional outbursts that we had not seen before so this was somewhat concerning for us. However, his homeroom teacher Mrs.Choe (who used to be his grade 4 teacher) has been helping him adjust to the challenges of middle school. We also had to sit him down and tell him that we cared and that as long as he did his best we would not be disappointed in him.We said that he would soon get used to it. Thankfully he is doing much better in school now and he seems to be back to his old self. Nico and Ellen play in the school band. Nico plays the trumpet and Ellen the flute. Nico also plays on the middle school soccer team. They have practice 4 days a week, but it only runs for 2 months. They had several games and a tournament, but they did not win any games. However, they did better than in other years and scored more goals and let fewer in.

I missed the first week of school as I spent a week in the States. I had the opportunity to attend a 2 day Christian leadership summit in New Hampshire together with others from the AMG leadership team. I got picked up from the airport by Brian Dennet and his former boss in his Rolls Royce Phantom. I got quite a few stares at the airport, but it was fun. He took us out for dinner and it was interesting seeing a glimpse of what Brian's life used to be like before giving it up to serve in Guatemala. The summit was very informative and helpful and I
really enjoyed it. After the summit Brian Dennett (director of AMG Guatemala) and I drove down to Chattanooga, TN and spent a few days at the AMG headquarters. We had a series of meetings there and it was nice seeing the staff. It is touching the way that they appreciate the work I am doing and go out of their way to make me feel welcome even though I am not an AMG missionary. They do not treat me like an outsider, but like one of them. After a few days there I returned to Guatemala.  
Lia has been busy ministering to women using her gifts and interests. She has been visiting one AMG city project each Friday sharing her story and doing facials with the women. She really enjoys this and the women seem to appreciate her. It seems to be encouraging to many of them hearing that the "gringos" don't always have an easy life either. We also have our share of struggles and obstacles in life. Lia has done this at other AMG events in previous years, but this is the first time that she is going to each project. Recently she also re-visited a project where a teacher had been raped on the school  premises at 11:00am by a pervert who jumped the fence. She went with the staff to the place where it happened, and prayed together. She hopes to go and visit this teacher in the near future.