Primaria joy! by Sheila

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   Hola, amigos! It´s day 20, and life is grand here in the Land of Eternal Spring.
   Looking back over the past twenty days, it feels like we´ve only been here for five. My Spanish, though sometimes incomprehensible, is becoming easier to use, I´m getting to know the kids by name and class (which is hard when there´s over 100 of them), and I´m really settling into my family, who likes to lovingly tease me. Everyday, I fall more in love with Guatemala and more in love with being a teacher.
   Grace and I teach at Primaria, or the elementary school. I work with Rosio, the lovely Phonics teacher. Primaria houses grades one through four, and there are two classes ( A & B) for every grade with about twenty kids in each class. Let me tell you, it is such a joy to wrok with these kids. Every time I walk into a classroom, the kids chant “Hola, Rosio/Sheila, Bienvenidos a clase ____,” which is usually followed up with a bunch of hugs and rapid Spanish that I can only hope to half understand. In the classes, I usually help with things like pronunciation, spelling, reading, and leading small exercises. When I´m not in a class, I´m helping Rosio with the notebooks and grading. Sometimes, I get to play basquetbol or voleibol with the kids at recreo, and that´s always a great time. 
    The world should know how great my kids are. They are enthusiastic about everything. They are incredibly affectionate. And they are so insanely caring. There was a week of prayer where every morning the kids would pray together. One girl asked for prayers for her family, and one of her classmates voluntarily prayed for her. This is a ten year old we´re talking about. This simple gesture, so often taken for granted, really struck me and showed me how big these kid’s hearts are. That, of course, is only one example of the magnitude of their kindness. They continuously show me grace, mercy, and love. I love hanging out with my kids. 
    With only ten days left, the team is tempted to accidentally “miss” our flights home and stay in Guatemala. For the time being, however, our days are filled with laughter (lots of it, sometimes of the hysterical kind), culture, delicious food, and amazing kids who are belssing us, teaching us, and making us grow. My life is changing while my faith in God is deepening. Again, a big thanks to our support back home, and hasta luego! Besos!
  

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Half Way There! By Kacie

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Hola! What a trip this has been so far! God has really been speaking into my life. Before I came, I will be honest and say that I was not excited about teaching. I would rather be outside, working or playing games. But God had other plans for me. After the first couple of days, I fell in love with teaching and the kids just brought so much joy in my life. My attitude has changed and It has become apparent that “missions work” is not just digging holes or shoveling dirt, but wherever God is preached and here, that is in the classroom.

Everyday I teach about 5 English classes in the middle school and then have the after school program. We were not sure what we would be doing, so most of what we do is with what we brought. It reminds me of the story of when Jesus fed the five thousand. I am not sure how we have done all we have done, but God has surely provided for us! This past week was very eventful. Wednesday was a national free day in Guatemala so my family went to an amusment park. It was fun to get out of the city and to spend time with my family. Friday was a dia de guatemala in which the whole America Latina school dressed in traditional clothing. There was a parade around the block and after, each grade presented either a song or dance. There was typical food which was delicious. We tried Mole, Chuchitos and Tostadas. Our team went on thursday to buy our dresses for the day so it was so much fun to be a part of this event.

It´s just crazy to me that we have already been here for three weeks already. But I know that God is not through with our mission here and it will continue even after we return to the states. God has certainly been tangible as we work everyday in the lives of the kids and with the teachers. Pray that we can continue our work here and for health as we are starting to feel all effect of all the beans…. hahah but it has been such a blessing here and we are planning on coming back! adios y hasta luego.

Another eventful week!

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Though teaching can get a bit tiring, I love every minute of it. The kids from Miss Pasitos are amazing! Every day is different with them. This week, we had a spelling bee and an Olympic day along with the usual classes. The spelling bee went great, three kids from our priority class spelled cake, milk and snake and our kindergarten class performed a song. The younger kids loved the whole event and the older ones were so proud to be a part of it. The Olympics day was my all-time favorite this week because I got to share my little kids with Kacie, Shelia, and Grace. It was great, we each took a section and got to interact with every class. The kids loved it too! We had six sections: basketball, soccer, bowling, artistry, long jumps and hurtles. The kids were so tired after this event which was nice since we were exhausted as well. =P
 
On Friday, we were given some time together at the mall which was greatly needed. It was nice hanging out with the team without worrying about anything. It was very relaxed; we had lunch and walked around. A majority of the time we were trying to find the bathroom. It was great!! We shared a lot of laughter and tears that day…
 
Saturday was another eventful day! Paris took our team on a tour of Guatemala City and Antigua. We got to see a bunch of monuments around the city and went downtown where we went to Central Park and the train museum. It was a lot of fun!! After, we went to Antigua where we went shopping for souvenirs. It was a blast! We got to learn some bargaining tips from Paris which was a plus. We didn’t have much time so we just shopped and ate at a restaurant that a bunch of famous people visited, included Bill Clinton if I remembered correctly. After, Kacie and I had to wait for our fathers to finish working so we figured we would check our emails, sadly that was an epic fail since we couldn’t figure out how to make the @ sign on the keyboard. It was hilarious; we were literally trying to figure it out for at least five minutes until we gave up. It was a day of team bonding and getting to know Paris a bit more!
 
Sunday I got to go to Jutiapa with my family. My host father was a pilot for the military so we were invited to church by the commander and chief. Originally, I thought we were simply going to go to church and go home but this was not the case! He invited us to hang out with his family at his vacation house! My siblings and I got to go hiking, horseback riding and swimming with his kids! We hiked/climbed up a mountain which was breathtaking! We were standing on a sign that was visible on the drive up to Jutiapa. After, we got to ride the military horses! This was memorable experience since I have never ridden a horse, not to mention my sister fell off one of the horses! Surprisingly, she was all smiles after the fall! Once we got back, we just relaxed in the pool. Played some Marco Polo and taught the oldest son (23) how to swim. In short, today was amazing!! Definitely a day I will remember. Pictures will be posted soon. Thanks for reading,
 
Thanh

week one down!

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bendecidos a todos! well we finished our week one here in Guatemala. We have been teaching everday, Sheila and Grace in la premeria (elementary), Thanh in Mis Pasitos (preschool) and Kacie in pre secundaria (middle school). This past week we have had an after school program everyday for about two hours. Tiring yes, but worth it. We taugh the kids bible verses, how to order meals in english and vocabulary. We are all surprised at how fast this month is going by, yet we have so much more to do! Our host families have been so wonderful and we have loved building the relationships with our family and with the kids at America Latina. photos will be on the way! stay tuned! adios.

Day 5 [update from Grace]

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Hey friends! Today is day 5 in Guatemala and I’m loving it. The weather is beautiful, the food is great, and I love my host family. At school, I’ve been working in Primaria [the elementary school], where they have two English teachers who rotate between the seven classrooms. I have been assisting the grammar teacher by helping the students with their pronunciation of English words. I love helping in the classroom and it makes me want to become a teacher!

One of the challenges that I’ve encountered so far is the language barrier between my family and I. They talk pretty fast, so it has been hard for me to understand their conversations, and it makes me feel lonely sometimes. However, we have been able to communicate pretty well. They are very understanding – when they talk to me, they speak slower and more clearly so that I’m able to understand them. They are so patient, even when I ask them to repeat themselves two or three times! My host father is very gracious, and when I can’t understand him he tries to speak in English even though he knows very few English words.

There is so much more I would love to say, but I’ll have to save the stories for later. Until then, continue praying for our safety, and Dios te bendiga!

-Grace