Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cuidad Vieja

Saturday was bitter sweet. We were sad to leave the kids, but thankful that we were leaving them in a great place with Christian influence. After saying our goodbyes to the kids, we got to spend our last day of the trip in the beautiful city of Antigua. We enjoyed great food, walking the market, and seeing the sights. The city is full of colorful architecture, vintage streets, and green landscape. We got to enjoy time with the Dolan's and each other.

We're all very excited to be back in Texas and see our family and friends. We're excited for clean water, ice cubes, and a few comforts that we will no longer take for granted. We want to thank everyone who supported us during the trip either financially or through prayer. We could feel the Lord's presence each day and all grew in our own personal faith throughout our time here. We'll continue to pray for the kids, leaders, and teachers at Fundaninos knowing that our God is working and in control.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Es Viernes!

Each night we've shared encouraging moments throughout the trip. Each night the list gets longer. We are encouraged by the leadership here, the responsibility that the kids take for each other, the kid's ability to have a childhood despite their past, the kids appreciation and contentment, etc. We are encouraged by each other and of course by the Lord's goodness and presence.

This morning we enjoyed lichas with the kids for breakfast. Lauren, Claire, Chris, and Valerie led the morning session with an emphasis on classroom management and positive praise. Jen and Luis translated (we'd be lost without our amazing translators!).

The sweetest part of the morning was getting to share testimonies with the teachers and hearing one of the teachers share his testimony as well. We are in awe of our amazing God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is saving lives all across the world! We got to have a pizza party with the teachers for lunch. They were so kind to make us all cards. We are going to miss them, but we hope to stay in contact.

In the afternoon Amanda, Kasie, and Brittany H went into the city to teach. It was a great session on Bloom's Taxonomy that ended in prayer and sweet good byes. Meanwhile others helped paint and work in the garden.

Tonight we brought a nice Texas grill to Guatemala. Tom and Mike grilled out burgers and we all got to serve the kids. Smores (Smikys we called them - Chickys + Marshmellows) were dessert. The kids loved the bon fire.

We are going to be sad to leave the kids, but we'll be happy to be home as well. The Lord has been at the center of this trip and has grown us all through the experience. We'll be heading to Antigua tomorrow and will fly home on Sunday.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Vamanos al Parque!

Today we went with the entire Fundaninos family to a park near Antigua. Futbol, slides, swings, hiking, and swimming made for a fun afternoon. We all really enjoyed watching the kids enjoy being kids despite the rough past that they have experienced. The Lord's handiwork was very evident on the hike that led to a view of an inactive volcano.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesday's Recap!

Amanda, Chris, Jennifer, Whitney, and Leslie led the morning session at Fundaninos. They did a great job explaining the importance of questioning and blooms taxonomy. The session was three hours, but the teachers stayed an extra hour to write expectations and norms for their students. We are blessed to have time to brainstorm with the teachers here.

In the city we were able to give teacher tools and resources to teachers from around the area. They have trouble with students who are apathetic, so we shared many activities that encourage participation, movement, and informal assessment. We are trying to promote a very positive environment for the students and teachers. The group that had the HS students got to share the gospel today (Thank you Lord for opportunities). They led out with a skit about Grace. Luis then got to explain the gospel in full. We're praying that the clear truth presented will touch the hearts of those students.

Tonight several members of the team shared their testimony during our nightly meeting. We got to hear a testimony of one of the kids here at Fundaninos. The Lord saves despite dark pasts, our sinful nature, and our failed attempts to be an outwardly "good" Christian.

We found out that tomorrow we will be going on a trip with the kids to a natural park where we will play games, hike, swim, etc. This will be a wonderful time of enjoying the relationships that we have built with the kids.

God is Good!

Tuesday Recap:
God is good! While adapting to a new culture where punctuality, norms, and the culture itself is different, we have found encouragement through prayer, each other, and feedback from the teachers that we have been working with. We keep reminding each other of the reason we are here and we're all getting a lot out of this experience. We are learning to be both humble and grateful.

Tom, Mike, Luis, and the Brittanys led the morning teaching session on formal and informal assessment. The teachers here truly enjoyed the engagement strategies that were demonstrated such as verb relays, scavenger hunts, informal nonverbal response quizzes, name tents, and different mental maps. The morning development was three hours, but the teachers stayed an extra hour to ask questions and talk.

While the morning group taught, other members of the team found ways to serve. Chris mowed the lawn, Leslie and Lauren headed up painting nails for the girls, Claire always finds a way to use her art abilities to create with the kids, etc.

When we went into the city in the afternoon, we were thrown a bit of a curve ball. We thought that we would be teaching a bunch of teachers, but the reality was that we were teaching teachers, students who wanted to be teachers, and students who simply needed to know how to communicate effectively in their community. We were split into three teaching groups. Kasie, Amanda, and Brittany H led a group of Elementary teachers. Chris, Mike, Brittany M, Luis, Tom and Claire expected to have HS teachers, but they ended up working with High School students. Jennifer, Valerie, Whitney, Lauren, and Leslie prepared for a group of Pre-K and Kinder, but had HS students who needed teaching knowledge also. They adapted and met the needs of the students despite their initial plan. What a great group!

Several of us were thankful for time to share a little bit of our testimony with the teachers that we were with. We explained our desire to help other teachers in a way that is glorifying to The Lord. We want to be teachers who serve because Jesus not only serves, but died for us and loves us unconditionally. We ended the day with Just Dance 4 in the Comidor. There were 4 controllers, but 30-40 people getting their moves on. It was such a fun time!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Teaching Begins

Today we got to teach! The teachers here at Fundaninos are all very polite and seemed eager to learn. Today we focused primarily on objectives and differentiation (throwing out some teacher lingo here). It was really neat to see some of the same strategies that we use in the states translate into lessons for the development planned here. We used mental mapping, the concept of the "parking lot," and several informal assessment activities such as write, pair, share, and the value line up. There was time for sharing and reflection as well. While we do not understand the situation that some of these teachers are in, we did find that apathetic students, being positive, and good teaching are all universal.

Every teacher here has different knowledge to bring to the table. I for one am thankful for such a great team! Luis and Jennifer did a fantastic job translating. Tom was able to communicate and talk numbers with the math teacher here (Math=Universal language). Kasie and Brittany H started leading today, and by the end of the week everyone will teach. Observations were made throughout the entire lesson by teachers who had answers to questions asked.

We will teach both here at Fundaninos and at the public school tomorrow. Today we got to visit with the inner city principal and plan out the week's lessons based on individual needs.

Several families back home had asked about an earthquake in Guatemala. To ease the thoughts of you at home, we did not even know that there was an earthquake...all is good here :).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Saturday Recap

*Tom, Luis, and Jennifer piled into a van with about 20 kids and went to Karate lessons after breakfast.

*Chris, Michael, and Brittany H painted the back of the boy's house here at Fundaninos. Chickens surrounded the paint buckets which was a funny experience.

*Brittany M, Kasie, Whitney, Amanda, Leslie, Valerie, Lauren and Claire had fun making rainbow loom bracelets with the kids. This is a past time popular both here and at home. I think we're all "cool" enough to have a bracelet at this point in the trip.

*Today was unique because it was visitation for those who are allowed by court to visit their kids here at Fundaninos. Visitation happens once a month. It was really tough to see several kids disappointed as their visitors did not come. Several kids enjoyed seeing their family, while others hid in their rooms and we witnessed their mood swings. It was tough to digest. We were encouraged talking to Mrs. Dolan who reminded us that The Lord is hope and that He is bigger than the rough circumstances of these kids. The Dolan's are confident that the mission and work done here is not in vain. They are living out 1 Corinthians 15:58 "Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of The Lord because you know that your labor in The Lord is not in vain." Pray for these kids.

*Leslie brought letters from her 5th grade class that were written by Dallas students in Spanish. Several girls wrote back letters and we had fun seeing them write and interpret for us. Whitney, Valerie, Brittany, Kasie, and Jennifer enjoyed listening to the kids share their thoughts as they wrote back.

*BRINNER - Pancakes were served for dinner followed by game night. It is great to see these kids learn how to do chores and how to both win and lose. They are being parented here.

We are all feeling more comfortable with our Spanish (even though for most of us it is still VERY broken). We're thankful that the language barrier has not kept us from communicating with the kids here. There are countless stories of laughter as we (the "gringos") learn. We are excited to start our teaching mission, but thankful that we have time to acclimate, get to know kids, and bond with each other before teaching. Many pictures are being taken, but we have very little wifi time to upload and share. At least these posts help us connect with you all back home. Buenos Noches!