Peyton versus Eli!

Camping at Stewart LakeFootball season has tarted, school is back in high gear, and I am blogging again!

First, I would like to apologize for abandoning my readers.  I’ve been quite busy for the last couple of months.  I finished all of my masters classes and I’ve now started student teaching at Columbine High School here in Denver.  It is great to be back in the classroom.  I really feel like I am learning lots.

During my time teaching in Guatemala I tried to keep a blog every other week.  Now that I am teaching again, I am going to try to keep that same commitment.  I loved sharing all of my new experiences with my readers while I was in Guatemala and so I hope you all will enjoy reading about my time in the classroom here in Denver.

On my first day of teaching in Guatemala, one of my students, who was part Guatemalan (her dad is from Guatemala and her mom is from Indiana) told me that I looked like Peyton Manning.  At the time I didn’t know that she’d grown up in Indiana, so this comment really caught me off guard.

People have been telling me I look like Peyton Manning since I was in the 7th grade, around the time Peyton was a senior at Tennessee.  Once Eli became a star in the NFL, people started to claim I looked like him instead.

People started to argue.  Families were split, I know how the manning family feels when the two play each other (Which is happening on September 15th, Go Broncos!!), all over this single question: no, not which Manning is the better QB, but who do I look more like, Peyton or Eli?.

And so I thought that my students here in Denver would jump right into this argument.  Who do I look like more, Eli or Peyton?

I didn’t bring it up, not wanting to distract my class, but I was sure that one of the football crazy students would say something.  I mean Peyton is the quarter back of our home town team.  But it took two weeks for any kids to bring anything up.

Midway through last week a girl in my freshmen class raised her hand and said, “Mr. Scott, has anyone every told you that you look like Peyton Manning?”  I think she was hoping she would’ve been the first to have this thought.  Like any good teacher, I shattered her dreams.  “Yes,” I replied seriously, “we’re related.”

Sadly, I am not related to the Manning, and no I didn’t actually tell her that I was related to him, but I wish I could’ve.  I wish I actually was, because then I might not be only five feet eight inches tall.  Oh well!  I’ll just live to accept being a stunt double for either Peyton or Eli.  I’m just sad that they didn’t ask me to be in their F.O.Y.P. commercial.

So who do you all think I look like?  Peyton or Eli?

Peyton, Eli, and Brendan

The First 101 Days Of The Year

Finishing The Race

I can’t believe that it’s already April.  Last year for the first 100 days of the year my mom and I did burppies every day.  It was a great challenge, one I decided not to repeat.  I decided to take on a different challenge this year.  Go to the gym every day for at least the first 100 days.

Well, I made it through the first 103 days of the year without missing, and technically I’ve gone 104 days in a row as I went to the gym on New Years Eve.

Going to the gym came easy, its what happened when I wasn’t at the gym that has been a different type of challenge.

The first 30 days flew by.  Other than making it to the gym on January first, when I felt too tired to do anything, it wasn’t  difficult to make it to the gym every.

Even though I thought making it a week straight would be the real challenge, as 6 days in a row was my previous top, but I set my mind to it  and January turned into February.   But as you may have read, my year came crashing to a halt on day 45.  If you do the math. you’ll know this was Valentine’s Day, the day my Pathfinder died.

But this didn’t stop me from going to the gym.  Still in shock from the accident, I made my way to the gym late on the night of the 14th.

Two days later, when I was preparing my house for my birthday party, I nearly ran out of time to go to the gym, but while the pork was marinading and the rice was cooking, I dashed off to the gym and did a quick 100 sit ups (my goal was to go to the gym every day, not have an extreme workout every day, and every little bit counts).

After those hiccups, it didn’t seem like anything could stop me.

Well, not a huge blizzard that canceled worship at The Neighborhood Church on March 3rd, day number 62 of the year.

Then the gym closed.  But did that stop me?  No, I didn’t let 24 hour fitness’s decision to remodel their Kipling location hinder my workouts.  From the 8th of March to the 13th I drove to the other 24’s in my area.  I thought about taking that time off, but since I’d made it when my car was wrecked and when I had hardly any time, I couldn’t let the inconvenience of having to drive 15 minutes stop me.

Heck when I lived in Guatemala I used to walk 45 minutes to get to the gym.  I guess that’s how I managed to make it all the way to 100 days in a row without missing a workout.

On the way to 100 Days I bought a car to replace my wrecked Pathfinder.  My car insurance really helped me recover from that wreck.  And then just as I passed 100 straight days at the gym, on day 101, my new car died on me.  It’s not fixable either.  That Thursday night, frustrated about my car problems, I found myself at the gym.  I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Well, maybe in Guatemala where I didn’t need a car.  But I couldn’t go to the gym everyday there, as my gym in Xela was always closed on Saturdays.   But something I could do in Guatemala, and I’ve continued to do every day here in Colorado is read my Bible and trust in God.  This is something I’ve tried to do every day for the last 8 years.

And that part of my day, the time in prayer and the Bible, is what really helped me make it through the first 101 days of the year.

Spending time with God every day made going to the gym easy.  If my eyes are focused on him, my true prize, running, biking, and lifting will come easy.  The hard part is trusting God when everything seems out of control.  Like when my car died.

But here is what I read out of the Jesus Calling that night after going to the gym to burn off my frustration over the loss of another car, “This is the day that I have made.  Rejoice and be glad in it.  Begin the day with open hands of faith, ready to receive all that I am pouring into this brief portion of your life.  Be careful not to complain about anything, even the weather (or cars in my circumstance), since I am the Author of your circumstances.  The best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Me for them.  This act of faith frees you from resentment and frees Me to work My ways into the situation, so that good emerges from it.  

To find Joy in this day, you must live within its boundaries.  I knew what I was doing when I divided time into twenty-four hour segments.  I understand human frailty, and I know that you can bear the weight of only one day at a time.  Do not worry about tomorrow or get stuck in the past.  There is abundant Life in My Presence today.

Going to the gym helps me feel good.  I like how I feel right now after setting aside time to be active each day, but spending time with God, reading his word, and praying to him, gives me true hope for a future filled with Joy, because he is in control.

He will redeem this day and he just might do it while I’m at the gym.

10 Things I Will Do In 2013

2012 was a banner year for me.  I did some things I said I wouldn’t do (Against my will I used American Airlines), but I also did a lot of things I wanted to do.  In August I kick started my masters program at Regis University. I’m now well on my way to holding a masters degree in teaching.  While restarting school made my year feel busy, I was able to have a lot of fun in 2012.  So much so, that I have a few adventures that I want to repeat.

The Ride To Pine

1. I will Bike to Pine, Colorado! On October 12, 2012, I rode my bike mountain bike up the Colorado trail from Waterton Canyon to Pine Colorado.  After months of training the ride was almost ruined by a violent flat tire, which exploded on me, bending my wheel and shooting me like a cannon ball into the air.  With a new wheel and better tires I pedaled my way through the rain to end of the trek, just in time to see a bull elk boss around his harem.  Interested in doing this ride?  Join me this summer and we can make the trek together.

Bull Elk

2.  I will visit Guatemala! Last March I spent a week in Guatemala helping lead the Spiritual Emphasis retreat for my old school.  Sharing Christ’s love with my former students was the highlight of my year.  I don’t know when I’ll fly back down to my second favorite country, but there are several people who want me to be there for their graduation.

3.  I will continue to live my life like a Hobbit!  Okay, I’ll wear shoes, but Hobbits tend to live with a unique sense of excitement and hope ; they never give up.   I don’t know what is in store for me this year, but I want to be like the Hobbit, Sam, who doesn’t lose hope when he is facing mount doom and sure death!  You’re right, if you guessed that I’m already excited for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to come out later this year, but I want to live with excitement and hope in all things in my life.

4.  I will run another half-marathon!  I plan on running the Pikes Peak  Half Marathon this year with a couple guys from my small group.  Running halves has taught me a lot about life.  To run a half you need to know how to be committed.  Training takes months and once you start the race, if you want to finish, you’ve got to know how to keep the feet moving.  I know that running up to the top of Pikes Peak will be hard, but it will make a great adventure.

The Cook Book

5.  I will continue to learn how to cook!  On New Years Eve I baked my first cake, an oatmeal brown sugar cake that turned out very sweet.  I also learned how to make the marinade for my family’s Christmas dinner.  We had Tacos al Pastor.  The pork meat turned out so tender my sister thought it was Chicken!  I want to try to cook a meal for my family at least once a month, so send me some recipes.

6.  I will finish my short story!  I have been working on this particular story for a little over a year and a half.  I want to submit it for publishing by next September.  Keep me accountable, so that I keep writing.

7.  I will finish my masters in teaching!  The masters in teaching program at Regis Jesuit University has really been a great challenge.  I’ve been learning a lot, and even though I’d rather be teaching the information, than writing papers on it, I’m excited to complete my education.  This time next year I’ll be looking for jobs!

The Colorado Trail

8.  I will continue to study Spanish!  Acquiring a second language has slowed down over the last two years, especially since I started back to school.  I’ve been listening to Spanish music and trying to start up conversations in Spanish (This is the hardest part).  This means I need to actively look for people to speak Spanish with, let me know if you know anyone.

9.  I will spend more than a month without sugar!  Last year I spent July and a little bit of August without sugar.  I was amazed by how much better I felt when I subtracted sugar from my life.  I was going to live 2013 without sugar, but I still have leftover cake and so I’ll have to eat that first.

10.  I will continue to live spiritually! In 2012 I challenged myself and all the people in my life to look for God in all aspects of our lives.  My goal, to engage with life and God every day, meant I continued to read my bible each day.  Daily, I started looking for things I was thankful for, things I found joy in, and blessings I felt God let me be a part of.  Last year was a true adventure and I am looking forward to engaging with all that God has for me this year.

A Storms Coming

Field of Dreams: My All Star Moment

Dreaming is a tricky thing.

I’m not just talking about the kind where you place your head on a pillow and close your eyes, although night time dreams can inspire our waking dreams or desires.  When I was twenty I had a dream I married a girl name Sarah.  When I woke up I believed it was actually going to happen, so for two years I didn’t talk to girls, unless her name was Sarah.  This is a slight exaggeration, but I let that dream hinder how I lived.  Fortunately, that dream died, later than it should have, but only after I made myself awkward around a few too many Sarah’s.

The other night I dreamt that I was back in Guatemala.  Dreaming I’m back in Guatemala is pretty typical.  Most mornings when I wake up I tell myself, “well, guess I didn’t dream about Guatemala last night, must be over it now,” but then ten minutes later my dreams come drifting back through my mind and yep, I was in Guatemala again.  I feel like I dream about Guatemala so consistently because the country and the people there mean so much to me.  I am very grateful for all of my dreams, but unfortunately another aspect of my dreams is most of the time they turn out unresolved.

In my last dream, I was in Guatemala for the graduation of some of my students.  It felt so right to be back.  In my dreams it’s raining, as it is always raining in Guatemala.  I am teaching again, but IAS looks different.  It is more like a castle, which is odd, but not odd enough to tip me to the fact I’m in a dream.  My students are listening to my every word, and who can blame them, my lecture is flawless.  Bam, I know it’s a dream.  Then, in a flash, it’s time for graduation and I want to celebrate each kid, tell them how special they are.  But before I have a chance to tell anyone how great they are I have a light saber battle with Lord Voldemort.  But before I strike the killing blow, I wake up.  Always.  I never see it to the end.  It’s horrible.

Crazy, right?

Waking up from an unresolved dream is annoying, but living life in a dream world is a tragedy, because you never actually live. Like when I was dreaming about a girl named Sarah.  Yet, I would be lost if I didn’t drop off at night and let my mind create.  Sadly, if all I did was sleep, living in my dream world, I would be even more lost.  I believe we must dream in the real world and go after those dreams, because  “If we are afraid to dream grand dreams, then we live empty lives.”

I have many dreams or desires in my life.  I want to write professionally, have a family, become more like the man Jesus created me to be, and maybe go back to Guatemala to teach again, and it would be a shame if I didn’t go after those dreams.  If I live my life just dreaming I’ll never reach my potential.  I must take action.

In Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone Harry comes across a strange mirror.  It’s a mirror that can tell the dreams of a man’s heart.  The mirror is aptly named the Mirror of Erised (desire backwards).  In the mirror Harry sees his parents, who have died.  He spends hours just staring at them, settling for the unreal fulfillment of having his parents with him, instead of living his life and creating actual relationships.  In the book, Dumbledore, Harry’s headmaster, warns Harry away from spending too much time in front of the mirror.  Dumbledore tell’s Harry, “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Living is part of taking action.  I can spend all day dreaming about life in Guatemala or becoming a writer, but if I never write, I will have never lived.  I will have never reached out and taken a risk.

And so as I have grown up my dreams have changed.  I have let go of my dream to be a rock star (can’t sing), being president (not corrupt enough), or Robin Hood (Don’t like Wearing Tights).  However, it is important to remember our childhood dreams and remember that God can redeem our past hopes and their innocence, but that is a blog that will come later.

When I was little I dreamed of playing in the major league  Unfortunately I didn’t even make it as far as Moonlight Graham, who played one game in the bigs, but didn’t even get to bat.  I retired after the 5th grade.  I’d had a great year at third base, but my team was downright awful.  Most of the kids didn’t have a passion for the game, they were just playing because their moms and dads wanted to watch them pick dandelions out in center field.

I played hard, but struggled with migraines the entire year.  When my school didn’t have baseball in the 6th grade I decided it best not to play, mostly because of my migraines.  My dream ended quietly, but I had school to distract me from the void not playing baseball.

I didn’t let myself stand in front of the mirror, but I moved on, and I’m glad I did.

In fact, I’d completely forgotten how passionately I dreamed of playing in the majors until I had my Field of Dreams moment.  Fortunately, unlike Adam Greenberg who was beaned in the head by the first pitch he faced in the majors, which ended his career, all I did was ride the pine in the Colorado Rockies’ dugout four hours before a game.

I was on a tour of the Coors Field for my job.  I’ve been working as a summer camp councilor with Ken-Caryl here in Littleton, Colorado.  I have a feeling none of the kids at my camp actually grasped how cool it was to sit where the likes of Todd Helton or Troy Tulowitzki have sat.  But as I sat down, as my butt touched the wooden bench, I felt transformed.  It was as if God was saying, “you might not have made it to the majors, but here’s a little taste of what it is like.”  It was awesome.

I didn’t think I would feel such a rush as I sat on the bench, but I did, guess that’s what dreams do to you.  I have been on the bench of a major league baseball team.  And even though I only sat for a couple minutes it was enough for me, I knew I couldn’t sit there for my entire life, holding onto the greatness of that moment.  Life had to move on, nor could I sit their dwelling on what could’ve been.  God has more for me than that.  And so, I stood up feeling fulfilled.

Adam Greenberg knows that life must move on.  After being hit by a pitch to the head, he was plagued by bad eyesight and dizzy spells, which negatively impacted his game.  Sadly he has never made it back to the majors, but he did get to face the pitcher again in a minor league game.  He came away with a hit in the at bat and he knows that’s good enough.  He can move on with his life.

I will never reach my dreams if I keep my head on my pillow.  I left Guatemala because, while I loved living there, God was giving me new dreams, like going back to school and being a part of a healthy church community.  Those things couldn’t happen if I stayed in Guatemala.  And right now, even as I dream about the country every night, my real life dreams can’t happen if I go back at this point of my life.  I have to let go a little, and live my life and trust that God wont let my true dreams end unresolved.

What are you dreaming of?  Are you living your life or are you stuck looking at the Mirror of Erised?

4th of July: What Does Independence And The Flag Mean To You?

I love taking pictures of the American flag.  The flag’s outward beauty is evident, but I think what it represents is even more beautiful; Independence.  Freedom to worship without the government telling me how I need to pray or not to pray.

Personally, I have never known religious oppression, but I know it still exists.  Growing up in the United States, I thought everyone had those same freedoms.  When I moved to Guatemala I found out that I was wrong.  Now, Guatemala is a much different place than it was even twenty years ago, and most people are very free to go to whatever church they like, but throughout Guatemala’s history the country struggled to find the right balance between secularism and religiosity.  Mainly the Catholic and Protestant populations fought for control of the government.

Each group tried to impose it’s will onto the rest of Guatemala.  This is a very simplified view of the centuries long struggle in the country.  To go deeper we would have to consider racism, classism, and greed.  Needless to say, Guatemala struggled because it wasn’t founded on independence and the freedom of religion like we were in the United States.

Maybe the reason why I love taking pictures of the flag is because America allows me to love my God.  America lets me place God first in my life.  I can abstain from saluting the flag if I feel like it is overtaking my allegiance to God.  Just think back to the 1930s, in prewar Germany, people had to give the “Hitler Salute” or face severe punishment.  And Germany was supposed to be a “Christian Nation.”  But then again, that’s the same Nazi Germany that murdered millions of Jews just because they didn’t believe in Christ, which doesn’t sound like religious freedom to me, or very Christlike.  I think it was Christ who said love your neighbor like yourself.

I know America has its flaws, but when I look at that flag, I see some of the things we’ve done right.  I thank God for my country, and I pray that some day everyone will experience true independence, true adventure; a free life with God.

I hope you get a chance to take a look at your flag and think about what it means to you.  Happy Fourth Of July!

The Mountains Win Again

Call me a mountain man, well a mountain man who lives in the city, likes to shower every day, and keep a clean shaven face.  But call me a mountain man anyway.  My heart swells at the sight of the Rocky Mountains.  Maybe it’s because I lived in Vail, Colorado for seven years, or maybe it’s because I’m a Colorado native who grew up in hot, flat, Oklahoma.  My love for the mountains just must be in my blood.

My family has always held the mountains in a special place.  Back in the 90’s when we were still living in flatlander Tulsa, Oklahoma, my family went on a mission trip to Costa Rica.  As we were driving through the cloud forest in the mountains someone mentioned  Psalm 121, you know, the one about mountains and how awesome they are and how our help comes from them.  Ever since then I’ve had a strong connection between God and the mountains.

I came home from Costa Rica with a love for the mountains in my heart and a passion for God in my soul.  That short week is why I eventually moved to Guatemala.  Heck, I even lived in the mountains while in Guatemala.  There’s just something about the mountains.

A couple of weeks ago something major happened for my family in the mountains.  My sister, Emmy, decided to have my dad baptize her in Piny Lake.

Emmy led our family over to Piney Lake as the sun crept over the majestic Gore Range.  The morning was warm, but the water was cold.  My dad spoke confidently, saying:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm —
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Emmy turned her eyes to the mountains and made a statement that she would always look to the Lord for help.  The Gore Range and Piney Lake will never be the same for me.  When I think of them I will think of how great my God is and how He saves us.

What do you see when you look up to the mountains?  I’m always reminded of how much God loves me.  That is why the mountains always win.

5 Reasons My Mom Is Better Than Your’s

In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I’d tell you why my mom is better than your mom.  Now I could easily name more than five reasons why she is the best, but I don’t want you to get all upset.  I mean if I listed seven reasons why my mom is better than yours, you’d feel seven times worse about your mom.

I really can’t help it that my mom is the best.  I mean she brought me into this world, toilet trained me, and even put her foot down and said no to me a couple of times.  Mother knows best!  But those are things every mom has done, or should do.

Here are the five reasons why my mom is better than your mom:

1. She Will Not Steal Even If It Is Free.

How many of you take those free sugar packets from Quicktrip or 7-11?  Not my mom.  One day, after my older sister, Katie, and my Grandma came back from the gas-station, they were talking about their free sugar packets.  “You take extra packets too, Grandma,” said my sister.  “All the time,” replied my Grandma.  My mom, who was standing right next to the two thieves, cut in,  “That’s stealing.  Taking one is okay, but to take more is wrong.”  For the next thirty minutes she let my sister and her mother-in-law have it.  So much so, that they swore off gas-station sugar packets.

My  mom has morals.  That’s why when I went to print out a picture for her Mother’s Day gift at Wal-Mart I made sure to pay for it.  The machine printed out my picture and never charged me.  I could have just walked right out of the store, but I knew my mom would never accept a stolen gift.  So I found the nearest employee and asked to pay for the picture.  My mom has taught me well.

2. My Mom Would Jump.

The crystal clear lake lay forty feet below.  One, two, three . . . jump!  This was Guatemala 2009, Lago Atitlan to be exact.  We were all standing at the edge of the lake urging each other to jump.  I jumped, made a big splash.  My dad said no (Chicken).  Emmy, my little sister, jumped on her first try (She’s awesome).

My mom is not a chicken, nor is she just awesome.  She is a mom who jumped off of the highest cliff on Lago Atitlan.  When my dad wouldn’t do it, my mom faced the big drop and showed her family how cool she is.   My mom jumped off of a 40 foot cliff into the lake.  As beautiful as Lago Atitlan is, with it’s stunning blue waters and the three volcanoes dominating the view, I will always remember that lake for my mom’s death defying jump.

3. My Mom Kicked Me Out Of The House

Okay, she didn’t litterally kick me out of the house.  Five years ago, I was working at a job I hated.  This lame job scheduled me to work on Mother’s Day.  Three months later I found my self living in Guatemala.  And my mom had everything to do with my move.  No, it wasn’t because I wasn’t able to celebrate her on Mother’s Day.  She told me to go to Guatemala because she saw my passion for missions and wanted me to have a chance to serve.

My mom is better than all the other mom’s out there because she has faith.  She knew that she had to let me go so that God could work in my life.  I would never have lived in Guatemala if it wasn’t for her.

4. My Mom Teaches Kindergarten

I know, I know.   You are thinking that Kindergarten is easy.  Those kids take naps.  But in reality teaching Kindergarten is more like this video.

My mom pours her life into those kids, which means they are lucky.  She is a fantastic teacher, who works super hard to make sure all of her students are socialized, and know their A, B, C’s, and know not to stab one another with scissors, and how to read, and how to deal with bullies, and how to do calculous, and how to write responses to their favorite Dr Seuss book, and when is the right time to go potty and where is the right place, and how to have fun all while staying in the lines.  My mom doesn’t back down from any challenge.  She teaches Kindergarten.

5. My Mom Would Impersonate You

My mom is immensely tallented at doing voices.  Not a day paces by without her coming home from work with a story (remember she teaches Kindergarten) and those stories are always accompanied by a creative impression of her student.  She always keeps her impressions tasteful and never stops surprising me with her versatility.  She can pass as an old man, little girl, British nanny, and even my dad.  Sadly I don’t have any video of my mom impersonating anyone, but she’ll do a voice for you if you ask her.

You might not be able to see my mom impersonating you, but that shouldn’t stop you from impersonating her.  You should love kids like she loves kids.  You should love your family like she loves her family.  You should love and follow God they way she loves and follows God.

My mom is better than your’s because she showed me how to love and be loved.

Thank You Mom!  Happy Mother’s Day!

How to Teach And Not Be Bored To Death

School Can Be A Bore!

Everyone knows learning the difference between bor., boar, boor, and bore can be a complete bo . . . wait which one is it?  Wait can you explain the Hawley-Smoot Teriff Act?  Anyone, anyone?

Why do you think Ferris skipped school?

You know you’ve been in this class.  We’ve all struggled to stay awake as the professor drooned on and on, our eyes taped open in a futile attempt to remain conscious.  Sadly, once I started teaching I realized it’s not just the student’s who struggle through boring classes.

As a teacher, a teacher who was teaching said boring class, even I struggled at times to stay awake.

During my first year of teaching, quite a few of my classes were boring.  Can’t believe I just admitted that.  The worst was my current events class.  (I know a couple of students who would argue, not to say it was an exciting class, filled with the days most exciting news, but to say one of my other classes was worse.) I didn’t even enjoy listening to my students report on whatever big news story they’d found while scouring the web five minutes before class.

You know why it was boring?  It bored me and my students to tears because I didn’t put much effort into it.

I was a new teacher, I didn’t know any better.

Teaching Takes Trying

That next semester I decided to try something different.  If teaching something I found boring made for a boring class, then why not teach something I enjoyed.  (I know not everyone has this ability, Math teachers have to teach Math) I chose outdoor education.  I had grand plans for this class.  I wanted to take my students on hikes.  I wanted them to love hiking, like I love hiking.

But how can that be taught?

First I bought a book.  Had them sit in a classroom.  Gave them the information from the book.  And then I ran into the same problem I’d had before, boredom.

I was teaching the class wrong.  Not that there isn’t a time and place for books and the classroom, but I found out that if I was going to pass on a love for the outdoors I had to take the kids outside.

I showed them how to set up a tent.  We identified the clouds.  We even talked about going camping.  The class improved, but it still wasn’t that good.  We still weren’t hiking.  And camping was a no go.

Three years later the kids who were in that class still complain that we never did any of the things I promised them we’d do.  But what they don’t know is, inside the classroom I couldn’t show them my love for hiking.

A Good Teacher Tackle’s His Students

Teaching doesn’t always happen at school or inside the classroom. Most of the time teaching doesn’t even require books or tests.

Hands down my favorite class to teach was my middle school gym class because I loved the subject matter and most of the time I got to participate.  The boys loved it for many reasons, but they especially enjoyed our unit on American football (remember I was in Guatemala) they got to tackle me.  I loved it because they loved it, and I got to tackle them.  (This would never work in the states, but playing football with your students is a great way to get out your frustration.)

We built connections by playing a game together.  Anytime they tackled me I would congratulate them and they would ask my why I was crying. (I wasn’t)  Playing football with the boys allowed me to be personal with them.

They learned by watching my actions and following my lead.  Now, none of those boys will make it to the NFL, but all of them know more about football than any of their Guatemalan Neighbors.

They learned through experiencing.

Teaching isn’t about how boring or how exciting a class is.  No, it’s about growing and changing.

I finally put that to practice with hiking.  I knew that if the boys loved playing football when I played with them, they would love hiking if I took them.

A Good Teacher Takes A Hike

During my last year in Guatemala I took the majority of my students on hikes up La Muela, my favorite hike in Xela.

On our hikes up the dead volcano I would ask them what they wanted to do with their lives.  I would challenge them to try harder in their classes.  I spent most of the time on the hikes listening to what was going on in their lives.  I think they needed to know someone cared for them.  Kids need someone in their lives that let’s them know that they’re important.  Parents can do that, but at a point in every teenager’s life they stop listening to their parents.

I also shared bits of my life story, they listened and let me know they cared.  While hiking built healthy relationships.

I miss hiking with them more than almost anything in Xela.  I know that they love the hike too, because, since I moved back to the states, they’ve continued to hike.

And sure enough, when I was in Guatemala last March I took a group of kids up La Muela.  They wanted to go.  They took me to places on the dead volcano I’d never been.  As we stood at the summit, looking down on Xela, one of the boys, who’d grown up in Xela, right next to La Muela, looked at me and said, “I love hiking.  I can see why you love Xela too.”  Pleased, I felt like a success.

My teaching methods might not be conventional, but I believe the best way to pass on information, especially the type I am passionate about, is to form relationships and go hiking.

Why I Love Guatemala

Where is the land of enchantment?  No, it’s not New Mexico.  You have to south of the boarder.  Okay, a little farther south.  That’s right, Guatemala is the real land of enchantment.  Okay, maybe not all of Guatemala is that enchanting.  But no other country, outside of the good’ol U.S.A., has my heart like Guatemala.

Do you heart Antigua?

So why do I love Guatemala?  What follows is my top five reasons I love Guatemala and think it is a great travel destination and even more so an amazing place to live.

1. All of the gigantic volcanoes, whether they are erupting or just challenging me to hike or photograph, I love them.

El Fuego sits behind the volcano of Acatenango. I enjoyed watching it spout smoke from my safe rooftop in Antigua.
Even on a clear day in Xela a cloud loves to hang around the massive Santa Maria.

2. The Colonial Cathedrals.  I love old buildings and well, these ones have stood the test of time.

This Cathedral was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake.
Some lucky couple was getting married the night I took this picture.
Nun's who couldn't live in the real world would use the archway to pass over the street. Or so I was told.

3. The Amazing Coffee.  Err, I mean how everyone loves Guatemalan Coffee. (Everyone but me)

Before it's picked, dried, and roasted, it's sweet.
I know coffee lovers love these.
Coffee being processed forCafé Tranquilidad

4. The craftsmanship, be it food or a hand-knit blanket, Guatemalans can make some beautiful goods.  Cuidado!  Be careful where you eat, ’cause you want to take the beautiful hand-made scarf home with you, not amoebas.

Found these at the store. I'd never had them before. Jury is still out.
I love those colors!
The Market in Antigua.

5.  Most of all Guatemalan’s have passion, which makes me love them right back.  If you travel to Guatemala you will find that the rich and the poor, both have huge hearts.  Their genuine way of life makes them extremely beautiful.

The Chivos Fans Love Their team!
They Love Each Other.
Can't you tell she's got a big heart?
Will it stand?
Love's in her eyes.
They love being noobs!
Me and my spanish teacher.

I hope someday that everyone will be able to travel down to Guatemala and come up with their own list for why they love Guatemala.  It is an adventure, but be careful you just might be enchanted!

I wanted to reblog this story onto my blog at Adventures in Guatemala because it tells a true adventure in Guatemala. One of faith and unique experiences. Also, I wanted to share my little sister’s powerful story.

emmymichellescott

There is a village tucked away in the mountains of Guatemala named Yulmacap. The Guatemalan’s in Yulmacap do not speak spanish. They speak a Mayan dialect, Q’anjobal. They all wear traditional Mayan garb and are so secluded that hardly anyone ever leaves the village. It is beautiful, so I completely understand why no one leaves.  The mountains shoot straight up and the deep blues of the sky splash against them like a water painting. A dirt road winds down the mountain into the village. You can feel the breath of God in the atmosphere.

     It took our team eight hours to reach Yulmacap. Two of those hours were spent standing in the bed of a truck bumping over dirt roads. My hands have never been so sore (I was holding on for dear life)!  I was thankful to hop out of the truck and be on solid ground…

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