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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Good Friday: The Meaning of The Cross

The journey to the top of Calvary must have been difficult.  Jesus was exhausted as he carried the weapon of his demise all the way up Calvary.  He’d been beaten.  He’d been mocked.  Yet he endured the pain of that brutal cross.

For me.  For you.  For the sins of the world.

Since the first good Friday, the cross has become more than a tool for execution.  For me it is a reminder of forgiveness, how much I’m loved, and the tool used to redeem my brokenness.  To others the cross is just art, something to look at.  But as you can see from the pictures I took during my recent trip to Guatemala, even when the cross is represented artistically, it can still mean something.

Today, Good Friday, the day we celebrate Christ’s death on the cross, what does that cross mean to you?

Are You Broken?

God made me into a masterpiece.  And yet, like the broken volcanic rock I’m standing on in this picture, I’m a broken masterpiece.

I’m a broken masterpiece who’s enamored with a kids movie.  When Hugo came out before Christmas I was blown away by its beauty, but as I’ve watched it again and again, I’ve seen the true elements of God’s grace and redemption weave their way through the story.

In the movie, Hugo Cabret, the main character, loves fixing things.  As the story progresses he realizes that everyone around him is broken. Just as Hugo realized that the people around him were inventions who needed fixed, I realized that fact is true to life.  We are all creations who have been broken.

I’ve been writing a lot about my recent mission trip to Guatemala.  During the first part of March 2012 I led a small team down to Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala to help out with a vacation Bible school program and a high school and middle school retreat.

Now, if you have been following my blog you know that the week was quite an adventure.  You also know that you are God’s masterpiece.  You know that God created you for a reason.

But what happens when you mess up.  When you feel broken. Does God just toss us away?  Can we mess up so bad that even God wont take us back?

During the retreat, once we’d made it down to hotter than hell Reu, Guatemala, I asked my students if they knew what the word redemption meant.  We were packed into a small dining hall for games, worship, and a message.  Going along with the theme of creation I asked three boys to create something with Hot Tamales.  First they had to chew them up and then build something artistic.

The game failed.  I’m pretty sure all of the students were bored during the game, which wasn’t how I pictured it.  I’m glad it was just a game.  But then, somehow the games failure fit into my talk.  How often do our lives not go as planned.  If we are inventions we sure tend to break down a lot, and sometimes it’s our own fault.

In my last blog I talked about how God chose a little shepherd to be king of Israel.  David was the smallest in his family, but he had something God desired.  An open heart.  But let me tell you the rest of David’s story.  If he was a man after God’s own heart, he was also horribly broken.  Once David becomes king he stops following God’s plan for him.

If I think I’ve messed up, well at least I haven’t skipped out on God’s job for me so that I could commit adultery.  David did that.  But wait, there’s more.  David finds out he knocked up the woman he slept with, and wait, she’s married.  So, after he tries to pin the baby on her husband, which fails miserably, (as is what happens most of the time when we try to hide our mistakes) David has the man killed.  So, David has gone from a man after God’s own heart, to an adulterer, to a murderer.  I am sure when he woke up the morning before all this happened, he didn’t write on his to do list, sleep with a married woman and then kill her husband.

No.  We never plan on making mistakes.  As I shared this story of David with my students, I wanted them to realize that even great biblical figures mess up. If someone in the Bible screws up royally, then what does that mean for us normal folk?

And so I opened my Bible and shared with them how David responded to  God.  Yes, at first David hid from God, tried to cover up all his wrong doing, but then he does something us normal folk should do.  He admits his wrongs and asks God to redeem him.  In Psalm 51 verse 1-12 David writes:

1 Have mercy on me, O God,

The Cost of Redemption

according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

David was a broken invention.  God set him on a path to be king of Israel and David messes things up.  We are God’s masterpieces, but if you are like me you have messed up.  The first step to redemption is admitting to God how you messed up.

I have found that when I am open with my faults God tends to redeem them. Redemption doesn’t mean erasing all that we did wrong, but fixing what is broken.  Like David said, create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  He didn’t say take this all away as if it never happened, he asked for God to fix him.

That is exactly what God did on Easter through Jesus.  He sent Jesus to fix us.  But that can only happen if we admit that we’re broken and need someone to repair us.  If we do, our story will be as meaningful as Hugo’s, probably even more so.  Because when we are living out God’s plan for us our stories turn into grand adventures.

As I finished giving my message I prayed that each of the students would keep their heart open to God and know that, no matter what they’d done or will do, they could never separate themselves from God.

I hope you know that too.  That this Easter is a time to celebrate redemption.  I urge you to join me, and my dad, Eugene Scott, in Living Spiritually.  We have set this year and hopefully our lives to keeping our eyes and our hearts open to God.  It has been an adventure so far and it would be amazing if you joined us.

You Are God’s Masterpiece

Have you ever thought of God as an inventor?  Just think, he created Xela, this beautiful city.  But have you ever thought that you are an invention, created for a purpose?

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I took a team down to Guatemala to lead The Inter-American School’s Spiritual Emphasis Week.  Our theme for the week was The Inventors Workshop, an idea I got from the movie Hugo.  I asked them to look at their lives as if they were invented with a purpose.

During the all school chapel on Tuesday morning I asked the students help me make the greatest invention ever.  We decided we needed some volunteers, so I called up the smartest kid in school, Skyy.  Then I called up the tallest, Oscar.  Followed by the strongest, How.  And then for good measure I picked a random boy out from the crowd, little Quike (pronounced key kay) from second grade.

Surprisingly enough, Oscar was too tall, How was too strong, and Skyy was too smart.  Quike was just perfect for my experiment.  If you don’t understand why I went with the smallest boy, maybe you should read a story from the Old Testament where David, a young Shepard at the time, is chosen by God to be the future king of Israel.  He isn’t big and strong like his brothers, but he has something God desires.

And so Quike let me use him to create the perfect invention.  First, we decided, he had to be wearing a hat, cause hats are cool, so I grabbed a hat from the audience and placed it on his head.  Then, what boy would be complete without sunglasses?  But I wanted him to be even cooler so I broke out my ski goggles and plopped them on his head.  My perfect invention was almost complete.  What kid is complete without an iPod and headphones?  I shoved my headphones on his little head and turned up the music.  He was complete.

Only one problem.  He couldn’t hear his inventor.  I tried several times to make him walk across the stage, but alas, the music was too loud.

So what did David have that God desired?  An open heart.  We cannot respond to our inventor if our hearts are closed.  Like Quike, who couldn’t hear me because of the music, we often drown out God with noise.  How often do we have our iPods on and miss out on what God has for us?

So, I challenged my students to open their hearts to what God had for them that week.  I asked them to unplug from anything that could distract them from God.  ‘Cause if their hearts were to remain closed, they would never know their purpose.

And what kind of leader would I be if I challenged them and didn’t give them an example of what an open heart looks like.

When I first started teaching at IAS, almost four years ago now, I was nervous.  If you go back and read some of my first blog posts you’ll see I was lonely, and not a good writer.  I was not alone.  Because I kept my heart open to all God had for me in Guatemala, he provided me with friends and amazing experiences.  Over the three years the students at IAS invited me into their lives and by doing so we created memories and built relationships.  If I’d had my heart closed off to them God wouldn’t have been refine me, his invention.

I believe God has created us as his masterpiece.  We are his most complex invention.  I challenged them to look at a series of photographs with an open heart.  You might not know anyone from the following slide show, but I want you, my readers to keep your hearts open as well.

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Here is what I see when I look at these pictures.  I see a kid I tutored, the same kid I convinced that the Rockies were the best team in Baseball.  I see a class that showed me how much fun teaching can be, they also showed me how frustrating it can be as well.  I see kids that love to play zombie tag.  I see friends who God has a special plan for.  When I look through this slide show I see God’s masterpieces.

If you were to add your own picture to that slide show, I hope you would see that you are God’s masterpiece, his greatest invention, and that he has a purpose for you.  You are not, as Hugo says, “spare parts.”

Join me and my dad, Eugene Scott, in living spiritually.  We are 88 days into the new year and I have already seen God do so much.  Join us on this adventure!

My Adventurous Week In Xela

One week in Xela isn’t enough, but March 3-10th was all the time I had to spend in my home away from home.  I’d traveled down to Xela, Guatemala to help lead the Inter-American’s Spiritual Emphasis Week, and as most mission trips go, it was jam-packed with fun life impacting experiences.  It was an adventure.

To start off my team of 4 1/2 nearly had to leave our half behind in Houston.

Taca requires babies, even those under two years old, to have a ticket.  Sure wish Orbitz had told about that one when, we were buying our tickets.  Fortunately, Mike Davis was able to talk the Taca (Take A Chance Airlines) agent into letting us buy a ticket for Bailey, and we all made it onto the plane.  And I can’t imagine the week without that little girl.  Heck, and what would’ve she done for a week all by herself in the Houston Airport?  She’s no Tom Hanks.

And so on Saturday March 3rd all 4 1/2 of us made it to Xela.  Here are the top 10 events from my mission trip in Xela.

1. Spending time with the McMarlins.  Saturday March 3rd my team and I were welcomed in to the McMarlin’s house for breakfast and lunch.  I worked with Laurel McMarlin for three years and his wife Donna had taken me in as if I was her own son, so it was truly great to see them again.  Laurel is the Chaplin at IAS and leads the English-speaking Anglican service at St. Mark’s in Xela on Sundays.

After church, which was cool in its own right because a lot of people came just to hear my dad preach (just think people coming to hear my dad) most of the teachers from IAS went over to the McMarlin’s for lunch.  It was great being able to catch up with old friends.  Thank you Laurel and Donna for opening up your house to me one more time.

2. Irene Ovelle’s Quince.  Last June when I went to what I thought would be my last Quinceaños, but to my surprise Irene invited me to her party, which just happened to be the first day I was back in Xela.  So after lunch with the McMarlin’s I got myself all dressed up, and headed out to her grandparent’s to see all of my former students.  I had been waiting nearly nine months to see all of them, so I was about as excited as my little niece was on Christmas Eve.

Probably the best part of the night, other than all the awesome hugs I received and the crazy dance moves I laid down and being able to disrupt all of the  dancing couples and generally just being able to act like a kid, was when Angelo (A vegetarian) tried to challenge me to a hotdog eating contest.  See last year I accepted his challenge only to find out he was only eating the buns.  I declined, but it really made me laugh.

3. Sunday after church I took Luispe, Dani, and Hugo up La Muela.  First off, this hike in itself is one of my favorite things to do, ever, but getting to hike it with a couple of my former students was even better.  I think more of my former student’s would’ve come had it not been for the party the night before. Mr. Smith, IAS’s science teacher, came with us and almost died on the way down.  Dani was hiking above him and accidentally knocked a rock lose.  The rock smashed right above Mr. Smith’s head.  Mr. Smith seems to attract death, it’s almost like he’s Charlie from Lost and the island is trying to kill him off.  Sure am glad he didn’t die, it would have put a damper on the beautiful day.

4. Playing games with the elementary kids.  During my two years as the elementary PE teacher at IAS I came up with all kids of tag games for the little kids.  On monday we got to play my favorite game of tag.  Zombie Tag.  It was so much fun hearing the little kids run around screaming, “Must Eat Brain.”  The next day we played my other favorite tag game, Model tag, which requires the kid who gets tagged to strike a pose.  Once the pose is struck the kid can only be released when someone takes their picture.  We didn’t get to play Santa tag, but that’s out of season anyway.

5. Coffee Plantation Tour.  On Tuesday afternoon I took my team down to Santa Maria de Jesus for a tour of the Brodbeck’s coffee plantation.  Dianne and Marty Brodbeck used to work at the school, but now that they are retired they supply IAS with what I’ve heard is the worlds best coffee (I don’t like Coffee). Mike, Stacey, Bailey, and my dad love coffee, so I think they really enjoyed learning how it is grown, picked, and processed.

Did you know that the coffee bean is sweet when it is picked?  Did you know if you picked 500 pounds of coffee bean after it is shelled, processed, and dried you’d end up with 60 pounds?  After our tour we were sitting around the Brodbeck’s yard enjoying boquitas when I looked at my watch, and realized we needed to get going or we would miss the last bus back up the mountain.  Like the coffee crazed fanatics that they are, my dad, Mike and Stacey, and Bailey rushed back to the Brodbeck’s storehouse and promptly bought them out of coffee.  With copious amounts of coffee in hand we jumped on the last bus to Xela and bounced our way back up the mountain.

6. Camila.  Everyone should have a little kid who fallows you around and tells you how much they love you.  Camila, a cute little first grader, used to tell me she loved me every chance she got.  When she first saw me on Monday I could tell she wasn’t sure what to do.  Her eyes were darting from me back to Stacey, who was giving the message, and then back to me.  During afternoon recess on Monday she followed me around and told me all about how she loved the first grade and how she thought she’d never see me again.

On Friday, when I got to school, after hanging out with all of the middle schoolers and high schoolers for three days, I noticed that Camila wasn’t there.  Yasi, my good friend and the school’s secretary, told me Camila’s mom had called in saying Camila was sick, but that her little girl was heartbroken because she wouldn’t get to say goodbye to Mr. Scott.  I love that kid.

7. Retreat.  On Wednesday I hopped onto a bus full of middle schoolers and headed down to Reu for three high energy days and two sleepless nights.  My dad and I challenged the students to look at their lives and see how God has worked in the good times and the bad times.  Day one, I was working with the current 10th grade class.  Each boy shared a short version of their life story, at first it was rather shallow, but as the week progressed, I could tell the boys were opening their hearts to what God had for them. At the end of the week a couple of the boys said they really wanted a stronger walk with God.

Retreat also had plenty of crazy moments.  The eleventh grade boys decided to take on the cinnamon challenge.  That is, they tried to swallow packets of cinnamon without the help of water.  I’d heard the myth that it can’t be done, well let me tell you, it can.

But also, don’t ever try to snort it.  All of the boys wanted me to try to eat the packet.  Not needing to prove my manhood to these boys, I refused.  But then they opened a packet up onto my hand and I knew I had to do something.  So, I dumped the cinnamon onto the table and said, “let’s get Hugo, he’ll snort this.”  So we all wiped a little cinnamon onto our noses and called Hugo into the room.  “We’ve all done it,” I said.  Without hesitation Hugo bent down and inhaled the entire packet.  I’m pretty sure he was sneezing cinnamon for the rest of retreat.  My props go out to Hugo, he’s a stud.

8. Pool fights and Revenge.  On Thursday Katja and Isa, two of the tenth grade girls, decided to get into a water fight with me.  Silly girls.  One of the best things about retreat is being able to form relationships with the kids from IAS.  Many of the kids came up to me and told me how their lives were going and asked me for advice.  It was so awesome to hear how they were growing.  That didn’t happen with Katja or Isa.  They just wanted a water fight.  They are noobs.

I was on the basketball court trying to make half court shots with a couple of the kids, when out of no where a water balloon bounces off of my back.  Then another one burst at my sandaled feet.  Katja and Isa were cautiously trying to have a water fight.  It was cute, they would throw a balloon and then try to look all innocent.  To this point I’d done nothing to deserve their wrath.  After they’d exhausted their ammo, which only got my shirt a little wet, I chased after them, only to be grabbed by Kain and Mario, two of their classmates, and dragged off to the pool.  I didn’t put up too much of a fight, as I was in my swimsuit, but I also didn’t want the boys to think I was weak.  So I broke free, tossed Kain on the ground, pushed Mario out-of-the-way, hoisted Isa onto my shoulders, and jumped into the pool.  Katja has been warned.  Revenge will be mine.

9. Singing Coldplay with Sharom.  On the bus ride back to Xela I decided to ride up with the High School bus.  I’d ridden down with the middle schoolers, who were really crazy, and so I felt God tell me to get onto the High School bus.  I am so glad I rode with the High Schoolers because half way up we passed the Middle School bus, which was broken down on the side of the road.

Not only was I on the bus that worked, but Sharom, my Guatemalan sister, shared one of her headphones with me and we rocked out to Coldplay the entire way up.  I sang to the entire bus, well at least those in the seats closest to me, the bus was too loud for everyone to hear, which was probably a good thing.  I will remember that bus ride for a long time.  Thank you Sharom, for such a fun memory.

10. Having Dinner with Yasi, her husband, and their daughter Eli.  I think the entire week was about connecting.  We tried to connect with the kids and the teachers, and yet one person I didn’t get to spend much time with was Yasi.  Yasi was more than my secretary she was also my running partner.

Because I was on retreat I didn’t get to spend much time with her and her family, so she invited my dad, Mike and Stacey, Bailey, and me over for dinner that Friday night.  I made Yasi’s week by surprising her with a copy of Mockingjay that I brought down with her.  The time I spent in conversation with her helped make a fabulous week that much better.  I hope that everyone gets to know Yasi at some point in their life.

Thank you to everyone who helped make my week in Xela an Adventure!

My Last Guatemalan Adventure!

Until last week it had been nearly nine months since I’d set foot in Guatemala.  June 18th my was last true night in Xela.  That rainy night, dressed in my first suit, I went to my last Quinceaños and something happened that would shape the course of the next 9 months.  As I look back it still feels like it was yesterday.

But it wasn’t yesterday, and a lot has happened in the between time.  Since that night in June I flew to Hawaii for my little sister’s graduation vacation, flew to Tulsa for a wedding and to meet my amazing nephew Lincoln, flew to Washington DC for my cousin’s wedding, and then finally landed in Denver.  Denver has been its own adventure, one I am still trying to figure out.

The story that follows is about my last Guatemalan adventure and why it took me nine months to write.

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Three weeks prior to the big Quinceaños, I bumped into Alexa, the quinceñera, at McDonald’s.  I was planning my own goodbye party with a couple of students when she came over and plopped a black and white card onto the table.  “My invitation?” I asked.  “Noob,” she replied.  I waited for her car to drive off before I ripped open my invitation.  The card was fancy, typical, but then I realized something different about the invitation.  On the little card signifying that I was invited it said I could bring one guest.  A date!

By handing me an invitation and telling me I could bring a date, Alexa had unwittingly filled my life with stress.  I felt like Cinderella on the night of the ball in search of a dress.  I needed a suit and a date.  So little time.  Okay! I’m exaggerating, I knew how to buy a suit.

The girl, well, that’s the adventure.

At first she had just been my gym crush.  We’d done plenty of mutual smiling and eye contact followed by the quick head turn.  But it wouldn’t ever work, I mean as far as I knew she only spoke Spanish and well, I was moving back to the states.  However, I didn’t want to move back to Colorado without trying to talk to a Guatemalan girl.

The Switchfoot song Gone became my motto.  The song says, live like there’s no tomorrow, because today will soon be gone.  The song even inspired me to write a blog about living purposefully, which was really just my own pep talk to try to say hi to this girl.  That was back in February of 2011.  Taking my own advice I started aprovecharseing (taking advantage of) my time left in Guatemala, which meant talking to her the next time I saw her.

Okay, so the time after that.

I wasn’t going to waste any time.  So, I enlisted Yasi, my running partner and go to girl for Spanish, to ask the girl what her name was.  My plan was to have Yasi befriend her and then introduce me to her.  Well, I finally met her and to my relief she spoke English.  I was so nervous the first time we spoke most people might have thought I wasn’t the native English speaker, and if we hadn’t been at the gym my excess sweat wouldn’t have seemed natural.

The next day, after I finished my 100 sit ups or was it 1,000, I strolled casually over to her, real smooth like.  I waved and made eye contact at the same time.  Big first step, but then she took off her headphones.  “What, she wants to talk,” I thought. I managed to say, hi.  But then she kept talking, something I hadn’t planned on.  Finally I manned up and asked her if she wanted to go out to coffee so I could practice spanish.

Two weeks later, when we finally went out, I didn’t speak any spanish.

My gym crush did not turn into a relationship.

I knew I was moving, and even though I created a great dance to the Taio Cruz song Heartbreaker, I didn’t want to play with her heart.  I try to live honestly, so that first time out to coffee I told her we could only be friends.  To my surprise she was so moved by my honesty she made sure we hung out every day for the next four months.  And the night before Alexa handed me my invitation my gym crush begged me to stay.  With tears rolling down my eyes I told her I couldn’t.  I had another adventure to live and no job in Xela to keep me.  Her heart was broken.  She decided it was too painful to see me and so we said our goodbyes.

Okay, one statement in that last paragraph is true.   You get to pick.

I was so busy trying to live each day to the fullest, that I kept on putting off the inevitable truth that I was moving, plus I didn’t know how to tell her.  In my defense every time I thought our friendship was going to grow into something more, like  when we’d go out for coffee, I’d vow to tell her the truth.  But then I wouldn’t see her for a couple of weeks and I just kind of figured it didn’t matter.  Why bother telling someone you’re moving when they just aren’t in your life consistently?

One of my friends nicknamed her Carmen Sandiego, because I was always wondering where in the world she was.  By the end of May  things were a little more consistent between me and Carmen Sandiego (not her real name).  I’d told her I was flying back to the states to surprise my little sister for her graduation, but that I would be back for the end of the school year at IAS.  To my delight Miss Sandiego wrote me daily while I was home in Colorado and told me how excited she was to see me when I returned.  Her new enthusiasm gave me the resolve to tell her the truth. Honesty had to win out.

She picked me up from the grocery store the night I made it back to Xela and we went out to coffee.  Like all good coffee shop conversations we started talking about failed relationships.  And so I told her the current predicament I was in.  How I liked this girl, but was moving.

She was upset, but said we would hang out all the time until I left.  I even met her mom that night.  Wow! Why hadn’t I told the truth earlier?

The thing about Carmen Sandiego is even when you think you’ve caught her, she slips right out from under your nose.  By the time Alexa gave me the invitation to her party, I hadn’t seen miss Sandiego in a little while (more on that later).  But the invitation gave me hope.  I left McDonald’s and decided to walk home in the rain, which would give me time to think things over.

Deep in my heart, I hoped she would be at the gym, which conveniently enough was on my way home.   As I splashed up the puddled street to the gym, I scanned the area for her car.  No luck.  Downtrodden, I climbed the stairs to the second floor of the gym.  I’d use the bathroom and then head back out to the rainy night. Alone.

To my surprise on one of the treadmills across from the men’s locker room was Carmen Sandiego.

My throat constricted, how was I going to ask her to a dance?  After I told her I was moving and she took me to see her mom, we’d gone out one more time and well, she’d spent the evening texting a friend.  She was probably still heartbroken and too hurt to talk, but maybe she’d want to spend one last evening with me.

As we talked about work, and anything but the dance or my upcoming move, she offered me a ride home.  “I’ll ask her then,” I thought.  But no, I chickend out.  Okay, but maybe we’d hang out again later that night.  But no, my phone stopped working and so I spent the evening alone, such is life in Guatemala.

My final week in Xela crept up on me like Harry Potter in an invisibility cloak.  Before I knew it, I had four days until the dance and hadn’t seen Miss Sandiego in a week.  Really, I had given up on seeing her again, and I was kind of okay with that.  I thought it would be fun to take her, but figured it wouldn’t happen.  Maybe I was ready to move on.  Fortunately a mutual friend showed up at my house and offered to drive me up to Miss Sandiego’s secret hideout.  I jumped into her beat up jeep and she drove me to the pool hall.  After we played a little pool, at which I won, she took me to Miss Sandiego, which was well out of my walking distance and in a more dangerous area of town.

She answered the door and explained that she only had a little time to talk.  Faking confidence I told her I’d been invited to one of my student’s Quinceaños and I wanted her to be my guest.

She told me she would think about it, but that she didn’t like fancy parties and didn’t have a dress to wear.  Girls sure are difficult.  I made it clear that I really wanted her to go, but she wouldn’t budge.  Finally, she promised to let me know by Friday.

That Friday night, the night before the party, she told me she would go, but only if she didn’t have to stay the entire night.  I told her she was free to leave whenever she wanted.  Heck, I’d say anything just to have her there.  I was excited to have a date.

Saturday, the day of the party, I was hanging out with Fernando, one of my Guatemalan friends.  His wife was out-of-town so we had been maximizing our time on the Wii.  He thinks he is really good at Wii ping-pong, but I am better.  I was in the middle of thumping him, again, when my phone notified me that I had a text.  It was my friend telling me she was sorry that Miss Sandiego wasn’t going to make it to the dance.  I picked my wiimote back up and let Fernando beat me a couple of times.

Three years of trying to date a Guatemalan and on my last night it just wasn’t going to happen.  I thought I’d be terribly disappointed, but I wasn’t, and I’m still not sure why it didn’t bother me.

Fortunately I had an idea, why not take Fernando.  The party was a strict black and white affair and Fernando is the type of guy who is always looking for a chance to suit up.  He said yes, not hesitating for a second.

I got stood up by a girl, but the night wasn’t ruined because I went with a better friend.  Heck, if Miss Sandiego had gone to the dance with me I wouldn’t have been able to pay attention to my students.  I would’ve had to leave early when Miss Sandiego had gotten tired of dancing, which is something that never happens for me.  Instead I had one of the most memorable nights in Xela.

The food was great, but that’s not what made the night.  The dancing was awesome, when is burning up the dance floor with stupidity not the best thing ever?  But again that’s not what made the night.  Having Fernando there to talk to after I was finally allowed to sit down at the adult’s table (I had to explain I was a teacher and not a student) was a huge blessing, but eventually he left so he could get a good night sleep, as he was driving me to the airport the next day.  My night was made by my friends.  Those that came to the party just to say goodbye and give me back my sunglasses they’d kidnapped.  It was made in the quiet moments when my friends told me how much I meant to them and that they would miss me.

None of that would’ve happened if Miss Sandiego had been there.  She has since apologized for standing me up and so I ask my readers not to hate her.  God had a plan for that night, it just took me a while to realize that fact.

Because Fernando came with me to the party it further cemented our friendship.  It also taught me a little about how to be a true friend, something I have been working on doing here in Colorado.  And now he and his wife are living in the states and I was able to host them when they came through Colorado last month.  I thanked him for his friendship by beating him 7 straight times at Wii ping-pong.

That night in June as my students told me how much they’d miss me they stole my heart.  Since then I haven’t been able to stop dreaming about Guatemala.

And then my dreams came true.  No my old school wasn’t turned into Hogwarts, I was asked to form a team to lead the Spiritual Emphasis Week for IAS, of which I have written blogs for in the past.

So, why did it take me nine months to write this blog?  Because I didn’t know what the story was about until I went down to Xela during the first week of March for the Spiritual Emphasis week.  For the retreat we asked the students to share their stories, their lives.  Time and time again my students came up to me and told me what was going on in their lives, how they missed me, and asked me if they could throw me into the pool.

As I listened in I realized my last Guatemalan adventure was a story about how I was never alone while I was in Guatemala, because I had about 170 or so friends I was blessed to work with each day.  My students need to know that they made my time in Guatemala an adventure and they made that Quinceaños party special because they stopped being my students and started being my friends.

Sometimes it just takes awhile to realize who your friends are.

In the next couple of weeks I plan on writing more adventures from Spiritual Emphasis Week 2012, so please keep an eye out for new posts.  The new posts will tell fun stories about my friends and how God worked in all our lives while I was back in Guatemala.  You will also find out if I was thrown in the pool or not and if I got my revenge/or if I even needed to.  Thank you all for reading and for being a friend.

Mighty To Save

If you have ever talked to me in person, or read any of my blogs, you know I drone on and on about how I taught PE at the Inter-American School in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala from 2008-2011.  It was truly a life changing experience.  As the gym teacher, I saw my job as twofold, first to challenge the kids athletically, but also to challenge them spiritually.  I can’t speak for how God used me to work in my students lives, but I do know God used them to constantly challenge me.

When I moved back to Colorado last June, I was not the same person who flew down to Guatemala in August of 2008.

I’d become more of the man God created me to be.

I think a big part of my change was opening my heart to my students and letting God work through them.  And so this last week I had the chance give back to them in return.  My dad (Also known as The Rev. Dr. E. C. Scott), Mike and Stacey Davis, and I flew down to Guatemala to lead a Spiritual Emphasis Week for all my students.   My prayer going into the trip was that God would open the hearts of my students and that my heart would remain open to all He had for me.

On the first day my heart melted during all school chapel.

The video above is from one of our all school chapels.  Listen to it with an open heart.  Watch the video and listen for the truth in the lyrics and the passion in the voices.

Almost a year after moving away, I was moved to tears when I saw all of my students and  heard them belt out, “My Savior, he can move the mountains.”

My God is mighty to save.

He is Mighty to save.

Remember, God calls us to be like little children.  Maybe we need to sing with the passion and confidence these little kids sang with.  Our God is the author of salvation.

I wrote this blog for a blog my church is doing during the season of Lent.  Join the Pascha community for daily devotionals and reflections on how God has moved in our lives through art, song, and nature.  You can find the blog by clicking here.  Enjoy!

What’s The Perfect Birthday Gift?

You shop and shop for the perfect gift, well at least you should spend a good amount of time searching out that gift if you care for the special birthday guy or gal.  But even when you spend all that time shopping, sometimes that gift you spent hours hunting down in that specialty store can be met with an “Oh, that’s nice.”  Not the response you hoped for.

This has never happened to me.  I have just heard that it has happened to other people.  I love each gift I am given, no matter what.  And people love all of the gifts I give.

And this year I unwrapped the perfect gift.

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Time spent with my friends.  Yep, I’m that easy.  Even though I enjoy opening funny birthday cards almost as much as I love ripping through wrapping paper, I cherish my time with my friends and family.

After moving back to Colorado last June, I was actually a little nervous about my birthday this year.  I’d spent three years forming some awesome friendships in Guatemala but then decided to move back to the states and had to start from scratch.  Even though I’d lived in Colorado most of my life, after living outside of the country, I felt like I had lost contact with most of my college friends.  Life had moved on, and so I saw moving to Denver as fresh start.

The fresh start has been great.  Over the last couple of months, I have really started to form some strong meaningful friendships, but when Michael Gallup moved his family (this includes his cute little daughter Marry Grace and Cliff Hutchison his best friend) I wasn’t really sure what to expect for my birthday due to the fact I’d grown really close to the Gallups.

The Gallups took me in and included me in their community.  We’d gone to movies and shared meals together.  And so as my birthday rolled around, I was sad that they wouldn’t be there, just as sad about not having any of my former students or friends in Guatemala to celebrate the day I turned 28 with.

I love big celebrations just as much as time with my friends, probably because a big celebration means a lot of people to be around.  Last year I went zip-lining and had a dinner party at Don Rodrigos, a quant restaurant in Xela.  This year turned out to be just as special.

My dad, who I consider one of my best friends, and I hiked up into the mountains on my favorite trail near our house.  As we crunched our way through the deep snow we talked about stories, how we can live spiritually, and just life in general.  The snow made the trail hard to hike, every step was a full step forward and a half step back.  But we plowed on until we made it to the Lost Trail trail marker.  The aspen trees had lost their golden leaves a long time ago, but with the sun light hitting them just right, even in their naked state, they looked beautiful.

I love aspens because they live as one organism.  Each tree supports the one next to it.  As I hiked down to the truck with my dad, I realized that I’ve been in a season of nakedness too.  All of my old friendships have been stripped away.  And yet I am not alone.

That night I went out to dinner with some great new friends.  We stuffed ourselves with rich food from Merle’s in downtown Littleton and then made our way back to the Pickard’s house to play wii.  It might not have been as adventurous as zip-lining, but it was just as special.  I was reminded that, even though it might not look the same as my life in Guatemala, I was given something amazing for my birthday, an awesome group of friends.  And I wouldn’t exchange that gift for anything.

Thank you to everyone who helped make my 28th Birthday special!  And to all my friends in Xela who have made my life very special, see you in a week!!!

10 Things I Will Not Do In 2012

1. I will not leave major life situations up to chance.  Playing the dice game on my phone to decide if I am going to have a second burger is fine, but not acceptable for major life changing situations.  No, I did not use my phone to help me make my decision to move back to Colorado after living in Guatemala.  That would have been stupid, plus I made that decision in 2010.

2. I will not spend half the year without a job.  2011 was a rough year for work.  I spent half the year teaching and the other half babysitting  Way to put my college degree to work. Eff em up, Eff em up GO CU!!

3. I will not read the rest of the Millennium Series.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a true bore fest.  I know Stieg Larsson was trying to create a tense mystery, but he failed to make me care about any of the characters.  And if I don’t care about the characters I don’t care about the story, he also never really put any of them in real danger (at least in the first book and at least for the first 300 pages, which is too long for me).  I guess a better way to put it, I am not going to waste my time on poorly written books.

4. I am not going to fly American Airlines.  I was surprised when in late 2011 they filed for chapter 11 Bankruptcy, because they had over charged me for several of their mistakes.  With all of the extra money I gave them I would think they would be financially sound.  Since when is it my fault that they canceled a ticket I purchased and notified me by sending me an email in, wait for it,  . . . Spanish.  A language I am not completely fluent in.  This miscommunication cost me over 200 dollars when I had to re-buy my ticket.  They also conveniently lost the recording of a phone conversation I had with one of their representatives, which would have proved the error was theirs and saved me money.  I will eventually write a blog about how much I hate American Airlines, but for now I am still too mad.

5. I am not going to be a host for a party of amoebas.  If you have traveled outside of the U.S. you understand the temptation to taste the rich local food.  It can be so colorful and exotic, but more often than not, it is also very dangerous.  So, no street food for me.  I am saying no to hotdogs for under a dollar, which is a shame because gringas, garnachas, cheveres, and tacos are great.  Living in Colorado has been a bit safer for my bowels as I have yet to walk past any of my favorite street vendors, but after Thanksgiving 2011 I wasn’t sure some of my old uninvited friends (amoebas) weren’t throwing a party in my stomach.  I am not going to host that party in 2012.

6. I am not going give up on my dream of dating Jessica Scheel (Miss Guatemala 2010).  Because if I am afraid to dream grand dreams, then I will live an empty life.  There is only one snag in this whole thing, I am just a normal guy living in the states and she is super famous (or kind of famous).  Maybe it would be better to say, I am not going to give up on my love life even though it’s seemed more like an impossible dream at times.

7. I am not going to succumb to a Zombie attack.  As many people believe that 2012 is the final year on earth and a Zombie Apocalypse is bound to happen, I vow to be prepared.  Those brain suckers will not feast on my brain.  More realistically I will not spend all of my time sitting in front of the TV.  2012 will be a year for doing and living.  It will not be a year for the undead.

8. I will not stop dreaming about Guatemala.  I am not completely sure if I am in control of this one, but I have had dreams about Guatemala, my friends and my students, almost every night for the last six months.  Typically in the dreams I am teaching at Hogwarts, but the school for wizards and witches is always located in Guatemala and the student body is not British, but Guatemalan; more specifically all of my old students.  I am not sure what these dreams mean, but I am pretty sure they will continue well in to 2012.

9. I am not going to give up on my dream of becoming a writer.  My current plan is to go back to school for my masters in  teaching, but my end goal is to be published.  I love writing and I want to be able to share my ideas with the world.  I am not going to stop dreaming this dream.

10. I am not going to live timidly, except for when it comes to street food.  The Mayan calendar ends on December 21st.  Some people think this means the end of the world, but in reality we never know how much longer we have to live.  Life is precious, so don’t hold back.  For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. (2nd Timothy 1:7)

What are you not going to do in 2012?  I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!

How To Celebrate Christmas In Guatemala and the Meaning of Christmas

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Last year I learned the meaning of Christmas.  I spent Christmas 2010 in Guatemala, away from the snow of Colorado and more importantly away from my family.  Guatemala, or at least my home city of Xela, doesn’t celebrate Christmas the way most of the world celebrates the birth of Christ.  Sure at the Inter-American School, where I worked, we had a Christmas Play.  Last year the elementary performed the well known play Izzy Saves Christmas, where Izzy the mouse saves Christmas.  Haven’t heard of it?  Well, it’s a Guatemalan staple, or it is now.

I also taught my students what the best kind of Christmas party is; a White Elephant Party.  Who doesn’t want to go home with an alarm clock in a country where it is better to use your cellphone as an alarm at night, because anything plugged into the wall just might lose power.

But where Guatemala, and especially Xela, differs from Christmas in the United States is Christmas Eve.  Growing up as a Presbyterian Pastor’s kid in the United States, my family’s Christmas tradition centered around our church’s Christmas Eve service.  Every year, especially when I was younger, my mom would force me into my Christmas best, drive me and my sisters to church, and we would light the Christ Candle.  As I documented last year, in my blog I’ll Be Home For Christmas, my family always had the misfortune of lighting the Christ Candle, which never went smoothly.  I fought with my sister in front of 1,000 plus people who’d come to church expecting to hear how Christ came to bring peace on earth and goodwill to men.  The next year they expected something else, and I did not fail them.   I dropped a lit match on the carpet floor.  Fortunately the church didn’t burn down.

I did not have to light the Christ Candle for Christmas Eve in Xela.  I was a spectator, surrounded by friends and Guatemalan families who had come to celebrate Christ’s birth.  As much as I missed being with my family last year I enjoyed witnessing how the Latin culture celebrates Christmas.  My favorite part of the service at Saint Mark’s was the Posada.  A handful of kids marched into the church dressed as Guatemalan Marias and Joses with sumbreros and mustaches followed by a very Guatemalan baby Jesus Cristo.

Shortly after the service, after I had sung my share of Spanish Christmas Carols I headed back to my house with Skyy a fireworks crazed freshman , his mom Susan, whose house I lived at, Jen (co-worker), Blake and Amy (co-workers), Blake’s family, and Holland (another co-worker) and his boys to set off fireworks.  Ask anyone in Guatemala and they will tell you setting off fireworks is the real reason for the season.  I may have spent upwards of twenty dollars on fireworks, which didn’t even match all of the explosives Skyy brought to the table.  Us guys took the next couple of hours detonating our ammunition.  At midnight Xela sounded as if it were under attack, the entire city lit up like the large Christ Candle.

Christmas Eve has aways been family time for me, quiet and relaxing (after the Christmas Eve service at least).  This year I plan on watching “How Earnest Saved Christmas” with my two sisters.  I look forward to waking up on Christmas morning and being with my family.  But I will always remember how much fun I had lighting off fireworks and celebrating my savior’s birth with people my Guatemalan family.

Christmas is not about what you do, what you give or what you get, but in the end it is about enjoying the birth of Christ with those who are around you.  No matter where you are.  Last year on Christmas day Donna and Laurel McMarlin (Laurel was one of my co-workers) welcomed me into their family and shared their Christmas with me.  They helped make what could have been a lonely day, a day full of love and celebration, which made for a perfect Christmas.