This is a post written by Katie about the school. It will give you a different perspective. Yes, at this point we are all weary although I don’t want to admit it easily…. but we persevere as we remember the reason we began this school in the first place…
We are at our halfway point in the first year of this education project’s existence. And we are tired. The newness is gone, the cultural and language differences are wearing, and the daily grind has been set in place. The students are tired, the staff are tired, the administrators are tired. And yet, as I have sat in the midst of this tired group of people (myself included), and turned my questions to God, I have been encouraged. Because these are the times that perseverance comes completely through a strength not our own; that this is when we hit our knees, we pull together, we release the challenges to God, and He pours His spirit and strength out upon us and allows us to become conquerors much greater than we could ever be on our own; that this is a time to speak out the vision that God has given us for this place and remember the amazing ways He has already provided and brought about that which no man could.
In December, as we were preparing to open doors for the Auxiliary Nursing Program in January, we learned that our teachers did not meet the requirements that are involved in opening an auxiliary program. So, we stood our ground; we fought for the program; we called in other Guatemalan friends of ours to go fight for the program as well; we had everyone interested sign a paper saying so; we prayed and prayed and prayed… and after a month and a half of this, we realized that God seemed to be shutting this door. Even more of a confirmation was that out of the 35+ people that had pre-registered for the program, we only had 4 students actually register when we opened registrations.
So, we prayed some more, and we discussed things as a team. Greg and Helaine Walton, the South African couple who had joined us here with over 15 years of education experience in rural Guatemala, encouraged us to keep seeking God out in this – that He seemed to be doing something, and that He didn’t seem to be finished yet.
In all honesty, I really half-thought “Yay! The ridiculous challenge of working with the Department of Public Health is over! I can go back to just working in the clinics and taking care of my family, and be done with this segment of my life. Sorry to all that were involved that this school didn’t happen… just doesn’t seem to be what God is doing anymore.” Thank God He has surrounded us by people much more mature and much farther along on this faith journey than we were…
because He was about to explode our world.
As we started exploring other options, Greg and Helaine explained more of the education world here in Guatemala. It is actually set up almost identically to the European system, where at 15 years old, students that would like to continue studying can decide if they would like to take more of a practical/technical degree route (like auxiliary nursing or mechanic) or if they would like to take a two year high school/college prep course with plans to continue on to study in the University afterwards (where they can study professional nursing or accounting, etc.). Greg and Helaine had already been running one of these college-prep programs – called a bachillerato (bah-chee-air-ah-toe) – and helped us look into putting one in here. Now, this program involves an insane amount of paperwork and trips to Quiche (2 hours away) just to open the doors. During a conversation with the local education director here in Canilla, he actually laughed out loud at me when I suggested that we put one of these programs in instead of the auxiliary nursing program; he then explained to me that it will take at least one year to get all the paperwork approved just to open doors! I countered with our thinking of how valuable one of these programs will be since it will not only raise the level of education here in Canilla, but also prepare students to go on to the University afterwards where they can receive a professional nursing degree and graduate with better training, better job opportunities, and better pay than the auxiliary degree would give them. A long-time friend of ours, he agreed with me, but still could not help smiling as he shook his head at my ridiculous optimism that allowed me to even consider pursuing this.
But God knew what he was doing, even if we were clueless 🙂 With the connections that Greg and Helaine had in the Department of Education here in Quiche, the excellent reputation they had built up with their school system, and the fact that they could have done this insane load of paperwork almost in their sleep, we opened doors TWO WEEKS after we submitted the original proposal!
Friends, this is a MIRACLE – especially in a country where NOTHING happens in two weeks’ time.
Our friend, the local education director? Yes, he stood in the school’s front lawn one week after we opened the doors, signing up his sister-in-law for the program. A broad smile crossed his face as he again shook his head at me… except this time, as he laughed with us, it was because he was as shocked as we were. Nobody could deny that God was moving… and little did we know, it was still just the beginning.
Ultimately, this education project is a story of the faithfulness of our God. It is a story of faith stretched and hope renewed. It is a story of restoration and redemption. It is story where the Creator of all comes down into the mess of a physically, emotionally, and spiritually oppressed people and answers their prayers, going above and beyond what they even knew to ask… a promise that God still walks among His people, that He still sees the tears and stains, and that He still gets out His lily white cloth and washes them away.