Tag Archives: Spiritual Emphasis Retreat

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!

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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,

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.  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.

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