Tag Archives: Xela

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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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.

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, Brendan Scott, and my dad, Eugene Scott, in living spiritually.  We are 93 days into the new year and I have already seen God do so much.  Join us on this adventure!

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Dancing Con Aguafiestas

By Brendan Scott

Quick, name the best dancer you know.  If Brendan, my name, hasn’t popped up into your head, then you’re crazy.  I know how to cut a rug and then knit it back together again.  I know how to shake a leg and then skimmy.  I’m the real Jimmy.  Oh, you don’t know my name?  What?  You haven’t seen my moves.  You don’t know my skills?  I have around 363 views on my dance video (On Youtube).

Sometimes my life can be a little like my dance moves.  I’ll be having fun, the toast of the party, feeling great, and then suddenly a migraine will twirl in and nock me out.  It seems like at every dance party there is a jealous dancer who tries to outdo me, my migraines always try to do the same.  They are aguafiestas (Spanish for party poopers). The aguafiestas I suffer from are Abdominal Migraines.  They’re rare, but they do exist.

Before I spin my gruesome tale of migraines, let’s grind our way through all of the fun that was had celebrating Stephanie and Fernando’s joint bachelor parties at the lake.  Lake Atitlan is about two hours away from Xela, but that’s as the bird flies.  As the car drives it takes much, much longer.  Especially with all of the tumulos (Guatemalan for speed bump, which in Spanish actually refer to the bumps made by burial mounds).  As we drove through the first town off of the Pan-American Highway, located just off of km 148, Fernando’s car scraped bottom.  The little town of San Marcos or Filepe or Lucas or Mateo (or whatever and I’m not sure how it got sainted) has more speed bumps than miracles.  Anyway, Fernando’s car is a small red Nissan and didn’t have the clearance to climb over these pesky paved speed reducers.  Especially not with five people in the car.  Every 100 feet or so we were forced to evacuate the car in order for Fernando to ease the Nissan over the sizable bump.

three-toed sloth would’ve moved quicker.  We’d start to pick up speed, a blazing 10 miles an hour, and a tumulo would halt us in our way.  So, we’d exit the car as the town’s people stared.  I guess they’d never seen gringos (In Guatemala) practicing the Chinese fire-drill before.  After the 5th speed bump in no less than 25 yards we decided to tell Fernando to drive ahead, leaving us to dance through the cold town.  We passed a church gathering, whose people seemed to be more interested in our dilemma than praying, and several cows who mooed empathetically, knowing what it’s like to walk over all the speed bumps.  The horses and chickens weren’t quite as friendly.  They taunted us with their neighing and clucking.  I was glad to climb back into the safety of that warm Nissan after we’d danced all the way through that little town.

Fortunately dancing through San Juan de los tumulos didn’t bring on a migraine.  Neither did driving down a steep set of switchbacks with near 1,000 foot cliffs on either side of the road.  Halfway down to the lake we had to stop, not for a speed bump, but to cool the brakes off.  If we’d gone any farther the car might have ended under one of the many burial mounds we’d driven over along the way.   As Fernando dumped a gallon or so of water onto the hot tires we danced around like guerrillas in the mist.  I do a great guerrilla dance.   Trust me.

If only the fun had continued into the next day.  Unfortunately, like those fighting guerrillas, the migraine sprung on me like a leaping ballerina by late afternoon the next day.  (If you don’t think ballerina’s are fierce just go watch Black Swan.  That movie was disturbing.)  Anyway, just like Natalie Portman’s character spun from good to bad so did my  trip.

After a relaxing morning in San Pedro, we decided it was time to make our way back to Xela.  Fernando and Stephanie were going to Antigua, so we didn’t have access to the car.   We figured we’d take a chicken buss, sadly the busses stopped running at 11 a.m. and it was now 3.  Our only option was the pay a guy to drive us all the way up to the highway in the back of his truck.  All 11 of us (some had not been as fortunate to sloth through San Juan in the Nissan the night before) jumped in the back of a beat up pick up, and we putted off.  It was already crowded and we had a long assent ahead of us, so we only stopped to pick up a few Guatemalans who only wanted a ride to the next town.

Pueblita after Pueblita we subired.  The old truck climbed smoothly until we stalled out in a little town and were forced to watch a parade of tuc tucs.  It was terrible, those slow tucs took tons of time to trek through town, but it didn’t give me a migraine.  The migraine sprung after the truck stalled on a steep incline.  I had been enjoying a magnificent view of the lake when we passed by our fifth hairpin turn and the truck stopped.  We leapt from the truck like graceful guerrillas (ok the girls were just graceful).  With the lighter load the truck roared to life and sped up the hill.  I can run for miles, but dead sprints really kill me, especially when they are straight up hill.  30 yards in I knew I was done.  Several of my friends easily leapt back into the truck bed, but I couldn’t do it.  As I walked up to where the truck was waiting for me my heart danced madly in my chest (A typical indicator that an unwanted dancing partner was about to force its way next to me).  30 minutes later as we bounced through San Juan de los Tumulos I tossed my lunch out the back of the pick up.  The migraine had set in.

I made it home with out throwing up again, and I can say my weekend was a lot of fun, even though it ended with a migraine, which spun my weekend a direction I didn’t want it to go.  I would have rather written a story about how great of a dancer I am, but I guess you’ll know now that, even though I am an extremely talented dancer, I suffer from migraines.  I am human!  All kidding aside,  I might not be the first person you think of when it comes to dancing, but I guess that doesn’t matter.

What matters is how I respond to the challenges placed in my life.  I have dealt with migraines all of my life and I know I can’t handle them if it weren’t for the friends and family members God has placed in my life.  I know that no matter how hard my migraines hit me, I am not alone.  Life’s a dance and I’m going to keep on grooving, even if a migraine leaps in my way and splashes water all over the party.

Brendan wrote this piece back in late March, but he wanted to share it with his new readers so they can get to know him better.

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