A SMALL SACRIFICE
In this issue, we have a very special guest writer. Samantha Pelaez is one of our graduating students and has graciously agreed to share some of her story.
Hi! My name is Samantha. I imagine you’ve heard someone introduce themselves and then say, “My name is ___, but you can just call me___” I, however, always say, “My name is Samantha. Do NOT call me Sam.” It’s worked so far. I have been a student at CCAF since kindergarten and just graduated from the graphic design program. I have had an excellent experience here, but having been here my whole life, I normalized everything about our school, oblivious to the circumstances in other schools. Wasn’t it normal to have devotions every morning? To have involved teachers who care deeply about the well-being of their students? Wasn’t it normal to talk about God’s word before every lesson? To feel cared for by staff and fellow students? I have learned, of course, that we are some of the very few kids in Guatemala with that privilege.
Whether in school or church, I have heard many testimonies of God doing incredible miracles for students, parents, and teachers alike. I never thought I needed a miracle or had anything extraordinary happen to me, so I’m always surprised when someone asks for my testimony or story. I never thought I had anything interesting to say. However, I remember a day when my self-esteem was lower than the ground itself; it was the first class of the day. I was surprised our teacher didn’t start his class with a verse. Instead, he said, “Open your computers and click on the photo booth app.” My classmates and I looked at each other, confused. We did what he said and stared at our faces on the computer screen, waiting for him to say something. “What do you see?” he asked. We stared at one another, not knowing what to say.
God has done so much for me, and this small sacrifice is the least I can do to say “thank you.” -Samantha
“A student?” asked one. “A girl?” said another. None of us were willing to admit what we were thinking about ourselves. “Did ‘princess’ or ‘precious in the eyes of God’ ever cross your mind?” our teacher said, “Did any of you think about your worth to God?” I had thought many things when I saw myself, but I was eager to admit none of it. I swallowed hard to try to keep my tears from rushing out. God loves us despite what we think about ourselves; he calls us precious, valuable, and beautiful. Experiences like the one I just described happen frequently at CCAF; God is changing lives here and constantly uses teachers to speak to and bless students.
Early this year, my mom and I talked about my future as I was about to graduate. My mom said she had an idea; I looked at her expectantly. “Why don’t you move out to the new school in Poptún for a year and teach English? You could give God the year after graduation as a first fruit offering.” In Guatemala, young people don’t usually leave home when they graduate, and some never leave. I have always known I would leave home earlier than some of my classmates. I thought I would be the one to suggest it first, yet my mom was practically kicking me out.
I stared at her. Did she want me to leave that bad? She barely let me leave the house alone, and now she wanted me to move 9 hours away? “No!” I said, “That’s crazy,” and refused to talk about it after that. I went to school the next day as if nothing had happened, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. After telling my close friends about my mom’s crazy suggestion, I started to get accustomed to the idea, and the more people I told, the more they gave me reasons why it was a good idea. I just hadn’t seen the bigger picture and hadn’t thought about what I could bring to that community.
Next year, I’ll go to Poptún. Recently, I spoke over the phone with my best friend, Carolyn, who moved there with her family two years ago to start the church and school. She told me she knew I wouldn’t want to go and had been praying for God to change my mind. I knew then that God was calling me to do this and that I needed to obey. I promised to do whatever he wanted, even leaving my comfort zone. God has done so much for me, and this small sacrifice is the least I can do to say “thank you.” Putting a smile on God’s face is, after all, what he put us on this earth to do.
Left: Samantha with her classmates, Ariana and Abi, on graduation day.
Above: Samantha with her mom, Julianna.
Below: Samantha at her graphic design practicum earlier this year.
As we continue to expand our ministry, we are constantly amazed by God’s faithfulness at every turn. Two years ago, Jervin and Jasmin moved to Poptún to start a church and explore the possibility of another Global Shore school. This year, in an act of faith and obedience, they started that school. Their oldest daughter, Carolyn, had the unique experience of simultaneously being a teacher and a student, helping teach classes as she continued her studies via distance learning in our teacher training program. Despite not having a building, they taught six primary school students in their home this year and hope for even more students next year.
The Foundation campaign will help us to operate a fully-staffed and functional campus in Poptún, including school and office supplies, rent, water, electricity, and a breakfast program with the hopes of soon beginning construction on a new school building.
Our fundraising goal for this campaign is $150,000, which will support our ongoing ministry of Christ-centred education for over three hundred students in Pastores and Poptún, but our calling and vision are much bigger than that. The work that God has called us to is a long-term investment, and we know that the school in Poptún can serve as a model for other future schools in Guatemala.
I feel in my heart that the school is where God wants me to be. I love the school; it has shaped my life and I love it with all my heart.
Our 2024 English Department teaching positions have all been filled, but we are still looking for a department assistant! A four-month commitment is the minimum we will consider for applications. No TEFL certification is required. Email email@example.com for more information or to apply!
We have several short-term opportunities next year, including a general trip from March 4 to 14 and our annual family trip in July! Contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!