THIS YEAR FEELS DIFFERENT
On a bright, sunny morning in January, the blue gates opened, the buses came through, and the students filed out for the first day of another school year. Shouts of laughter rang through the halls as kids went to find their homerooms; teachers led their classes to the first devotions of the year. The sanctuary was once again filled with students’ voices worshiping God—a full house.
This year at our Pastores campus, we will have 312 students from kindergarten to grade 12. After devotions, our elementary students, sitting down at their tables, received a school breakfast for the first time in almost three years. If we could sum up the start of the 2023 school year, it would be this: we’re back and better than ever.
These two changes, the return to pre-pandemic capacity and the restarting of the breakfast program, are two very significant answers to prayer, as well as indicators that the pandemic season of the last three years is unequivocally over. We have also been blessed to host three short-term teams in the year’s first two months—another indicator of a return to normal.
The grade 12 class from Maranatha Christian Academy joined us for ten days in January (coincidentally, they were the last short-term team to visit in 2020 before the COVID shutdown). They worked on our construction project, helped in our English classes and joined us in daily devotions. Mikayla, one of the students, said, “I learned what having faith like a child means. Seeing kids worship in devos every morning—they were so open to expressing themselves, which will impact how I worship going forward and how they love one another and show love to us; I want to have that love too.”
Right on the heels of the Maranatha team, Ken Ledwez and his crew came down to help us on our building project. Ken is a long-time GSO supporter who has generously donated his company time and labour towards our construction projects over the years. His team helped lay bricks for our new science lab and administration building.
Speaking of new projects, we are pleased to announce that Jervin and Jasmin have started an in-house primary school in Poptún! In addition to their children, five new students have enrolled, ranging from kindergarten to grade two. These students are officially registered at CCAF but receive daily classes from Jervin and Jasmin. Even their eldest daughter, Caroline, is helping teach English classes in addition to her studies. The Ruanos have already received a lot of interest from local families about enrolling their kids next year. We know God will bring more partners and visionaries who want to give towards this new and growing venture, and we are excited to see what He will do.
It’s evident that the students desire to learn, and even in the devotions, I have felt the difference; they are pressing in.
Many staff and students alike have said the same thing: this year feels different. There is a palpable feeling of joy among staff and students. Seño Lisseth, our most senior staff member, recently talked about the change she has seen. “We were praying and fasting for the students, and we are all concerned with the spiritual state of the kids. I’m sure that it has made the difference because it’s evident that the students desire to learn, and even in the devotions, I have felt the difference; they are pressing in.” Another teacher, Jasmin, mentioned how even in High School devotions, “Pastor Sam (the worship leader) doesn’t have to say anything (to encourage the students). They just automatically engage with the worship.”
For us to have all of these elements at play—short-term teams, construction projects, full classrooms, breakfast in the morning—it feels like before the pandemic. But it’s more than that; we’ve entered into a new time as a ministry. The year is full of hope, and we’re just getting started. We will have our first kids camp in over four years in June. The last three years have been a trial, but we have persevered and are ready for what the Lord wants to do in this new time.
Our year-end campaign, Steadfast, was a success. We want to thank each person who gave to the campaign. Even though we didn’t reach our goal, we got over 97% of the way there, raising almost $146,000 for Christ-centred education! Donations made by short-term teams have helped us make up the difference.
In addition to funding ongoing operations, a significant portion of these funds will go to our construction project. The project is well over 50% funded, and the walls of the second story are almost complete. We expect to finish construction this year!
While we currently have enough English teachers for all of our classes, we are still looking for at least one person to join us in Guatemala, either as an assistant or homeschooling teacher. For more information, please visit globalshore.org/teach-English/.