There’s nothing like the first day of school. The gates open, the buses roll in, and wide-eyed, smiling children file out, ready for a new year. Early morning light streams through the windows of the devotion hall with an iridescent glow unique to January. This light, combined with the dusty haze of the dry season, creates a visual effect not unlike a cloud of glory over the heads of our little worshippers. The kids sing out, “Mi Amado es el mas bello entre millares y millares” (My beloved is the most beautiful among thousands and thousands) or, “Me llevas delante del trono, muestra tu belleza, quiero ver tu rostro” (you take me before the throne, show me your glory, I want to see your face). No matter how many years one has been involved with GSO, hearing those voices ring out on a cold January morning never gets old.
Now, we don’t just have one campus starting a new year; our satellite campus in Poptún, Petén, with the Ruano family, is also beginning its second year of classes. They currently have twelve kids in their primary school and have started renting a new space in town away from their house. Samantha, Carolyn, and Andrew—themselves long-time CCAF students—volunteer teaching classes, and they are not the only former students who are teaching.
Last year, we hired four graduating students, bringing the total number of former students working with us to fifteen. Seeing these young people push the vision forward and pass it on to the next generation is an incredible testament to God’s faithfulness in our ministry. If the vision can’t outlive us, it will die within the first generation. Having people who grew up in our ministry play such a critical role in its expansion means that the work of God in GSO will continue and thrive in years to come.
In addition to new staff members, we have a new crew of missionaries for 2024, including a family of four. Tristan and Tanya have moved down from BC and will work at the school while their daughters Alina, 8, and Esmae, 6, go to school with us. Ali is with us teaching English until May, and two other missionaries, Summer and Blake, both visited on different short-term teams last year. This year, Summer is teaching English at our high school, and Blake is serving as an intern helping with short-term teams. When asked what she wanted to get out of her year in Guatemala, Summer said, “Connection. I think that’s the biggest gift in ministry: sharing Jesus, sharing him with others, and having him share who he’s been in their lives. I really look forward to that.”
“Sharing Jesus” is one of the best ways to think about life in a ministry like ours, with the constant overlap and intersection of teachers, students, parents, long and short-term missionaries, board members, sponsors and donors, all with their various perspectives, interests and histories. Amidst the classes, lesson planning, building projects, trip scheduling and fundraising, one thing remains constant: sharing Jesus. If we do anything right, it’s because Jesus, who he is and what he does, is the central focus.
"Sharing Jesus, sharing him with others, and having him share who he’s been in their lives."
-Summer (TEFL Teacher)
In January, we hosted our annual “work trip,” with men from across Canada coming down to lend their experience, knowledge, and abilities to our construction projects. Many of the team members were returning visitors, including Chris Burwell. “I love this place,” Chris commented, “I (sponsor) two kids and (Profe) Edwin. If my wife would let me, I’d move down.” After the work team, we hosted the grade 12 class from Maranatha Christian Academy in Windsor, who have been visiting us since 2017. We love having high school kids on teams; they can connect with our students in ways that adults can’t, and some of them have returned to GSO in other capacities in later years, like Ella, who now teaches English. From construction workers to high school students, we believe that the shared unity of purpose people feel when they’re here, this “sharing Jesus,” is what causes them to return.
When examined from a purely logistical point of view, our organization’s mission, transforming Guatemala through Christ-centred education, can seem impossible. The many obstacles (widespread poverty, corruption, injustice, broken families, etc.) can make one believe that any impact their involvement has is negligible. But national transformation doesn’t come through massive organizational moves or sweeping government programs. Instead, it’s the multitude of daily human connections, united around a common purpose, namely, Christ and his kingdom, that allow each person to flourish and be transformed. Whether you are Guatemalan or Canadian, rich or poor, young or old, student or tradesman, sharing Jesus together is the greatest joy of ministry. It’s what has brought us this far and propels us into the future.
Year-end Campaign update
Our Foundation campaign is 70% funded. We want to thank everyone who gave; your generosity means the world to us, and without you, we wouldn’t have an effective ministry. While we did not reach our goal before the new year, we have extended the campaign! These funds allow us to continue providing quality, Christ-centred education to over 300 students across Guatemala!
Go to globalshore.org/year-end/ to give today!