By Regan Penning
SAN MIGUEL CHICAJ: We walked through the town, from the center with its concrete paving stones, to the outskirts with its rutted dusty roads. When we arrived, my students got their first glance of the Guatemalan public school system. We stood in a dusty field, facing the concrete building, its teal paint chipping. There are windows with their glass panes open. The black metal door is open, too. This is to allow for air flow, though when we enter the classroom, we feel the airflow is minimal.
The principal enters with a bowl of water and splatters in on the floor, to control the dust that has come in through all the open spaces. He introduces himself to us, and I translate for the others, who stand, wide-eyed. It is their first cultural experience here. Talking about communication to people whose language they don't speak. God s undaunted by language barriers though, and I am thankful that He is with us, and is the one who gives us with what we will give.
They smile and shake hands, tell their names. Both the faculty and the missionaries-in-training look as though they would like to say more, but are unsure how to say it.
We begin the workshop by asking what conflicts they face as teachers. They discuss the communication issues with their students, and among the faculty.
Katie, Tricia and Josh take turns sharing their material, and asking questions of our pupils, as I translate. We talk about resolving conflict by facing the person and the offense in question. We talk about the destructiveness of gossip. We talk about triangulation, a very common practice in Guatemala.
I see understanding light up the faculty faces, knowing smiles between them when we make examples from our own lives.
It was just the weekend before we left for Guatemala, When I got an email from Kathi at YWAM San Miguel Chicaj with the opportunity to speak to the faculty of the public school here on our first day of ministry. I had no idea when we would have time to prepare for it. But I felt in my spirit that this was an opportunity that we could not let pass by, so I agreed to it.
As we stand in the puddles on the cement floor, hearing each of the faculty express their gratitude for the skills we have shared with them, I am so glad I did.