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The Reality of Guatemala


When we lived in Colorado I think I took the educational system for granted. My kids went to a shiny new school in our small town of Windsor, Colorado. Grandview had a beautiful library with thousands of books. School started at 7:30am and ended at 3pm. Teachers in the States have college degrees and sometimes a Masters. There are busses that pick kids up and drop them off. There’s a school nurse. There are computers. Most parents have graduated from High School and often from university.

In Guatemala, there are no libraries in middle school or high school. There are no computers. Desks are sometimes 30 years old. They’re written on and carved in. Some of our academy boys walk 2-3 miles to school and then 2-3 miles home. If they have a Quetzal (the equivalent of .13) they can take a bus.  Most don’t. There’s no school nurse and most of the time there aren’t enough teachers. Some parents have graduated from the 6th grade but there are so many who dropped out in the 3rd or 4th grade to help mom and dad at home or in the fields.

That’s the reality of Guatemala.

I believe the only way out of poverty is through education. I don’t see any other way. What if kids graduated from the 6th grade, at a 6th grade level? What if they had books to read? What if they were encouraged and challenged? What if they had the CHANCE to go to middle school without financial pressure? What if they didn’t have to buy their schoolbooks? What if they had tutoring? What if, when they left the 9th grade, they were the top of their class?

Parents in El Rosario are just like you. They want the best for their kids. They want their kids to have a good education with the impossible dream of getting out of the fields or out of the factories. Parents will do what they have to do to give their kids a CHANCE at a better life. They take out massive loans to send their kids to school. Loans they can’t afford. Often those loans are attached to land that has been in the family for generations. Because they don’t know any better, they often pay 220% interest on those loans. Yes. You read that right.

A traditional private middle school in Guatemala costs about $1,000 dollars a year. DOLLARS!!! That doesn’t include registration, schoolbooks, school supplies, school uniforms, gym uniforms, at least 2 new pair of shoes and transportation. A non-traditional school or weekend school costs about ½ that but they only go to school one day a week. It’s basically paying for homeschool with some guidance once a week.

Last year Vonda and I established our own private middle school. Kids are on scholarship. They don’t have to buy schoolbooks or school supplies. We feed them snacks and a healthy lunch every day. If they don’t understand something our teachers will stay after school for as long as the student needs help. Every day.  They’re getting one of the very best educations in this country.

We’ve also partnered with 2 middle schools and have 35 boys and girls on scholarship who go to class on weekends. They don’t have to pay for tuition or schoolbooks. We give them 2 months of “summer school” to help them catch up to grade level. During the school year we offer 2 afternoons of tutoring.  If they have questions or if they’re struggling, we’re there to catch them.

The principal at one of the alternative schools we’ve partnered with recently said, “All of your (scholarship) kids are doing well.”   There was a pause. “And all of the other kids are not.”  I clarified what he’d just said. I knew our kids were doing well, but he said, “ALL of the other kids were not.”

Imagine that these kids are running a race. Most kids never get to the starting line. They never get to grade level. We’re not only getting them to grade level but we’re giving them a head start in the race. They’re halfway around the track. They actually have a chance to win!

We have ONE BOY who still needs a scholarship. Selvin Isaias will be attending The El Rosario Christian Academy for Boys and needs an $85 a month sponsor. CLICK HERE to see his photo and read his short story.

Our ministry is made up of a whole bunch of ordinary people who want to make a difference. They want to change the world. Ordinary Missionaries is not Vonda and I. It’s everyone who stands up for the oppressed. It’s everyone who feeds a family. It’s everyone who provides a water filter. It’s everyone who makes disciples. And it’s everyone who gives a kid a chance.  Maybe you’re an Ordinary Missionary??? Join us!

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  1. I wonder if you can tell us how to know if God is calling us to the mission field as well. What does “God’s call” actually look like? How did it manifest itself in your family? I met a friend of yours Jonathan Stuart tonight at our son’s basketball game. I know that God put us in the seats next to each other for a reason. Our family too has felt a strong “tug” toward Guatemala over the past 5 years as we have taken several short-term missions trips there.. Just not sure how to interpret all of our feelings.

  2. Hi Rachel,

    It’s a good question. This is what I think God’s call looks like: “”Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

    And here’s the blessing: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.”

    This morning we read this in Bible study: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

    In my humble opinion, if God is not telling you to stay, you should “go”. It takes an incredible amount of faith to follow Jesus. I tell my boys ALMOST every morning, “It’s not enough to read the Bible. It’s not enough to study the Bible. It’s not enough to go to church. It’s not enough to pray.

    God wants us ON the field. He wants us PARTICIPATING. He wants us LIVING the Bible. He promises us that if we “Do the will of His Father,” THEN we’ll enter the kingdom.

    The boys at our academy asked, “WHAT’S THE WILL OF GOD???”

    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

    And He tells us to “go and make disciples…”

    Hope that helps.

    <3 George and Vonda

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