March 30, 2016


Gateway 2016 School2School HANDS Team:

Mackenzie Guest Blogger - Highlights of the Day:

Today when we got to the school we started doing crafts with the students there. In the grade 4 classroom I made some friends with little girls. They were asking me questions about snow, thankfully I had my photo book, so I could share some pictures of the snow. They had a lot of questions and were really interested. There was one girl named Leslie who drew me a picture. It had a picture of me and was labeled Canada and a picture of her and it was labeled Nicaragua. Even though we couldn't speak each others languages, we could communicate. Later on in the day, Leslie made me three more pictures, and a fan to fan myself in the heat.

We also did a class with the preschool class. They are so cute, but they weren't good at cutting things out, and I had to help them. I am not that good at cutting either, so the hearts they made were a little bit deformed. I don't think they minded too much. The last class I was with was the grade 2s. I 'accidentally' snuck some students out of the class to play volleyball out in the courtyard. The teacher was calling them all back, so I had to take them. Oops.

The kids were all of a sudden getting all of our names for Facebook. I don't necessarily want all of those new Facebook friends, but it is interesting that they are paying this much attention to us and they want to learn about what our lives are like too.

When we went to the market it was a brand new experience for me. I have never bargained before, and that is what you do everywhere. I got a lot of gifts for the people that have been supporting me on this trip. There was a lot of neat things that you typically wouldn't see in Red Deer. On my way to the bus, a girl tried to sell me a parrot in a box. She wouldn't let me past her and was trying to get me to take it. It wasn't flying away, it was just in the box. Zach says maybe she was just trying to get me to take a picture with it. But it seemed like she wanted me to buy it.

It has been really hard with the heat, but I feel like I am SLOWLY acclimatizing. I'm doing better than the first day! Everyone has been really tired, which has made things hard, and we're doing our best to participate in all of the activities.

Guest Blogger: Bailey Vander Leek - Highlights of the Day

So far it's been really cool to interact with kids of all ages at Bautista Libertad. It is cool to see how they interact differently than students at home do. They are a lot more forward, they come up and talk to us, ask us questions and play with us. You basically feel like a celebrity here when you are at the school. All of the kids see us and are on us, wanting to talk, or play, or interact no matter what you are doing or how hot you are. It helps you feel more at home in a way, because they are so accepting, they welcome you into their community with great ease. They don't even give it a second thought.

When the school bell went for the end of the day rang, all of the kids ran up to our group asking for us to sign something, or giving us a hug, or even a picture or craft they had made for us to have. It was such a cool experience, because they are looking at us and thinking how can I get to know them - right away. It's not based on how we look, but they just want to form relationships.

Within our own team, I've noticed that people are connecting a lot more. We talk more, communicate better now that we are in a different country. It seems like it took coming here to make that happen, because we are talking or communicating in ways that we might not have ever before back in Canada. It's weird how that happens. It's cool to see people on our team break away from groups that they have back at home and form a whole new group. We're not just these people and those people, but one whole group - that's really cool. I can't wait to see how that will play out when we get home and we get back to our normal lives, but we've had this experience in our past. How will those relationships change? How will they shape us?


Craft group done with their project: Button Trees!

This morning Bautista students led off our day with a reading of Psalm 23. We then split into groups to teach some songs to young students and the Gateway kids led the younger students in crafts. Each group taught a short lesson on something Canadian (the maple leaf, skates, maple trees, the loon) and then led groups in creating the craft. The class sizes here are unlike Canadian classes. Each of the primary grades has 40-50 students. With small classrooms, limited supplies and open air rooms, the setting is noisy, hot and cramped. The students are beautiful, and eager to participate.

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The students are so wonderful, engaging and happy. The Gateway Team has noticed their cheery dispositions, and loves to spend time with them.

At lunch, students had the privilege of sitting with the teachers from Bautista. After the meal we played a couple of games together and then spent time discussing, sharing and asking each other questions. The dialogue was honest, interesting, and at times intense! They are so hopeful that we are enjoying our time, enjoying their country and learning as we go. We assured them that we were! It was very interesting to hear about what life is like for a teacher in Nicaragua, and how different the education system is here. Students asked great questions, and once again were amazing ambassadors for Gateway Christian School, their families, and the Red Deer Public School District. Having the opportunity to travel and gain experience in another culture is invaluable (that's more than valuable!!).

In the afternoon, students explored Wembas Market. Mr. Kooman went off to buy some hammocks, where he promptly dropped A LOT of American cash on the ground. It was quickly picked up, but not before he may have uttered a bad word, and a passer by or two may have seen a few greenbacks flashed around. He clutched his man purse tightly for the rest of the time. A security guard walked with the students throughout the market, standing close to them and even helping them barter. This was a new experience, but the students appreciated the help and gave him a tip on his way.

Students enjoyed picking souvenirs for themselves and gifts for others from the variety of leather, wooden, painted and woven gifts that are on display in the many stalls. Weaving their way through sellers of food and wares while they competed for attention and dollars was a fun experience.

The group had quite a bit of free time after supper in the evening. A wonderful time was spent during devotions, journaling and mail time again tonight. Knowing we don't have to be at the breakfast table until 7 am was met with a hallelujah and at least one Amen! Thank you for your prayers for our group! The girls who were feeling under the weather were up and about today, and a trip to the pharmacia was undertaken for some ointment/cream that will help a couple of students with their rashes. The heat, lack of sleep and not drinking enough bottled water can do weird things to ones skin!

Mario hangs a new net on the basketball hoop. Thanks to the Parent Council/Christian School Society/North Star Sports for their donations to our trip! Some of the sports equipment goes directly to our friends at Bautista Libertad!

Hasta Manyana!


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