Surprises along the way to Guatemala

An update from the second Guatemala Global Partnership team, from Montreal and St. John’s:

Carla, Inter-Varsity student, doing art at the Creative Art Ministry site in Guatemala.

Carla, Inter-Varsity student, doing art at the Creative Art Ministry site in Guatemala.

It’s been more than ten days since we arrived in Guatemala. Sixteen of us have been participating at 7 Ministry Sites: Media, Health Care, Agriculture, Appropriate Technology, Sport, Creative Art and Micro Finance. This journey hasn’t come easy; especially for Carla from Vanier College. Here is her beginning of the journey:

“My trip was really an adventure and full of surprises from God. When I arrived on time at the Montreal airport to meet with the group, I was so happy. Everyone was checking in, ready to enter the US custom (our connection flight was at Miami). When it was my turn to check-in, the lady was looking at me with a strange look and told me that I couldn’t go to Miami with the group, because I don’t have an American visa. (Carla carries a Lebanon passport and she has a Guatemala visa) Getting shocked and disappointed by her comment after months of hard work and prayers. But Shu Yin (Inter-Varsity Ministry Director in Quebec), with great faith, told me, ‘Don’t worry, we will find a way!’

The group had to enter US customs and I could only wait outside anxiously. Long story short, Inter-Varsity’s travel agency was able to find me a new flight ticket going to Guatemala without going through US. After 15 hours eventually I arrived safely at Guatemala airport, but no one seemed was there to pick me up. Not knowing how to speak spanish made me feel very nervous; suddenly I remembered an Emergency Card was given to me when I arrived at Montreal airport. I immediately found a phone and called those phone numbers. At first no one was answering until the SI Field Director picked up the phone and told me that he will send his daughter to pick me up. So that was a long day from the Montreal airport at 4 am until at Guatemala 9pm, I was able to join my group again. Praise The Lord.”

Carla (right) with other students from Inter-Varsity in Guatemala

Carla (right) with other students from Inter-Varsity in Guatemala

Please continue to keep us in your prayer. Many of us are struggling to understand the poverty we see here at Guatemalan life.

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Update #2 from High School Ministry team in Guatemala

Cómo estás? Things are moving forward here in Magdalena, Guatemala. Our team has officially been in Guatemala for 7 days, 3 of which were orientation in Antigua, and the rest have been in Magdalena where we are serving.

 

Randy WSW-3

If you ever have a chance to talk to a North American who has visited Magdalena I am sure one of the first things that they will mention would be the fact that the town is built on the side of a mountain, or the large amount of stray dogs. They may mention the poverty in Magdalena and the surrounding communities, and how around 4:00pm men and women return from the surrounding mountains with their collection of firewood strapped to their backs.

However, what many people will also mention is that as you walk up and down the street everyone will say ‘Hola’ or ‘Buenos (Dias, Tardes, Noches). They will tell you about the amazing sense of family, the amazing views, and about how delicious the freshly made tortillas are.

Our team is quickly coming to love this town and country.  We are staying with host families with whom we eat breakfast and every other dinner. I am sorry to say that their english is better then our spanish, however the hospitality and love that we are trying to show one another goes beyond any language barrier. We are being blessed by their hospitality and patience.

Learning to wash laundry from the local women.

Learning to wash laundry from the local women.

Three people from our team are serving at a local school here in Magdalena. They are able to communicate not only through laughter, songs, and games but also in the ‘language of Math’. As the grade 1 & 2 Guatemalan students learn how to add and subtract, our team is learning how to count to 20 en español. We are being blessed by the children whom we are here to serve.

Please pray for our team as we are getting comfortable. Pray that we would continue to lean into the hard places. This trip is about serving the people here in Magdalena, but it is also about learning from God. We want to leave with more then just pictures and a few neat souvenirs. We want to leave with the names of people embedded in our memories, and have stories to share about how through our serving we actually learned more about ourselves, each other, the world, and God.

Adiós

Montreal Urban Partnership update

An update from Stephen Schalm, Campus Minister of International Student Ministries at McGill University in Montreal and Director of the Montreal Urban Partnership.

Montreal Urban Partnership team of 14 students and 2 staff are exploring God's heart for the city of Montreal.

Montreal Urban Partnership team of 14 students and 2 staff are exploring God’s heart for the city of Montreal.

 Day 2 of the Montreal Urban Partnership (MUP) and already changing plans… While flexibility is the name of the game in a program like MUP, I was still nervous to announce to our team that we would be changing plans – turning a night of reflection and sharing into extended communal worship and prayer. I could already hear the potential responses, “But what I really want is alone time right now”… “What do you mean ‘cry out to God’?”… “Already showing how ‘P’ you are on the Myers Briggs, Steve?”… Regardless, it was obvious from some prayer preparation that God was asking me a hard question- will MUP run on human strength, solid teaching and thoughtful planning, good intentions? Or would it be fuelled by a move of the Holy Spirit? How deeply do we want to see the move of God to bring resurrection in us and in this city?

Many of you have been hearing about Montreal Urban Partnership for the past few years- we are at it again, this time through the month of July! A team of 14 students, 2 staff, with help from an ever-growing number of partners throughout the city, will be exploring the heart of God for the city of Montreal- especially for its more marginalized parts- searching for what it would look like for the shalom of God to break into places of brokenness, despair, poverty and injustice, and for us to participate in both receiving and partnering to bring resurrection here!

As we dig deeply into scripture, get to know some great partner communities/organizations, work through our own poverty and brokenness and learn to imagine urban redemption in Montreal, what we really need is Holy Spirit-renewal – Holy Spirit-driven justice, Holy Spirit- driven repentance and transformation, Holy Spirit-driven healing and deliverance, Holy Spirit-driven prophetic imagination… Pray for us through the month of July as we learn to cry out to God for an out-pouring of His Spirit among us to empower us to become a people of justice and righteousness who seek the shalom of this city we have been called to! And pray for Montreal- that it would be made whole again in the name of Jesus! Follow our team on Facebook!

Top 10 Reasons from a 10-Year Mark Camp Veteran

Students studying scripture at one of our Mark camps

Students studying scripture at one of our Mark camps

by Communications writer Elsie Lee.

I remember clearly saying “yes” 10 years ago to attend the first Mark Camp in Ontario. I had just finished my second year at the University of Waterloo – I burned out after a semester on leadership with another campus fellowship, I ended a dysfunctional dating relationship, and I had nothing to lose when my friend Grace from the University of Toronto invited me to go to a week of Bible study with Inter-Varsity. So I said yes.

I have never regretted that yes. My feeble little “yes” began the journey that our every “yes” to following Jesus takes us on. In my years as both learner and teacher at Mark Camp, I have lived and breathed the story of Mark – the walks around the lake, the storms, the questions, the parables, the feedings, the cross, the resurrection…. Life with Jesus is incredible – incredibly challenging and joyful. It is filled with suffering, joy, pain, doubts and fears. It is by no means easy, but oh, it is so Good.

This will be my tenth Mark Camp in 10 years. I keep going back because studying the life of Jesus with a bunch of people for a week is amongst the most life-giving things I have experienced… along with lactose-free sour cream.

So take it from a 10-year Mark Camp veteran – say “yes”.

Top 10 reasons you should go to Mark Camp (register here):

10. It’s a good deal! $400 for 40 hours of instruction, that’s $10/hr! Not to mention a clean bed, three meals a day plus lots of snack food, camp activities (see #7), and oh yeah, life-changing stuff.

9. You’ll make new friends from other campuses. Who knows, maybe you will find your new BFF over your favourite colour of highlighter or your pre-study stretching ritual.

8. You’ll get in on the secret… 

7. You’ll experience a week at camp – kayaking, rock climbing, making art. But for grown-ups.

6. You’ll worship with a diverse group of people – from different schools, fellowships, countries, cultures, abilities and languages. A little taste of heaven.

5. You’ll receive prayer. You know that question you’ve been mulling over all year. Come work it out.

4. All your friends ARE going. The power of peer pressure is pretty strong.

3. Your summer job CAN wait a week. Ask your boss to start a week later, there’s no harm in trying. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. But they haven’t said no yet!

2. Your summer course CAN start without you. If it’s a semester long class, you will miss one lecture, usually the one where you get the course syllabus and get out early.

1. The only way to find out how good it is – is to go see for yourself.

Glimpses from my 10 years of Mark Camp (previously City/Script):

What should I do with my life?

Kingdom Calling

By Susanna Muntz, Central Field Director for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and the Director of Kingdom Calling

It’s like learning to play the guitar. Some people learn to play one song and memorize it, but that’s the only song they will ever play. But other people learn chords and can play many more songs; they know how to improvise with the tools they have.

From December 27 to 31 this year, students from across Canada will gather in Toronto to learn how to use their skills, aptitudes and education for the sake of God’s Kingdom.  They’ll be attending an annual conference called  Kingdom Calling designed specifically by Inter-Varsity to help third and fourth year students and recent graduates discern what God would have them do with their lives.

The goal of Kingdom Calling is to inspire students to stake their lives on the fact that God is true and to imagine what it would be like to live faithfully in radical communities. Participants will hear stories about people who make lots of money but tithe much of it to the urban poor. They’ll meet people who have moved into diverse neighbourhoods and formed cross-cultural relationships for the sake of the gospel. They’ll learn from people who have re-imagined their lives to the extent they’ve left home and family for a whole new country and culture.

Kingdom Calling instructs and guides participants in the process of discernment. The end of university or college is a critical time in students’ lives — they are making big decisions that will affect their life’s trajectory. Kingdom Calling gives them space to reflect on how they have heard from God in the past, and helps them think biblically about discerning God’s will for the future.

Participants will consider specific invitations at this conference as they spend time in conversation with people who are serving God in diverse ways in the marketplace, neighbourhoods, local church and around the world.

The conference gives space for imagining, or as I like to call it, “imagine-planning”. As participants imagine what their life might look like, they will start to think of plans to make and the community they need around them for discernment and prayer.

Inter-Varsity staff are committed to helping students learn how to hear from God. We want to help them feel confident in the skills that God has given them; to be free and creative in whatever context they find themselves after they leave university.

Inter-Varsity is committed to launching leaders who practice discernment, live fruitful lives and value life in community. It’s not so much about getting the one right answer about what to do after graduation, but about creating space to pay attention to the path of faithfulness.

It’s like learning to play the guitar. The more chords you learn, the more songs you can play.

For more information about Kingdom Calling or to register for the conference, visit http://www.ivcf.ca/KingdomCalling