Arms of Jesus – Michael Van Oostveen

Guats up #2, 2016

Wow, what a year this has been for me here in Guatemala. The blessings of God are so evident and I will share more about these later in this blog.

I’m coming out of an extremely busy time at the school. In the last two months I’ve had final tests for units in classes, the “grand opening” for our new high school, as well as having friends and family come down and help out at the mission. God is good friends, and it’s such an honour to serve such a worthy God.

                Last time I wrote I told you all that I was now helping lead gym classes for the Kindergarten and primary grades (4yr-Grade 6). This is such a great joy for me to do because I love sports and the fact God has given me the responsibility with sports and gym activities is pretty amazing. I was a little apprehensive going into this year because I knew I would have to perform “end of the unit tests” with the students. I would have to mark the kids on these tests. I also knew I had no idea what I was doing because this was new to me as well. I remember asking the main Gym teacher lots of questions to about the best way to run exams. He was so great, and gave me good insight. I got through the exams without a problem and was able to do all the paper work that went with them as well. I am so thankful to God for making that seem so simple for me. I have now marked my second set of tests and they went well again. My eyes have been opened this year as to how tough a teacher’s job really is, and I’ve gained a new respect for those who teach kids, so much more. In fact, right now I have a friend who is down here volunteering for 6 months and he teaches back in Canada. I said to him the other day “Man thank you, I have so much respect for you teachers after being in charge of a class my self.” Having said all this, I must say that I love the role I am in this year as a teacher volunteer and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

                April was an extremely busy month as everybody at the mission were preparing for the “Grand Opening” of our high school. The date to prepare for was May 8. I can honestly say I haven’t been in as many meetings before in my life. We had meetings on just for figuring out how the seating was going to look, or who was going to be in charge of what. I can say I was in 2-3 meetings a week in April. It takes a lot of organizing when you’re preparing for over 2500 people coming. What was impressed upon me as we went through all the meetings and organizing was how everybody here really cares for the mission. Many volunteers went above and beyond to make sure this day was going to go off without a hitch. We truly have special people who work at the mission and I implore you to keep praying for the staff at the mission. I love working with them.
The day of the Grand Opening came. It was a day of setting up the whole soccer field with 2500 chairs, setting up the stage and sound system and all the technology to make sure everything was ready for the amount of people that would eventually come in. The program started at 3:30 in the afternoon May 8 and my Job was to seat the special invited guest in their area. We had a team of 28 people from Canada. We had the deputy mayor of Parramos (town location of the school) and her family. The head of the education board was there and many other pastors. All our students and families were invited to the event so we had roughly 2300 people show up to our event that day. The program included a performance by our Kid’s choir. We had also had a couple pastors pray prayers of dedication for the school. One prayed in English and the other prayed in Spanish. Pastor Sam shared an inspiring message for everyone. Afterwards everyone was treated to a snack and drink. A round of applause to our kitchen staff for preparing food for 2300 people, I can’t even imagine what that’s like. They did an amazing job with the help of some incredible mothers in our school.
 It was such an awesome day to see a dream become reality in such a short time. I remember reading that the mission had the vision to do this back in 2013. Then in 2014, I was there when pastor cut the ribbon for the ground to be prepared and our builder to start building. Then last year I came  down to work at the mission and I saw the guys building the first level and second level, and now in 2016 we have a beautiful state of the art- three floor high school being dedicated into Gods hands. This was in a matter of 3 years. I don’t want to hear people say that things are impossible because even though it sounds like a “cliché” as it true that nothing is impossible with our God. He put it on the hearts of people to donate the funds to see this building become. Our students are so fortunate down here to be studying in a place like this. Hebrew 11:1 says

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Thank you for praying for this vision and by faith giving to support it. It was such a special day for everyone and all I can say in thank you God for your faithfulness to us. What a three years this has been for our mission.

April and May were pretty special for me as well because I got to have some visitors. In April a family from my church came down to give six months volunteer service to the mission. They’re such a beautiful family and hey offer so much to the mission. Everybody at the school love’s the “Granja’s” and it’s not hard to see why. They put everyone else ahead of themselves and are trusting God every day. I’m so glad they listened to call of God on their lives. I also had the privilege of a friend come for three weeks. She brought a friend who turned out to become another friend for me. It was so nice to hang out with them for three weeks and to see their hearts for the mission as well. Thank you girls for all your help at the mission for those weeks and for just being cool girls to hang out with.   One of the biggest blessings though for me was to have my Dad, Mom and Ava, plus my Uncle and Aunt and their family here. This was a surprise to me when I found out in April that they were coming for the grand opening. God is good and allowed them all to come see the mission and the work that He is doing there. It was so nice for them to see their sponsor children either again or for the first time. My heart was touched because I knew how special it was for them. I really enjoyed having them looking in on my classes. Yes, my mom did try to embarrass me, but if she didn’t try I knew something would be wrong. Truthfully to see my youngest sister here interacting with the students was so special for me to see. It was awesome of Mrs. Martin to let her be a part of the Kids choir for the grand opening. It was so funny because Ava doesn’t know any Spanish but she stood up there and looked beautiful. What a time to fellowship with my family again. We missed Alyssa a lot but I’m so proud of her and what she’s doing with her life right now with YWAM. Thank you friends and family for the blessings you brought with your presence in this season of life.

Friends, what a special time right now for us all to live in. To be able to have the ability to serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but when we take on these responsibilities, things can be a little challenging as well. I’m finding this to be true with visas and immigration. Due to issues regarding visa extensions, I have to return to Canada for three weeks. This is a result of issues with airlines and the immigration requirements in both Canada and Guatemala. This was not something I planned on, but as I do want to continue serving with the Mission in Guatemala, it is necessary.  The mission has been working on this for some time now, and they are confident the issue with be resolved soon, but in the meantime, I will be home in Canada at the end of June for three weeks. I hope you understand

Thank you for reading this blog, if you have questions feel free to email me at “nogoal_92@hotmail.com”

Serving Him,

Michael Van Oostveen

Guats Up! #1 2016

 
Hello, Dear Friends.

In this entry I would like to take you through a little bit of my time back home in Canada, my first two months back down in Guatemala and what the foreseeable future is going to hold for me at the school. I am on a journey and I’m so thankful that the Lord has called me back to Guatemala once again. I hope you enjoy getting caught up with me and my life and I hope you can get a glimpse of all that God is doing at the AOJ.

It was wonderful to come back to Canada at the end of November for about just over a month. I was so ready to come back and see my family, friends and my church family. I missed everyone a lot, so the fact I had the chance to spend time at home for just over a month was great. I did a lot over the holidays. I shared at a local church about the ministry that is happening in Guatemala and was able to talk to people if they had any questions for me. I also enjoyed hanging out with my buddies. I couldn’t wait to see them again, but I do blame them for making me gain a few extra pounds of Christmas weight. One thing you should know about my buddies and me; our activities usually include two things hockey and food. It was such a blast to just being in the presence of some guys who are supporting me and my call to ministry. Boys, ( you know who you are), thanks for being guys I can rely on and talk to, I’m so thankful for our friendship and look forward to more adventures in the future.

The highlight of my time home though was being able to spend time with my family again. These are the people that help me get to where I am today. They’ve supported me and have gone above and beyond to show me their love. I really missed my parents, but to be honest, I was missing my sisters Ava and Alyssa a whole bunch. I would never admit it to their faces, but they’re so special to me. When I saw Ava at the airport she reminded me of the kids down here in Guatemala. Her energy and her life just reminded me that wherever you go in the world, kids are the same. They laugh, cry, get angry, make jokes and so much more. God made children with unique minds. They don’t see the world the way our adult minds can see the world. It was so refreshing to see Ava, and to continue to get this reminder from God.  Because of the timing of schedules, I only got to spend 3 days with Alyssa, who was home for one week over Christmas.  Like I’ve written in my other blog posts, I am so proud of where she is going in her life. She is seeking God and is listening to His voice as He lays out His plans for her life. Right now she is finishing up her Discipleship Training School with YWAM in Quebec and their mission was to Tahiti (I did question her and ask if this was for vacation),  but I all seriousness it’s really awesome to see her growing up to become a wonderful godly woman.  This pretty much sums my time up at home. I did get to play hockey again which was amazing. Nothing like getting back out on the ice and breathing in that nice cool air with the smell of hockey. I had a blast at home and it was a good amount of break for me.

Now that I’m back at the school my role has changed since last year. This year I am leading all the primary classes (K-6) in P.E class. This is different because I have no English classes this year. The school needed someone to lead the primary in P.E and they asked me. I agreed because I love to teach sports to kids. I truly believe God gave me this opportunity because He knew I probably could help the kids more in this area than in a sit down in class scenario. I like to be active and move around so this was perfect for me. The challenge that presented itself was that all my classes had to be in Spanish. The school felt comfortable with my knowledge of Spanish to give me this class. I thank God for this, because I know that learning things isn’t always the easiest for me but like my Dad always says “If God calls you to it, He will get you through it.” I gave the language over to Him and now I am becoming more comfortable with it everyday. I know that I can’t be messing up too much because the kids do what I ask, so I stop and thank the Lord for being so faithful. I also have another class I teach at the school, and that is grade 8 bible class. This one took a lot more prayer on my part because this age, (mostly pre-teen) are still very impressionable and I didn’t want to give them surface level stuff. I want these kids to know Jesus for who He is. I want the kids to know why Jesus dying on the cross is so important. I want these kids to start asking questions about their faith. So after some prayer I accepted this position. For my class, it’s also in Spanish and it can be difficult or me to express things of the Bible in Spanish to my students so I needed some help. It is one thing to speak everyday Spanish, it is quite another to speak “Biblical” Spanish. After talking to my dad he suggested I look into the “Alpha” program, so I did and I found out that they now offer an Alpha youth program in Spanish. After getting permission from our head director, I began to use this program in my class.  The kids are absolutely loving it and getting a lot out of the program. It is video based with lots of discussion questions included. We are going into week 3 of 12 and I am so happy with how engaged the class is. The first week was an introduction to the program and one of the questions the kids had to answer was, “If you had 24 hours to live what would you do?’ I got a lot of kids who said travel or spending time with family, but I had one answer that stood out for me. This boy answered “I would spend time with God to make sure that we are good. I would ask forgiveness for any unforgiven sins, I would just want to be in His presence.” WOW, this came from a 13-year-old. What an answer! I know when I was his age I wouldn’t be thinking like that. I can only imagine how Jesus has touched his life, and I can only imagine how touched Jesus was to hear that. These are the kind of answers I am getting from the kids and it’s super exciting. I would ask for you all to pray for this program, so that kids can get to know Jesus on a personal level, a level where they can’t help but want to worship Him. This is a relationship that I want to continue to grow with Christ.

Things are awesome down here, I am still running my “limitless” program for children at the school, we meet once a month. This is something like a Youth program that reaches out to the community. Right now we have a teacher from Canada who happens to come from my home church in Mitchell, working at the school for 5 months. He is a huge blessing to everyone here. So when you pray, please keep Jeremy Ford in your prayers as well. Right now he is trying to learn the language and I know how tough it can be.

 I just want to thank you all again for your constant support for this ministry and I will be keeping on top of this blog as the year goes on. Thank you for reading and if you have any questions you can email me at

nogoal_92@hotmail.com

.

Blessings

Serving Him,

Michael Van Oostveen

 
Guats Up! #5
 
My original idea for this blog was to give you a month to month update about what is happening at the school, but without my computer for 4 months a lot has happened and my memory isn’t the best, so in this blog I will share with you some highlights and some really exciting things happening at the school in the past few months. My hope is that this blog is encouraging for you, and that you may pray about coming down with your church sometime to share in the ministry of our Mission.

The Lord is working at the school, and His presence is very evident. We have had many teams that have come to the mission and every team has brought a different element to the school. It’s been really nice to meet people from all over Canada (Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland) as well as our two American teams that visited (Washington State and Texas). The school always gets a boost when teams our here, our students are really happy to have people from North America to come and share.

I would like to point out that for me personally it’s been really awesome to have my church (Upper Thames Missionary) come to the school twice this year. The two teams were very different from each other. If you remember from my earlier blogs I talked about the men’s team from my church coming to the school to work on the new high school building. They were a huge blessing in getting the first level of the school done. I was blessed on that trip because my dad and one of my uncles came on that trip. The other team that came from my church were here last week. This team did more traditional ministry like a lot of teams will do. They shared the word with our students, they built houses and they got some time to see Antigua. It was a really great to spend some time with my church family from Canada. This team had a really good mixture of young and the “not as young”. Some of the team members were in there early to mid- teens. The teens got to come with their parents and I know that they enjoyed their experience at the school. I was personally excited because my students in the high school were going to get a chance to meet someone else their own age from a different Country. During the week the kids wanted a lot of photos with each other, it was really cool to see the interaction. My sister Alyssa was on this trip and that was so special for me. She will be going away with YWAM (Youth with a Mission) soon and over the next few years it may be difficult for us to see each other. Last week she got to meet my wonderful host family and we shared many laughs, with her telling lots of embarrassing stories about me. The family really enjoyed it. I didn’t enjoy it as much. J I was really blessed to spend some good time with her!

My role at the school is expanding which I am very excited about. I am being challenged at the school as they have me trying to work in areas that our different to me but I thank God for giving this opportunity to me. I am still assisting with teaching English at the school on a weekly basis. My Spanish has improved and I can command a classroom by myself which is nice. I am understanding the language a lot better as well. I am definitely not fluent but I am improving. I am still help in the social office, this involves food distribution, parent meetings and house visits. I really enjoy working with the people in the social
 
Office. They are so encouraging and truly love their jobs. I work with the phys ed teacher on Fridays to teach our younger grades gym. The children have lots of energy and keep us on our toes but they are so much fun!

I am really excited to share with you all that the school has given me a program to run. I have called the program Limitless and our core verse is Philippians 4:13.In this program we play games and I will share a lesson from the bible. I am praying that God will bless this program and that it will always glorify His name!

I am so happy to be at the mission, I know God called me here for a reason! This country feels like home to me. My host family has embraced me and really made me feel like one of their own. My church here in Guatemala has welcomed me and the mission has treated me so well! It is truly an honour to work at AOJ. I want to say thanks to all my supporters. Not only the financial supporters but the ones who take the time to pray for the mission and for me. You can feel the prayers working, so thank you so much!

I feel the Lord calling me to come back to the mission for 2016. I really want to continue the work that was started down here. For this to happen I need continued prayer and if you feel the Lord laying it on your heart to help financially, it would help my support for 2016. I appreciate all your care and interest in what I am called to.

Thank you for everything and finally GO Jays GO.

Serving Him,

Michael Van Oostveen

Office Address:

1730 McPherson Ct., Unit 19 Pickering,­ Ontario L1W 3E6 Canada

Tel:

(905) 492 – 5007

Fax:

(905) 492 – 8002 ­

Email: ­aojchildmis@rogers.com

Mailing Address:

  1. O. Box 10 Pickering, ­Ontario L1V 2R2 Canada

Guats Up #4

Guats up everybody! I am sorry for the later post but I have had a very busy month. A lot has happened since I have last blogged, but I now have time to write. Please enjoy reading and I hope you get excited reading this, God is moving down here and I am blessed to be on this journey.

Last time I wrote I finished off by saying that a team from New Foundland was coming and that I was excited to see what they would bring. I had good reason to be excited, there was only 10 of them but they all had a huge heart for the school. The leader was a man named Darryl. He led an Anglican church and this man was very on fire for God. He had been down to Guatemala a couple times before and loved it. When he came this time he brought members who all had unique skills. A few of the ladies on his team specialized in sewing, so they helped sew stuff in the kid’s store. They had some men who focused on working at the carpenter shop. They helped prepare walls for future homes that were being built. Pastor Darryl focused on counseling. He helped give advice to students and families, he is really gifted in this area. The biggest thing I took from this week was in our staff devotional when Pastor Darryl spoke. He talked about having a heart for the kids. When you’re a teacher or parent it can be tough to have patience sometimes, the kids can push you to the limits and it’s tough to always show love. Pastor Darryl shared with us that sometimes for some students this is all the love that they get. It doesn’t mean that if they misbehave we just ignore it but we need to love them. That means not losing your cool but seeing how you can help the child. You may not know their situation, but you can give advice and just love on them. He said Jesus does the same with us. We don’t always act right but Jesus still loves us. He shows us grace and will walk through our troubles with us. Even if everybody we know is mad at us or hates us, Jesus doesn’t. Pastor Darryl challenged us to love each child as Jesus would love them. We are the Arms of Jesus! It was such a good week having this team here!

I have had more of an opportunity to go to the small village of Pampay with Gerson. We go on Thursdays to visit family homes and check in on the school. I still haven’t gotten use to visiting the houses, because I’m shocked at some of the conditions these families are living in. We go to see what the biggest need for these families are so we can hopefully help them. Honestly I just want to write down everything it can be tough choosing just one, whether it is a washroom, a kitchen, new beds etc. Some washrooms are literally a hole dug in the ground with some steel to act as privacy. Sometimes there are 8 members of a family who have to use this. My heart breaks as I see these situations. On Fridays I go to Pampay to teach English, Bible and phys ed. I spend about 2 hours there in the afternoon on Fridays and I love it! The kids are so smart and want to learn what is being taught. I have so much fun with the kids in Pampay, they are so happy and always want to share their snacks with me. I’m not going to bash North America here but I would never get this back home. These kids literally have nothing and want to share what they do have with me, and back home, this just does not happen. God is working in Pampay and it is very exciting to see.

In March a team from my church Upper Thames Missionary (UTMC) came. It was a team of 10 men. I was super excited to see guys from my home church again. I was really really excited because my Dad and uncle were on this team as well. I got to go and pick them up in Guatemala City with Otto. Otto is the team coordinator for when groups come down. Of course there was a bit of a problem with United Airlines and their flights got delayed and connections missed . This was particularly frustrating. Needless to say, they will think twice before using this airline in the future.
This team was a specific work team. Their job was to work on the new high school with the construction guys already working there. Our team was a huge help as they got an estimated 2 weeks of work done in 1 week. I know the head contractor was very happy! I had an opportunity to hang out with the team a lot and I took them around Antigua. 4 of us went to Café Condesa one night and got dessert. If you come down to Guatemala I will take you to Café Condesa, it is very very good. On the guys day off we toured Antigua and rented 4 wheelers and different vehicles, it was super fun! This was a team full of men but whenever the kids were around they melted. There is something about kids here, they break you down and you can’t help but get attached. It was a honour to have this team here, it was special for me. They got to see what I do down here and these men mean a lot to me. Thank you UTMC men.

This past Friday the middle school went on a field trip to Antigua. This is grades 7-9. I had so much fun with the kids! I was in charge with two other teachers of the grade 9 class. These kids are really fun and smart. In the morning we went to 3 different museums and looked at some really cool old sculptures, painting, books and more. It was all in Spanish so I didn’t always know what I was looking at so the students tried to explain to me. I’m not the smartest guy around so I would just shake my head and agree with them. I didn’t want to look bad in front of my students. We then had 1 hour lunch in the central park. In the afternoon we walked up to Cerro de la Cruz. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a massive hill that overlooks Antigua and there is a cross at the top. Every other time I have gone I have been in a van, but this time was different we had to walk. To be honest I actually ran up the hill because a couple of students said I couldn’t. I can’t just let my students talk to me like that so I had to prove them wrong and we ran up this hill. I instantly regretted that choice, when I got to the top I wanted to cough up a lung. It’s an amazing view though and I got a few pictures of students and teachers. A funny moment that happened with the students, all 120 them. We were all sitting down at the top and a group of tourist came, they were all North American girls. I found out my students are just as worried as my mom is for me to find a girl, they all started yelling “Teacher Michael, girl in Pink dress”. I started to blush but I just laughed it off and so did this group of girls. I have come to realize that I have a love/hate relationship with my students. Definitely more love than hate though! I have the best students!

Pastor Martin is here this week and it’s really good to see him again. He will be here til next Monday. Today he gave the staff devotional and it was all about how we need to pray for each other. He challenged us as a staff to pray for each other, because Jesus prays for us. Prayer moves the hand of God. We later got to see that prayer really works. Pastor at our lunch announced that we have the funds to build a third level onto our high school! Praise God! It is so awesome to see how God works when it’s something He blesses. There were so many reasons why we may not have had an opportunity to build a third level, but God is using a young man back in Canada to provide this next level. This isn’t just exciting for the school at AOJ, it excites me to know that people are still listening to God. Thank you to all of you who pray for the school constantly, your prayers are working. I’m seeing them work first hand. If you all can now start praying for the property of land right beside our school. We want to expand even more but our neighbour is asking for a lot of money. We believe that God will provide this land but we need your prayers!

A few random things I would like to share. I joined the AOJ soccer team. We play Thursdays after school against the construction workers. All the guys down here call me the international player. I am shocked they wanted me to play seeing that im Canadian. It is a lot of fun though and we have a great time playing!

My host family is doing great. They are awesome and they got an opportunity to meet my dad and Uncle Csaba. We enjoyed a night of nachos and just getting to know each other. It was nice for me because I had two of my families come together.

I hope all is well with you all back in Canada! I miss and think of you all often and I am so thankful for the constant support both prayerfully and financially you give me!

Serving Him,

Michael Van Oostveen

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Guats Up #3

Hey everybody, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to read this blog. There has been a lot of things that have happened since the last time I posted so enjoy reading this.

A couple a weeks ago I had the good fortune to watch the Super bowl in Antigua at a restaurant. Gergson Geronimo took me with his wife. He was into football because he’s American so he told me we must watch the game. I had no problem with that considering my team was in the game. We went to this restaurant and got probably the best Nachos I’ve ever had. The nachos were on the bottom but it was covered in chicken and beef, fresh salsa, beans, 5 different kinds of cheese and toped with fresh guacamole. I’m getting hungry now writing this, they were delicious to say the least. To top of this day the PATS WON!! That game was incredible. Even if I wasn’t a fan of either team, I would say that was one of the best super bowls ever. I’m just glad the Pats didn’t lose because of a ridiculous catch again in the super bowl (2006 David Tyre New York Giants). Thank you Malcolm Butler for reading the play and getting the interception, it was so nice. I was surrounded by a lot of people from Seattle so it was fun to joke around with them all game.

On a more serious note regarding stuff going on at the school. Where do I start, I love it here so much. I’ve been teaching more English classes and I must say the kids are learning quickly. With our younger grades we have been teaching the children simple objects in the classroom and simple phrases like “May I go to the washroom”. They are really picking up these words and they ask questions which is good. With our older grades, we’ve been teaching the verbs and putting words in past, present and future tense. I’m always impressed with some of the sentences they write when I’m checking their homework. Last week in the grades 7-9 classes we gave them a test. They had to get in front of the class and present some of the basic sayings they could say to somebody in English. Examples of this would be “hello my name is..” “I am__ years old” “My favourite food is” “My favourite team is..”. I gave them a score out of 10. I really love teaching the kids.

I had a chance to lead devotions at the school on Friday. I was nervous and excited to share. I felt like God was asking me to speak on Micah 6:8

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I just have been thinking and meditating on this verse a lot recently, and I realized that if we want to know what a Christian looks like, it’s somebody who does all three of these commands consistently. We must act justly, this means making the right decision in all our situations, even ones that might not be popular, but choosing what God wants us to choose is way more rewarding. We must love mercy. This means we need to show forgiveness to others even if they don’t deserve it. This can be very challenging but we need to remember we are sinners as well and we don’t deserve the sacrifice that was given to us. Jesus chose to give up His life for us, He is the ultimate example of showing mercy. If we look at what Jesus did for us we have no excuse not to show mercy to people. Finally walk humbly with God

. In everything we do, we must let God be the Ruler. He wants what’s best for you, and even though at the time we may not understand why He chose this path for us to walk on, we must let Him guide us. This really takes a shot at our pride because sometimes we think we know what’s best for us. Christians live by faith. We must have faith that wherever we go in life, God is with us. Just submit to Him (James 4:7) and see where your life goes, you will experience craziness in a good way. Remember this, you will not always succeed in always living out these three commands, I sure don’t. I just have to keep asking for opportunities to practice these things. Think about it, when you put these three commands into action you will look a lot like Jesus, and for some people you might be the only way they will ever be introduced to Jesus. My prayer for each one of you that is reading this is that you get chances to practice these requirements.

Last Wednesday and Friday we had over 300 families from the school come. The reason why they came was because they were picking up gifts that the sponsors sent down. There was a ton of stuff in the chapel at the school. My job was to carry all the heavy stuff for the families. Some families got new beds with mattresses, others got a new table and chairs and a lot of them got 100lb bags of corn. There’s was so much to hand out but I was so blessed to be a part of blessing them. Seeing the kids get new toys, backpack and food, brings joy. They get the biggest smiles on their faces and your heart instantly melts. Even though my body was in pain from long days it was totally worth it. I’m very proud of the people in North America for their donations and extreme generosity.

Next week we have a team coming from Newfoundland. This should be an awesome week, as I know the children get excited to meet new people. So this week in your prayer time, if you could pray that next week will be a blessed week that would be great.

I really do thank God every day for you all who pray and support the work down here

. I really feel God at the school and I know a big reason is because of all the people who are praying for the mission. The kids and staff are very blessed to have all that support. When you pray you are helping further Gods kingdom, you a putting on your spiritual armour and you’re going to battle against the enemy. Gods army is massive and with Him as our Commander, we will gain the victory. So thank you to all of you warriors. I look forward to seeing many of you in July again even if it’s for a short time.(I’m back in Canada for one week then) I am sure I will have lots of stories to share. Thank you for reading!!

Serving Him,

Michael Van Oostveen
 
Guats Up! #2
Antigua!

Antigua!

Guats up everybody! Thank you for your continued prayer and support. I’m definitely feeling the Lords presence in the times I might miss home a little bit. It’s a small voice that keeps reminding me of why I am down in Guatemala. So again thank you for the prayers.
 
A lot has happened since the last time I wrote my blog and I would love to give you all a glimpse of what’s happening. I would suggest you make your self a tea while eating one of Dad’s oatmeal cookies and enjoy this journey with me.
 
The last time I wrote I finished off by saying that there was a team of teachers who came down from eastern Canada and that they helped us a lot! I definitely saw how much they helped me out this past week once the school got going. The teachers left behind resources for me and the other teachers on how to effectively manage a classroom. With me being new to teaching, I started reading these books and came up with ways that I wanted to run a classroom. One thing I implemented were rules and procedures of how I want the students to act. For example, when I come into the classroom I want the students to stand up and say “Good day teacher, How are you?” This is a standard procedure. Another rule I have is that there will be no cell phones in the class, if I see a cell I will take it away and give it to the principal. I also learned the importance of “bell work”. Bell work for those that may not know, is work that students do while they wait for me to give instruction at the beginning of class. It can be a crossword puzzle or word search but its work that keeps the students occupied at the beginning of class. So thank you to Corinne, Jim and Trudy for teaching me many things.
 
So school started this week and it was busy! Along with it being the first week, we had a team come from Port Perry, Ontario. They were a very nice team of 8 people. They helped out with activities like morning devotions, making an awesome ramp for cars that kids could paint and race, as well as having a paper airplane competition. The team also built 5 houses. It was nice to get to know them. Their leader Brian, has a sister that was on the team I went with in July. It was cool to meet her brother down here. Thanks Port Perry, for all your hard work!
 
As for me I got thrown right into teaching. I am suppose to be helping Otto teach English, but since he is the “teams coordinator,” he is busy a lot, so that means that I will be teaching English to the classes by myself a lot. I teach K-grade 9 so I am busy. Last week was the first week, so I just did a lot of review. Now you might be thinking, “well that’s cool, but can the kids understand you?” I was afraid of this as well, but these kids are so smart that after I explained to them a few times they caught on. I tried to speak the little Spanish I do know but its barely enough. I was freaking out the first day when I found out I had to teach by myself with no translator. Those are the moments where you have to rely on God to help you get through. You should always rely on God, but in that moment when there was a language barrier I was really trying to rely on Him. In my first class, a girl fell asleep haha. I thought “this is just great!” As the classes and the week went on I got a lot more comfortable and I am looking forward to this week. Just praying God will continue to be with me as I try to communicate.
 
I am learning Spanish. My host family has been great at teaching me, I now know the verb “to be” in Spanish as well as all the greetings. It’s a slow process but I am learning. Please pray that I will be able to retain what I learn. I was exempted in high school from French because I had a learning disability. So learning another language is a bit tougher for me than most. I know though, that  I have a God who is bigger than any disability and He can help me.
 
On the weekend I was able to hang out with a friend from YWAM (Youth With A Mission). We went to lunch and got coffee. It was really nice. I have been able to meet some other missionaries down here. Its nice to meet people doing the same thing as you. God is really providing all my needs.
 
This next section I’m going to write is just a bunch of random stuff I feel you should know. First of all nobody should complain about how long our church services are back home. I know my dad can feel like he’s the “Never- End Reverend”, but his sermons are short compared to my current services. My church starts at 9:30 and goes til 12:30. From 10-12:30 its all sermon in Spanish. I’m not complaining but its a long time to sit. Also The PATRIOTS are in the superbowl! I don’t want to hear anything about “deflate gate”, The Patriots are in the superbowl and I can’t wait for Sunday to come.

Finally, here are some pictures. 

With the middle school teachers

With the middle school teachers

With Alyssa's sponsor child Luzmy

With Alyssa’s sponsor child Luzmy

 

Guats Up! #1

Guats up everybody? I will not apologize for the name of the title, I saw it on a t shirt here and started laughing! I just want to start off by saying thank you for taking time to read this. I hope it is interesting and you can see how God is moving down here in Guatemala!

 
I arrived last Thursday after two flights. The first  was Toronto to Atlanta and it was a very good and smooth flight. When I got to Atlanta I was a little nervous because I heard Atlanta is a huge airport and I had never been there. I am glad to say that I didn’t have to worry though when I got to Atlanta, I found my next gate pretty quickly. That flight turned out to have a two hour delay because something went wrong in the engine of the plane. They brought in a new plane and we boarded.
 
When I got to Guatemala airport I was met by Gergsons (GG for short) and Luis, the director of the mission down here. GG drove me to my new home in San Lorenzo el cubo. That is where I met my host family.
 
The family is very nice, their last name is the Gonzalez family and they have six kids. Five of them live at home. the youngest is fifteen years old. they have 3 boys and 3 girls. the one daughter is away at bible college. They have been nothing but nice to me, giving me big portions of food, making sure I shower first and giving me a bucket for my dirty laundry. I am lucky because I don’t have to do my own laundry they have a maid that does it. If I had to do laundry  I would probably go through all my clothes before I would consider doing a load. I have always been a picky eater but I realized on missions you try things and I have enjoyed all the food so far. They love chicken, rice, beans, eggs and fruit. I usually get a combination of those which is good with me. I must say the coffee down here is unbelievable. Its totally worth the move for the coffee alone. I really enjoy this family and I look forward to the months ahead with them!
 
I have spent three days working at the school now and I take the bus by myself to get there, its about a one hour bus ride. I have really learned to appreciate our road rules after doing missions here. As I was saying though, I have been at the school for three days and have loved it! On the first day I was greeted by all the staff as I walked in, it was so nice to see all of them again. Luis showed me where my work area will be and its with the middle school, grades 7-9. I will be teaching English with a guy named Otto. I don’t know if you will find a happier guy in the world! He is so nice and speaks English very well. We will be helping each other in the classroom. We have put a plan in place and now we are doing the final touches before school starts next week.
 
This week we have a team of three teachers from eastern Canada who are at the school helping us teachers prepare and get ready for the kids to come. They have been a huge help as I have never taught before. I have gained a whole new respect level for teachers, it is a lot of hard work to plan for school. The team has a couple more days left with us and I am very thankful, they have come along side of me and are showing me little techniques of being efficient when running a class.
 
I have been trying to learn Spanish in these past couple days and I am picking up a few words but I have a long ways to go yet. At the school some of the teachers told me that if I teach them English they will teach me Spanish, its a fair trade. So when the team of men come down in March I can hopefully say phrases to them and really confuse my dad!
 
I appreciate all your prayers and support! I know that prayer is working because there have been times already where I miss home and I can hear God telling me that I am down here for His  reason! I will continue to be doing blogs to give you updates.  Gracias
 
Serving Him,
Michael Van Oostveen

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