March 31, 2011

educating myself in the art of mystery.

over the last few years, i have grown to discover that mystery is something that deeply intrigues me. it has probably always been present, but only recently have i become totally self-aware of now mystery affects my soul. if i were to make a short list of the things that have sparked this discovery, the list would look like this:

2. exploring the old, rundown attics and bell towers on kstate's campus.
3. traveling to spain and seeing the alhambra.

suddenly i am asking questions like, "i wonder if someone hid their baseball cards between the walls of my house," or "i wonder if we drained this lake if we'd find all sorts of treasures from 100s of years ago at the bottom," or "if i hide a note in a random book the library, i wonder how long it would take for someone else to find it." those are the questions i find myself thinking on a daily basis. i wonder, i wonder, i wonder.

but here's the catch: i'm not certain that i really want to know the answer to any of these questions. the mysteriousness of the question greatly outweighs the knowledge of any of the answers. j.j. abrams (creator of LOST) says that "mystery is a catalyst for imagination...and there are times when mystery is more important than knowledge."

i want to discover what it is that makes mystery so potent. i want to edcucate myself on the art of mystery - books, movies, history, stories - i want to find the best examples of mystery and pack my brain with tales of curiousity and questions and wonder. i don't want answers. i just want to learn of new ways to cultivate questions.

it's a large task, i know, but i already have a trio of ideas on where to start:

1. the classics according to the world
- sherlock holmes - sir arthur conan doyle
- the maltese falcon - dashiell hammett
- anything by agatha christie

2. every book seen in/referenced/that influenced LOST - amazon has a handful of LOST reading plans, and LOSTpedia has an extensive list of references and influences. i will begin this list with:
- "the mysterious island" - jules verne
- "the third policeman" - flann o'brian/brian o'nolan
- "everything that rises must converge" - flannery o'conner
- "20,000 leagues under the sea" - jules verne

3. The Bible* - the greatest mystery ever recorded.

so that's where i'm beginning my quest. i want to feed this new self-discovery. hopefully this is a launching pad into all sorts of adventure.


* - side note here: how cool would it be to create a YouVersion reading plan reading the Bible from a "mystery" perspective? who knows what that would look like, but it's a fun idea.

March 20, 2011

guat 2011: flying home.

our flight (continental 2976Y) is on time and scheduled to land in kc at 11:09pm! see you then!

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March 18, 2011

guat 2011: from san juan to antigua.

our last day of teaching was terrific. the art group did face painting, science had space day, english taught about foods, but most importantly, some amazing relationships blossomed. what a bummer it was to leave the kids; it is amazing the bonds you can develop over 5 days, but they are strong as ever. we will miss the san juan community greatly.

last night we had the opportunity to share a meal with the teachers and then exchange encouraging words with them. they are such amazing people. its such a joy to see a group of people so committed to the growth and development of these kids. so many times we have talked about what God is already doing in san juan...they are a great part of it.

this morning we awoke normal time for breakfast and by 9am we were being escorted to the docks by the 6th grade class! the boat ride across was quick and flawless and we were to panajachel and on to antigua by 130pm.

the last hours have been spent shoppingand bartering, laughing and lounging in our new home in antigua for the next day.

it is sad to be away from san juan, but we know the missions trip hasn't ended yet - even though our teaching is over, we are still seeking for places to serve and aid in God's call. pray for our final 48 hours and for safe travels. see you all soon!!

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March 16, 2011

guat 2011: art class has expressionism day!

generally, the kids in san juan struggle to think creatively and abstractly. our translators tell ua that a few weeks ago they were asked to draw something they are talented at, and almost all the kids found a picture in a book and traced it.

so when the art class presented "expressionism day" we were all curious to see how Picasso-like they could be with their self-portraits. here are a few of the finished products:

they are so talented! our art group is doing an incredible job getting the kids to think creatively and think outside the box!

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guat 2011: wednesday student blogs.

two days, two sets of student blogs! today we get to hear from four more of our students (tori, hannah, meredith and marcus) on how God has been working in them and through them while in san juan la laguna:

Hola from San Juan! Today is our third day of teaching and I could not be more excited. In English we have talked about the weather, our emotions and our families. Today we are taking about food. One of my favorite memories is from Monday. We taught the older kids (3rd-6th) grade the phrase, “How do you feel?” and the response “I feel happy”. We also taught them the phrases “How is the weather?” and the response “The weather is sunny”. As the day ended one little chico approached me and asked me both questions. That made my heart soar! We were successful in teaching them a little bit of English and connecting with them. I have really seen God working through the teachers. As we teach they listened attentively and I really admired the fact that they were also really interested in what we were teaching and it was very encouraging. I am off to teach, adios!

Tori H.

Hi! I am sooo happy that I got the opportunity to go on this trip. I can’t even explain how amazing it is to be here and in a totally different culture and environment. The weather has been perfect and it’s just beautiful here. Everyone here is so nice and welcoming. The kids are absolutely amazing. They are so eager and willing to learn and they are also interested in getting to know us more personally as well. I heard that the food wasn't going to be very good but contrary to that it’s been really good! I have also gotten to know the people who are on the trip with me and they are incredible and I am grateful that I have been able to get to know them!

Hannah S.

Hola mis Amigas! Today I woke up refreshed and energized, and for the first time didn’t wake up to the clucking of the roosters outside my bedroom window. Throughout this week Nate has been stressing the idea that our nervousness is a good thing - that our nerves allow us to enter into situations with a humble attitude and force us to rely on God. God has surprised me every single time I have been anxious from the zipline to leading devotionals, to teaching classes, he has come alongside of me. Today the science group is focusing on chemistry and all of the kids were given their own packet of pop rocks to be exposed to a chemical reaction. Juanito responded by saying “Ah! I feel miracles in my mouth!” Their joy has been an incredible source of encouragement and energy for us as teachers.

Today I am thankful for recognition. Yesterday I was able to talk with a mother across the street named Gloria. Last year I met her and was able to hear her story and pray with her and to be able to talk with her again was amazing. The moment I called her name she embraced me and welcomed me into her house/art gallery. Gloria is now a single mother. Her husband was killed two weeks ago last year. At this time last year her children didn’t yet know of their father’s death and after being told that “he is with Jesus” they would walk up and down the rows at church searching for his face. Gloria would like us to pray for her family, she fears that her husband is in purgatory for their having children out of wedlock. Relationships here are not forgotten and I am convinced that while I am at home in Kansas City praying for Gloria, she is here in San Juan praying for me as well.

Meredith S.

Last night I got the opportunity to play futbol (soccer) with some of the sixth grade boys. It was totally dark outside and we were playing every man for himself, by the end of the night I was drenched in sweat and had a tan line of dirt around my ankles. We played without words, just grunts and gestures, and it is probably one of the top highlights of this trip so far.

Another enjoyable moment was when we went to a cafĂ© that hosted the best coffee in Guatemala; alejandro was crazy for the stuff. I ordered a cappuccino, which was delicious, and while waiting for it we had great conversation about the trip and Ezekiel’s ministry, I am pretty sure that we are going back again today.

If you can, I would like you to pray for Chris, Mary, Jacob, and Eric all of which who have been sick. I would also request that you pray for the whole team that we would just do God's work and join him where he needs us.

Marcus L.

our trip is more than halfway over! what a joy it has been to be here over the last few days, but God is still moving and working! our prayers - and yours – are changing lives here in san juan. thank you so much for your support.


March 15, 2011

guat 2011: monday student blogs.

as promised (only about 12 hours late): here are some thoughts from our group after our first day of teaching! read on to hear from alex, kj, trent and mary kate!!!

Hola mis amigos. Mi nombre es Alexjandro, y este dia ha sido fantastico! Alright, so that is it for the Spanish, but after speaking it for a whole morning and being in this culture, it just sticks. So far this trip has been amazing and I can’t wait to see what is still yet to come. We have become such a bonded group and it comes out in the way we teach these kids. No matter how hard it may be with language, together we work so well with the kids and we all feel that it is more then just doing activities, but truly teaching and making a difference.
Alex R.

Greetings from Guatemala,
This trip has been absolutely incredible, other than the fact that today has been one of the most stressful days of my life! In our first day of teaching I was in charge of teaching biology and anatomy to hyperactive kids who need to be constantly moving. It is however impossible to get upset with them because they are beyond adorable and melt your heart every time they smile at you. Now that my teaching is over I am able to lay back and enjoy the rest of the trip without stress.

I can’t look at the mountains enough; they are so gorgeous and take my breath away.

To those it interests
After a full day of teaching now under our belts, while being here for 4 days, I do know that we all are starting to feel the stress grow. However, none of that matters as much due to the amazing times we have had as a group. I feel that as a group we are having a blast and are really getting to know each other. Great bonding like standing for an hour-ish in the bed of a who only knows how old Toyota Tacoma driving down a steep, dangerous, road while coming back to the hotel from some of the most fun I have ever had in my life at the world’s highest zip-line.

Now that a day of teaching is done, I feel so much more relieved. I am assuming that most of that is from the fact that today was the day I was in charge of and it is now over. Still I am looking forward to the last 3 days and I am sure I will be sad again when we have to leave. Can’t wait to be home though so I can sleep without be serenaded at night by tuk-tuk’s, roosters, and Marcus trombone snoring.
Trent F.

Hello from Guatemala! I wanted to share with you guys a moment that happened to me today, while teaching to the kids. I am in the art group and I taught in the classes today, and through that whole experience I could feel God giving me strength to keep going and talk in front of those kids for the first time. In trying to communicate things to kids, I would try talking in Spanish and one person would get it and be able to explain it to another person. Through all of that I just saw God in helping break down the communication barrier. This trip has been amazing so far and I can’t wait to see what happens with my life through out the rest of the week.
Mary Kate P.

as i type this, we're halfway through day two of teaching and things are going great! the p.e. group is playing hockey, the english group is teaching family terms, the science team is using homemade catapults to teach physics, and the art group is having every student and teacher paint a piece of fabric that they will be sewing together to create a massive tapestry for the school to keep!

more updates to come - thanks again for your countless prayers. also, just as a reminder, you can see the short twitter updates (complete with photos) at my twitter account here: @adampaulcooper.


March 13, 2011

guat 2011: prayer tour, zip-line, san pedro.

we have been in san juan for over 24 hours now, but it already feels like days. after a gorgeous (and a little longer than anticipated boat ride) we settled into our hotel, grabbed a late afternoon lunch, and quickly set off on a prayer tour around san juan.

our first stop on the tour was the school we will be teaching at over the next week. the school is run by a man named Francisco with whom we have developed a tremendous relationship with over the years here in san juan. Francisco has taken the elementary school from a 3-room schoolhouse to a multi-level school with around a dozen classrooms and an adjacent basketball court with a brand new roof! Francisco gives all credit to God for providing groups like us to help. we prayed for our teaching, for Francisco, and for the kids at the school. what a joy and an honor to be apart of God's story here.

our next stop was a church where Francisco's son serves as youth pastor and worship leader. from there we went to a demolished home on the north side of town. it had been left in ruins by a mudslide. the house was the home of a family whose children go to the school. it was so humbling to see the hardship that this family had gone through. we prayed for the community, for the lives we come in contact with, for the divine appointments we will encounter that we don't even have in our schedule. what a rich time of convo with God.

this morning we woke up and after a quick breakfast we jumped in a truck and drove to the zipline!! we all did it! what a great time of bonding for our group - everyone was so encouraging for those of us that were a bit nervous (i.e. meredith and karlie). so awesome and so fun.

dinner is in san pedro tonight. san pedro is the neighboring town to san juan and a fun place to hang out and grab a meal. but its early to bed, early to rise tomorrow cause the teaching begins in the morning!

thanks for your prayers! stories from the students are coming tomorrow night!


March 12, 2011

guat 2011: tori's bag is found.

quick update this morning: tori's bag has made it back to the guat city airport and is en route to us in panajachel! what an answer to prayer.

the weather is PERFECT this morning for a boat ride. 70s, sunny, no clouds, gorgeous volcanoes. boat leaves in 72 minutes!

keep praying. love and miss you all in the states.

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March 11, 2011

guat 2011: made it to panajachel.

we have made it to lake atitlan!

our trip from KC > OKC > houston was flawless. we found our shuttle to the hyatt place hotel for the night. this morning came very early - left for the airport at 7 am - but our flight was delayed a bit so we were able to kick it a bit at the gate before departure.

flight was smooth, customs was a breeze, and we all got our money exchanged with no trouble at all. the only hiccup we have experienced thus far is that someone took the wrong baggage and accidentally grabbed tori's by mistake, leaving his behind! continental seems to have it under control though, and her bag should find its way here soon. the other girls have been great leaning her stuff, and she has been a great sport throughout. pray that her bag finds its way safely!

we spent the rest of the day on the windy roads of guatemala, pulling into panajachel around 8pm. the weather is gorgeous and we are all so thrilled to step outside and see the beautiful scenery in the morning! what a gift God's creation is.

a few of us have been chatting about how interesting it is that there are guatemalans all around us, all who have their own story and their own encounters with the same God we know back home. looking out on Guatemala from the plane thinking, "man, there are so many places that God - this one same God that we know and love - is working at the same time."

prayer: take time to slow down to notice things like the encounter above.

we are a tired bunch, but spirits are high and very eager to cross the lake to san juan in the morning. we had some dessert and sang some karaoke up the street from our hotel tonight, but we are all turned in now ready to see what Jesus calls us to for day 3 of 10.

we appreciate your prayers! stay tuned for an update from san juan tomorrow!

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March 09, 2011

hillcrest covenant church: guatemala 2011.

over the next couple weeks, my blog will serve as a domain for our hillcrest student missions trip to san juan, guatemala. we leave tomorrow afternoon and return sunday, march 20, and in that time i, along with others on our team, will be updating this space to keep you up to speed on the ministry our group has the honor of being a part of in san juan.

hillcrest has been doing this trip for 7 years now, and in that time we've had the opportunity to teach children, do different construction jobs, and build lasting relationships with the people of san juan. this year we are teaching science, art, english, and p.e. to around 150-200 elementary school children. san juan is on the south-eastern shore of lake atitlan in the solola region of guatemala. we fly from kansas city to houston, and into guatemala city on friday morning. we then drive to panajachel (on the north shore of the lake), and then taxi across by boat on saturday morning, march 12. feel free to explore the area on the google map below.

check back often for updates, photos, and prayer requests, or follow me on twitter (@adampaulcooper) as i will be linking each update there as it is posted.

pray for our group as we take part in what God is doing in guatemala. here we go!