Monday, June 30, 2014

June Update: Winter and World Cup

If you were in Chile right now, most people would talk to you about 1 of 2 things: The World Cup, and how ridiculously cold it is.  

It is Freezing.  It makes me mad when I see the temperature because it makes it look a lot better than it is.  The thing is, it doesn't get that cold here in winter, usually in the 30-40's in the morning and at night, and possibly 50's in the day.  But the kicker is that there is no insulation in the houses and no central heating, which means often it is colder inside than it is outside.  It also means:
1.  We live in our hats and winter coats.  I take off my coat to sleep, but the hat plus the hood on my hoodie stays!
2.  Weeks when it rains are really rough because the sun is the only hope of defrosting during the day.
3.  When in the summer it can take less than an hour to dry our clothes, now it takes 2-4 days.  
4.  Working out and taking showers are excellent strategies to feel your entire body again.
5.  We wear tights and long underwear under everything.
6.  Sometimes your bones hurt.
7.  People always talk about it... because it's hard to think about anything else :)

Except for...

FĂștbol.  The World Cup!  Of course as Gringos this has never been a big deal for us, but here it is another world.  Chile's first game, I took advantage and went grocery shopping on a Friday night.  It was eerily empty.  

Second game was on one of my tutoring days at House of Hope.  Obviously, no tutoring of any kind was going to happen I realized as soon as I got there and all the kids were decked out in face paint glued to the TV.  I don't blame them.  Chile won their first 2 games and overall looked amazing in this tournament.  As the end of the game approached, Susi told me we should leave early because as soon as the game was over people would rush the streets and jump on cars at stoplights, etc. 

¡¡Vamos Chile!!

Tracey was invited to watch the game at the Central Bank (Chile's IMF) where most of his students work.  I'll let him describe that glorious day to you:

The moment I walked into the building I kept telling myself, quit smiling like an idiot, be cool, be cool.  Don't show how excited you are.  Basically the whole floor of about 60 or so employees, including 25 different students I teach, got together in the conference room to watch the game together.  Yes, the whole country holds it breath, business stops, calls are unanswered, emails ignored as we watched, screamed, cheered, hugged, cried, laughed and celebrated our 2-0 victory over Spain (Defending World Cup Champions) which sent them packing and put us into the second round of the World Cup.  Priceless.

Third game Tracey got to be home at noon for because all but one of his classes cancelled for the day, so we watched it together and ate way too many homemade french fries.

And then, Saturday...  Saturday was the big day.  Chile took on Brazil on their home turf.  Chile had never beaten Brazil, and the last time Brazil lost a game on their home field was 1970 something.  So after our small group, we set up the projector with our friends and watched the tension filled 90 minutes where they ended at 1-1, the extra 30 minutes of overtime with no score (including one attempted goal for us that hit the post in the last minute), and then 5 penalty kicks for each team to decide it all, that game down to the 10th kick when our team hit the pole again to lose it 2-3.

Inches!  A mere inch that decides so much.  That crushes the hope of our little 18-million people country taking on the World Cup beast and now having to wait 4 more years to try again.  Not only were we thankful for a great game (Tracey about pooped his pants the entire time,) we were, and are so proud of Chile.  GRANDE CHILE!!!!

And the rest.  So that's what everyone's been talking about for the last month, and here are some more things that have been happening in the Keitt household:

Our small group is awesome!  It is so easy to be honest and open with each other in hopes of becoming more Christ-like.  We are excited to see how we all continue to grow together in it.

Tracey taught at the overnight Vigiil again (remember the sex talk we gave 2 years ago?  Same thing!)  while I watched Coen slept soundly at home.  The talk was on "Remembering," based off of Moses and the Israelites, and went really well.

Father's Day and Tracey's birthday within 2 weeks has meant a lot of fun celebrating and sweet time together.  It has also meant a ridiculous amount of sweets and delicious food, including the best meal we've eaten in this country at an Indian restaurant across town.

Dad will all his kids

"Hmm what to get, what to get..."

We have added another teacher to our goEnglish team and are getting ready to meet as a team of 4!  It's been super exciting and added that touch of "work community" that we have been missing since living here.

We love everything we are doing now.  It's so cool to see relationships building more and more with our students, on top of us enjoying both the administrative and teaching sides of the business more and more each day.

Sometimes it's hard to be motivated to spend time tutoring at House of Hope because there is little to no academic progress made.  Most kids I work with have an attention span of less than 10 seconds and lovingly let me know they won't practice anything I've asked them to outside of our short time together.  I've had to remind myself that it's about loving the kids more than making academic gains.  But I know that loving them best would mean getting them to read so they have a chance to break out of their family cycle of poverty.  So it's hard. 

We (House of Hope) got a huge donation from a short-term team that just visited from a church in the States!  The donation was given to be specifically used for "Susi's dream list," so we are using it to plan some fun outings for the kids.  So far these may include the movies, a fun kid's museum, and taking them to the mountains to see snow for the first time!

Sunday School has been an up and down roller coaster of great and frustrating moments.  And with those great moments it has, of course, been with the kids.  I (Tracey) have never been with a more amazing group of kids who are excited to learn and think and ponder and dialogue about their faith.  Every time I leave those kids I'm encouraged.  On the other hand, the lack of help and support from the other adults at the church has really started to take its toll on me.  We lost two of our teachers this month, although they had let me know in advance that they would only be able to commit for the first half of the year.  There's a huge void between desire and commitment.  We'll  just have to wait and see how it all ends up at the end of this year :).

In the midst of so much work, we've also had some fun.  When better to go to an indoor rainforest than in the freezing winter?!  We went with some good friends (actually our first English clients who have become some of our closest friends here) and their kids for a fun day at the rainforest, pizza for lunch and the coolest park we've ever seen.  

"Whatchoo doin' on my dad's shoulder?"

"BAD bird!!"

We also got to celebrate a good friend's birthday with some salsa dancing, Papa John's pizza, and hanging out with another couple that we are excited to get to know more.  

June Prayer Requests

1.  To continue seeking God's vision for our lives and our work

2.  WIsdom with how and who we are intentional with (building relationships) when time is so limited

3.  Encouragement and perseverance with Sunday School and House of Hope       

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

True Learning (and an answered prayer)

"True learning must be transformative.  Learning is not merely the acquistion of additional information one did not previously possess.  Learning is not simply the enhancement of one's intellectual reservoir of knowledge.  Real learning is transformation, it is growth, it is change, it is development.  It is the increasing conformity of your life to that of Christ's life.  It is the progressive possession of the fullness of Christ in you.  True formation is you becoming like Jesus."
~ Brian Rice, Conversations, Volume One

It is so much easier to learn about Christ and do work for him than it is to be changed by him.  It's easier to answer the questions in a Bible Study than it is to honestly ask God how the text needs to change your life.  

This is the kind of learning we are looking for in our community here.  Ironically, we haven't had much Christian community in the last 2 years of working as missionaries.  We've tried small groups, and besides them ending at 11:30 at night (which doesn't not work for Coen OR us...) they just always stuck to the "knowledge" part of being a Christian and never went deeper to the transformative part.   

Thankfully, this prayer has been answered!  We are starting a small group with 2 other couples, with the specific goal of being authentic and vulnerable, leading to actual transformation and not just staying comfortably on the surface level.  I can't tell you how much we need this and how thankful we are that it is finally happening!    


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Update - Seasons

Right now we find ourselves thankful for seasons.  There's something about the uncertainty of life that just makes you thankful for little things that you can rely on: the sun coming up the next morning, birthdays coming and going each year, the warmth of spring coming after a long winter.

These are the kind of natural rhythms that science allows us to know when and why they occur.  

But there are other seasons that are not as well-defined; the beginning nor the end are very clear, not to mention everything in between.  What we have learned is that contentment comes from being thankful during whatever seasons we find ourselves.  If it is season we enjoy, we embrace it fully and thank God for allowing us to experience it.  If it is a season that is hard to be grateful for, we look for good it could be doing in us if we allow it to and focus on being open to accept it.  This is obviously much easier said than done... but that is the challenge.  To embrace it for what it is, choose gratitude, and remember perspective.

Life, in every aspect, is made of seasons.  The good, the bad, and everything in between. We are thankful for these seasons, and trust that God truly uses everything for our good!

Here are some of the seasons we are in:

Fall.  It's beautiful outside.  The leaves change a little, mostly just to yellow and not everywhere, but we'll take what we can get.  The air smells crisp.

Cold.  Fall = cold.  Not crazy cold yet, but cold enough to put a hat on Coen for 7AM breakfast.  Tracey gets mad at me for complaining about this so often.  And you probably wonder why we talk about the weather so much.  The whole "idea" of not having heat inside your house doesn't really sink in until you live in it!  

Excitement.  We are so excited about the work we are doing!  We had our first staff meeting as a business yesterday, are meeting new clients, and truly enjoying the teaching and administrative parts of goEnglish.  

A lot of work.  While it's definitely getting better, owning a business seems to be an endless list of tasks.  Right now goEnglish is big enough that we need an administrator, but we are small enough to not be able to afford one.  So we are trying embrace the craziness, trusting it's a season.

New beginnings.  I (Christine) am starting a reading program with 5 of the kids at House of Hope that are severely behind academically.  Coen and I get to go twice a week for a few hours; Coen gets some quality time with Tia Susi while I spend 15-20 minutes with each kid individually.  I am really excited about working directly with the kids again, especially ones that need so much help and that thrive on one-on-one attention they rarely get.

I (Tracey) had my first meeting with the parents of all of our Sunday School kids. The possibilities are endless and very hopeful.  I think we, teachers and parents, can see the potential but there's such a big difference between believing in something and then taking the steps, the actions to actually bring those ideas into reality. 

"Hey guys! Come to my meeting!"

Someone was not paying attention...

Good thing the teacher likes you

We had our first goEnglish staff meeting this week.  We are really excited about building a strong community with our teachers both professionally and personally.  It helps us feel more organized and focused overall, and it's really nice to have more than just two opinions!     

Disconnect from God.  We are both feeling spiritually disconnected right now.  Not like we don't believe in Him, more that we have questions and doubts that we don't really know what to do with, and it makes it hard to connect.  We are hoping to find people here to walk through that with, (which we actually have an answered prayer for small group!) but for right now it's a season of feeling more distant from Him.

If only it could be so easy...

Uncertainty.  Where are we going to live next year when we have to leave this house?  Are we going to stay in Chile for another year?  5 years?  20 years?  We absolutely have no idea.  And we know we probably won't for a while.  In a way I feel like it's the way we should always live, (because who really knows what their life is going to look like anyway?!) because it keeps you intentional and on your toes.  But the planner in me is happy that I know this, too, is a season.   

Fun and friends.  We've gotten to have a lot of fun outings this month - hiking with good friends in the mountains, going to the park with the crazies Boss and Osita, sharing lunches with our host family, even going to a waterpark.  
Meeting new friends to play with

Keeping in touch with the long-distance ones

April Prayer Requests

1) Wisdom in addressing spiritual issues

2) Perseverance in carrying out changes in Sunday School and House of Hope

3) For IAM - its workers, projects, and overall health

Friday, April 18, 2014


Today was the first day back with the House of Hope kids for a while.  In the midst of adjusting to parenthood this last year, I have spent more time behind the scenes (i.e. fundraising, planning, meeting with the board) than just going to be with the kids.  This year I am excited to start one-on-one tutoring with a few of our kids.

I forgot how infuriating it is.

I sat down with a 9-year-old boy who is new this year.  When he told me his name I thought, "Oooh yeah, I've heard of you."  And in less than 5 minutes, his actions confirmed the negative reputation I've been warned about by multiple people.  He is rude, he is persistently disobedient, he is an instigator, and worst of all, he is apathetic. 

Since I've been away for a while, it was easy for me to remember that although it's entirely frustrating to be around him, there's a reason he is like this.  There's a reason he's so angry.  
And as anyone that works with at-risk youth will tell you, the challenge lies in remembering that there is a reason instead of reacting to their behaviors.

I spend a few hours helping the kids with their homework and starting to talk to Susi (our director) about which kids I should tutor.  I am excited about the opportunity to give one-on-one attention to kids that starve for it.  I am excited about planning ways to motivate them and finding resources to bring them up to grade level.  I am excited about building relationships deeper than just helping with homework.

Then on my drive home, as I turn the corner there is an old lady walking in the middle of the street without a crosswalk.  She stops for me, I stop for her, and she takes her sweet time walking the rest of the way without even acknowledging my favor.  I want to yell sarcastically at her out the window.

I pull up to the driveway and try to open the gate to pull the car in.  Boss and Osita are going crazy because our neighbor adopted a street dog, lets him roam the streets pooping on everyone else's porch, and drives our dogs to bark incessantly.  I want to kill that dog.  Really though, if it comes near, maybe I can "accidentally" run over it with my car...

With Coen in my arms, I try sliding open our gate.  It gets off track and won't move in either direction.  I try lifting it with one arm, no go.  I put Coen down.  Boss attacks him with kisses until he falls over in the dirt.  Why is there dirt everywhere?  Will we ever not live in a freakin' dust bowl?!   I drop the gate, pick Coen back up, and try to get Boss to sit and stay.  He won't, and I am immediately furious at Tracey for not letting me give him up for adoption (Boss, the dog, not our son :) last year when we realized we were in over our heads.  

The neighbor dog is still barking.  Fine.  I will pull the car in later tonight.  Thank you, neighbor, for adopting a street dog so that it can live on our street.  I go again to the gate to try and shut it.  Maybe I'll just leave it open.  I don't even care anymore.  You guys can go poop all over the street, get some exercise, and who cares if you make it back.  I  lift the gate again and it hops to the other side of the track.  Why is everything made in this country a piece of crap?!  The gate finally shuts, I pick Coen up, brush him off, and go inside.  

I am reeling.  

And then I realize, there has to be a reason.  I can't be this angry at an old woman, dogs, and minor house malfunctions.  There is something deeper...

I am angry that this kid is only 9 and he already has his ticket punched.  That even if I spend hours upon hours trying to help him, he may never accept it.  That his parents don't love him the way they should and realistically may have never wanted him in the first place.  That we keep pouring time and energy into our church building and people keep robbing and vandalizing it.  And most of all, that this horrible cycle of poverty is the same one I worked with in Charlotte, and the same one that Jesus said would always be here.

Once again I am reminded of why inner-city teacher burnout takes only 3-5 years.  It takes so much energy to pour everything you are into a job that more than likely doesn't produce the results we want to see, at least not on the larger scale.  We are not going to eradicate poverty or save the world, but somehow we have to keep trying.

As Tracey reminded me after my emotional rant of frustration, we have to remember the individuals we are helping and not get overwhelmed by the entire system.  We can't lose hope for one child's life because we know how the bigger picture works.  And I'm pretty sure that hope is where Jesus has to come in, because it just doesn't make sense to have any without Him.  

Lord, give us your hope.

And in the meantime, help me to recognize the source of my anger so that innocent street dogs may live!