Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Guatemala #15: The story of 2008 part 4

Okay, I lied, this is also the best!

Ángel, playing and singing a song that he wrote:)

Here are the words (loosely translated)

I'm just a little bird, who wants to know more about God
When I go to school, I'm happy, singing to the Lord

Guatemala #15: The story of 2008 part 3

And.....the best for last! These are pictures from an activity we did during the past two weeks (the equivalent of a summer camp) with children every weekday morning. We did games, and songs and prepared a musical drama for the Sunday church service, called "The Red Guitar". It was about a cricket who got a red guitar for his birthday that didn't work! No music came out of the guitar! So, the cricket's friend, the worm, goes searching for musical notes for the red guitar.

It was amazing! We did one week in Zone 11, and another week in La Brigada. The first two photos are from the games and arts activities during the week, and the last three are from the performances.

Game in Zone 11

Making the red guitar, in La Brigada

Mosquito, canary and cicada in Zone 11.

The frogs give the worm the note G for the red guitar!

Full cast in Zone 11, singing with the now functioning red guitar!

Guatemala #15: The story of 2008 part 2

Concert in Zone 11

Concert in La Brigada

Two students receiving guitars that they were able to buy paying little by little, thanks to a donation we received to buy instruments.

Visits to three different nursing homes, to sing and play for the residents.

Erin Weaver, a wonderful volunteer who helped us out in June, gave several classes explaining how the violin and other stringed instruments work, and helped Yeimi begin to learn to play!

Preschool music class in the church Pacto Renovado in Carranza. This church runs a preschool, and we helped out every Thursday with musical activities.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Guatemala #15 : The story of 2008, part 1

So, once upon a time (in 2006), a girl named Beth went to Guatemala. She lived with families, and learned spanish and learned to like beans, and a whole bunch of other new foods. She started working, and helped start a music school in the Mennonite churches in Guatemala City. She faithfully reported to her family and friends for one year, but then, she might have dropped off the face of the earth for all they knew, as her blog posts completely stopped appearing for months and months. However, she continued working hard and completed 2 years in Guatemala on November 2nd!

Here, at long last, is an update from Beth:

Hello! I've been busy for a long, long, time, but thought that maybe someone out there might like to see some pictures from this year (this year!). I don't think I've posted anything since January. Okay, I just checked, and I posted a couple in January, and one in April. How embarrasing!!!

So, first, some lovely pictures from activities we've done this year in the newly named Academia Menonita de Artes y Recreación (AMAR), or Mennonite Academy of Arts and Recreacion. The acronym spells the verb "to love" in Spanish, which expresses what we hope this space to be for people, a space of love, respect, learning, creativity, expression...a safe space. These first pictures are from concerts we've done this year with students from three different communities in and around Guatemala City (Zone 11, La Brigada and Bárcenas Villa Nueva, for those keeping score at home, haha). The distance between the two farthest communities is 2 to 2 1/2 hours by bus.

A picture's worth a thousand words! (or at least I hope it is, at least these pictures will give you a bit of an idea of what we have been up to).

Blessings, Beth

p.s. - look for more updates soon, I've got a bunch more pictures and possibly videos I'd like to put up!

Children miming playing the recorder and the keyboard to the music that I played with another teacher.

Children demonstrating their newly acquired music literacy!!

Second year guitar students from Mixco playing and singing at the Mennonite Church Jesús Luz y Vida in Boca del Monte. (Jesus Light and Life Church)

First year guitar students playing a chord progression in Bárcenas Villa Nueva.

Giant musical notes! Kids demonstrating music literacy in La Brigada, Mixco.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

alison bechdel

I have a lot to say about the anti-Prop 8 March I went to yesterday, but that's not what this post is about.

I went to an amazing book talk by Alison Bechdel, one of my favorite cartoonists/graphic novelists/etc, the other day. I don't usually post just to link to other blogs, but, I mean, seriously, when I get mentioned in famous people's blogs, that's pretty damn cool.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

a break in mood

It's been too long since I posted something silly. And since today I'm writing the "sin and suffering" chapter of my constructive theology, I must post someone else's silliness.

For those of you who haven't been keeping up with Alison Dennis: the silliness only increases. It is deep and wide, like the love of our Lord.

Note: Alison Dennis is a former housemate and fellow devotee of Jeebusism, one of the best fake religions I've ever helped make up.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

more vision, less perishing?

Look, as I said before, I'm not sure how much I even believe in this stuff. But I went home after the spirituality and sexuality performance, and I watched the returns with my friends and housemates.

When they called Illinois, I thought about my theology prof, an old-school southern liberationist, who told me months ago that an Obama win, for him, having grown up in the Jim Crow south, "would be like redemption."

When they called Pennsylvania, I thought about my grandma, eighty-six years old, who broke her arm a couple weeks ago, but who got a ride with her son to the polls. She was not going to miss it.

And when they called Ohio, I thought about Jesse Stinebring, who led the Obama campaign in Oberlin. He ran it out of his house for the last ten days. Sending volunteers out to cover that whole part of the state. Making calls and teaching people how to knock on doors. I went and knocked on some doors when I was in Ohio over the weekend, more out of a commitment to Jesse than a commitment to Obama. Jesse's seventeen.

And you know, when the called California, I thought it was a good sign for my sisters and brothers in California seeking to retain their constitutional freedom to marry. (Now, that looks unlikely.)

And yes, I'll admit, when they called Colorado, I may have shouted "Focus on this family!" and given a terrorist fist bump to my married lesbian couple friends.

And when they called the whole damn thing, I didn't know what to do. I screamed and shouted, and the thirty people in the co-op basement flooded into our front yard, chanting and singing and weeping. When I walked Rachael home after the speech, everyone on the sidewalk was happy. "Barack Obama!" called a woman from her front porch. "Yes we can!" we called back.

I believe that we are the ones we've been waiting for. I don't believe anyone can ride into Washington and save us. I believe in Jesus Christ for president (in the manner of Woody Guthrie) and everyone else is just going to be a better or worse commander of the empire.

But to have a president who's less Constantine and more Saul Alinsky?

After the speech, April went and got the flag. It had been leaning against the wall by the free box for some months. I don't know why we didn't give it away before now; somebody had ended up with it after an immigration rights rally. But we had it, and April took it outside, and set it up on the front porch. I watched.

Vamos a ver.

Monday, November 03, 2008

voting day hymn

Look, so I'm not even sure that I believe electoral politics can enact long-term meaningful change, under the current system. But I do believe it can make things at least better or worse.

And my theology professor, who is sometimes one of the most cynical guys I know, says he's "beginning to lean into the hope."

And whoever we elect tomorrow, the day after the inauguration, we'll all still have to start a whole new cycle of working to end government-sponsored racism and war and torture and environmental degradation.

But I'll be at the polls when they open. Here's a hymn to get you going. May it guide your heart at the polls, and in the days to come. If you don't know it, look it up on youtube or something; as DTH says, it's one of those hymns where the tune really fits the words.

Once to every man and nation

Once to every man and nation,
comes the moment to decide,
in the strife of truth with falsehood,
for the good or evil side;
some great cause, some great decision,
offering each the bloom or blight,
and the choice goes by forever,
'twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble,
when we share her wretched crust,
ere her cause bring fame and profit,
and 'tis prosperous to be just;
then it is the brave man chooses
while the coward stands aside,
till the multitude make virtue
of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs,
Christ, thy bleeding feet we track,
toiling up new Calvaries ever
with the cross that turns not back;
new occasions teach new duties,
ancient values test our youth;
they must upward still and onward,
who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
yet the truth alone is strong;
though her portion be the scaffold,
and upon the throne be wrong;
yet that scaffold sways the future,
and behind the dim unknown,
standeth God within the shadow,
keeping watch above his own.
Words: James Russell Lowell, 1849
Music: Ton-y-Botel (Ebenezer), Yn y glyn