guatemala report, #4

ok, i’m heading off to argentina for our second spanish youth workers convention of the year, and i have to wrap up my delayed series of posts about my trip to guatemala last month!

the international youth workers convention, really known as the convencion internacional liderazgo juvenil, was in guatemala city, guatemala, in early august.

as usual, it was an amazing time, and so personally encouraging. 2300 youth workers from all over central america. the level of excitement and expectation and engagement is off the charts. most have never had any training in youth ministry at all. most have never been to a large event where one denomination isn’t being held up over others, or where one speaker isn’t considered the fouth member of the trinity, or where multiple offerings aren’t taken for the host ministry. much of the stuff we’re more used to at our english-language youth workers conventions is still horribly novel in this context. things like:
– discussion panels with various, conflicting, perspectives (this is NOT done in the latin church)
– no preferred seating for VIPs; anyone can sit in the front row
– no ties or jackets, no VIPs sitting in thrones on the stage
– available speakers and presenters
– honoring innovators from other ministries
– an offering taken for another ministry (not ys)
– limited speaking and performing times for presenters and musicians
– a real sense of encouragement, that we’re in this together

i had a great time presenting, also. people asked fantastic questions. i did a new seminar on postmodernism (which i can’t wait to do again in argentina), a new one on teenage brain development, and a reformatted one on young teens (people with a calling to young teens are even MORE in the minority in latin countries than they are in the states, so it was so great to be in a room with 100 of them, and to encourage them on the importance of what they do).

this picture totally cracks me up. i spoke in the opening general session, and that’s my fantastic translator, willie howard (doh! willie and howard were both key players in the organization of the event, but i was stupid enough to use the wrong guy’s name here, until howard translated for me in argentina and pointed it out!), who was also in charge of operations for the entire event. i look like i’m in pain. but i think it must be my closing prayer — since howard and i both have our eyes closed! an oddly physical and expressive prayer, i guess!

marko and willie.jpg

5 thoughts on “guatemala report, #4”

  1. It is so cool to see how YS is helping to break some of the barriers and socially acceptable “kingdom building” down. You’re right – I do take for granted things like not lifting one denom. up over another, and no preferred seating in the front row (people like to sit in the front row?).
    I’m curious how much of your presentations resonated with the youth workers down there. While teens are teens, so they usually deal with similar developmental things, were there some developmental, social, and spiritual issues that are big in the states that simply aren’t the issue down there? I know we export a lot of culture down there (for good and bad), but how much? What was the feedback during those discussion times?

  2. Yeah, paul, good question. We’ve been really intentional about not proceeding on any of our Spanish stuff with a colonizing perspective. Our Spanish division is completely run by “locals”. All but a few of the speakers at the event are from the countries represented by the attendees. Only a few (like myself) are gringos who need translators.

    When I speak there (or in any country outside of the u.s.), I’m really careful to say, “these are my north American ideas, and they come with my north American baggage. Please turn your crap detectors to ‘high’ and use discernment in filtering what I say for your own context.” The last thing I want to do is import a bunch of our thinking.

    All that said, I do think we have stuff to offer (like the seminar I did on young teens — there just aren’t many people in latin American youth ministry who could have done that seminar). And it’s fun to have a few gringos mixed into the crowd!

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