Thursday, March 10, 2011

What I am Doing this Year

Hey Everyone!

I know I haven't updated this in awhile because I have been busy. I wanted to put this link to view and give you a good idea about what I am doing and whats going on in Seattle.

Check it out...

I miss the east coast and utz/herrs crab chips....but the sun is starting to come out!

P.S. - if u want to send me some chips...i won't stop you

- adios

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New City Year

HAPPY New Year!!!!

Greetings from Seattle, where there is no sun a lot.

This was probably the coolest gift that I got for Christmas given to me by a really cool girl named Elyse.

I love Christmas and it actually snowed on Christmas day in Baltimore!
I was definitely spoiled with sunshine for the first two months I was here but no more. Its been crazy busy and I have been slacking writing on here. So, its one of those holidays and I miss Maryland and the people I know there already; AND I just got back! I think this is the first New Years I celebrated on the west coast which was really cool. They decked out the Space Needle with fireworks, but unfortunately, I was sick, so I didn't think it to be wise to go out, so I just stayed in. Sad, I know, but i have to get up ridiculously early on monday, and I gotta be fresh. (Side note: watched Troll 2, which is the best WORST movie of all time; thanks to my roommate Chris, i felt I wasted my life, but see it.)
Going home was pretty exhausting trying to see everyone, and sorry if I didn't see you. But i loved hanging out with friends and the family but I didn't think to even eat crab chips and I miss those...ALOT!!

City Year Part 2 is about to start and I am pretty siked.
Working with the kids has been great and I have really enjoyed getting to know them and helping them with their work. Don't get me wrong, the kids are tough to work with, as middle school aged students are. But its been cool playing soccer with them during lunch, actually seeing them willingly ask ME for help and just communicating about what they are going through. Some of the stories that these kids have are crazy and heartbreaking. It's been encouraging to be there with them and present in their lives when not a lot of people are. I am beginning to see that it is so important to be there for them not just in school but for other stuff too. I just love it when the kids in my class say " are you coming to the game tomorrow Roberto?" And I am like "o yeah, I will be there." I have been to go to a couple of basketball games already at the school and a tournament and just cheer them on. In one of my classes that I work in, the teacher had planned a coffee house for the kids in order for them to read some of the stories they wrote. They share some of their deepest heartfelt stories of their lives and struggles in front of parents, teachers and friends. It was so sweet to be there for them...and I even played tag with them in the parking lot, which was kinda fun. (Free pizza too.) Working with kids in schools is so much more about developing a consistency of presence where they feel loved and secure, rather than a increase in performance. For me, I believe that a servant's heart is needed; supplemented with patience, kindness, humor, and just a willingness to keep going, even when your tired. Thats why there are weekends and sunday as the day of REST..i love it! I can't wait to get back there at the school. I am going to be extremely busy as we start to develop and run after school programs and start creating initiatives that will help students throughout the remainder of the year. CY tells us that this will be the hardest part, o my.

Hopefully I will be able to keep up with this blog and share whats going on here.
Thoughts and prays I would like to throw out there:

Time set apart for scripture reading and other stuff.
Get to a guys small group at the church I have been going to.
Continue praying for the kids I am serving

Talk to ya soon,

- Roberto

O and here are some pictures from some hikes that I did during the fall.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Here Comes the Sun...or Rain

To begin with, I say this title because I have been on a Beatles binge over the last couple weeks. My good friends on the east coast will say Peppers, but I am more of an Abbey Road, but I need more time, Mike and Jordan. I don't know why but things just keep popping in mind such as strawberry fields; i used to chill with this girl named Lucy (no diamonds though) and of course Walruses. The mascot of the school I am working at, happens to be the dolphin, which is just a little funny.

Anyway...I wanted to just update you all on whats going on over here. I have really enjoyed my time here so far in Seattle. Its such a great city and I honestly can't get over the weather right now. Too be honest, I have been very spoiled with the weather so far and the rain is starting to come. My friend Brian and I have already taken some nice bike rides through the city and its gorgeous, especially going through an area called Capitol Hill overlooking the Puget Sound. I also saw Mt. Rainier from this park a bike ride away.

I pretty much bike everywhere and the buses are my friend. They take awhile sometimes and my 1.5 hour commute to my school in the morning is no joke.
It's actually quite an interesting story about that 1.5 commute. There once was the South Park bridge which connected where I live (Rainier Beach) to where my school is (West Seattle). Sadly, this bridge was closed down last year because it needs repairs and its going to be about a $130 million project, which the Seattle government is not willing to provide the full funding. This creates a problem for West Seattle, which is already secluded from the downtown area and the businesses and commerce going in and out of this region. West Seattle is home to one of the most diverse areas in the nation, consisting of Somalian refugees, Mexican Immigrants and 1st generation Asian immigrants to named a few. Its created a lot of tension for West Seattle because it will cause this area to be even more pushed to the side than before. This little story is one of many that has led City Year to serve in this area.
For the past couple weeks, I have done so much training I don't think I could sit through another meeting without falling asleep. Don't get me wrong, I have actually learned a lot. We have taken classes on tutoring, behavioral resolution, cross-cultural training and understanding City Year culture, etc. As I have expressed to some of you, I am considering pursuing teaching and I feel this would be one of the ways I could serve Jesus relational, as well as honoring him by using my biology degree (Terrapins!). I love science, so it's been quite informing for me to be here and just soak it all in. I never took any education classes and I don't know the first thing of teaching because most of my time was spent in labs among other places during my genetic years of college. During my last year of college, my good friend Carol helped to cultivate the idea of teaching. She invited me to shadow her when she would mentor middle school scholars in DC and that's really all I have for practical, as well as my experience in Kolkata last summer. Last week we spent a lot of time working in the schools and getting ready for the kids to come, which is TOMORROW! We have met almost all the teachers and its been really exciting to be there and get a bigger picture of what we will be doing.

For the year, I will be working with a group about 40 8th grade students, moving throughout the day with them and assisting them with their work, questions, as well as helping the teacher keep them in line. By the way...we had to share about a time in middle school and I disliked middle school a lot. So much awkwardness and peer pressure. Teenage angst, ah (see Harry Potter 6 or read it). Anyway, I will be focusing on a couple students in my group and specifically helping with math and science, as well as other subjects as best I can. Personally, I think it will be helpful for me to shadow the science teachers a little bit and understand what it looks like to lead a classroom.

On my team, there are 14 corps members with 2 senior corp members and we are dispersed throughout each grade, following and helping specific students. We have our own office, which will be nice to relax and step away for a little. We just painted it but after this year, the middle school will move to a brand new building across the street in coordination with Chief Sealth High school, so we didn't get too crazy. As far as my team goes, we have been getting along very well and seeing ways that we can learn from each other. Its been very hard for some, as well as myself, to understand our limits and what those look like to the kids we will be working with. Everyone in City Year has come for different reasons and it doesn't surprise me that people will strongly disagree with others. It also is kind of exciting for me to hear from others and also be challenged of what I think of certain things. I have had a plethora of philosophical discussions on faith, justice, equality, racism, homosexuality, and other controversial topics.
That aside, I have already made some good friends in the program and I am still looking for a church so I can get into a small group and meet some other Christians for encouragement. I have been volunteer coaching at a community center for soccer still, so that's been really fun. I have been exploring the neighborhood and that has given me some understanding of what this city is in need of, but also in seeing the "togetherness" of this community. Most of the Seattlites are very friendly and I have met so many different people. I randomly met this guy at a bus stop and he gave me a peach while we chatted.
I am pretty pumped for the new school year to start and excited for what the next month will look as I get used to the school and kids that will be coming in. We have a lot of expectations for our Denny Dolphin team, but I believe we are ready.

I could use some prayers for:
community in Seattle..I have met some people, but its hard when your far away from good friends.
communication with my teammates, my sister, friends from the east coast, and The girl
attitude of a servant like Jesus (Phil 2:5), who was kind, selfless, generous and humble. To serve my teammates, teachers and kids well

Thanks everyone...if you actually made it this far, Kudos to you.
I am still trying to figure out when I am going back to Maryland. A $700 a month budget is a little tricky to figure out, so a cheap flight back will be a tough thing to navigate.

O and I just had to add this that I went to a Sounders GAME tonight (9/9/10)! The place where I was coaching had two extra tickets, so my friend John and I went. It was pretty sick. We got free scarves, VIP access with food and drinks. Club level seating and then after the game, we got to go on the field and meet some of the players, authgraphs and kick the ball around! What a great night and I thought I would share!

Miss everyone and hope your getting ready for September (i wonder how it would have worked out if a water went along with Earth, Wind & Fire)

- Roberto Gutz

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hello Seattle (..and yes, this is an Owl City song)

Well I finally made it here! I arrived in Seattle on the 26th of July and it has already been really crazy here. I have been so busy moving into my house and I just started working with City Year on the 2nd of August, so I just finished my first week. I live with three fellow corps members, Dan (Ohio), Robert (Ohio) and Chris (NY) in a blue little "cottage" in Rainer Beach, which is about 1 hour south of downtown Seattle on a bus; 15 minutes by car. The area is a little rough, but I don't mind at all and we will be working with the school systems just north of this area. The first week, we spent a lot of time running around getting groceries, a bed, and other household stuff. I had never used Craigslist before, but I tell ya, it saves money. We didn't have seating in the house for the first week and we just got a table HAHA. We even bought a TV and it sat on the floor for the first couple days until we saw a table/cabinet outside of our friend's house being thrown away, so we got that. I live in the basement or I call it the dungeon. There was a flood in the house 2 years ago, so they had to rip out the carpet in the basement, so the landlord gave us some rugs to use because the floor was just a black concrete floor and white walls. It was kind of gloomy and spelled like paint. I am in the basement with Chris and its going pretty well. I am still waiting for my bike to get out (thanks RW) here so I can get around quicker.

Seattle has a lot of advantages....great outdoors, good public transportation, bike friendly, music, HUGE REI, plentiful farmer's markets, community bikeshops, seafood (doesn't beat Maryland crabs though...already tried), friendly people, good soccer fan base....and it goes on. The first two weeks we were a little spoiled because the weather was so nice and the rain just started coming down. I have already been taking trips into downtown Seattle to get used to the bus system and they just built a light rail, which opened a year ago..AMAZING! Seattle is an amazing city and I am so excited to be here!

It's kind of crazy how I ended up at this city to begin with. I was just talking with my friend Jason last week and he had just reminded me something I said last year when I was here. If you didn't already know, three of my friends and I did a road trip last august for about 3 weeks throughout the west (hit 9 national parks) and we ended up making a stop in Seattle.

While there, I had mentioned to Jason that "ya know, I could see myself living for a little bit in a city like this." Sooo, 1 year later here I am and I don't even think the thought started on that road trip. Last summer, I had the honor of serving those in the city of Kolkata, India. I joined a team of about 18 college students on an Intervarsity Global Trek, where I would follow Jesus' call to serve the urban poor in the communities of Kolkata. I worked with kids in a school in a red light district within the city, teaching english and spending time with the kids. There, Jesus was ever present and I grew in my faith and understanding of what I am made to do and where I am going. So, after the India Trek, I had made a commitment to serve alongside Jesus for two years with the poor in the city and move to living/working within the city. That commitment was later confirmed at Urbana 09, an Intervarsity Conference, and there I thought practically of where I could be going and how I would follow Jesus to these places.When I got back, I applied to City Year Seattle and received an acceptance letter to the program. During the application process, I felt has if the Lord was speaking to me and saying "I want you to serve me and not yourself, so go be my disciple and you can choose where to go and I will be with you". So, I applied to Seattle after always wanting to go to the west coast and here I am now, living and serving. The group's focus is on service to kids and helping to improve the education systems throughout the cities of the US and empower and develop young leaders to make a difference. City Year is a non-profit focused on mentoring, tutoring and community service for inner city schools. I had a couple friends that did it and they had learned a lot about reliance on the Lord, which I was really encouraged by and I wanted to take some steps to see if I wanted to teach. My degree was in genetics and biology when I was in college, but I love working with kids, so I decided this would be a good fit. The program is extremely intense, about 8:30am-5:30pm everyday and projects on the weekends sometimes. Usually, the program wouldn't start til the end of August, but Seattle wanted to start early, so here I am. We get an allowance to live on and food stamps, so I am also looking forward to the challenge in budgeting. After the first week, we have been going over the organization, the city, discussed history, cultures that we will be working with and more. The group itself isn't affiliated with any religion, so for me it will be a challenge, because serving Jesus is my reason for joining a group like City Year. They really stress service and thats what I really liked about the group and so I have been meditating on Col. 3:17 and what that looks like in this setting working with City Year. Right now, I am looking around for churches and some other corps members will be joining me which is exciting. I just signed up to volunteer at the neighborhood community center, where I live, to coach soccer to 4-6 year olds. I had my first practice this morning and got to train some future AC Milan players and help out and get connected to the community.

I believe God has great things for me, but that doesn't necessarily mean an easy walk. This year will be challenging and I believe it will be giving me direction for where I am to go next, whether that is back to grad school or to teach. I have a dream that I would live and work in the city; live and work with kids and partner with a local church to restore families and mentor young men who are fatherless in the community I am living in. Something like this, It's just been really crazy just seeing how I got here and the ways in which the Lord has been faithful to me and the things he has done to get me to this place.

I could definitely use some prayers for:
confidence - with my roommates,people i work with about why I serve and who I serve
provision - in a community out here to encourage and challenge me with in my walk with Jesus in this new city
discipline - to spend time in his Word and rest because we can be pretty busy.

Thanks for checking this out and I will just be doing an update every month while I am out here because people wanted me to. I still have my same phone number and if you want my address, just ask me.

Holla and I will not give in to drinking coffee.

Roberto Gutz

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kolkata Itself

Well, my first impressions of Kolkata hit me in the face as I fumbled out of the Kolkata airport, jetlagged and drenched in sweat. Honestly, it was a heatwave of humidity and smog that bolted toward me as I moved in the Kolkata sun. Our transportation were these taxis and these weren't just any taxis, they were white Ambassadors, which are these classic cars from the 50's and they are still around. As we drove through the city, the only thing I could do was sleep b/c it was so hot and overwhelming. When we finally arrived to the BMS Christian guesthouse, a temporary residence, I was completely soaked in sweat. The streets were filled and lined with people that were walking, sleeping and living. Joel (our Trek director) had initially told us that that Kolkata was intense and already I was starting to feel those effects. In the first couple days, the weather was a distraction and I felt exhausted and tired everyday. The only time you really felt clean was the 5 minute window just when you got out of the shower. Cold showers never felt so good! I even began to start missing normal weather or at least my conception of normal. Good old Maryland had such a varity and in Kolkata, its always hot and humid, especially when we were there. It was about 105 degrees everyday and then the humidity added about 15 degrees so it felt like it was 120. It was INTENSE. During the time we were there, it was supposed be monsoon season but everyone was wondering when that was going to happen. Usually the waters go up to your knees due to city draining not being very developed. When it actually did rain, we were completely soaked (at least it wasn't sweat). We saw a bunch of people due baseball slides into puddles while stampeding off the trains. The weather itself was a challenge to get use to and I never experienced longing for cold water because Indians don't really cold water. Some of our Indian friends that we made even said it was hot for them and even laughed at us for carrying so much water and sweating alot.

Subash and Rabi (right), two friends I worked with at my school, told me that some Indians get sick because they aren't used to it.
The new place I experienced and its physical uncomforts were a challenge and I was almost justified in complaining because I was not used to it. I had to be reminded that uncomfortable things create preservance and not complaining but rejoicing in where God has placed me (James 1:3 and Phil 2:14,18).

My prayers initially came along the lines of being reminded that God alone is my comfort and not my surroundings and setting that I am in.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Intro. to My Summer

Way back in June, a friend of mine asked before I came on this trip to Kolkata, a question that comes out of Mark 10. At the end of Mark 10, it tells the story of Jesus interacting with a blind man named Bartimaeus. The blind man had been blind for years; what to do you think hes been thinking about during those years? What would it be like for him to see? The goodness of seeing. And so when Bartimaeus heard Jesus was coming from Jericho, he ran to him and asked for mercy. After the disciples rebuked him, he was still persistent and kept asking for mercy. The first thing that Jesus says to Bartimaeus is "what do you want me to do for you?" Now for Bartimaeus, he asked that his sight would be recovered; the one thing he didn't have all his life. My challenge was to think about what my response would be if Jesus asked me that question, "what do you want me to do for you Roberto?"
This question that Jesus asks was on my mind all summer. In some ways, it helped me to constantly be asking where I was and how I knew getting to know what I actually do want. As I thought about it more, I think Jesus asked the question to see if Bartimaeus really knew who he was by figuring out what he wanted; what he desired most. What does he want? Does he realize who asks him the question? Does he believe he will get a response when he tells Jesus his answer? In many ways, Bartimaeus is at his end and is unable to fix his own problem and even though Jesus is a rabbi and the respect that is given to them is definitely a reason for Bartimaeus' reverence, I think Bartimaeus believes that Jesus can offer him something and the words floating around that he can heal brings Bartimaeus to Jesus. He's blind, an outcast and marginalized in the Jewish world he lives in and is a person in need of physical healing. Because of his physical problem, he can't even receive spiritual atonement to the Lord because of his physical barrier. This is where Jesus comes in; not just to heal his physical problem but to give rise to the deeper loneliness and pain that his soul has felt during his years. So, when he has been healed, the only thing that he can do is follow him as it says at the end of Mark 10:52 because the very person who took away his blindness, is also the same person that took away his loneliness. Here Jesus doesn't just heal the physical or the spiritual, but connects the two and uses the physical healing of Bartimaeus to lead him into the spiritual healing he needs as he ends up "following him on his way".