“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you,
saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ
loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

His good, pleasing and perfect will

I've decided to start getting up earlier than usual, I like mornings and want to embrace them even more! I read Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." We are called to continuously renew our minds in order to seek God's will for our lives. Sometimes it is clear to see the path He has laid out for me, other times there are different ways that are equally good, and on occasion it is hard for me to distinguish where He is leading. In all situations I keep seeking His good, pleasing and perfect will for my life, because God's ways are far greater than mine! My Heavenly Father know me better, cares for me more, and loves me far beyond what I can fathom, my life is in His hands. On the walk to school I was able to stop by the river. The sun's reflection on the water caused the ripples from the current to glimmer, it made the water look like it was dancing! Martin and I crossed paths and he asked for help walking up to school which is cool in and of itself, because he was taking initiative to walk there. Today was the other gym teacher's last day, so it is time to embrace the transition. I wasn't expecting it to happen today, but I'm learning to be ready for anything. I feel like she dropped the ball on this and it is happening really fast, but the Lord will give me strength to love and care for these kids well. The gym classes went well today which proves He is in control. On the way down to the cancha Jeny held my arm and I knew everything would be okay with the transition, I know it will be a challenge, but it is going to be good. My girls were awesome in English class! They have really begun to understand what is appropriate behavior in my class and the feeling of unity within the classroom continues to improve. I try to use different words to tell them when they do something really well and they really liked my word choice today. They got a kick out of the way I was saying "awesome", because they started saying it in the same voice as me! After library, cleaning, and refilling soap, I join in enrichment time. The school cleared out really fast today and only two of the students stayed after, but it was fun. Rick taught us all how to do a magic trick with two short pencils, so I was entertained with that for a long time. When the end of the work day rolled around the volunteer and I went to get ice cream from Alexander's and sat in the park. I got caught in another downpour, so when I got home I put on some dry clothes, gathered my treats and was off to Tracey's house. Tracey, Tandy, Jenny, Jennifer, Shari, and I had a potluck supper and games! It was the ultimate ladies night. We played "Sour Apples to Apples" and "Would you Rather", there were so many laughs with these great women!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Porque el Señor es bueno

Sylvia gave me this fruit to try during
snack break, it was delicious!
Our morning workout and Brain Gym were moved inside due to a rainy morning. I guess we were a little spoiled here the past few days with clear sky and sun for miles! Each week we have a focus verse in both Spanish and English. The Spanish version of the verse of the week is Solmo 100:5, "Porque el Señor es bueno; Para siempre es Su misericordia,Y Su fidelidad por todas las generaciones." There is a girl who has been student teaching in Quito volunteering with us for a couple of days and it was great getting to work with her for a bit today. She is really sweet and it fun to talk about our experiences in Ecuador. In general the kiddos were in a great mood for Monday, sometimes it's tough to get them back in to school mode. This morning I found out the other gym teacher is quiting, this means I'm the only one. I think I'm ready, but more importantly the Lord doesn't give me more than I can handle, so here we go! I have to admit I am a little bit nervous about communicating with the little guys since my Spanish isn't perfect, but I know I will have a deep enough understanding to get me through. It will be a learning and stretching experience for sure. All of the teachers were scattered at lunch except for us missionaries, so we had a quiet lunch. From the looks of it at the beginning of English it was going to be a tough day, but I'm thrilled to say it wasn't. Although two of my girls came in emotional and on the verge of a shutdown I addressed the situation and asked it they could wait until after class to talk about it, sure enough a minute later they were fine! Another student had a little breakdown after school and I was able to talk to her and calm her down. I think all teachers need to expect the unexpected, you never know what burdens a child is dealing with on any given day and depending on what it is they will need to be cared for in different ways. The role of a teacher is so much more than a person who instructs a class, they are a crucial aspect of children's growth outside of classroom content. Every day we are given the opportunity to love and care for these special little
Estefania and I being after a busy school day!
people! There are days it is the hardest thing in the world, but at the end of each day I wouldn't trade it for any other profession. When library was finished it was time for school store which went really well. I will admit this was the first week I enjoyed it and wasn't frustrated. The kids love it, but until today I could not say the same. After everything was put away at the school I went down to the house to hang out with the kids. Most of them were outside, so I wandered around the bike trail and played with the kids. When I got home I did some baking for Nelly's birthday and the game night I'm going to tomorrow. The baking went great, however, I thought it would be a good idea to put the bag of milk in a bowl that was not tall enough to support it, but I took the risk anyways. When I opened up the fridge I found a bunch of spilt milk, but you know what they say "don't cry over spilled milk!" I made some gourmet eggs for supper, then lounged around before going to the market for my fruit and veggies. I saw lightning as I was starting off, so I was prepared to get rained on and sure enough right as I was buying my food the rain came pouring down. It was a wet walk back, but I don't mind getting caught in the rain! I thank the Lord for His wonderful ways and faithfulness through all of my feeling. My feelings don't dictate the truth, but God does and He is the truth, the way, and the life!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Nature of a servant

There was extended worship at church this morning, because the guest speaker was running behind. When they arrived he began speaking right away and it wasn't a big deal because it is very typical for people to be late. I still want to be punctual, but it is my prayer that when others are late I can keep the mentality I have here and just go with the flow. Johnathan sat by me in church today and he was busy reading books and coloring pictures. He wanted me to color too, so I drew him a little picture on his coloring page. When Dwight and Tandy got home from church they were heading out to lunch at Vista Hermosa. This restaurant has all glass windows to enjoy the great scenery, vista hermosa means beautiful view in English. Johnathan came down with Tandy and invited me to go, he calls me "Erta" which is adorable! I feel so well taken care of and loved, they have opened up their family to me and treat me like I am part of it! After standing outside to soak in a few rays I went back inside to take a short nap...it ended up being over an hour, but it was very nice. I woke up just in time for ultimate frisbee and although it was a smaller group of us it was awesome. We had about seven people on each team, so everybody got to be involved and I played well most of the time. Usually I prefer to frisbee golf because I can throw and am not very good at catching, but I but think I have gotten better and really enjoy the time I get to spend with the others at Ultimate. Once I got home I decided to venture to the withdraw money and after my second failed attempt today I called the number on my card and believe I got it taken care of (I hope). I had a little bit of time for supper, then I headed upstairs for prayer time with the Casa de Fe missionaries. It was only the Martin's, Freeeman's, and I so we were also a small group. It started raining very hard for the first time in five days while we were at this time of prayer and worship, but we continued on. It was hard to hear at times, but it was a beautiful time of reflection and worship. The song Sweetly Broken played while we were worshiping and that
My bilingual Bible and journal
really resonated with me. I hadn't listened to that song in a while, but a couple of years ago I would listen to it on repeat. Some of the lyrics are: "To the cross I look, to the cross I cling of its suffering I do drink, of its work I do sing. For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed showed that God is love and God is just. At the cross You beckon me, You draw me gently to my knees, and I am lost for words, so lost in love, I'm sweetly broken, wholly surrendered. What a priceless gift, undeserved life have I been given through Christ crucified. You've called me out of death, You've called me into life, and I was under Your wrath now through the cross I'm reconciled." Even when I am broken the Lord's love is overwhelming, I am lost in His perfect love for by it I have been reconciled. God has called me out of death because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, His death on the cross saved my soul. Philippians 2:5-8, "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Death on the cross was for criminals and although Christ was not, he bore this weight so that the whole world may have eternal life. I thank God for for the cross and at it I am sweetly broken, wholly surrendered.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

You will be forgiven

Can't beat a walk near Casa at 6am to see the sunrise
hitting the mountains and the moon still in the sky!
I took an early morning stroll towards Casa de Fe at 6am to catch a glimpse of the sunrise on the mountains. Well, it was actually more of a jog, because I could see how beautiful it was when I was leaving, but I wanted an unobstructed view which required getting out of the middle of town. I made it there in time and it was totally worth it, the scenery has been incredible since it has been so clear. I had some breakfast before heading outside to read in the front yard. A book by Dr. Chris Thurman talks about the importance of forgiveness, "Finally, and the most difficult of all, you need to forgive. Forgiveness is an act of your will where you decide to wipe the slate clean and make a conscious commitment not to hold what people did to you against them. It means letting go of the past so that you can live more fully in the here and now. It means truly letting something be 'water under the bridge'" This is often one of those topics easier said than done, but whether it be the smallest offense or something that cuts deep we are called to forgive. Forgiveness is something God continues to teach me more about and as I seek Him for forgiveness and forgiving others I learn how to truly let go. Luke 6:37 says, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." I still have a lot to learn, but I thank God for the growth I have seen in my life because of the ways He has shown me to forgive. It was time for my own refrigerio (morning snack) when I was done reading so I made myself some coffee and ate chocolate roll with cinnamon sugar, so yummy! If I had to pick a favorite time to do chores, it would be in the morning, so I cleaned the house, did laundry, washed dishes, and all that stuff to get me ready for a new week. It is always nice to come home to a clean house! I was missing my family this morning, I am so glad they all get to be together at my cousins wedding, but it is hard not being able to be there to support them. I love my family so much and wish I could be with them family on this special day. I decided to go grocery shopping to stock up on some need food and when I got home I was invited to go to the pool with the Martin's, Jason and his girls, and the Freeman girls. I was really excited to go lay by the pool with them and get out of the house! We went to the Hosteria Shell and they had a great little swimming area. When we were all done in the sun, I went home to clean up, then headed over to Birgit's house to help set up for the adoption party. I organized some games for the kiddos on her awesome rooftop porch, then I went downstairs to visit with some of the adults before prayer and worship! On the walk home from the party I ran in to a bunch of people I knew, sometimes I see one or two but tonight I saw a lot more which was fun. It makes it feel like a nice little hometown when I see friends around. Seeing familiar faces continued on my evening walk with Tandy too. When we finished walking I ran to pick up some breakfast for the morning before heading in for the night, then it was time to get ready for bed.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The way to joy

It was another clear morning in Shell! As I went up to school I passed Genesis and her little brother walking together and laughing. They are adorable, then she decided to give him a piggy back ride the rest of the way. Seeing them made me miss my sissy! During chapel we sang Tu Amor hace Eco en Todo Mi Universo (Your love echoes throughout my universe) and learned actions to go along with it. It is a beautiful song about God's presence in each and every thing around us. While they were waiting to be dismissed in to their classrooms, Jhony was staring at me and made a bunch of funny faces! He is such a cute little guy. My prep time was spent getting started on series of flash cards for the school. It is a huge task, but when they are all done they will be really handy. First on the list is the introduction "hint" cards that will help one of my students a lot. She is very bright, but needs a little hint about what comes next. For snack today we got a choco banana and they were perfect, it was a frozen
Nila and Shayla enjoying snack time!
banana with chocolate and sprinkles, a nice cool treat for a hot day. Gym class consisted of soccer for all the classes. I joined in the game with the oldest girls to step up the competition and it was a good, they were having fun in class which was great. We had a big chicken lunch with rice and beans at school, I have to admit I like eating chicken with Ecuadorians because they choose the bony parts of the chicken. A few months ago it was interesting to learn that many people here want the chicken feet and parts I would never consider eating. It was a  reality check to see how different my idea of what was the best meat to eat was. In English class I was able to tell which students were actually participating and the ones that were only moving their lips. Even when I wasn't looking at them I have learned what it sounds like to have them all participating and can pick out their voices in a group. I have been able to do that for a while, but today they seemed to be taking turns not participating and I was able to recognize who is was, look at them while teaching, and they would rejoin the group without me stopping! When school was all done Rebekah, Paola, and I went up in the the jungle to chop caña de montaña (mountain cane). Rebekah is planning on making a pie with it tomorrow and I got to help cut some down. When we went back to clean it all of the kids were very interested, but they just wanted to eat it so we had to explain what it was for. After a long day at school I headed home and stopped by Birgit's to talk about the adoption celebration for her kids tomorrow. She made me a milkshake to drink while we chatted and it was nice to see her place and hear about her excitement for the party. When I got home the first things I did was put on some comfy clothes and relaxed before the evening festivities started. Before supper I experimented with sauteing some veggies and I have to say they turned out pretty good, then I went upstairs to eat pizza and salad from Italy with the Martin's. We ate outside on their deck since it was so beautiful out! When we were done I went with to pick up a group of boys from Casa de Fe for a movie night. We watched Madagascar 3 (in Spanish) it must be a great movie, because even though there was a lot of dialect that I missed I thought it was great. Now I will just have to watch it again in English! Martin, Gilmar, Carlos, Joel, Boris, Geovani, and Alejo got to play for a while before it was time to head back to Casa. It was priceless to see them dressing up, playing in the castle, and pretending to be doctors! The pure and simple joy of kids is beautiful! Before going to bed I read Psalm 19:7-9 from the Message Bible, "The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree." God makes known the plan for my life and holds it together in His perfect way. The Lord is the only way to joy and perpetual peace.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The gospel is bearing fruit

I enjoyed eating breakfast and reading in my pajamas, sitting at kitchen table has become my favorite place in the house. A little while later I laid out on a lawn chair and read for a bit before deciding I just wanted to sleep under the sun. It was very nice! When I decided I should take a break from the intense heat I was ready for second breakfast, but SPOILED milk ruined my cereal, so made cinnamon/sugar toast to get the horrible taste out of my mouth. I can finally understand what people mean when spoiled milk expressions are used! I walked with Tandy for a while since she was taking Dori to pick up Johnathan at school, then I headed up to Casa de Fe after my morning off. The smells of fresh cut grass and everything looking alive reminded me of a beautiful summer day in North Dakota! I got to school just in time for gym class and spent most of the time playing soccer with Martin. It is fun to see how well he does when he is really interested and motivated. After lunch with teachers, English class, and library, I went down to the house to sew. Like many times before on my way up the stairs Kuka tried to block the way, she is such a silly girl and likes to get your attention by blocking the stairs! I was sewing something for one the kids and noticed I am much more careful when crafts are not for me, not that I am careless with my
Kuka was outside playing with the kids on my way out! 
stuff, but their was more pressure today. I didn't want to mess it up and it turned out good, so all is well! When I got home I was invited to join Tracy and Tandy on their daily walk, it reminded me of my momma's nightly walks. The Martin's invited
me out to supper with them and I couldn't have been more thrilled. The restaurant we tried to go to was closed, so we ended up eating at Johnny's, but I can't complain about that for a back up plan. Johnny's is always a good choice and tonight I got yucca con carne (beef and yucca fries). Colossians 1:3-6, "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace." God's grace is all around us and I pray for our hearts to be evermore aware of it.

The secret of being content

A view of shell with Sangay in the background on the far right.
With sunlight pouring through the front window I enjoyed my breakfast at the dining room table. The morning "Brain Gym" exercises were even better in the sunshine. Since it was so clear there was an incredible view of "El Altar" and the Sangay volcano. Rick was climbing the water tower to take some pictures, so I went along to check out the panoramic view of the beautiful creation and Shell. Sangay had a small ash eruption flowing down the side while I was at the top of the tower, there was so much to see it was hard to take it all in. Almost every day they are hidden behind thick clouds, but today at the top of the water tower I could see both the mountains and volcano! I was not scared while I was at the top of the tower, but I was thinking to myself how easy it is for me to say no to opportunities when I am scared. What would I do differently if I had no fears? It is a loaded question to think about, but as I learn to trust God more in all things my fears are brought to the light. Matthew 8:23-26, "Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." There are times in my life I can say "Me of little faith, why was I afraid?" and God is faithful, but with Him I have nothing to fear. He is good all the time! Wednesday mornings I have library checkout with the younger kids, it is once a week and a fun time for them to explore books. Since it is during the day and not after school it reminds me of a real library in the states. Other than that I spent most of the morning doing office work and looking for supplies down in the house, my search for gym class pump was successful. I have notice how it feels very different today, not in a bad way at all just new. My time in Ecuador has not been predictable by any means, but there have definitely been things that are constant. In fact, expect the unexpected is what I have learned to base my days around. The reality of change has become very real and embracing it is upon me, I am excited to see what God has in store for each day! Thus far, it has not been a day where everything has been great, but I have an unstoppable contentment. I am excited for what is coming next even though I have no idea what that may be, I'm content in the here and now and have peace about the unknown future. Philippians 4:11-13, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." The more I seek Him throughout the day, the more I find God clearing a way for me. SEEK HIM and the way in which we are called will be revealed! I helped Martin search for "brilla" (shine) rocks with his class and they were having a grand old time. The sun provides all kinds of fun class activities! For physical education with 4th and 5th we worked on basketball skills, when they were done before heading to lunch they saw shadows from the railing and decided to entertain themselves. The railing shadow formed a nice ladder, so they did some ladder drills. After an array of topics covered at the teacher's meeting over lunch it was time for English and my girls were great. Soon I was off to Bible Club were I followed along with the message about the fruits of the Spirit, I was able to comprehend it very well! I enjoy being able to understand more Spanish! When we got to go outside at the church I played some catch with Edison, he is a young man who is deaf and really starting to learn sign language. I have been really encouraged by the progress he is making and got to use sign language as we played catch. Every time I was going to throw the ball to him I would use the sign, then he would copy me before I threw it! I walked over to Marco's house to tutor him in English, then headed home for supper. I while later I did a grocery run, skyped, then was off to bed. It was a day filled with the Lord's hope, promises, peace, contentment, beauty, and joy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Lord himself goes before me

I said goodbye and prayed for Cheralyn as she journeys home before going up to school. Although I was behind schedule I took my time walking there and reflecting on this new phase of my time in Ecuador. I know it will be very different living by myself for a while, but I look forward to a time of only being able to run to God. He has already taken care of every stress, joy, fear, praise, and worry, but now is a time for me to present them all to Him first. The first graders were working on "saltar largo" (long jump) today and it was fun to see how much they liked it! I was pretty in to it too, because it is track season and I have missed being around meets. It wasn't by any means a track and field meet setting, but it is as close as I can get. The pre-k class
The bodega has walls!
went on another walk for gym class today. After taking one of the students to the bathroom we were a bit behind the group and I have to admit I was thankful, becuase of the way the other five students were standing. Due to where they were standing it looked like a CD cover of a 90's boy band, it was great! We enjoyed some take out Chifa China at lunch, then I had my English class. The girls were pretty good, library went well, and after school enrichment flew by. When I looked outside at the end of the day the progress the maestros continue to make on the bodega is awesome. It feels like yesterday the Concordia team was here pouring the foundation and now they are almost done with the walls.  Before I knew it the day was over and I was heading home. I enjoyed talking with Stephanie most of the way, then we parted ways to get to our own houses. Shortly after getting back Tandy stopped by and offered me supper, it couldn't have been more perfect. I had been wondering if I wanted to venture out on the town for supper by myself or if I should make something myself, but a special delivery from the Martin's beat both of my options. God is SO good, even in the smallest things He is faithful beyond measure! I had a quiet evening in catching up on things at home and trying to take care of some tasks on my to do list, I was pretty productive. I made a trip to the market to get fresh fruit for breakfast, read, and got ready for bed. The scripture I reflected on was from Deuteronomy 31:8, "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” God is walking with me every step of the way, not only in my daily life away from comforts of home, but each and every day no matter where I am! I am never alone, because God has gone before me and He stands by my side.

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Father is with me

There was a bird rhythmically chirping on my way to work and I was impressed. I have had the privilege of hearing and seeing many animals, but this birdy's song was exceptionally beautiful. After chapel the animal encounters continued with a lizard running around the school. The kids were chasing after it and quite excited! I helped with pre-k as they built shapes out of rocks, it was fun to see them work at and understand this concept. When they were all done with their lesson we went on a walk for gym class. In first grade I set up a variety of games that focused on hand-eye coordination, following directions, and teamwork. When we got through all of those we wrapped up the class with a game of soccer. I rescheduled my gym class during lunch time for tomorrow in order to take Cheralyn to Alexander's for one last time. Cheralyn, MArili, the Joy's, and I were all there and got to eat together. I was almost late to my English class because of great talk with Jason, thankfully we were able to hop on the truck and get a ride to Casa de Fe. We had grabbed ice cream for the go, so it got a little messy on the bumpy ride up to the orphanage. At the beginning of class the girls were not being kind to each other. It caused tension throughout the class, but in the end I shared a message about how God wants us to treat one another. I hope they were able to understand how much our words can build up or tear others
Cristofer and I!
down and that we want to encourage our friends! When library and school store were all done I hung out with the kids down at the house. I was outside playing with the kids on the bike trail and they were all heading in to watch a movie. I was holding Cristofer's hand as we were running towards the house when he falls and since we were running it wasn't a little trip, but a belly slide. When he stood up I saw his shorts around his ankles, because they were too big they fell down and caused him to trip. He is too funny! It was a rainy walk home, but I needed to get back to make food for Cheralyn's goodbye party. I was busy chopping veggies and preparing food, then I started cutting the onions and they were so strong my eyes wouldn't stop watering. After sampling it several times to make sure it was just right, really I was hungry and wanted a small snack before supper, it was ready to go. I moved chairs upstairs for the gathering and arrived early, but I sure am glad I did. While we waited for others to arrive Dwight, Tandy, Cheralyn, and I sampled the guacamole and salsa. As soon as we thought we heard others coming we cleaned up the evidence of our food sampling and patiently waited! It was a false alarm, but it's a good thing we stopped when we did or all of the chips may have been gone. Time with them was a great start to a wonderful gathering of the Casa de Fe missionaries. I love feeling a part of this community and having the opportunity to really get to know them. We had a time of reminiscing about funny stories that have happened over the past few months and they really are priceless. As my roommate packs up and prepares to head home I am reminded of how God goes before us and prepares us, always! No matter where I am I am never alone for my Heavenly Father is always at my side. John 16:32&33, "A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Although I will experience both triumph and troubles, I have an ever present hope because He has overcome this world!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mujer Transformada

A few ladies at the retreat and I during free time Saturday night!
Right when I got up yesterday, blueberry muffins, eggs with ham and cheese, oranges, and coffee were ready to eat. Tandy was up bright and early and prepared a yummy breakfast, talk about a great host! We enjoyed our food while watching another movie and hung out with her the rest of the morning. Around noon I went downstairs to pack for the retreat, loaded the van, picked up some other ladies and were off. The retreat center was located just outside of Mera, which is the next town over, so it was a little getaway. The event started with an ice breaker of holding each other up. It was one I had never done before, but we were separated in to groups of four and sat a certain way in the chairs. When everybody was sitting in the circle we layed back on the person behind us and somebody walked around to pull out the chairs from under us. Then we were supporting each other with our leg muscles and it was really cool to see how we could do it! The evening was filled with worship, testimonies, scripture and fellowship. Following the first session there was free time where I got to hang out with the Tia's in a setting outside of work and get to know them more. The Tias' are fun ladies and it was really sweet to spend time with them outside, taking pictures, and eating supper. All of us missionaries spent the night in the same cabin room, so we enjoyed some special bonding time too! Right after breakfast this morning we got to do a craft and this was a great surprise. I haven't been able to be crafty since I don't have the supplies to be in Ecuador and this was awesome. I got to help a couple of Tia's with theirs too. There was a snack after the craft and a dozen cookies later, seriously a dozen, I was ready for the main session of the day. The theme of the conference was "Mujer Transformada" (Transformed Woman) and it continued in to
Here's my craft!
today. 2 Corinthians 3:17&18, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." God has transformed my life and this weekend was an incredible time of reflecting on what He has done. Along with transforming my heart, there are countless stories in the Bible of transformation. A few examples are: Saul to Paul, the woman at the well, His word becomes flesh, water to wine, David the shepherd boy to King, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, New Heaven and Earth, the church in acts, the thief on the cross, the law to Grace, sorrows to dancing, and He brings beauty from ashes. These only scratch the surface of ways God transforms in the Bible, weather it be people, animals, or objects, He is constantly present and revealing His perfect power! We finished up with the session a little early, so after packing up the car Tandy, Stephanie, Renee, and I enjoyed walking further on to the grounds. We came across pretty sights including streams on each side of the road at one point, horses, and much more. Since the road seemed to never end as lunch time approached we turned around to head back to the dinning room. When the last meal with all of the ladies was done, our group headed home. I spent an hour laying outside on the lawn chair multitasking...I was listening to music while napping and tanning. It was real nice! Then Cheralyn and I headed to Puyo for souvenir shopping since she is leaving so soon, and although the Balsawood store was not open we went to Super Tia's and a store right next door and I was able to find good Ecuadorian gifts. After our adventure to Puyo I double boiled some chocolate to cover a dessert. I finished just in time for prayer, then enjoyed more worship with the Casa de Fe staff.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wonderful light

The second & third grade class at Casa de Fe!
It was picture day and I have to say I was rather excited! They started off by taking a picture of the whole school, then separated the kids by class to take individual shots and a class photo. I helped shuffle the kids across the little stream, because that is where the nice background was. It was a different start to the day, but an important milestone for the school year, for better or worse we all remember picture days! Rick's class of second and third graders I subbed for did fairly well today. They were a little bit stubborn, but once I got them on track they did well. There was one little girl who shutdown and started hitting any and everything around her for no reason. I did everything in my power to calm her down, but nothing seemed to be working. It was driving me crazy that nothing seemed to be helping and although I know she was acting out to get attention she would not respond. I know God held me together, because I was at a loss. Thankfully she came back to participating with the class and seemed to be doing well, these kids hunger for attention and I pray to serve them well. Although I am only a small part of their lives it is my hope that God's love is so present they see more of Him while I'm with them. My English class went well, I decided to try a new reward system of earning ten minutes of "Friday Fun" this week and I think I'll stick with it because it worked. I locked up the school and was trying to head out right at three o'clock, but it didn't go quite as planned. One of the students forgot her homework and came running back up to the school, but her room was locked and I didn't have a key. I did get a set of keys from somebody, but in the process of figuring out how to fix the problem I a cut on my finger. I wanted to blame it one somebody else, but the truth is I wasn't being careful or paying close enough attention. 1 Peter 2:9-12, "But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 'Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.' Dear friends, I warn you as 'temporary residents and foreigners' to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they
Supper with the girls in Puyo!
will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world." God has called all of us into wonderful light and we are His. I am constantly reminded of my need for Him and seek more of the Lord's perfect love. After a busy week at school I walked down to the dique from work to sit by the river. It was SO very peaceful reading and laying by the river listening to the water rush by. For the first time since being here I was totally resting in the Lord and not feeling like there was something else I needed to be doing, I wasn't distracted. The sun was shinning and I felt so filled up and restored! I ran to the market to pick up ingredients in order to make my roommate a goodbye treat and after going a couple of places I found what I was looking for. I arrived home to some rat excitement and we were quickly off to supper to stay away from our unwelcome visitor. Tandy, Tracy, Cheralyn, Johnathan, and I went to Puyo for supper and dessert. We enjoyed burgers from Krusty's then went to Nice Cream for some dessert. It was a great evening out and I am glad to have such wonderful friends here. Tracy dropped us off at the house, Cheralyn and I grabbed stuff to take upstairs and we had a sleepover at Tandy's! It was really great, we watched Here Comes the Boom, drank smoothies, and just had a grand old time. When the movie was done we chatted for a while before heading to bed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Go in peace

Luke 7:46-50, "'You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.' Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' The other guests began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' Jesus said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'” God has forgiven me of much and loves me very much, therefore I will do the same! It is by faith in Jesus we are saved, therefore we can live peacfully knowing He has given us true life. I also started reading a new book today and look forward to learning more about myself from it. It was a great morning off, it felt short though since
Anthony really liked the camera!
I slept in until 8:30! I can accomplish so much in the mornings when I get up early, but it was nice to sleep in today. It was raining pretty good when I left for school, however, with my raincoat and umbrella I stayed really dry except for my shoes, they are always wet here. I substitute taught Rick's English class again today with the second and third graders, they did very well. They are a quick group of learners and although they can be easily distracted, I was impressed by how well they worked. If they realized when they weren't on task, I was able to get their attention and they would come back right away. Lunch with the teachers consisted of fish and rice today. It was good, but seeing the whole fish, scales and all, is something that is hard for me to get used to. My girls were very good in English today, I also think they are starting to understand how they can help each other learn. I had them work in partners for a bit and I think this is going to help them in many ways as I continue this once in a while for the rest of the year. Library and school clean up all went smoothly, then I hung out at the house until Cheralyn was ready to go. I spent most of my time with the toddlers at the playground in the back of the house. They are so precious! By the time we walked home there wasn't much time before we went to Johnny's with Patti Sue, Jean P, and the girls. On the way we noticed a stage, some paper mache cows, and fireworks sitting on the sidewalks. I ate the “Tablita especial”which consisted of chicken, pork chops, a hot dog, and yucca fries! It has been very nice getting to spend a little bit of time with them before I move in, I know God is preparing my heart to be like a big sister. When we were done eating I picked up some food at the market, then Cheralyn and I decided to go to Johnny's for tea. While we were there the festivities began, we watched the celebration of fireworks and live music. It was cool to see the paper mache cows with fireworks shooting out of them in all directions, but it made me a bit nervous that there was a person underneath it running it around. There was also a very elaborate firework tower contraption with fireworks spinning in all direction, Latin music followed the firework display! It was a treat to stumble upon the celebration.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Good soil

My day started with reading a bilingual children's bible that I checked out from the Casa de Fe library. I have to admit I really like the book and it lead me to the scripture I read during this morning. Matthew 13:3-9 & 16-23, "Then he told them many things in parables, saying: 'A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear'"...."But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. 'Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.'" I never cease to be amazed by what the Lord does with what little I have feel like I have to give. To God be all the glory, He really can produce great things in our lives when we give Him the control. I finally remembered to return the stroller from the Fun Run, because I blocked the door with it last night. Although I didn't feel like I had time to lug it up there and still be on time I reluctantly brought it with me and ended up picking up Leah on the way. I walk right by the Joy's house on my way to Casa
First grade was experimenting with bubbles,
Geovani was doing good!
de Fe and she was ready to go, so I was more than willing to push her up in the stroller. When we got to the school they were all line up outside, I took her to her class line, then the singing and dancing began! Most of my morning consisted of tedious tasks such as refilling marker ink and going through boxes in the teacher area, but it was all important and productive. Right before snack time the first graders were experimenting with blowing bubbles.After lunch I was off to English class followed by library time. I was very blessed by a couple of the oldest girls when they asked if I was going to live with them in May. They were not asking because they didn't know the answer, but wanted to hear me say yes and although it doesn't seem like much it was special! At Bible Club the message was about the Holy Spirit. I was able to follow along, and as usual I think the kids were really engaged too! After Bible Club I got to tutor Marco in English, he is bright. He is a little bit shy and talks quietly until I ask him to talk louder a few times, but once he does his pronunciations are great. I had just enough time to eat supper when I got home, then I picked up the girls at Patti Sue's house and were off to zumba at the Coliseo. Dance ended really early tonight which meant we needed to wait for a long time until the arranged taxi came or walk them back, so we walked them back to the foundation. Once we got them all back safe and sound Cheralyn and I went to Johnny's and sat at our usual table! Before heading home and calling it a night we took a little trip around town to enjoy the nice evening.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rejoicing comes in the morning

Our owl friend at the school.
Psalm 30:4&5, "Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." We all will experience times of crying out to God and though He has never left us we question what we are going through, but fear not for He is with us. There may be pain in the night, but JOY comes in the morning! It was a really good day filled with many small joys and great moments. The first exciting event of the day was walking up to the school and seeing Rick holding an owl. It had run in to the window earlier and we are all happy to say he flew away back in to the jungle after regaining strength! This morning I realized how well I have gotten to know the kids and am starting to understand some of their tendencies. Not only does this help me understand where they are going, but it helps me know how to care for them well. This was a sweet realization today!  In the late morning, Nayeli was calling my name and running towards me when she stepped on a rock wrong and fell. It was so sad and I could tell she was about to get really worked up. I just told her in a steady voice tranquilo (calm) and she was fine, I was incredibly proud of her for getting up and shaking it off. It is bad for her little heart
Juan P and the other kids in pre-k seeing
how "machinery" work!
to get worked up and it was a huge blessing to see her control her emotions like that, God is good! As we continued on our walk I wished I had more hands. All of the little ones want to hold my hands and I want to hold theirs, but I only have two. Gym with the pre-k class was hilarious thanks to little Evelyn. I said hola to a maestro as he was approaching and she repeated me which was adorable. Seconds later as we were walking past each other I said ciao and she did too, this caused me to giggled and she did the same. It was funny to hear here little laugh as she seemed to mimic all I was doing, she is really becoming aware of things people say and do around her. I have seen her learn a ton and look forward to seeing her grow more! During my off period today I got really sweet pictures of different school events from Rick. There were a bunch of them and it took a while to get loaded on my computer, but it worked. English class went pretty well even though one of my students had a bit of a shutdown. They usually stem from wanting attention which is really hard to address during class. I was able to talk to her about it after class and she was doing much better. There was a crazy downpour after school, but it only lasted a few minutes. It continues to amaze me how much it can rain in such a short period of time. When I heard it start to pour I stepped out on to the balcony to watch it rain and ended up getting pretty wet since the rain picked up and blew a big gust of water on me. I enjoyed my walk home alone and quick stop by the market to pick up some ingredients to make bread to take over to Rick and Rebekah's for supper. They had us over for beef and chicken curry accompanied by broccoli and cauliflower sauteed in butter with garlic. It was all delicious, then for dessert Rebekah made black tea with brown sugar, cream, and other spices...it tasted a lot like chai which couldn't have really been wanting! It was an awesome evening of good conversation with great friends. I appreciate their friendship a lot, I am constantly amazed by how kind and hospitable they are.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Light a lamp

This boy's hug and smile brightened up
my whole day, thank you Edison!!
I woke up with a scratchy throat, so I had some tea with my eggs this morning. It rained through the night and was still going when I left for work. It let up on the way, but the water was going strong down at the dique. As I went across the bridge I kept singing Still by Hillsong United. It is good song with incredible lyrics: "When the oceans rise and thunders roar I will soar with You above the storm. Father you are King over the flood, I will be still, know You are God." This is one of my favorite songs because I find the simple lyrics incredibly powerful! I have found myself a little distracted as I am being asked about what I'm doing next and feel like all my peers have life all figured out. This may not be true I have found myself comparing their togetherness with my lack thereof and although it has been a beautiful time of trusting the Lord with where He is leading me it can be difficult. I am blown away by God's continuous faithfulness and understanding of my heart. As I struggles with feelings of loneliness I was reminded there are thousands of things I could turn to, but the only One who can fill my heart has never left me. A few positives for the day were walking Nila up the stairs, greeting Fabi, and having snack with Geovani. As I walked Nila up to chapel she held my hand and grabbed the railing with the other, then she would keep walking and lean back to see how far ahead of her body her feet could get. She couldn't stop laughing! Whenever I say hello to Fabi or she says my name she calls me Edi, I like my nickname. Geovani came and sat next to me during snack break and tried to feed me some of his food. I am really thankful for this little guy. I was incredibly grateful for these blessings a day that I wanted to curl up in a ball and hid in a hole for the most part. Through the hard days and embracing moments I am humbled, but there are always positive moments in which I am given hope. The highlight of my day was getting an unexpected hug from Edison. It was like he knew exactly how much I just needed a hug. Edison is a boy who is deaf and has really struggled to communicate what he wants, needs, feels, but not today. Not only did his smile and hug make my day better, but he totally understood what I was showing him through pointing and signs! So incredible! I played with the kids on the bike trail for a bit before the walk home in the rain with Cheralyn and Freddy. I have decided there is sometimes a hearing barrier between Cheralyn and I which makes for very interesting stories and great laughs. For supper we ate at the "Papi Pollo" with Jorge, then we got ice cream and walked around town. It was a nice way to end a day of things that didn't seem to go right. Before calling it a night I went to the bakery to pick up some breakfast food. Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Even on days that nothing seems to go right and I want to run and hide, God is good. The Lord is in control and He has lit the lamp in my soul to shine for Him at all times. Not just when it is easy or when I feel like it, but in each and every circumstance for His love cannot be hidden.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The hour has already come

I was able to take my time getting ready for church and enjoy the morning. The message at church was about water and whenever water is talked about I cannot help but think of clean, new, pure, and fresh beginnings. It was raining throughout the whole service and although it made hearing hard it was a symbol of being washed by the water. When I got home I made myself semi-homemade spaghetti for lunch and it was good, especially since I had been craving spaghetti! Then it was time to do a couple of chores such as filtering water for our kitchen supply. Thankfully I heard Dwight filling up theirs, so I could just went out there and he helped me. The family moving in to the house I live in now got a new router set up the other day, so our internet is great. I was able to update my Ipod and make a phone call to the states using a free app called Bobsled, it was pretty cool. I also have internet service at the dinning room table now, so I very much enjoy being able to sit there and work online. After a while I went to the market and bought some fruit. I had to search for a while to find good apples, but I was pleased to find them! I got the fruit cleaned up and put away right before walking to frisbee. There was a smaller group of us playing this week, but it was still a fun time.
Frisbee time!
I did a pretty good catching this week, usually I feel like I have butter fingers, but not this week! While I was walking home I stopped at the Freeman's for a little bit to try and find a recipe and although we weren't able to find it, I am determined to. The sun had just set as I continued my journey home and the clouds were really low tonight. I could see the mountain tops peaking over the top of the clouds as it continually drew darker. When I arrived home there wasn't much time before our Casa de Fe prayer meeting and I was pleased to find a special delivery from the Martin's. They made chicken jalapeno poppers with a barbecue/cream cheese stuffing wrapped in bacon and more bbq sauce. Yum! Staff prayer was only the Freeman's, Martin's and I, but it was incredible. Romans 13:11-12, "And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." It was a vulnerable time of prayer and worship, this was exactly what I needed! When prayer was over, due to the group that was on a retreat taking a wrong turn, Cheralyn and I went over to Patti Sue's to babysit. We watched the end of Wall-e then it was time for all the kids to go to bed, so we hung out and chatted until she got home. We made it home just before the continuous rain started. Right as I was crawling in to bed the rain began and I fell asleep to the peaceful rain.

Satisfy me Lord

Casa de Fe Fun Run 2013!!!
I was up extra early for the Casa de Fe Fun Run and enjoyed a quiet breakfast and worship music. While I ate the song Satisfy by Tenth Avenue North played on my iTunes and it couldn't have been more perfect. Some of the lyrics are: "You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're more than all this world can give. You're beautiful, more beautiful, You're love is all I need to live. Satisfy me Lord, oh oh, satisfy me Lord, oh oh. Yeah I'm begging You to help me see You're all I want, You're all I need, oh, satisfy me Lord!" The words throughout the whole song point to God's beauty that surpasses all that is in this world. I pray more of my satisfaction comes from the the Lord's goodness and less from people and things around me. I walked up to the orphanage to pick up some of the kids and walked to Patti Sue's for the start of the Casa de Fe Fun Run! After the course was explained, the kids stretched and were warmed up the race began. I volunteered to push Grace and Martin in a stroller so they could be part of the experience, it was hard work. The stroller had a crooked wheel so pushing them was difficult, but they loved it and kept saying they wanted to go faster! The
Grace and Martin enjoyed participating!
adults raced after the kids competition was all done and somehow I ended up doing this one too. The men were actually racing, but us three ladies took it nice and easy. We stuck together and crossed the finish line at the same time. Everyone hung out for a little bit and enjoyed a frozen go-gurt to cool down. I was glad the race was right on my street, because when it was finished I could head right home, change, then walk over to the rick and Rebekah's house. We were heading to Puyo to celebrate "dia del maestros" with the other teachers. I bought a pop for the gathering on my way to the Estes residence and Rebekah made me an espresso with sweet and condensed milk on ice for the road! It was exactly what I needed to hold me over until lunch. We hopped on a bus to Puyo right outside their gate and began the search for Fabi's house. I thank God we ran in to her daughter on the street, because although we were in the right area, to get to her house you walk to the back of a restaurant and go upstairs. It was a hole in the wall and I don't think we would have found it on our own. It was a little after eleven when I arrived at her house and the food preparation began. There was an outdoor patio at the center of her house and all of the rooms were separate and lead into this area. It was unlike any other house I have seen before.
Chicken maito, a delicious Ecuadorian dish!
Sylvia was our master chef and taught all of us home to wrap a chicken, onion, and cabbage salad inside a big leaf. It required placing the chicken salad in a long narrow line down the middle with a little separation at the half way point so the two leaves could be folded in half and tied together. Then it was put on the grill to be cooked. When it was all ready it was served with soup, plantain, yucca, and another potato like vegetable. After eating I helped wash the dishes and it was a unique experience for me. I have hand washed a lot of dishes, in fact we hardly ever used the dish washer when I was little, but today I hand washed dishes with no running water. Once everything was all cleaned up most of us teachers went down to the park near El Jardin. It was the same park area I was at a couple of weeks ago, but this time we walked over the bridge, and along a beautiful trail. An indigenous tribe was selling earring so I bought a couple of pairs along the way. After the walk along the river Rick, Rebekah, and I parted ways. On the way back to the bus station I had a snow cone with a bunch of different flavors and sweet and condensed milk on top, it must be the secret ingredient of the day! Before hopping on the bus I stopped at Super Tia's and a store next door where I bought a few souvenirs. I got back to town in the later afternoon and made a quick trip to get a few more ingredients for our bonfire desserts! I ran in to a friend from church and was able to
A nice bonfire with even better company!
plan getting together before Cheralyn leaves and it took me a while to get my words across, but I spoke in Spanish! Dwight, Tandy, Johnathan, Cheralyn, and I enjoyed chili dogs for supper by the campfire and made up tortilla s'mores for dessert! We sang songs and talked around the fire, it was a great way to spend a Saturday night! After cleaning up the fire it started raining, but that didn't stop Cheralyn and I from laying outside on the patio.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hunger for love

Viviana on theTeeter-totter!
This morning it was not the rooster that woke me up, but rather my neighbor blasting music at  6:45am. I was getting up anyways, but it was one of those moments I was thinking about how this would only happen here. My day at school began with an adventure to the park with the 2nd and 3rd graders. I've decided when I am not teaching a class I am the professional assistant. Whenever the teachers need help with an outing or other random things I'm the go to person and I love it! Getting to be a part of the kid's daily lives has blessed and challenged me in so many ways. It was a bright and hot morning at the park with these guys, but it was wonderful. I spent most of my time pushing them on the swings and helping them on and off the teeter-totter. I also got to go on the teeter-totter with Viviana which was a workout since I weigh a lot more than her! When we got back to the school the "Dia del Maestros" festivities began. The dance routine the oldest girls have been practicing in
Feliz Dia del Maestros!
gym class kicked off the celebration, then there were a bunch of games. First, Rebekah and I had to dance together holding a tomato in between our foreheads, it took a few times to get but once we did it was easy. Then I danced with broom, raced around students carrying an egg on a spoon, bobbed for apples, and whipped up an egg white until it would stay in the bowl upside down. Also, Marcela and I feed each other jello while we were blindfolded! It was an eventful afternoon. As the day progressed the Lord showed me more of my heart for those who are hurting. All of the kids at Casa de Fe have emotional scars, but as soon as I hear one of them crying I am instantly drawn to help them. One of the little boys in first grade was really sad and throwing a little tantrum. I kneeled down beside him and said, "estoy aqui, estas bien" (I was trying to say "I'm here, you're okay" and I think it translated correctly). Shortly after taking care of him Alondra was crying and I sat with her as she caught her breath, there wasn't anything I could do to make here feel better so I sat there and waited for the pain to pass. When she was doing better
Feeding each other jello! 
I made some silly faces at her which made her smile! The mothering instinct in me just want to let them know I am going to be there to care for them. Although I cannot keep the kids from falling down, I can be there to pick them up like my Heavenly Father has always done for me. Lunch was quiet since it was just Rick, Rebekah, and I, but it was very nice. My girls had another good day in English class and for the last ten minutes we celebrated Profesora Anita's birthday! All of the kids went up to Anita's classroom, we brought her in, then enjoyed cookies and each other's company. Library and after school cleaning went well, then I hung out at the house for a while before calling it a day. I enjoyed the weather by walking around town for a little bit before resting. I came across a quote by Mother Teresa, "The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread". Our hunger for love is so deeply rooted in us that it cannot just be removed, because God has beautifully designed us to love and be loved. As I allow the love of Christ work in my life I see more of His
Trying to whip an egg white into mouse by hand, it was
a race against Rick...we had some help from the kids!
presence and blessings be revealed in my life, it is a glorious continuous cycle! When I mustered up enough energy I made supper. By the time I was done eating it was almost 7, so I headed over to Rebekah's for a play reading. She is very talented when it comes to the arts and has done play readings in the past. A group of missionary teens, Shari, Jennifer, Cheralyn, Rebekah, and I got together to read The Secret Garden.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My beloved

Rosa working hard on her card!
I spent my morning off lounging around the house listening to music and catching up on things that got pushed to the side all week. When I did go up to school I jumped right in to gym classes for the day. The sun was shinning bright, so naturally all of the kids wanted to be in the shade...I was ready to lay out in the sun. We played soccer in the hallway with the second and third graders which went well, then worked on the dance routine for tomorrow with the oldest girls. It is a teacher's birthday tomorrow and instead of having English class they spent the hour making her cards. The girls were having a blast working on pop-up cards! Library went well and enrichment consisted of playing go fish. I can't complain it was fun even though they were peaking at cards once in a while. When I was all done at Casa de Fe for the day I went over to Marco's for his first day of tutoring. Marco is the young boy that I met yesterday and I continued to be impressed s I got to teach him English. A couple of years ago Marco was unknowingly playing with dynamite and it exploded. He lost both of his hands, cannot see out of one of his eyes, and has scars covering his neck. What seems like extreme adversary in this boys life has been overwhelming encouraging to me and many others around him. Although I have not spent much time with Marco, his desire to live, learn, and just be a normal kid is incredible. I thank the Lord for this boys life and allowing me to work with him even though it will be for a short period of time. I started him on some basic English introduction and material and I can tell he is going to be dedicated and a quick learner! When I finished teaching him I went down to the dique and sat near the river. I had a nice quiet time beside the river and I enjoyed listening to the water flow. God for knows exactly what I need and His timing is perfect. This morning was one of those mornings I was questioning where the Lord has me. I don't mean why does He have me in Ecuador, but more so the stage of life I am at. I am glad I came across a verse from John 20:29, "Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" Although I have not seen God I believe in His perfect plan for my life, because there are countless times throughout my life His presence is undeniable. I may not know what lies ahead, in fact I don't even know what tomorrow will be like, but I believe it will be good because God is in control. I have had my fair share of doubts, but being unsure of certain things in my life caused me to explore, learn, discover, and grow in my understanding of what it means to walk by faith. As a Christian I am responsible for working through doubts, God meets me where I am at in every struggle and helps me through it, but I must also take action in order to grow. When I got home I had a light supper and listened to My Beloved by Kari Jobe on repeat. This song was exactly what I needed to hear and I just didn't want to stop listening to it! The lyrics are: "You're my beloved, you're my bride to sing over you is my delight. Come away with me my love under my mercy come and wait till we are standing face to face. I see no stain on you my child, you're beautiful to me, so beautiful to me. I sing over you my song of peace cast all your care down at my feet. Come and find your rest in me, I'll breathe my life inside of you, I'll bear you up on eagle's wings and hide you in the shadow of my strength. I'll take you to my quiet waters, I'll restore your soul, come rest in me and be made whole. You're my beloved, you're my bride to sing over you is my delight, come away with me my love." I can just her God singing me this song, because we are his BELOVED children and he delights in each of us. Then it was time to pick up the girls at Pattie Sue's for dance and meet the girls from the orphanage at the Coliseo for zumba! They did a great job participating and working hard at dance, I was very impressed and enjoyed dancing with them. After riding in the back of the taxi to drop them off and taking the girls back to Patti Sue's, Cheralyn and I went to Johnny's for supper. It was pretty late, but we had a lovely conversation and I enjoyed a relaxing end to a loaded day.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

His steadfast love

Marili being lead by Talia on the nature walk!
The first thing I saw on my walk up to the school was Martin falling on the path, but one of the maestros was to the rescue and took his hand to help. It was precious to see him help Martin walk the rest of the way and hear him encourage him the whole time! After morning exercises the sixth and seventh graders started off the school day by leading a nature walk. Everybody in pre-k, 1st, 4th, and 5th grade came along and we went up to the water cisterns. Along the way I ate fresh picked palmito (palm hearts) and caña de monte (bush cane), since we have so many kids from the jungle at Casa de Fe they all know just where to find the food. It is incredible how they can find these tasty treats along the way! When we got back from the the walk Cristofer came over to me, I picked him up, and he said "abrazo grande" (big hug)! He melts my heart, because he is quieter than the other kids, but says the cutest things. There were good apples at snack today which reconfirmed how much I want an apple tree someday. I went to the house to confirm a few things with Patti Sue and Cheralyn, then I found out about a Casa de Fe fun run on Saturday morning. I think the kids will have a ton of fun with this! When I got back up to the school I put stuff on new bookshelves until gym classes started. The fourth and fifth graders were working on a dance in gym class. When we were done practicing they went to play soccer and Anita ended up falling. Whenever I see these kids get hurt
View of "El Altar" mountain on our walk.
 my heart stops because I fear it will be bad, but they are valiant. She was pretty shaken up, so I picked her up and carried her over to the school to calm her down and clean up her cuts. My English girls were very respectful while they were doing their introductions and I was pleased, because we have been working on being good listeners for each other. After school Rebekah was playing the Glee soundtrack and I couldn't help dancing around. I have never really gotten in to the show, but the music is good and Martin thought my dancing was pretty great! Bible club went very well and as usual there was great message for the kids. Genesis sat on my lap and it was super encouraging to hear her talk about God! I love the faith kids have and the good they see, I pray for the hearts of these children because they are beautiful! When Bible Club was all done I met up with Renee so she could introduce me to Marco. She needs some help tutoring him for a few weeks and asked me to help. It was very nice to meet him and in the short amount of time I was there I'm already encouraged. God's hand on his life is incredible and his will to live and overcome challenges is amazing. I got home with just enough time to eat supper and head upstairs for our staff meeting. It was really long, but very good to share joys, struggles, accomplishments, and dreams for Casa de Fe. It really is an incredible body of people working for these kiddos at the orphanage! To close our meeting Psalm 100 was read, "Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. The meeting was over three hours by the time it was done and I was craving cereal, so I went on hunt for it afterwards. I knew I was being optimistic since it was late, but looked anyways only to find everything was closed. However, as I have mentioned many times before my upstairs neighbors are incredible and Tandy came downstairs to bring me box of cereal. They heard the gate open and heard of the failed attempt to find cereal so brought a box for me!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Singing to God

It's hard to keep the kids at Casa de Fe out of this area,
because they always want to look for creatures.
I enjoyed my eggs in the dinning room with the sun shinning through the window! This always makes me ready to take on the day and is such an answer to prayers, because early this year I dreamed about dancing in a sunny window. I knew this year would be one of growth and independence, but my dream and the growth I have experienced has gone far beyond what I envisioned! It was a fabulous walk to school today with fresh smells of the outdoors, nature sounds, and a light breeze on the walk to school. The kids had a blast at morning exercises, because some of the moves were new and I will admit pretty funny looking. The first gym class, with primero, consisted of soccer with Nila and Leah. While we were playing Nila touched a plant to show me how it would shrink back when she touched it. I was amazed, a bit shocked at first, and very intrigued! I had never seen what Rick called "shy grass" and thought it was so cool to see how this plant reacted to being touched. Inicial went on a walk for gym class, but we went along new road. We ended up by the cancha, but we took a gravel road on to our neighbors property, with permission of course. It is funny how I have been so close to this beautiful trail and never imagined how new and different it could be. There were many fruit trees, the river divided up in to many streams, then reconnected, it was very quaint. With the oldest girls we continued practicing their dance, they loved it and were very gracious when I didn't do the moves right. English class went very well again today and our butterfly came back to visit. If it is back tomorrow I may have to catch it and make it a class pet! I walked Martin down to the house this afternoon and although he didn't want to try at first, once he 
Carlos caught a frog!
got going he was moving along and even doing some little hops. When I was all done for the day I crossed a raging stream to get to the house where I watched a movie with the kiddos for a while. Since it rained really hard this afternoon they were all inside. Cheralyn and I stopped by Alexander's on the walk home. By the time I got back to the house there wasn't much time to spare before heading out to O Sole Mio's for my birthday supper round two! I got to celebrate with all of the missionary staff at Casa de Fe and couldn't have been more thankful for this group of people. Their prayers, encouragement, and constant support means a lot to me! I've always been told your birthday isn't over until your last celebration, so I had a super long birthday. After I got back from supper I got to look up at the stars in the night sky and see the big dipper (it was upside down). I went to the nearby bakery to pick up a couple of things before calling it a night. Before heading to bed I read some more from Colossians 3:15-17, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Don't forget to be grateful for what you have and don't have at this very moment. God has equipped you with everything you need at this very moment to give Him all of the glory. I have what I need because I have God, He is all I want!