“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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Our innermost thoughts and desires

Casa de Fe Annual Art Show 2013!
I arrived at my usual time, 8 o'clock, even though it didn't start until 9:30 in order to help however I was needed. There's nothing like some last minute preparations, the biggest thing was hanging up the welcome sign. I helped tie it around the columns inbetween the Ecuadorian flag and Christian flag. I felt very united as teachers today! It was especially wonderful since was a period of time that was tense for some of them, I really think we worked together and did a great job. It was fun to see visitors coming up to the school to see what we put together and the kids were doing a great job. There were down times throughout the day, but there was never a dull moment. In those free times I got to talk with the teachers, dance around with the kids, and replenish the snacks. There was always something to do. The kids had
I love my job and coworkers, Nube, Nelly, and Sylvia!
several performances during the day, every time they got more confident and better. They did awesome! I ate a random array of foods for lunch and drank a surprisingly perfectly slushy coffee, even though I forgot it in the freezer. Before the afternoon session began we were all joking around in the teachers lounge about the icing and I couldn't stop laughing. Shortly after getting back in the swing of things with the tours Jocelyn and I walked to get the a post art show treat at Alexander's. We got a big box of ice cream bars and Israel picked us up on the way back. I'm sure that helped keep the ice cream more frozen, because it was a beautiful afternoon. It's crazy to think I woke up to a thunderstorm during the night and it turned in to a great day, God is good and definitely provided great weather for this special day. It was awesome to see how much the kids
The 6th and 7th graders performing to "Every Move I Make"!
were enjoying this time; they were walking around the school, having fun, and enjoying the company. By the end of the day, at 5 o'clock, they were getting antsy and started trying to find different things to do...they thought it was pretty exciting to chase me around, so that is exactly what they did. I love these kids SO much! After a group effort of cleaning up the school it was pretty late and incredibly peaceful. I was one of the very last people to leave and was really enjoying the still, tranquil, and different feel at the school. I am very used to the hustle and bustle, but it was great to soak in the new scenery as the sun was setting in the mountains. Once I was done at the school I went down to the house and I don't know how to describe it, but it too felt like a different place. Not in a good or bad way, it was just unique being there as the kids were settling down for the evening. On the walk back in to town Jocelyn and I picked up a couple of pops
Veronica, Caila, and Maria were having fun chasing Miss
Edeeka around after the Art Show!
before going to supper at Patti Sue's house. On the street right next to her house there was a group of people playing EcoVolley in the street, they had set us a net and were having a good ol' time. Patti Sue made a delicious supper consisting of teriyaki chicken, pitas with sauteed vegetable and feta cheese, and Greek salad with red & yellow peppers, olives, onions, and cheese! It was so delicious, I hadn't had food that flavorful in a long time. When we all finished eating I colored for a bit, then curled up on the couch to watch a movie with the girls. It was so great hanging out with them, it was exactly what I needed. The Lord is good and know exactly how our hearts need to be filled up, I thank Him for the time I got to spend with Patti Sue, Rosa, Marcia, Julisa, and Marible tonight. Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires." He knows even the smallest wants, needs, and desires we have, God is quick to show us His love and speak to our hearts!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I will give you rest

Javier cleaning up the school grounds
and all the little guys following along!
I didn't take most of my morning off, because I knew there was lots to get done for the art show, but I did take my time getting to school. Most of my morning consisted of cleaning shelves, making posters, and helping any where it was needed. I got to look at all the classrooms and the kids were so proud, since these were projects they had invested in and you could tell they felt accomplished. There was constantly somebody grabbing my hand to show me their room, especially the second and third graders! It was great to see them all so excited about the art they made and how they were presenting their classroom. There were no regular classes today, but during the English class time after lunch all of the kids fourth grade and up were practicing for their tours. They will be presenting the masterpieces in all of the rooms tomorrow and will be guiding them around from room to room. They did a great job even though they were a bit wound up, because they are excited. I went down to the house with Stephanie after school to cut up fruit for the fruit salad that is being served tomorrow. While we were busy working the kids in the toddler room were walking outside to play, as they left the pineapple was being cut up and Samuel caught sight of it and couldn't turn his eyes away. He started saying, "piña, piña, piña, piña, piña, piña, piña, piña..." and walking backwards so he could keep watching us cut it up. Since he was walking backwards, I could see that he was going to walk in to the door and sure enough a few seconds after I said that he did. He was just fine and it broke his focus on the food, but it was funny to see how intrigued he was. Cleaning, cutting, chopping, and mixing a whole bunch of fruit is what I was busy with for quite a while. I enjoyed helping Steph and we had a couple of other helpers too! I got to do a little sewing repair on a pair of shorts before heading back up to the school and tying up loose ends for the art show. After finishing everything at the school I went back to the house to say hello to the toddlers and there was Ronald rolling along on a scooter with a towel tucked in to his shirt. I knew immediately that he was a superhero and I came to find out he was Superman, he is so adorable! The next set of exciting news from the house was Wilson and Javier catching a beautiful bird. They are such jungle boys it is crazy! They
Look at the pretty bird Wilson and Javier caught!
were telling me they saw it, lured it in with a orito (a mini banana), and caught it with Wilson's shirt. When I crossed their path they had it in a big cage and were admiring their work, the continue to impress me with their nature skills. I walked home by myself today and saw a subtle rainbow right as I was sitting down to rest at the dique, I like the afternoon rains because there have been tons of pretty rainbows. I love walking by the Joy's house and getting to catch up with them for a few minutes most days, it is always a nice addition to my journey home. It started sprinkling on me a little, but there was a clear rainbow and a faint double rainbow. It was great! Got home and did a little stretching workout with Jocelyn, cleaned up, and enjoyed supper at home due to it raining really hard. I went to bed really early last night, but woke up several times due to the house phone ringing, my cell phone ringing, and somebody hollering in the street late at night. I didn't get quite as much sleep as I had hoped for since I went to bed so early, but at least I tried! Exodus 33:14, "And He (Jesus) said, 'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" No matter how tired, worn out, and sleepy I am, there is rest in the Lord and I will cling to Him always!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Earnestly seek Him

I never get sick of the kids running up to me and giving me a big hug. It is always a wonderful way for me to start the day! I got to tutor little Maria on the Spanish alphabet and numbers this morning and I loved it. I love the one on one time tutoring offers and I am thankful I got to work with her and see where she is at this morning. A first grade boy that just stole my heart had a break down today and was having a crying fit today. Since I can recognize his cry from a mile away, I walked down to help bring him up to the library so he could calm down. After talking to him I started walking up the stairs smiled at him and he walked up to me quickly, grabbed my hand, and willing walked in to the library and laid his head down to rest. It is moments like this that make me love my job even more! Seriously, I am honored to have a job that can touch the hearts of kids. As a teacher I have the opportunity to spend time with kids every day and I get to help shape their lives. Although some days it is the hardest job in the world and my patience may run thin, at the end of every day I thank God for another opportunity to care for, love, and mold young lives! During break time I played soccer with a whole bunch of kids and enjoyed a fried empanada when I was done. Gym class with primero was good and the second & third grade class was great too. Two of the second grade girls thought their classmates were cheating (trampear), but they were able to get over it eventually. Sometimes it is hard to tell if things are in or out of bounds, because we don't have a well groomed court to play on. The fourth and fifth graders did awesome in class again, they have been doing such a great job participating! We lost power at the school for a few hours today, it's not unusual to lose power, but usually it isn't for as long. Thankfully my lunch didn't require electricity or I would have been really hungry. After school I helped gather up some cleaning materials for the school before leaving. Yesterday was spent scrubbing walls and today sucking up some bugs and spider webs was going to take place with the ShopVac. Before heading off to Bible Club I stopped at the house to say goodbye to the Tias. I like how I have gotten to know them, one of the Tias likes to tease me a little bit which reminds me of time with my relatives, I feel right at home. I was incredibly grateful for the time of worship
Construction at the soccer field.
at Bible Club, I was on door duty so I got to stand by the door and worship from the back. I was able to sing along undistracted, feel the gentle breeze, and rest in God's presence. I had run in to one of the worship leaders last night while I was running errands and he was looking for a missing little girl that attends Bible Club. I am glad to say she was found safe and sound with her doggy and was at Bible Club worshiping this afternoon. Our focus verse was Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." I walked past the construction of the bleachers at Shell's soccer field and saw a lot of progress. The last contractor started the project years ago, but ran off with the money before it was finished and it sat their unfinished for a long time. Now they are making progress and it should be finished and look great in no time. I stopped by the Despendida (going away party) for one of the families in town and it was great to see so many families gathered to celebrate their time in Ecuador. The missionary community here is so special! Then I got some groceries and grabbed ice cream for the way home! I was able to spend the rest of the night relaxing and catching up on some much needed sleep.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The standard of measurement

I walked to a bakery store first thing this morning to pick up a roll for my lunch. It was drizzling on the way there, but it was refreshing to be outside early in the day! The drizzle turned in to a hard rain on my walk to school, and I was soaked by the time I got there. When I was near the house heading up to the school there were a group of kids hollering "Miss Eddeka", because they needed help with Martin since it was raining so hard. They wanted me to help so he wouldn't get wet and although I was more than willing to help, I was totally drenched so I'm not so sure I solved the problem! I slowly dried off this morning as I spent time organizing the library and going through books. It is always a tedious task, but important to keep things in order for the kids. Both of my gym classes with the smaller guys were good today. Inicial did a great job following my lead and the Primero class were good listeners too. When I was teaching the Inicial gym class I was shocked to see a little boy trying to wipe his boogers in another boy's hair, you never know what they are going to do next! I took the oldest girls down to the cancha and they did very well. All of the 6th and 7th were participating and having a good time. Right at the end of class the whole top of a palm tree fell off the trunk. The leaves and everything were dead already, but it was crazy how the whole top just fell off! It smelt really bad too, it took me a minute to figure out what it was but it was a scent from the tree that smelt like somebody stepped in dog droppings. Yuck! After re-taping some of the art I hung yesterday, I helped a group of girls scrub the school walls. We are doing a clean sweep for the art show and each day it gets a bit cleaner. Before venturing home I hung out with the toddlers,
Sausti and Denis, their smiles are priceless!
they are so very precious. Caila organized a choir of toddlers and they sang a rendition of "Feliz Cumpleanos" to Jessica, Jocelyn, and I. It definitely isn't any of our birthday's, but it was a beautiful song and we got to pretend and blow out candles too! Jessica came over after work and we did the insanity fitness test an aerobic dancing video, it was pretty intense. I was ready for some food afterwards and Jocelyn had seen a shake place here and we decided to try it. I can't say I would recommend it to anyone here, but it was worth a try, live and learn! Later I walked to the bakery and found a performance happening at the Coliseo. It was called "Somos Cultura", a show put on by the government, it was kind of a cross between a silent film and dancing. It was interesting and I'm glad I sat down to watch it, because I had never seen a performance quite like it before. 2 Corinthians 10:10-13, "For some say, 'Paul’s letters are demanding and forceful, but in person he is weak, and his speeches are worthless!' Those people should realize that our actions when we arrive in person will be as forceful as what we say in our letters from far away. Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant! We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you." The standard of measurement is different everywhere, and it is easy to compare ourselves to others. We can create a standard that we are able to measure up well against and I admit to doing this time and time again. When I create the standard and adjust it as I change it is easy to have high measurements, but I must realize only my actions done for God’s glory matter. If we try to compare ourselves to others we tend to find ourselves being better than or not good enough in their presence. Every day I need to let God be the ultimate guide and not let others be my standard, my eyes are fixed on Christ!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Justified by His grace

It was a sunny morning in Shell and I was excited, since there hasn't been one in a while. When I arrived at Casa de Fe I saw Martin making his way up to the school all on his own, he was rockin' it! He made it 2/3 of the way completely on his own, then needed some help from me, but for the most part he made it by himself! The chapel skit was about goodness starring Professor Mantis, Robot Rick, and Miss Erica. The kids really seem to enjoy our skits and I like improving for the kids, so it is a lot of fun. The verse for the Week is Titus 3:1-7, "Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." I thank God for His gentleness and the ways He guides me through life, He is rich in mercy! When I got into the pre-k classroom they were finishing up a painting activity, so as the kids finished I was able to start the warm up activity with them and it worked very well.
We have a pet snake at the school, sorry mom don't look!
I was able to get them set up in pairs and get them started in groups of two, so they were able to focus better! They had a great day in gym class. On the other hand, my first graders were very distracted. There were people coming and going throughout the gym class and I could not keep their attention, hopefully tomorrow is better. I started a new unit with my 4th and 5th graders and they did such an awesome job, they were excited, motivated, hard working, focused, and having
fun! Before I knew it, it was time for lunch where enjoyed a delicious dessert of strawberries and coffee with sweet and condensed milk. The girls in my English class were all pumped up, they did a great job. When I was writing the calendar on the board they started counting the ordinal numbers all on their own, I was a very proud teacher! I like teaching this small group of girls so much. After school I watched the kids play with the school snake for a while, then all of us teachers were busy preparing rooms for our art open house on Friday. I hung up a bunch of art projects around rooms and took down bulletin boards. When it was time to head home I filled up some water jugs to bring home and was off. On the way I saw little girls playing on homemade skis. They were pulling each other along the sidewalk on two liter coke bottles and strings, it was so creative. I had just enough time to clean up and go to Johnny's with Jocelyn to meet up with some girls that used to missionaries here. We ran in to them at the bakery on our way home from frisbee yesterday and I asked them if we could meet up sometime while they were here. I was glad to hear from them and we were able to meet up
Ashley, Kim, and Barbara, they are our new friends!
tonight! After great conversation over supper we stopped by Alexander's for ice cream, then went to their grandma's house to chat some more. Mika's grandma is the lady who makes arroz con pollo for the teams that volunteer at Casa de Fe, I like small town connections! It was such a blessing to hear about their faith, how the Lord has led them, and how the Lord continues to lead them. God knew that was the encouragement I needed!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I kneel before the Father

I ate a little breakfast before getting ready and walking to church. There was some great music at the beginning of church and based on what I was able to follow the message was good too! I hung out and chatted with a group of people after church for quite a while leaving. I like spending time with people and getting to know them, so whenever there is an opportunity I enjoy learning more about them. On the way home I took a detour to pick up some second breakfast, it consisted of a chocolate swirled roll and a doughnut. I toasted the roll and topped it off with cinnamon sugar, it was great. I spent a while having a quiet time and read Ephesians 3:14-21, "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." This was such great scripture to stumble upon and I couldn't have found better encouragement for the day if I had been searching for it! God is the holder of all glorious riches and sent His precious Son so that we may live. It is through Him I have been given strength, even in my weakest moments the comfort of the Lord has surpassed all understanding. When I gave God my heart I became rooted in love and
Bienvenidos a Shell de Nieva Blanco!
(Welcome to Shell from Snow White)
it is my prayer that I may continue to see the immeasurable extent of His love for me. After a while I made lunch, relaxed, and semi-accidentally took a nap, but it was great! When I woke up it wasn't long before Jocelyn and I walked to the frisbee field. We walked by the great Bienvenidos a Shell (Welcome to Shell) sign, which you probably would have never guessed, it Nieva Blanco (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). It was a small group of us playing frisbee this week, but it was fun getting to be actively involved and everybody got to participate! We walked home and stopped to pick up ranch dressing for salads and my lunch roll for tomorrow. There wasn't much time to spare, so right when we got home we started cleaning the vegetables, chopping them up, and got right to eating. The ranch dressing from Italy's makes all food a little better! A bit before 7:30 Jocelyn and I walked over to Dwight and Tandy's for prayer, it's was weird not being able to just mosey on up from downstairs, but it was definitely worth it. I cherish my time in Ecuador, I know this is exactly where God wanted me right now and I am continually encouraged by our Sunday nights praying together. We had great fellowship, worship music, and a time of prayer. I am unbelievably thankful for their constant prayer over my life and the transitions that are drawing ever nearer. The song that I couldn't get enough of tonight was Hungry by Kathryn Scott: "Hungry, I come to you for I know You satisfy. I am empty, but I know Your love does not run dry. So I wait for you, so I wait for You, I’m falling on my knees offering all of me, Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for. Broken, I run to You for Your arms are open wide. I am weary, but I know Your touch restores my life. So I wait for you, so I wait for You, I’m falling on my knees offering all of me, Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for!" This was exactly what I needed to hear, sometimes I try to fill my hunger for more of Jesus with other things, but nothing else can satisfy. The deep longing in each an every one of our hearts is for more of Him, it is my prayer that we may all seek Him more!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wisdom will enter your heart

Today's scripture was inspired by one of the older girls at Casa de Fe! The other day she had written the verse Proverbios 2:10, "Porque la sabiduría entrará en tu corazón, y el conocimiento será grato a tu alma." I knew it had to knowledge and decided to look deeper into this scripture, it is beautiful and full of wisdom! Proverbs 2:1-11, "My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you." It is directly from the Lord that knowledge comes and it is His great wisdom I want more of. God's knowledge goes far beyond an understanding of something, because it reaches from our minds and sinks deep into our hearts. It is His perfect understanding that guards me and gives my soul peace. My alarm clock is no longer the roosters in Shell, but the dog choir! After rolling out of bed I made myself some breakfast, lounged around, then walked over to the Freeman's house. As I was walking by the park Jason and the
Water balloon fight!
young girls were playing at the park, so I stopped to chat and ended up walking the rest of the way with them since they were heading that way too. When I first arrived the older girls were busy coloring and I watched them for a while before going downstairs to start sewing. The Freeman girls have apron kits and I was going to help them with some sewing, but right as we were getting started there were no scissors. Eventually we tried to use kitchen sheers because they were the only ones in the house, however, they weren't cutting well. After calling around and not being able to get a hold of any we decided to postponed this activity. I am hoping there is enough time to try it again, I feel like time is passing by so fast it will be gone before I know it. I ended up hanging out at their house for the rest of the morning and chatting with Stephanie, this was such a blessing. The Lord knows what we need and when we need it, her good company was wonderful! Right before lunch Joel and Duvi were filling up water balloons and I got to participate in their water activities. I had a rain poncho on and didn't really get wet, but it was a blast running around with Abi, Anna, Ainsleigh, Joel, and Duvi! It has been a while since I've participated in a water fight and my aim was a bit off, in fact, I don't think any of the water balloons I threw actually hit anybody! I would like to have another one and hopefully I can hit my targets. I helped heat up some food and got to eat with everybody before going to the market and SuperTia's in Puyo. There was a group of us missionaries that piled out of
The market in Puyo.
the truck and picked up some fresh fruit. Rebekah bought a couple of interesting sounding foods at the market, they were both wrapped in leaves. The first one was humitas which was steamed and salty, the other was quimbolitos which was sweet. I was pleasantly surprised by how good both of them were! Once we returned home Jeff came in to check out the water heater we have been having trouble with. It should be and if not, I think we know how to get to work. Yay for hot water! A little while later we were having problems with the washing machine and Jeff was nearby, so he stopped over and helped us again. I am incredibly grateful for the help. I went grocery shopping and extended errands with a walk around town. I like exploring and people watching by walking a lot. I ended up running in to Joel and was able to say goodbye to him, I also saw Marco at a program. I was curious as to what the program was about and while I was standing at the gate watching the boy I tutored came over to me and we were able to catch up since we weren't able to meet the last two weeks. I walked from the fruit stand by the military base, near the Coliseo, and down to the dique. There were lots of people at the dique, but not as many as I was expecting for a nice Saturday afternoon. As I walked back up the big hill I passed a boy with special needs. Immediately I felt my heart be drawn to Him, because God has given people with special needs a big place in my heart! It was wonderful to see him surrounded by a family taking good care of him, I continued walking up the hill with the Lord's peace and joy for this young man's life. When I got home I made myself some supper, worked on my laundry, and got ready for bed. Around 7:30 it started to pour and I sat on our tiny covered porch to listen to the rain. The area was just barely big enough to stay out of the rain and since the wind was blowing the mist hit me as I sat in a chair praying and thanking God. I am amazed without ceasing at how He continues to draw me closer and reveals more of His heart. When the Lord looks at me I am His precious daughter, He doesn't notice my frizzy hair, the scars from my knee surgery, bug bites, my farmers tan, and smelly feet...He sees my heart. The same goes for everybody, God is not concerned with how we appear, but with how we seek Him. He cares about our hearts and wants to bless us so much, but we must first give God our hearts and allow Him to fill each longing in this life!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The one who had mercy

Sheila and I with our gafas (glasses)!
There was a moderate earth quake between Shell and Baños early in the morning, the epicenter was about 30km away from me and I didn't even know it. I must have been pretty tired, because the magnitude was a 4.8. It happened at 5:42am and I woke up right around that time, I thought it was just from street noise, but maybe it was from the earthquake! I walked up to Casa de Fe this morning to met up with the team. There was no school today, on May 24th, 1822 the Battle of Pichincha took place the Royalist forces loyal to Spain were defeated bringing about the liberation of Quito. It is now a holiday and the day on which the President was inaugurated. Since there was no school I took charge of the volunteers and paired them with kids for a field trip in to the park. It took a little while to get all of this figured out, but in no time we were on our way. There was one group member off buying bus tickets for their departure and I had a buddy for myself, so once she got there I let her take my buddy to spend the morning with. The kids were having a blast running around and I think the adults were exhausted, but the kiddos didn't mind. While we were there one of the girls had to go to the bathroom and since the park one was closed I took her over to Alexander's and was able to confirm that we had a team coming in at lunch time. It worked out very nicely! We sang happy birthday to Nicol at the park in English and Spanish since it was her special day, then were ready to head back. One of the little boys was really mad about leaving and he tends to get stubborn, after not being able to get him to do anything for five I made an executive decision to try carrying him a little ways to see if he could get his emotions together. Unfortunately I tried several times to sit him down and put his shoes on so he could walk, but he couldn't bring himself to do it which meant I carried him from the park in the middle of town to the orphanage. Wowza that was tiring in the late morning sun! We hung out at the house before journeying to Alexander's and as we left Sheila was being a goofy girl. She was greeting me with a kiss on the cheek over and over and had these silly glasses she was balancing on her face, she is hilarious!
The little guys enjoing the team's activities!
Lunch at Alexander's was great as usual and followed by an ice cream cone for dessert. I wish I could go there more often, but I am really able to appreciate it when I can go since it's not very often. When we got back to the house it was still nap time for the kids and the team preparing, so I had a nap time outside. It was great! The team split the kids up in to an older and a younger group, there was a message and fun activities for the kids. The little ones started with a message and ended with games and face painting activities, but the older ones started with games then had a message about the good Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37, "On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' 'What is written in the Law?' he replied. 'How do you read it?' He answered, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 'You have answered correctly,' Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.' But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' In reply Jesus said: 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
I captured a picture of the "lion dog"
on the journey home.
'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'" I love this scripture and am glad the older kids got to see it in the form of a skit and discuss it afterwards. God has asked us to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. Out of this great love for God we called to love our neighbors as ourselves and everybody around us are our neighbors, it is easy to love those who love us, but we are called to love and care for those who don't like us too. The Lord shows mercy and compassion to all and so we are asked to have mercy on others, to build them up, support, and care for all just as Christ did. It does not matter what our social status is or what we have accomplished, what matters is how we have loved. I like being able to communicate with the Tias so much, they are great ladies and being able to joke around with Geidi is fun. Shortly before leaving Edison hit somebody and felt really bad, so bad that he started crying. I went over there to sign with and communicate to him that he was sorry, needs to be gentle, and that he is still good boy. Sometimes the kids feel
The cotton candy sky!
like when they do something bad they are bad and I wanted to make sure he knew he was still good, but needs to be gentle. He responded very well and I was excited to see he was able to come back and play the game! I was home for a little bit before walking over to Dwight and Tandy's house, along the way I couldn't stop staring at the beautiful sunset, the clouds were pink, orange, and some were a baby blue that I had never seen before. The sky was so unique and incredible, I had just finished saying it looked like cotton candy and when we turned down the street I smelt something sweet, just like cotton candy! Tandy made a delicious meal of taco soup, corn bread, and fruit salad, it was all accompanied by great conversation. After a while we ate ice cream sundaes and played a wild west card game (it's a little bit like mafia) called BANG.  Dwight told some comments and good jokes that reminded me of my dad, such a great sense of humor! It was an awesome night at the Martin's with Jessica, Joel, Rick, and Rebekah.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Each according to his ability

I spent part of the morning at home working, but decided to go in around ten today to see how everybody was doing after a tough day yesterday. Things seemed to be going pretty well and I was able to get some work done at school. I arrived during snack time and when I saw Nila, she was asking me when she got to have gym class with me again. I told her it wouldn't be today, but the next time we have school (Monday), she was really excited and did a little happy scream. It was priceless to see her be super excited about Physical Education, I could tell the kids like the activities a lot, but actually hearing it was priceless! Surprise, it turned out the next time I had gym with Nila and her first grade class was five minutes after it was supposed to start. Apparently I have been missing a gym class for the the Inicial and Primero classes since I got here, but when there was another gym teacher it wasn't a problem. Since it wasn't on my schedule I didn't know about it, but I need to work it in to my schedule now. The Inicial class had a field trip this morning, so I only had the First graders and they did such a good job with the parachute. At first they were distracted by the Coral snake the maestros killed over by the bodega, but once I got their focus they did awesome! I have to admit my fear of snakes is becoming less, I thank God for only having distant encounters, but I know I am learning to not be so scared of them. The second and third grade class were all a bit off task today, they seemed to take turns pouting and nobody wanted to work. I was prepared for this though, since school was cancelled yesterday and there is no school tomorrow because of the holiday. There was volunteer observing this class and initially I was hoping they would cooperate so he can see what they are capable of, but at the same time the behaviors and situations he saw were very real. I don't know what joys  and challenges I am going to face with each set of kids on any given day, but I do know at the end of every day I love what I am doing. I have to opportunity to teach and care for these kiddos and wouldn't trade it for anything right now. Some days the struggles out weigh the joys, but I can always turn to God and see Him in all the situations. I started a new unit with the sixth and seventh graders, they were excited and very well behaved! Then I had a lunch break before my English girls showed up, they were all late for class today. It happens once in a while, but usually it is only one of them, so after two of them arrived 5 minutes late I started class and the others joined a little bit later. They must have been eating slow or doing dished down in the house. They did wonderful in English class, I love their enthusiasm about class and their willingness to participate. We even got to test on the letter of the week since they are picking up on it so quickly! After library I hopped from helping with flashcards and making bracelets with the girls. Caila made Joel and I some fine jewelry, she was proud of her work! This little lady has such a giving heart,
Caila made Joel and I beautiful necklaces and bracelets!
I am excited to see where the Lord leads her. Before leaving school for the day, I filled up a two liter with water to haul home. There is no water filter at my new house, so get to experience what it is like to haul drinking water. It was only two liters and about a mile walk, but it really makes me appreciate the lengths to which some people go in order to have fresh drinking water. Don't take something as seemingly simple as clean water for granted! On the way home Jocelyn and I picked up another set of keys for our house, it is nice to have two sets of keys now. Then we went upstairs to get Johnathan and I walked them to meet up with Jess and Joel. I went out to eat at a pizza place called Hut Cheese, yes I did mean Hut Cheese not Cheese Hut. The name threw me off a little bit, don't be fooled by the name it is the best pizza in Ecuador! I had the chicken, bacon, ham pizza and it was so good, their ice cream dessert was tasty too. Jocelyn and I watched Johnathan for a while tonight while the Martin's were out celebrating their anniversary, so I got to watch some good Disney movies before going to bed! Matthew 25:14-18, "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money." God has called us to be good stewards of what we have been given, not dwell on what others around us have. He has given to us according to our abilities and with what He has given us we are asked to multiply. I was reading thoughts from my friend Dan about this scripture and I thought he did a great job, so I wanted to share it: "Comparison is a powerfully negative attitude, it hampers growth and cuts off dreams. Comparison occurs when one focuses on others, longing to be like or not like them, rather than focusing independently on God. God asks us to steward what we have, not what we don't have. If we only have 1 mina (money in ancient Greece) and feel insignificant compared to the person who has 10, we will never invest to see increase in our own lives. Chances are, the person with 10 minas started with fewer but made different decisions in similar circumstances. It is how we steward the little things that causes God to trust is with big things. People who have been entrusted with big things have just invested what they had when they had it. God isn't overly concerned about quantity but quality. If you don't 'give' when you don't have a lot of money you surely won't 'give' if you have an abundance. God knows this, so He trusts those who have been faithful with little. Be faithful with what you have, not with what you don't have. Focus on what God wants for you now, not what you hope to happen in the future. If you tend to the 1 it will surely grow and multiply; by then your mind will be renewed to align with God's, and the quantity won't matter to you. You recognize that it is a gift to steward to bless others. These principles are true with money, influence, friendships, character, and many more areas of life. What are you doing with what you have? Are you being faithful, or have you become obsolete in your own eyes because you compare yourself with others?" I really appreciated reading this scripture and seeing Dan's blog, because comparison is something that is easy for me and so many others to fall in to. We place expectations on ourselves based on what others might think and trying to impress them, but the only thing that matters is bringing glory to God. I know there have been times in my life I base my decisions and judgements based on what others, but those are ways of the world. Relationships were created to draw one another to God and come in different shapes and sizes. God is the perfect with a great plan far great than I could dream, it is my prayer that I can see past peoples physical appearances, possessions, accomplishments, and look deeper in to their heart to build them up in Christ!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Compassion to his children

A basket of cards filled with scripture and words of hope.
My roommate was hearing some strange noises in the middle of the night and after waking up a little bit we went to make sure all our doors were locked and the gate closed. We figured out it was just our neighbors so everything was fine, but new noises in this new house can make it difficult to sleep. When it was time to get going for the day I was a bit, because my sleep has been restless for the past few nights. However, all of my small inconveniences were turned upside down when I was walking up to school. I found out one of my co-worker's baby passed away and for a moment it felt like the world pause as I grieved for her loss. This teacher has had a very difficult year and when I heard she lost her six month old boy it broke my heart. The team volunteering at Casa de Fe, the maestros, and profesoras made a big circle and prayed her this morning before doing anything else. While we were praying one of the maestros mentioned Psalm 103:11-16, "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more." God is good at all times and holds His children in the palm of His hands at all times. Our lives here on earth are gone in the blink of an eye, but the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting and will forever be with us. In moments of despair He has not forgotten us, but given us an opportunity to rely on Him. I thank God for His greatness and perfect love. School was cancelled due to the death of her baby, but the kids 4th grade and up came up to the school to make cards. We spent about an hour making elaborate cards with Bible verses and words of encouragement and the kids did such a great job. After a while we loaded up the vehicles to go and visit her with the older kids and after a pit stop at the flower shop and Rick and Rebekah's we arrived at her house. Each of us hand delivered the cards we made, it was really powerful and emotional. Seeing her hurting so much was really tough, but I was filled with comfort knowing God is present and that she had people to love her and be around her. Seeing how us as a teaching staff came together to lift her up really was a beautiful thing. The kids left around lunch time and at that time the missionary teachers went to Chifa China for lunch and brought a bunch back to those at the house. We sat with her more until the service and burial procession to Puyo. It was truly touching to see a ton of Casa de Fe staff there to support her, it is a beautiful little family we have here. After a long and emotional day I went home to clean up, then Jocelyn and I walked over to the Martin's to meet up with them. We all went out to supper at the fried Chicken place across the street from Italy's. It was super greasy and really good! On the walk home we picked up ice cream from Alexander's and I had the mora y coco (coconut not chocolate)! Then we went back over to their house and watched So you Think You Can Dance with Tandy. After a good evening with great friends we walked home and enjoyed a dog choral on the way. I couldn't help but think of 101 Dalmatians as the dogs seemed to have a barking chain to communicate.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Every creature in heaven and on earth

The day started off right by praying for the birthday boy, Carlos. He was so precious with his little hands folded and head bowed as one of the teachers was getting ready to pray for him, it warmed my heart. A while later as I was heading downstairs I dropped off some supplies in the fourth grade room and was greeted with a nice welcome by both Caila and Javier. It was a surprise and so respectful! I spent a while organizing the library before snack, then had some volquetero to eat. It was really yummy, and followed by a time of helping the first graders walk across the rocks during the break. I think walking and jumping across the big rocks lined up in the front of the school is one of their favorite pass times. When I had the combined gym class of the smallest guys, things started off really well and continued for most of the class. They did a good job lining up and going to their places around the parachute, but by the end of it, it was chaos. They all started trying to run under it at the same time and we ended up having to stop a bit early because they couldn't handle anymore. I think I might go back to using the smaller parachute, even though the bigger one can be a lot more fun, it may be too much for them. On the way down to the cancha with the big girls I managed to trip over the chain to stop cars from driving up to the school. Now when I say I tripped I don't mean I stumbled, I totally sprawled out face first on the rocks. It didn't hurt too bad, but the frisbees I was holding flew and were all over the place, it was rather embarrassing at first but a humbling experience. My gym class didn't get much better after the fall...I was struggling to get the girls to work hard, they were participating, but half-heartedly and I want them to be having fun. They are so talented and I know once they get in to an activity all of them will do well and have a good time, but sometimes it is very challenging to reach that point. I was feeling frustrated and at a loss of what to do, one the way back up to the school I was having trouble holding back tears. However, in that moment I was overwhelmed by the compassion Jeny had for me. She must have been able to tell I was overwhelmed, because she came up beside me and put her arm around me. God knew that was exactly what I needed, then a bunch of the girls apologized to me before heading to lunch. Wow, that was powerful! As I continued walking from the house to the school Caila gave me a huge hug, Genesis ran up to me, and I saw a beautiful blue butterfly. According to the Rainforest
The metallic Blue Morpho butterfly I saw!
Alliance website the Blue Morpho butterfly is know for their vivid, iridescent blue coloring. It is a result of light reflecting off the microscopic scales on the backs of their wings. The underside of the morpho’s wings is a dull brown color with eyespots to provide camouflage against predators when its wings are closed. When this butterfly flies, the contrasting bright blue and dull brown colors flash, making it look like the morpho is appearing and disappearing. It was such a reminder of God's brilliant beauty both when it is brilliantly beautiful and when it seems to be camouflage. Revelations 5:13, "And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!'" I was reminded of God's great beauty in small creatures when I saw this Blue Morpho butterfly this afternoon. I took my time heading up to lunch to regroup for the rest of the day, then I got to enjoy a couple of different fried rices prepared by Rebekah. My English class went very well and the learning was made complete with laughs. Their laughs are priceless, I love the feeling of belonging that has been created in our class! Library rushed by and after school program consisted mostly of making bracelets with a few of the girls. It was fun to see how much it interests them and how good at it they are, when I was their age it was one of my favorite summer activities. My older cousins would teach me cool new patterns and we would make them together for hours. After everything was wrapped up at the school, Jocelyn and I walked home in the rain. It must have been raining pretty hard, because by the time I made it home the front and back of my pants were almost completely drenched and water had seeped through my raincoat. My jacket definitely wasn't made for rainforest rains! I had a little less than two hours to rest before taking the girls to the Coliseo for dance. I picked up Patti Sue's girls a bit before 6:30, then met up with Joel, Jessica, and the other girls there. It was fun to see them all dancing and having a good time. Once we got all the girls home, I went to the market and bakery before heading home for the night.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Awake my soul and sing

Parachute fun, so fun!
I slept a little bit better last night, but the street noise seems louder in this house since it is filled with tile. Also, I noticed I was having trouble falling asleep, because it was too dark. Am I afraid of the dark? As of right now I would have to say yes, I got so used to sleeping in a fairly bright room even when my overhead light was off and now it is completely dark! I woke up bright and early  to enjoy a relaxing morning. It was a wet and rainy walk to school and I  ran in to a Tia along the way. When I made it to school I was pretty warm, but after I cooled down from the walk I got rather cold because I was really wet from the rain. It continued to rain most of the morning, but eventually I dried off. I wasn't sure if my gym activity was going to work due to the rain, however, I was thrilled when I went to the house to get a sheet of some sort as a substitute and came back to the school with a real mini parachute! It worked out wonderfully combining the pre-k and first grade gym classes to continue the parachute unit. It was pretty wild again, but the kids did better than the first day so we're making progress! They just get so excited about it that they don't want to wait their turn, these little guys are cute. I had to go back down to the house to get a couple more snacks since there were not enough for all of us. I was able to communicate clearly and get the extra snacks we needed, although I may have explained it in a roundabout way the Tia understood! She did not comment on my Spanish, but others have complimented me on my improvement in the past couple of weeks. I know I don't speak perfectly and I still have a lot to learn, but it is encouraging to know I am doing well with the language. God is good and has definitely been answering my prayers for an understanding of Spanish! I enjoyed a nice packed lunch before going down to my English classroom, my class went pretty well today. They all like to hide in different places around the room before class and see if I can find them or notice they're there, my girls are too funny! Everything went smooth with school store, it is great having them color their pictures upstairs right next to the store. I like how they are all done with their homework and are able to come over whenever their name is called. After walking home from work I stopped by Tandy's to pick up a few things for our house and it was nice being able to chat with her! I heard the song Awakening by Chris Tomlin on my way out and it was exactly what I needed to hear. The lyrics are: "In our hearts, Lord, in this nation awakening. Holy Spirit, we desire awakening. For You and You alone awake my soul, awake my soul and sing. For the world You love, Your will be done, let Your will be done in me. In Your presence, in Your power, awakening. For this moment, for this hour, awakening. For You and You alone awake my soul, awake my soul and sing. For the world You love, Your will be done, let Your will be done in me. Like the rising sun that shines from the darkness comes a light, I hear Your voice and this is my awakening." God is constantly awakening my soul to His perfect presence, peace, and power! I continue to see how His plan is perfect, although there are unexpected turns, new ways, and different beginnings it is all beautiful! I enjoyed some cereal for supper, then went to the bakery to pick up tomorrow's lunch before an early bedtime!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

For the joy of the Lord is your strength

I woke up before the sun to join Geidi at a market in Puyo. First thing in the morning every Sunday, a Casa de Fe Tia goes to this huge market to get all the food for the week. I walked from my new house over to the Coliseo, was picked up in the truck, and we were off to Puyo. I was really excited to join and curious about what it would be like. When we arrived I didn't think it was that big, but quickly learned there were several open buildings that were a part of it, not just the one I had originally seen. There was so much produce to see and smell, there were clothes too! We got to sample some of the food we were getting at the market and went around to different venders to get what was needed. When we finished at the market we went to a butchery for meat and another shop to pick up a bunch of spices. I made it to church pretty late, around nine, but it was just fine. I stayed to chaperon the kid's Bible classes and walked all fourteen of them back to Casa afterwards. When we all got there safe and sound Jocelyn, Thalia, Abigail, and I went over to the Freeman's for Ainsleigh's birthday. We stopped to pick up fruits and veggies on the way, the second shop we stopped at was for the vegetables and while we were there it started pouring. We decided to keep on walking and got drenched, but such is life in the rainforest! I ate a chicken dinner
Jocelyn and I at Ainsleigh's birthday!
with the Freeman's, Joel, and the girls which was very nice. After eating the preparations began and I helped with the food and decorating for the party. I have enjoyed back to back celebrations, because it means we get to be surrounded by community! The party was at the Nate Saint School Cancha, with the missionaries and Casa de Fe maestros. There was a lot of food and for the second day in a row I consumed too much sugar, but it was all so good! I really enjoy talking to everybody, catching up with old friends, meeting new people, and hearing about their stories because everybody is so unique. Around 4:30 the party ended and ultimate frisbee began, Jeff came by the cancha with all the kids from Casa de Fe and I jumped in. It was mostly Casa de Fe kids and staff playing today, but there were a few others there and we had a great time. I decided to walk home and enjoyed it very much, it is a bit farther to go now, but nice when I just want to unwind. Shortly after arriving home Jocelyn and I walked around town picking up various groceries. Throughout the day I have been reminded not only about how we treat people, but how we look at them and I mean that in so much more than how we physically see people. When we look at people we can see them for the wrongs they have done, their shortcomings, and sins, OR we can look at them as God does thanks to Jesus Christ. Looking at people's hearts and caring for them how they are and where they are at is what God has called me to do, and although there are times it will be hard it is always worth it. I pray that my encounters with people are treasured, valuable, and treated as if it is the last time I will be with them, because I never know when that will be. Nehemiah 8:10, "And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." In all situations, at all times my hope and joy is in God, because He is always good and has gone before me!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Your obedience is known to all

Tia Geidi and I!
Yesterday I began my day with another quiet time at the Martin's. I was reading through Romans 16:19&20, "For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." The Lord has gone before me and calls me to seek what is good, pure, and true. After a nice quiet time I read a LeapFrog book with Johnathan and before I knew it I should have been walking out the door for work. I was running late for school...again, but I made it up there in time for instructions. We spent all morning doing lice treatments with the kids, I turned in my grades, and spent time hanging out with the kids. I got a ride home for lunch and Tandy made me a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich before I went over to the guest house. Then I jumped on the bus with the team for a Baños getaway! As I predicted shortly after taking off I fell asleep and before I knew it, it was around 3pm and we were there. The hotel I stayed at was right near the Holy Water waterfall and springs. It was a beautiful view. We toured the town and did some shopping before supper. I enjoyed the best burger in Ecuador complete with bacon, pulled pork, a fried egg, avocado, and caramelized onions, yum! Following supper we found a Nice Cream heladoria and walked around the town. It has been a huge blessing getting to spend time with some of my Cobber friends and getting to
Jocelyn, Eric, Morgan, and I posing
for our events...Cobber track!
know them more, they are wonderful folks. I was off to bed early, because some people were planning on hiking and I wanted to go with. I must have been nervous my alarm wouldn't go off and I would oversleep, because I woke up several times in the middle of the night to check the time. As usual I woke up at six in the morning, I guess sleeping in would not have been an issue. This morning those of us that wanted to go met up at 7am and hiked up the the Statue of the Virgin Mary. Most of the group was booking it, but I was taking my time. We took stairs up, they are kind of how I imagine the Great Wall of China and it felt like it at time too! There were about 500 stairs (somebody was counting them), then we walked over to the trail and followed it down. I descended slow in order to take in the sights, beautiful smells, and flowers! It was beautiful and all too often I miss those beautiful sights right beside me. When we got back to the hotel, I had breakfast with Patti Sue, then ran a few errands before heading home to Shell. I rode with Patti Sue and she gave me a tour along the way. She took the original road around one of the tunnels to show me what it used to be like getting to Shell, it would have been scary on a gravel road and no banister to keep cars from going over the
Standing on a banister with Baños in the background!
edge, it was a unique experience. We also madea pit stop just outside the town of Rio Negro and she showed me a huge waterfall, now I want to take a trip there to hike down it sometime! I made it back around one o'clock and headed straight over to Jason's surprise birthday party. I missed the surprise part of it, but spent the rest of the afternoon with the missionaries at the Hosteria Shell pool. Around 4:30 I helped clean up, headed over to Dwight and Tandy's, and loaded up my stuff to move. I have been hesitant about moving and not really wanting to, because I was so comfortable where I was at. The house I was living in has been my home here in Ecuador and I liked it a lot, but life is not always about being comfortable. Moving is an opportunity for me to step away form what is comfortable and let God be in control. I know the Lord is going to use this time to continue growing me in faith and trusting where He has me in every aspect of life whether it be physically, geographically, of emotionally. Once Jocelyn and I got everything in to our house we walked around town for a little bit. Before calling it a night I hung up a bunch of blankets as curtains in my bedroom and living room. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Set an example for the believers

I went out in to the living room to join the Martin's for another quiet time today, this community time of reading our Bibles is great. When I finished reading and journaling I had breakfast with Johnathan, then when he went to school I took my cup of coffee out on the the deck. I made so many unique observations. I was watching someone wash clothes on their roof, a group of kids walking down the street in their school uniforms, the next door neighbor playing with fire, hearing the roosters, and feeling the rain blow in on to the deck. It was great! Tandy and I spent the morning working, but it was nice to have somebody to chat with while we were being productive. I really enjoy her company and good conversation, she's such a great friend. I made myself a sandwich and briskly walked/jogged to school since I was being a bit poky getting out the door, I guess I was enjoying my morning off a little too much. I made it just in time for 2nd and 3rd grade gym which went very well, they had a good game of soccer going. I was being silly and getting really in to the game, so they did too. Frisbee with the oldest girls went pretty well, but one girl is feeling left out. Oh how I can sympathize with her, I knew that feeling all too well when I was her age. Lunch break disappeared, then it was already time for English class. It went good. After school library I hopped in the
I'm on the zipline at Ecoparque!

truck and went with the the Freeman's and the team to Ecoparque. We enjoyed swimming around and playing games in the water before supper. Then there was a delicious meal served at six o'clock, I got chicken with a mustard sauce and it was delicious! Way better than the previous time I was there, it wasn't gross before, but this meal far exceeded my last one. Since we were so close to Mickos we made a quick stop for an ice cream treat, I got to enjoy a cono doble con creama cafe y vanilla/frutilla (double scoop cone with coffee cream and vanilla/strawberry swirl). Then it was time for the group debrief which went well. I enjoy hearing about how people experience God, as well as their highs and lows of the week. The Lord works it spectacular ways in His timing and it is beautiful where, when, and how He meets each of us is different and exactly as it was intended to be. Jeff shared scripture from 1 Timothy 4:10-12, "That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." These verses struck a chord as they were being read. God is good, He works in people of varying ages and walks of life so that all may be reached. The Lord is not constrained to time like we are, so when He looks at us does not see how old we are or what we have accomplished, but rather our hearts. I know I continued to be inspired by the faith of little kids, it is my prayer that everybody would see the trust they have, I long for more of it in my life. God has called me to set an example from now until the last day that I have, my life is a living sacrifice for His will! It was late by the time we got out of there, because we stayed to chat with the team a little before heading out. I got to have a nice conversation with the Freeman's on the way home, then chat with the Martin's for a few minutes before getting ready for sleep.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Do not judge

Quiet time with the Martin's, I knew it was going to be a good day because I went out to the living room after I woke up to read my Bible and they were all sitting in their reading their Bibles. It was such a glorious way to start my day! This is defiantly something I dream of doing if I am blessed with a family someday. It was such a great family time and I have missed that a lot since being away from home! While I was reading drank coffee with cinnamon, hazelnut coffeemate, and milk. I've been reading more from Matthew 7:1-5, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." God continues to examine my heart and purify me, He has not asked me to place judgement on myself or others, but rather align my ways with His will. When I have corrected my ways, then I may help those around me, however, I must seek Him in my own life first. My life is not about comparing myself to others whether it be in regard to accomplishments, appearance, or sins, but it is about seeking God more! Comparison can easily creep in, but the Lord does not compare us to others so neither should we, each and every one of us is unique and beautiful! I had breakfast with Johnathan before going off to work. Chapel consisted of our morning exercises, a few rehearsals for the art show coming up, and prayer. Then I had a big block of time before my classes to plan, facilitate library with 2nd and 3rd grade, and have a little dance party with 4th graders
The 4th graders working hard to prepare for
the art show at the end of the month!
at the end of their art class. They have been working hard to prepare cardboard props for the show and had a few down minutes. Anita and I practiced the tango, she got a kick out of my great dance skills and Rebekah and I were planning some new dance moves for one of the songs! During snack break I played frisbee and jumped rope with the kiddos. Gym classes went very well, even when we had very limited space they made the best out of the situations. The military was doing some type of training and a couple of large groups of solders came out of the jungle in their full gear. When I first saw them I was a bit alarmed, I had never seen them do this before, so my first instinct was something bad happened or was going to happen. I am pleased to say that was not the case and all was fine. My English girls did great and after school library was smooth. When it came time for Bible Club the truck had a full load, so I walked with Abigail and Thalia. We decided to kind of race the truck and beat them across the bridge and thought it would be fun to run up the big hill. We made it all the way up, but needed to take a little break when we did! Although the message was good, I was kind of dozing off a little it is usually near nap time when we are getting there and this week I struggled to focus. Outdoor play after the message went well and while we were outside we saw a bull on the loose. It was on the hospital grounds, which are right across the street, and it seemed pretty riled up. When the hospital security guard went towards it to check out the situation the bull started chasing him and he had to make a break for it to get inside! After Bible Club I went over to the hospital to see how baby Noemia was doing, since she is very malnourished and hasn't really improved since being at  Casa de Fe they took her to get checked up on. As soon as I got home Johnathan was at the gate to greet me, talk about a lovely welcome home. I dropped off my stuff really quick, then jumped in the van to join the team for the evening. We picked up arroz con pollo from one lady, empanadas from another, then went over to the guest house to enjoy a delicious supper. It was followed by good toffee, Tango cookies, and oreos! Dwight and Tandy set the stage for the small group discussion before we broke out in to our groups. I was part of a group that shared how God was working and very vulnerable. As soon as I was sharing  about the kids and how I have been challenged, but incredibly blessed I lost it. My initial instinct was to just cut it off, but I continued sharing because you never know how the Lord can use those moments of being real with others. This life is not about me, there is so much more to it than serving myself. My purpose in life is serving God and allowing Him to work in the lives of others through me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kingdom of heaven

Mattthew 18:1-4, "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, 'Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'" God is an incredible God and loves his children! I spent the morning finishing packing up my house and moving stuff up to Dwight and Tandy's. They are letting me stay with them for a few days until my new roommate comes and I am beyond thankful. I was a little hesitant about moving to a new area of town and they graciously took me in! When I headed up to school I had a little bit of time to gather my ideas for the combined inicial and primero gym class. Today was the day for the big parachute! I had been wanting to play with the jumbo parachute, every kindergartners gym class favorite, but didn't know when would be a good time. Since I had to move this morning I pushed back a gym class to combine them, there was no better opportunity, and Joel was here to help me. The kids loved it, they got so excited they didn't always want to listen to instructions, but they were getting the hang of it towards the end of class! Before going to class with the 6th and 7th graders I was getting my watch ready since I finally had one and it broke. I had almost gotten to use it. Gym class with the oldest girls went well, then we had a teachers meeting over lunch. I had time to grab a banana and my chai tea out of the freezer, but the meeting ended up lasting right up to my English class and was still going on when I left. My girls had a great day! They were excited, working hard, and their English sounded really great. It is so rewarding seeing how much fun they can have learning. When class was done the meeting was still going on, therefore library and after school programs were cancelled for the day. As soon as it was done I was filled in on what I missed at the meeting and continued organizing. I went down to the bodega to see if I could get some super glue to fix my watch and at that time there wasn't  anybody there to help me, but I found Nayeli standing outside scratching at her head and crying. She has a big bump on her head that looks like a tumor and it was heartbreaking to see her in so much pain, there was nothing I could do to heal her, but I was trying to calm her down.
Geovanny and I hanging out after school!
I was asking her a some questions and showing her some things, then I asked her, "Hija de Dios, si?" (daughter of God, yes?) and she responded confidently with "si"! That was exactly the reassurance that I needed for her precious little life, I know the Lord is taking care of her and it was my hope she could understand it too. The unbelievable trust, the pure joy, simple truths, and great love show by children is magnificent. Kids are such a beautiful example of God's love and how He calls us to believe in Him. When I made it to my temporary home with the Martin's I spent some time reading LeapFrog books with Johnathan before heading over to the guest house with them for supper with the team. I have to say they are a great family to live with! We got everything set up for supper, then ate pizza, salad, and oreos with the team. When we were done eating we split up in to small groups for a devotional time. My group had a good discussion, then everybody came together and we were hanging out and some worship songs! It really was great! It was pretty late when we got home, so I got ready for bed and was off to dreamland.