“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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Have love

I had a relaxing morning off which consisted of getting some cold medicine from Tandy, resting, and reading. I read 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, " If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." God has given each of us the ability to love and it is a sacred gift from Him. This scripture reminds me that every single thing I say and do needs to be done in love. I am forgiven every time I fall short, but I always want to show people a glimpse of who God is through my love! I went up to the orphanage a bit early to say hi to the team before heading up to the school to work. Gym class with the 2nd and 3rd graders consisted of playing soccer right outside the school. Genesis, Veronica, and I  were kicking the soccer ball and had some great passes going for a while, then they went back to trying to kick the ball up the stairs.
My planner makes me feel so grown up!
Towards the end of class Genesis tied a rope around one of the balls and started swinging it around. It turned in to a fun game, of them standing in a line and I would swing it around in a circle for them to jump over! They loved it and would giggle every time the ball came back around. Right after that class was done I went down to the cancha with the oldest girls to play basketball. On the way there they picked some fresh fruit for all of us to share and it was good. I'm not really sure what it was, but it was a white fruit with a leaf like covering. Then it was time for a lunch before the last class. During the introductions one of the statements each student makes is about how they are feeling. Since I work with the students who are mostly behind grade level, every day until today I have heard the same feeling from all of them, "I am happy". However, one of my girls said she was sad and this is very unlike her. I had the other girls work on the letter names while I briefly talked to her and found out she was homesick. I thought it would be best if she wrote down what she was thinking to help her deal with her emotions, I know it is a good method for dealing with many situations. I know I find it helpful to write about how I am feeling in hard times. It was time for a nice nap after the sunny walk home! I woke up feeling ready to go, so Cheralyn and I went to the Guest House to participate in the Concordia debrief. As I was sitting on the couch waiting for things to get rolling the Freeman's arrived and Abby ran up to give me a big hug! It is definitely things like this that make my day, I felt so cared for it was great. I enjoyed being a part of this time with the Cobbers, it was a nice to hear about their experiences and I look forward to what the Lord has planned for their lives. I know teams come here on mission trips to love and serve, but sometimes it is just as much as a ministry for the person that came as it is for the organization. God works in wonderful ways!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Lord is my shepherd

Cobbers hard at work!
I got to start creating the birthday board during my prep time this morning. I enjoy doing crafty things a lot, so this was right up my alley!  The Freeman girls were up at the school and I got to enjoy helping them with some Lego building as I transitioned from tasks, I would have liked to sit down and play with them, but I had to work. I also would peak outside the office whenever I had a chance, because the Concordia team was busy pouring the foundation for the bodega (workshop). During library time with the second an third graders today I discovered some missing books. This age group is only able to check out one book at a time, so if they are missing a book it's not fun since they can't take a new book. I came to discover that some of them would just put the book back on the shelf to return it and not tell me, however, we found those ones on the shelf . Other missing books turned up when they looked for them harder, so it all worked out!  It was raining during both of the gym classes I had today, but the kids we content just playing in the covered hallway area. They each had a little soccer ball and would kick it back and forth, I realize gym is limited to rain a lot here, but their willingness to compromise and have fun regardless of the circumstances is incredible. The mentality here is definitely go with the flow! The Cobber team let me have one of their sandwiches for lunch today and it was the best chicken salad I have ever had,  thank you Vicky! My English class was extra big today, because the Freeman girls weren't feeling well so I took Stephanie's students. They were working so quietly and respectfully while I was teaching my girls. Before heading to Bible Club I went back down to see how the team was doing on laying the cement. They were nearly done as we were leaving and it was awesome to see how fast they were getting the job done! "Camino yo con Lo siempre, siempre!" (I'll walk with Him always, always!) This was a great little song we sang about the Lord being our shepherd and it reminds me of one of my favorite Psalms! Psalm 23 reads, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Because of all the rain we have had in the past two days, we stayed inside to play games after Bible Club was done, but we had some fun activities. I walked home after Bible Club,
Bible club games.
but took the scenic route and on my way I ran it to Duvi and her grandma. It was such a treat to say hello and get I big hug from her, all seems to be going well so I was very blessed to see her at peace! I walked around the back side of the Coliseo and saw a group of people playing a game that looked like a cross between boche ball and curling. It was set up on a sandy surface and the person whose turn it was would roll/throw a few balls and try to get them inside of a chalk circle. I thought it was very interesting to watch! I continued walking down the road perpendicular to market street, I walk down every day, but had never gone past the road I take to get to my house and wanted to explore! There were more little shops, homes, and dogs of course, but there was also a very nice view of the mountains. Since the sky had cleared I was able to see a few airplanes flying with the mountains in the background. Then it was time to celebrate Kelcy's time here with a nacho feast! A group of us missionaries got together for a potluck with meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, salsa, and guacamole! We enjoyed cookies with ice cream, games, and great conversation after supper. I am constantly thankful for this group of people that are serving in Ecuador right now, I know God has brought us together in a perfect way and will continue to bless this unique time of serving Him here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Splendid outdoors

I woke up with a bit of a sore throat this morning, it's not anything too bad, but many of the kids are sick too. It was a good morning of preparing lessons and gym classes. The first grade students have been learning the parts of the body in class and today they each drew their own "cuerpo" (body). It was good for me to see each of their drawings and gain a better understanding what they understand and the schemas they have. Sometimes things seem obvious, but only because I learned about it at one point in time. For example, one little girl drew three fingers on each of her hands and it wasn't until I sat down next to her desk and counted each of the fingers on her hand that she realized each of the hands has five fingers, not three. With the littlest group we went on another walk! They seriously enjoy exploring nature, which is exciting for me to watch them explore and be a part of asking them questions. On our adventure some of them pulled up long weeds, put them over their shoulders and drug them along behind them as if it were a pet. Lunch consisted of a ground beef with broccoli, green beans, onion, carrots, and green pepper over rice, it was really good. In English class today the girls did a nice job and my newest
Diana is my newest student!
student was able to pick up on a couple of new things too! I am blessed to work with these girls, they are pretty quiet most days, but I know they are anxious to learn and try SO hard. After school library was pretty slow, because there weren't very many kiddos checking out books. Then I got to chat with some Cobbers as I went up to the house to figure out plans for the evening, it is wonderful getting to hear about how they are experiencing Ecuador! In after school enrichment the kids were busy doing all different things, but I was with the group drawing. It was rather fun I might add, because I enjoy drawing and these kids do too. I walked home in a downpour and enjoyed every step in the rain. There were streams forming on the gravel road from the orphanage to the bridge and I could hear the actual stream loudly running! I have really learned to embrace the rain since living here, don't get me wrong I used to enjoy a nice rainy day to curl up and watch a movie, but I actually appreciate the rain in a new way now. When I got home I put on dry clothes, curled up, and took a nap! Then it was time to celebrate Paola's birthday with Rick and Rebekah. They take all of the kids in fourth grade and up out for supper around their birthday and I get to join them. We went to a tiny restaurant serving fried chicken and french fries. On the way there Paola was telling us crazy stories about some of her experiences with wildlife, such as pumas and snakes, in her home town. When we arrived at the restaurant we ordered our food and played a game until it arrived. When the food arrived the wait was worth it, the breading on the chicken breast was delicious and the fries were good especially when I covered them in mayo. I have no idea what it is, but the restaurants put something greenish in the mayo here and I really enjoy it a lot. There have been a few times now that I have wondered if I would you like some fries with my mayo...but it is that good! Paola and I walked arm in arm to the Coliseo for dance class when all of us were done eating, but discovered there was no dance for an unknown reason (it happens fairly often), so we continued back to the orphanage arm in arm without saying much. I spent the walk praying for her and thanking God for the kind, quiet, yet spunky girl that she is. She is a very level headed and loving young lady, I am ineffably thankful to have her in my class! I heard frogs croaking and many different sounds of the splendid outdoors on the walk and was so filled with peace and excitement for her, I know God will do great things in her life. When we arrived back at the house I was a bit surprised to find the older girls were not there since there had been no dance. The Tia was convinced there was dance even though Paola and I had just been there and nothing was going on, so I decided it would be best to just go back to the Coliseo and figure it out for myself. When I saw the night guard from Casa de Fe approaching the house he scared me at first, but when I was able to see who it was he very generously offered to walked me down the hill since it had gotten dark. I went back to the gym and saw the arranged taxi driver sitting outside, I asked him if he was waiting for the Casa de Fe girls and he was. After I asked around and found out they were at the park we went over there, rounded them up, and took them back to the house. Then it was time for Cheralyn and I to run some errands before heading back to our house to prepare food for the pot luck tomorrow.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Different gifts

I woke up a little sleepy this morning, because I didn't sleep very much this weekend, but there were so many fun things going on there was no time! Anyways, I made myself a nice iced coffee and I was good to go. For chapel this morning we introduced a new fruit of the Spirit, kindness. We presented a skit to the kids where a kind robot was being built. The kids enjoy watching short plays, so it was a great way for them to see how to treat others kind. Gym class with the two littlest groups consisted of a nature walk, the kids loved it! They enjoy being outside and when they are given an opportunity to explore their learning really thrives. The 4th grade class had velocity testing, so I got to watch them run as fast as they could and some of them are quick! The teachers made a delicious bean, onion, and carrot salad to accompany the rice for lunch, then I was off to English class. Today was a lot different in class, because one of the kids in the family of four that just joined Casa de Fe is in my class now. She is a kind young lady, but doesn't know any English, so my Spanish was put to the test! With some help of the other students I taught most of the class in both languages to help her follow along. It was a good challenge for me and I hope to see her English blossom this year.
Nayeli and Tati playing house in the soccer nets!
I got to speak a lot of Spanish throughout the day which was awesome, I have learned so much since being here. I often doubt my ability to speak it, but today I spoke a lot! Library and after school time were pretty clam today. The beautiful sunshine this afternoon was a wonderful change of pace from last week, it was the second day of sun like this in a row! When I was saying goodbye to the kids at the house I saw Nayeli playing house in between two of the hockey nets and I had a flashback to my childhood immediately! It is crazy to think I used to do the exact same thing. It shows that no matter where children are, even if they are thousands of miles or years apart, kids will be kids! I love the simple and pure ability for children to be content in all circumstances. It was a hot walk back to my house since it was warm and sunny, and I was ready to take a short nap before going out to supper at Johnny's. Cheralyn, Kelcy, and I enjoyed the nice view of Shell's market street from the second floor seating at the restaurant. Johnny's has a lovely view of the park with the mountains in the background, it is wonderful! When we were all done we stopped by Alexander's market for ice cream and we walked around town. Kelcy knows a ton of people around town, so as we walked around I enjoyed getting to meet some of the local people. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." I thank God for another good day in Ecuador.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tu eres mi respirar

"Tu eres mi respirar, Dios tu presencia vive en mi" (You are my breath, God I live in your presence) were the lyrics to a songs sung before and after the message in church this morning. It is a translation of "Breathe" by Michael W. Smith, and I like it! I have really enjoyed going to this church and appreciate hearing a song almost every week that is a translation of a song in English I am familiar with. When church was finished I took a little nap before going out to lunch at Vista Hermosa with the team. I had a yummy chicken platter with the best french fries I have ever eaten. When I was all finished there were some fried fish fins left over, so decided to give one a try! I was told it tasted like chips and I would have to say chips are a good thing to compare them to, they were crunchy, salty, and greasy. I won't be eating them all the time, but I am glad I tried it and have to admit it was pretty good. After lunch Cheralyn and I took the team up to Casa de Fe to hang out with the kids for the afternoon. Talia ended up spraining her ankle and was pretty shaken up, we took her to the hospital to make sure everything was alright. I stayed with her and Geidi at the hospital, it was hard to see her hurting and I just wanted to be there to care for  her. When I was going through all of the appointments and tests after tearing my ACL my family was there to take care of me. That hard time for me painted a beautiful picture of the unconditional love my parents have for me and the even greater love of my Father in Heaven. I was glad to be there to support her in a moment of hurt and uncertainty. The Lord answered my prayers for her health, and we were able to be in & out of the hospital rather quickly! After getting her into the car with Jeff I walked back to the orphanage to rejoin the team for a little bit. On my way back I was thankful
Joel and I on the bike trail!
for the ability to walk from place to place, I really do love being outside and getting where I need to be by walking. As I ventured back I was thinking about how many people there are in the world, and how I am just one person. Although I am only one person on this earth for a short amount of time, I know when I serve others with all I have I can make a difference in this crazy world. All big things started somewhere and although it may be hard to pinpoint, there was a small moment or little incidents that created the moment. I had some time to eat and rest before going up to the Martin's for prayer. It  was another wonderful evening of fellowship and worship, one of the songs we sang was Shane and Shane "Yearn". It is an incredible song, some of the lyrics are: Holy design, this place in time, that I might seek and find my God, My God. Lord, I want to yearn for You, I want to burn with passion, over You and only You. It is really powerful and I recommend listening to it on YouTube. When prayer was all over Cheralyn, Kelcy, and I enjoyed eating ice cream and popcorn while having a wonderful discussion about life!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Seek first His kingdom

Precious Jhan after the brunch!
I woke up this morning with this scripture from Matthew 6:25-34 in my head, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." The last two verses about seeking God's kingdom first and not worrying about tomorrow are the ones that were specifically on my mind, but it is such a good passage I included it all. I am so thankful for where the Lord has brought me at this very moment, but sometimes (like last night) I begin to wonder where He is leading me next. At this point in my life God has been teaching me to let go of the plans I made in order to follow Him and seek His plan with my whole heart. Although it is not easy for me, I was challenged by the scripture this morning to focus on the beautiful moment that I am in. The Concordia women hosted a brunch for the
The girls with their dolls.
missionaries in Shell and it was incredible. We came together for a nice breakfast of bagels, fruit, and coffee, followed by a time of sharing how God lead us here. Each missionary took a turn sharing how they took a step of faith and followed His calling here which was powerful. I was encouraged by the stories of the women here, and cried a little when I was sharing how the Lord lead me here! It was the first time I had really formally shared how faithful God was in the process, how much I care for kids with extra needs, and how my desire to serve these kids is an incredible match with the children at Casa de Fe! Speaking of Casa de Fe, Cheralyn and I lead a tour of the grounds this afternoon before I joined some of the girls to play. They were playing Barbies and wanted me to join them. They showed me all of their dolls and told me what their names were, it was cute to see how each girl had a special area for their doll. After hanging out there for a while I went over to the Freeman's to bake with Stephanie and the girls! We had a great afternoon hanging out and making tasty treats. The first desserts were peppermint patties and the second were chocolate covered coconut mixtures! In the evening Cheralyn and I met up with Kelcy to walk over to Shari's house. The night consisted of supper followed by games and a movie. We had an intense game of "Mafia" going which was awesome since we had such a large group of people to play!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Love one another

Happy Birthday Paola!
It's Friday which is always exciting, but this one was extra special! The day started by volunteering myself to help with the the pre-k and kindergarten field trip, after I realized I didn't really know what I agreed to Rebekah filled me in and I spent morning with the little guys. Due to rain we ended up just watching a movie in the house, but the kids were wild. They were so excited and antsy that they didn't really want to watch the movie, jumping from beanbag to beanbag seemed like a much better option to them! When the movie was done we took all of them back up to the school and it was time for gym class. The 2nd and 3rd graders had an assessment for the first part of class and joined the little ones afterwards. Most of the time after their test was spent "playing restaurant" I must have been a good customer, because they served me a lot of fake food! It was adorable to see how much fun they were having playing, that used to be one of my favorite things to do too! For the next gym class we went down to the cancha to play some basketball, and in the last physical education class we played soccer. It was a busy morning at the school. The teachers loved the cookies, so I might have to bring them more often! They are so appreciative of small gestures. Once I finished teaching the English lesson for the day and testing on the letter K, it was time to celebrate Paola's 12th birthday. I wrote the words to the song on the board, we practiced it, then sang it to Paola in English before enjoying cookies! I was a little behind the game in asking
So much love from home.
about allergies, but before they ate them I tried to make sure they didn't have any that I should worry about...but I had no idea how to say allergy in Spanish. It made for an interesting couple of minutes and after I went and asked another teacher what the Spanish word for allergy was the girls could understand what I had been trying to ask! After school I cleaned up around the school, then headed down to the house to hang out the children. The kids were all spread out and enjoying a nice afternoon. The dog managed to get a toy from Wilson and he had a blast watching me try to get it away from him. Every time I would get close Wilson would whistle or call the dog away so I couldn't get it, but eventually I out smarted the doggy! It was hard saying goodbye to Duvi this afternoon, but I know God has her in His hands and will be taking care of her. She is such a sweet young lady and like all of these kids, when given a chance will do GREAT things! John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” My real job in life is to love as Christ has loved me. The best thing I can do is to shine the light of God in this world through love, and that is what I will do all the days of my life! I pray my love is selfless, good-hearted, and pure like Christ's love for me. Every day I learn more about what it looks like to love like Christ and it is my prayer that I continue to learn more and draw closer each day. I got to be part of the orientation for the Concordia group tonight and it was a treat, seeing familiar faces and see such a large group from home here to serve the people at Casa de Fe was great. We ate pizza, then moved in to the time of rules and expectations. I also received two wonderful packages, one from family and the other from friends :) I am so so thankful for the continuous love and support shown in various ways! I have a lovely stash of cards, treats, coffee from Moxie, and many other useful items. In fact, all my new food reminded me of a sceen from the movie "Heavy Weights" when the campers all had their hidden stash of favorite candy!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Healed by His wounds

I had a nice slow morning, because I go in to work late every Thursday. I started by doing laundry and dishes after eating my strawberry (Rice Krispies type) cereal for breakfast. I didn't teach until 11:35 today, so I was able to get some chores done before heading to work. When I got to school it was another good day with the kids. We made some paper airplanes and tested how they flew, all of them really enjoyed this activity. Then it was time for gym class, the oldest girls are starting a gymnastics unit. They chose a partner and are creating an aerobic routine, I would have loved this when I was their age since I was dancing all the time...honestly part of me wanted to make one up too! When gym was over it was already time for lunch. English class went well again today and I enjoy getting to work with the girls each day. They always stagger in at different times after
Duvi and I, with some classic bunny ears!
lunch, so it is nice getting to chat with a different girl each day. It is those short periods of time before class that I am getting to see their personalities which is great! After school enrichment was quiet today, but we got to play with a LeapFrog book reader. Unfortunately the batteries were dying, but thanks to the handy dandy trick of shaking batteries to make them last a bit longer they were able to play with it! I was pretty happy about the batteries, I just learned about the shaking trick earlier this year, and I got to listen to Bible stories on the LeapFrog because of it. I went down to hang out with the kids at the house for a little while before heading home to get some more things done. I started by baking cookies for Paola's birthday tomorrow and to share with the teachers. While I was subbing in Moorhead there were treats every Friday and it was always a perk for subbing then, I hope the teachers here enjoy a treat. I also am stitching up my shoes, they had a couple of little holes when I left, but they have grown since being in Ecuador and I needed to take care of it. I tested my shoe repair when Cheralyn and I went out to supper, it seems to be holding up well! It seemed like everybody decided to go out to eat at Johnny's tonight, so it was fun seeing a ton of people that I knew walking through the restaurant. We ended up joining Rick and Rebekah for supper which was great. We enjoyed playing the "Ungame" which is basically a bunch of get to know you questions, and it was a great way to learn more about my friends. It ended up being a long evening out to eat, so it was time to read and get ready for bed by the time I got home. 1 Peter 2:21-26, "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." God's power to heal every area of our lives continues to be brought before me and is a constant reassurance for me! The Lord will heal every physical, mental, and emotional area of our lives when we give Him control...not as much control as we want to or are comfortable with, but COMPLETE control. He is always faithful!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Por el gozo de Dios

The pretty flowers a student picked for me.
I had a great start to my day by reading Mark 11:22-24,“'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered. 'I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.'” Stop and think about this for a minute, through prayer we have the power to move mountains! In the name of Jesus, God's perfect son, we can do things we could have never dreamed on our own. I don't know about you, but this makes me really excited to see how God continues to answer prayers in my life, He has anlready answered many in ways far exceeding my expectations. It was a nice calm morning at school, so I was able to go around to the classrooms and bathrooms and refill supplies before teaching. The first class I taught for the day was gym, I am the assistant P.E. teacher with Adrianne at Casa de Fe. She is very kind and I have enjoyed getting to know and work along side her. The combined second and third grade class did some running drills at the beginning of class. I was helping Martin do a fast walk with the class and I got a good workout! We took a lap around the yard and he wanted to do another one like the other kids which surprised me at first, but I was happy he wanted to. It turns out he wanted to go on a little frog hunt half way through the lap, but it got him moving. He was able to see and catch two of the smallest frogs I have ever seen, I was impressed...but it made the rest of the lap quite difficult with me holding him up and him holding a frog in each hand. For the fourth grade class we went down to the "cancha" again to play
Cake to celebrate her birthday!
soccer, this time around they wanted me to play outside of the goal. It was boys against girls and it was fun, playing soccer with the kids was definitely something I was looking forward to here! On the way back up to the school Caila picked me a very lovely bouquet of flowers. She seems to like to pick me flowers and today's were beautiful, I even got a little vase type container to put them in. When we got back it was time to help Martin get to lunch, because it is so rocky he has a hard time getting from the school to the house. I have the privilege of helping him work on getting from one to the other. Him and I are setting goals each day to get a little closer to the house with him walking. He is a strong guy and works hard, but sometimes he needs a little motivation, so I have picked out landmarks on the way to help him see where he is trying to get each day. It was Fabiola's birthday, so during lunch we sang and ate ice cream cake! When lunch was done I was off to my English class and I had another great day teaching. After class and library time were over it was time for Bible Club. The couple who runs it is so sweet and I look forward to seeing them each week. We sang more awesome song like "Por el gozo de Dios" (For the joy of the Lord), the Spanish version of one of my favorite camp songs! It goes a little something like this, "I'm trading my sorrows. I'm trading my shame. I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord. I'm trading my sickness. I'm trading my pain. I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord." When it was all done I walked home with just enough time to make supper for myself before taking the girls to Zumba with Cheralyn! It was fun to see them dancing around and giggling, they are energetic young ladies and it's a great opportunity for them to be involved in the community. We took a taxi back to the orphanage to drop the girls off and the moon and stars were peaking through the clouds, it was magical! I love being outside under the stars and the fresh air blowing in my face while I was looking up at the sky was amazing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Created in God’s image

Two of my students, we're working on the letter K!
As I laid in bed praying this morning I was overwhelmed by God's promises, He is always faithful through the ups and downs. Each morning I wake up is a gift and I am called to honor the Lord with every breathe I have been given. It is my purpose in life to serve Him with everything I have and that is what I strive to do each day. I cannot predict what will come tomorrow or even ten minutes from now, but I do know that whatever it may be is to draw me near to my Creator. It was a very rainy day and gym class had to be modified since we don't have an indoor area. We ended up playing with the kids in their classrooms, so it worked out just fine. I learn more every day about what is important and where I need to be focusing my attention! There are many things that can easily distract me, however, this life I have been given is not about what I can do for myself, but what I can do for others. When I look around at the kids here I want nothing more than to care for them well. I have been blessed in this life and intend to give it right back to God by serving His children. The mission statement of Casa de Fe is, "Believing that all children are created in God’s image, Casa de Fe exists as an integral part of the body of Christ, focused on rescuing abandoned, abused and special needs children, providing for their physical, spiritual, and educational needs, in a loving supportive home environment, with the ultimate goal of assisting each of God’s children to achieve their highest potential in His Kingdom." Casa de Fe is a place for these precious children and I am fortunate to be a small part of the puzzle. In English the girls are so good and I am thankful to have such a small class. I can stop and help them whenever it is needed and I am truly able to adapt my teaching to meet their needs. After school the older kids had library time followed by enrichment. We watched  a video about exploring sea life and they were fascinated...and so was I! They are such smart kids and it is fun to see how they help one another learn. By the time I walked home from work there wasn't much time before the singles supper. An older lady here was so kind as to host a meal for the single ladies here, it was a good meal with some of the other missionaries!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Renewed day by day

Classes started up again and it was a busy day at Casa de Fe! I was in awe this morning as a 4 year old girl comforted her friend who was crying during chapel. She took her hand and held it until she calmed down, the compassion shown in this gesture was touched my heart. There are simple acts every day that reveal more of the Lord's love in this place, and it is incredible to experience. As always the gym classes today were filled with adventure, especially the class with the smallest kiddos who like to run in all different directions! We got to go down to the "cancha" the covered basketball court/soccer field with the oldest class to play some soccer. I was the goalie which reminded me of the good ol' days of being on a traveling soccer team. For lunch I had a small celebration feast with the teachers, before teaching English. It was the first day I had my own class and I loved it! It was great to see how they responded to me being their teacher and I gained a greater understanding of where they are at. I have a great group of girls to work with and I look forward to the days to come. I help one of the girls in my class after school every day, she is behind the others and I know this extra time will help her catch up. She is a bright young lady who works hard,soon the light bulb will shine and it will all click! After school enrichment was good, but my knee was bothering me and I was distracted. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." God is THE healer! I am created exactly as He planned, the Lord is taking care of me at all times, and my life has been shaped to be a light in every circumstance. Although there are times where I wonder why my body hurts and doesn't want to keep up with me, I know the Lord gives me opportunities in situations desirable and undesirable to work in wonderful ways. My prayer is that God may be given glory in every area of my life! I thank God for the incredible people I have encountered, He has placed you in my life for a purpose and I have been deeply blessed. I am amazed by His goodness and how He knows exactly who I am supposed to encounter, when I will encounter them, and how they will bless me! This evening I got to have dessert and watch a movie with some ladies. It was a nice way to wind down the day, I was thankful for a relaxing evening with the girls!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Soar on wings like eagles

Laura and I at the
beginning of the hike.
An adventure to Papallacta began yesterday! I met up with the group I was going with at the bus station on Saturday morning and we were off. We transferred buses in Tena, then rode the bus past Papallacta to begin a hike. We spent an hour walking up a nice path and enjoyed lunch by a picturesque lake. I was very comfortable and enjoying the scenery all the way up to the towers, at which point we began our four hour descend down the mountain. Almost immediately when we started the descend, the rain started pouring and the wind picked up. It was a moderate hike, but the conditions made it really tough and I wasn't so sure I wanted to continue after venturing about 2km down. I started to feel overwhelmed and didn't think I could do it, the rain and slippery trail were beating me down. Thankfully Laura stopped us and we all prayed together, it was so good and helped me refocus on the task set before me. Isaiah 40:27-31, "Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel,'My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God'? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired
We ate lunch at this lake!
or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Yep yep, this explains how I was feeling and was an encouragement to me on the hike! It is an incredible gift to know that no matter where my heart is in a situation God is constant. Even when I am discouraged and doubting what I am going through, God is good and will never give me more than I can take. I fell down in the mud a couple of times on the hike, but I had my friends there to help me back up. Though I was tired and cold for most of this trek the natural beauty in the big and small things around me were breathtaking. When we made it to the end of the hike there was a beautiful waterfall and a view of the Antisana volcano! I was challenged on this hike, but grateful for every moment of it, because I grew in trusting God with literally every step. It was awesome and when I were able to see the guard house I was so happy. We stayed
A beautiful view of the volcano.
and chatted with the two men for a quite some time, while we were talking one of them went in to the house and came out with hot mint tea! I was SO incredibly thankful at that moment I cannot even put in to words how much that small act of kindness meant to me. When our taxi arrived we headed to the HCJB guest house, changed, and jumped into the hot spring located right outside our door. This was a very nice way to warm up before going to bed. It was an early morning today, because we wanted to get to the the big public hot spring "pools" and "hot tubs". We stopped at a breakfast tent where I enjoyed scrambled eggs and a fried empenada for 50 cents! It was located right next to the hot springs, so I went right in to the water after eating. I like to swim, but it is even better when I can get in to a hot pool. We spent a couple of hours there this morning before cleaning up, then heading back to Shell. The buses were packed because it is election day in Ecuador, but we were able to get back in a jiffy. Then it was time to get supper with Cheralyn at Chifa China, where I had the sweet and sour chicken! We got back from supper just in time for prayer time at Dwight and Tandy's, it is always such a great way to prepare for the week to come. I love being part of a group of people that come together to pray, it is a beautiful thing!

Friday, February 15, 2013

You have entrusted me

Sheila and I!
It was a warm and sunny walk to work today, I enjoyed every second of it! The flowers on the trees were blooming and I could smell the lovely aroma the whole way down the big hill. When I arrived at the orphanage I got to say hello to all of the little kids at the playground before heading up to the school to work. They are always so excited to see people and it's fun when each of them greets me! I tied up all the loose ends at school, then got to spend the rest of the day with a bunch of the kids. We went down to the basketball/soccer field with a few Tias, I got to play 3 on 3 basketball and hang out with all the kiddos. It has been great getting to spend time with them throughout this school break. This time off of school has really given me the opportunity to get to know them better and see them outside of the classroom. In the afternoon there was a rather large thunderstorm, so I set up games for the older kids. Games were a hit with all of the children, some children were creative and made their own versions of games too. "The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’" - Matthew 25:20&21. God has blessed each of us with different gifts, talents, and strengths to use for good. We are all created to use these talents to the fullest and multiply what we have been given by sharing these gifts with others. After resting up for an hour Cheralyn and I went out to supper at Johnny's. The food was great and I got to watch the sunset over the mountains, it was a bit cloudy but still incredible! We sat there for a long time and had a great conversation about life and what God has been doing, the Lord is good. When we were all done it was time for some grocery shopping and random errands around town. Then it was time for a relaxing evening watching a movie before I head off to Papallacta in the morning!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

God is Love!

Viviana, Caila, and I!
God is love! Love can be felt in many different ways and comes in all shapes and sizes. On Valentine's Day many of us can get caught up in the materialist and media centered idea of what it means to love and be loved, but true love is SO much greater than any of those items. God's perfect LOVE is revealed countless times in the Bible and “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” -Romans 5:8. The ability to love and be loved is an incredible gift from the Lord, and much like the beauty of God it goes beyond what is always visible. Yes there are times when love can been seen by actions, heard through words, or felt in a hug, but there is much more to it than that. The love of God is deeper than any ocean, higher than all the mountains, more numerous than the stars, more vivid than any sunrise, it is bigger and more wonderful than we can dare to imagine! When I woke up this morning I knew I was loved by my Heavenly father, my family, relatives, friends, and by my Casa de Fe family. Although I could not physically see or audibly hear I am loved by all of them, that does not mean it isn't there. I have felt love in many different ways and am blessed by all of the love and support I have in my life. Although Valentine's Day is not really a holiday celebrated in Ecuador, there is so much love floating around here every day. The kids at Casa de Fe love so much, and need a lot of love too. I am unbelievably thankful for the opportunity I have to teach them, but more importantly love and care for them every day! I got to spend time with these precious children today and definitely felt loved. After working I took a nap, snacked, cleaned, and ran errands to finish preparing for babysitting. When the Freeman girls arrived they brought Cheralyn and I some candy and balloons, and Tandy brought us chocolate covered strawberries! Once Johnathan and Eli got here we made supper, spent time being artsy, and watched movies. The whole evening with the kiddos was nice, but my favorite part was saying prayers and making up a bedtime story for the little ones. God shows love for us through His people, written word, and creation...Dios es amor!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tu amor es grande

This morning I was moving a little slow, because I was sore from yesterday and it was rainy so I wanted to stay in bed and watch a movie. Instead I got up, fixed myself a nice bowl of cereal, and enjoyed continuing to read through the book of 1 Peter! When I was all ready for the day I journeyed up to the school to work for the day. I worked on library tasks for most of the day and enjoyed a mid-morning snack with the Ecuadorian teachers. I really love working with them and appreciate the great effort they put forth to make me feel like an important team member! I went out to lunch at Alexander's with Dwight, Tandy, and Cheralyn and enjoyed a nice meal with great company. When we got back it was a busy afternoon of getting ready for Bible Club and trying to organize more at the school. An hour or so before leaving the kids got to color their verse of the
Ruby working on her Bible Club picture!
week, Luke 3:22. I got them all settled in much better this week and brought the materials to them instead of bringing the kiddos to the school, so it went much more smoothly than last week! The music before the message at Bible Club was awesome, my favorite was "Tu amor es Grande". The lyrics were repetitive and I was able to catch on and comprehend what was being sung. "Tu amor es grande, mas grande de lo que pueda imaginar" (Your love is great, greater than I can imagine). Simply brilliant, I enjoy the truth and beauty of these words! Bible Club just kept getting better, because the message made me tear up. The woman who shares the message each week presents the content in a way that is very kid friendly, I followed along really well this week! It helps that I am quite familiar with "The Parable of the Lost Sheep" and there were pictures, but I am understanding more too. Luke 15:1-7, "Now the tax collectors and 'sinners' were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.' Then Jesus told them this parable: 'Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the
I tested them and they are good!
same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.'" This paints such a vivid picture of what the Lord has done for each of us and I am eternally grateful! God goes far above and beyond what I could hope and dream to care for all people and I want to love and serve others the way He does. After we were all done and got the children back to the house it was time for supper followed up by a delicious chocolate covered doughnut from the bakery! Then it was time to prepare for babysitting tomorrow by baking cookies :)


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Living hope

The Ecuadorian teachers, Cheralyn, and I!
It's CARNIVAL! I got an extra early start on the day in order to have a peaceful time of prayer before the event began. My day started with reading 1 Peter, the heading for today's verses is "Praise to God for a Living Hope". 1 Peter 1:3-9 reads, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." Our faith is worth more than gold!
We joined the oldest kids in a
muddy tug-of-war type game!
  Do I have faith the Lord can move the mountains? Do I believe God will heal my wounds? Do I trust that He is always good? Do I know I am His beloved child? Yes, God fills me with a joy beyond my understanding in all circumstances! This does not mean life is always easy or that everything goes perfectly for me, but I have a deep peace in my soul, because I know the Lord will never give me more than I can handle. I arrived at the school bright and early to help gather materials and get the activities set up. There were a series of activities for the different age groups of kids involving colored water! It was raining all morning while we played the games so we were all drenched, but this helped when it came time for the final activity. We played the last game in a big mud pit and in it matching numbers were called, you would sprint to the middle and try to get the rope back to your side. I had a blast playing this game with the oldest group of kids! After all the games were done it was time for a feast. We had chicken, pork chops, sausage, and potatoes! It was seriously  some of the best food I have ever had. There was an incredible milky, cheesy, basil sauce that tasted 
Let Carnival begin!
good on all of the food. Laura and I met up again this evening for ice cream and a walk around town. While walking somebody dumped water on us from their roof and a couple of kids sprayed us with a hose, yay for Carnival! I really did enjoy this because it made me feel like I truly experienced the holiday. There were also tons of people throughout the day with colored flour on them and egg shells around town which are also part of the tradition. When Laura and I were done walking I came back to the house and celebrated "Pancake Tuesday" a Canadian holiday. My roommate Cheralyn was telling me all about pancake Tuesday, which I had never heard of before, so we made pancakes for supper. It was a day filled with celebrations from places all over the world!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Muévete en mi

Dancing time at the Freeman's house!
It was another day filled with activities here in Shell. My day started up at the school planning Carnival festivities! The Ecuadorian teachers, Cheralyn, and I spent a lot of the morning figuring out activities and the supplies needed for an exciting celebration tomorrow. I always enjoy getting to be with the other teachers and listen to what they are talking about, because the more I hear them talking and make nonverbal connections the faster I learn. After work I took a short nap before heading over to the Nate Saint Memorial School to play volleyball and basketball. The Martin, Freeman, and Joy families, Cheralyn, and I spent time enjoying the holiday and playing games. It was awesome spending time with these families and getting to play two of my favorite sports outside, it was a lovely combination! We stayed outside until it was time for our potluck supper with sloppy Joe's, broccoli salad, chips, banana pudding, and brownies...it was a delicious meal. Once we all had our fill of food we took turns dancing on the XBox Connect, it was really entertaining! The festivities ended with watching the Christian comedian Tim Hawkins. I wrapped up the full day with a nice quiet time focused on how the Lord can and is moving in my life. We sang "Muévete en mi" (Move in Me) in Church yesterday and it is the catchy inspiration to this theme. Muévete en mi immediately stood out to me and it is an elegant prayer. As stated in those three words, I seek to know the Lord more every day and for the Holy Spirit to be moving in and through my life! God is moving in incredible ways in my life, in lives around me, and in places all over the world. I pray that my heart may be open to how God is moving and willing to follow His way.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blessed are those


It's been raining all afternoon, but it is
relaxing to listen to and watch!
It was a beautiful morning at church today and I am beginning to understand more! I wasn't able to follow very much of the message, however, I do know it was focused around our heart condition. When I say it like that it seems rather vague and simple, but the message was about our hearts being fixed on God. One of the readings we looked at was Matthew 5:1-12, "Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." There are certain  things in life that I question how it could be blessed, but this scripture looks straight to the creator in all situations and He fulfills each need. Through every circumstance that life will lead me through, God provides comfort and reassurance. After church it was time for a late breakfast, I made some microwaved omelets...sounds weird, but they turned out very well. I was pretty tired so I turned on some "Needtobreathe" music and worked on a photo book before napping. I wanted to make sure I was well rested for frisbee this afternoon. When I woke up I had time for a late lunch, then it was off to the field. Since it was so rainy there weren't very many of us, but it was great playing in the rain! There were times it was hard to see and there were puddles all over the field, but it rains here a lot and playing in the rain can be fun! By the time I got back to the house it was getting close to prayer and worship time with the Casa de Fe staff, so I made the trip upstairs for a great evening of fellowship. It is a wonderful way to start the week and I am thankful to work with this team!