Sunday, December 21, 2014

I'll Be Home for Christmas

What a whirlwind week! This was the last week of school before Christmas break, which of course makes for crazy kids! But overall it was still a fun week. Tuesday night a big group got together and we went caroling around Siguatepeque. We had the chance to bless some missionary families and got stared at by a bunch of Hondurans, but it was a great time.

Thursday my classes made Christmas crafts, and Friday was a big celebration for the whole school. Every class prepared a song, dance, or drama of some sort to present. Here are my first graders and their English presentation. We had a few mess ups, but they are still so cute!

We had a big party and got to leave school early. The colegio students had been writing letters of thankfulness to God, and each class met around a small bonfire to sing worship songs with our Bible teacher and burn their letters as a fragrant offering to God. It was so awesome to watch and sing with them. A neat time of worship for Christmas.

Saturday morning we rode to the airport and I got on a flight home for Christmas! I am blessed to have the opportunity to spend two weeks at home with my family and friends for the holidays. I can't wait to see all of you, and I thank you for your continual prayers for me. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas with your families.

"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23

God be with you all this Christmas!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

I love this Christmas song. It just sums up the reason for Christmas really well. Don't be distressed, because Jesus was born to save us from the workings of Satan! What comfort and joy those words bring. On Wednesday of this week, we saw Satan working. The road to our road was blocked was a big truck in the morning, so we all had to get off with the kids and walk the rest of the way to school. Luckily we didn't have too far to go, but that was a weird start to our day. Then the power went out around 11, so we did the rest of the day in the dark, hauling in water from the pila for the bathroom. And then at 4 when it was time to go home there was only one bus, and no sign of the other. After waiting for about 30 minutes it was announced that there was a wreck and our bus was stuck in the traffic. They then announced that there would be no church because we had no power. The bus finally showed up after another 20 minutes, and we only had a little traffic on the way home, but needless to say it was a long day, and Satan was definitely trying to steal out joy. But Jenna, Bethany and I had our own service in our living room with on online sermon. Satan couldn't stop that!

On Friday there was a Christmas parade on the boulevard that we watched for a little while. There were some interesting sights, good food, and loud music! Saturday was out English teachers' Bible study/ Christmas party. We all made some yummy treats and studied Ephesians 3, which is an awesome chapter, although I feel like I say that about every chapter. One of our teachers read verses 7-8 this way: "By God's grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving Him by spreading this Good News. Though I am the least deserving of all God's people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Honduran children about the endless treasures available to them in Christ." I loved that, and how perfectly it sums up our mission here. I want to bring them comfort and joy this Christmas season, however God will use me.

And I also pray for you, " 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." (Ephesians 3:16-19) Can't wait to see you all in a week!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Manger Throne

Happy December! I really can't believe December is here already. Have I been here for four month? That can't be. But my calendar, and the Christmas lights at he neighbor's house across the street, and the handmade paper snowflakes and Christmas trees in the first grade classroom tell me that it is so. Christmas is almost here! I have always loved Christmas, but this Christmas will be an especially special time to spend with my family and friends who I haven't seen in so long.

So of course I've been getting in the Christmas spirit here in Honduras. Last night a group of the young single missionaries in Honduras gathered together at the Spanish Institute (where I take lessons) for a little white elephant party, which was so much fun. We even did some caroling for Mike and Barbe, the owners of the school, who also live there, and shot off some fireworks to close out the night.

Speaking of Christmas carols, I have had my Christmas playlist on repeat since it was socially acceptable (the day after Thanksgiving). I love all the traditional Christmas songs, but this week there was one non-traditional song by Third Day that just really reminded me of the spirit of Christmas. It's called "Manger Throne":

"What kind of King would leave His throne
In Heaven to make this earth His home?
While men seek fame and great renown
In lowliness our King comes down.

Jesus, Jesus precious one
How we thank you that you've come.
Jesus, Jesus precious one
A manger throne for God's own son.

You left the sound of angels' praise
To come for men with unkind ways.
And by this Baby's helplessness
The power of nations is laid to rest.

Jesus, Jesus precious one
How we thank you that you've come.
Jesus, Jesus precious one
A manger throne for God's own son.

What kind of King would come so small
From glory to a humble stall?
That dirty manger is my heart, too
I'll make it a royal throne for you."

How awesome is that song? Here on earth we strive for power and position and for people to notice us, yet our King left His power and position to come as a helpless baby for us. The message of this song humbles me so much. If God Himself came down to us in this way, who am I to try to be more than that? I even set this song as my alarm this week to put me in the right frame of mind each morning. My King is a servant, and therefore I am a servant, and whether that be to the people here in Honduras, or for the two weeks I'm back home in the States. I pray I don't lose that humble servant's mindset, and that we take a little extra time this season to make our dirty manger hearts into royal thrones for Him. May we say with Mary, "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true." (Luke 1:38)


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gracias (Thanks)

This week, in the States, was Thanksgiving. At Destino we celebrated Día de Acción de Gracias with the kids on Wednesday, talking about what it means to be thankful. My first graders had a lot to be thankful for, so we made a Thanksgiving Tree!

I also have a lot to be thankful for. I am most thankful to be in the center of God's will here in Honduras, doing His work. I am thankful for each of my precious little students. And as much as I love them, I am thankful for a Thursday and Friday off of school, and time to relax at home. I am thankful that even though I couldn't be with my family in the States, Rhonda invited us out to her house for a small Thanksgiving lunch of 42 people. I am thankful for time spent decorating for Christmas, including homemade hot chocolate and handmade Christmas ornaments. I am even thankful for Pinterest-fail cookies.

Yes, these are melted snowmen, and they are beautiful creatures with feelings, no making fun!

Today I am thankful for a road trip with other English teachers from Siguatepeque. Thirteen of us rented a van and went to Valle de Angeles to do some Christmas shopping, then visited the Christ statue outside of Tegucigalpa, and finished the day with REAL hamburgers from Johnny Rocket's in Teguc. I am thankful for the English speaking community here, and how well we all seem to get along. I am thankful that my Jesus, like this statue, meets me with arms wide open no matter what I come to Him with. And I am thankful for hamburgers! That's one thing you can't find in Sigua that I miss so much, a real American hamburger, so that meal was a treat!

I can't believe we only have three weeks here until I come home for Christmas. The time is flying by. Guess that means I'm having fun! Can't wait to see you all in a few weeks. Thanks for continuing to pray for me, and I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving as well!

Philippians 1:3-6 "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tragedia (Tragedy)

The world is a crazy place, and I will admit sometimes it's hard to get lost in all the bad and miss all the good. This week, for example, was a whole lot of bad. On Tuesday at school we found out that all bus and taxi drivers might be striking on Wednesday in order to get the government's attention about all the murders. A new article I read said 800 bus drivers have been killed in the past 5 years, making it the most dangerous job in the world. How crazy is that? Also in the news, Miss Honduras and her sister, who were thought to be kidnapped, had been found dead. Honduras is a crazy place people.

Well the strike ended up only being in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, so school and church went on as usual on Wednesday. Jenna and I got on the school bus to go to church Wednesday night, and a good night of worship, and got back on the bus to come home. After dropping all the kids off, our bus driver made his usual U-turn, but hit what I thought in the moment to be a curb. That curb actually ended up being a guy on a motorcycle. Our bus pulled over, the motorcycle twisted up underneath the bus, and the guy was loaded into the back of a pickup truck and taken to the hospital. All of us teachers who were on the bus gathered around on the side of the road to pray. One of the teacher's brothers took a few of us home, where we found out the man on the motorcycle had died. Colton, Bethany, Jenna, and I prayed again, that God would bring good out of this seemingly terrible situation and that this man was now with God. We later found out that this man was a believer, and was actually friends with our bus driver's son. Rhonda was able to make a deal with the family and ex-wife and our bus driver was able to get out of jail. We heard later three other people were killed in Sigua that same night.

Sometimes it's hard to understand why God allows this all to happen. What is the point? But I know my God and I know He has a plan. Psalm 34 has been a real encouragement to me this week, so I'd like to share it with you.

I will praise the Lord at all times;
his praise is always on my lips.
My whole being praises the Lord.
The poor will hear and be glad.
Glorify the Lord with me,
and let us praise his name together.
I asked the Lord for help, and he answered me.
He saved me from all that I feared.
Those who go to him for help are happy,
and they are never disgraced.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him
and saved him from all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord camps around those who fear God, 
and he saves them.
Examine and see how good the Lord is.
Happy is the person who trusts him.
You who belong to the Lord, fear him!
Those who fear him will have everything they need.
Even lions may get weak and hungry,
but those who look to the Lord will have every good thing.
Children, come and listen to me.
I will teach you to worship the Lord.
You must do these things
to enjoy life and have many happy days.
You must not say evil things, 
and you must not tell lies.
Stop doing evil and do good.
Look for peace and work for it.
The Lord sees the good people
and listens to their prayers.
But the Lord is against those who do evil;
he makes the world forget them.
The Lord hears good people when they cry out to him,
and he saves them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed.
People who do what is right may have many problems,
but the Lord will solve them all.
He will protect their very bones;
not one of them will be broken.
Evil will kill the wicked; 
those who hate good people will be judged guilty.
But the Lord saves his servants' lives;
no one who trusts him will be judged guilty.

I'm still not sure what all good will come out of this, but I don't have to know because God does. I do know that on Friday, after a week of rain and cold, the sun came out, and Bethany and I were able to enjoy class outside with our students. I know that I have friends that have become family here, and that we will always be there for each other with prayers, with laughs, and with the invitation to drag a mattress into one bedroom and have a slumber party. I know I can be thankful that God has brought us all together for a purpose, even sometimes just to encourage each other, and even in the tragedies, "I will praise the Lord at all times."


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gracia (Grace)

Grace. What a powerful word. Do we sometimes forget the power those five little letters have? In my life, absolutely. Luckily, I got a good reminder of the awesomeness of grace this week. 

Rhonda's pastor from the states, Wade Trimmer, was visiting Destino along with a dental team this week. Wednesday night he preached at church. First of all, I have almost forgotten how good it is to hear a sermon and actually be able to understand the whole thing from beginning to end, big points and little points. (People of the states, don't take your church services, pastors, and sermons for granted!) He spoke an awesome message on grace from 2 Samuel 9, where King David shows grace "for Jonathan's sake" to his son Mephibosheth, and how this is an incredible picture of us before God. Looking in 2 Samuel 4:4, we see that Mephibosheth was crippled in both feet because his nurse fell when carrying him, and with us, we are all crippled before God from birth because of the fall of Adam. But just as David sent a servant to seek out Mephibosheth and fetch him, so God has sought us out, and told the Holy Spirit, "Fetch her for me." Not an invitation. A summons to the presence of the King. How awesome that God specifically went looking for me to restore me in His grace and bring me to Himself? Not by anything I've done, but by everything He's done. How does that cease to astound me? May we never lose sight of the awesomeness of grace again.

Pastor Wade told us "grace" in the Greek is "loving kindness," and I have seen this so evident this week. In His loving kindness, God sent a dentist who has spent the past three days pulling and fixing and working on the teeth of our students and others around Destino who needed relief from pain. And in His loving kindness. God took one of our teacher's sister home to Him, where she is no longer in pain, but can rejoice before the Lord. And in His loving kindness, God has made the six of us English teachers into a family here. A family that can circle around our hurting sister and offer her our prayers and our support. And in His loving kindness, God has provided us with a small community of other English speaking missionaries who can meet together to fellowship and worship in English as we did last night. And in His loving kindness, after another awesome English sermon at church this afternoon, He allowed some students from Destino and a few mothers to be baptized in a pool set up in the courtyard of the school.

And in His loving kindness, we were all able to share a meal together afterwards (although who knew rice, beans, repollo, and tortillas went with spaghetti?) And in His loving kindness, we returned home from church to a small fire in the street outside our neighbor's house, so Bethany and I quickly ran to the Mercadito, which just happened to have marshmallows and chocolate, and we made s'mores with the neighbors out in the street, a perfect end to this week. 

I love how God has been showing little acts of kindness all week, and I hope my eyes continue to stay open to this. As Pastor Wade said today, God has blessed me so that I can bless others. Pray that blessings would not only flow into my life, but out of it into other's as well. Love you all!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paz (Peace)

This week has been rainy and cold almost every day. I think we've seen the sun like twice. Let's just say this has made the kids crazy because we couldn't go outside for recess, and no one likes that! However, we did have some fun with our indoor recess in first grade :)

Aren't they cute? Gotta love them. 

Friday we only had a half day with the students. The buses took the kids home at noon and brought all the parents (mostly mothers) back to the school. Teachers met with the parents of the kids in their grade and gave out report cards for the parents to sign. The Honduran teachers were also able to talk with the parents of some of the kids who need extra practice with their work at home or those who don't pay attention in class, so the parents know what is going on and can hopefully help out at home. 

Saturday Rhonda picked up all us Americans and we went to lunch with her and another couple who was visiting Destino from the States. In the evening we had our English teacher's Bible study with homemade pizzas and Ephesians 2, then Sunday we picnicked in the a park with other English teachers in Sigua and played some Frisbee before church.

I love verses 17-18 from Ephesians 2: "He [Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." I am so thankful that because of Jesus's sacrifice and the Holy Spirit living in me I can come before God with confidence with whatever is on my heart, and He hears my prayers and brings His perfect peace, the peace that passes all understanding. I need that peace every day, and He is gracious to give it. Even in the midst of crazy school days, screaming kids, and busy schedules, I can still find his perfect peace, and rest in His presence.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Semana de Exámenes (Exam Week)

Wow. So I have finished my first exam week, and can I just say, longest week of my life! Because I have the two youngest classes, neither of which can read or write well enough to take a written test, I had to one by one pull students out to test them orally. It took FOREVER, but it was good to have that time one on one with each child to see what they really know. 

After a long week of testing, grading, and writing in report cards, Friday night we met with some of the other English teachers and had a movie night, which a good way to wind down from the week. Halloween is not really celebrated in Honduras, especially by the Christians, so it was pretty much just a night like any other.

Saturday a few of us went to Pan de Casa to work on grades and report cards, then out to lunch. Unfortunately, while we were eating someone broke into the car and stole my iPad and another of our teacher's computer. So that stinks, but I'm thankful nothing else was taken. It makes me think back to the first mission trip I took five and a half years ago to Jamaica. One of the girls on the trip had her camera stolen, and I remember her saying when we came back that yes, she was upset it was stolen, but then maybe that person needed it more than her. So I am looking at the situation with that attitude and will pray that whoever took our things will be blessed by them. Maybe they took it for selfish reasons, or maybe they took it to feed their family. Either way, I pray God will work in their hearts. As 1 Peter 3:8-9 says: "Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."


Sunday, October 26, 2014

What are you looking at?

This week at Destino was review week, as we have our first exam week starting Monday! For prepa and first grade, that meant playing some review games so we could spend the week going back over everything we've learned so far. Next week I will pull the kids out one at a time to orally test them on the alphabet, our vocabulary, and some phrases we've been learning. I know some of them are ready, but others I'm a little worried for. Should be an interesting week coming up!

Tuesday, Destino hosted two soccer games during the school day against the Montessori school. I got to see the end of the first game with the prepa kids and most of the second game with the second graders. We won both games (Go Lions!) but I think the kids were more interested in not being in class than they actually were in the game :) The older kids really got into it, cheering the team on. Montessori even brought little cheerleaders, pom-poms! Too cute.

Saturday, one of the teachers from another school in Sigua hosted a potluck so we got to go hang out with a group of other English speaking teachers from five different schools. Of course clumsy me started off the evening by falling in a ditch outside the house and scraping myself up, but the rest of the evening went up from there! It was a great time of fellowship and good food :)

Going into exam week I've been reading 2 Corinthians 4. Verse 18 says: "We set our eyes not on what we see, but what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever." I can see what my students are learning about English, and what their grade will be, but God says that will last "only a short time," and it's true. The things I can't see are what my students know about Jesus, and this is what will last forever. 

Every morning the kids start the day by reciting "Quien Soy En Cristo," which means Who I Am In Christ. It is a front and back list of statements taken from Bible verses about who we are as Christians, like "Soy hijo de Dios" (I am a child of God), "Yo soy la sal de la tierra" (I am the salt of the earth), and "Yo soy el enemigo del diablo" (I am the enemy of the devil). The first graders, who I am with first thing in the morning, have this whole list memorized. They literally SCREAM it out to me every morning. But my prayer is that throughout this year, they will truly understand what they are saying. These are the truths God speaks about them, and all of us, and I hope they believe that and will walk in these truths.

That's why I titled this post "What are you looking at?" It's easy to get caught up in what we see, because it's right in front of our eyes, but take a step back, read 2 Corinthians 4, and start looking for what we cannot see. I'll tell you it's a challenge. I have to remind myself of that every day. What is "seen" is that I came to Honduras to be a volunteer English teacher in a school for poor kids, but what we cannot see is the impact that one person can make on a child's life just by showing them the love of Jesus that they may not see at home, through a smile, a hug, and a story in broken Spanish from the Bible.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

¡Vamos a Belice! (We're going to Belize!)

I have now officially been living in Honduras for 2 months, and this past week has been the most insane. One of our English teachers, who I assist in the afternoons at school, went to the states for her best friend's wedding, so I took over teaching half of second grade, all of third, and part of ninth, in addition to my prepa and first graders this week. The kids were writing letters for their sponsors, which was extremely difficult since prepa does not know the alphabet yet, first grade does not read or write, and second and third grade struggle with writing sentences as well. But we made it through, and everyone survived. Thank God for three day weeks. Thursday and Friday we had off school so that we could travel to renew our visas. Honduras will only let us stay in the country for 90 days, and then we have to travel 2 counties away for 2 nights to be able to get another 90 days here.

Tuesday night, Jenna, Colton, and I went to Bible study at the Spanish language school with other missionaries who are learning Spanish there. The passage of the night was from Jesus's sermon on the mount where he tells us not to worry in Matthew 6. I've also been reading 1 Peter 5. Verses 6-7 say: "Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." How prideful it is for us to worry! We think we are in control and can handle our lives, but Jesus said, "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27). We would be so much happier and live more freely in God's will if we would just turn all our worries over to Him. He is the One who is in control, anyways, and this was definitely something I needed a reminder about as we prepared to travel out of the country.

Thursday morning we were up at 4:30 AM, and Jose, our bus driver, picked up Kathy, Sheena, Jenna, and I at 5:30 to go to Puerto Cortez, Honduras, about a 3.5 hour trip. From there we caught a bus to the Guatemalan boarder, about 2 hours, where the bus stopped to let us off and walk across the boarder. (We did still go through immigration!) We found someone on the Guatemala side of the boarder with a van who told us the last water taxi for Belize left at 1 PM, which was in 50 minutes, so we quickly loaded up and he drove like a crazy person to get us there on time. Even with stopping for a passport check and another visit to immigration, we were able to make it there right at one, where we where informed the taxi did not leave until 1:30. God was definitely there looking our for us to get us there on time though! We went through immigration again in Puerto Barrios and loaded up on the water taxi with a British guy named Ryan and a couple from Israel who were on their honeymoon, along with a few others. The ride was thankfully pretty smooth until it starting raining the last 15 minutes! Once we made it to Punta Gorda, Belize and went through immigration and customs for the last time, we grabbed some food and walked down the coast to the place we were staying, the Blue Belize.

The power went out soon after arriving, so we walked back down the coast to the closest restaurant. Asha's Kitchen, for dinner by lantern light. After dinner and walking home by flashlight, the power came back on and we sat in our living room and sang hymns. 

Friday morning I woke up to the sun coming in the window at 6:30 and spent some time reading before we ate breakfast on the porch. We headed out at about 9 AM to walk the city and see what people God put in our path. We met some of the same people the other teachers had met on their last trip in Belize, and some new people, like Marlon who was a Rastafarian. We had some interesting conversations, but it was a good day. We also got to tour a chocolate making factory, and by that I mean a little house where they make chocolate using a few machines and a hair dryer. 

Saturday we were up at 6:30 again to pack up and walk back to the water taxi dock. We stopped at a small restaurant for some fry jacks and played a couple rounds of Bananagrams before going through immigration and getting on an emptier water taxi for the ride back to Guatemala.

After an hour on the water taxi we made it back to Guatemala where we met Marlon, who had a van and would drive us to Puerto Cortez, Honduras. Three more immigration stops and 2.5 hours later we were back in Honduras.We caught a crowded bus that would take us to San Pedro Sula, and that ride was the longest 2 hours of my life. At the bus station in San Pedro, which is almost like a mall with shops and a food court, we got some food and caught a bus back to Sigua. Unfortunately, we got stuck in traffic, which turned that part of our trip into a four hour bus ride. At one point, we saw motorcycles passing us on the sidewalk, then pickup trucks, then 12 passenger vans, so our bus drier thought, why not him? You know traffic is bad when a bus drives up on the sidewalk to bypass some of the traffic. We finally made it back to the Sigua bus station around 8 PM and got a taxi to take us home. Our other housemate, Bethany, had already made it back from the states, so we got to catch up with her before crashing early. Who knew a full day of traveling could be so exhausting?

So our trip was successful, and our visas a re renewed for another 90 days, so we can make it to Christmas. Thank you for your prayers while we were traveling. Love you all!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

La Buena Obra (Good Work)

I think I'm finally figuring out my routine here, although I'm scared to say that because I know as soon as I do, something will happen to switch it up! Like Tuesday, one of the buses broke down, so we were stuck with all the 1st-6th graders and only one bus, which meant the bus had to take half the kids, turn around and come back, then take the rest of us about 30 minutes later. This didn't phase the kids though! They had fun playing duck, duck, goose and other games. I'm impressed with how well they entertain themselves!

Wednesday in 3rd grade I got to do a cheer with the 3rd graders to help them learn the "s-h" sound, which was pretty much the most awesome thing ever. Here's the video if you missed it on Facebook:

I am loving these kids, but exam week is coming up quick and I'm nervous for them! I want to see them all do well, and I hope they will be ready!

One big thing I'd really like to ask you all to pray for right now is our visa trip. On Thursday Sheena, Kathy, Jenna, and I will have to leave Honduras and go through Guatemala to Belize until Saturday. Our visa says we can only stay 90 days here, then we have to go two counties away for two nights to renew our visa, so this trip will fill those requirements. Please pray for our safety and travel arrangements, as it will take a car, some walking, two buses, and a water taxi to get there. Also pray for the people we will encounter there (who actually speak English!) and that we will be able to be good witnesses for Christ and touch the people we meet there.

Philippians 1:6 says that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." God is doing a good work here, through Rhonda, and Destino, and the other missionaries and Honduran teachers. I am honored to be a part of this work for as long as He allows me to be. Thank you for partnering with me in prayer!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rescate (Rescue)

Relatively regular week! Teaching has been going well, as have my Spanish lessons. Wednesday we missed the Destino bus for church, so my housemates and I watched our own sermon at the house.

One of my housemates, Bethany, had a birthday Friday! Thursday at our prayer meeting we ate a delicious chess cake and read her Bible verses we had prayed over and chosen to encourage her.

Friday Bethany, Jenna, Colton, and I had a picnic breakfast in our courtyard before school. A fun, delicious start to Bethany's birthday! I am the first one home on Fridays, so I made brownies from scratch to continue celebrating after school. We all went to dinner at the Chinese pizza place and then to a Honduran worship night, led by the nephew of our pastor at Destino. This was a cool experience after the English worship night we had a few weeks ago. The birthday celebrations concluded with more brownies in the courtyard.

Saturday was a relaxing day of rest. Did a little planning and a little reading in the hammock, and went to a coffee shop with Jenna.

Sunday we did errands and church. On the school bus on the way home, we got stuck on a hill in El Socorro, one of the neighborhoods, and everyone had to get off the bus and walk up the hill so the bus could meet us at the top! So that was fun.

This week I read some verses from Psalms 91 (thanks Bronwyn for the encouraging verses!). Verses 14-16 say: "The Lord says, 'I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer, I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will satisfy them with a long life and give them my salvation.' " Really, you should go read all of Psalm 91, because it's just awesome, but these verses about God rescuing His people really have been speaking to my heart. I know I need to be rescued from my daily problems and worries, but the people here have so much more they need to be rescued from: financial problems, illnesses, family tension, but most of all this belief that they need to DO things to obtain salvation. This verse says when they CALL ON ME I will answer...and give them my salvation. Does God want us to do good works in His name to bring glory to Him and be good witnesses to those around us? Of course. He wants us to care for His people as He does. But first, we have to call out to Him and realize that He is all we need. He is The Rescuer.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Delante de Él en amor (Before Him in love)

Well, this has certainly been another interesting week. Tuesday morning, one of my students threw up all in the classroom, on me on the way to the bathroom, and then there on the floor. Great start to the day, but it got better from there. After school I had my first Spanish lesson at the Spanish Institute. This is a school in Sigua where many missionaries come for six months to a year to learn Spanish before moving on to their mission field. I will have one class every week, and hopefully that will improve my communication skills.

Wednesday I woke up with a little sore throat, which Thursday turned into a raspy voice and continued on through the weekend. Please pray for this all to be better for school on Monday! 

Friday we did not have school, but it was a work day. We sent out emails to all the student's sponsors to confirm that they will be praying for their child. That evening we had out first English teacher's Bible study meeting. We are reading Ephesians together, and had a delicious dinner and wonderful time discussing the first chapter. I love verse 4: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." How awesome is it that we can come before Him in love, without fear? The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear, and that is what we have with the Father. I can come to Him with any worry and any request and lay it out before Him, because He made me holy and blameless before Him.

Saturday Colton, Jenna, Bethany, and I went to a place called Atolera, which is about an hour from Sigua and has a mini zoo and delicious food made from sweet corn. We had a fun, but exhausting day together, and I was in serious need of a nap afterwards. 

Sunday I had a much needed day of rest before church. Praying for God to give me energy for this week!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Aventuras (Adventures)

Crazy week this week, although I'm discovering every week has at least one crazy thing about it! Monday we had the day off of school for Honduras's Independence Day, so we took that opportunity to go on a little adventure! In the morning we watched some of the parade, which was pretty cool with the bands and costumes.

After touring the parade (it was barely moving, so we just walked up and down the street to see everything) our group of Destino teachers met up with some other missionaries to go to the Pulhapanzak Waterfall. It was about an hour and a half drive, and an absolutely beautiful place.

A few of us actually went on a waterfall tour, where a guide takes you down, through the water, and behind the falls into some pretty small and dark spaces. I'll be honest and say I was scared, but I survived, and it was an awesome experience!

After that fun and exhausting day, it was back to school for the rest of the week. Thursday I stepped in to sub in 2nd and 3rd grade English where I am usually the assistant, so that was a long day. So far the teaching has been going well, a lot better than I expected! 

Saturday, a missionary couple in Sigua opened up their cafe/church for an English worship night with other missionaries here. I have two awesomely talented housemates who sang and played some familiar songs. I enjoy church at Destino, when I can keep up, but it was nice for one night just to be able to focus on worshiping God, and actually knowing what I was singing about. Tim, the owner of the cafe, also led a little talk/message on Acts 1:3-9, which I just read Friday night. Funny how God works those things. He talked about how Jesus said we WILL BE His witnesses. It was a statement, not a command. As Christians, baptized in the Holy Spirit, everything we do is a reflection of the Savior, no matter where we are. That's just part of being a Christian, and it was a good reminder.

Sunday before Church I had to redecorate for Prepa, which is moving from the church to the living room of Rhonda's second house for now. Normally they have to put up all the chairs before and after Church on Wednesdays and Sundays, then reset up the little tables and chairs for school. Recently, there have been so many people attending church, there is not enough room for all the Prepa tables, chairs, etc. and all the people, which is a good problem to have! The other English teachers came to help me put most everything back up on the walls in the "New Prepa." I am so thankful for them!

The sermon today came out of Acts as well, so clearly God wants me to be reading that book right now. Can't wait to see what He has to reveal to me through Paul and the early church!

I the words of Lecrae: "Mercy, love and His grace, The reason we movin' here. Speak out Though we've never been qualified to do it. I ain't earned it I was loved into it. I'm brand new."


Sunday, September 14, 2014

¡Celebración! (Celebration!)

Two weeks into school, one month in Honduras, and still going strong! Wednesday was the Celebration of the New School Year at church, so all of us teachers showed up in our uniforms and the church building was packed out with children from the school and their families. It was a tight fit, but we all squeezed in!

All of us new teachers had to share our testimonies during the service. Jenna helped me translate mine into Spanish and write it down, so I was able to push past the nerves and read my testimony in Spanish, which I have to admit was awesome after the fact, but I was super nervous leading up to it! At the end of the service, all the teachers, bus drivers, and Rhonda came up on stage and the church prayed over us.

Wednesday was also a holiday called "Day of the Child," so on Thursday we all had parties at school! I had so much fun getting to hang out with my students and celebrate with them. In Prepa we played Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Musical Chairs, Wheelbarrow Races, and of course, a Piñata!

These kids went CRAZY over the candy, cake, and coke! In the afternoon, I got to do it all over again with first grade! We took over the playground, and they beat that poor piñata til there was nothing left!

Friday was back to a normal school day after all the chaos, but it was fun while it lasted! This weekend was a good time of relaxing. Sunday we went to lunch again before church with Rhonda, and in the evening Jenna, Bethany, Colton, and I took a walk down to a local park/playground to hangout and talk with some kids. No school Monday because it is Independence Day here, so a group of us are going on an adventure to Pulhapanzak, Honduras's largest waterfall. Can't wait!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

¡Escuela! (School!)

Wow! It has been a crazy/stressful/different/blessed first week of school here at Destino del Reino! I teach English for an hour and 20 minutes first thing in the morning to 1st grade, with a short break for bathrooms, recess, and water, then I teach an hour of English in Prepa (Kindergarten) with a break half way through for their lunch. In the afternoons I assist one of my housemates, Bethany, in her second and third grade English classes, and on Mondays I stay an hour later and assist Colton in ninth grade. (My kids are the cutest!) School here is a lot different than at home. Here are just a few things I've noticed:

1) The bus comes at 7:10 AM to pick us up, picks up all the other teachers, then picks up all the kids. The kids sit six to a seat (three bigger children on the bottom holding three little children in their laps), and we all arrive at school at the same time a few minutes before 8:00.

2) Each day starts with a devotion. On Mondays the elementary grades have a general devotion all together, and Tuesday-Friday the first teacher of the day gives the devotion in their class.

3) Every class starts with prayer. I'm learning this is a great time for me to get refocused before each class, and also for the students. 

4) Beginning class size is 30. I have 30 prepa students and 30 first graders. Every grade after that has a few less as some kids drop out or get kicked out, but yes, I am teaching 30 five-year-olds a brand new language.

4) Toilet paper is rationed out by the teachers at the bathroom, because students will try to take it home.

5) There is a dog that wanders freely through the school during the day.

6) At lunch, all the kids get vitamins, and after lunch, they all have to brush their teeth.

Monday was a little nerve-wracking and crazy, because I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but overall the first day wasn't too bad. One of the prepa boys cried from the moment he got on the bus for the whole rest of the day. This is their first experience with school, so it was understandable, but sad. My assistant in that class is their Spanish teacher, Yohana, and she spent most of the time Monday telling the students to sit in their chairs, because they would just get up and start wandering around the room!

Tuesday night all the American teachers met to have our prayer meeting. This is just a time for us to share what's on our heart and pray for each other. Wednesday morning the bus was about 25 minutes late picking everyone up, so the school day started a little later. Thursday we had our teachers meeting after school to discuss things from the first week and share prayer requests for the students. Friday the girls and I just had a night in to recover from the week!

So I had a good first week of school and I feel more ready for the weeks to come! Saturday was a day full of errands and we were able to meet for lunch with other English speakers who teach at other schools in Siguetepeque. That was a great time of fellowship and food! Sunday all the American teachers went with Rhonda to lunch to catch up, talk about our first weeks, and ask any questions, then we all headed to church. The sermon today had something to do with honesty, but that's about all I understood...

Something that has been showing up a lot in my devotions and Bible reading this week is the theme of letting go of things in your life as worship or an offering to God. I'm praying that God will show me what is is He wants me to release to Him, and for His strength to help me with whatever is it. Thanks to all who are praying for me!

"Lord, I know that people's lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps." Jeremiah 10:23


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Casa Visits

This has been a crazy week! Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from all the teachers grouped up to go on house visits for all 300 students in the school. My group had the mountain villages, which involved a lot of scary driving and mountain hiking to get to these families' homes. The Lord protected us though! At each house we (and when I say we, I mean the Spanish speaking teachers in my group) would ask the families if they had prayer requests that we could pray for and that we will also email to each student's sponsor so they can be praying specifically for their student. We also encouraged them to attend church regularly, and prayed over each family. This was an awesome and exhausting time. I enjoyed getting to meet some of my students and their families, and get a perspective on where these children are coming from. Wednesday we finished up around noon, so all the teachers went out to lunch together!

Tuesday night my housemates and I went to a Bible study at the Spanish language school with other missionaries that are here learning Spanish before going out to their mission field. Colton, the other new American Destino teacher, has been going to the Bible study here and was facilitating the discussion this week. It was a good time of worship and studying the word, and it was nice to understand everything that was being said,unlike church on Wednesday night. I am definitely doing a lot better with the Spanish sermons though. I think I understand more each time I go to church, so I'm making progress!

Thursday was spent planning at the school, without power. Jenna and Bethany ran through a mock class with Colton and I so we could get the feel for how a class runs here, which was super helpful. Don't know what I'd do without these girls! On Friday morning, all the parents (mostly mothers) came to the school for the first meeting to go over the rules and get uniforms and such. Luckily, the power came back on right before the meeting! Rhonda talked with the parents first about the purpose of Destino del Reino. She wanted to be sure the parents understood that at Destino we are not just here to help the poor and educate children, but to train up missionaries who are willing to die for Jesus Christ. That is our mission and that is what we are praying for the kids, to have such a strong faith that they will never renounce Christ, even in the face of death.

Friday after school our land lady's son invited Colton, Jenna, Bethany, and I to go out to his farm not far from where we live. He has a whole lot of land, which we hiked all over. Apparently, the higher the altitude, the better the coffee, so the farm went up into the mountains. It was raining off and on, so the ground was a little muddy and slick. If you know me, you know I'm clumsy, so these things were not a good combination, but I made it to the top of the mountain for this great view of the city, even through the clouds.

Saturday we worked on lessons at the house and did our grocery shopping. In the afternoon, once the massive rain storm had taken a little break, all the American teachers met at Sheena and Kathy's house to share the prayer requests we had written down during house visits so that we each could email them to the students in our class's sponsors. Most of my prepa students still do not have sponsors, so again, if you know anyone who might be willing, please mention it!

Sunday brought an afternoon of rest and relaxation before church. Pastor Pablo preached from the story of Jesus calming the storm, and pointed out that Jesus asked two questions: Why are you afraid? and Where is your faith? He then referenced my favorite verse, Romans 8:28. We have not reason to fear, because "God works all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

I have been feeling nervous for the first day of school tomorrow, but I know I have been called here according to God's purpose, so I have no reason to fear. He is working all things for good. So I am working on learning to trust Him more, and surrender my plans and expectations for what each day will hold. I have no idea how tomorrow and even the rest of this week will go, but He does, so I can rest in that knowledge. Would you pray for me this week? I'll update you all on my students and this first week later on! Thank you for your continued support.