Sunday, November 15, 2015

School Stories - Pinatas, Rainbows, and Poems

This week, I decided to focus more on my third grade class since last week was all about fourth grade... Quite on accident, I assure you. Sometimes, one grade is just more interesting than the other. As crazy as things are already getting as I have to leave my kids to work on their own while I practice for Christmas with the older grades, we're still finding plenty of time to have fun and keep things interesting.

Here is the saga of the 3rd Grade piñata... Which I documented through the daily vlog I'm doing over on my YouTube channel.

First, you see my kids begging me to do a piñata because they apparently hate the Lion King... Who hates the Lion King? It's the best movie EVER!

Then, when it came to actual piñata-making day, none of them had brought the balloons they were supposed to, so I sort of rant about that and describe the version of a piñata we did that I wasn't sure would actually turn out....

Then, I managed to use masking tape and pure magic (I guess) to keep it all together, and somehow we had an actual piñata that actually survived a few blows....

They're all smiles (and rabbit ears) so they must be happy about how it turned out!

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We're also doing a unit on poetry in third grade, so part of their homework involves them writing poems. Although I only require 4 lines, I sometimes get more, like this masterpiece about cooking, done as a shape poem (which we did in Spelling class).

I am cooking
If I don't cook I don't eat.
My mom don't cook because
she don't lik and my brother to
is not in the house. I love
cook because I can do pizza
cake and spagety.

(by Angeles)

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This picture I took from right outside my bedroom one morning. It was raining as I was getting ready, and then as I was rushing to go downstairs where my ride was waiting, I caught sight of this beauty and decided there was always time to take a picture of a rainbow.

Sidenote, the easy access to other rooftops often makes me think of Aladdin....

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My third graders have also been working hard on a science project in their own homes about the needs of plants. Unfortunately, I only got pictures of two of their finished projects which they brought to present to the class, but here they are:

Angeles bought two similarly-sized flowers and put one in a bag and didn't water it...
She determined that plants need sunlight and water.

Juan Jose chose to grow plants from seeds, one of which was placed in a plastic bag. This gave me a good opportunity to talk about how seeds hold nutrients so that plants grown from seeds don't actually need sunlight at the beginning. I further showed that with Jahir's project, which was basically the same as this one. But, his plant that had sunlight was bright green whereas the other was much more dull in color.

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Last Monday, it was the director's birthday, so they had a surprise party here at the house. I decided to spend most of the afternoon painting my nails rather than doing any writing work, so here is the result of that.....

Yes. That's a feather on my ring finger.
No, it actually wasn't that hard to do.

That's it for this week. I'm expecting this next week to be just as exciting, because when you're working with kids, you just never know what's going to happen next!

Please be praying:
- That God continue to move in the hearts of the kids as we have daily worship and prayer times.
- That everything continue to come together smoothly for the Christmas show, which is in less than 4 weeks already!
- That I continue to seek God first in everything.
Also, quick praise report: Last week, I was suffering from some pretty intense lower back pain, but thanks to a chiropractor friend in my Bible study, I am now completely pain-free once again! :D

Sunday, November 8, 2015

School Stories - Science Project, Twins, and More!

I meant to start updating this weekly, but totally forgot last Sunday, so here's two weeks worth of fun school stories, with pictures!

In science, we were learning about plant reproduction, so they were all asked to bring in two flowers so that in case some of them forgot, there would potentially be enough for everyone to do one.... One girl remembered and showed up with two roses... They're lucky I love them and wasn't actually giving points for it. So, it turned into a group project and competition (boys verses girls, of course) to find as many different parts of the flower as possible.

Opening up the rose to prepare to tear it apart.....

..... And the rose has been destroyed in the name of science.

If you couldn't figure it out, the girls' project is on the left and the boys' is on the right. :)

The boys technically one with more parts labeled......

But I also considered the girls winners for pure artistic work.

In reading class this past week, we were reading about weird jobs, including line waiters, egg smellers, chocolate engineers, and.... zombies. Since the beginning of the year, a couple of the kids have been stumbling across this picture randomly and insisting that it was my boyfriend, so at their request, I sent it to my actual boyfriend and said that it was my real boyfriend. He responded with a series of angry faces and guns, then said my boyfriend was disgusting.... And then a few hours later sent me a picture that said "I'm so glad I know you" so I'm pretty sure he was over it by then.... :D

Probably no reason for real jealousy here......

This precious young lady is Gissel. Her and I apparently are twins or at least psychically coordinate our accessories before coming to school...

Matching pink headbands....

.... and it's hard to see, but we're both sporting butterfly earrings.
(that's Kyle photobombing our twin selfie)

If I've learned anything teaching, it's that kids are crazy, and they have some pretty interesting thoughts on the way things work. This masterpiece was done by Dennisito. It's apparently me, accidentally pooping out a baby.... As much as I wish it were that easy right now, I can imagine a future me will wish it even more.....

Also, I'm a little concerned because it appears that the baby is going down the drain....

That's all I got for you this week. Hopefully I'll have some more fun stories and pictures for you next week.

Please be praying:
- That everything goes well with organizing, planning, and practicing the Christmas program.
- That the construction on the church continues to move forward so we can be in our bigger sanctuary very soon.
- That God continue to fill me with Him and everything that I need to pour out more of Him onto the kids.
- For the school, that everything works out with the math teacher position.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Back to School!

Ok... Yes, it's nearing the end of October and actually we've just finished up the first semester so we're already 1/4 of the way through the school year.... But close enough, right?

In my last "real" blog post, I talked about a really cool opportunity that I had to teach at a school in a poor area where I could really make a big impact. However, that opportunity fell through for several reasons that were not related to me. It was devastating at the time, though.

I spent a nice 6 weeks visiting family and friends in Michigan during the summer. I was also working during that time which sort of sucked, but I feel like I also would have gone crazy if I wasn't doing anything productive while I was there. It was mostly the online writing jobs that I normally do, so it was only a couple hours a day.

Anyway... I also spent a lot of the summer just feeling like I was adrift and had no real direction or plan for what I was going to do upon my return to Honduras. I had several more opportunities with other ministry groups, but there was always something that just didn't allow it to work out, so I just met more and more disappointment... It was a little rough.

Finally, after much praying, I realized that God had me right where He wanted me, so I have returned to the same school, though I have been given different grade levels. I'm now teaching 3rd and 4th grade, which is a million times easier than the little ones. We've been having a lot of fun, and if you haven't seen some of the videos we've made, then you should check out my YouTube channel...

Right now I'm doing daily vlogs throughout October, so that's been fun. I may continue through November, but we'll see. I'm also planning the whole Christmas production for the school, so there's a lot that I have to do for that... Including choreographing a LOT of songs.... Which is my fault for picking songs that aren't super popular, but I'm trying to get a point across and need songs that go with the skit, so.... I've already choreographed 5 or so, but need another 3 or 4...

So, that's pretty much what's going on with me right now. I am going to be updating my blog on a weekly basis with weekly highlights. The posts will be shorter and will hopefully have more pictures in them, but I want to get better about keeping people updated on my life here in Honduras.

Please be praying:
- For preparations for the Christmas show to go well.
- For a member of the church/school staff who just lost his son.
- For missionary friends that are moving back to the States after 9 years of serving in Honduras.
- For my relationship with my boyfriend to be honoring to God and continuing to grow.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I'm Officially Honduran Now!

Well, it's official. I am a Resident of Honduras! My paperwork finally went through after months of waiting, and I went to Immigration on Tuesday where I paid the final fee, handed over my paperwork, got fingerprinted, and then was handed my official paper that says that I am a Honduran Resident. Eventually I'll get an actual ID card that I can more easily carry with me, but in the meantime, this paper means that I don't have to leave the country every 90 days and that I don't need to have a "return" ticket when flying out from the United States.

It makes me feel like an official Honduran.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Door is Open...

The door is open, but whether or not I will be able to walk through it is still up in the air.

I currently have an opportunity to work at a different school that is in the works by a missionary friend of mine. They have a sponsorship program in a poor community where they get kids into schools that wouldn't otherwise have a chance to go. They now have so many kids enrolled in the public schools that the schools are refusing to take more of these sponsored kids, so they have decided to open their own school.

When they approached me about it, I had already been seriously considering a move to another amazing ministry far outside of the city. There, I would be primarily in charge of the animals and help create a sustainability program with the local community, and would also be able to help with the trade school where women make jewelry among other things.

I visited them over Easter break and LOVED it because it was a lot of working with my hands and the animals and great people, but something just didn't quite feel right about it. I honestly can't explain it, but I just didn't have an absolute peace about going there. But I was still thinking about it and wrestling with my decision when J offered me a teaching position at their school.

Of course I then spent several weeks going back and forth and not being completely sure about either, and frequently joked about just tossing a coin to decide. As it would turn out, there were a couple of seemingly minor events that confirmed my direction.

One night, I did actually pull out a coin and flipped it. While it was in the air, I knew I wanted it to land on the school, on staying here in San Pedro Sula and working with the kids that I love, the ones that don't have another chance to go to school, the ones that I've already been working with on the street.

There's a large Coca Cola sign on the side of the mountain that can be seen from a number of places around San Pedro, and there's also a trail that goes up the mountain so that you can go behind the sign. My roomie and I conquered said mountain trail one Saturday morning and as I took in the breath-taking view of the city beneath me, the thought that bubbled up along with a strong sense of belonging was: "This is my city."

I've never considered myself a city girl, despite the fact that I spent the majority of my life in the suburbs of Detroit, but there's something about this city that just makes it feel like my city. My heart is here. I don't know how this big city stole my heart, and I certainly don't know when, but somewhere along the way, it happened.

And so... If all goes well with the paperwork process involved in starting a school here, I will be taking a teaching position starting in February. The school year here goes from February to November, although a lot of bilingual schools are on the American schedule of September to June.

Here's the catch: I will be teaching Spanish reading and writing.

This is slightly terrifying. In a recent blog post, I talk about Corner School, where I have been teaching the street kids Spanish reading and writing. So, I know it's something I can do, but on the street corner with 2 - 3 kids that have no expectations and are not going to be tested on anything is a heck of a lot different from being in a class of 10+ kids that do have to learn everything and will be tested on it. And it's something I will be getting paid for and have to prepare for and all that jazz.

So, after I head up to Michigan to visit family and friends for the summer, I will be returning in August to begin one-on-one Spanish tutoring. My original plan was to attend a Spanish school, but after much asking around, I found a friend who is a great Spanish tutor (she's tutored several missionary friends of mine who all recommend her) who's going to charge me less than half that I would pay in an actual school.

So, since I won't be getting paid (except in online work if I can keep getting it) during that time, I'm looking for donations and any assistance that I can. Here is a breakdown of my anticipated expenses during that time. I don't yet know where I'll be living, so that is estimated, but here is my budget during that time:

Tutoring - $6.50/hour for 10 hours/week - $65/week - $260/month
Housing/Utilities - $150/month
Food/Etc. - $100/month
Misc. - $100/month

Total: $610/month
For 3 months: $1830

If you are interested in helping, here are some ways that you can help:

Donate directly to me though PayPal:

Donate through my GoFundMe campaign:

Buy some of the jewelry I have for sale:

Hire me over the summer!
   - Babysitting
   - Painting
   - Yard work / Gardening
   - House Sitting / Pet Watching (possibly my house with pets)
   - Summer tutoring
   - Spanish lessons
   - House / Garage cleaning (I'll even haul away the junk you don't want.)
   - Pretty much anything else you could possibly need help with!

More than anything, though, please continue to pray for me as I step out in faith every day and try to follow God's plan for my life. Pray for the legal process involved in starting the school, that they would have favor and that everything would fall into place. Pray for me as I transition to being back in the States for longer than I've been in over a year and for transition back to Honduras after that. Pray for every student that God has already planned on placing in the school that they would get sponsors and be able to come and learn and be loved.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

ESL Stories - Part 2

This is the second installment of some cute and funny ESL stories that I have gathered from school. Kids are funny to begin with, so when you throw in a language barrier, things get hilarious. It can be frustrating at times, of course, but the moments of frustrations are far outweighed by the moments of joy and hilarity.

Click here to read my first installment of ESL stories!

First, a quote from me: "Ok... No more dance. It's exam time."

For some reason, one of my first graders simultaneously got stuck on "2005" and Beethoven's 5th symphony (the one played in the movie about the dog with the same name for those who are not overly familiar with classical music). This resulted in her singing "two-thousand-five" repeatedly to the tune of Beethoven's 5th. Still not sure why that was happening, but eventually one of the other students picked up on my mild annoyance at it and decided to tell her to stop by using the same tune to sing "no-thousand-no...."

In Kindergarten, things can get very weird very quickly as a result of their limited English combined with their endless desires to amuse and entertain and be the centers of attention. One day, I was asking what something was called. I'm no longer sure what I was referencing, but it had nothing to do with the Lord, sheep, or green pastures. However, one of the girls responded by quoting the Psalm they're memorizing: "The Lord is my shepherd... Even though I walk through the valley...."

In first grade, we do journal entries almost every day. It gives them a chance to do something a little different and we can talk about whatever I want rather than having to stick just with the book lessons. During the month of February, we made a paper chain that contained words on it that had to do with love, pulling mainly from I Corinthians 13. One of the words therefore was "believe." So as we made a list together of things we believe in, one of the girls started singing: "I believe I can fly."

In Kindergarten, we were working on learning future tenses of verbs, and despite the similarity between English "future" and Spanish "futuro" they were having a hard time remembering what future was. So it happened that one day in class I asked, "What is future?" to which one student replied, "Octopus." After rejecting her answer, another student thought for a moment and replied, "Future is Wednesday."

During chapel on Fridays, we sing a variety of songs, one of which is called "Jesus is my Superhero." The chorus consists of singing "Yeah.... yeah... yeah... yeah...." then declaring that Jesus is better than [fill in name of superhero]. One day in first grade I asked a student if she had a pencil and rather than simply answering yes, she answered by singing, "Yeah.... yeah.... yeah... yeah..." complete with hand motions.

I have a personal rule about laughing at students. I simply do not do it, no matter how poorly or badly they mispronounce words. The last thing I want is for them to think that I'm laughing at them and I know how it feels to be laughed at for bad Spanish. However, I broke that rule a while ago because I was completely caught off-guard by the word that was mispronounced and because of the way it was spoken. In Kindergarten's vocabulary class, they had the phrase "put on your clothes" as part of the lesson on what your day looks like. We hadn't studied it much in class, but they had been given flashcards with the words on them to study at home, so I hoped that at least a couple of them might know the cards when I pulled them out in class. One boy did... sort of. When I showed him the card and asked him what it was, he got excited because he knew it from studying with his mom (who doesn't speak any English) and loudly proclaimed, "Put on your CRAP!" I lost it, regained my composure to correct him on it and get the kids to say it correctly several times, and we moved on. As we went through the cards a second time, it came up for the girl sitting next to him. She couldn't remember it, so he helpfully whispered it in her ear. Like him, she loudly proclaimed it to be "Put on your CRAP!" Again, I lost it. That time I also tried to explain that it was a bad word to discourage them from making a habit out of it, but I'm not sure they caught that. At any rate, I was able to correct them on it, and no longer had them say it unless I read it first to them.

Hope you enjoyed them! Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Corner School

It's been a while since I've updated as per usual. A lot has been happening since then which has kept me busy. Teaching remains as busy as usual, and I've added a couple of personal blogs that keep me busy in my off time, PLUS my roomie and I started up a little ministry which we call "Corner School."

Corner School happens at the intersection by the mall where a bunch of street kids (and a few homeless guys) hang out. It happened one day that on our way out of the mall, we decided to buy baleadas (my favorite Honduran food) for the handful that were out that day, and while we waited for the women to make them so we could pay, we discussed what we could do for these kids to sort of make them work for their food.

So, I asked them if they went to school. One of them was in school, another had gone to school through 3rd grade, and the other two were not in school. We asked if they wanted use to teach them since we were teachers. The one who had gone through 3rd grade asked in English or Spanish and I said whatever they wanted. He was eager to learn English, so we agreed to teach them starting soon.

A couple weeks went by before we were able to actually get started, and the day before we planned on starting was a Sunday. We were walking to meet a friend at Denny's when we found about 10 of the boys hanging around the corner. They gathered around us at the urging of one of the older boys and I made the announcement that we would be teaching English and Spanish starting the following day at 4pm.

And so it began.

We now go Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 4pm. We have 15 notebooks that we carry to and from the mall each day, but rarely have more than 6 to 8 kids show up. Most of them work in Spanish with me, and a few of them work with English with Dana. She now has a guy our age who sells fruits in the streets who wants to learn English that she works with.

I don't know how much of a difference it's going to make in the long run, and I don't know if these kids will ever be able to read or write fluently since many of them don't come consistently, but I know that some of them are starting to learn and they are eager to learn and work hard when they do come. But what is more important than teaching them to read and write is the time that we're investing in them that will hopefully show them God's love.

One day, my star student Walter got hit in the side by an older boy as we arrived. I didn't really see it happen, but I did see Walter sitting on the ground, crying and upset. Knowing that the other boys would do nothing to comfort him, I went over and sat beside him. I put my arm around him, asked him what happened, and gently rubbed his head and back as he vented about what the other boy had done to him. Since the boys don't really have supervision and there's not really anything I can do about it, there was nothing much I could say, but I was able to comfort him.

The thing is, even if years from now none of them remember me, I will remember them. Even if I don't end up doing anything for them, they did something for me, probably more than they'll ever know, and probably more than I'll even realize.

You see, my Spanish sucked up until a couple months ago. Sure, I understood a lot and could even order food for myself, but when it came to having an actual full conversation in Spanish, it just didn't happen. I have some social phobias, and because I knew my Spanish wasn't the best, I tended to get super fearful when it came time to talk in Spanish and whatever Spanish I did have suddenly disappeared and I couldn't come up with any words and just felt more embarrassed.

So, I never really spoke in Spanish which meant it never got any better which meant I still got nervous when I had to speak it. I had also been teased about it by a guy, which made me feel even more incompetent... But because I was in a teaching environment in which I was comfortable and talking with kids that weren't judging me on my Spanish or making me feel bad about it, something clicked. It was like all the Spanish that was locked up inside me had become unlocked and I began to speak it more freely and without fear.

One day in particular stood out to me. It was the only day (so far) that I've gone to Corner School by myself, but my roomie had a massive migraine and I wasn't going to let the kids down. That day, a young woman approached me and asked me about what I was doing with the kids. I told her and invited her to join us anytime, but she worked until past the time we usually started. Another woman stopped in her car and asked about what I was doing, and I sent my phone number to her (via one of the kids).

Then, on the way home, a guy who had seen me on the corner was coming out of his business and asked me about what I was doing with the kids. We ended up talking for nearly 5 minutes about it, and I only tripped over my words a couple of times, but just kept going. I exchanged names with him, became Facebook friends, and started hanging out with him.... He's now my boyfriend. He speaks virtually no English.

No no matter where I go or who I'm talking to, my Spanish just flows more freely and I don't worry that much when I don't have the words right because it doesn't matter as much. Sometimes I stumble and fall in my words, but I just keep getting up and plugging along. I definitely have those kids to thank, who were willing to open up to me to allow me to teach them. I hope that I can continue working with them and maybe someday I can repay them for what they've done for me.

Please be praying for me in these ways:
- I have a HUGE decision coming up as to where I might be doing ministry next fall. Please pray that I make the right decision based on what God would have me do, not based on what I want to do.
- Pray that my new relationship continues to bring glory to God and that we continue to seek God's will in our lives.
- Pray for the kids that come to Corner School, that they would recognize that we're there because they love them and that we love them because God loves them.
- Pray for the older guys we've met at the corner who want to get clean but don't know how (I am talking with a friend about getting them to a rehab center).
- Pray for the kids at Eagle's that they would continue to work hard in the final semester and that God would continue to give me the patience I need to get through the rough days.
- Pray for traveling mercies as I am currently in Costa Rica renewing my visa and will be traveling back to Honduras tomorrow.