Thursday, January 15, 2015

Transitions

Things have been pretty crazy over the last month or so...

It started near the beginning of December as we began preparing for our school's Christmas program. It meant spending a lot of class time practicing and occasionally having one of the other teachers come and pull my kids out of class to practice... Which threw my whole planned schedule off, but I managed.

During the last two weeks leading up to the performance, things had started settling into a routine, and I would go help manage the kids during their practices for a couple hours in between their two recesses. Somehow, I still managed to get all their classwork in, though it took some effort.

The Christmas show went well. I filmed it all by setting up my camera on a tripod near the back of the room, so although there are occasional parents standing in the way (and a minute or so where there's actually a head blocking 1/3 of the screen), it actually turned out pretty well. I'm hoping to get in soon to edit it and put each song up on YouTube separately... They should be up by next Christmas.... ;)

So, the weekend after our Christmas show, I spent packing up the entirety of my belongings here in Honduras. The room I was staying in was just barely big enough for me (if you consider having to share my bed with my clothes normal), so when a friend made plans to move down to teach with me, the school decided to move me so we could live together in a larger space.

I hate packing. With the passion of a thousand burning suns. So having to literally pack everything knowing that I didn't actually know when I would be unpacking it was torture.

Here's the thing... They were planning on putting us at the director's mom's house. But, there were only 3 apartment rooms there. Two were occupied by young men who have less-than-ideal reputations, and the third is kept open for visiting family members.... So they were going to add another room to the house... And we were going to stay with the pastor's family in the meantime.

As of right now, the room hasn't even been started yet (to my knowledge), either because they're running on Honduran time or because they found a different home for us with the pastor's parents, which is bigger and already exists, which therefore makes it better.

But.... his parents are in Texas visiting family right now, so we we haven't been able to move in quite yet.... They're supposed to be coming back tomorrow, so hopefully this weekend we can move in to our permanent home. Yay!

It's been kind of hard simply because most of my stuff (including most of my clothes) are still at my old place. And there are random other things that I want to do or think about doing but realize that I can't because it's in a box.... At another house.... So I can't get to it. I mean, we do have exams this week, so I have been keeping busy planning exams, checking exams, and planning classes for next semester, but it's still frustrating to realize that you can't transfer all those video files onto your external hard drive because it's.... In a box.... At another house....

I have been realizing lately that although I do ok when I'm in transition and am fairly flexible in that I can be content wherever I am, it is really important to me to have a place that I call my own, even if I know it's temporary. The last place I stayed felt like mine as soon as I stepped inside, and even though there were a lot of things I didn't like about it (cold showers, no sinks, one electrical outlet...), it felt like my own little corner of the world where I was free to do whatever I wanted, so I loved it. And although I love all the conveniences of living with the pastor's family (delicious free food, hot showers, reliable wifi....), I'm excited to get into "my" house, about which I'll get to create a new list of likes and dislikes, but I can call it mine.

Also, I went to Michigan for Christmas and it was pretty okay....

Just kidding. It was AWESOME. I was only there for a little over a week, but I was able to see a TON of my favorite family members and friends.... I was going to make a list of some of the things I did while in Michigan, but I realized I pretty much only saw family and friends.... Which is way better than just doing things.... But I did do some shopping, a lot of eating, a couple puzzles, a game of bowling, a bit of churching, a little gaming, plenty of singing, and a lot of eating.... Yes. That was twice on purpose, because I really feel like all I did was eat while I was there.... I'm pretty sure I gained like 5 pounds that week.... I have no regrets.

It was weird to me because the last two times I visited my family, I really wasn't thrilled about going, primarily because I was missing school and didn't like that part of it. But this time, after the stress of so many Christmas show practices in which I was responsible for supervising all 50+ kids while doing choreography.... I was ready for a break. Even that was a weird transition for me, to be in Michigan and then back to Honduras so quickly. It was definitely a part of this whole last month feeling like a transition, and it's not over yet since I'm moving in a few days...

While I was in Michigan, I realized something important: No matter where I am, I will still be me, which means I will have the same issues to deal with. And at the same time, God will still be with me to help me through them.

Something I've been asking myself lately is this: Do external factors affect our internal states more or less than our internal state affects our external factors? Should they? I really don't know the answer to this, but it's something I've been thinking about.

Anyway.... Congratulations if you're still reading this, as I've sort of been rabbit trailing and may have lost sight of the original idea of the post at this point.... Please be praying for me as I move toward the end of this time of transition, that I keep relying on God to get me through, and that I remain strong in Him. And please be praying for ministry opportunities for me, that I can pursue a ministry that's even closer to my heart than teaching.

Thank you, and God bless!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ESL Stories

As promised, I'm going to begin to share quick stories and funny things that happen during class. I jot them down as they happen so I don't forget. I tend to think that I'm going to remember something, only to try to think of it later, and only remember that it was something funny.... So here are a few anecdotes from the last couple of weeks....

I'm going through the Christmas story one character or element at a time with First Grade (today we talked just about the angels and their involvement). The other day we were talking about sheep. So I asked: "What do sheep have to do with the Christmas story?" One girl answered something about dancing, to which another replied, "No! Sheep can't dance. They don't have hands."

During a rainy lunch/recess time, Preparatoria (Kindergarten) was eating in the class and playing a guessing/I-spy type of game, asking "What's red and a circle?" and answering "A ball." They mostly used pictures or objects that they could see around the class, which made it easy for me to guess because I just had to look where they were looking.... So at some point one of my class clowns looks directly at me and asks, "Who has a mouth and glasses?"

With Christmas coming up, we're doing a lot of practicing of Christmas songs and dances. One of the boys excitedly exclaims to me in class, "Miss! Ya entiendo que es Merry Christmas! Es la cumpleanos de la escuela!!" (I understand what is Merry Christmas! It's the birthday of the school!) He went on to explain his reasoning being that one of the songs contained the phrase "Happy Birthday." I'm not sure which song he's referring to, but I did manage to explain to him that it is the birthday of Jesus we celebrate.... not the school.

Sometimes kids and their language skills just make me laugh. I had one of my First graders come up and ask me all in Spanish: "Can I tell you something? But can I tell you in Spanish because I don't know how to say it in English?" I ignored the fact that she had just asked me all of that in Spanish and let her continue.... I didn't entirely follow her story, but it was something about Santa.

In both grades, we've been talking about bees. In First Grade, we read a story last week all about Honey Bees. I would ask at each page the jobs of the different types of bees that the story discusses. We get to the drones, the only male bees in the colony. In the book, it says "The drones help the queen." So I ask the girls, "What do the drones do?" Their answer? "The queen."

In Preparatoria, we're reading a story about flowers, so I took some time to explain nectar, pollen, and bees. Not sure if they got it, but they got some of it... So then I explained the difference between bees and wasps. I drew a bee with honey and a wasp with an arm showing a stinger and a sad face... I asked what bees make, and the answer was a resounding, "Honey." Then, as I worked on the drawing of the arm, I asked what wasps make. One girl hesitantly responded, "Sandwich?"

More to come soon!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Quitting Time

Sometimes, it's just time to quit, so that's what I'm doing... Not my job..... Facebook. I'm quitting Facebook.

Last night, I was still up at 10pm, and instead of either reading my Bible or just going straight to bed to get a "full" 7 hours of sleep at that point, I signed on to Facebook.... I used the excuse that I was chatting with someone to keep scrolling aimlessly through my feed, reading, liking, and commenting on things I didn't necessarily care about and could have done without knowing.

When I finally got off at 12:30, I had an epiphany, and finally admitted to myself that I was addicted to Facebook among other things. After doing some journaling, praying, and declaring myself free of these things, I decided to quit Facebook.... I felt the same sense of overwhelming relief and freedom that I've felt on several occasions when I made decisions to get out of unhealthy relationships.

So, today, I made my last post (a birthday greeting to my brother, although now that I think about it, THIS will be my last post, but this feels more like the shutting of the door), will soon be updating my cover picture to direct people here, and then it will be time to close that tab for the last time. I am asking my cousin to change the password so I can't get back in, but people can still get in contact with me if necessary.

The good news is that this will give me more time to pursue real relationships with people rather than searching for personal connections in a long list of posts. I'll also have more time to devote to the ministry I'm doing here and the work I do from home. It will provide me with more time to sleep and get into the Word.

While this one victory over this one addiction tastes sweet already, I know I still have a long way to go, but am grateful to know that God is still willing to work on me, and that He hasn't given up on me, and that He isn't finished with me yet! Defeating this one addiction will help me get the strength to continue breaking the others, one by one if necessary.

The other good news is that I will be updating my blog more often since I don't have a better way of keeping the "general public" informed of all my happenings. :) Please feel free to check out my Facebook page to get my contact information. If you don't know me and desperately need to get in contact with me for some reason.......... Leave a comment? That will work.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Back to ESL Business

So.... I gave up on this blog a long time ago because of the Google takeover of Blogger and I couldn't figure out how to get back into my account.... Then today I was trying to figure out Google Adsense and found that this site was still making (a bit of) money, so I tried signing in for the heck of it, and it worked! I'm not sure how, because I just clicked on the "sign in" button and it took me to my home page.... But I'm glad it did. This blog name is a LOT easier to remember. So, I will be writing in here from now on.... As often as that happens....

So many funny things happen throughout the day when teaching English to little kids, so I've started jotting them down in my iPod during class so I don't forget them. Here are the stories I have collected at the moment.... Enjoy!

I was with my Prepa (Kindergarten) kids, and their new favorite phrase is "I love you." It's usually adorable, unless they say it right after they've just done something they know they're not supposed to.... I was on my way out of the class when they surrounded me, saying "I love you," one at a time, and of course I told them I loved them back.... Then I turned to one of the girls who looked especially eager to tell me how much she loved me and she asks me, "Can I go to the bathroom?"

There's a song we sing in chapel called "One Way." It's a very upbeat song and the kids love it. The chorus goes like this: "One way, Jesus / You're the only one that I could live for / One way, Jesus / You're the only one that I could live for." The tune is very catchy. We are also doing "Let it Go" from Frozen for our Christmas show. So, I had just announced that we were going to practice (which gets them super excited, because who doesn't love dancing to Frozen?), and one of the girls starts singing to the tune of "One Way." "Frozen, Jesus...."

I was in First Grade, where my girls get stickers for using their English. For some reason, the phrase "Can I go...." sticks with them. So one of the girls asks me, "Can I go to the sticker?" This was quickly followed by another girl asking, "Can I go to the bathroom?" And a third looking at me thoughtfully before saying, "Beautiful."

As much as the chaos that often comes with teaching young kids drives me crazy, it's the little moments like these that reminds me why I love what I do so much.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jack and Khalil (RIP)

Jack is among the few horses that were here from the beginning. His name still hangs in the little barn in its original place when WWR started their horse program some 25 years ago. Khalil arrived not too long after that. During the last 10 years that I've been here, we've relied on these two as our "A list" horses, the ones that could go out and handle the littlest day campers and the most terrified residential campers without us worrying over the results.

As they got older, their health started failing. Jack was nearly blind as a result of an eye injury a few years back coupled with cataracts, and Khalil had some pretty severe arthritis that made it difficult to get around. They had this whole past summer to mill about in the pasture at the little barn as a good long retirement, but on Monday was their time to move on.

They went down together and without a fight, clearly ready for this life to be over. As sad as it was, I saved as many of my tears as I could with the thought that they're better now. They get to be up in heaven now, where Jack can look around and see the beauty around him, and Khalil can gallop through golden fields with the horses that have passed on before them.

Life goes on. While the mares that were pastured with them aren't sure how to come in anymore without the boys to guide them, they'll soon have other horses moved up to keep them company. Their stalls at the big barn were filled during the summer with younger horses that will hopefully take their places along the "A listers." Whether it's the loss of a human or equine life, we must always look to the future and seek to raise up the next generation to be as great or even greater than the one before it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Haven't Been Here in a Long Time

I would say it's about time I update my blog, but it's probably way past that time. I do plan on updating more often as I come across new adventures, but I tend to get busy with other things and forget. :(

So, I am back at WWR, and have been for over a month now. Wow! I can't believe it's really been that long! I'm LOVING it here, and picking up a bunch new hobbies, such as various things involving the milk goat I bought, and tanning animal hides. Who would have ever thought me of all people would enjoy tanning hides? Ah, well. I guess some people do change.

There's not really a whole lot to report. I'm getting into the swing of things here, and keeping busy with a couple of online writing jobs, including a book on fly fishing. If you do need to know anything about fly fishing, let me know. I'm about a third of the way through writing the book and already know way more than I ever thought I would about fly fishing.

The other job is ongoing and involves burlap. I recently got a shipment of burlap from the company I'm writing for, and will soon begin to make crafts with it and do DIY tutorials about burlap crafts. That should be a lot of fun, and my friends and family can expect to get a lot of burlap for Christmas, because I'm not sure what else to do with all of the crafts once I've made them.

On that note, I am beginning to try to sell crafts online. I have a couple pairs of feather and bead earrings that I made up for sale, and will eventually add other items, such as binder twine bracelets, which are popular around WWR, but maybe not elsewhere. We'll see, I guess. I also have 15 other pairs of earrings that I've made, but are lacking the actual earring piece. I'm waiting until I finish writing the book to buy them, so I can actually devote the time into making more of them. They should all be online by the end of November in time for people to buy them for Christmas.

Well, I have a whole pasture to go through and pull out all the wood and branches that are out there. We're borrowing a wood chipper from someone, so it's the perfect time to get the pastures cleared of logs and such, and have good use for the rotting wood. Back to work!


Just because I'm trying harder to get more pictures put up here more often, here's a picture of a saddle that was donated here years ago that we haven't been able to use. I cleaned it up, and put it for sale on craigslist. The money I get from it will help out with other expenses in the barn, like repairing the saddles we do use. I have some better pictures of horses and pretty skies and such on my other camera, so I'll try to get those in the next one.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tough Choice

Life is full of tough decisions, and I feel like my entire summer was spent wrestling with one.

It started back in February when I heard about a full-time staff opening at Wildwood and my heart leapt inside of me. Before I had felt called to Honduras, I had been interested in having such a position. At that time, however, it wasn't available to me, and God had other plans for me first.

I went to Honduras and served there all last year, teaching Kindergarten. Then, I got hired on to work another summer at Wildwood as a wrangler. As the time to go to camp drew closer, I grew more and more excited, but started to feel somewhat conflicted, wondering if I could do both. Could I have my heart both at Wildwood and in Honduras? I wasn't sure.

It was about a week into the summer when I regretted going because of how much I loved it, and I wasn't sure that I could ever leave. I started to feel a freedom that I hadn't felt in months, not only to go out and do things without fear of being robbed, but to be who I am.

Whether from a lack of language or feeling uncomfortable expressing who I am for fear of what people would think of me, I had lost myself while in Honduras. I left it out of my blogs, but I had become depressed again for the last couple of months of being here, and it took a lot of effort to get through each day.

Throughout the summer, people would frequently ask me when I was returning to Honduras. My answer was always the same: August 8th, and I always felt a rise of anxiety about returning. I talked with a close friend about it, and she asked me what I would do if I didn't go to Honduras, and I expressed how badly I wanted to stay at Wildwood.

I eventually ended up going to my boss as well as the director, and it was more/less settled that I had a job there if I wanted it. At first I was ecstatic, but the more I thought about it and pictured it, the more of a dream it became, and the more sure I became that I wouldn't ever be able to work full-time at Wildwood. It was one of those "this is too good to be true so it can't be possible" feelings.

As summer started drawing closer to an end, my fear about returning to Honduras grew stronger, and I started to have the sense that I shouldn't go. People frequently asked me if I was excited to go, and I would honestly tell them I wasn't. When they questioned me further and I explained how I felt, they would ask why I was going if I felt that God was leading me away from there? My answer was simply that I had already committed to teaching another year, and I didn't want to let anyone down. Plus, with my emotions on high, I wasn't entirely sure that that's what God was saying.

The day before summer ended, I went on a trail ride with the other wranglers. I chose a goofy Arab named Dottie not only because she had become one of my favorites during the summer and I wanted to help her overcome her fear of jumping (caused by an inexperienced and nervous jumper on her earlier), but also because I had had a dream where we had been soaring majestically over jumps and it was glorious.

Before we left, I had a feeling in my stomach that something bad was going to happen on the trail, and felt like I shouldn't go. But, I forced the feeling down, attributing it to excitement and having not ridden all week, and off we went. Sure enough, I fell off one and a half times, and got hit in the neck with her head (still not sure how that one happened). I have plenty of nice bruises to show for it and am otherwise fine, but I definitely knew before we left that something was going to happen. And so it did.

I spent one night crying out to the Lord and praying, and that sense that something bad would happen if I went rose in me again, like before the trail ride. It was impossible to ignore, but I was still planning on going to Honduras at that point, and considering leaving at Christmas if things got bad again. At long last, I asked God if I should stay, and a peace washed over me. I was then able to calmly get into bed, and slept.

As I presented this to friends and family members, they were excited about me staying, but agreed with my decision not just based on that. I'm SO grateful to my friends and family members that were there to support me, listen, and pray for me.

Currently, I am in Honduras. I had already paid for 2 weeks of Spanish language school, and have a few items that I left here that are important to me. So, I bought myself a return ticket for 3 weeks from now, and will be starting up back at Wildwood almost immediately.

It's been sort of hard coming back. God was definitely with me. There was a miscommunication, and nobody showed up to pick me up at the airport. However, I was on the plane with a member of the church and her two sons (one of which goes to the school here), and they were able to make some phone calls for me and drove me to a friend's house who took me to another friend's house where I'm able to stay for at least tonight. A lot of the details are still up in the air about how I'm getting to Copan this weekend, but I trust that God will work all that out for me.

It's been hard because of how many people I've already seen that I'd grown to love, including the couple that I lived with, and one of my students. It did stir up some doubts in me because I did love teaching, but I know that God has me elsewhere now.

So, I guess that's it for now. I'll likely continue updating this blog, or else start a new one to chronicle my journey at Wildwood. Thank you all for your support, and for believing in me even when I didn't. I'll be seeing most of you sooner than expected! :)