Saturday, June 11, 2011

English Class

I know it was probably a crazy idea, but I agreed to it anyway. And, I am REALLY glad I did, because I'm enjoying it very much! A few weeks ago we started an English class for the ladies of the micro-finance site, that is led by Cindy and Maria. The ladies heard Maria speaking in English awhile back and started insisting that she teach them! With their businesses, English would be a helpful skill, especially for those who plan to sell things to tourists. Maria and Cindy were already swamped with their 3 little groups and all those details, so they asked me if I'd be interested in helping them out. I thought about it, prayed about it, and said yes. We agreed to do 10 classes on Friday mornings. The ladies pay a nominal fee for the class to cover supplies, and we do it in the office. It's a 2 hour class, with cafecito (coffee time) included. Maria, Cindy and the teams help with the class and help watch Lynnea. I give out homework and we have quizzes. It's the real deal! Some of the ladies have never studied English before, so we are starting at the beginning. The first day we got through 1/4 of the lesson plan. But we'll get there. Like I said, it has been really fun for me to teach again, and to teach motivated learners, too! With a 'role' that is so undefined and random sometimes, and a life schedule that is just as much so, it's been nice to have a small thing to plan for, count on, and do well with! We'll see how these 10 weeks go, but if the ladies want to keep going, I just might want to, too.

From English Class

From English Class

From English Class

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Around Here

Now that we've been in CR for almost 3 years (Wait! Did I just say 3 years?? How can that be already?!) sometimes I wonder what to write about on this blog. It isn't that things aren't happening. Actually, a lot is happening; there are constant challenges and victories going on with our kids, ministry sites, the communities, our staff, etc. But we've run out of all the incidental things that are easy to write about but used to be novelties--things like riding the buses, buying our groceries, etc. Those are LIFE now. Now we are into the harder things, the deeper levels of culture and culture shock, the harder-to-explain and more-complex issues of ministry, life and spiritual warfare. Sometimes the things I want to write about aren't maybe blog-appropriate. Or, I'm so used to them that I forget they might be interesting to someone else.

So, let me try and fill you in on at least a few things, in no particular order.

In May, we had a staff retreat at the beach. It was wonderful. Our speakers were Nate and Maggie Slabach, from SI-DR. They shared with us about avoiding burn-out in ministry. I'll write another post with more details, but a couple of highlights were the life of Joshua (70 years of effective leadership and virtually no mistakes!) and John 15, the passage about the vine and the branches. Only if we REMAIN connected to the vine will we produce fruit. Cut off, we wither. So simple, yet so easy to forget in the day-to-day. Yep, I definitely want to write more about that later.

We have hosted several groups so far this year, and are actually in the middle of our 'summer' teams season. We're thankful for great groups so far, and pray that they leave changed, with well-watered seeds that will continue growing. We also have 6 amazing interns this summer. They are quite the eclectic little group, but came with hearts to serve and have really jumped in whole-heartedly to their work! I don't think it's far off to say they've been thrown in the fire, but they've really risen to the occasion and had super attitudes in spite of be overwhelmed by culture, language, ministry, etc. We're so thankful for their support during this season!

Our car: our car had been running great, but recently developed a clicking sound and today dumped a lot of anti-freeze on the ceramic-tiled garage floor . . . it's going to the mechanic tomorrow. We're bracing for the worst (replacing/rebuilding the engine) and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, it seems like these things ALWAYS (and, really, I'm not exaggerating) happen at the worst times. We have been trying to raise money for an SI vehicle, but since that hasn't panned out yet, we use our Galloper for transporting students, interns, supplies, etc., not to mention how much we rely on it for daily life. If we don't have a car for awhile it will be a pain in the neck at best. Please pray for some kind of a miracle. . .

This week we hosted Dave Hansen, our SI president, plus Lowell Troyer, director in the DR, and 2 board members, Rod Frese and Tom Babaggian for a few days at our home. It was a good time with lots of laughter; they were able to see what is going on at the sites, and share with and encourage us and our staff. We are so thankful for those guys and all the work they do so that we can be here. It is amazing to have an extended family through SI.

Olivia and Sawyer recently got their 1st trimester grades. Both of them are doing very well in school, thankfully! Olivia's reading in both Spanish and English is really taking off, and that is fun for this teacher to watch!! Sawyer has had a few, ahem, behavior issues (bothering other kids, impulsivity) that led to us meeting with his teacher and the school psych, and now seems to have shaped up-- again, thankfully! While talking with another teacher there about her son w/ similar issues, we joked about how ironic it was to be the moms of those kids! :) Since he is a child with high activity levels, they suggested he be involved in active things after school (agreed). So, in addition to soccer, he recently started tae kwon do. We'll see how it goes. Olivia also added tae kwon do to her extra-curricular activities. She decided basketball wasn't for her, even after sticking it out for the 2 months Mom and Dad insisted on. But tae kwon do seems to be right up her alley, and she was excited that she got to break a board on the first day. Please pray for us as parents to really SEE our kids and KNOW them so that we can parent them as God requires. Pray that their hearts would be soft towards the Lord, and that we would be effective in teaching them about their Father's heart towards them and his desires for them.

Lynnea continues to be a sweet little peanut. She's 8 1/2 months, not quite 17 pounds, and about 28 inches long. She crawls like a sprinter, puts EVERYTHING in her mouth, pulls herself up on anything she can, and is starting to scare us by climbing the steps. She is a sweet-spirited baby, but we have to watch her vigilantly!

Jeff is finishing up his MA program in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Seminary as I write. His final classwork needs to be emailed off tomorrow by midnight!! This will be a HUGE load off his shoulders (and mine, too!). It will enable him to teach in our semester program that starts next January with Fresno Pacific. I don't think either one of us remembers what it was like before he started this program 10 years ago. . . may he finish well!

We are on the hunt for more/new staff members to add to our CR team. We'd like to bolster each site with at least one more staff member, and there are a couple of site ideas we're open to launch if we have the right people to pioneer them. Our staff typically make 2 year commitments and so that means that some of our staff will be deciding whether to go or stay SOON. Plus, we need some administrative and leadership help. So, we're praying for just the right people in all of these roles. There are several North Americans, and even a few Latinos interested, so we'll see. Pray that we'll (and they'll) have wisdom as to whether God is calling them here or not. Also, the process can be lengthy for North Americans to raise support, do language school, etc., so pray for stamina on our part as we wait for God's timing!

Our house/SI office. Any of you who have visited know we love our beautiful house. It has been the perfect home for the SI office, hosting people, etc. However, we're starting to think about whether or not we should stay in it. Our lease will be up in December, and we're assuming that we'd have the option to renew the contract. But rent could rise, or the owner could decide she really wants to sell. Also, the one thing our house lacks is a yard. This is actually not uncommon. Most of the houses in the city have little to no yard. I find it a bit ironic that we are in one of the most beautiful countries in the world yet have to search a bit to enjoy that natural beauty. Anyway, we would REALLY love to have a yard for the kids to play in, and for us to enjoy as well. BUT, there aren't many options around. As leaders/directors, we need to be centrally located, close to main roads, easily accessible, etc., which means we need to stay close to where we are. We've been 'keeping our eyes open' for any houses that might have yards AND still serve SI's needs, too. Not really any leads. There are actually 2 in our neighborhood with potential, but as far as we know, neither are for rent or sale. We've seen a couple of lots, but don't really know if we want to pursue a building project/look for a loan. (Though we do have some good ideas!) Obviously buying a house/lot would have implications for how long we plan to stay in CR, too. Basically, we are coming to a crossroads and want to be prepared to make a good decision. Please pray for us in this!! We are content to be where God wants us. If that means staying in our current home, great. If there is something else out there, we need the Lord to show us. And, if this house isn't even an option come December, well, then we'll really need another plan!

Spiritual Warfare. Since this stuff happens in a realm we can't usually see with our eyes, and there's a lot of mystery surrounding it all anyway, it's hard to know how to write about it. We know there is an enemy out to devour us (1Pet.5:8), but we also know that we serve the GOD who is soooo much bigger and who has already WON this great war we are in, though we are still playing out the details. There have been things going on from time to time that indicate spiritual attacks--and now seems to be one of those times for many of our staff, and the communities we work in. We realize that we have placed ourselves as targets by taking a stand and attempting to push back darkness and bring hope to the communities and students we serve, so it doesn't really surprise us. Please pray for deep spiritual insight into what is going on and how we should be praying/counter-attacking. Pray for protection over our staff, sites, families, students, etc.

And, now I realize how long this is!! Kudos if you made it this far--it's much appreciated, and a bit admired. :) More later!