Monday, September 17, 2012

"Anyone who believes in Him will not die..."

Another week has passed here in Xela. This was a big week for this country; it was Independence Day! It has been a bundle of parades, fireworks, parties, fairs, and hullabaloo. Guatemalans do Independence Day to the max. Thursday night, the friends and I, attended the infamous Independence Day fair in town. This consisted of lots of shopping, rides, food kiosks, and lots of people. We even got up the courage to ride a rickety ride that dropped us from about 200 feet in the air. Needless to say, we survived. We DID however have to pay to use the bathroom. They shoulda paid me to use that thing.

At the fair, we ate at Luna's Grill. These were the mascots enticing people to come in.
Some rides at the fair...sketchy.
On Friday, the school had a holiday for Independence Day, which means teacher road trip! We traveled to Antigua (yes, that is extremely close to Volcan de Fuego, the one that forced thousands to evacuate). Antigua was just as alive and exciting for Independence Day. Ten teachers from school rode on a bus together Friday morning. We arrived around lunch time and did plenty of shopping and sightseeing. We had an absolute blast! We toured a Jade museum which is something Antigua is famous for. We also toured a Bread shop (orange chocolate bread...why didn't I think of that?). AND we walked through a Chocolate Museum.

Our mob of gringos in Antigua. (from the left: Megan-2nd grade, Sarah-middle school Math, Sean-HS Math, Liz-Spanish, ME, Devin-MS Bible/English, Aaron-PE/Resource)

My 3 great friends at the gorgeous McDonald's in Antigua.

This is our whole group, all teachers from IAS.
The next morning we climbed up Pacaya, which is an active volcano about an hour outside of Antigua. I cannot even begin to describe this experience. We got to see Volcan de Fuego explode a little bit in the distance while on our hike. Everywhere we looked was just endless mountains and views. We also reached a point that was just dried lava rocks everywhere. It was incredible! We got to roast marshmallows and make smores on some hot rocks. We were such small, fragile little people in this huge mass that God created. SO awesome.

Our group in the volcanoes!
Liz and I making smores :)

Yesterday at church, the pastor talked about Freedom from Depression. He read about when Jesus was about to be arrested and even Jesus struggled with depression. In that moment, Jesus wanted to die rather than go through what He was about to go through. He cried out to God and asked Him to take the cup from Him. It was an incredible perspective He presented, in a way I had never heard before. I continue to struggle with the fact that the God is always with me. Never once did we EVER walk alone. He never leaves us; never forsakes us. Such an overwhelming thought. I struggled with depression a lot in college and I've almost forgotten how difficult it can be. I'm so grateful that depression is a past memory in my life and He continues to walk this journey with me. My God cares about the small things and loves me so much. My class' memory verse last week was John 3:16. I take advantage of the words in this verse because it's repeated so often. I loved hearing the interpretation my young kids got from it. God DIED for us. He loved us and wanted to be with us. Now we get to be in heaven one day because He died. If you ever want your faith to be renewed step into a classroom or hang out with some kids :)

Life is still good. I LOVE my job. Even when it's hard and I'm putting in 40+ hour weeks. I love laughter with my friends. They encourage me and challenge me to be more godly just by being godly themselves. God is faithful and is at work here. Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for energy and patience, and that time with my Savior would be a priority. All is healthy and well. Hope you are having a blessed week :)

Love these people.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

For God SO loved the world...

My goodness I have so much to tell you!! I apologize for not blogging last week. Not a ton exciting went on and I was exhausted and busy. But hopefully this week's will make up for it! This has been an incredible week. There has been a little bit of everything...sickness, wonderful moments in my classroom, laughter, and also being so exhausted I spend most of my Saturday in bed.

A couple of teachers at the school decided to start a Bible study for the high school girls. We started the first one this week. It was really exciting getting to hang out with some students from that school that aren't 8 years old. As much as I love my kiddos, I'm excited to get the chance to bond with some older girls. We're going to be studying Ruth this semester which is one of my favorites! Please pray that this Bible study would allow these girls to feel comfortable with us and that God would speak through the teachers. 

During chapel this last Thursday, our principal related being born again to the life of a butterfly. It was such a beautiful representation that my kids really understood since we just finished life cycles in science! After chapel we spent some time as a class just worshiping and coloring pictures of butterflies. We wrote John 3:16 beneath them as a reminder of how we can become beautiful butterflies. I took a short video of this moment in my classroom. My students love the song Mighty to Save and always ask me to play it. This is one of my favorite songs and has been a huge part of my salvation. I tear up every single time I hear the song and when my students sing it, it's like God is literally in my classroom.

This was such a blessing for a Thursday morning. I felt so at peace with being in Guatemala worshiping a huge God with my 8-year old students in my classroom. We are so blessed that we get to speak and sing the Word of God in the same place that we're learning!

Why I do what I do :)

One of my girls singing and coloring her butterfly.
This next weekend is Guatemalan Independence Day. The last couple weeks have been very eventful with parades and sporadic fireworks. We are anticipating even more patriotism and craziness this week. The school is off on Friday (coming at such a great time) so us teachers are road trippin to the city of Antigua. It's about four hours away and we plan on doing the touristy things such as shopping and eating as well as some hiking. It'll be nice to get away for a couple of days.

My two friends, Devin and Sean, both got brutally ill this week. Devin had a stomach infection and Sean contracted some amoebas. They are both healing quickly, but please pray for their continued healing so that God may continue to use them.

I am still taking Spanish lessons with Byron. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Although it's exhausting speaking and understanding Spanish and teaching English in my second language, I'm learning quickly and the lessons are extremely helpful. God has really laid it on my heart to minister to him and tell him about the amazing God that I serve. Not only am I here for my students, I'm here for the city of Xela, to make Christ known everywhere I am. Byron asks lots of questions about what I do and it's really exciting talking about it. Pray that the gospel can be spread to him in the midst of a language barrier.

Always have smiles on their faces!
I had a long discussion with one of my friends here the other night about our purpose in being here. It's difficult to feel like a missionary sometimes because we serve relatively wealthy students in a wealthier city. It is by no means comparable to the States, but being in a third world country, this is a wealthy city. We have felt challenged to love not only our kids but the city and everyone we come in contact with. God can use rich or poor, kids or adults, Guatemalan or American. Matthew 5:14 is painted on the wall that my classroom door is on. Kari Jobe sings a song with the same words. Her song says "we are the light of the world, we are the city on a hill." This city is quite literally on a hill and the school is up on an even bigger hill! It is such a sweet reminder that these kids could be the ones that God uses to change the world one day! Every teacher needs that kind of encouragement.

Thank you for your prayers and for checking in with me. Please include me in your lives and know that I care what's going on with each of you even though I live so far away. There are people in several countries reading my blog and I'm once again so humbled and grateful to my Savior for writing my story. These aren't my words and none of this was my idea. God loves me enough that He has CHOSEN to include me in His story. What a great God we serve.