Sunday, May 21, 2017

Final Days

Los Delfines
 It has been so long since I’ve added an update! The end of the year has been a constant state of hectic, as most end of the school year events seem to be. One of the fun busy weekends consisted of two day-outings. The first outing was with my class. We went together to a nut tree farm called Los Delfines, or the Dolphins literally. They use the water that they water the nut trees with as a small water park, and then the water is pumped out to the trees. It is an excellent way to make money off of water 2 times over for a desert farm!

I find it hard to stay in teacher mode when swimming, fishing, fighting with water guns, and everything else that goes along with summer is available. I’m not sure who had more fun: the kids or me. I love being around water, and being able to spend it with my class made the day feel perfect!
Tio Albert's

The next day, I volunteered to “help” out with the 8th grade day outing, which was at another water park called Tio Albert’s. I put “help” in quotes because I’m not sure if they actually needed my help, but I was up for another fun day! It also was nice getting to know the 8th graders better, most of which are siblings of my students.

The next big event was a high school production of Pygmalion, the original play of My Fair Lady. I love plays, so I went twice: once to the dress rehearsal and then also the opening day production. I almost went again to the final showing because the high schoolers did such an amazing job!


A lot of our school subjects have been wrapping up in class, which has given me some free time to do more fun educational opportunities. On May 10th the entire school was encouraged to dress in purple or wear something purple to help raise awareness of perinatal strokes. One of the students in my class has a cousin who had a stroke while still in the womb, and so I had a blast going all out with purple and learning more about the condition. It was a wonderful learning experience for me as well as the class. Something else we’ve been doing is a mock trial case where each of my students has a role to play in a trial case against the wolf for murdering and eating two of the three little pigs. Our court trial will be this coming Tuesday, and I’m looking forward to seeing the verdict the jury comes up with after hearing from the lawyers and witnesses.

To end this post, I can now openly talk about a big event for our class last Friday. A mom of one of my students contacted me a while back, and together we planned a huge surprise birthday party! I am thrilled with how it turned out! I came up with a partially true reason for students to come to my apartment for lunch on Friday, and thankfully the student in question did not suspect it was for her, though I'm sure she thought I was being very weird. Upon arrival she met with a big crowd of us, including her sweet mom, and we all began screaming, singing, clapping…. For the final party together with my class, I could not have asked for a more fun time. We played pin the horn on the unicorn, took tons of pictures in our “photo booth”, and then ended with a pop your balloon war and soccer.

I will be home in a week! I’m finding it hard to forget too, as my body is in panic mode. Weight gain, skin breakouts, and random bumps on the palms of my hands are just a few of the stress signs coming out, but I know it is just a sign of the times! I am familiar enough with moving now to start seeing recurring patterns caused by stress. One of the big things stressing me out is saying good-bye to my students. That is one reason why I am so thankful for these last few busy, but fun weeks together. I will never be able to forget this class. I will be praying for them as they figure out how to tame their wild leadership skills and grow and mature throughout junior high and high school. I love them with all my heart!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

California

Last week I was able to travel up to California to visit a long time friend during spring break here at school. It was such an amazing trip, and I’m just so thankful that I got to go.

Most of the week was spent in a some small towns a few hours outside of LA: Newberry, Barstow, and Apple Valley. It seemed to be even more of a desert than Chihuahua, yet it had a lot of similarities to where I am now, just without the city feeling. My friend is an occupational therapist, so during her work hours I got to explore the area a little on my own, but the real reason I was there was to spend time with her and catch up, so that was the best part.

The day before I flew back home, we got to go to Disneyland! I never plan these things too well, yet the day could not have been better. Our tiny group was perfect for that day.

Building relationships is always worth it. Pouring time, effort, love, money, and faith into other people always has some type of benefit.

Something that I have been meditating on and trying to learn more about is God’s grace. I still have a lot of meditating left on the subject, and I mostly see a need in myself to grow more in grace. Relationships are one of the best ways to better understand the ways God offers us grace daily.

In I Peter 4:8-11 Peter is talking about how we should be acting as believers in God’s grace, and it ends with:

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Building relationships doesn’t always come easy to me. I struggle to answer text messages. I’m not always able to answer the phone because I psych myself out, and returning calls has to happen after my heart pace has returned to normal. Multiple times I’ve had to ask random people to push the send button for my emails, because I physically struggle forcing myself to push send. I have a horrible habit of double booking engagements, which stresses me out so much I feel like I should cancel BOTH of the original appointments rather than more logically rescheduling one. Really my favorite part of relationships is physically being together and spending stress free time with people, and I love going out of my way in those moments to try to love my friends. Though I realize, relationships require more work than whatever my favorite part happens to be.

But none of that matters, because the most important part of relationships is to glorify God, which we do by serving others with whatever gifts God gave us. I think relationships require so much grace and patience on purpose in order to glorify God by ultimately growing our relationships with Him.

In the end, I am so thankful for how many friends God has placed in my life. They have shown me more patience and love than I could possibly share or deserve, and after trips like these I feel extraordinarily blessed by God for the people He’s placed in my life that have faithfully tried to help me grow closer to Him.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Recharging

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure [light of the Gospel]in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

I am an introvert. That doesn’t mean I don’t like talking or being around people. I love socializing, as long as my social battery is fully charged. Being introverted means I just need some serious recharge time to be able to live a consistent life of ministry without locking myself away for a few months here and there in my room.

As I get older, I’m finding it important to know and understand myself and know when I need time to recharge. My current problem is, what if the things that recharge you are unavailable? What then?

A few things that usually help me recharge/be able to continue through life healthily and socially are music, swimming (or anything with water), forests/nature, listening to audio Bible, being involved in church ministry, and my cat. The ULTIMATE recharge time for me is talking with my family. A few days spent away from the world and with my family will leave me recharged for a week or two.

Here in Chihuahua, I’m finding I get burnt out really quick, and staying charged and ready to socialize and minister is not always an option for me. The only things from the list I listed above that I have down here are music and audio Bible, but I’m starting to notice that listening to audio 24/7 (which currently is how I survive each day) is not recharging me fast enough or completely enough to be able to function on a level that would be most glorifying to God.

Pushing through doesn’t always work. The past few months, I’ve had the thought process of, “Oh well. There are no lakes or oceans here. There are no forests here. Your cat has forgotten you. Getting involved in a church is a non-option without fluent Spanish and a car. Your family is over 3,000 miles away. Get over it and push through.” Running on a low battery non-stop is starting to look a lot like consistently awkward conversations, running away from people that are extremely kind, rashes breaking out all over my body, requiring a ridiculous amount of sleep every day, disappearing in my room every weekend, annoying my students with music playing constantly throughout each day in class, and unable to carry a solid conversation with the Lord beyond just asking for help for everything and anything.

The Lord has definitely been helping me. Every day that I have a good conversation with someone outside my apartment or actually teach something somewhat valuable in my classroom, I know that is the Lord’s strength shining through my weakness, because my own strength is shot at the moment. I also have become so close with my roommate, and a huge part of my happiness here has been because she feels like family and talks and listens to me just like my family back home usually does. She is a gift from the Lord!


All that to say, the Lord called me here for a reason. This trip is one of my personal pinnacles of growth in my relationship with the Lord. It has required complete dependence on God’s grace, which I’m not even sure if I understood at all before this trip. It has pushed me into craving a better relationship with the Lord to just help me survive in an atmosphere so opposite to my comfort zone. As my time here is starting to wrap up, it is hard to see the reasons or even the complete impact that it has had on me, but the Lord is sustaining me! In the future, I may pray a little more fervently to be called somewhere where I can be more charged and comfortable in order to be able to put all my energy and ability into serving the Lord. I have loved being here, and I will cry like a little baby when I have to say goodbye to my roommate and my students. But even so, it is hard at times to see past my weaknesses as an overeducated, awkward introvert. Thankfully, God can use anyone!

2 Corinthians 4:15-18
For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Building Relationships

Here is a cake made by one of
the high schoolers. Hand written
frosting digits of Pi...be impressed.
This past week has been such a fun memory maker week! First of all, our school had a school wide celebration of Pi day on Tuesday, 3/14. After Tuesday, I think I have been convinced that Pi day is in fact fun enough to celebrate every year. I have met many people who eat pie on Pi day…, but I’m not a big enough fan of pie for that to win me over. One of the math teachers at school set up a Pi competition. Throughout the entire competition, he quizzed the student body over Pi facts, and apparently someone out there in this world has memorized around 70,000 digits of Pi! I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that one. That seems just ridiculous. For our school, one of my students walked away with the prize for most memorized digits. She recited 106 digits to me with no mistakes! Simply because I actually observed her memory skills, I have been officially challenged at my own memorization abilities. Here is what she recited to me:

3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 82148

I have a hard enough time memorizing Scripture, which is inspired and makes sense to me. Imagine memorizing that many nonsensical numbers. She definitely earned her candy bar!

Another part of the competition was a poetry contest (about Pi of course). I personally love poetry and write quite a bit of it, so I have tried to pass that down to my students a little. When I heard of the opportunity to enter Pi poems into a contest, I challenged my students to test their skills! Each one of my students entered the contest, and I was happily surprised at how good or funny they were! One option for them was to write a Pi-ku instead of Haiku. Meaning, instead of 3 lines of 5/7/5 beats, the Pi-ku has 3 lines of 3/1/4 beats (for those of you interested in poetry). One of my students wrote 8 Pi-Ku’s and arranged them to make a Pi-Ku of Pi-Kus. I thought that was impressive! I only have one example with me to show you, but all the poems were so cute and inventive!

Pi

Pi never ends,
So it has no friends.
It’s always alone,
So I bought it a phone,
But others feel dumber
For not knowing its number.

The final competition for Pi day was music. We had 4 groups get up and sing original songs about Pi. My kids joined a big group of 10 kids that sang a song on Pi while adding a beat using the cups game, which they had learned in music class. I was pleased that some of my girls even attempted some harmony for the performance! To end the competitions, there was every imaginable type of pie ready to be eaten, which made the entire celebration feel complete.

Thankfully I did not have to try too hard to look like Riley.
A few days later on Friday, we also had a school Spirit Day. Each class had a chance to dress up like a movie cast. It took some brainstorming for my class, but they came up with the brilliant idea of the characters from Inside Out. I haven’t actually seen the movie, so my kids really came up with all the details, and I just used Google to figure out what to look like. I dressed up like Riley, and each person in my class was one of my emotions. We had to add 3 emotions since we have 8 kids in my class. Each emotion was assigned a color and emotion.

1.     Joy: yellow
2.     Fear: purple
3.     Disgust: green
4.     Anger: red
5.     Sadness: blue
6.     Peace: white
7.     Jealousy: black
8.     Surprise: pink

I wish I had a picture of the entire class acting out our parts, but I’ll have to wait for someone to send one to me. The year book took some nice pictures that I'm hoping to get my hands on.

After school on Friday, I had planned a girl’s party for the 5-6th grade girls. I wish I was an amazing planner of parties and events, but anyone who knows me knows that my idea of a perfect party is minimalistic planning: coffee, conversation, nature walk, car ride, maybe music. Every time I actually plan a party though, I feel so inspired by the outcome, like maybe I should do it more often! My party was still pretty minimalistic, but oh so much fun. I planned a jump rope party, and I am feeling a little bit sore today! After eating pizza, we worked off all the calories by jumping to a bunch of new rhymes that I had never learned before: something about a puppy with a bubble and going through school with little spankings. We even tried our hand at some Double Dutch jumping. It was honestly an accomplishment figuring out how to swing the ropes for Double Dutch let alone actually figuring out how to jump, but a few of us got a few jumps in before ruining the beat!

Our small group of elementary girls :)
Relationships are one of the best ways to disciple others, love others, witness to others, and grow ourselves. I think of Jesus’ example here on earth whenever I start feeling like becoming a recluse or feel too tired to work at relationships. When He was on earth, He traveled around Israel building relationships and loving every person He came in contact with. First of all, His love and devotion to His disciples just amazes me. Learning more about His relationship with His disciples is why I chose to become a teacher. I have a long way to go as a teacher, but the goal is to look more and more like the Teacher of teachers. Also, the Bible records so many more close friends that He loved, and He even managed to love people that He didn't have a chance to be close friends with. He always had a crowd following close behind Him, hoping to get to meet Him and learn from Him. He took the time to connect to as many people as possible! It takes a lot of work to build strong relationships, and it takes a lot of work to make others feel loved and appreciated by us. He is the perfect Example.


I always have fun with my class, even when they don’t feel like class is fun. They are a funny group of kids, but weeks like this are fun for everyone. I love making memories like these to take home with me in the spring, and I hope they can see how much time and effort they are actually worth.