Tuesday, February 23, 2010

School Days

Saludes a Todos!

Well, the school year is well under way and every day is an adventure. I am teaching English class two days a week and computer class one day a week. I teach both subjects to all six grades. This year, the boys from La Villa San Antonio (our elementary school boys boarding facility) are attending the same school as the girls from Guadalupe. It has definitely been an adjustment for everyone now that we have more boys that girls in the class when last year there were a lot more girls than boys.

There are a lot of new students this year and all the teachers were worried that it would cause a problem in the classes. But once again, the kids have shone like stars at the beginning of the year. The first day, many of the new students would not even talk. They were very confused and visibly nervous. It was easy to tell who was new. But after the first day, some of the "old" students started befriending the new students, explaining things to them, helping them with their work, etc. Now, a little over a week into the school year, it is much harder to tell which students are in their first year here and which ones aren't. One thing I will never get tired of is seeing the tremendous love our kids have in their hearts and how willing they are to share it with others, even someone who may be "different."

The English classes that I am teaching are going pretty well. It is difficult because some of the students have been here for several years and therefore know some English and some of the new kids have never spoken a word of English in their lives. For the most part, the kids love learning English. They always tell me what a "strange" language it is. But we play games and do activities to make it fun, so they love English class even if it a little bit difficult for them. I am amazed by how quickly some of the students pick it up. There are a few that if I teach them a word one time, they will remember it forever. It really speaks to the fact that some people are naturally gifted in certain areas. Once the kids learn a new word, they are very proud of their new knowledge. I love when they come up to me and start using the vocabulary or grammar they have learned.

Computer class is the class that most of the kids look forward to all week. Right now, we only have six working computers and some of the classes have 35 kids. Figuring out how to give them all a chance to use the computer in a 40 minute class has been a challenge. I was so scared the first day of computer class. I was sure that it was going to be a disaster, especially since I was loosing my voice and could not talk much at all. However, God must have been watching over me, because the classes went better than I ever could have expected. The kids can sense when they have to be on their best  behavior and thankfully I had one kid in each class who wanted to act as my "translator." I whispered the instruction and they repeated them to the whole class. I am actually really excited to go more "in depth" with computer class this year. The kids love it so much and know that it is a privilege to be there, so they are generally very well-behaved in class. I think I even found a way to print things that they make on the computer, so they will finally be able to see the finished product that a computer can generate.

Please continue to pray for our children, especially those who may be feeling homesick. We continue to pray for all of our supports.

Peace and Blessings,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sharing and Strangers

Hola Amigos!

Sorry it been a VERY long time since my last post. When I realized that it had been so long, I started thinking about why I don't write as much. I think it is because this life has become so natural for me. Things that a year ago I may have thought of as "something to write home about" now seem normal and I don't think about it as much. Anyways, here are some of the highlights of the last month: 

* The kids have returned. On the day they came back, the first thing a few of them did was come running to my house to see me. It made me so happy to know that they missed me, although probably not as much as I missed them. Many students did not return, which always worries me. There are many reasons that they don't come back, but I don't think it's usually because there parents aren't poor anymore or their living situation has gotten better. I just pray that they are safe and happy wherever they are. I had a few kids tell me that next year, they don't want to go home for Christmas because here people love them and they are much happier. I almost cried when they told me this. I can't even imagine what their home is like if they don't even want to go visit. 

I was very touched as I watched all the kids become reunited with their friends. They were genuinely happy to see each other. It reminded me of moving back to college after summer break, which is essentially what it is for them. Of course, everyone was talking about what they did over their break (which rarely included anything other than staying at home and playing with family and friends). Some of the students returned with new toys and treats from different family members or friends. Some even returned with a little bit of money, which they promptly spent on candy or chips (typical kids). Some children returned with even less than they left with. What I noticed was that the kids who had new things did not brag about them or keep them to themselves. They quickly shared their doll or puzzle and gave their friends candy and chips until there was hardly any left for themselves. This is probably the one of the few special treats they will get just for themselves this entire year (if they get anything else special, usually everyone else gets it too). And without even thinking about it, they shared with their friends and even with the new girls. I find this truly incredible, but not at all surprising from these kids. 

* I had an incredible meeting of fellow Americans on Sunday, "a God moment" as we are calling it. I was treating myself to Wendy's and was just about to leave (literally taking my last drink), when this guy came up to me and said "you look American." We started talking and I found out that he was leading a group of missionaries (from my hometown of CHICAGO!). They work with orphanages around Comayagua. One is literally across the highway from the volunteer center. I see it all the time, but have never visited. They happened to be going there that afternoon and asked if I wanted to join. It is an orphanage for boys and is smaller than our place. After we spent some time there, I took them on a tour of the Mother's Project and Guadalupe. They really enjoyed seeing it. They invited me out to dinner as well. I know that they were complete strangers, but I felt comfortable with them. They were very kind and very interested in my work. 

We also went to the orphanage for girls and younger boys. I was very impressed by how well it was run. The kids all go to local schools and this all seemed to be coordinated perfectly. As I was talking to the girls, I was shocked by how similar they were to the girls at Guadalupe and the Mother's Project. They asked me the exact same questions the girls ask me all the time (is the US beautiful, do I have a boyfriend, what's it like to speak English, how do you say my name in English, etc.) I was surprised by how quickly I felt connected to these girls. Of course, I still love my kids more than anything, but it gave me another perspective. I also got some ideas from their place, the biggest being the beautiful American playgrounds and soccer fields they had. Dreams for the future for us. I was touched by the generosity of this group of strangers to invite me along on their trip and to open their hearts and minds to our kids. They gave me a bunch of clothes and toys for our kids because they saw the need when they walked through. I truly felt the grace of God in connecting me to these people. Now I can look across the street and not think "I wonder what that is" but think about the people and kids I met over there. 

*School is starting on Monday, so we have been preparing classrooms, lesson plans, and class lists this week. We will have over 130 students this year! Several classes have 30 students in them. If we don't find another teacher soon, third and fourth grade will have to be combined, leaving one teacher with 50 students! Please pray for the teachers and children as we start the new school year. 

Well once I started writing, I guess I found a lot to talk about. I hope it was not too long. Please keep all of us in your prayers and we will keep all of you in ours. Thank you for your support of our children!

Peace and Blessings,