Reflections on the Second Week

There have been many things I didn’t even know to pray for, yet that were prayed over and answered without my ever even knowing it. I really didn’t know what to pray for, besides, “Yes.” But the prayers of my church and family have been more than answered. My host family is wonderful. Anna Maria has the sweetest dark eyes that are quick to pick up a joke and laugh, but sympathizing and kind when Autumn and I come home with our heads full of planning and preparations and have had hours of sitting through lectures. She always asks about our day, even when all I can say in Spanish is that it was good. Her son, Manuel, is the same, although he knows a little English and can understand a lot. They have several international Spanish students staying with them at any given time. Martin is one, and has been our guide through the city, finally just walking us to the despensa—but it was closed. For the past few days, Elisa, who is from Australia has been here (she was here for several weeks before, has traveled around, and come back for another week and a half). We all sit around the table and laugh during the evening meal, which is the meal we usually all eat together. Anna Maria told us that when we start learning Spanish it would be easy because we can practice on our “family” every night. There are a few other teachers who don’t have families like our and they are thinking about moving out. I don’t think Autumn and I will ever leave—sorry Mom and Dad. There are also things—like living with another teacher—that I hadn’t even thought to pray for, but it has been one of the greatest blessings since being here. Autumn and I can walk to the Parque Central together, get lost going to the despensa together, try to find the bus stop together, she can interpret for me, and we can spend hours talking in the hallway on several freezing Xela nights (our rooms opened to a porch before I moved downstairs, and spending hours at night in the chilly air takes commitment), and finally find the despensa and celebrate with smoothies and frozen yogurt together. Another abundant blessing has been to have Sharde, the other kindergarten teacher, to collaborate with. We met for all our lesson planning and she helped me set up my room. It has been great to be able to plan with a teacher that has taught kinder before and knows how everything needs to go. We’ve had fun cutting out birthday cakes for our birthday walls and looking over new curriculum together. She has an outgoing and encouraging personality that has been perfect as my first-year teaching partner.

I finally finished my classroom on Friday. The names have been put on the tables and the books are in the cubbies. I’ve been going over procedures in my head about how everyone should enter the classroom, sit at the table, how I need to tell them to use the bathroom and sit on the carpet. I have bins for homework, pencils on the tables, worksheets on my desk, and birthdays posted on the wall. The word wall has names under ten of the letters. The classroom library has books like “The Kissing Hand”, “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten”, and “Where the Wild Things Are”, along with plenty of Dr. Suess. There are pillows and stuffed animals in the reading center and paisley clipboards in the writing center. Our art center is full of crayons and pencils, but there is play-dough and watercolors in the cabinet ready for little creative hands to use this year. The first part of the week is mostly getting comfortable in kindergarten and learning classroom procedures, and later in the week we start with numbers one through three, and soon we will be introducing the letter “M”. The Bible curriculum starts with creation and the social science starts with being a good citizen. The kindergarten classes have set up reading buddies with the fifth-grade class for Friday afternoons, where a fifth-grader comes into class to read to a group of kinder students. Once a month the reading buddies will get to do something special, like read on the soccer field—which is beautiful and overlooks Xela and the mountains. Chapel is on Thursdays for elementary, and the kinders also get computer, library, art, music and drama, and p.e. specials during the week. Sharde and I will probably try to do collaborative field trips around the city for our social studies and science class. I am both brimming with excitement and full of terror that tomorrow is the first day of school. The past two weeks are culminating into a Monday that I pray is the beginning of a child’s career in learning and the start of a life-long journey towards God.

On Saturday, after the rush of classroom work the day before, Autumn and I had a nice relaxing walk to Wal-Mart. It was a refreshing reminder to look at the wonderful things that are here. It took about half an hour one way—we debated on a taxi but decided we’d rather just walk. We passed the Cemetario General’s outside wall, where artists from all over the city are painting over the graffiti that is prevalent in the city to make a work of art. The artists have sectioned off parts of the wall and have painted colorful pictures of trees and people along the sidewalk. We passed a circus tent and a lot of restaurants with grills near the street. The zoo had mosaics of birds with full plumage and lions with big eyes and happy raccoons in pieces of brightly colored glass. Wal-Mart is next to a mall and has a door from the mall to the store. After Autumn and I went shopping, we stopped for another round of frozen yogurt and smoothies. The sun was hot but gave us a clear view over the city when we crested the final hill on the way back home. We could see the mountains rise like giants against the skyline, green fields spread out under the mountains, and the rooftops of Xela were condensed in a valley. It was a breath-taking view. I sometimes get caught up in the things I want to change and don’t appreciate the things as they are. I am learning that I had all sorts of conceptions and expectations that I held unconsciously. It was a simple moment, yet I realized looking out over the city on the way to Wal-Mart that Xela has a beauty that is full of people and culture, not buildings. There are so many things that were head knowledge, the things I knew I should know, that have been working their way into heart knowledge, the things I really know, with each new day.

We also walked in the rain to Christina’s birthday party last night. Christina is a fellow IAS teacher and one of the most genuine and sweetest people you’ll ever meet. She had a party at The Red Kat Café off Parque Central. The café had huge double-doors and cut inside the doors were small Guatemalan size doors to walk through without having to open the double-doors. The entrance opened into a courtyard with bougainvillea’s hanging in pots. The party room was under a roof, thankfully, because it rained all evening. Autumn and I put on our raincoats zipped to our chins and sloshed around in our rain boots to the café. Once we arrived, the power went out, which happens fairly often in Xela. The hostess brought candles stuck in liquor bottle to the table for our light and we had a nice candle-lit dinner. Christina had chocolate ganache, red velvet, and vanilla cakes—some of which she iced herself. I tried flautas for the first time and warmed up with hot chocolate during the meal. I even ordered on my own and was ridiculously pleased with myself. I shouldn’t have been when all I had to say was, “Flautas con pollo y chocolate con leche,” but I was anyway. It’s the little things in life.

Today Autumn and I went to church with Anna Maria. I kept a notebook full of words I didn’t know and Autumn ended up summarizing the sermon for me when we got out. The words to the songs were on a screen in the front and I had two pages full of words I didn’t know. I understood almost nothing of the sermon, but I added quite a few words to my list. Autumn told me as we walked home it was over obeying God’s word, not just reading what it says and ignoring it.

Obedience. That word has come up often lately. I think of the words to John Sammis’s children’s song “Trust and Obey”. How apt they have been and how fitting they are:

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

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4 thoughts on “Reflections on the Second Week

  1. Keeley Brant says:

    I was greatly encouraged by your last post. Thank you for sharing and letting us vicariously live your adventure with you through your writing.
    May God give you joy in the classroom that is evident to your students, provide you strength for the challenges, and opportunities to trust and love Him more each day. What a gift to trust and obey him – although it proves to be a life-long exercise!
    “It is upon the little hinges of obedience that the door of opportunity swings.”
    Happy first day of school!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stacy Prestridge says:

    Your classroom sounds great! I can picture it just as you describe both physically and as the beginning toward a child’s life of learning and loving God. I’ll be praying for you and your students to have a great first day.

    The birthday party sounded like a magical memory you’ll never forget. I’m so glad you’ve found such a good home and friends.

    Stacy

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dannie Weeks says:

    I enjoy reading your comments. Sounds like you are in for a joyous time and learning. It all sounds so interesting. I look forward to next time.
    Dannie Weeks

    Liked by 1 person

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