Friday, August 31, 2012

Grace and Peace

When I think back on my path... How did I get here?

I have done nothing right. Circling left has been my means of turning around again.
Here I am.

The people that surround me are simply amazing. If I could give mini bios and draw character maps... you'd barely catch a glimpse of an awesome power at work.
Here I am.

I wake up in this foreign land, and with sweat beads busting as I reach the top of our mountainous hill, that salt water is but a tear.
Here I am.

My students make comments like, "That spoke to my heart" and "Thank you for asking"
Here I am.

Beyond humbled - I am but nothing, in awe of the workings all around me.
Here I am.

I could be anywhere. I could be anyone.
Here I am.

Wherever you are... 
Be exactly you
exactly where you are.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

With and Without

With: much to do... my balance is seemingly unsteady

Without: hot water for 5 days, I learned my appreciation for running water.

With: practicing my Spanish, I am feeling more and more competent.

Without: patience, my job is impossible. We are working a lot on responsibility, kindness, and acting like ladies and gentlemen.

With: vulnerability, you allow for a puzzling hole where others can make a connection to you.

Without: love, I am nothing.

With: love, I have everything.

With: any of the withouts I've felt, all I have is everything I am with - and that's more than I could ever need.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Perception is Everything

3 1/2 weeks in Venezuela... 1 full week of school... All I know is this: perception is everything. How we perceive things dictates how we respond... the opinions we make.

I don't think I really expected to 'fit in' here, but I suppose I assumed I wouldn't entirely stand out either - at least I thought that if I could keep my mouth shut enough, I wouldn't stick out.

Not the case.

"So... what is your hair color exactly?"...student
"What is your skin color... you're really... white."...student
"Where did you go running? You look like you went to the beach..."...coworker

"Good morning. You speak English. I love you."...gentleman
"Hey you. Hey...You. I speak English. I love you."...many gentlemen

hissing.... clicking sounds... whistling... pursing of lips - Oh, such flattery. I didn't know that's how you felt...

Running is a nuisance, unless it is early Sunday morning while the city is still sleeping... women do not wear shorts here, and I'm sorry - I'm running, and it's hot out.

To be honest, these things... though annoying, don't really bother me. It is an interesting experience to simply be stared at as I walk on the street... it's a beautifully humbling experience to be the foreign alien.

And it must be said - it sucks to be made out to be a fool. This is a common experience for anyone who tries to live in a different country. My first true experience of this here in Venezuela was this week...

I went to the grocery store, minding my own business and buying groceries. In the checkout lane, the bagger started talking to me about the top of my pineapple being broken. Did I need to get a new pineapple? Was there some sort of problem? He said he would take care of the pineapple, so I said 'okay'. The clerk asked me if I understood, so I said, "no, but it's okay." The bagger started doing hand motions of the pineapple top breaking off - I had checked earlier if it was ripe, was he asking about my breaking off the palms? I don't understand... By now 3 baggers are there asking if anyone speaks English and laughing that I don't understand about the top being broken off despite their hand gestures. I get it... the top of the pineapple, broken... what do you want me to do? I'll deal with a broken pineapple - whatever. One of the guys says while laughing, "she doesn't understand anyone..." I looked at him embarrassingly red-faced and said, "I understand what you are saying."  ...but I still didn't know what he was telling me, asking me. I left frustrated, embarrassed... swearing I would never go back there - upset that someone could treat someone so stupidly.... and then I wondered... Hmm... whom have I done that to?...

Perception is everything, and I'm so thankful to gain a new perspective.

...after reviewing the situation with a roommate - apparently, you can pay extra money to have the top of your pineapple chopped off. Whatever.

I have been back. I was recognized. Two of the gentlemen from that day mutually started handling my groceries. This time the new clerk picked on them, saying that two baggers were not necessary for five items.

Eh, life is grand.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

In a week...

"Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest a while." - MARK 6:31

I thank God for rainy days... it's always a sign that it's time to rest.

As I smell the clouds coming to Earth, my heart slows its beat.

It's been a week. And as I look back, I can say, "Yes, it was good."

Sometimes as a teacher, I feel like a schizophrenic. Before our school loses its enrollment, let me explain...

As a teacher, you have to change things that matter to you... in essence, you change your personality - morals and ethics. All of a sudden, the word stupid is beyond shocking... chairs not pushed in are "a bummer", talking in the hallway merits an "I'm disappointed" chat, and laughing at another person is just sad (with a frowny face).

Hmm... Nope, that doesn't sound like me at all. Multiple personalities? ...I deem my hypothesis valid.

In cuteness, our 4th grade class has new Kindergarten buddies, and we had a read-together... we celebrated a birthday and had birthday girl compliments and prayer time...

" was very good. Evening passed and morning came..." 

This morning I desire something from home... a southern breakfast. As I write this, I try... grits from arrepa mix.. this should be interesting.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

How Blessed Thou Art

Good Saturday, Morning.

I sit in silence with some light music on the porch of my home. Home.... oh the ways and means people try to define such a word. What makes a house a home? I am at peace, and I am at rest. I am at home. Truly, this is not my home.

Some weekly loves:
-Worship Night- we gathered at my next-door neighbor/school director's house to sing, read, and pray together.

-Practicando mi espanol- puedo hablar en espanol con varios personas en mi escuela y mi comunidad. Yo empezo un conversacion con un hombre en la tienda porque el dice que tiene un pasaporte. Cuando se pregunto, "de donde eres?", el dice Francia, y hablamos un poco... poquito celebraciones...

-A class is coming...- of my 3 years of teaching, I have never had my own classroom. This is my first, and as I spend countless hours planning the set up, the lessons, the protocols, etc etc... I am excited! If you've never been excited to go to work every day, ready to take on the tasks with a gracious, joyful heart... man, it's a gift.


-Street burger- you know those $10-$18 burgers that people get when they go to some nice and pricey restaurant and order a burger (I've never understood that.)? Put that image in your head. Add a little cart on the side of a busy city street. Wrap that burger in some white butcher paper so it'll stay together as you take that bite loaded with onion crisps, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, avocado, a variety of sauces, and... oh yeah, meat. Good, now divide that price by 5.... STREET BURGER!!!!

-Fellowship- the people I eat with, work with, live with, laugh with, pray with, share with, plan with, play with, talk with, walk with, clean with, drink with, sing with, make with, be with.... I have a unique and rare position to have the same group of people be all of those things.

This small community is just a miniscule opportunity to love one another as we are called to love. For in this world, "...we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others...Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." -ROMANS 12

In all positions, you choose your posture. blessed thou art...........................

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Our community is slowly growing. Four more teachers arrived last night.

Today, the new teachers are attending the church of one of our staff members where her husband is the pastor. Her son is in my class (he is the one who gave me the 'regalito' or 'small gift' of the Venezuelan key chain on my key set).

This is a prime example of what a tight-knit community we live in... students are now in my direct community groups. They are my neighbors, my co-worker's children, my friends, my family.

As teachers, we always say it's a full time job - 24/7/365, because any teacher knows how we are constantly thinking of our students, planning out lesson ideas in our heads, considering our organizational, academic, pedagogical strategies... summer is the behind-the-scenes, men in black work that makes the whole production function properly during show time.

Well, that role just magnified.

Yesterday was a beautiful, rainy day. I successfully grocery shopped alone and made homemade granola. Although I had to pick out some blackberries that I did not put into it, it's still yummmmmmmm!

 Stoves always take some getting used to, right? Right.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Perseverance is key

We're pretty busy these days... we've been following a two week schedule that lays out hour-by-hour of every day of meetings, social time, tasks to complete, places to see, and things to learn. It's exhausting but great, because there's very little time to 'miss' or 'mourn'. There's such a great system of support...

Yesterday, some day, what's today? A Canadian mission group came to help out around our school. They were AMAZING! A lovely group of girls cleaned all of my desks and chairs, wiped down all of my books, organized my bookcase, wiped off every manipulative, and put books in desks... all of the teacher grind work that I didn't get my college degree for... 5 girls for 2 hours gave me about 10 priceless hours of work.... God is good to my kids, because I couldn't have/wouldn't have done such impeccable work (and my mama isn't here to help!)

I'm finding my way around quite nicely and learning this city. I love exploring a new place...

I had the opportunity to take my first independent walk home from school today. Let me say this: coming and going around here is simply a task.

task (noun): 
A difficult or tedious undertaking.

Yes, a task. 

This mountainous region makes any movement away from home a trek. Okay, fine - good exercise.
A task is not only difficult but also tedious. Every change in location has a locked gate, and every door has a gated lock and a locked door. Simply put: keys are key. Security is good - fine. However, every lock seems to have its own kink. So, not only do you have to find the right key, but it also must be twiddled with in the correctly particular manner. Time is not on my side, but I guess that 10 hours of free labor will make up for the key time lost over the year. 

View while walking up our street... 

I will give you the keys...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

T.M.I. (Warning)

What is that warm air coming from my mouth? Ah... my breath. Sweet, slow breath has been quite the  rarity. These three days might as well have been two weeks - I wouldn't have known the difference!

Thus far, I have found the transition quite easy. Our new family is amazing... they have intricately foreseen and planned for every detail of the move and of becoming acclimated to this new life.

So.... Some TMI Tid Bits:

1.) NO TP down the hole... Ew. For real, no flushing toilet paper - at. all. Where does it go? The trash can. Used? Mhmm...This has taken some getting used to, and I had to make myself a sign to put over the toilet. So far, so good, no mess ups or having to dig it back out. I'm just hoping that I don't accidentally bring this culture trend back home.

2. Up close and personal... Day 2: Gynecologist. I suppose it's one way to really expose yourself to the culture; although, it is certainly not my first choice, it had to be done for school paperwork. This is not something that typically makes me terribly uncomfortable, so I wasn't too worried. Here, however, you get a live video feed of the details going on at the other end of the table on a tv monitor right in front of you, just in case you are a visual learner. I am not, but thanks for the documentary.

Apparently, it takes pretty gross things to surprise me. All else is not surprising enough to recall.

Food's good. People are great. Hills are death. I am exhausted.

"Buenos Nachos!" - M.C.L.