Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Los Rios Christmas Project

After Peru (a topic I need to write a post about) my take away was that as a school we needed to provide more opportunities for our students to serve others.
Enter: The Los Rios Christmas Project 

Student Council helped organize a project that would:
1. Give a toy to every child at the Los Rios orphanage- Huge success
2. Donate clothes for the kids- Big fail
3. Give a gift for the ladies who take care of the kids- totally Mr. President's idea

There are 23 kids at the orphanage and during lunch our students could sign up to 'adopt' one kid and buy them a present that they wished for. They were snatched up all in one 25 min lunch period.
We informed the school's staff and parents  about the project to see if they could help and it always amazes me how this community can come together to make things happen, especially blessing others.
The high school leadership class wrapped presents and made gift tags.

The 2nd grade class made Christmas cards for every child.

Sam's mom made goodie bags for each child.

Mandy bought ornaments for the care takers.
Each care taker got a gift certificate for a manicure.

Total God story- Our kindergarten class accidentally collected toys for another orphanage and didn't need to. We took them with us and there were two new kids at the orphanage that didn't have to be left out.
Every thing just came together. 
The day of, our students went over to the orphanage and set up snacks,
Rodrigo took selfies,
and they loved on kids for about an hour. It was awesome. My favorite was watching some of our high school boys open presents with little girls and play dolls with them. It was the best!
Cute kids! Big and small. :-)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Year Three

Half way through my first year here I knew I wasn't going to be able to leave after the initial two year contract. Last week I made it official. I turned in my commitment form, provided nothing too crazy happens, I should be back for another year at CCA.

Moments that have made me want to stay in Panama:

At one of our first community outreach days last year I'm hanging with the kids and Michael stands next to me and says, "Miss B. will you stay here till I graduate?"

Watching Valerie give her testimony (in public!!!) in Peru about accepting Christ.

Morgan sitting on my lap, "Miss B. when you grow up you're gonna be a good mom."

Getting to 'babysit' Bryanna and the Hales.

My roommate, Katy, praying for me before the first day of school my first year. And every time she has prayed for me.

Sitting outside on the bench having conversations about life with Victoria and Diego and Michael and Logan and anyone else who stops by.

Getting to pray with Elle and Lauren and Trin before they went off to the States for a while.

When Price brought me Peach O's the first week of school.

FaceTiming Gina for two hours about her Freshman year.

A long conversation I had with Avery in the middle of the night while her mom was away.

Pastor Steve- "Esther is one of the teachers that has quickly come in and loved the students and have them love her back."

Bible study at the Pills.

Every family dinner with Mama Pill and Papa Pill.

Thinking about the class of 2015 wearing their black senior polos and how much I am going to cry next year when I see my babies all grown up.

Thinking about all the things I want to accomplish in the next year and a half. All the plans God has laid on my heart. Wanting to pour myself out here in Panama so that if God tells me to leave at the end of next year or any other year I will have had no regrets.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Student Spotlight: Daniela

I Timothy 4: 12-  Don't let anyone look down on your because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Tiny Christian schools mean lots of shared space which has its pros and cons. During 4th period our athletic director shares a room with me and teaches a leadership class. Don't tell him I said this but its the best! Nathan does a really great job teaching and sparking some great thinking conversations. Seriously don't tell him, we are sworn enemies (sometimes).
I sit in there and act as a fly on the wall/extra student/extra teacher. Whatever the situation calls for. Its been fun to listen to their conversations and I noticed a few of my students were speaking differently than they had been in the past. Namely Daniela Montenegro.

Daniela and I have been wanting to get together since last school year! (Story of my life.) FINALLY Sunday after 1st service we went to the old faithful Clayton Plaza where nothing was open at 11 am. -_-
Good thing Duran coffee was abierto. We both had cookies and creme frappes and sat and talked for about an hour and a half.

I always have an agenda when I sit and talk with my kids. Todays agenda was: What happen in  your life this summer that has made you so drastically different?

Daniela was never a bad kid. There weren't any behavior issues. She's always been well mannered with the exception of a few sassy comments ;-).  She came back this school year boldly proclaiming Jesus. You could tell that her priorities had changed. Turns out Daniela went to visit her grand parents (who are missionaries in the States from Panama <-- Thats cool) and while she was there she went to a retreat and God rocked her world.

SIDE NOTE: I love that God loves us enough to go out of his way to set up encounters with him that change our lives. Our God is good.

This is the cool part, Daniela has lived her faith out loud so much in the last couple of months that it has effected young and old alike! She is literally living I Tim 4:12.

Her mother was sitting with me during parent teacher conferences and was just bragging about how her daughter gets up at 5 in the morning to be with Jesus. She was telling me how that has challenged them as parents. How cool is that!
Daniela talks to her fellow gymnasts about Jesus and her mother was telling me how this other kid's mom was thanking her because Daniela was having a positive influence in her kid's life.
Last and my fave: Daniela was telling me about her new coach from Spain. One day he was upset after practice. Daniela asked him why and he just expressed some frustrations. Daniela's response was: When you don't know what to do you should ask God.
I never had the boldness to approach people so confidently especially not adults! That is awesome!
This man starts to question her about this God and why would He be concerned with his problems. She suggests that he just says a little prayer that night and ask God to show up and see what happens.
Talk about FAITH.
The next day he comes back and thanks her because he found a solution to his problems.

WOW! You're going to get sick of me telling you how wonderful my students are and I am going to keep posting stories that keep proving my point.

I wonder who will be my next victim...

The gorgeous Daniela and I

Monday, November 11, 2013

The men in my life

Leonard (my second oldest brother) came to visit this week. Big brothers should always visit little sisters who live in foreign countries on their own. Its just the right thing to do. Both my brothers have done the right thing this year.
I had the privilege of growing up as the only girl with two older brothers and I highly recommend it. I want the same for my little girl (whoever she is whenever she comes).
I've learned so many things like:
Not putting up with people's crap
Boys should pay for dinner -Leonard
Girls should get kissed on the forehead- Job
and much more
I was always taken care and provided for and I have not noticed this until recent years.

What it has made me notice is that MEN should always protect, provide and lead. It is God's design and what I expect even if I don't say so.
Here are some stories about how I've gotten to see this play out in my life:

My parents just finalized their divorce last month and I found my dad asking me, "Do you think the man who will ask to marry you will judge you based on my divorce." WOAH! I said no and I got to tell my dad how grateful I was that when I was little we went on dates and he taught me that girls walk on the left side of man because that's where his heart is. Sure their divorce breaks my heart but I'm glad I had him home when I did and I'm sure future hubs will think the same.

I have a heap of guy cousins. When I was in France visiting some of them I was again the only girl around and I got to be the princess. I remember walking down the Champs Elysees with one guy cousin in front and the other in back. They had been doing that all day where ever we went. One leading the other protecting. How cool is that!

Panama almost made it to the World Cup. They needed to play the States and win to make it. I got to go to the game and I got a seat upgrade and sat with the Senior boys who all went to the game. I wanted the full experience and it was well worth it. The game was intense but that is a story for another day. When I found the boys they had saved a seat for me right in the middle. They bought me water. They explained anything and everything. They made sure to stick by my side while we were walking out and made sure I found the other teachers before they left me. Those kids were raised well!

What's been going on in my heart:
I can't wait to raise men of God. Seriously. I don't want kids anytime soon but man I can't wait to beam with pride when I see them protecting, providing and leading.
I have this special burden for boys in my heart. Its weird, I know. I don't do much with it but I hope that I can speak to the thing inside every boy that calls them to be men of honor.
I feel like that has been lost in my generation and the way our society is moving it seems like we are crippling our boys rather than challenging them to be real men.

I'm done now.

(I can't believe I got Leonard to do this LOL)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Student Spotlight: Escalene

I affectionately refer to Victoria Martin as Escalene because last year on a Geometry test she merged the words escelano and scalene on a Geometry test. It brought much laughter to my day because my response was, "I should give her an esticker because she is so especial." <- I know, I'm hilarious, right?
Victoria and I have had some great conversations in the last month or so about what God is doing in her life. She was radically changed this summer and it has been evident in everything that she does. We carved some time out for each other this past Friday before the Crossfire retreat and just sat, talked and broke bread (by bread I mean I ate a burger and she had Yogen Früz).
I decided to tell her a secret. The secret was that I was speaking that night at the retreat. She immediately freaked out screaming from excitement. I did not expect that. She was encouraging me and it was super wonderful and I couldn't help but think that this situation should be reversed.
We get back to the church and we wanted to spend more time together but that just wasn't gonna happen because there were things that needed to be done. We go our separate ways and I come back outside to ask someone a question and I hear Victoria calling my name. I turn around and she comes up to me and says, "Miss B. before you go up can I pray for you?"
OF COURSE!!!!!!!!
I finish up what I am doing and we go into the 3rd grade classroom and Victoria prays for me, in English (that's important because that is not her heart language so the effort that takes is heart warming).
I knew God was gonna move.
I share this because I get to have these unreal moments all the time. My students are a huge blessing to me. They are top notch. I hope to share more stories about how their lives bring me closer to Jesus.

After Vicki prayed I returned the favor because she was giving her testimony on Sunday in both morning services. And this video is that story. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Name

Some time last school year I was talking to God wondering why Panama has been so awesome for me and God wanted me to know that this season of my life is a gift.

Well thanks, God.

This year has been awesome! Second year teaching with the same students is a dream! Also it has freed up my time so much that I have had quite the social life (running 5ks, Paddle boarding, tutoring, etc.). Oddly enough this has pushed me towards God.
Why? God has assured me that he is in constant pursuit of me. God pursues us to reconcile our relationship with him and as if that isn't enough after we are with him he still goes out of his way to go after my heart.

It has been a love story.

God has given me the desires of my heart. It has made me sure that he will continue to do so and this blog will here on share those with you.

(My brother and I outside the canal.)