“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you,
saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ
loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Desires in my Heart

I was being a bit poky this morning, which meant I had to walk to the school really fast! It's mornings like this I am thankful for my mom teaching me how to be a great power walker! I was rather warm by the time I got there, but I wasn't late so it was a success. I love getting up to the school every morning and greeting the other teachers and 'Tias' with a kiss on the cheek. It is such a loving culture and I appreciate it a lot! On clear days like today, we have chapel outside before class starts and it is great! After chapel, I was off to the teacher area/library for the last of my orientation. It got to be a lot of information, but it is all important and good to review. This afternoon it was fun to have the little kids running up to me asking about library time. Since I am officially the librarian now they come looking for “Miss Edeeka” to help them check out books and it is precious! I was a little late getting out of the last English class for the day and there was a group of them that walked in to the class because they wanted to go and get there books. It was distracting to the kids in class, but it was so cute it was hard to ask them to wait. After school it was time to get the medium age kids ready for Bible Club. We all loaded up in the truck and went to a church in the middle of town and it was a good time. There were some songs and a message geared towards little kids and I am proud to say I was able to pick up quite a bit of what was being presented! It was awesome, God is good! The last couple of days I have noticed how much I learn form reading all of the signs around me. This afternoon at the church there was a poster that said “Jesus es mi Salvador” (Jesus is my Savior) and since I knew most of the words I was able to figure out that Salvador meant Savior. I face many language challenges every day, but I am choosing to celebrate the small victories! When they were done with Bible Club the kids got to play at the church park for a bit before heading home. I got to spend time at the park with the boy I will be a paraprofessional for, I am eager to see how he continues to overcome obstacles. I look forward to supporting him in academic as well as everyday tasks. I seriously cannot describe how God is bringing to life so many desires I have in my heart here. I have had a special place in my heart for people with physical handicaps and working with this little guy will be challenging, but it is something I have wanted to do for a while! When I see others struggling to get around I long for them to overcome, which is one of the many reasons I am grateful for the opportunity to work with this little guy. When I got back from Bible Club I had some supper and now it is time to pack my bag and get to bed, because I am off to Quito bright and early tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Surrounded by beautiful people!

Another day full of adventures in Shell has come to an end. This morning when I walked into the dining room I saw the sun shining through the window and it was so great! It was nice to walk up to the school in the dry weather. Today marked the first day of being an assistant gym teacher and I loved being with the “inicial” and “primero” physical education classes. We got to do some basic stretching, jumping over a rope, throwing balls, and going on a nature walk to name just a few of the things. Tomorrow I will start assisting a boy who has braces on his legs participate more fully in gym and other classes, he is very bright and I'm excited to watch him grow. Every day that I am here I learn something new, and today my Spanish lesson was from a five year old girl. There were two kids on a pile they weren't upposed to be on and she told me how to tell them to come down in Spanish. Later on I asked her again just to make sure I had it right and she was more than willing to help me! It is a humbling to learn so much from the kids, but I am very thankful! Every day at snack break the 'Tias' bring something up for the kids and always include the teachers, it was a yummy cream cheese and pineapple dessert today! English class was great and I am excited to teach them the days of the week and months in the year songs I know. It will fit in to the curriculum perfectly! After school I started my first official librarian tasks,it included helping the kids check out their books and put away the ones returned. It's sweet to see how subbing in the library back home has helped prepare me for my job here at Casa de Fe. The Lord does a divine job preparing
Craft time after school, Ana really liked
 what I made so gave it to her!
us for things we cannot even imagine! They already have a nice check list implemented, so it has been easy to pick that up and brainstorm what could make it even more efficient. Enrichment time for the students started after library and it was art, and we made paper snowflakes and flowers. I may have been more excited than the kids! I walked home from school pretty tired, but it is a relaxing time that allows me to reflect on the day. For supper Cheralyn and I went to a restaurant in town to eat “shwarma”...it is a lot like a gyro. I will have to go back again to decide if shwarma or gyros are better! When we were done with supper, we walked across the street for dessert on the way to a gathering for missionaries. Cheralyn and I went to the houses by the hospital and got to see a couple of girls we already knew and meet some new missionaries. The couple hosting the gathering was so sweet and all the women there were great, I especially enjoyed talking to Birgit! She is a kind lady from Germany who has been serving in Ecuador for many years, her trust in God and proof of His faithfulness was inspiring. Once again I was surrounded by incredibly kind people.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Rainy Treasure

A stream I walk by on the way to school, it was really
high today and I got my feet a little wet.
Yay, for my first full day at the school! It was a wet and rainy walk to school, but it was beautiful. There is a bridge that takes you across a dam before you can walk up the hill to the school and today I noticed a little waterfall off to my left. Since it rained all through the night the water was high and helped me find this subtle treasure in God's beautiful creation. When I arrived at the school it was time for chapel and I got to be in a play about the fruits of the Spirit. We were singing which is always something I enjoy and some of the songs reminded me of camp making it even better. After chapel I spent a lot of the morning in orientation about the curriculum I will be teaching and other ways for me to help at the school. Once lunch time came around I sat with the the teachers to eat, they are so sweet. As I was listening to them talk and eating my sandwich they shared their rice and other stuff that I don't really know what it was (and probably wouldn't have eaten if I did). It was real good! After lunch is when I will be teaching English and I got to meet the class I will be able to teach every day. They seem to be starting to understand the English letters and it will be a sweet time to watch them grow a lot! When school was all done, I went down to visit the little kiddos which is great. These kids have such precious little hearts and like all of us desire to be loved so much, I pray that the Lord's light can shine through me while I am with them. It had snack time while I was there and one of the 'Tias' gave me a mango, I had never eaten a real mango and it was so good! It was getting late and I had a staff meeting to go to at 6:30, so I walked back to the house before going to it. While I was making supper I watched people pass by and there was one family using a bike as there transportation, there were three people on one bike. The man was peddling/steering, there was a woman holding a bag between his arms, and there was a kid standing on the spokes behind him. It was hard for me to grasp at first, but other than walking this is probably their only form of transportation. There are so many concepts for me to grasp, and although I am beginning to understand some things there is still a lot to learn. At the meeting they went over things to help Casa de Fe both long and short term! It was an eye opening experience to see how much coordinating and planning goes on behind the scenes. The meeting was pretty long and I was exhausted since I didn't sleep much last night, so it is time for bed!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Holy, Holy are You Lord God Almighty

Cheralyn and I after church!
Like most mornings, I walked to the kitchen half-asleep to get breakfast. I enjoy mornings so much and like to get up early, but I don't function very well until I have had something to eat! I went to a cute church at 8am this morning with several missionaries and a group of the older kids from Casa de Fe. I love the feeling of community here, the people I get to be with are present to serve God as well as each other. While I was at church today I didn't understand much...hardly anything to be exact, but the Spanish version of “Holy Holy” by Micheal W. Smith was sung and I was SO excited! It is always a beautiful song, but it was comforting to hear the familiar beat of this song and make connections to what I know. It was raining heavily after church, so we hung out there for a while to let the rain ease up and once it did it was time to head back to the house for lunch and a nap. For lunch Cheralyn and I finished making the pasta salad that we had started last night and had rolls with chicken and yummy mozzarella cheese. After resting we went up to the orphanage to spend time with the children! When 4 o'clock rolled around Jeff picked up a bunch of the girls and I so we could go and play ultimate frisbee. Every Sunday afternoon a big group of people get together to play ultimate for a couple of hours and it was awesome. I was tired and sweaty by the time we wrapped up the game of frisbee, but it was totally worth it. On the way home there were a lot more people to pile in the back of the truck, surprisingly we all fit! The plan was to go find a restaurant in town to eat supper at, but there wasn't much time and it started to rain so I decided to stay in and find something at the house. For dessert I had some animal crackers and decided they taste a lot like fortune cookies here, I may have to test other brands to prove my theory, but they do! On Sunday evenings Dwight and Tandy have people over for prayer, so that is where I went. It was an incredible time of listening to worship music, then praying with and for each other, the Shell community, family, friends, the United States, and the whole world! The people that I have the privilege to be surrounded by have such great hearts. As we were praying I felt genuinely cared for, their prayers about supporting each other and treating one another like family meant a lot. I love my family beyond words, and Dwight saying that we are like a little family down here blessed me so much. I think the only similar thing to compare it to is the way my dad makes me feel safe, whenever he is with me (and even when he's far away) I know he would do anything  to protect me. My family is so close to my heart and no matter how far away we are I always have them to support me in what God calls me to do! Speaking of family, I got to Skype with my parents again tonight, but it didn't go quite as planned, because we had some trouble with the audio on my parents side, long story short I couldn't hear them. However, they could hear me so my mom and I had a very fun time using our non verbals to communicate. I had a nice time telling her all about my day and got to watch her attempt to use signs, read her lips, and explain questions that showed up on my little message box. I laughed so hard during our conversation that ended up being pretty long!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Hijos de Dios" Children of God

This morning was much like yesterday morning, because I woke up to some unusual noises outside. There were some unrecognizable sounds accompanied by loud trucks and roosters in the distance, but I don't mind it at all! A little later I got to call my parents using the Bobsled app on my Ipod, then I got to show them around my room a little bit using Skype! Later this morning I helped one of the missionary couples move, but the boxes were light and it went fast so it wasn't anything too tiring. During this time we found out that one of our fellow teacher's mother died. Many of us from Casa de Fe went to support her family. It was hard to see a family grieving the loss of a loved one and although I do not know her mother she was deeply loved. Each of us greeted the teacher as we arrived and while I was hugging her all I could thing to say in Spanish was “hijos de Dios” (children of God). Although it may not have been much, I believe she knew where my heart was. We are all children of God and sometimes in the tough situations we go through in life it can be hard to see what He is doing, but He loves us and never gives us more than we can handle. Although I cannot understand all of the emotions each family member is feeling or how they are yearning, I am filled with compassion for them. As I was sitting there praying for the hearts of the family members, these lyrics kept going through my head “I’ll be the carrier of love and compassion, I’ll be the carrier of light to the world, I’ll be the carrier of hope and salvation, I will go shine Your light to the world”. In good times and in bad we are called to serve others and in this moment the only way for me to do that was be present and pray. My roommate and I also cleaned the kitchen this afternoon and after we finished we did some grocery shopping. To get to the store we have to walk, and I really do enjoy walking to get groceries and having to carry them back. It may seem a little silly to enjoy getting groceries, but I do and I get to explore the town at the same time! Tonight we had a girls night with other missionaries and it was awesome. There were ladies of all different ages, but we had the evening to come together for a potluck and movie night. It was nice to get to know some of them and hear where they are from and what brought them here! Having a gathering like this reminded me of what I would do at home on a typical weekend, having snacks and being with friends!

Friday, January 25, 2013

My first day of school

Beautiful Greis!
Today was my first day at Casa de Fe and it has been a whirlwind! The day started with a ride to the orphanage, then heading up to the school. I got to spend the morning with Rebekah learning more specifically what my role as a teacher/para/librarian/assistant with miscellaneous tasks will look like. There will be a lot of different places within the school that I will get to serve and I am excited to help in each of these areas. I spent some time today learning what grades are where, where supplies are kept, going through the teaching guidelines, and observing a couple of the classrooms. I love that the classes have 5 to 10 students, I think it will be a great size to really get to know each of the kids and meet their academic as well as emotional needs. It is so crazy to me that I am in a new country with children whose lives are very different from those that I have worked with in the past and yet so many things are the same. Like all kids I have gotten to work with they need to know they are loved and cared for before they can learn. One quote I think of often is, “They don't care what you know until they know that you care!” I am excited to see how these kids grow in their understanding of the world around them! After observing the last class before lunch, my roommate and I walked home from the orphanage to meet up with Tandy and go over some expectations and ask any questions. I really enjoyed the walk from the orphanage, there was so much to see and such kind people around town. Every day I am in awe of God's creation, and I am looking forward to walking to and from work! Cheralyn and I walked back up to the orphanage in the late afternoon and spent time with the kiddos! We played outside until it started to rain at which point we moved inside to watch a movie with them until supper. It was fun to see how they interact with me and their peers, it has also been
Cute little Samuel :)
wonderful to see how they remember and love Cheralyn! It is a sweet reminder of how they appreciate volunteers that spend time loving them. It was also good for me to listen to the movie in Spanish, because I felt like I was able to recall some more phrases I have learned in the past. Around 6:30 they came to pick up a group of us to go over to Tandy's house. She had a group of 12 girls over for Chinese food and a movie! The Chinese food followed by caramel hot chocolate were good, but the conversation with the other women and the fun that the girls were having was priceless. These children long so much to be loved and I pray that I can be a small light in their lives and care for them well!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

God is faithful!

It is an incredible blessing to see how faithful God is in aligning dreams with His will. When I think back to when this desire to do missions began it was the summer after my senior year in high school when I went on a mission trip to Peru! Since then I have had many opportunities to serve, but never in the way that this journey is about to unfold. I have been praying about where I am supposed to be and how I am supposed to serve God, but I was waiting on His timing. There are so many unique pieces that have fit together to get me to this beautiful place and if one hadn't happened, I wouldn't be here in Ecuador. After Christmas everything with preparing to arrive at Casa de Fe happened really fast. Once the paperwork all arrived, it was time to meet with the Ecuadorian Consulate and they were incredibly helpful, they did everything they could to give me pointers and help the process go faster than I could have ever asked them to! God heard my prayers and far surpassed the what I could have hoped for in this process. Since they were so awesome, I was able to coordinate with my future roommate and book my plane ticket on Saturday. The departure day was set for January 23rd and there wasn't time to waste! The time in between Saturday and Wednesday was spent with my family, extended family, friends, packing, and running errands. I enjoyed doing some of my favorite things such as playing games with my family, eating, watching my cousins play basketball, thrifting, and participating in the Concordia Alumni Meet! I was overwhelmed by the love and support from all of you around me, I seriously could not have asked for a more positive and encouraging time, THANK YOU! I know the Lord has gone before me, and when Wednesday morning came I was still filled with peace and excitement to go. I got to spend the night in Quito with a missionary family and it was nice to have a place to sleep where I could lay down, it is important to remember the simple joys!
View of Quito, Ecuador
When I woke up this morning Cheralyn and I found out that we had a group to go validate our visas and ride to Shell with which was great news. This whole experience has been a sweet opportunity to trust God each and every step of the way! Since I haven't known what is coming next and haven't control over the circumstances it has been great to see how He works things together for good!!! The wait to get our visas approved was quite long, however, we were able to get them submitted that day which was a huge blessing that didn't look very promising at first! We arrived at our apartment in Shell pretty late tonight, but we had good company and a nice comfortable ride there. Once we brought all of our stuff in to the house we got a little tour and I started getting settled in. I have a cute little room towards the back of the house with a bunk bed! My room reminds me of three great things; first sharing a room with my big sister way back when we were little, second bunking with Bethany in college, and third of camp! It also smells a lot like camp here in the house which is really kind of nice :) I have gotten settled in by unpacking, hanging up pictures and encouraging notes, and organizing my stuff. I was so very excited to find a lovely card from my family hidden in my bag as I was unpacking, it was such a lovely surprise! There will definitely be some small adjustments to make while I am here, but I am excited to embrace them and see what the Lord teaches me through each one. A few of the most noticeable things to me right now are throwing my toilet paper in the garbage (I am doing pretty good so far), not drinking water out of the faucet, and getting used to little ants running all over the place!