“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


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christ is Risen!

The adults at the potluck.
Christ is Risen, what a beautiful day indeed! My day began with friends at church. After it was done I stopped by the bakery to pick up a few things for the week. I have been perfecting my scrambled eggs, so I had some for a snack to hold me over until the potluck. I rested for a while before caramelizing the carrots and leaving for the Easter festivities. It was located at the hospital cancha which meant the walk was short, and when I arrived I was given a special package from my dear friends Kristen and Casey! I was incredibly excited and apparently a bit emotional, because I teared up when I read the card with beautiful notes form them as it was singing the Pink Panther theme song! I appreciate their friendship more than words can describe and am thankful they accept me for the quirky person I am. The potluck had an incredible amount of food, probably the biggest variety I have ever seen. It was great, so great in fact that I couldn't stop eating until my stomach hurt really bad. Some of the delicious food I had
The bouquet I made!
was: fanesca, bread with cheesy dip, deviled eggs, broccoli salad, sweet potato rolls, caramelized carrots, pasta salad, pound cake, chocolate cake, pistachio pudding, carrot cake, a maracuya dessert, and some other goodies. When everybody was all finished eating we had a time of singing, prayer, and reading scripture. It was lovely! While we were singing the sun came out making it that much more wonderful, one of my favorite things is walking in to church on a cloudy morning and coming out with the sun shinning bright. They announced the flower centerpieces could be taken home, so I grabbed some colorful flowers and arranged a pretty bouquet when I got home. Since it was so beautiful I went for a walk around town, and from the time I walked outside the gate to the time I went back in there was a perrito (puppy) following me around. Seriously I felt like I had a little dog, because everywhere I went he was right there with me. It was a peaceful walk around the town to pray and reflect on all the Lord has done in my life over the past year. I continue to be amazed by God's faithfulness and abundant blessings when I follow His
A birthday package from the Mavis family
and the soon-to-be Bjoralt family!
will, it is truly incredible. I have been singing Christ Is Risen by Matt Maher today and it depicts what has been done for all of us on this glorious day. Some lyrics are: Let no one caught in sin remain inside the lie of inward shame. We fix our eyes upon the cross and run to him who showed great love and bled for us freely you bled, for us. Christ is risen from the dead trampling over death by death. Come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave! Christ is risen from the dead we are one with him again. Come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave! Beneath the weight of all our sin You bow to none but heavens will. No scheme of hell, no scoffer's crown, no burden great can hold you down, in strength you reign forever let your church proclaim. Christ is risen from the dead we are one with him again. Come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave! Christ is risen from the dead we are one with him again. Come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave! Such a great song. The Casa de Fe staff worship was at the Freeman's house tonight and although there were only a few of us it was great. It was a calm and clear evening, which meant there was a nice view of the stars for the walk too!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Add to your faith

Beautiful Tati!
I got to sleep in this morning which was a nice change. I had a relaxing start to the day eating breakfast with Mandi, Kat, and Kirsten, the girls staying with us this weekend! I was reading the book of 2 Peter 1:2-7, "Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love." God is the creator of every perfect gift and it is my desire to seek things that bring Him glory. I spent a while up at Casa de Fe hanging out with the kiddos.
View from the tower I climbed in Puyo.
I got to sit outside with Tati for quite a while which was lovely! I don't get to spend as much time with her since she doesn't go to school at Casa de Fe, so it was special spending time with her. When they started setting up tables for lunch I headed home to meet up with Cheralyn and Jorge to leave for Puyo. I seem to get sleepy whenever I get on the buses and today it made for a funny story when I got off the bus. Apparently while we were on the way Cheralyn tried to get my attention, but I had my sunglasses down and fell asleep. As she was trying to tap my shoulder the man next her stared and me and said, "Creo que ella es dormido" ( I believe she is sleeping). I didn't realize I had actually fallen asleep until Cheralyn told me this story and I was oblivious to all of it, I guess it was a good nap for me and entertaining for those around me! We arrived in the city and caught a taxi right away, it took us to a touristy area where we climbed up a tower with a view over the city. Then we went to a restaurant that serves huge plates of volquetere. Lunch was delicious and to top it off they put a spoon in the middle of it pretended it was a candle and sang happy birthday to me. It was the perfect way to top it off! As we were walking around I saw a sign advertising for a restaurant, but in Spanish it is restaurante...it made me feel better about constantly spelling that word wrong, I fit in well
Soccer! It wasn't the professional game I dream
to go to some day, but it was fun to watch.
here! After lunch we hopped in a truck and went to Mera to watch a club soccer game. It was rainy, but the bleachers were covered so I didn't get too wet. There was missionary that we had met at the brunch hosted by the Cobbers back in February and it was nice to talk with her again. By the time we got back it was about supper time so Cheralyn, the girls, and I went to Johnny's. We sat at the restaurant and enjoyed yucca fries, tea, and a view of the town. The tea I had was a nice way to warm up after a chilly rain. When we all finished eating I picked up my veggies for the Easter potluck tomorrow, I bought a bunch of carrots to caramelize and got them cleaned and cooked as soon as I got home. Then it was time to sit back and enjoy a movie with brown sugar popcorn, starburst jellybeans, and starbursts! It was a great way to end a wonderful day.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Shall not perish

Cheralyn and I went up to the orphanage and said hi to everybody this morning. They were having breakfast right as we arrived so we didn't stay long at all. On our way to and from Casa de Fe the water at the decay was really, really high. Water was flooding over the dam and the walking bridge was nearly under too, I was thankful I didn't have to walk through any water! I ate brunch at home with our guests and got to know a little bit more about what brought them to Ecuador and had teacher talk. It was fun to hear about their experiences in Quito and share my experiences at Casa with them. When they headed out for the day I spent a while working on my Shutterfly books and eating some yummy Easter candy from the US for lunch! I ate a ton of chocolate, but I needed to eat a lot so I wouldn't be hungry during church. As usual we took the oldest group of kids, but it was in Puyo because it was a combined service with churches from around the area. I believe there were seven churches, because there were seven short sermons and plays. John 3:16&17, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." On this day I reflect on the unbearable weight Christ bore for me on the cross. He has washed the whole world clean of our sins, and He did this all for the sake of love. I am eternally grateful! One of our newer girls, Evelyn, directly heard the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection for the first time and it was AWESOME! All the skits were fun to watch, but my two favorite were the one with our girls and the traditional Shuar dance. The Shuar are an indigenous people in Ecuador and are sometimes known for their elaborate
Fanesca soup, an Ecuadorian tradition!
process of shrinking heads. It was a very long service, in fact the longest I have ever been to, when it got done it was time for supper. Dwight, Tandy, Johnathan, Cheralyn, and I went on an adventure to find fanesca and ended up finding it at "La Hacienda". Fanesca is typically made during the week before Easter, it is a rich soup with twelve different kinds of beans and grains representing the twelve apostles of Jesus. I was happy we found it, because many restaurants in Shell only have it on Good Friday and we didn't know this until we went all over town looking for it. There was a rice pudding dessert served with it and the spice used in it is comparable to cinnamon, but has a black licorice flavoring. La Hacienda is conveniently located right next to Mickos, so I ran over there to get a maracuya y mora ice cream cone before leaving. When we got back I put on some comfy clothes, then Cheralyn and I went on a walk around town. We ended up sitting at the park for a while enjoying a nice night and watching the people around us. There weren't many people walking in town, but there were a ton at the park. Somebody we met while Kelcy was here was hanging out in the park with all their friends, so we got to visit with them for a bit. It is nice to see people I recognize and it's always great to get to know them more. After a long line of farewells we ventured back to the house, I enjoyed some delicious chocolate cake from the bakery and was off to bed.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

You are the Messiah

The caterpiller train!
I rolled out of bed this morning and went to pick up keys for the school from Rick and Rebekah. They were heading out of town early, so I had to make sure I was there before they left! When I got home I spent time reading, did some cleaning around the house and laundry. The cleaning was mostly because we are hosting some of Megan's friends over the long weekend. I read Matthew 16:15&16, "Then he asked them, 'But who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.'" Jesus is the Savior of the world, He is the Son of God! I decided to go on a short walk around town and saw a Tia. She had the day off and was busy, so we chatted briefly and went on our ways. When I got home after my walk I had lunch and took a nap. I woke up ready to head up to Casa de Fe for the afternoon and hung out with the kiddos. When I got there most of them were napping, so I got keys from Jeff since I forgot mine at home and went up to the school to take out the garbage and stuff. Slowly but surely there were more kids out and about. I got my hair styled by Caila and Jeny, they all seem to like my curly "blonde" hair. After I had my new hair style I played American football with kids. I also tried to see if Jefficito would bring me the tennis ball instead of Wilson, they have a special bond, and we had a friendly competition trying to see who could get the ball from the dog. As I walked along the bike path, the kids were playing a game and I pretended to save them. After I saved them, all of the girls doggy-piled on me to thank me! There is a rope with a wood seat the kids were swinging on and I spent a while push a group of them too. Cheralyn and I took Nicol, Ruby, and Genesis out for dinner and a movie! We took them to eat at a burger place called "Fast Food" which was an interesting experience. They ate super slow and were fascinated by the one television in the restaurant. While we were eating Genesis dropped a french fry on the ground, picked it up off the floor, then dipped it in the community ahí dish. It was really entertaining to watch her do this! Since all the girls were cold Cheralyn and I gave them sweatshirts to wear and we joked about them beaing beautiful "vesidos" (dresses). Another carnival randomly showed up in town the other day so after eating we took them on a caterpillar train ride around town. They liked it and I certainly thought it was cool, so it was a ton of fun. It went up and down the main streets and was like an evening tour around town. As we walked from the carnival Genesis was holding one of my hands and Ruby the other. They were twisting me up in knots and spinning me in circles. Then they each walked on a different side of a pole, so I pretended to run in to it...they kept trying to run me in to things after that! Hearing them laugh on this walk was priceless! Before calling it a night we watched the Princess Diaries and ate popcorn with the girls. In the movie Mia quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." That is powerful to remember, there have been many times in my life I've felt inferior to others. However, just because my talents and abilities are different it does not mean they are lower in rank or less important. I am thankful to be exactly the way I am, because I am unique. I had an awesome evening out on the town with Cheralyn, Ruby, Genesis, and Nicole!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The resurrection and life

I have a lot of prep time at the school on Wednesday mornings to work. Today I got to switch out the March birthday calendar and put up April's, read a book about different Brain Gym techniques and rationale, and take care of many other random tasks. There are always so many things that pop up during the day I couldn't name them all if I tried. Snack was empanadas with a cheesy scrambled eggs mix inside, so good! You can pretty much call me Dr. Erica now, because after snack time I spent a long time cleaning and bandaging a bunch of wounds. As soon as I thought I was done another patient would walk in. Samuel and Alejo had to stay behind from their class outing because of bad behavior, but after they had a time out they spent a while playing with puppets. It was really cute, then they painted a couple of coasters as a souvenir for one of the girls on the team. They did a very nice job! When gym class rolled around Martin did the stretching exercises with all the other second and third graders. I told him he had to if he wanted to play soccer with me and not only did he participate in the exercises, but he was trying really hard. He is so capable and I was really happy to see him work! We had a blast playing soccer for the rest of class, I love being goofy when I am playing soccer. He thinks I'm pretty funny which I appreciate, I have been told I have an elementary sense of humor so it is perfect! As usual the 4th and 5th graders had a competitive day in gym class, but they had a lot of fun! There was a chicken and guacamole taco feast for lunch, then I was off to English. One of my students had a bit of a shutdown, but since we were reviewing letters they were doing some work in partners. It was easy for me to figure out what was wrong and I was excited when she was able to rejoin the class with a good attitude after talking with me! Yesterday afternoon I was informed grades were due before the break, which is today. That being said I had to calculate my grades after school, but I got them all figured out and it didn't take me too long. I walked to Bible Club, because I knew there was a full
Alejo and Samuel with their puppets!
load. I was pretty excited to walk and I ended up beating the truck to the church! It's a solid 15 minute walk, but it always takes a while to get everybody loaded up so the race wasn't completely fair. The verse of the week is from John 11:25, "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die'". In Spanish it is Juan 11:25, "Entonces Jesús le dijo: Yo soy la resurrección y la vida. El que cree en mí vivirá, aunque muera". There will come a time when all of us here on earth will die, there is no saying how much time we have, but I do know every moment is precious. In Christ death is not the end, but rather a magnificent beginning to an eternity in heaven. I have seen the goodness of God over and over again, but these are only glimpses of eternity. How cool is it to reflect on the most joyous moments in life and know they are a glimpse of God's kingdom in heaven? I think it is incredible! I decided to treat myself to a doughnut on the walk home and was greeted with a running hug by Johnathan when I got home! Cheralyn, Johnathan, and I had some supper and were off to zumba in no time. We took the oldest girls to the Coliseo for some dance which I really enjoy. It is awesome spending time with them outside of the orphanage, they really enjoy it, and it is fun. Johnathan had a great time dancing around too and his parents met us there to pick him up! A husband of one of the Tia's is a taxi driver, so we have an arranged ride every time we take them to zumba. The ride back to the orphanage was very pleasant. I rode in the back of a pick up and watched the lightning light up the sky. The outline of the clouds with lightning background, the sounds of nature, the smell of the outdoors, and the wind blowing through my hair in the back of the truck was a free and peaceful feeling. To conclude the day Cheralyn and I went to Johnny's for guayusa tea, it was a great way to end a busy day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

More than Imagined

It was raining pretty hard this morning so I decided to wait it out for as long as I could before leaving for work. When I had to go it was sprinkling, but to me that hardly qualifies as rain anymore! By the time I made it to the Coliseo it wasn't raining and I made it the rest of the way without being rained on. Once I arrived to the school it started raining pretty good again, I'm glad I didn't get caught in the rain today. During my morning break at school I got to eat my mango snack on the balcony. Last night as I ventured around town I saw the delicious mango I'd eaten one of my first days here and I was pumped! I kept meaning to buy more, but by the time I was actually going to they were going out of season and I couldn't find any. I got to read to Sheila this morning. When I got to the 1st grade class she picked out a story sat on my lap and every time I finished reading the book she would pick out a new one and crawl back on my lap. My favorite book was The Tale of the Three Trees, it is about trees that have dreams of becoming certain objects and they end up become much more than they could have imagined. It was a great story, to put it very simply what the trees wanted to become didn't seem like it was going to happen, but in the end their wants were far exceeded, because they were used in Jesus' life. The first became the manger baby Jesus laid in, another the fisherman's boat used when Jesus calmed the storm, and the last the cross Jesus was crucified on. When it was time for school snack there was a song playing from the music class and the kids were just loving it. I ended up dancing in the hall and a bunch of kids just swarmed me wanting to dance too, it was awesome!Then I got to help find songs for music classes. There were a ton of great ones, but the inspirational song for the day was called Defying Gravity. I think this will be a good one for the kids to sing along with since it is about reaching for dreams and taking a leap in to pursue them, "It's time to try defying gravity, I think I'll try defying gravity and you can't pull me down!" I helped out in Rebekah's English class today, because I will be subbing for her a couple of days next week and want to make sure I am consistent with her teaching. They were really energetic, so it was fun to see how they handled everything. My English girls are so calm which I love, but at the same time it was nice to see the energy and excitement of the little guys! I didn't get to have lunch until after my English class and I found myself getting a bit irritated about silly things since I was hungry. This week is all about reviewing the things we have learned up to this point and they are doing great, I was proud to see how much they recall! I got to eat my lunch with yummy cheesy potatoes after school during library and my mood got better after having some food. Alondra was the only student who stayed for after school enrichment today, we had fun looking at slides under the microscope. It is not a very good microscope, but we got a nice look at my hair which was cool! Afterwards I went down to the house to help Cheralyn take pictures of the kids for the website. My job was to make the kids smile while she took the pictures and I think I did a pretty good job. Unfortunately when we were stopped for the day, we got about half done, Cheralyn looked at the pictures and somehow they were all out of
Veronica and I!
focus. We will have to try again another day. Before heading home I hung out outside with some of the kiddos, and Yajaira started styling my hair. She was doing a very nice job, but pretty soon there were four girls playing with my hair and pulling it in all different directions! That didn't feel very good, but they were enjoying it so I bared the pain for as long as I could before asking them to stop. I needed to get back to take the team out to supper so I didn't feel too bad. Cheralyn and I got to Johnny's a little bit early and the Ecuador vs. Paraguay game was just coming to an end as we arrived. I wasn't able to watch this one so hopefully I can see the next since we won! I enjoyed my Tablita Especial with chicken, beef, sausage, and yucca fries. Cheralyn, Jesse, and I went to Alexander's for an ice cream treat, then we all walked back to his house (on the other side of town). On the way home I stopped by Karen's market  to get a couple of things and at the fruit stand for another mango. A day doesn't seem to be complete lately without stopping at Johnny's, Alexander's, and Karen's! To conclude the evening Tandy brought Johnathan down since her and Dwight are leaving for Quito early in the morning. Before getting in to bed he was looking through the closet and drawers as if to be checking for a monster or something, but when I asked him what he was looking for he responded with "Chickens". That wasn't the response I was expecting, but it was very funny! I got to tuck him in, listen to his prayers, and tell a story about "Prince Johnathan" saving the country. He is so adorable.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Remember me

On the way to school Cheralyn and I had a good talk it was a great way to begin the work week. When I arrived at school the "Brain Gym" exercises started, but today we got to do them outside, I love being outdoors so this made the exercises even better. Then we moved inside for chapel, since it is a special week and I am happy to say the message was all about the gospel today! Rick was drawing pictures as Rebekah told the story of Jesus dying and rising again. I got a lot out of it and pray the kids did too! The whole history of of Jesus' life is incredible, but there were two parts that really struck a chord this morning. Mark 14:34-36, "And he (Jesus) said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.' And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'" This picture of Jesus is in Gethsemane is so powerful and paints a perfect picture of His faithfulness to God's will. There are times I try to figure things out on my own, but the truth is all I need to do is fall to my knees in prayer and surrender to His great plan. The other is at Christ's crucifixion in Luke 23:42&43, "And he (a criminal) said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' And he (Jesus) said to him, 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'" It doesn't matter what any of us have done in our lives, the criminal in the scripture is an example, the only thing that matters is trusting in who Jesus is. Jesus was, is, and forever will be the Savior of the world! When He died on the cross Christ washed every sin past and present clean, the only thing asked of me is to accept Him as my Lord and Savior. This is the best and most important decision I have ever made, it is my prayer for the whole world to understand the unending joy found in God's love for us through Jesus Christ. I will gladly serve God and am thankful He has lead me to Casa de Fe. Gym classes went well for all of the grade levels. On the way to the cancha it is always nice to see the kids holding hands and caring for each other. It is hard for me to comprehend what it would be like to be growing up without a family, but I can totally understand their desire to be loved. We all have a deep need to feel wanted, worthy, cared for, beautiful, and most importantly loved. There are tons of people here and around the world that love these kids to the moon and back which is beautiful, but many of them long for that close one on one love and attention given by parents. English went very well and I like how whenever we are talking about months and I
Having fun playing house!
mention April they say "Happy birthday Miss Erica", it is seriously great. Library went fast, then I went down to the house for after school enrichment. While I was at the house I had to help get some of the kids up from their nap to do homework and have a snack, when I woke Alejo up he was so cute and cuddly. He was just precious! After enrichment I took supplies back up to the school, said hello to the littlest kids, then sewed polos until it was time to take Diana out for her birthday supper with Rick and Rebekah. We took her out for pizza and it was the first time in her life she had eaten it. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, so it is crazy to think Diana is eleven years old and had never eaten it before tonight. As we walked her back to the orphanage we played soccer with a rock for quite a ways. It was very entertaining! I saw a few Tias on my way back to the house to get Cheralyn. We ran some errands, walked around, and ended up seeing a friend from church. The three of us went to the swinging bridge and went to Johnny's for guayusa tea. It was a fun to see so many Ecuadorian friends around town today, I really enjoy getting to know them more!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Revived spirit


My gourmet pancake!
I have been going to church at the iglesia del Nazereno on Sunday mornings which has been good. As I am here longer I can pick up more bits and pieces of the message and enjoy seeing familiar faces. Today's message was about "humildad" (humility) and we looked at several different verses in the Bible. The one that resonated the most with me at this time was Isaiah 57:15-19, "For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before me, and the breath of life that I made. Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry, I struck him; I hid my face and was angry, but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart. I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,' says the Lord, 'and I will heal him.'" God dwells in the perfect and holy place, but has chosen to walk with me here on earth. The Lord has revived my spirit and restores comfort to my soul in all situations, He heals my heart from every pain and makes me whole again. The way of the Lord is so perfectly planned that I cannot even fathom the gifts He has in store for me. Although there are many things in my life that have not gone as I wanted, God has healed me from the pain and lead me on His perfect path. I desire to seek His way over mine and pray for peace in all circumstances to come. We had a build-your-own pancake party after church and it was awesome! My award winning pancake had maple syrup, mora syrup, whipped cream, strawberries, and chocolate drizzled on top. I tried to make it look nice too! Then it was an afternoon filled with various tasks such as laundry, organizing clothes, and cleaning off my dresser. While I was cleaning I was listening to Te Amo Más Que A Mi Misma Vida. This song has beautiful lyrics: "Te amo por completo, te amo Dios eterno, te amo mas que a mi misma vida, te amo con pasión, te amo con fervor, te amo mas que a mi misma vida." (I love you completely, Eternal God I love you, I love you more than my own life, I love you with passion, I love you with fervor, I love you more than my own life). Then it was time to get out of the house, so I walked around town and went to the market to get veggies for guacamole. I have really enjoyed eating guacamole here, it's definitely a new favorite snack! I went with Cheralyn to drop off her parents at the bus stop and as we were leaving it started to rain, but we decided to enjoy a rainy walk back. People in Shell all run to take cover when it rains, but we did just the opposite! We made it a little ways, but Dwight  ended up coming back to pick us up. It was very thoughtful of him to come and get us since it started raining. As soon as I got back I started making the guacamole, and once it was done I ate it outside on the front porch to watch the storm. Prayer night was great and as the worship music played I began to think about what is coming next. I am quickly approaching the halfway point of my time here and was a little overwhelmed about what I am supposed to do next year. I know there is no rush and God has a plan, but it can be daunting to figure out what is to come. I was wrestling with these thoughts on my own and was incredibly thankful when they prayed for me specifically about the future. God knows my heart and exactly what I need! I got to have another great Skye conversation with my family, I love how technology allows me to connect with them regularly and it's even better when the video works like it did tonight. After chatting with them it was time for a bedtime snack, but this meant going in to the kitchen at night. I can tell I'm a bit reluctant, because on my way to the kitchen a moth flew out of the front bedroom and for some reason I was nervous it was a rat so I jumped. When I went back to tell my roommate about the moth I thought was a rat she laughed and said, "Let's all just take a moment to be thankful that rats don't fly." Boy oh boy am I thankful the rat in our house doesn't fly, and I glad to say I successfully got the coconut cookies with peanut butter I was craving!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Choose Joy


Nila was my buddy at the zoo today!
My day began with eating Trix at the kitchen table, they aren't only for kids! There is something about a good bowl of cereal in the morning, and if I don't have cereal for a couple of days I start to crave it. Choose joy today. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." I will be joyful and give thanks in every situation, because it is God's will for my life. In good and bad moments I cling to this, because the Lord knows exactly what I need when I need it and for this I can rejoice always! Once I had eaten and gotten ready for the day the Freeman's and the team picked us up in the truck. I went with them to Casa de Fe to get a group of kids to take to the zoo. They were all pretty impressed by my Yogi bear shirt that I wore today! Each of us were paired with a kid for the day and Nila was my buddy for the adventures. The zoo is on the military base, so we went entered the base and drove down to the zoo entrance. After you arrive there, there is a fifteen minute walk on a nicely paved trail to the actual area where the animals are. It is a very peaceful place along the river! While we were walking trough to see the animals one of the monkey tried to grab my headband. I started laughing pretty hard, some might call it cackling, and was told to quiet down so I didn't scare them. There were pretty birds and a puma too. While we were at the exhibit, one of the guards brought a chicken by the fence causing the puma to come right near us. It was cool to watch how the puma wanted to eat the chicken so bad, then it started
The monkey on the right tried to
take my headband!
growling at us and I figured we were next in line! When we were all done seeing all the animals we sat down for a picnic lunch beside the river. As soon as we were done eating we were off to games, play at the park, and climb the tower. The tower reminded me of the one I've climbed in Siseton, South Dakota. The scenery is a lot different, but it is the same kind of build. My day with Nila was a huge blessing, she is an energetic, funny, and sweet girl. I also caught a glimpse in to what it was like for my parents having to take me to the bathroom all the time when I was little. After the adventures at the zoo, it was time to cool down with ice cream. I hopped on a bus towards Puyo and enjoyed avocado ice cream from Mickos, Cheralyn recommended it to me and I have to say it was quite tasty! When I got home I enjoyed eating some treats that were sent from home. It arrived a bit behind schedule, since they were accidentally forgotten, but I am very happy to say I received a few cards from some relatives. I got to read

Love from home ♥
encouraging notes, look at hand drawn pictures, and received a few goodies. I am unbelievably thankful for relatives that care so much about me, thank you guys! After eating a lot of candy I wasn't too hungry for supper, but went out to eat at Chifa China with the Post's. I had some spring rolls, sweet & sour chicken, and shrimp with noodles. It took a long time to get back to the house after supper, because we went shopping at the markets and stopped at several bakeries looking for doughnuts. The doughnuts were not a success, because all four bakeries I went to didn't have them, but I did run in to three Casa de Fe Tias on the way. They are great ladies and I love running to to people from Casa when I am out and about! On the courts right by my house there was a volleyball tournament going on and it looked awesome. I didn't watch for long, but one of these nights I am going to hang around and observe. They play with a soccer ball, the net is really high, and it usually seems to be 3 on 3, I haven't seen a woman playing volleyball here either.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Faith is confidence


Leah and I at the park in Shell!
I avoided the kitchen at all costs this morning after seeing a rat jump from the counter to the floor right before bed yesterday. Last night I went in there a rat jumped from the to the floor behind the stove, I was the only one awake until I woke up Cheralyn at which point we went to investigate. I was quite nervous and to be completely honest when we went back it ended up being Cheralyn looking and me standing on the couch trying to make sure it couldn't get me. We decided to move a few things and wait until the morning to figure out what to do. That being said I forgot Diana's birthday cookies, but Rebekah forgot school supplies too, so we went to our houses to get them after chapel. There was plenty of time I didn't have any scheduled classes until 10:55. The "Inicial" teacher asked me to help with their field trip today and it worked out perfectly to join them right after I was done at getting the forgotten items with Rebekah. As I was walking down the big hill towards the school they were walking up, it couldn't have been better timing! Rebekah kindly took my cookies to the school and I jumped on in the the pre-k and kindergartners. We walked around and talked about safely crossing the streets then went to the police station. One of the police officers talked to us about what they do which was awesome, the kids were super interested. Since we were right by the park, before heading back we stopped there for a little bit. Leah wanted to play follow the leader where she was the leader which was fun, they were all doing this spinning thing on the low bar of the jungle gym, and they loved the seesaws! It was such a lovely Friday morning at the park with the kids having a blast and the sun shinning. On the way back to the school the kids played a game, whenever they would pass a store selling food they would reach out their hand
Celebrating Diana's birthday at the end of class!
and pretend they were eating it. Naturally I joined it with them which they thought was pretty great, I love the simple joys kids find and pray for more of it in my life! Every day I focus on the things that are good, but I seek to choose joy unceasingly. I got back as the second and third graders were starting gym and there was martin ready to play soccer. Two days in a row of him really excited for gym, wooohoo! He wasn't walking around quite as well today so most of the time he was sitting on the ground rolling the ball around, but it was great. Ruby came over to join us after a while and the game eventually turned in to a race between us. Martin would roll the ball, Ruby and I would chase it, then we would kick it back to him. In the midst of playing I was looking down at the ground and saw some of the rocks sparkling in the glorious sun. I recalled being intrigued by the way rocks would glisten in the sun when I was young, it was such a wonderful flashback. Seriously it is hard to describe the moment, but it was really peaceful and sweet. I decided to point it out to Ruby and Martin, but I think I thought it was way cooler than they did. Next up was gym with the oldest girls which involved going to the cancha. Almost right after we got there Maria asked (told) me to go with her to get the fourth graders for their class. She wanted to run, so we jogged until she was tired, then walked the rest of the way. I have to say running up hills is not very fun...I much prefer Fargo if I am going to run! As soon as they finished up their lesson I returned to the cancha with the fourth graders so
My ant snack!
they could play a game of soccer against the sixth and seventh graders. When class was done it was time for a lunch with the teachers. We enjoyed a good lunch and had a great time chatting! In English class when I was done teaching and testing we had cookies for Diana's birthday. I really enjoy birthday's a lot and think it is a great opportunity to make the kids feel special at school. We had cookies, they got to color their letter "O" page in the workbook, and play for the last few minutes of class. After school library was slow, but the afternoon got really exciting after that. I was downstairs locking up all the doors when Dwight offered me a sauteed ant. These weren't just any ants, but they were the big disgusting ones all over outside the house this morning. I was quite hesitant at first, but as he said it is mind over matter, so after making him eat one first I gave it a try! It wasn't too terrible, it actually was a bit like popcorn since they were cooked in butter and it was crisp. I tried another one with Rebekah shortly after and captured it on
Martin and Greis were laughing so hard!
film. Just another Friday after school in Ecuador! Before leaving the school for the day I helped collect strings of frog eggs and build little habitats for them in old pop bottles. Maria, Abigail, and I went down to the swampy area to gather the stuff and took it upstairs to assemble. I had never seen a string of frog eggs before, it was cool! I headed down to the house around four and hung out with the kinds for a while. I ended up spinning them around on the tire swing which was a hoot, Grace and Martin had priceless smiles and were loving every second of it. I barely beat the rain on my walk back to the house, but ventured out in to it on the way to Johnny's anyways. There was an unexpected Casa de Fe gathering there tonight with, Patti Sue and her girls, the Freeman's, Rick and Rebekah, the Post's, and I. I enjoyed the Pot Roast with yucca fries, maracuya juice, and guayusa tea. We hung out there and talked for a while, stopped by Karen's for groceries, then headed home after a jam packed day!  Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." I thank God for another day in Shell and I have faith His perfect plan will continue to be revealed. I look forward to every new day, because the Lord knows my hopes and dreams, each day is part of a beautiful journey!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Armor of God


There were trees all over the place after the
huge storm last night.
I had a restful morning around the house which I enjoyed. Ephesians 6:13-19, "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel." I was able to get a few things done before heading in to school for the day so that was nice. The journey to Casa de Fe was good, but you know there was a big storm when there are trees clogging up the dam. There were so many big branches, I'm sure the river was just raging during the "tormenta" (storm) last night! Gym classes went very well again,
Evelyn's cute frog!
the kids did relay like activities today and loved it. They were separated in to teams and were being competitive in a friendly way! Also, Martin and I played soccer for a whole class hour. It was SO awesome to see him enjoying gym class and fully participate. I had him over in the area where the rocks are smaller even though it is still very rocky. He was moving around on his own almost the whole time and didn't fall very much. It was awesome! I was on lunch duty, so heated up the food when I got back from gym with the oldest girls. I enjoyed lunch with the teachers and loved being with my English students. Evelyn found a cute frog before English today and it was her cute little mascota (pet). The girls are always being goofy little which makes every day unique! Class went well, and library as well as after school enrichment were good too. When I was all done working I went down to the house to help Cheralyn take a picture for a thank you
Thank you for your support from all of us at Casa de Fe!!!
card. It was an eventful experience with these little guys, but we got some good ones! When I was done with that it was time to sew. I enjoyed setting up the sewing machine and sitting at Casa de Fe repairing clothes. I got to work on revamping the button up shirt I got at the Puyo thrift store last weekend. I haven't been able to sew like that since I got here, so it was relaxing and fun to do. It was pretty clear and dry on my walk home from school and I enjoyed listening to beautiful bird noises. It was a very tranquil way to conclude the day. When I got back to the house we made pork chops with Old Bay seasoning, sweet potatoes, glazed carrots, green beans, and homemade applesauce. It was another great homemade supper! I have been doing a lot of cooking in the last week and it has been great. I have decided I like to cook and doing dishes, but I don't like doing dishes after I cook which isn't very convenient. It's something I am orking on! When we were finished eating and cleaning up, it was time to go and find dessert. The winner was Alexander's where I had a cup of ice cream with half of it Almond and the other half Rum and raisin. It was a great mixture, with my tummy full it was time to get some sleep.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Quiero conocerte más

Bible Club!
It was a beauteous journey to school with the sun out and visible blue sky. The principle talked to all the students about what is expected of them in Chapel. She mentioned being valient and I know the kids were receptive, because today was filled with good behavior! I was able to plan and get some tasks done this morning during my prep time. Although one of the tasks I did, unwinding a tangled mess of string, seemed pointless at times I knew it was helpful and needed to be done. As I mentioned earlier the kids were very good today and this included gym! They had a blast doing different jumping drills and it was one of my favorite, because they were some good track drills. I know track season is in full swing and I definitely miss it. I had lunch with the teachers and English class before going to baby Ruth's funeral. When I arrived at the burial sight Santiago's flowers still nicely blooming. Two funerals withing a week has been tough, but they are free to move and no longer constrained by any disabilities. She is God's wonderful creation and in His perfect presence! When the funeral was done I went back up to the orphanage to pick up the kids and take them to Bible Club. We sang a song call En Secreto (In the Secret), which is all about knowing God more and following where He calls! Some of the lyrics are, "En secreto, en silencio te esperare, solo a Ti quiero conocerte más" (In the secret, in the quiet I wait, only for You cause I want to know you more). When it came time to go outside and play the kids sprinted out! Last week and again this week Veronica was showing me a mandarin tree. She is so smart, even though there was no fruit on the tree she could tell it was one. I wasn't so sure at first, I had never seen one and didn't understand how she would know it was one, but then we smelt the leaves. It was surprising how good they smell! I really enjoy learning from the kids. Every week after it is done I like to catch up with Sharon, I am thankful for those few minutes of getting to know her more each time. I hadn't been home for long when it was time to go up for supper at Dwight and Tandy's. Right as we were sitting down to eat the power went out, so we had a nice candlelight dinner. Eventually the power came back on and we enjoyed talking, laughing about the skunk puppet, and just hanging out! When it was time to start cleaning up the power went out again, so it took a while to get all the dishes clean in the dark. While it was pitch black since the power was out I saw the most incredibly vivid lightning I have ever seen, it was crazy how magnificent it was! The bolts would light up the whole sky and the thunder would shake the house, it was the biggest thunderstorm I recall seeing.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

God of all comfort

I woke up to the sunshine and enjoyed a nice bowl of cereal sitting by the sunny window. I had a great talk about how time is a treasure. Our time is invaluable and even though it is a crazy concept to grasp it should not be taken for granted. All of us have a limited time here on earth and I know I want to make the most of each second I am blessed with. There have been moments I wish I could fast forward through because I just wanted it to be over and others I wanted to freeze because they were so wonderful, but they are both important in life. I have learned and continue to learn to invest my time in people that I love and causes I am passionate about. My walk to school was lovely in the beautiful weather. At school this morning I got the news that baby Ruth went to be with God in heaven. Although Ruth's life story may not have gone as I hoped, her short life gave God glory. Despite many obstacles she held on for a long time and had miracle moments of being of the ventilator and breathing on her own! Now she is in heaven free from breathing constraints and in the presence of our Holy Father, perfect peace. Gym class were busy as they are every day with these energetic kids. The children here really enjoy being in the shade and since it was so sunny, they would try to take cover under trees and find huge leaves to be under. I feel like the odd ball always wanting to be in the sun! I got my workout for the day carrying Martin to and from the cancha, but I was happy to since he got to be a part of the class. There are many things he isn't able
Caila, Carlos, and Ana finding shade behind a big leaf!
to do or chooses not to do because of some of his physical disabilities, but I get to help him be more involved in these activities. On the way back he was having a tough time since he didn't get his way, but he is able to get over things really fast. At first he kept trying to push me away, but five minutes later he was trying to hid his smile which is so big it isn't really possible. English class, library, and after school program all went smoothly. When four o'clock rolled around I had a refreshing walk home in the rain, it really was cleansing after a whirlwind of a day. 2 Corinthians 1:2-4 is a verse well suited for today, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." I have received compassion from my Heavenly Father and in turn am asked to show compassion to those around me ins all circumstances. After arriving back at the house it was time to cook! I helped Cheralyn make naan, and Indian bread, and made my carrots. I ended up caramelizing them which is one of my favorites, in fact, I used to go to Perkin's for their jumbo muffins accompanied by a side of caramelized carrots! I finished making them just in time to head over to the Freeman's for the party. Rick and Rebekah, the Joy's, Cheralyn's family, and I supper and hung out for the evening. I had chicken strogenoff, chicken curry, vegetables, naan, and chocolate cake! Then it was time to bust out the dancing and human horseback rides. The kids were pretending to be horse and since I was big they wanted me to be a horse too, so I joined them. They are a lot of fun to spend time with, it is nice to be with families like this since I miss having all of my relatives nearby. After a great party filled with eating too much and dancing it was time for me to go to bed.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Help the weak

The day started off right with a skit about superheroes in chapel. I got to be at a superhero training school and practice protecting what is right, the mantra was: Be strong! Be courageous! We have the power to protect! The focus verse at school is from 1 Thessalonians 5, "Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else." It is invaluable for me to follow in Christ's footsteps and care for everyone, sometimes this means kindly redirecting, encouraging, helping, or simply loving them. In the midst of a busy morning of gym classes I made a toilet paper run to the house, since we get it from the Tia's I got to stop and greet all of them and visit Cheralyn. Greeting the Tia's is great, I respect and appreciate what they do for the kids so much. They are incredible women! We took the fourth grade class to the cancha and for some reason they were slipping all over the place. There are usually water puddles, but today three kids managed to fall in the water during
About to start after school enrichment!
 our game of soccer. Every time they fell I got nervous about injuries, but they always popped right back up and kept playing. It was chicken for lunch with the teachers before my  really small English class today. I only had two girls, so we got a lot done and I enjoyed the individual work I got to do. I sure did miss the other ones though. Library and enrichment flew by today and then I was off to ice cream with Laura. She and her husband, Andrew, are leaving tomorrow and I was thankful to get to say goodbye. I am grateful for her meeting her and incredibly blessed by her friendship. They live in Minneapolis, so I hope to see them sometime when we are both back in the States. I enjoyed wandering around out on the town tonight. I like seeing the sights, hearing the music, smelling the food cooking on the stands, and just being in Shell. I ate a grilled plantain with cheese in the middle, which was pretty good. Then I went vegetable shopping at a market, to supper at Johnny's, and grocery shopping at Alexander's with Cheralyn's family. While at Alexander's I decided to go for ice cream round two for the day! When I got back home it was time to prep the food for Rebekah's birthday celebration before getting some sleep.



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Strong and courageous

It turned out silly, but I like it!
It was another Sunday morning filled with beautiful music. I had two favorites of the morning which were Abre Mis Ojos Oh Christo (Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord) and Dios Todo Poderoso (Revelation Song). The message was focused around Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." I had an awesome time of prayer in church and know that God will continue to make me more courageous. In Christ I have nothing to worry about or fear, because God is in control. I have not mastered this by any means, but I have been set free of many worries that use to weigh me down and prayer for increased faith. At lunch I had the first real fake cheese sauce in two months! Macaroni and cheese topped with ketchup was a taste of home. I got to try a Canadian hard candy made with maple syrup too, it was a tasty treat. As soon as I had a full belly it was nap time. I for sure needed a nap, because I slept for a solid hour. I woke up refreshed and ready to visit the kids at Casa de Fe. Since there were people running some kind of program I got to hang out in the baby room which was exactly what I needed. I am blessed to spend so much time with the school aged kids and although I love baby time it gets pushed to the side during the week. I had a great time holding Lina/Elena and spending time with Telmo. Their little hearts blessed me a lot today! After a while I moseyed outside
She was so happy and giggling while I held her!
and hung out with the bigger kids in the front of the house, and eventually moved to the playground with the littler guys. Nayeli and Evelyn were sat in a yellow sled-like object together and I walked up to them pretending it was their house. I went along with it for a while and they seemed to think it was pretty great, they even had a pet "gatito" (kitten)! I value spending time outside of school with the kids, it gives me a chance to be goofy and joke around with them. It's not that I don't have fun at school, because I really do, but it is a different environment for them at the house on weekends and I like to be part of all aspects of life. It was a rainy walk back to the house from Casa de Fe, but I was literally soaking it in. I didn't have my raincoat with me which I knew was a gamble when I left for the day, but I enjoyed walking in and embracing the the rainfall. When I got back to the house I cleaned up, made supper, and spent an hour working on my Shutterfly book. It was a relaxing way to spend the evening before prayer. Prayer and worship was powerful tonight as we petitioned for baby Ruth. God has His mighty hands around her and knows what is best, but I know her life can be such a powerful testimony. God is the perfect healer and it is my plea she has time on earth to show His greatness. The Lord's ways are far greater than mine, but He hears every prayer and is faithful to answer them. When we were done praying and worshiping with the Casa de Fe staff it was time to fill water after procrastinating for as long as possible.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Others more significant

 
A statue of Puyo's founder.

I walked in to the kitchen to make breakfast this morning and stepped in a large puddle of water. A leaky sink made for an interesting start to the day, but Dwight came down to fix the sink and set up a rat trap. A small guest was heard scurrying around the ceiling tiles the other day and it was time to try and catch it.  I just lounged around house for the morning, which was very nice. Philippians 2:3–4,“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” I pray for humble service that looks out for the interests of others. Cheralyn and I jumped on a bus to Puyo for the afternoon. We went in a ton of different souvenir shops while we were there. We even found thrift stores, I enjoy thrifting a lot and it was fun to find some in Ecuador! When we were all shopped out it was time to head to a heladoria for an afternoon snack. I had an ice cream waffle bowl with homemade whipped cream, the whipped topping is always my favorite, but it is extra yummy here. I caught the bus back to Shell and am proud to say I successfully navigated where to get off by myself. It may seem insignificant, but it was a small victory for me! Shortly after I got home, Rebekah returned some kitchen supplies she had borrowed and gave me a beautiful purse. It was such a kind and thoughtful surprise. She needed to go up to the school to grab something and asked if I would join her, I like walking around town so I was more than happy to accompany her! We had a nice chat on the rainy walk to and from the school, got to see some of the kiddos, and was able to get construction paper for my roommate! It was a successful trip up to Casa de Fe. Cheralyn's parents came to visit her and
My tasty ice cream treat!

arrived this evening, so they were settling in when I got back to the house. They were ready to eat when I got back and let me go with them to Johnny's. It is a great place to eat, clearly I go there a lot! Tonight I mixed it up and tried a chicken platter that came with cheese, egg, and yucca fries. I am glad I tried it, because like everything else I have had it was great. After stopping by Karen's to pick up a few things we came back to the house. I called Dwight to see if he would turn on the pipe to get the filtered water, but since it was dark and raining he was so kind as to bring one of their water jugs down. Dwight and Tandy are such good neighbors and take such great care of me, they really go out of their way to help when it is needed and I appreciate it a lot! To wind down the evening we played a game of “Dutch Blitz”, it is a competitive and fun game. I had a blast playing, but was getting pretty tired and ready for bed when we heard a loud POP. It kind of sounded like something exploded at first then I remembered the rat trap, we got the rat! After an exciting investigation it was confirmed the creature had been caught and it was properly taken care of. I was rather disgusted, but glad it wasn't crawling around above my head anymore. When all the excitement was over it was definitely time for bed!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Overcome with good

Here is the bilingual birthday board!
I took Brianna and Natasha to the main road near the buses at 6am this morning so they could catch their ride. After saying goodbye to them I walked back to the house in a light mist and enjoyed the day becoming light before the sunrise. I could see the silhouettes of the mountains and was really thankful for that peaceful moment, it was incredible. Since I had finished laminating everything for the birthday bulletin on Wednesday, it was time to hang it all up on the board! I enjoyed finishing this project and hope it is another way to make the kids feel special on their birthday. I like birthdays a lot! The second and third grade gym classes stayed at the school to play games, but the fourth, sixth, and seventh graders went down to the cancha. Physical education classes went well today! Rebekah made some delicious lemon cupcakes with a lemony frosting, I hadn't had any treats like that in a long time, so they really tasted good. English class flew by and after cleaning up the school I was done working for the week. I hung outside the house with the kids for quite a while and it was a blast! It was a great time of talking, playing tag, and just having fun! However, my favorite thing of the afternoon was being greeted by Nayeli, she is a special little girl who has blessed me so very much. Nayeli is a four year old with many needs, but warms my heart when she repeatedly says “Miss Errreeeca” and wants a hug. Today she clung to me when I saw her and with her nose full of boogers she kissed my cheek! I walked back to the house before going to Johnny's for
Nayeli stealing a kiss!
supper with Cheralyn. Afterwards we made a trip to the bakery. I decided to be adventurous and try a red doughnut looking pastry, but it wasn't a good choice. I was craving and anticipating it to be like a doughnut, however, it turned out to be a pretty dry and crunchy thing. Oh well, next time I want something specific that's what I will pick. Then I made popcorn and watch a movie, tonight's choice was Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. A quote at the end of the movie was, "At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may, in fact, be the first steps of a journey." I remember reading these books in middles school and thought the movie was good! I liked this quote at the end because it reminds me that in every cloud there is a silver lining. Although God will lead me through tough times, He has already won the battle for my heart. His perfect love has triumphed and He conquers any evil with goodness! Romans 12:21says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

His people

Maribel holding a pretty pink flower!
I found out right before bed that God welcomed Santiago in to heaven last night and His precious son is free to run in to His warm embrace. Revelation 21:1-4, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.'” I was a bit emotional this morning about everything, but am overwhelmed by the love and presence of the Lord in my need. It is Rebekah's birthday today, so there was a surprise birthday party for her at school. It was awesome, surprises are great! The festivities consisted of confetti/flour being thrown, sitting on balloons to make them pop, a pinata, and snacks. It was a nice way tobrighten up a tough morning. Because of the party I only had one gym class today and it was a tough one. It didn't help I was already at my emotional limit for the day, but some of the comments were really wearing on me. I am thankful that God is bigger than every word and pray He continuesworking the the hearts of the oldest girls. It was grateful for words of wisdom that reminded me about hurtful comments coming from areas of unrest in their hearts. All of us teachers had a big lunch, the meat of the day was ground and flattened organs...it wasn't awful, but I had trouble getting it down since I was kind of grossed out by the thought of it. For me when it comes to food ignorance is bliss. There weren't any classes after lunch to allow us to attend baby Santiago's funeral. We all went out to the burial site had a time of prayer, stories, songs, then the maestros cemented in the burial slot right after it was done. Little Santiago went to be with our Heavenly Father and he is home ♥ After tying up loose ends for the day I joined the Freeman's, Martin's, Cheralyn, and the team at "Eco Parque" (a water park in Puyo). There was a little zip line in the water which was my favorite along with just hanging out with everybody! For supper I had a good chicken dish on top of a mound of papas fritas (french fries). Mickos was conveniently located on the way back and I had a delicious ice cream cone. It was maracuya and guanabana with super crunchy chocolate sprinkles on top! The evening ended with girl talk that turned in to giggles with Cheralyn, Brianna, and Natasha. Today for sure felt like a roller coaster, but God knew we all needed some laughs tonight and provided a time for us to share stories and unwind. God is good all the time, all the time God is good!