Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What,What, What, Would You Do?

Remember the T.V. show, What would you do? that was televised on Nickelodeon?  
If you're racking your brain trying to remember, click on the video to listen and sing-a-long to the theme song. This T.V. show was one of my favorites growing up, and my brother and sister and I would camp out in front of the T.V. wanting to see the next crazy thing about to happen in someone's lives.  The show lasted about thirty minutes, and then the television audience would vote on the strangest or most unique situation.
If I'm truly honest, I feel like this TV series describes my life right now. I move from one CRAZY situation to the next, always wondering if what I'm doing is the right move?!?! Oh, the million and one thoughts that run through my brain each day... I sure do wish that my audience could vote and cast their vote for which move I should take sometimes. I also know that I'm not alone, and there are many other people wishing for the answers to fall the sky.

Here's the question..


Would you do something small like reconnect with a friend or do something a little more drastic like move to a new city or continent? Maybe it looks a little different for you...maybe you would...

  • Visit a new church, small group, community group (or maybe just start going to church)? 
  • Start that new running or workout program that you've promised yourself you would start? 
  • Look for ways to meet new people or expand your circle of friends? 
  • Ask that guy/girl to go on a date with you? 
  • Do something that no one would expect you to do? 
  • Call that family member or friend? 
  • Open your mouth and share your faith? 
  • Rent or buy that apartment or house? 
  • Go on that mission trip? 
  • Learn a new language? 

Would you do something totally unexpected and maybe even a little crazy that no one would ever dream you would do? 

I'm not saying necessarily that we should do something completely different than what we are doing; I'm just asking you to at least consider the possibility.

Because I'm confident of this. Your response to that question IS what you should be doing RIGHT now, regardless of your banking account, marital status, or current life situation.  I do believe it makes all the difference. 

Because here's why and it's really good news... 

GOD IS WITH YOU, whether you believe He is or not...or feel like he is or not. 

Leaving Heaven, The Lord came to us as a baby over two thousand years ago. He lived a sinless life, died in our place, and defeated death so that we would always know that He is with us. He assures us of this truth over and over throughout scripture because I think He knows we need His assurance.

Isaiah 7:14-Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin will conceive and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, which means "God with us." 

Joshua 1:9-Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." 

1 Corinthians 3:16-Do you know that you are God's temple and that God's spirit dwells in you?

Zephaniah 3:17-The Lord your God is with you, a might one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

GOD IS WORKING IN YOUR LIFE, whether it seems like He is or not. 

You are part of God's redemptive plan. God came to save you when you were still running away from Him. In His love and mercy, Jesus continues to pursue you so that you will know that HE is Lord and that He has GOOD plans for your life.

Jeremiah 29:11-For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. 

Philippians 1:9-And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah 31:3-This is what the Lord says: I love you with an everlasting love. I will continue my faithfulness to you. 

With these promises, I'd say it is worth considering, and when the Holy Spirit leads, take that leap of faith doing whatever God has called you to do...if you're not sure how the Lord would have you answer that question, remember that God only calls us to be faithful TODAY! In this moment, how can you best glorify God with your life at this very moment? 

Baby steps of faith with lots of grace and mercy God will reveal the steps you need to take to be confident he is with you and working in your life. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

More Little Kiddos

I am posting three posts today, so make sure you scroll to the first one--Happy Independence Day! I apologize for the overload; I guess we were camera happy, and I wanted to show you. 

I have one particular student, Elizabeth, who loves to take my camera and take pictures of everyone. I'm glad she is so energetic about taking pictures because I have some good pictures that I can share with you.

Jennifer and Elizabeth smile for the camera. They are precious girls. 

Elizabeth insisted that I be in a picture. Little Jennifer is so cute and and sweet with her pigtails. 
I also love the pretty view of the mountains in the background. 

Group shot--I'm glad others decided to join us. Junior on the far left is one of my favorites, but then again, they are all my FAVORITES and hold a special place in my heart. It's impossible to choose just one, so how about they are ALL MY FAVORITES! :) 

It took us a while to make this one. Elizabeth recorded videos instead of pictures. Oops! I love my boys in sixth year. They are rowdy at times, but they are all ready to pose for the picture. 

I especially love this picture of Anderson and Mateo. Both boys are in my house, and I also believe that I see a smile beginning to form on Mateo's face. So, he can smile. Who knew?! :)

Jhonny wanted to join us. He is also in my house. The smiles just keep coming... 

Sweet Nataly--how I'm going to miss her! She and I had a date every afternoon as I helped her with English homework. She is such a sweetheart! :) 

Superman smiles for the camera after dinner one night...he is my hero! :) 

All the boys in my house (La Casa Ocho). They are all smiles (maybe even a few giggles too) and looking at the camera! This is my favorite picture as of yet. You guessed it...I love these boys, and they are so sweet. They make me smile! 

1st and 3rd Level Classes

On an earlier post, I posted pictures of some of my pictures. However, I was missing some of them. I am happy to now say I have a picture of all my classes.

1st Level 

This is the youngest class. They are too sweet, but Steven wasn't too happy in the moment. There was nothing anyone could do to make him smile. 

Literally a minute later....he was all smiles. 

Aw...how cute! He definitely has my heart! Why couldn't he have flashed that smile a minute ago?

Little Steven wanted me to take one with his friend. I couldn't resist! 

More sweet smiles...they are so cute. 

Lucia and Ariana are the only two sweet girls in the class. They usually don't get to talk too much because the boys are always running around. Ariana has maybe said two words since I've been here, and when she does, it is barely above a whisper. She is always the first one though to greet me as I come in with a big hug. The girls don't seem to mind being the only two girls; they just work quietly together. 

3rd level

This is a fun class. I don't know why Brayan decided it was a good idea to lay on the floor. Perhaps it's a new pose that I don't know about. I love how Joseph has his hand on his head as if he is keeping him on the floor. haha! Yes, really I know what you are thinking. It is the best picture of the bunch. :)

Happy Independence Day


As Mony greeted me this morning with a hug and a kiss, she wished me a "Happy Independence Day." She was interested in the holiday, and the fact that most people have a day off from work. I hope you are enjoying your day off and doing something fun.

Today was a regular school day for me. School is winding down. School officially ends on July 8, but students do not have an English exam on Monday.  I'm sure I will go to school on Monday to help Mony post grades, but I'm pretty much finished with school. We have been getting out of school by 11 each day, so I've had most of my afternoons free.

Last night I talked to my grandmother, and she informed me that I hadn't posted in a while. I was given strict orders to post more, and I hope she approves. I realized though that she is correct.  I have not made a post since last week, and I hadn't talked about my weekend. On Saturday, my neighbors and I went into San Luis. They are so friendly and kind, and I've loved having the company next door. They continue to tell me that I've been a  life-saver for them, but God has blessed me with their company as well. 

My neighbors wanted to eat at TGIFs in San Luis, and I was happy to accompany them and show them the bus route. We ate lunch and went to the movies. We saw Fast and the Furious 6, and it was a pretty good movie. We were trying to recall if we had seen the previous five, but we could not remember seeing all of them.  It was an amazing day! I'm so glad that I've gotten to know them. 

On Sunday, my neighbors took me to see the animals on the Foundation. I've seen the llamas, but I had not seen the guinea pigs and pigs. 

There are many more guinea pigs at the Foundation. This is just one stall, and I would say there are about 100 guinea pigs in this building. The children and house mothers on the Foundation do not eat the guinea pigs; instead, they raise them to sell and make money to support the Foundation. Whew, I'm sure glad! I still can't get over the fact that Ecuadorians eat these little furry friends. And No...to clear up all questions, I have not tasted guinea pig. I saw them on a skewer at the market, but they looked exactly the same as they do in this picture except they are dead of course with their eyes bulging out. Needless to say, I don't think my stomach could have handled that experience, so I had to pass on the offer! Maybe next time...or NOT! 

While I knew that the Foundation raised the guinea pigs, I was not aware that there were pigs on the Foundation until Sunday. There are three of them, and they are all pretty good sized pigs! They don't eat the pigs either, but just like the guinea pigs, the Foundation raises them to sell. 

I also saw a tiger on Sunday! Can you believe it? No...because I'm only kidding...well sort of! Mateo sported an Auburn Tigers T-shirt on Sunday. Does that count? I think it's as close as I want to get. 

I tried to explain the rivalry to him, but how can you really understand the rivalry of Alabama and Auburn unless you live in the state of Alabama or at the very least in the South East? I really don't think you can. I also explained to him that I went to the other school, and I'm a huge fan of the other team.  I assured him that I would bring him an Alabama shirt the next time I came for a visit, so he could at least support both sides! :)  

My neighbors return to the States tomorrow, but they promise to send pictures from the weekend. I will post them when I receive them. I will miss them, but I know they are excited to get back to the States. I pray that God will give them a safe journey home, and hopefully we can keep in touch. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

An English Teacher is in High Demand

I have had a busy week at school this week. The students take unit quizzes this week. so I have been helping Mony grade and average scores. Students take exams next week, and the last day of school is July 8th. After July 8th, students have an opportunity to take their exams again if needed. I think it is an awful lot of quizzes and exams for the students. If I am worn out grading every student's quiz, I can imagine that the students are even more overwhelmed. I was talking to Jhonny, one of the boys in my house family. He told me that he has FOUR exams on one day! I mean...WOW! I'm just exhausted thinking about how he is going to study for four exams with everything else he has going on. Students at the Foundation wake up at 3 a.m. to do chores. They also have chores in the afternoon as well, and they have to eat, attend worship, and do everything the house mother tells them to do. Believe me...the children at the Foundation don't have down time. They are always doing something!

Today I took pictures of some of my classes. I help in 1st through 7th level classes. 1st level would be equivalent to our kindergarden, so I basically work with elementary school children (Kindergarden through sixth grade). I still need pictures of two of my classes, but I thought I would share the pictures that I do have. None of these pictures will win an award for best photo; however, I'm glad that I have a few good ones. I took about 20 of every class and tried to pick the best one. The students are not always concerned with looking straight into the camera, and they for some reason always want to throw up the peace sign.  So...trust me...I did the best I could! :)

2nd level class

Oscar is in second level and lives on the Foundation. I wish I could take him back to the States with me. The sun was in our eyes, and he has an interesting smile. I might try to take another one with him before I leave. Nevertheless, I love this little boy!

4th level class

Yes, I know! This is the best one! I I can't believe it either! :) 

5th level class

Samuel (near the center) was concerned that he wasn't smiling. Go figure...so I took one of him with a friend. 

This is a sweet picture. Why can't they all turn out like this one?

6th level class

Let's just say, wow!

7th level

Last but certainly least...I think they were ready to leave for the day! What do you think?

During break, a few wanted to keep taking pictures. 

Mateo has quite the serious stare. If you look for him in the 6th level picture, he is striking the same smile (if you want to catch it that).  Mateo is also one of the children in my house family.

I hope you find these pictures as hilarious as I do! :) The students are a bit unruly and have an interesting way of taking pictures, but they are sweet children! 

After school, the counselor stopped me and told me that she wanted me to tutor her daughter in English. Her daughter attends this school, but she is older. Therefore, I don't have her in one of my classes. The counselor told me that her daughter has heard wonderful things about my ability to teach English and explain concepts in Spanish, and she wants me to help her daughter prepare for her exam on Monday afternoon. She asked me how much I charged, and I assured her it would be free. I'm just wondering if she is sure she has the right girl?! 

After lunch I needed to buy more water, but the store where I normally purchase drinks and snacks was closed. I continued to walk a little farther until I found another store that had larger bottles of water. As I was purchasing the water, the owner began to ask me questions. I honestly can't remember how the conversation started, but she asked me where I was from and if I lived on the Foundation. I told her that I lived on the Foundation, and I help teach English at the school. She was elated and asked me if I could come back next week to tutor her granddaughter in English. I said that I would return on Tuesday and help her granddaughter. She was excited because she said it is extremely difficult to find someone who knows English really well and can speak Spanish.  I really wanted to say...really, you think I speak Spanish well? I think you have overestimated my abilities! We will see how this tutoring session turns out...

Who knew? An English teacher would be in such high demand! :) I hope I can deliver what these women want! :)

Oh in other news, I have neighbors next door. Linda and her daughter are here from the States to help the house mothers with chores. I'm glad to have friends next door, and I'm hoping that I've found more friends who will be interested in going into San Luis with me. God is definitely working through me in Ecuador. Please keep me in your prayers, I'll keep you posted on things here. 

I better go for now...dinner is served! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Family Weekend

This weekend is Family Weekend at the Foundation. On Saturday, students and parents gathered at the church to celebrate the end of the school year. Students are very excited about this day because it signals an end of the school year and the beginning of vacation, even though we technically still have two weeks of school.

The celebration began at 8:00 on Saturday with praise and worship led by some of the teachers. We watched a movie, The Grace Card. The story of the movie is very powerful and encourages everyone to forgive each other even when it is hard to forgive because Christ has forgiven us. This movie was broken into two parts with an intermission. Young people from the community performed skits and juggling routines. The students loved every minute of the movie and the other forms of entertainment. 

Earlier in the week I had made plans with Mallory, the intern from the upper part of the Foundation, to go into San Luis to watch a movie on Saturday afternoon. I had no idea that I would watch two movies in one day, but I was looking forward to spending time with Mallory and going into San Luis. She and I decided to see Anna Karenina in English because it was an "epic love story." This movie is based on the novel by Tolstoy. Although the movie has apparently won many Oscars, it was quite an interesting movie to say the least. Luckily, the company and popcorn were good because I would not recommend this movie and am unsure why it won so many awards. Isn't that always how it is with movies that win Oscars? As we left the theater, we laughed about the movie and joked of the irony of seeing a Russian movie in English in Ecuador. :) 

Earlier in the week I decided to buy a coffee maker at Mega Maxi. Waking up at 5:00 without caffeine is brutal, and to say that I am caffeine deprived is the understatement of the summer. After shopping around, I found a small coffee maker for $20.00 and decided to buy it. I was super excited to go home and make some coffee. However, it is just my luck that the coffee maker does not work...bummer! The coffee doesn't filter into the pot for some reason, so the coffee just sits in the filter. I tried three different times, and I can't make the coffee filter into the pot.  I am going to try to take it back tomorrow. I hope Ecuadorians do exchanges!  At least it gives me another excuse to go into San Luis tomorrow. 

I also have been looking for a simple sweatshirt that says Ecuador. I'm not exactly sure why I wanted a sweatshirt. It may be because I love sweatshirts, and I prefer them over a jacket most of the time because they are comfortable and cozy. It also could be that mornings and evenings are cool here, and i didn't bring a sweatshirt with me. I went to the Artisan Market in Quito with the church group this past week, but unfortunately they didn't have sweatshirts. As Mallory and I were walking through the mall on Saturday, Mallory spotted Ecuadorian sweatshirts. I found the perfect one! :) 

At the Artisan market, I did buy magnets and a blanket. This type of blanket is very popular in Ecuador and comes highly recommended because it is so comfortable. It is comfortable, and i'm glad I can say that I bought something at the Artisan market. I'm still on the lookout for an elephant figurine. I guess you could say that I collect them because I have many of them from different cities or countries that I or another member of my family visits. I've just always been lucky enough to find one because what can I say? No matter where I go I'm always looking for a reason to say "Roll Tide!" 

This is a picture of the sweatshirt from the mall and the blanket from the Artisan market. 

Here is a picture of Margaret and I during a break at school. All the kids thought we were sisters all week because they thought we looked alike! Jennifer is the sweet little girl beside Margaret. She has become one of my favorite kids. She always tells me, "Amanda, no te vayas" (Don't leave) when I leave the houses for any reason, even when I assure her I'll be back in an hour or two. 

Margaret and the team from the States went home on Friday, and another team arrived to help the missionaries on Saturday. On Sunday, the Family Weekend celebration continued with activities for the kids and games for the mothers and fathers at church. The day concluded with dancing in the open area in the center of the houses. 

I know this picture is somewhat far away, but the kids and even the director are dancing to a what I think is a popular song in the States (gangnam style, anyone?).

I guess I better get going for now because I just noticed I'm a little late for dinner with my house family. I hope we have some of the french fries leftover from lunch. :) Thank you for all the prayers. God is good and is answering all of them. Take care, and I'll write more later...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Full of Fun and Fellowship

As I am waiting on my clothes to dry, I thought I would write a blog post to catch you up on my life in Ecuador. Since I have last posted, I have fallen into a routine at the Foundation. I was able to buy food in San Luis, so I am no longer hungry or thirsty. God has abundantly answered my prayers, and I know He is working.

I do have some cool news to share about my weekend. Carlos, the owner of Tortugas Pizza in Hoover, is from Ecuador, and his family still lives here.  My co-worker and friend, Lera introduced us before school ended. Carlos gave me his family's contact information, but with the craziness of school ending and trying to leave the country, I forgot to e-mail them before I left. However, Carlos sent me a Facebook message this past week with his family's information again. He also had his family send me a Facebook message. I was very excited to hear from them because they wanted to take me sight-seeing. 

I talked to Andrea, his niece, and she agreed to come pick me up and take me into San Luis yesterday. When Sunday arrived, she and her entire family packed into the car to come and see me. It was so great to meet them and very sweet of them to take me to eat at Pizza Hut. They also took me to San Luis, an Ecuadorian market, and Quito where I was able to meet the rest of the family. It was such a great day, and I hope I get to spend more time with them before I leave. 

On the same day, another team arrived from the States arrived to help the Brocks and the Coes. I was quite surprised to see Margaret, a friend who went to Cuba with me last summer. It is so cool that she is part of this trip because neither one of us knew the other was planning on going to Ecuador this summer.  It was such a great surprise and blessing to see a familiar face! :) 

After school today, Mony asked me if I wanted to go into San Luis. This question is a no-brainer-OF COURSE I want to go! :) I spent the afternoon with Mony and other teachers from the school. They are such a great group of people and have made me feel right at home. God has truly blessed me with Mony, a friend who looks after me and takes care of me. 

When I returned from San Luis, the team from the States were down playing with the children at the Foundation. Ronny and the team asked me if I wanted to come to dinner. This question is also a no-brainer--DEFINITELY! I enjoyed spending time with this group, and Ronny brought me back down to my apartment. :) 

GOD IS GOOD AND ANSWERS PRAYERS! :) I have had such a full couple of days with lots of food, fun, and fellowship. I hope to post pictures of my family and a picture of Mony soon. Please continue to keep me in your prayers. I can feel them and know that God is answering each one! :)