If the regular school day was not enough to remind me that I am outside of the U.S. of A., a field trip will definitely do it. Reminder 1: On the bus, students are told to sit three together in two seats to make space while some of the teachers sit on the floor. We enjoyed a pirated movie on the hour long trip to Guachimontones, the excavation of a pre-Columbian village, including circular pyramids. It is a really fun site to visit! We first went through the mini-museum and then hiked up to the site, doing activities along the way, like playing a ball game in the ancient court used for ceremonial games.
After the morning at the pyramids, we drove ten minutes away to the lovely Hacienda de Carmen, which was a Spanish hacienda built in the 1500s. It reminded me a lot of Thomas Jefferson’s plantations in Virginia and the types of field trips we took when I was in elementary school. The main house was built around a lovely courtyard and there were lots of big open spaces, and the land included orchards, stables, and a tequila distillery.
Reminder 2: Students are divided into groups and given a map of the hacienda for a scavenger hunt. The teachers are told to relax and enjoy the courtyard while they wait for the students to get back. Okay then, I’ll go take some pictures. Reminder 3: Unsupervised students wander around a field of rubble with large machinery looking for their next flag.
The hacienda restaurant provided delicious hamburgers; however, it took about an hour for everyone to be served. The last four boys were flagging the waiter down like they had been stranded on a deserted island. Reminder 4: The teachers enjoy their meal around a table while fifty kids run crazy behind them since they finished their food more than a half hour ago and are going stir crazy.
On the whole it was a great day and I loved the chance to go somewhere new and enjoy time with my sweet students.
Photos are my own.
After doing some initial, decluttering journaling to reflect on the past year, the most prevalent theme I discovered was the power of prayer.
I am so impressed by how God has answered so much prayer this year. Last year, my landlady was interested in the church and just starting to read her Bible, now, she is actively involved in two Bible studies, is meeting with another believing lady for discipleship, and is praying for and reaching out to her family and our neighbors. Last January, I was just getting to know my church and now I feel at home there and have been blessed with opportunities to serve and minister to them, including at their annual ladies’ retreat. I am praying for continued influence there for my remaining time. Back in June, I prayed for a close friend who would spiritually spur me on. In October, my dear friend Emma moved in and we have enjoyed such conversations and times of prayer, not to mention hosting together and enjoying dancing with our friends.
I also love seeing how God has stretched my understanding of ministry and obeying the Great Commission. I have gotten better about being intentional with my relationships and even though I sometimes find difficult to get to the point (Jesus!), I am also learning about faithful prayer and patience. I am encouraged in this because I am seeing the fruit from other Christians who lived out their faith and then had to move on without seeing the end result. It is such a blessing for me to enjoy this time of seeing the fruit, though I know my future may also hold seasons of planting and watering seemingly without effect. I have personally witnessed how one plants, another waters, but God brings in the harvest. It is all about him anyway, isn’t it?
Looking forward to the year to come, I am excited to see what other opportunities I have for learning and serving. On my break, I was also able to prepare mentally for going home in July and am excited about some possible job and ministry opportunities back in my home town. My prayer for this year: Keep bringing in the harvest! I am ready and expecting an abundance.
Photo is my own of the gorgeous poinsettias (nochebuena) that are flourishing this time of year.