Bucket List Blog

As my time in the DR wound down, several people suggested to me that I make a list of things that I wanted to do in the DR before I moved. I jotted down several things and by the grace of God accomplished all of them (plus a couple bonus experiences that God had on my Bucket List 🙂 )

  1. Swim in the Caribbean Sea.

“I can’t be a missionary in the Caribbean for 3 years and never see the Caribbean Sea!” I thought. The Lord gave me the chance to go to a town called Bayahibe on the southern coast of the island with several other missionaries. It was a sweet time of fellowship, relaxation, and my first and only chance to swim in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.P1060855

  1. Go to the capital.

I had heard lots of things about the capital from nationals and from other missionaries and I wanted to experience it for myself. People talked about how crazy the driving is, how high the crime is, how big the malls are, how beautiful the Colonial Zone is, how much you feel like you are in America, etc. That is all true but what impacted me most was going to church Sunday morning at a large church called La IBI. It was one of those experiences where I felt like each song and the sermon were chosen to be exactly what I needed to hear at that time. The Lord reminded me of His sovereignty and His faithfulness.

P1080354

  1. Sleepover at Alberto and Lidia’s.

I knew that one of the hardest parts of moving back to America would be leaving my Dominican parents. I wanted to be sure to have some quality time with them before the move. I have been so blessed by their example of genuine faith, their words of wisdom, their love and support.

P1080282

  1. Baking with co-workers.

In my American life (pre-DR) I baked on occasion but there wasn’t a huge need to because any grocery store has at least 20 different dessert options on any given day. Not the case in the DR. Thus, I baked pretty regularly- cookies for my students, brownies for a staff get together, etc. I wanted to invite my co-workers over to my apartment and teach them how to bake a chocolate chip cookie bar. We had a lot of fun in the kitchen, and some great conversations while it baked, and of course we enjoyed eating the final product.

P1060979 P1060975

  1. Paint nails in the village.

I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I love painting other people’s nails. When I was a little girl I had a dream that I would go to college to be a teacher, and while I was in college I would work at a nail salon. (Only part of the dream was realized 😉 ) In the weeks between when school ended and my move date, I went to the village several times and took with me some nailpolish. I had so much fun painting nails and creating designs (even though I’m not that artistic). What I cherished most was the conversation that flourished, the memories that were made, and the love that abounded.

P1080182 P1080173

  1. Eat Yaroa.

One day I was talking with some co-workers during lunch and they began telling me about a dish that they really like to eat for dinner called Yaroa. They went on and on about how delicious it is and that I really needed to try it. Well I tried on 3 different occasions to get Yaroa and each time the place in my town was closed because it was too early, because the power was out, or because it was the wrong day. All these failed attempts made me want to try it even more! On my last weekend in the DR, I went to a truck on the side of the road in Sosua with my friend Emily and was finally able to order Yaroa! I can’t say it was my most favorite thing I’ve eaten in the DR but it was tasty and I was glad to have the experience. 🙂

P1080507

  1. Go to a Dominican salon.

Going to the salon is a weekly thing for many Dominican ladies. Right across the street from my apartment was a salon that was run by a family that attended my church and I had come to know pretty well. In my last couple weeks, I walked over one Friday afternoon and asked them to wash and dry my hair. Boy was I in for an experience. I was there for almost 2 hours. They washed my hair in a sink that did not have a slot to rest my neck so I had to bend my head back for about 30 mins straight. They put a plastic bib on backward so the water drained in the sink. I had to hold the strings up at an angle in front of my face. At one point, my arms got tired and without realizing it, I lowered the bib, which unfortunately let the water spill all over my shirt. The ladies exclaimed that I had gotten wet and one girl came over to the sink to hold the bib strings for me. (Rookie mistake) When the washing was done they led me to a chair where one of the ladies would blow dry my hair. Only one problem- there was no street power. We waited for about 20-30 minutes. Toward the end of the time the ladies started calling for guys on the street to come start the generator. Then we heard, “llegó la luz!” The power was back! She began blow drying my hair. There was a lot of sectioning, pinning, and pulling but she did a really nice job. At the end of it all, she did a tubi which is when they wrap the styled hair around your head and then place a hair net over it so that it stays. I paid my 300 pesos, thanked the ladies and walked back to my apartment. So worth it.

P1080162

  1. Attend the 8th grade graduation.

This experience was not on my Bucket List but was on God’s Bucket List for me. A couple years ago I remember being at my favorite beach with my roommate Emily and in our conversation/processing/making sense of life, we starting talking about how we wished that we celebrated our 8th graders when they finished their time with us. We talked about how it is such an accomplishment for them and we wanted to encourage and honor them. I didn’t say anything to anyone in leadership but prayed that the Lord would put this in their hearts, too. Then, I honestly forgot about this prayer- but God didn’t. In early May I learned that they had scheduled an 8th grade graduation program for the first time ever. Isn’t God awesome? It was such a privilege for me to celebrate, honor and encourage these youth along with the rest of the staff. The kids received award certificates, a special lunch, heard kind words from their teacher, and motivating words from the director. Two of the female students told me that they were the first ones in their family to finish 8th grade. I pray these young people continue to grow and develop to be godly leaders in their families and their community.

P1080019 P1080007

  1. Go surfing.

Ok so this was something that I talked about with some of my missionary friends but sort of in a “yea I should try but I’m really afraid to try so I probably won’t” kinda way. Not actually written on my Bucket List because I was afraid to actually do it. Then one day when talking to my friends (who are experienced surfers) they really encouraged me to try it that weekend. I said I would think about it and the more I did, I decided that I would face my fear and try it. So Monday morning (it was a holiday and school was cancelled) I drove out to a big surfing beach called Playa Encuentro and tried surfing for the first time. I rented a board, surfing shoes and a surf shirt for a total of 500 pesos ($12 US) and my friends taught me how. Then I tried it on the water, and after falling a few times, I actually stood up on the board! I loved it! There is nothing like the feeling of riding a wave in! I’m grateful that I faced my fear and now can say that I’ve successfully surfed. 🙂

11077946_10206092341804945_1567584713025471392_n

 

My feet are back on US soil but a piece of my heart will always be in the Dominican Republic. I thank the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness in this chapter and look forward to what He has in store next. Thank you for your continued love, support and prayers. Please join me in continuing to lift up the community of Caraballo in prayer. There is still much to be done and our sovereign God knows just how to do it and who He wants to use.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Promises from Scripture

More than 3 years ago the Lord called me to minister with Kids Alive International in a community that I had never heard of- Caraballo. I felt passionate about loving at-risk children, but could not understand why the Lord would ask me, with all my weaknesses and imperfections, to serve Him in this way. Surely there was someone else better suited for the job. I surrendered in obedience, asked Him to break my heart for what breaks His, and prayed He would use me to be His hands and feet in a way that would bring Him all honor and glory. As I anticipated my time overseas I was filled with excitement, fear, uncertainty, sadness for leaving family and friends, and a desire to trust my Good Shepherd. I clung to many of His promises in Scripture during this time.

  • So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
  • You both precede and follow me, and place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalms 139:5
  • Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10
All packed up and ready! Or at least as ready as I could be!

All packed up and ready! Or at least as ready as I could be!

When I arrived to the DR, it didn’t take long to realize life is hard. Ministry is hard. Every day in Caraballo is a battle. There are so many complicated situations, unanswerable questions, and times where I am completely helpless. There are moments where my students’ behavior is so difficult and unloveable, I can only depend on Christ’s love to show grace and patience. There is a lot of messiness and in the mess Christ is writing a beautiful redemptive story. In the midst of the challenges, I grew to care deeply for the people around me. The Lord answered my prayer and broke my heart for the lost children, teens, and adults that I interact with each day. He is faithful every morning and every moment, to give just what I need to do His will. I cling to many of His promises in Scripture during this time.

  • And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up. Galatians 6:9
  • Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
  • The Lord’s love never ends; His mercies never stop. They are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23
I loved spending quality time with some middle school girls during recess.

I loved spending quality time with middle school girls during recess.

Home visits- near and dear to my heart <3

Home visits- near and dear to my heart <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I am nearing the end of this time of service in the DR. It is definitely bittersweet. This place and these people that at times have been frustrating, hard to understand, and difficult to love, have become my second home and my second family. I feel like a mom to my students and like a sister to my co-workers. My heart fills with joy as I think of each smile, each hug, and each kind word that has been shared with me in the past weeks. It is with teary eyes that I read letters from students that say, “Please don’t leave.” or “I love you so much and I will never forget you. I will miss you.” It is so sad to think of not seeing these precious children every day, but I entrust them to the One who created them and loves them deeply. As I spent time in prayer the morning of our last day of school, I anticipated a farewell program from the students, and I clung to this promise of Scripture:

  • So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

The students and staff planned a beautiful farewell ceremony. So blessed.

So, what is one thing I have learned in this whole journey? God’s promises are relevant, timely, and active. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. No matter what our circumstance, His Word is true and His character is holy. What an awesome God we serve!

Soon I will not be making the drive down the dusty dirt road to Caraballo each day but I know the One who is already there. I will not be able to give high fives, hugs or smiles, but I can pray. I will circle this promise in prayer for the children and teenagers of Park Care Center and trust that Our Heavenly Father will bring them to Himself and will use them to further His Kingdom in their home, their community, their country, and our world. Will you join me?

  • “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
Class picture- afternoon group

Class picture- afternoon group

Classe picture- morning group

Class picture- morning group

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Holding on to Hope

For the past couple weeks I have wanted to write a blog post but haven’t been quite sure what to write about. There are so many moments in each day that could make me laugh or cry and sometimes it is hard to know what moments the Lord wants me to share with you, my supporters.

This morning I have peace and great joy as I sit down to write a blog post about my sweet student Gabriel. Gabriel lives in a community called Negro Melo, and he walks one hour…. that’s right, one HOUR to school in Caraballo each day. In Caraballo, he goes to the public school in the morning, comes to the care center in the afternoon, and then walks an hour back to his home.

My co-teacher and I visited his home last Friday, and it was very eye-opening to see his commute each day, and what his home life is like. Gabriel lives with his sister Gabriella and his grandma. Both of his parents are alive but they live in other parts of the island and don’t have much contact with the kids. We visited with the grandma and she shared that a few months ago her son, Gabriel’s uncle, was killed. She wept as she told us the story of how her son, a police officer in Santiago, was killed by other police officers because he didn’t want to take part in a corrupt plan they had developed. It broke my heart to see this woman’s grief. She also shared that her son was very generous and would regularly give her money to buy food and other necessities, and without that support the family has had a very difficult time. In addition to the grief, the difficult economic situation, and the frequent lack of food, there was a very real darkness in the home because the grandma practices witchcraft. At the end of the visit, we asked the grandma if we could pray with her and she said yes. We prayed for salvation for those in the home, healing of grief, and provision of the things they need. I left the visit with a heavy heart and continued praying earnestly for Gabriel, Gabriella, and their grandma.

Now that you know more about Gabriel’s home life, it will not surprise you to say that Gabriel has had many behavioral incidents at school. He has gotten into fights with other students, often said really vulgar and inappropriate words, spoken very disrespectfully to staff, and even threatened to kill my co-teacher as he held a huge rock in his hand. After these incidences Gabriel had a consequence to help him understand that he could not repeat them, but in addition to the punishments myself and the other staff members have taken time to talk with him, shown him unconditional love and respect, and shared the gospel of Jesus with him.

On the Monday after our visit at his house, Gabriel told my co-teacher that he wanted to pray to accept Christ in his heart. When the bell rang for recess, my co-teacher called him over to pray and Gabriel said “Tomorrow! Let me have one more day before becoming a Christian.” Not gonna lie, my co-teacher and I stood there shocked by his response. I continued praying for him and when Tuesday rolled around, Gabriel was ready to pray for salvation. Praise the Lord! This week I have seen a change in his attitude and his behavior. You can see a peace and a joy in him that was not evident before. I know that this lifestyle change is not going to be easy. Please join me in continuing to pray for him and his family. Pray that he would grow each day in knowledge of God’s Word and in love. Pray he would hold on to the hope of Christ, allow Christ’s Light to shine through in dark situations, and find that his Good Shepherd is always faithful.

P1060921

Gabriel in his house

 

P1060920

Gabriel and his grandma

P1060923

The outside of his house

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Hebrews 10:23

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Felices Fiestas

This past Thursday was our Christmas party. It was a super busy day with many preparations, but the Lord encouraged me by showing how beautiful it is when we all work together. Several of the teachers worked to make all of the decorations for the cafeteria and they did an incredible job. We had to divide up all the gift bags for each class and the guys carried the heavy boxes all over the school. At one point, there were like 20 people in the kitchen working on food boxes for the kids and another 10 people working on pouring and passing out cups of pop. We made a “pop chain” where about 5 of us stood in a line and passed the cups down in order to most efficiently supply each table. One of my co-workers said, “How beautiful it is to work like this” and I couldn’t agree more. Each person contributed their part and the Lord multiplied all of our efforts and used them for His honor and glory.

P1060400P1060404

P1060405P1060406

As the preparations were finished, the students came excitedly marching in to take their seat. It is so humbling to stand in that cafeteria with rows upon rows of tables, all overcrowded with as many chairs as could possibly fit. Each chair filled by a precious child or teen. Wow. What a privilege we have to know, love and serve so many children and teens in this community.

P1060481

P1060477 P1060470

After sharing the special meal together, students took their food boxes home and came back with their families for the program. It is so meaningful to see students from the youngest in the school to the oldest perform a presentation that they’ve practiced for weeks. How wonderful to have so many family members on our property hearing the gospel of Jesus and experiencing His supernatural love. I treasure and cherish those moments and will guard the memories in my heart.

P1060522 P1060548 P1060555

My 3rd graders did a skit on Zacchaeus. It is a powerful thing to study this story- how desperate Zacchaeus was to see Jesus and the transformation in Zacchaeus’ after he encountered Jesus. He changed from being a cold-hearted dishonest tax-collector to a generous kind-hearted giver. I pray that kind of sold-out desperation and heart transformation for the students of Park Care Center. The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If he can accomplish a beautiful work in the life of Zacchaeus, he can accomplish a beautiful work in the lives of Gabriel, Emy, Enol, etc. If you want to read the story of the tax-collector look up Luke 19:1-10.

IMG_3371

Can you spot Zacchaeus in the “tree”?

IMG_3374

Jesus and his disciples eating at Zacchaeus’ house.

IMG_3370

Zacchaeus giving back 4 times the amount that he took from people.

 IMG_3377

Our drama was the only performance that was not super Christmas-y and some may have thought it random. But why do we celebrate Christmas? Because we celebrate the birth of Christ. Why was Christ’s birth important? Because he grew to be a man who transformed the lives of many that he encountered. Because he willingly died on the cross, trading His innocence for our sin. Because on the 3rd day he rose again victorious over sin, death, and the darkness of this world. Because He lives and walks along side us as our faithful Friend and good Shepherd. Because in Him alone there is peace and hope and love and joy. May each of us remember the Reason for the season- “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” Luke 19:10

P1060532

Jesus and Zacchaeus 🙂

Merry Christmas!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dominican Snow Day

Yesterday and today have been what I like to call “Dominican snow days” – days where school is cancelled due to rain and flooding. Every teacher, regardless of how much they love their job and their students, gets excited to have an unexpected day off. Like my American teacher friends, I share in this excitement. Unlike my American teacher friends, I go through a pretty lengthy process just to find out that classes are cancelled. Nope. There’s no radio broadcast, TV broadcast or mass telephone call that says “Park Care Center closed today due to inclement weather” The process is much more interesting…

On a typical day, my missionary co-worker, Emily, leaves her house at 6:45 to catch public transportation to a pharmacy in my town where I pick her up at about 7:10 and from there we drive down a dusty, rocky, sometimes muddy road to the village of Caraballo.

Yesterday she called me at 6:45 as it was pouring down rain, asking if I heard anything about classes being cancelled. I told her that no one had called me but I could make some calls and get back to her. I called my director. No answer. I called my principal. No answer. I called my co-teacher. No answer. I called Emily back and we decided to head to work normally. She left her house and on the way to the public transportation stop, she got completely soaked from the rain. She returned home and called a different coworker who actually answered his cell phone! He told her that he was trying to call our director and he wasn’t going to leave his house until he heard what the plan was. Emily then called me and we decided to stay home as well, until we got a hold of the director. So I waited around some more. I made more calls to the director. Finally he answered at about 7:35. I asked him if there was school and he said “Why? Is it raining?” Turns out that he stayed the weekend in a different town and wasn’t aware of the flooding due to the amount of rain that had fallen on our North Coast. The director hung up with me and called the teacher who had talked to Emily and they decided school would be cancelled. Then the director called me back to inform me of the decision, “No hay clase hoy.” “There is no class today.” After I hung up with my director I called Emily and Angie (we gringos have to keep each other in the loop) to tell them that we officially had a Dominican snow day! It only took about an hour of phone tag to find out we had the day off. 🙂 Below are some pictures of the road out to Caraballo and the river by the school. These pictures were taken today as we drove out to Caraballo thinking we would have school, but realized we had to cancel when we saw how high the river was. Never a dull moment!

IMG_3209 IMG_3205

IMG_3196

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Highlights

Greetings from Caraballo!!

I can’t believe the summer is basically over! Please excuse my lack of blog posts these past couple months. The summer has flown by and I will do my best to catch you up on the highlights. 🙂

The day after school got out in mid-May I had all of my remaining wisdom teeth pulled out (3). It was quite an experience having this procedure done in a foreign country and in my second language. Praise God the recovery went smoothly and I was back to eating arroz con habicuela (rice and beans) in about a week. We also welcomed a new Kids Alive missionary couple to Caraballo! They will be serving in Caraballo for 2 years and it has been awesome getting to know them!

celebrating the 4th of July with our boss and his wife

celebrating the 4th of July with our boss and his wife

The month of June started with our summer work teams. It was so encouraging to watch the team members interact with our students and staff. At the site we started our 5 week summer program where our Bible curriculum theme was “I see God” and our academic focus was “the Americas.” Also, I was so glad to host my friends from college who came to visit for a week! We had a great time together- they brought many donations of school supplies for the school, and for the first time I saw the inside of a Dominican barbershop!

VBS crafts

VBS crafts

P1050317

In July, my Dad and a couple from his church came to Caraballo. It was a productive trip and I’m grateful for the sacrifices they made to come. At the end of the month, our summer program came to a close with a final production by our students. My class did a skit of David and Goliath. My student who played David had the chikungunya virus and somehow managed to do the skit with intense join pain and a 103° fever. The kids quoted “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13 and boy was that true for “David.”

P1050346 P1050369 P1050370

In August I had the privilege to spend quality time with my family. I loved being able to eat at favorite restaurants, attend birthday celebrations and spend time in AC. I came back to the DR feeling encouraged and excited for this next school year. A BIG thanks to all those who took time out of their busy schedules to see me! In this span of time before school starts I have enjoyed visiting my kids’ homes, prepping for the start of school and exploring new places with my roomie.

IMG_9055IMG_9066

P1050437 P1050534

P1050633

Here we go year 3!

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

He who began a good work…will be faithful to complete it

The 2013-2014 school year in Caraballo has come to an end. With the ending of each school year, I love to take time to reflect on various students at our care center and how the Lord has worked in their lives. Today I would like to share with you part of Jose Emilio’s story.

P1050086Jose Emilio was in my morning section and he was repeating 3rd grade. At the beginning of the school year I remember him being very quiet and insecure in the classroom. He really struggled with reading, did not like to participate, and I occasionally caught glimpses of a pretty hot temper. There was one particular day during our all school devotional where he got into a pretty bad fistfight with another student. I quickly realized that if another student bothered him, Jose Emilio tried to resolve the problem with violence instead of informing his teachers or resolving the problem peacefully. I began praying specifically for his anger and encouraging him to tell me or Sandy (my teaching assistant) if he had a problem with another student.

Throughout the school year I saw him grow in his ability to manage his anger. I saw him make the choice more and more often to inform a teacher when another student bothered him, or even choose to distance himself from the classmate by moving to the end of the line or sitting at a different desk. When I observed Jose Emilio respond in these ways I affirmed him by telling him that he was making good choices that pleased the Lord.

Because his behavior improved so much he was chosen for a special trip at the end of the school year :-)

Because his behavior improved so much he was chosen for a special trip at the end of the school year 🙂

Jose Emilio improved greatly academically as well. From the combination of being in a literacy rich classroom, and receiving additional support in a small group, Jose Emilio’s reading abilities flourished! His confidence skyrocketed also; he began enthusiastically participating in the classroom. Jose Emilio started the school year as a student that I was very concerned for, and ended the school year as one of my strongest students.

P1040591

Emily Miller worked with few small groups of my students :-)

Emily Miller worked with a few small groups of my students 🙂

All year my teaching assistant and I used a ticket system with our kids, where they earned tickets throughout the day for good behavior. It served as a great motivator as the students would periodically “cash in” the tickets for various prizes. On the last day of school, I brought in two of the most special prizes anyone would earn in the whole school year. I brought two brand new children’s Bibles! Only one student would win a Bible in my morning class, and one student in my afternoon class. How would they win, you ask? The student with the most tickets in each class won the Bible. It turned out that Jose Emilio had the highest number of tickets in my morning class! How wonderful that in the school year where he actually learned how to read, he ended up winning a children’s Bible of his very own. I am thrilled that he gets to read the Word of God in his own home, and I pray that soon he will invite Jesus into his heart and accept the precious gift of salvation. Would you join with me in praying for the salvation of Jose Emilio and other children just like him?

IMG_6130IMG_6132

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When your student has an “Aha!” moment…

Last week I gave my students a math test and realized that many of them still struggled with addition and subtraction that included regrouping (aka borrowing and carrying). With few days left of the school year I decided to revisit this skill with my students using blocks so that hopefully they could create a better understanding of these concepts before going into 4th grade.

Today I wrote several subtraction problems on the board that required “borrowing” from the tens or the hundreds place in order to find the answer. At the beginning of the lesson, my student Jerson said something along the lines of “I hate doing this! I don’t understand it! I’m not going to participate in this lesson!” My co-teacher encouraged him to pay attention and to ask questions if he was confused so that he could learn. I did several problems where I modeled using blocks and asked questions such as “What do we need to do next? We can exchange this tens rod for how many ones? Can we subtract our ones place now?” etc. After modeling a few problems, I noticed Jerson’s voice calling out answers to many of these questions. At first his answers were not correct but as he saw more examples modeled he answered with more and more accuracy. Then came the part in the lesson where the students got to apply this skill and practice solving similar subtraction problems using blocks and working with a partner. I made my way around the groups supporting and encouraging their work. I walked over to Jerson’s group and he said “Karen! Look!” He then proceeded to correctly solve a subtraction problem using the blocks and looked up at me with a HUGE smile on his face! I was so proud of his math success. I was even prouder of the life lesson that he learned of not getting discouraged when something is difficult. Instead, he learned that if he kept working toward something he could end up being successful.

All of this happened in the classroom that at the beginning of the school year resembled more a chaotic circus then an environment for learning. I remember seriously doubting if I was ever going to be able teach this group of kids anything besides walking in a line and being respectful in the classroom. Praise the Lord for the change that has happened in this group over the year! I’m so grateful for improvements in behavior that has allowed us to have an environment conducive to academic learning as well!

P1040796

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

He is Risen!

P1040688

Sunrise Easter morning

Stronger by Hillsong

There is love that came for us
Humbled to a sinners cross
You broke my shame and sinfulness
You rose again victorious

Faithfulness none can deny
Through the storm and through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ who lives in me

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all

No beginning and no end
You’re my hope and my defense
You came to seek and save the lost
You paid it all upon the cross

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all

So let Your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher, be lifted higher
So let Your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher, be lifted higher

There is love that came for us
Humbled to a sinner’s cross
You broke my shame and sinfulness
You rose again victoriousFaithfulness none can deny
Through the storm and through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ who lives in me

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/hillsong/stronger-lyrics/#X60kfkuG6wbcvEj7.99

There is love that came for us
Humbled to a sinner’s cross
You broke my shame and sinfulness
You rose again victoriousFaithfulness none can deny
Through the storm and through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ who lives in me

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all

No beginning and no end
You’re my hope and my defense
You came to seek and save the lost
You paid it all upon the cross

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all
There is none

So let Your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher, be lifted higher
So let Your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher, be lifted higher
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/hillsong/stronger-lyrics/#X60kfkuG6wbcvEj7.99

There is love that came for us
Humbled to a sinner’s cross
You broke my shame and sinfulness
You rose again victoriousFaithfulness none can deny
Through the storm and through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ who lives in me

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all

No beginning and no end
You’re my hope and my defense
You came to seek and save the lost
You paid it all upon the cross

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all
There is none

So let Your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher, be lifted higher
So let Your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher, be lifted higher
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/hillsong/stronger-lyrics/#X60kfkuG6wbcvEj7.99

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forgiveness

We got a new student this year to our care center whose name is Francis. He had a quiet intelligence to him in September, and while he was slower to warm up to me, I was excited to get to know him. I remember one incident where he had a conflict with a classmate and my co-teacher and I talked to both students. We helped them talk through their problem and at the end asked them to apologize to each other. I remember that Francis could NOT bring himself to apologize. It was like those words were stuck somewhere in his throat and he could not get them off his tongue no matter how hard he tried. We encouraged him to say the words and waited for what seemed like ages, but he never did it. Eventually, it came time for students to go home for the day so we let the kids go having sensed that they felt remorseful for their actions, even though it was not verbalized. I remember feeling really sad that day. Had Francis never asked anyone for forgiveness before? Had no one ever asked him for forgiveness? How could this young boy experience forgiveness from the Heavenly Father if he couldn’t verbalize it with his classmate?

It delights me to share that Francis has grown in many ways this school year! He has gained so much confidence in the classroom and often raises his hand to participate. He has made some good friendships with other students and I often see him laughing and playing with his friends. I have visited his home, met his mother, and learned more about his family life.

In addition to academic growth, Francis has grown in his ability to forgive others and ask others to forgive him. There was a group of about 8 of my boys, including Francis, that went though a phase of making paper airplanes in the classroom and throwing them during lessons or during Bible class.  My co-teacher and I clearly explained that this behavior was not acceptable because it went against our class expectations and class rules. After one day of especially disrespectful and defiant behavior, (and many, many airplanes!) all of the boys met with the director of the care center and were told that they had to apologize to my co-teacher and I before leaving that day. In addition, they were instructed to come the next day with an apology letter that they had written. Francis, the boy who could not apologize to his classmate months earlier, apologized to us by looking at us, using our names, and telling us why he was apologizing! Then, the next day he came to school with a beautifully written apology note! Here is what it said:

“I’m sorry Karen and Sandi. I know that I did not make good decisions. I promise you that I will not make paper airplanes again. Forgive me Karen and Sandi. I did not behave according to the class expectations or the class rules. Forgive me because I did not pay attention to Bible class or regular class or devotional, and I did not show reverence to the Lord.”

Francis whisper-read the letter to me and as he was reading it I almost started crying.  I was so awed by the way that the Lord was able to bring him to a place of humility where he could list out what he had done wrong and take responsibility for his actions. I was so thrilled to say the words “I forgive you.” Isn’t that just what our Heavenly Father does for us? Francis has come a long way since September and only the Lord can receive the praise for changing his heart!

This past week I noticed Francis behaving so respectfully and reverently during school devotions. When the teachers leading devotions announced that it was time for the closing prayer, Francis closed his eyes and waited until the prayer started, even though some of his classmates were not yet quiet.  I approached him after the prayer was over and said that I noticed him being very reverent and respectful to the Lord and I was very proud of him for that. He got a huge smile on his face and I smiled also because I know the Lord has done a huge work in him and that He is not done yet. 🙂

P1040563

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment