Dear friends and family,
As you’ve probably noticed, life here in Shell is getting busier and busier for me (hence the recent lack of communication!). I am finally settled into a routine at the school, learning how to effectively manage my time for teaching and planning. It seems as though I learn something new every day, and I’m thankful for such a small group of students who are completely flexible.
As you may remember, when I first arrived to Ecuador, Tungurahua, a volcano here, had been active and resulted in the evacuation of several small villages not far from Shell. Many towns were destroyed and families are having start over. Our school felt a burden to help those affected by the volcano in some way, so we started a project called “Child-to-Child”. Students (and others in the community) have been bringing in items to create care packages for children who were relocated (soap, toothbrushes/toothpaste, beans). A missionary here has been coordinating relief efforts, and organized the project. It was fun to watch the students get excited about helping and gave them an opportunity to help those in need.
Something else I have been getting more and more involved in is something called “Spotlight”. “Spotlight” is an English radio program that airs several times a week for the purpose of learning English. Here in Shell, a group of Ecuadorians meet at the radio station once a week to listen to the program and later answer discussion questions in order to practice conversational English. The missionary that has helped start this program is in the process of stepping back, allowing the Ecuadorians to have more responsibility in coordinating the classes. “Spotlight” recently changed from meeting once a month to once a week. I was asked to help coordinate these classes, which basically includes being there every week and finding other English speakers to be available to speak English with those wishing to practice. It has been a great experience working at “Spotlight” and building relationships with the few “students” we have. As many of you may not know, I am very interested in teaching English and have begun graduate work in “Teaching English as a Second Language.” So, this is right up my ally and I’m very excited God’s given me the opportunity to become involved!
A couple other single teachers here and I have started a small group/Bible study that meets once a week. Single missionaries, as well as Ecuadorians, have been coming and it’s been an awesome experience so far. Because we invite Spanish speakers, we’ve made an effort to speak in as much Spanish as possible, which has been a challenge. But, it’s been good for me to practice my Spanish on a deeper level than the usual, “Hey, how are you today?” vocabulary. We have all been a challenge to one another, and it’s been wonderful to have some fellowship with other Christians on a deeper level.
I’ve said this probably a hundred times before, but I am so thankful for the “family” God’s given me here. My birthday was this past week and I have never had so much attention for my birthday in life! I was invited to several dinners and my students’ families all had a surprise party for me the Friday before my birthday. My students had worked so hard all week keeping it a secret, and although I knew something was up, I didn’t know the details. I turned the corner, walking my class to another classroom, to find the moms of my students standing there with a birthday banner, cake, presents, and a huge balloon hat. My students all made me cards and bought me gifts. The missionaries here made my birthday very special and I am so thankful to God for their thoughtfulness and love!
I also spent the day of my birthday traveling on top of a train through the countryside of Ecuador. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I had a wonderful time. It was amazing to see God’s creation here. It was a great reminder of how BIG God is and how much He deserves our praise.
As you can tell, God has been keeping me busy down here, but at the same time, teaching me and growing me a ton. Some ways you can pray/praise for me:
- Praise/pray for A.J., a new student to my class. We are all adjusting well to having a fifth student in our class. (Kirsten said – “Wow! We look like a whole class now!” when she saw the added desk to our classroom.)
- Pray for those who were relocated due to the volcano, as they try to start new lives in a new place.
- Praise that Robby’s (one of my students) mom is finally living back in Shell and that their family is back together again!
- Pray for our small group/Bible study – that we will be real with one another and a constant encouragement.
- Praise for YOU! You all are a constant encouragement with the multiple e-mails I receive every day!
- Pray for those involved in “Spotlight” – that through our practice in conversational English, we will build relationships that honor God and grow us close to Him.
- Praise/pray for continued financial and prayer support!