Dear friends and family,
December? Is it really possible that December is already here, and I will be in West Virginia for a visit in less than two weeks?!?! My first four months here in Shell have flown by, and it’s hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner. All my years of growing up with the changing seasons have caused me to rely on the fall colors and early winter chill to prepare me for the holiday season. Getting sunburned in the middle of December is not something I am used to doing!
I was able to spend Thanksgiving traveling with a fellow teacher, Eileen, and her family who was visiting. We went to the small town of Papallacta, which is known for its hot thermal pools. We were able to make a very nice Thanksgiving dinner, complete with pumpkin pie! Pumpkins are very rare here in Ecuador, so when Eileen and I came across one in a small market in Papallacta, we both exclaimed, “It was meant for us!”
School has been busier than ever, and my class is busy getting last minute things finished before our three week winter vacation. Our entire school has been very busy with practicing for a parade in town celebrating “Shell Days”, as well as a Christmas program. Both went off without a hitch, and we are finally slowing down just in time for a much needed break! It was exciting to be involved in the parade from a teacher’s standpoint. It brought back so many memories from when I was a student here and marched in the parade along with the other schools in town.
The Bible study that has been meeting at my apartment each Wednesday night is still going strong, and we are slowly getting better at using more and more Spanish to make our Ecuadorian friends feel more open to share. Although we can sometimes translate the words, the complete thoughts don’t always come across like we plan. Another missionary here has volunteered to translate some discussion questions ahead of time for us, which will be a huge help.
God has also blessed me with some Ecuadorian friends who are my “family” here. Orly and Jacinta (and their daughters Daniela and Mercedes) Palacios have been a huge encouragement to me, taking me out to dinner and always calling to check up on me. Their entire family would bend over backwards for me, and their generosity constantly amazes me! Even though I can’t understand their words half the time, their actions tell me all I need to know. God never ceases to amaze me with how He is always providing, not only for my physical needs, but also for my emotional needs. Thank you, God, for these friends!
Almost every day, as I walk to school, I can’t help but praise God for bringing me here and allowing me to experience Him through every day life. There is peace in knowing that I am right where God would have me. So, I would like to ask you all to join me in prayer as I have a big decision to make. The school board here has asked me to return next year to teach. I have prayed much about this, and feel very strongly that God would have me return here for a second school year. I must let the school board know my decision by January 8th, so please pray that God will cement in my heart the best path He would have me take!
Please also join me in prayer/ praise for the following:
* Pray for safety as I travel back to WV to celebrate my brother’s wedding, as well as to celebrate Christmas with my family. I leave Ecuador December 19th, arrive in Charleston, WV the 20th, and return to Ecuador the 4th of January before school starts back up the 8th!
* Praise for a family to spend Thanksgiving with!
* Pray for patience and a teachable spirit – teaching first graders requires much of both!
* Praise for the chance to spend time with family and friends in WV for a couple weeks.
* Praise/pray for continued financial and prayer support!