Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reaching Beyond Mexico

Making a Difference
About a month ago, I received the Samaritan's Purse Christmas gift catalog in the mail. Samaritan's Purse is a non-profit organization led by Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son. This organization seeks to shine the light of the Gospel in areas where hope is desperately needed. As I pored through the catalog, I wondered what project I would like to be a part of this year. Then the thought came to me that we, as a class, could support a project together. I prayed and pored over the catalog, asking the Lord to show me which one would be "the one." This year, there is a project in which you can be a part of building a school in a war-torn or poverty-stricken country. In these areas, children do not have the opportunity to go to school. They either do not have a school to go to or live too far away. Thus, Samaritan's Purse makes it their goal to build schools in these areas in order for children to have an opportunity to become educated individuals.

Our Goals
Last week, I shared my thoughts with my ten students, and they were excited to be a part of this project. Furthermore, this week they will be reading about the status of education around the world and will also be writing letters to their parents, which will explain the project in detail. We will also be talking with the field office and the Bible institute about joining us on this endeavor. It costs $25,000 to build a school. Our goal is to raise $250, which is about 3125 pesos. We only have three more weeks left until Christmas break, and those weeks are going to fly! Please pray for willing and receptive hearts that want to be a part of international missions and desire to give to those who have a genuine need. James tells us that "Faith without deeds is dead," and we want to demonstrate a living faith. I want my students to know and believe that they are capable of influencing others with their young faith and their willingness to shine. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and prayers concerning this project. I know that I can count on all of you.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

thankful

Sometimes I wonder why in the world the Lord has given me this life. It does not seem right or natural to allow someone to be as blessed as I am. I do not say that to make it seem as though my life is perfect and I have everything I want. But I do say that to say that I have everything I need and more. The Lord has truly given me so much to be grateful for that I am at times overwhelmed with gratitude. 

On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up with a heavy heart. This was, after all, the first time I would be without my family on Thanksgiving Day. It was also the first time that I would have to work on a major holiday. Needless to say, I was not really happy about it. So I cried a little, but then I resolved that it was going to be a good day. The Lord reminded me of Psalm 118:24, which says, "This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it." So I decided I would rejoice. I pulled out my journal and started thanking Him for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me, and once I got started, I could not stop! The day at school was a little harried but good nonetheless. We ate a little feast and watched Charlie Brown. I told my kids all about what I would have been doing if I were with my family. These activities included staying in my pajamas all day, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and whatever Christmas movies were on TV, eating to my heart's content, talking with family, etc. The list could go on forever.

This Thanksgiving has been super special, albeit different from any prior Thanksgiving. Tanya and I went over to another missionary family's house for dinner on Thursday, which was lovely. There was laughter and good food and games. Such a blessing. Then yesterday after school, I went over to one of my student's/pastor's house. (My student's father is the pastor of my church.) When I told my kids about staying in my PJs all day, Quincy (my favorite and only fourth grade girl and hostess last night) told her mom, who said that I was welcome to come in my PJs. So on the way to their house we made a stop by my house and I changed into my comfy sweat pants. It was a great choice.  And once again, there was laughter, good food, and games, not to mention the new Karate Kid with Jaden Smith. ;) And today? Well, today, I've just lounged around in my PJs. And boy has it felt good. On Monday night I have one last feast with friends. Mexicans and Americans coming together to celebrate and eat and be merry. Life is good, friends. Celebrate this holiday season, because He is worth celebrating.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

tears in my eyes

This is truly beautiful. Look at this woman's courage and commitment to a cause greater than herself. I admire people like her, and I would love to be just like her when I grow up.

Please pray for peace in Mexico. 
Click on the picture for Guadalupe's story, and definitely watch the video. The three minutes is totally worth your time.


Monday, November 22, 2010

sweet words

In class we have been reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. My kids are super smart and savvy, so they recognize the parallels between Aslan and Jesus. Today their journal entry was to compare Aslan's sacrifice for Edmund with Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for us. Here are a couple that pulled at my heart strings:

This one comes from one of my kids who is ESOL and has only been speaking/reading English for one year!

"Jesus save us because he love us. But Jesus die on the cross. Jesus revived on the therd day. Jesus born and after he die on the cross and after he revived he go to the sky. Jesus it was like a person but he can do asom thinks. But Jesus has disipols.

Aslan and Jesus are the like the same in a lot of things. Aslan die one day and he revived on the same day. Aslan hav a lot of people. Aslan was a king the king of Narnia. Aslan die on a table rock not on a cross. Aslan was a lion a big lion."

And this one was just incredibly cute as well:
 
-->
"Well Jesus dieded for us like Aslan dieded for Edmon. But Aslan is a lion and Jesus is not. And Jesus dieded on a cross and Aslan on a stone table. And Jesus dieded for are sin and Aslan for Edmond. But Aslan represents Jesus and Jesus well hes just Jesus. Aslan is nice and kind. Like Jesus is kind and nice. They both got tortured and Beat. Aslan dieded in Narnia and Jesus here on earth. And they Both came back to life." 

How incredible are they? These kids are going to change the world, folks. Watch out.




Sunday, November 21, 2010

those who sow in tears will reap with joyful shouting

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
 27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
 29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. 30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

-Romans 3:23-31

Oceans Will Part-Hillsong

If my heart has grown cold,
There Your love will unfold;
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand.
When I'm blind to my way,
There Your Spirit will pray;
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand,
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand.

Oceans will part; nations come
At the whisper of Your call.
Hope will rise; glory shown.
In my life, Your will be done.

Present suffering may pass,
Lord, Your mercy will last;
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand.
And my heart will find praise,
I'll delight in Your way,
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand,
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

encouragement, affirmation, goodness...

So this week has been quite lovely so far. We had a day off on Monday for Revolution Day, and then today at staff meeting we had a lovely birthday snack of tamales, totopos (think Mexican restaurant style chips), guacamole, salsa, bean dip, and flan. It was quite delicious. And then tomorrow my mentor teacher and I get to take a little trip downtown to pick up our FM3 visas, and we have to miss a couple hours of school. I'm crying. Not really. I love my kids, though. 

Let me tell you why I love my kids. We have fun together. So much fun. This Friday, our school is having a fall festival. I have no idea what they do at these things, but apparently you can pay money to marry people and put people in jail. So the kids brought up the name of a certain high school boy is a junior (a.k.a. way too young for me) and said that they were going to make me marry him! And they would  not let it go. I mean they talked about it for the rest of the day and just giggled and used our names together in example sentences for work and everything. It was actually getting a little ridiculous. Today at lunch they went and bought Ring Pops for the ceremony. I'm telling you, they were serious. And then they found out they couldn't marry a staff member to a student. Go figure. Someone else also agrees that it would be inappropriate.

One of my most darling students wrote me the cutest letter today, though. I changed the names, but here is what it said:

Dear Miss Miller:

Thank you for being my teacher this year. Your the funest teacher I've had in years. Sorry for saying you like John. You know were not going to marry you two any more we have the pefect two people to do it with. Thank you for giving us candy corns in class I love them. I wish you would be my teacher in till coleage.

Your loveing 4th grader,
Sally


With love like that from a 10 year old, what more do I need?

mountain getaway sneak peek

This weekend, I had the sweet privilege of joining Tanya and our friend Judit and Alex on a wonderfully amazing weekend getaway to the Sierra of Chihuahua. It was, in a word, marvelous. The time we spent there together was a complete and total blessing of the Lord to me. Before I get carried away and tell you every detail, here are a few pictures to let you in on some of the fun festivities we enjoyed:







Tuesday, November 9, 2010

my first vlog!

Well, here is my first attempt at a video blog. That's vlog for you non-blog-obsessed out there. :)
 Let me know what you think and enjoy!


video

Saturday, November 6, 2010

recounting His goodness

Well, friends, six months ago today I turned 22. Crazy! And two days later I graduated from the University of Georgia. It is seriously insane how fast time flies. Seeing as how today is kind of a special day, I thought I would make a little list of the amazing things I have seen God do in these past six months.

He provided a way for me to get to Mexico through the generosity of friends, family, and my family's home church.
He brought me through the first 3 months of teaching without too many battle wounds.
He provided a much-needed new computer.
He allowed me to spend lots of good time with family and friends this summer making memories that will last a lifetime.
He has allowed me to continue to keep in touch with friends literally all over the world through the wonderful invention of skype. :)
He has allowed our family to get even closer than we would be if I were still in Georgia.
He has allowed me to see the work of the Holy Spirit in my sister's life.
He has encouraged my heart by constantly affirming the decision to move down here through encouragement from students' parents and fellow missionaries.
He showed me that I was "prayed here" by allowing me to meet and get to know wonderful people who had been praying for just the right person to come here as an elementary teacher.
He has made me exceedingly grateful for my family in a new way.
He has give men a newfound desire to do my best for my kids.
He has given me an appreciation for my education.
He has constantly reminded me of how blessed I am.
He has given me new friends of all ages from many different backgrounds.
He has allowed me to further develop my Spanish speaking skills.
He gave me a little yellow house to live in with a pedestal sink. (I have always wanted to live in a yellow house and I love pedestal sinks.)
He gave me a new church home.
He gave me wonderful students with whom I can have so much fun and yet also learn from each day.
He provided enough (really exceedingly and abundantly...) for me to purchase a ticket home for Christmas, and I get to fly out of Chihuahua instead of having to drive up to El Paso.
He has given me a new song to sing and a new dance to dance.

Those who plant in tears
      will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
      but they sing as they return with the harvest.
 Psalm 126:5-6

Friday, November 5, 2010

baby steps

Well, yesterday Amanda and I walked to the little tienda that is across from the school to get a couple of snacks. We met the cutest little lady who owns, works, and lives there. Her name is Lorenza, and she is just precious. Today I returned to get some eggs and milk, and she asked about how classes were going. We also talked about her family, and she made sure to tell me that she has a son my age. ;) 

I ask that you pray for Lorenza and her family. She is such a sweet lady, and I want to continue to get to know her and develop a relationship with her. Pray that I would have the boldness to be a friend to her and to tell her about the Good News and the work that Jesus has done in my heart and life. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

on being comfortable

It's an interesting thing, being comfortable. And it is also funny how easily you can become comfortable where you are in so many different ways. When I was at home in the States, I was constantly surrounded by people who needed Jesus. My school and workplaces were often mission fields. I am a product of the public school; my only Christian friends were at church. Thus, I am pretty comfortable around people outside of my faith. Even though we don't relate on many things, we find common ground in other ways, and we love each other in spite of (or perhaps because of) our differences.

But I find myself in a different place as I live life here in Chihuahua. While I am a "missionary" (and all believers should be missionaries anyways, because Jesus told us to go into all the ends of the earth and make disciples), I am constantly surrounded by believers. I teach at a Christian school. I go to church with other believers. My roommate and "property-mate" are other missionary girls. So I find myself in this place where I don't quite understand who I am supposed to reach out to that doesn't know Jesus already. I have this deep desire within me to tell everyone about the Good News of Christ, and yet I am not quite sure where to begin.

On our street, there are no houses on the other side, except for one on the corner. Then on our side, there is a home in which a family lives that I have only been able to talk with a couple times. Then there is another house where some people "live," but they are usually out of town. Their dog follows me to school. The next house is another family from the mission, then there is an empty lot, and next is our house. Next to our house are two others, which completes the street. Our neighbors who are directly next door to us work all day long and usually are only home on the weekends. I haven't met the neighbors next to them yet.

Okay I realized I am rambling a bit here. I say all of this to let you know how you can best pray for me here. I long to be a part of the lives of Mexican people here who need the truth of Christ. And yet I find myself constantly surrounded by people who already know that truth. My job here is to be an example to my students and to disciple them, and I want to take that seriously, because it is, as a fellow teacher puts it, a "high calling." But I also long to build relationships with the national people here and find ways to love and bless them. 

Please pray for boldness, courage, and wisdom in knowing when, where, and how to embrace the life that God has given me here by giving it back to the beautiful people of Mexico.

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