Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sharing in Bible Study

Man, these last couple of days have been busy! I had planned on posting this story/update a couple of days ago, but just didn't have the time, so here it is now.

On Thursdays, we have a Bible study at the house led by Tito. It is attended by Almost all of mi familia and the parents of one of the girls in my class, who also attend the church. Usually, we read a passage and then Tito gives a lesson. We also spend some time in worship and prayer together. It's great.

A couple weeks ago, we had to memorize a Bible verse, Psalms 100:2. "Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!" But in Spanish, so "Servid Jehova con alegria! Venid ante su presencia con regocijo!" When it came to my turn to recite it, I did so in English, even though I was almost sure I could say it in Spanish. As soon as I was finished, Dona Elsa says, "Y en Espanol?" So I stumbled my way through the verse, with a little help on the last word, which was not previously a part of my Spanish vocabulary.

This past Thursday, things got shaken up. We read 10 verses, but each person had to read one aloud. I borrowed Linsay's Bible to read Ephesians 2:7 "so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." When I had done the math and read it in English, I got a knot in my stomach at the words "immeasurable riches," knowing there would be a couple of difficult new words there. And sure enough, "las abundantes riquezas" showed up. With help, I stumbled through them, and thought it was over.

It was not over. Instead of just Tito sharing thoughts on the whole passage, each person was then going to share some thoughts on the verse they had read. There was no pressure to share super deep truths, but I still felt some dread, knowing I would be expected to share in Spanish in a group setting. So, I read through my verse a couple more times in English and decided on what I could share in Spanish. I wrote down exactly what I wanted to say, and only had to fill in "las abundantes requiezas."

After I reread the verse in Spanish (once again completely butchering those two words), Tito offered to have Lindsay translate, but I wasn't about to take the easy way out, and read off what I had written down: "Dios tiene abundantes riquezas. Si estamos somos en Cristo, podemos tener todos los cosas de Dios, su poder, su amor, y su gracia." The resulting "amens" told me that I had not only spoken a great truth, but was also understood.

Although I still felt nervous for having to have spoken in Spanish in a group setting with other adults, I also felt a surge of pride and knowledge that I CAN do this. I have been talking some more with Tito and Cesia, which is good for me, and Hellen at school frequently tells me I need to speak more in Spanish.

It's just a strange feeling to open your mouth to communicate and have no words, but I'm slowly getting better. The shyness I had as a child returned to me full strength, but it is beginning to dissipate as I realize that they don't care when I mess up words as I verbally trip and stumble and occasionally fall. Someday, I'll look back and laugh at this time when I struggled with speaking. But for now, I'll continue to struggle through it and just do the best I can.

Although, I'll probably still conveniently forget everything when people come knocking with the intent of getting me saved by false religions. There was a lot of laughing about that at school on Friday as someone has apparently dropped of "Watchtower" brochures in English at the school, and the story of my adventure with them was retold.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Never Again Shall I Paint with my Kids

I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say last night was a rough one on account of some food that did not settle well with my stomach. I woke up this morning feeling sick, and that feeling lingers, though it is now just after 6pm. At any rate, today was sort of crazy at school.

The school day started off with a wonderful surprise. I walked into my classroom, and all of the kids were seated and quiet, and greeted me with, "Good morning, Miss!" The rest of the morning continued in a similarly wonderful fashion as I retaught yesterday's math lesson on dividing groups of objects into equal groups. Some kids just didn't get it, so I was able to work with them individually as the kids who did understand played quietly with playdoh.

The class after lunch/recess is almost always crazy as the kids are still hyped up from getting to run around. Usually, that's my class period off so I don't have to deal with it, but Thursdays, I have them for all but one class period. I opted to have music class right after, to let them continue to goof off some but in a slightly more organized fashion.

We have some songs in English that they know that we sing, "I Have Peace Like a River," "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," "If You Read Your Bible," and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Fairly soon I'll start adding some more songs in. I've also taught them some basic dance steps, step-touches, trains, grapevines, and now a box step. I just started teaching the box step today, using foam squares as guidelines which helped some and hindered others, but it was fun to watch them try. Then, as per usual, I put on some music and allowed them some time to dance freely. This is when I do some swing dancing with a couple of the girls, though I'm not all that good at leading as I can only remember how to easily do one move. I also use calmer songs than when I first started, as they've gotten kind of crazy with the hip hop music.

After that, we settled in for a reading class, but they were still excited from music, so I told them next week we're only going to do two songs of dancing since they can't listen. Their faces held an expression akin to panic when I had to threaten to take away another song, and they finally were able to pay attention to what I was teaching.

My break came without finishing reading the story they were supposed to read, so I'll send it home for homework over the weekend, to be read with their parents, even though the only kids that will probably read it are the ones who can already read it and don't need as much practice. Ah, well. There's only so much I can do, and then they have to help themselves.

After my break came the last class of the day. With the museum trip and party, the schedule was kind of mixed up, but I chose to have art at that time. My voice has been going out near the end of the day for the last couple of days, and today was no different, so I figured art would be a good choice as I could simply give the instructions and then let them paint the simple tree drawing I had done for them.

Well, I gave directions and they got started. They first had to trace the dotted lines to form the picture, and then were able to start painting. As they finished, I helped them get their plastic smocks on. There were a few kids that didn't have them, so I made makeshift ones for them out of plastic bags that were in the class. I tracked down a couple of paintbrushes and paint sets, and the chaos began.

There were 9 kids in the class, and 8 of them were painting (one boy had decided to draw raccoon eyes on himself with a moistened pencil before class, so I wasn't about to trust him with a paintbrush if he couldn't handle a pencil). Each kid had about 5 little containers of paint to work from. This being the first time I had used paint with them, I had not prepared by putting anything down to protect their desks. That was a mistake.

I spent the next half an hour walking around the classroom with a wet one, cleaning paint off of desks and avoiding ill-controlled paintbrushes. I had to open jars of paint for kids that had difficulties, and explain how they were allowed to mix their paints: on the paper, NOT in the jars, always wash off your brush in between. I was in and out of the bathroom, where all the kids were sharing the same sink to wash off their brushes.

About 20 minutes in, Zudy was finished and carrying some of her paints to put them away. She tripped and fell, dropping the open jar of red paint that she had. That's about the point my fear spiked. Trying to make the best of it and capture the craziness of the moment, I pulled out my camera to show the red paint on the floor. As I did that, Connie dropped a jar of white paint off of her desk, and it splattered over quite a large area. Armed with the garbage can and my trusted wet ones, I carefully cleaned up all the paint off of the desk and the floor, but not before several kids stepped in it and smeared it around. Connie actually knelt in it when she bent to pick up the fallen jar, and had white paint all over the front of both pant legs.

As things wound down, I continued to go from desk to desk, wiping up paint and commenting on what a great job they were all doing. I worked on cleaning the sink, where there was paint on the handle, the faucet, and all around the edge of the sink where they were leaning. At some point, Emy got red paint on the sleeve of her shirt because of the crowd in the bathroom and Paola not keeping careful enough track of the location of her wet brush.

Soon enough, all the paintings sat on freshly cleaned desks to dry, the plastic smocks came off, the paintbrushes were cleaned, and the kids were gone. I was a wreck, sweating and even a bit shaky from the stress of there being paint EVERYWHERE.

I shared my frustrations with a couple of the other teachers, proclaiming that I would NEVER paint with them again, that it was just too much craziness and messiness to handle.

Erin gave me some good ideas, though, from her experience with that age and younger, of just giving them the caps with a bit of paint, or having them use q-tips to paint with. The kids had so much fun painting and really loved it that I know I'll do it again, even though the thought scares me. However, next time we will be doing pointalism paintings, using q-tips. I think they'll like it, using little dots to eventually form a picture. So, I'm working on coming up with ideas for that.

So, yeah. Going into art class, I was thinking, "This is going to be kind of crazy, but it'll be a good way to end the day where I can relax a little and let them paint." Now I know the truth of what happens when I let them paint, and painting during art class will be going through some major revisions. (*salutes*)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"No Hablo Espanol."

I was sitting on the ledge out on my balcony reading some Sherlock Holmes this evening. I noticed a sudden increase in the amount of people walking around, but didn't think too much of it. I did notice that some were carrying what appeared to be Bibles.

Three women came to the door of the house, which I could clearly see. They called out, "Buenos noches!" and rang the doorbell several times, and that's when I realized they were selling religion door to door.

One of them called up to me, and I greeted her. As she asked me if I had a few minutes so that she could tell me about something, I put on my most confused face, and when she was done, I told her, "No... no hablo... Espanol," in my best American accent. She had to clarify what I had said, and I then told her, "Sorry..." They said something to each other and then left.

I glanced in the window of the house, and Cesia was giggling. I smiled guiltily at her.

Hopefully, this is the first of many benefits I'll discover to being white, but we'll see.

Valentine's Day Party

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day, and actually take pride in the fact that I have not had a boyfriend on Valentine's Day since middle school, which hardly counts. At any rate, we did celebrate at school, which meant I had to take part in the festivities. It turned out to be a lot of fun.

On Friday, we all drew names within each class to get a gift of chocolate for that person. I got Gissel. On Saturday, I was able to go to the grocery store, so I found some Valentine's Day boxes with Princesses on them and chocolates inside. I got one of these for Gissel, and found another with Cars on it that I bought for Fabian. Zudy had him, but had been absent on Friday, and I was worried that she wouldn't be there on Monday to be told she had to get him a gift. Although she was there on Monday, she told me something about not being able to buy a gift, but I'm not sure exactly what.

So, yesterday, I brought both gifts and kept them tucked in my bag. Although I fully believe it would have been a mistake to have the party first thing in the day, it may have been just as difficult to have it at the end of the day. I feel like I spent the entire day giving a countdown of how long we had until the party and taking gifts away from kids. They kept trying to give their gifts to their "amigo secreta," all day.

When Zudy got there in the morning, she had no gift for Fabian. The other kids found out and were up in arms about it, so I pulled her out of the class and showed her the gift, writing Fabian's and her name on the box of chocolate.

When the hour finally came, I got them to get into a reasonably orderly line with their gifts in hand. Then, they charged out the door and outside, where there were balloons and tables set up. The rest of the school joined us, and we managed to get them all sitting down. They had a quick lesson about what real love is, and talked about how we should act lovingly towards each other. They then were taught a song about God's love, and it was time for the gift exchange.

At first each kid was asked some questions about their secret friend "Are they handsome? Do you like them?" There were fits of giggles when Emy admitted to liking Dennis and when Zudy claimed that Fabian was not beautiful. After a few of these, they only were asked who their friend was, or else it would have taken all day. When each gift was given, the kids exchanged a hug.

After that, we began handing out frosting colored donuts, either pink or chocolate, and pop. About 15 minutes later, most of the kids were running wildly around the field, as is to be expected after that amount of sugar and excitement.

Overall, it was another fun day with the kids, and I found myself warming up to the idea of Valentine's Day, but it was because it is celebrated a little bit differently here. Here, it is called "La Dia de Amor y Amistad." It's a day of love and friendship. Although the focus is on romantic love, so there were plenty of  "te amo" balloons and red roses around, they also focus on friendship and the giving of gifts to people that you really care about.

With plenty of chocolate now waiting in my fridge for me (to keep if from melting) and a new coffee mug from Tammy, I can look back on yesterday as being a wonderful memory.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Museum Trip

Yesterday, we went on a field trip to the museum. The only information I had about the trip was the times and that we were going to a museum, so I expected that we were going to your average museum, with old things and signs talking about them, and the kids all running wild bc there was nothing better to do than to run from one thing to another.

When we pulled up, the first thing I saw was the brightly-colored 4-story building that I later found out was the planetarium. There was a grassy area with a path that lead to the main building that was filled with cows that had pictures painted on the sides of them.

When we got to the main building, I saw the name of the museum, which included "Infantil" at the end. It was a kid's museum. And so it was. Right away, all the kids were ushered in and sat down to learn about rainforest animals. They even got to go up and feel the "tree" that was there after learning about the armadillo, deer, jaguar, and several types of birds, insects, and plants. The presenter was excited and engaging, and the kids really loved trying to find all the animals hidden within the rainforest.

We then got to learn about the water cycle. The display actually rained and had water pooling and flowing to form little lakes and rivers.

After that, we switched presenters, and were taught about what to do in an earthquake. They then got to go into the little house and practice, with the floor moving like an earthquake. After the kids, they had us teachers go up to feel the earthquake, and the strongest one was actually a little bit scary. Mia, who's only 2, was in the first group that was up there, and actually panicked on the last one. I caught that on film, and will be including it in the video I'm going to put together of the whole trip.

We also got to learn about the human skeleton, and had Lindsay go up and ride the bike, and "her" skeleton appeared in the x-ray machine, moving as she rode. That was another thing I managed to catch on video, and the kids' reactions were priceless.

After that, we switched presenters again and got to learn about different careers. For this one, some of the kids were chosen to dress up in the outfits that were provided, and the presenter brought them out and interviewed them about their job. Mostly, they just had to answer yes to the questions that she was asking, but it was really cool to see the way she did it. It made it seem like the kids were the ones who sharing the information, which I'm sure made it more fun for them, and for their classmates who were watching.

The kids then got to split of by boys and girls, and the girls went shopping in the little "grocery store" while the boys got to dress up in the different job clothes. Erin and I commented on how sexist it was that the little girls were sent to shop while the boys were sent to get jobs, but they did switch after a few minutes, so the boys got a chance to learn how to shop while the girls got to try out different jobs.

After that, they did a fun activity where the kids stood in the middle of a half of a tire filled with soapy water, and a big ring went down and then up, putting them inside a giant bubble. They also got to explore a little bit, looking at these trippy mirror/window things, and playing with the skeleton. After that we had lunch. The guy that had started with us lined the kids up as the woman was putting the staff into bubbles. I went with the kids, and there was a minute where I was in charge of all 31 of them that were there that day.

There was also the moment when the guy told me something and I nodded like I knew what he said, but only got something about bathrooms, buying stuff, and 15 minutes. In the hall where he had led us, there were bathrooms, tables where we could eat, and a little store where snacks could be bought, so I pieced together the information well enough. He may never know that I only got a few words out of what he told me.

Some of the kids had brought lunches, and others did not, so they got to buy a snack from the little store, just to tie them over until later. After lunch, we headed toward the round 4-story building I had seen when we first went in. They lined up the kids by the elevator, and took them up half at a time. When they were loading the boys on, I decided not to wait for the next elevator that would take all the staff up, so I sprinted up the stairs, expecting it to be just one story up. I was about 3 flights up when I decided that it was a lot farther than I thought, but by then, I could hear the kids, so I knew I was close.

My legs were a bit shaky and I was out of breath, but I had gotten up about the same time as the elevator, so I felt accomplished. When Erin got up there, she laughed at me a bit, as she had found out it was 4 stories up after I had taken off and they were speculating. They then watched the numbers on the elevator, and had a good laugh at me for running up all those stairs. Despite this, I did choose to run down them when we were done, which was definitely worse. Today, I feel the strain with every step, and feel pain every time I go up or down a step. At least I got some exercise, right?

The planetarium was really cool. They had a big dome with a bunch of projectors that displayed the stars. They talked about finding north with the stars, pointed out Orion the Hunter (my FAVORITE constellation), and showed brilliant pictures of all the planets. They also talked about comets as well as the moon, and had a really cool ending where the stars move and fade to light as the sun rises in the east. For most of the kids, that was their favorite part. I know it was mine.

And, of course, there was the obligatory "stick your head in the cutout" picture.

After the museum, we went to Burger King for lunch. First, we let the kids run around for a while. If you've never seen 31 kids that all know each other well that just spent the morning sitting and listening and learning get turned loose on a giant jungle-gym, I'll tell you what it's like. There's a heck of a lot of screaming and kids running everywhere, and the whole time you're thinking, "if one of the kids was legitimately hurt somewhere and screaming, I would have no way of knowing."

Eventually, there was a break for lunch, where all of the kids got burgers, fries, and pop. It didn't slow them down, and they were soon back to their insanity. At one point, Jazer, one of the boys in my class, came up to me pouting showing me the blood on his arm like it was a major injury. There wasn't even enough blood to smear; he probably banged it against something and didn't even know he was bleeding until someone else pointed it out to him. Mostly, I chuckled to myself the whole way to the bathroom to clean him up. I rinsed it, washed it, and was barely finished before he was skipping back to play. It must have been miracle water!

As we were gathering the children to leave, Emy, another one of my kids, was missing a shoe. Several kids and teachers were looking all around the room. It wasn't a huge room, and all the other kids had their shoes on, so surely it couldn't be that hard to find. It took about 3 minutes of searching, but the missing shoe was found. Then, it turned out to not be her shoe that they found. Someone then figured out that her little sister and her had the same design of shoes, and little Camila was wearing the other one, so I had to take Emy's shoe off of Camila, give it to Emy, and then put Camila's right shoe back on her. Sometimes, I feel like nothing is ever easy with these kids.

Overall, it was a great day. The kids had a lot of fun, I had a lot of fun, and hopefully, they learned a few things along the way. Hopefully, I'll get the video put together soon. I have a lot of clips to go through so it could take a while, but I'll be sure to post it on here when I'm done with it.

If I remember, I'll be posting tomorrow about my Valentine's Day adventures.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Last Week and Drawings

Wow. It's been a while. I've had a lot going on over the last week or so, which is why I haven't been able to find the time to get in and blog about it.

Last week, I found out that Cesia (one of the new housemates) was pregnant, but on Wednesday morning, she lost the baby. Tito rushed home from school to be with her, and I had my kids make cards for her, but all they knew is that she was sick.

When I got home from school, I arrived along with Tito's father, and Cesia's mother, who we picked up along the way. A pastor friend had arrived at the same time as we did. We went upstairs, and I was surprised to find Cesia's sisters there along with their children. Being the socially awkward and uncertain about social expectations person that I am, I opted to spend most of the day in my room, working on my article writing job. Of course, my luck held on, and the one time I did venture into the living room/kitchen where everyone was gathered, the pastor had just started praying, and pretty much everyone was crying.

On the up side, I did get in a lot of work. Cesia had family members come and stay with her for a few days, so I spent more time just in my room to stay out of the way and let them catch up, but with just a family hanging out, I felt more than comfortable coming in to eat and to hang out for a few minutes. I did breathe a sigh of relief when everyone was gone, though. Clearly, I do not adjust well to sudden changes.

What I really loved through this was seeing the love that the church showed, with all the people that showed up on the first day, just to love on them and be near to them. It was so good to see what a big deal it really was that she had lost the baby. I feel like most of the time in the States it's not really that big of a deal to people outside of the immediate family. I mean, people are sad for them and will give them a "sorry to hear" hug when they see them next, but it's overall not such a big deal. Yet here, one member was weeping, and they all came to weep with her. She was hurting, and they came to hurt with her. What a display of how God's church is supposed to be!

She is doing well now, and is back to work at the school.

In other news, I have been hard at work on my online jobs, which have been a lot of fun to write. I now have a great relationship with one of the employers on the site I use, and he contacts me with lists of jobs to choose from now. I pick subjects that interest me, despite what I may or may not know about them, so I get to learn as I go, which is a lot of fun. If you need to know anything about alpaca farming or taekwondo, let me know. I finished 24 articles on alpaca farming, and am about halfway through the articles on taekwondo, so I'm practically an expert now... sort of.

I've been able to attend ICF two weeks in a row now. That's the English-speaking church. This past Sunday, I got to reconnect with a gal my age who's also doing mission work here. She's really sweet and outgoing, which is perfect for me. She lives here with her cousins that live her permanently, doing mission work with various orphanages. They were talking about taking me out to dinner some night this week, so that should be fun. Now that I have a phone, I can actually be in contact with people, which is really nice.

Well, I guess that about sums up my week. I did get a chance to really relax on Saturday, and was able to talk with a good friend Michigan for a while. It's always good to be able to Skype with people. It makes me feel like they're right there, so I don't have to miss them.

One last thing, just so I have a picture to share with you, and so you can hear a cute story about my kids. So, the kids in my class discovered two things about me very quickly: I can draw well, and I will draw something for them if they ask. So, almost every day after school, now, I have a few kids come up and ask me to do various drawings for them. Typically, one girl will ask for a princess, and then they all want one exactly like hers, but I don't like drawing the same thing over and over, so I draw different princesses doing different things. Sometimes, it upsets them, and sometimes, they get even more excited about it. It depends on the girl and the drawing. Because I like the drawings that I do before they trace all the lines in bold markers and then color them pink, I take pictures of almost all of the drawings I do first. They think it's strange, but have come to accept that me taking a picture of the finished drawing is a part of the process. Here are a few of the drawings I've done over the last few weeks:

So yeah, that's what I do most days right after school. I've gotten pretty good at these simple outline drawings.