Friday, October 30, 2009

Great is our God!

A couple weeks ago a Christian group called PureNRG came with Family Christian James Fund to serve! The highlight of my week was undoubtedly the concert that they put on. We got all of the Casa Hogares together at a church for the concert. It is rare that all of the Casa Hogares come together in one place, so you can imagine the excitement that filled the room! Before PureNRG performed, each of the Casa Hogares had the chance to perform! Watching all those precious kids sing praises to the Lord brought tears to my eyes. The joy in their faces as they watched PureNRG was such a blessing to witness. All in all the day was a blast for everyone involved and one that I will not soon forget!

Here are the kids from Imperio de Amor singing praises to Jesus!

The tambourine band from Casa Hogar Douglas!


Little Gabriella from Casa Hogar Del Norte has captured my heart and my dad's as well. She is new to the home and such a sweetheart. Please pray that she will grow into a woman of God who believes that she is loved and cherished by our Savior.

Here she is again! I adore her!


Last Friday, SMCA took another field trip to a Puppet Museum downtown. We had so much fun! We learned about the history of puppets, watched a puppet show, and got to try out all the different types of puppets.
"The House of Puppets"

Some of the kids experimenting with the marionette puppets.

The SMCA kids outside of the museum!
One of the many obstacles facing the kids that we work with in the Casa Hogares is their lack of reading skills. It is easy for them to fall behind in school and since they are unable to get the special attention that they need at home, many of them have never learn how to read. As I have been learning about this, my heart broke for the children even more, but I was unsure of what I could do to help due to my lack of Spanish skills. However, I quickly learned that God is so much bigger than my inability to speak Spanish. I recently learned that two of the children's homes are opening up libraries, and the moment I heard this, I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of!!
I learned that a woman in the States is applying from a grant from the Rotary Club and that if the grant goes through we will have money for the books to start the library at Del Norte. The problem was that she didn't have any idea what types of books would be good in a children's library. I quickly volunteered my services and last week I helped her finish off a few details on the grant application. We should find out soon if we will receive the grant. Please pray that we will! My heart fills with excitement as I think about using this library to instill a love for books and reading inside of children who had possibly given up on the opportunity to ever learn how to read!
How amazing is our God!?!? I can't even begin to answer that question!! He is continually blowing my mind! He planned that there would be a woman in the States with the funds, a head of a children's home with the desire to see her children read, and a teacher with knowledge of what books would be needed for the project!! I love how he gives separate people visions and then leads the to oneanother is his timeing! I have always had a love for children's books, and now God has allowed me to help with a project that will use this love to serve kids in a way that I had never dreamed of! Please pray that the grant will be approved.
Thankyou for your continual prayer and support! Please let me know if there is anything specific that I can be praying about for you.
Tonight is the Fall Festival put on by the SMCA families! Stay tuned for pictures of our costumes... it should be pretty funny!!
With Joy,

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do Not Be Afraid

This past Friday I had my first dance classes with the staff kids! It brought so much joy to my heart to see the kids so excited about dancing. We used chairs for bars and most of the kids were just in their socks, but we sure had fun!

First I did a 2-5 year old ballet class. Zua and Caroline were absolutely adorable!

Here are the kids in my beginner tap and ballet classes (this picture is missing Corinna). I was so proud of how hard they tried, especially my boys!

Yesterday was a rainy Saturday in Mexico, so Ruby and I decided to take the kids to see "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs", which in Spanish is called "Lluvia con hamburgesas" (literally translated to "Rain with Hamburgers"). We read the book with the kids in school and thought it would be fun for them to be able to compare the book with the movie.

Here we are at the movie theater!

Last weekend was Fall Break, so we had Thursday and Friday off of school. Ruby and I decided to take advantage of the long weekend and hop on a bus and explore a part of Mexico that we have never been to before (don't worry, we were completely safe the whole time)! We got some recommendations from other staff members and decided that the historic city of Zacatecas would be the prefect weekend retreat!

Here is the view from our window!

We went for a ride on an arial tramway.

The town is known for it's large silver mine. Ruby and I went for a tour of the mine.

One of the beautiful cathedrals!

A cute sweet shop where we bought some delicious Zacatecas chocolate!
Celebrating Ruby's birthday at a delicious authentic Mexican restaurant!

The weekend was so much fun and I was able to practice my Spanish the entire time! Mexico is truly a beautiful country with such a rich culture and I love having the opportunity to experience new parts of it!
Today I listened to a sermon from Oct. 4th at Ada Bible Church. The fact that I can even do that is such a blessing for me. The pastor, Jeff, was continuing to speak on the ministry of Paul and the main focus today was Paul's boldness despite the opposition that he faced in every town. Jeff said something that really stuck out to me. He said, "Fear can paralyze you and make you inactive in the role that God has placed you in. Fear can keep you from the greatest moments of impact in your life." Wow!! I began to think about the fears that I have in my life and the ways that they could be making me ineffective to the cause of Christ. I feel very certain of the call on my life to serve God through missions, and I want to make sure that I never let fear hold me back from a place that God may be leading me to go.
All throughout the Bible, God speaks to people and tells them, "Do not be afraid!" Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Jeremiah, Mary, Joseph, the women at the tomb, Paul. All of these people had reason to fear, and yet God urged them to let go of their fears so that he could do a great work through them! This message was not just for them, it is for us today! Is there anywhere in your life that fear has taken hold of you?
Do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

dance. create. experience.

I am now well into my 5th week of teaching and my 8th week of living in Mexico! I am amazed at how quickly the time is passing! I feel like I shared about El Grito only yesterday, and yet almost three weeks have flown by!
As I have continued to get settled, I have been presented with many opportunities to get involved in the other facets of the ministry. My main focus here is teaching, but I have really been seeking the Lord and asking Him to show me if there is another part of the ministry that could really use the gifts and talents that He has given me. As I have been praying about it this week, I realized that I have a desire to serve and encourage the missionary families and staff children that I teach. Though some different conversations this week it became very clear to me that there was a very specific need that I was created to fill... I am going to start giving dance lessons!
I am so excited and hope to begin next week. I will begin with three classes a week: 2-5 year-old ballet/creative movement, beginner tap and beginner ballet. I felt very confirmed in my decision when I learned that a bag of ballet and tap shoes had been donated to the ministry! If the classes on campus go well, I would love to start a conversation with someone about whether it would be possible to teach a class in one of the Casa Hogars. Ballet has brought such joy to my life and my heart fills with excitement when I think about getting to share that joy with the kids here!
If anyone has any extra ballet or tap shoes, please let me know because I will use all the pairs that I can get my hands on!

In school this year I have really been working with my students to develop their skills as writers. Every day we do a Writer's Workshop and I am thrilled to see them getting excited about writing and really taking their writings (and imaginations!) to whole new levels!

In order to help the kids publish and share their writing with a broader audience, I decided to create a blog for them! So, as of today, the SMCA Kids Blog is officially up and running! Check it out at:

Today I had the kids write quick bios to introduce themselves within the next could weeks I hope to start getting their pieces published.
For the past 3 weeks we have been studying sensory detail and how it can make our writing come to life! To let the students test out everything they have learned, I sent them outside with a thesaurus, paper and a pencil, and told them to describe the world around them using all the sensory details that they could think of. We had such a wonderful time outside and took some amazing pictures of God's creation and the things that the kids were describing. This week we are finishing out final edits on the observations that we made and soon I hope to post them on the blog. I cannot wait for you to read them because I am bursting with pride for how well they did! My little class can officially write with sensory detail!
Two weeks ago SMCA went on its first field trip of the year! We went to the Mexican History Museum and had a great time learning more about the country that we live in!

Here are some pictures outside of the museum:

Here a few pictures of other ways that I have been expereincing Mexico...

Breakfast tacos at Tacos de Santiago. Yum Yum!

Hiking in the Sierra Madre Mountains!

Spending time with Kara when she came to visit last weekend!

And no Fall would be complete without some Futbol Americana!

This week is Fall Break and I am looking forward to a little time off! I'll be in touch soon, but in the mean time, don't forget to check out the SMCA Blog! :)

Thank you for all of your prayers and support!

With Joy,


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Coram Deo

I apologize for how much time has passed since I last wrote. So much has happened in the past two weeks and I had intended to write a nice long update this weekend, but due to an unforeseen 17 hour power outage, I was unable to use my computer. I am thankful to have the power back, but my internet connection is too slow at the moment to upload any pictures, so that will have to wait until tomorrow. So, in the mean time, I will share a bit about what God has been teaching me recently about what it means to be blessed.

As a teacher, I have been well trained to being speaking with a good anticipatory set. So here if one for you!

Please take a moment to answer these questions to yourself:

In what ways has God blessed your life?
What does that word, blessing, mean for you?

Did you really think about an answer? I will have to trust that you did!

I use the word blessing a lot. Often when I pray for people I pray that God blesses their lives. I daily pray that God showers his blessings out on each precious orphan child. I pray that each of my friends and family members will experience the rich blessings of God daily in their lives. I pray that God will make me aware of the countless ways that he has blessed me. I even end most of my letters and blogs with the word “blessing”. So what does that word mean? In the past two weeks, God has been opening my eyes to a slightly deeper meaning of the word, a meaning that goes beyond a simple salutation or a quickly offered prayer for good things.

In my Bible study, I recently read: “Biblically, one is pronounced blessed when God is present and involved in his life. The hand of God is at work directing all his affairs for a divine purpose, and thus, in a sense, such a person lives coram Deo.”

I had never heard the term “coram Deo” before, so I did a bit of research on it and found that coram Deo literally means "before the face of God". It means that we are living in the presence of God, under the authority of God and to the honor and glory of God. It is what each person was designed for by our Creator!

I guess that I have tended to associate blessing with the good things that God has given me. Yet, being blessed by God means that he is present and involved in my life, even when things are not going as I had hoped or planned. I could be walking through a devastating loss, pushing through a seemingly endless struggle, or unable to understand why something had to happen the way that it did; but if I allow those things to strengthen my faith and my belief in the goodness of God, then He is able to use those things for His divine purpose, thus they are blessings.

So when times of trial arise, I pray that you will not lose hope or faith. I pray that you will believe that you are richly blessed, no matter what circumstance you find yourself in, because God is ALWAYS GOOD. When we believe that, we are being shaped into the people that God created us to be, and that is what blessing is all about!

There is my thought for the day. Now when I say, "I pray you are blessed", you will know that I mean, "I pray that the hand of God is at work, directing all of your affairs for a divine purpose. And that in the times when you can’t understand the purpose you will still believe that God is good!"

Before the Face of God,