Saturday, January 23, 2010

El Horizonte - my new class

This week I started teaching a new English class in a new school. One of our contacts, Marcia, works in a fairly new middle/high school here in Tarma, and she came to me a few weeks ago about teaching a six-week summer English course to the students attending the summer session. I agreed and taught my first class this past Thursday. It was a bit of a nerve-racking experience because I went into the class with little information about the students, the resources, and expectations. It ended up that there are 20 students on my roster, all ages 11-15. I am in a somewhat run-down class room with a chalk board and colored chalk. The students are well behaved and I can already tell which ones are going to want to answer every single question and which ones are going to try to become invisible.
Teaching in El Horizonte is very different from Lucas’s Institute. There I had no more than 5 students in a class and only taught 1-hour classes. I am teaching 2-hour classes without a break at El Horizonte, which is a lot for me – but I’m adjusting and learning how to keep my energy up. This is the first Private School that I’ve taught in here in Tarma, and come March I will be teaching at a second school as well. It’s definitely challenging to learn how to teach, while still making so many mistakes in Spanish – but the students are gracious when I make mistakes, and I’m finding my system. Strange to think that when I get home I will have taught more than a year’s worth of English without a teaching degree!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Discipling without a coffee shop

Maybe you will laugh at the title of my entry today, but while funny, I've realized that when it comes to discipling, I really only know how to do it on the terms of our North American culture. Meeting regularly each week in a coffee shop style location, talking about the frustrations of life, love, friends and the Father, reading the Word, studying it and praying over it, laughing and enjoying a tight relationship where you have the complete freedom to share any sorrow or any secret.
But like everything else, discipling looks differently here when there are no coffee shops to go to and girls my age work 12-hour days 7 days a week. When would they have the time to go with me to a coffee shop even if they existed in Tarma? How does one disciple someone else, when there is no time during the day to meet individually with them? Do you invade their work space? Follow them home during their lunch hour? Meet at 11:30pm? Maybe. The girls that work at Chichos get one two days off every two weeks. I mean that they work two weeks straight, and then they get the American equivalent of a weekend, followed by another two weeks of work. How do I meet them where they are at?

Maybe you can see my dilemma - the trouble of discipling "without a coffee shop".

How did Jesus do it? He had 12 full time followers. Ideal, but not realistic in Tarma :) How did the disciples do it? They met in homes, on the street, went to where the people were. How will I go about discipling Peruvians in their own culture? I'm still not sure, but I'm sure I give a couple ideas a go before finding one that works. Just as servanthood is culturally defined, discipling too has its own cultural definition, one that I desperately need to be learning.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

24- but Jack Bower didn't show

Well, it has arrived, my 24th birthday and second consecutive birthday in Latin America. Not a bad day, although I was rudely awakened by Pacha the dog this morning when she decided it was too lonely to be in the kitchen all by herself, and someone had to come and keep her company. Beyond that, I was able to chat with my parents and receive a few surprises at the post office today! I spent the afternoon baking myself a birthday pumpkin roll (so delicious here’s the recipe if you’re interested:
I will admit that it doesn’t feel much like a birthday, although I’ve received some calls from friends and received some birthday wishes in the street. Maybe it’s just that as you get older the birthday anticipation doesn’t present itself in the same way as when you were little. The day is special because I am now a year older, but really it feels like every other day. It’s not a bad thing - I didn’t really want to make a big deal out of it this year.
So instead of friends and family, I have teammates and roommates and we celebrated with homemade pizza and a romantic comedy! Poor Julio, but he is a good sport, and sat through a movie that had the three of us girls bawling our eyes out :) It was a lovely evening and overall a really good birthday. I also had some friends stop by unexpectedly with a big birthday cake! It was Lucas and Diana from the Language Institute! I was so blessed by their thoughtfulness and desire to celebrate with me.
Reflecting on the past year always makes one sober as you recall the moments of failure, hurt and disappointment, and at the same time the blessing of joy at recalling the moments of success, satisfaction and contentment. I would say that I’ve had my share of the good and the bad this past year, and most likely that won’t change with being one year older. God has been ever so faithful, and I know that there is no way that I would have gotten through the past year without his gentle encouragement and constant strength and care. So at the end of the day I thank the Lord for one more year of Life, and pray that this coming year will be filled with joy, wisdom and love.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back in the swing of things

Have I mentioned how glad I am to be back at work? It is such a good feeling to be busy again after a few weeks of not having much to do. Well, we are definitely back in the swing of things, and after a 3 hour team meeting yesterday, I’m realizing that we will be running through January, February and March with a full calendar! But it’s a good thing since it means that we have a million and one opportunities to be working in and throughout Tarma! Praise God because he is really opening a bunch of doors!
So in addition to a busy calendar this month we have Pacha to take care of (the dog) and are maneuvering our first rainy season in the mountains. Jason was a trooper and brought me my rain boots when he came in November – and I am getting a lot of use out of them. Last night Meredith, Elsa and I took Pacha “paseando” (the action that refers to walking around town visiting everyone you know). It was her first big outing into town, and we stopped and saw lots of people: Rosio at her restaurant, the girls at Chichos, a couple of neighbors we found on the street and we also stopped at Don Pepe’s to buy empanadas for the road home! Of course it had rained most of the day so Pacha left muddy footprints through the kitchen once we got home :).
Today is a surprisingly sunny day – and we are having company for lunch! Carmen and Marcia and Angela, a family we’ve gotten to know well, are coming to spend time with us. Carmen owns a bodega in town and Marcia works in a high school. There is a chance that I might start teaching English this month with Marcia in her school! And Angela is the younger daughter – 11 – and is the sweetest girl. We want to be spending more time with the contacts that are believers so that we may focus on developing them as leaders to play bigger roles in the ministry in the future.
I’m going to be visiting the girls at Chichos later today to continue building relationships with them and gaining their trust. There are a lot of new faces, which of course means new names to learn – I’M SO BAD AT THIS!!! But it is good for me to be there, spending as much time as I can with them. This is something that I want to focus on this year – relationships with these young women, and it is something that I’m praying hard about. My prayer is that God would lead me to one or two girls that I may be able to have heart relationships with and be able to care and disciple.
Well the lunch bell is ringing (its Meredith’s day to cook!), so I had better wrap this up. I will try to be better at updating this blog more regularly this year. I know that I was slacking off there for a while. Hope you all have a blessed week!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Puppies, roommates and Tarma

It is a sunny day in Tarma, which is a nice change from the clouds and rain that accompany our life in Tarma most days (the natural progression of rainy season). I do find that I tend to be happier when the sun shines, so today I am thankful for its rays and its warmth. Today our new roommate is moving in with us: Pacha – the dog. We have acquired a new pet that will hopefully bring joy to the daily life, and encouragement to Elsa, who responds well to animals. She is getting “fixed” today so that she can live in harmony with the owner’s boy dog downstairs :) In addition to Pacha, Meredith is arriving from Lima with our two Lima roommates in tow. Raquel and Eli are on vacation for the month of January and decided to come to Tarma for a visit – so we are receiving our first guests of 2010. It should be an enjoyable weekend with them, although it will be a full house.
Monday marks the first team meeting of the year which will also be a day of fasting as we pray and plan out our next moves in Tarma.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to Work!

Well, New Year’s has come and gone and the year has gotten off to a good start in my opinion. I’m back in Tarma again, which feels good. Christmas was lovely, spent with one of the missionary families in Lima, and New Year’s was girl’s night in our apartment! Fireworks are the tradition at New Year’s here, and we stood on the balcony of our 10th floor apartment to enjoy the panoramic display. While a few weeks of holiday cheer were nice, I will say that I’m glad to be back at work, plugging away on accomplishing our vision for Tarma.
January is going to be a fairly calm month, full of planning, writing Bible studies and a visit from my boss. It will be a quick month. We are excited to start the second round of Bible studies in the various groups that we started in November. Our prayer is to do one 4-week study on How to study the Bible, and another 4-week study on the meaning of Easter. We are shooting to time it so that the second study will lead straight up to Holy Week in April – not unlike our Christmas Advent studies. For now my job is to study, study, study and hang out with our contacts in and around Tarma. I’m looking forward to spending more time at Chichos and continuing to develop relationships with the young women there. I’ll keep you all posted!