He Trusts Us

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One question I’ve had since my time at the Finca that hit me a couple of months in is, ‘why does God trust us so much?’ The question would pop up as I realized that rules and decisions that make big impacts are not made by a person with all the right answers or generated by a computer. They are made by normal human beings who have a certain IMG_0011skill or amount of experience, yet, nevertheless, have the same level of weakness and fault as every other person. It would pop into my mind as I have meaningful conversations with the kids, questioning myself whether my advice or example is all that correct. It comes to my mind when I think of the Honduran education system or decision-makers at DINAF, two systems that affect our kids greatly. It comes into my mind when I see one decision alter the rest of a child’s life, and I am forced to wonder why God allows us to make such grand and impactful decisions.

As missionaries, a frequent question we ask ourselves is ‘Am I enough?’ Especially in the very beginning or the very end of our time, it comes up. Al inicio, the thoughts look a little like this… and I remember them clearly:

The kids aren’t listening to me; they didn’t learn a thing in my class; are my interactions impactful?; what is my mission here?

At the end, I see myself questioning:

Did I spend my time well? Will they remember what I tried to teach them? Did I talk about Jesus enough? Did I show my love as clearly as I would have liked?

 

We recently went on a retreat where we reflected on different prophets, and I was very shocked by many of the doubts that accompanied their journey. Laura walked us through several of these belonging to Moses. When God asked Moses to talk to Pharaoh in order to free the Israelites, he responded, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? … What if they do not believe me or listen to me? … O Lord, I have never been eloquent. I am slow of speech and tongue. … Oh Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Picturing the Moses that we have been told about for our entire lives saying these words, I can barely pair him with this man. Did he really doubt that much? Did he really have a stutter? Did he really feel that inadequate?

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Bringing in the Liturgical New Year at Retreat!

After this retreat, my interest in the first books of the Old Testament, a part of the bible I never touch, spiked my interest. A couple of mornings later, I read about Abraham in the Book of Romans. ‘Abraham believed and hoped against all expectation. He did not doubt nor did he distrust the promise of God, and by being strong in faith, he gave glory to God. He was convinced that He who had given the promise had power to fulfill it.’ I decided to flip on over to the beginning of the book to find out more about Abraham, first known as Abram. In rereading the well-known history of Abram in Genesis, I was surprised to connect the words from Romans about this man with the story of his life. This is the guy who, after being promised by God a child to be born to him with his wife Sarai, had taken Hagar, his servant, to have a child. After his sign of distrust, God still decides to allow Sarai to become pregnant, and, what more, promises to establish his covenant with him and his descendants after him forever. God, what? You trust him after that? (You crazy?) Do you see him how Paul sees him in Romans?

In the Book of John, Jesus tells us, “I am the vine and you are the branches. As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit: but apart from me you can do nothing.” This, I’ve really come to believe during my time at the Finca. He knows our weaknesses and our likelihood to make mistakes, and He knows that we will not act in a flawless manner every time. But, He promises to guide us, and we must pray that He guides others, especially those making big impacts on our world. This also gives me peace within myself, because I know that whatever I get done during the day or whatever I contribute to someone else is enough. With so many kids and activities and work and missionaries and people, I have needed this message.

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And, I’ve had to convince myself that my fruit is ‘enough’ many times here. I’ve had to trust that, although it wasn’t enough for me, it’s enough for Him. A good example is the PAVI Venta. PAVI, the work program for our adolescents, has been one of my main jobs and a work in progress throughout. Every day, there is a new piece that needs developing, problem that needs solving, or schedule that needs fixing. Through the constant movement that this work creates, God has taught me many important lessons. One big lesson came with the PAVI Venta.

Venta means sale, and it is an opportunity for the kids to spend their ‘money’ that they’ve earned on fun items, such as clothes, bathroom products, games, etc. After talking with past missionaries and reading documents, I planned away to give the PAVI Venta life after a couple of years’ absence. It took about two months of preparation, going through donations, locating a place, making presentations, even asking my parents to send down some special items. Although a lot of work was involved, I was happy to create an exciting event that included the PAVI name :). Well, as many things happen here, nothing really went as planned. A very small amount of kids were able to participate, and many discouraging moments and words stuck in my memory. I think all of my missionary community felt a little bad for me, as did I. Yet, así vamos.. we just continue walking and try our best to see the positive. Yes, a couple of kids received exciting prizes and a couple of kids (and many missionaries) had a fabulous time at Tbay. And, next time, it will be better.

So, 6 months later, it’s that time again.. the PAVI venta.. the time where all kids should work extra hard and save up to purchase well-deserved materials. This time, God is IMG_0033so kind to have added two missionaries to the team to work on the event, much wisdom from the last venta, and a prepared mentality if it all goes downhill. With three minds working together, we developed a fiesta.. aka la FeStiVidAd dE PAVI.. with minute-to-win-it games, music bingo, and even an auction. The library was beautifully decorated, and the hardest working kids were rewarded with recognitions and their buys. It was a long day, and it ended with a feeling of relief and thankfulness.

 

Although I don’t believe God cared that the second venta was more successful, He was kind enough to allow me to see the fruit of our hard work and taught me that there’s always reason to trust Him. And.. He trusts me though I feel just as inadequate as Moses, Abraham, and many others.

The PAVI Venta is one of many things that have passed recently. We’ve also graduated 5 of our oldest girls from high school, an enormous achievement! We’ve said goodbye to my dear roommate Selena, held confirmation for 4 of our boys and first communion for one of our girls, celebrated a Finca Thanksgiving, started a new winter camp for the kids, graduated our 9th graders, welcomed our past missionary Marie into our home for a week, and celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe. As our newbies are seeing, the weekly changes are comical, and they continue to come as Christmas approaches and 4 of us say goodbye to the Finca.

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I can’t express how much I will miss every single personita at the Finca, but, somehow, I am coming to terms with my leave. Life here has been very real, with many (many) emotions, learning opportunities, and understanding. The missionaries have taught me a new way of selflessness and care for one another, the employees have taught me the realities of Honduras and a life of hard work, and the kids have taught me how to give, how to discipline, and how to show love through acts. Although it will initially hurt not being able to walk past house 4 girls every day, make dinner with my community on Fridays, celebrate with a fiesta and baile, laugh at the mannerisms of our House 1 boys, or find company and activity at any and all times, I put my faith in God that His plans are leading me to the right place, that my prayers for my family in Honduras are enough, and my relationships withstand the distance. I ask for your prayers to find this peace as the transition begins!

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Impact

 

For the past week, I’ve been able to spend time in the beautiful city of Antigua, Guatemala with the soon-to-be Missionary Coordinator, my pal Emily Wilson, to give a retreat to our new missionaries. We’ve been given the opportunity to hear our founder’s amazing testimony of the Finca (& how it all started with a caramel apple), share the meaning behind each of our pillars, and get to know our amazing new class of 4 new missionary women plus our missionary family. With the retreat over and a couple of extra days in Antigua, I have some extra time to reflect on all that I experience at the Finca, which I love to do, and sort through all of my half-finished blogs. Here is one I find important to understanding what our impact really consists of.

I love to think back to what I first thought of the Finca before coming. Here are the top 5 IMG_7356best misconceptions I had. 1. the religious sisters are the house parents, brushing the kids’ teeth and putting them into bed each night. 2. Us missionaries will work in the mornings then play all evening long. 3. We will eat beans and rice for all of our meals. 4. I’ll be fluent in Spanish after 2 or 3 months. 5. I’ll be changing lives…

 

The last one is the kicker. After my initial months of trying my best to figure out how I was going to accomplish that one, I became discouraged. I couldn’t see how teaching math or going on runs with the little boys was making any kind of difference, the kind of difference I was hoping for. But, something amazing hit me recently. After a year or two, or even a day or two, we have the chance to make an impact. We can all remember one line said by a friend or adult, a song or a homily, that totally changed our perspective or turned our day around. Impacting someone’s life is that simple. It’s no different in Honduras. Yes, our work targets a minority, is unpaid, and is wrapped with physical discomfort. Yet, as with all things, it becomes a new normal.

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My biggest lesson has been to say yes to this normal, in every moment and every chance. This idea of ‘living in the moment’ is all over the magazine covers and self-help books, but it means something different when it is thought of in terms of our Creator. I’ve learned to pay attention to what He gives me and put all the rest away, safely in His hands. It is daily, because I often question what good I do spending hours doing my chores or how I could possibly fix the heart of my student who has had a life handed to her undeserved. And He calms me by saying, use your eyes to see what is being asked of you right now.

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I’m having to put this same kind of trust in His hands as I acknowledge that my life at the Finca, flushed equally with challenge and beauty, will not last forever. I will be returning to the States in January, along with 4 other missionaries, to purse an MBA and hopefully increase my ability to make needed change and growth in organizations fighting for social justice. Although I thought this step wouldn’t be until after a couple of more years in Central America, I’ve realized my readiness and need in learning more and better equipping myself for my work.


Travel Buddies


 

Until then, I’ll be keeping my eyes open at the Finca to see what little or big impact He has for me to make or receive during my last months here.

 

PAVI Paintings!

Friends in Guatemala!!!

Back to Reality

At the end of mass this morning, I had one of those ‘WoOoO’ moments, where you suddenly see something that you’ve experienced over a hundred times in a new and illuminating way. I have received the Eucharist at a time in the morning that beats when I’ve woken up during my three weeks of vacation, and I have over 40 people right alongside me participating in the same sacrament.

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Today is my third day back from a relaxing and food-filled vacation. I had such a great time at home, spending a week with my aunt, sister, and mom in Lake Tahoe, sleeping until the sun came up, and hearing people say ‘Kassidy what would you like to eat/do/see?’ for 3 weeks. 🙂 I am very grateful for the amount of time I was able to spend with my mom, dad, and sister and for the ability to disconnect from my life at the Finca in order to reflect and rejuvenate.

Coming back, I am able to see everything in a more detached way. Spending three weeks without working and being able to cozy up in America made me forget about all of the anxieties and rushes I sometimes feel at the Finca. And, man am I thankful! Yet, it is also difficult. There is poverty here, which means there is a lack, a need, an absence. Back at home, we have the systems in place, the structures perfected, the employees equipped. We do what we can to minimize a potential threat as soon as possible, and we operate with the goal of a profit, not just making ends meet but exceeding what we have seen before. It is efficient, reliable, and successful. And once this environment of safety and security is experienced, it is hard to accept a place that doesn’t work the same way.

 

One thing I realized coming back is the big wave of emotions we can have here. It scared me when I started pondering with Laura and Emily all the changes we could make to make this place a better home. If we had the personnel, the equipment, the materials, we could be achieving this and giving our kids that. Yet, that is not our currently reality. It’s kind of heartbreaking thinking in this way. As I digest this, I think, wow… I haven’t felt like this in three weeks.

Fast-forward to nighttime. I have spent my afternoon finishing up work in the office, participating in our community rosary, visiting with our House 4 boys, and eating dinner with my community. As I do my weekly chore of drying the dinner dishes… the chore least liked by us all… I get to hear one of our missionaries talk about the time he tried to keep his bodily functions a secret in class, only to have all the kids point at him within seconds. “If you keep a straight face long enough, they won’t think it was you. They are 12; I am 20. I win, automatically.” He thought he convinced the kids it wasn’t him, only to have another missionary admit how the class told her ‘se tiró pedos’ (he farted) as soon as she returned to class. We laughed and laughed. Woo, I don’t think I laughed to this extent in three weeks.

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That night, I thought about rosary a couple of hours before, how I had my closest bud, 16-year-old Jasmine, on one side of me and the youngest girl of the Finca on my other. I try not to get annoyed as I ask the little girl for the 5th time to put the pencil away, give me the orange she found on the ground, pay attention to the prayers. As my arm is around the little girl, I have Jasmine resting her head on my shoulder. It was such a simple gesture, but my heart was filled with a very deep love.

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I go back to this morning, when I had my Aha moment. 40 people all together, singing to Jesus and Mary, half awake, trying to concentrate on the words we are saying. He is with us.

This morning I read Jesus telling his disciples, ‘Keep watch and pray, all of you, so that you may not slip into temptation’. It’s easy to slip, to say it’s impossible or it doesn’t make sense. But we must keep watch for how He sprinkles His love in, and we must pray that He will lead us to the work He chooses for us to do.

We struggle and we battle. Yet, the amount of times we are able to laugh during the day and the amount of love I have for each kid, each missionary, and each employee here shows me that we are doing things right.

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Louisiana Jambalaya– Honduran style
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Mustache Madness

Check out my most recent video!

Cool Experiences

 

When thinking of writing another blog, I had ideas to describe the effects of poverty I witness everyday within our gates or the psychology I see playing itself out with our kids’ actions. But, I hang those interesting thoughts up, for now at least. I’ve recently not had many chances to catch up with friends and family, and there have been many cool experiences I have been excited to share. So, here is an update of the highlights.

 

Covering House 6

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For those who have not been to the Finca, the layout can be hard to picture in your mind. We have 6 houses of kids, and each house is separated by age and gender. Each house has a tía (aunt) or padres (a married couple) who serve as the house mom or house parents. They are the encargadas, the ones in charge. They have their own room in the house, and they help the kids with everything that a normal parent would.

Due to a recent drop in staff, the missionaries have really had to step up in covering house 6, where 6 girls from ages 16 to 20 live. By being in the presence of these girls, I am reminded of that stage of life. They are confident, witty, talkative, and sassy. Yet, they are also affectionate, giving, mature, and determined. With each adjective I give, I can think of a specific moment where they showed me an example.

These 6 girls are much different than I was at their age. At 4:50 am, one is raking, one is showering, one is ironing, and the others are in line. By 5:30 am, all have showered, the bathroom has been cleaned, and the day has officially began. They can entertain themselves for way too long looking through pictures and playing music. They have this simpleness and innocence to their schedule that I miss, and it has been eye-opening to live in that world once again.

Real talks with tías

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As I mentioned above, the tias are the house moms. Think of a nice version of Mrs. Hanagan in Annie and you get a (very) small glimpse of who they are.

The tias are paid for their work, and they often leave their own children at home with family members in order to serve at the Finca. Since they each have their own casa at the Finca where they take care of their group of kids, they don’t have an opportunity to just hang out in the missionary house. It’s easy to feel distant from them if you don’t take the chance to make conversation.

But, these women (and one man) are amazing. They have given up so much to take care of these kids who can often be a challenge, due in a large part to the hardships they have

img_4284.pngexperienced. What’s more, they each have their own story. Difficulties are not few and far between here, with many people never having the chance to complete 9th grade due to school expenses, the necessity to work, and the lack of importance on education. And without education, the opportunity decline is sharp. Although all of our tias have graduated 9th grade, life has taken several of them through many different routes.

After praying to God to put more meaningful conversations in my day, He gave me the opportunity. As I made my rounds to give the tias information on a new PAVI piece starting, I stopped in my tracks to observe one tia who was making tortillas. As we started to talk, I let my curiosity lead the way, asking questions and trying to form a better understanding of who she is as a person. Our conversation opened my eyes to the strength she has had to muster from so many heartbreaking tragedies in her life. How has this women survived the death of a loved one, endured the necessity of giving her kids to her parents in order to work, and the wisdom to not acquaint herself with any man with the fear that the man would harm her children.

This woman I’ve been working alongside everyday turns out to be a woman of extreme courage, discipline, and selflessness. From this one conversation, thoughts flood me with what I have learned about human strength, about hardship, and about family.

 

Visiting Mohaguay

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Before this wow moment happened, I had another one that left me mentally exhausted just after one hour. Living in the Finca means living in a gated and guarded area where 90% of our life takes place within the 30 acres. It is a mission funded by benefactors and provided for by donations. It is not real Honduran life. Yet, real Honduran life exists right across the street, in a small ‘town’ called Mohoguay, where we often go to buy Coca-cola.

I never venture beyond our gates because I never need to. We have 25 kids to care for and loads of work that come along with it. Yet, I desire to know more about what our neighbors do and how are school kids live. Last Saturday morning, Melanie and I IMG_4286decided to leave the Finca and visit some of the families that live in Mohaguay. We sat and talked with many of the women, gave hugs to our students, and just observed. There wasn’t too much going on besides cooking, cleaning, and hanging out. What captured me, of course, were the living conditions. Most of the floors were dirt, the people’s clothes were tattered up, and the heat was.. unpleasant. The Finca, with its beautiful greenery and well-kept structures, did not compare.

Returning after an hour, I had to just lay down. My senses had been on overdrive, observing everything about this area that was only one street away. I felt like I had just been on a mission trip.

In meeting the neighbors and moms of my students, my heart wanted so badly to explain to these moms the necessity of keeping the kids in school and making sure they work hard. Don’t they want to leave this pueblito and make something of their lives? Yet, there is also a calmness and peace that I do not exactly see at home where I live. I wouldn’t say these people are happier (they would love a television just as much as any of us would), but they seem to see the present more than many of us can. And, in some ways ,that is just as necessary as having food on the table.

 

Community love

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Like I said, the 7 of us missionaries do come home to our missionary house at the end of the day. Although some days we are running around until 6:30 at night, we are each other’s family here. And, we’ve been making some big strides to keep that at the forefront of our minds.

We’ve recently all added Friday cooking to our schedules where one person decides on a meal a bit more special than the usual, and we all spend the afternoon cooking together while jamming out to good music. We’ve also added a pancake breakfast to the start of our week, where we all put in an effort to fit in pancakes between 5:45 prayer and 7:00 school time.

Another fun activitiy  we have started, or restarted, is a family day, where we spend one
Saturday a month with just the missionaries (no kids allowed J ). This past family day, we went to the pizzeria, had a delicious cold one, and shared our baby pictures.

Although community life seems straightforward, it takes an effort to put the community in community life. With all of the changes we experience and the challenges we encounter, the strength of our community is so important. And, I’m finding that no matter how long I’m away from America, there are some things that I will always miss, whether it be speaking in English, singing to the oldies, or a nice cold beer with my pizza.

 

Hector and Cesar

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Hector and Cesar… the two Finca men who, through the both of them, have met every single missionary, child, tia, religious sister, and worker who has passed through. Hector was the first child to live at the Finca, along with his brothers and sisters. He arrived in 1998 as a 3 year old. Cesar arrived in 2002 as a 4 year old and left in 2016, a month after we arrived. A couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to visit with the both of them as they spent a couple of days at the Finca. Hearing the stories of Hector and how things have changed left us in awe. It gave us so much hope to see their appreciation for everything the Finca has given them, no matter how rough some moments were that they lived through here. They allowed us to see the big picture. They are both educated, with mature attitudes and a lot of potential. The end of our mission statement says that we are to promote the development of a productive society of devout Christians, and I believe this has been accomplished through these two niños de la Finca.

PAVI

PAVI is one of my new roles I took on as a second-year missionary, and it stands for Bridge to Independent Life (Puente a la Vida Independiente). As of last week, I am finally able to say it has officially (re)started. Through PAVI, the kids are receiving real life experiences that will teach them important skills in life. The biggest part of PAVI is the work. They choose different types of work they can do at the Finca, such as maintenance, carpentry, sewing, typing, etc. Through this work, they gain points which then convert into real money. With these points, they have different options of what that can buy, such as a coca-cola after mass or new flip-flops. They are required to save half of their points and will acquire this portion upon leaving the Finca.

It has been very fun sharing this experience with the kids. Although discipline is involved, my position is more of a support role, introducing them to opportunities they may take an interest in and teaching them real-world concepts. I love seeing their inner-kid come out, whether that be through their inability to set their hands right on the keyboard, their mistakes at the check-out station, or their excitement to buy the most expensive option.

I’m appreciative to have this role, and I have high hopes to see its growth!

 

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A lot has happened and changed since we have come back. Along with these couple of moments that I will remember most from this transition time is my view of our Father in heaven. That relationship beats any cool experiences I have here, and I’m trying more and more to give Him the praise I know He deserves. So, I will end with the quote on the background of my phone:

‘To Fall in Love with God is the greatest Romance, to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest Human achievement.’ –Augustine of Hippo

The short life of the ‘Kassidy’ pollito. No worries, we had a burial ceremony

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Residency cards!

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Enjoying the view

 

Mi Amiga

While organizing documents on my computer, I came across a couple of blog posts that had not actually made it through the ‘posting’ process. This one was written in August of 2017 and still gives me the feels as I reread it. It includes one of my most special memories, and I’m happy to find it again and share it with you!

 

From the very start of my time at the Finca, I have had a wing-woman, a buddy and right-hand gal. Her name is Sarai, a 17-year-old who lives in the Finca and is very often seen by my side. It all started because of Marie, who spread the word to the kids to come to me for all of their math questions. At this point, I had barely spent time with the older kids, feeling more comfortable with the young and playful kids than the teenage, emotion-filled, timid adolescents. But, with my ‘apparent’ math tutoring skills and Sarai’s need for the math help, we started spending time together. After about 3 times of sitting down and working together, I started hearing my name come from her mouth more and more, and that’s when it all started.

Especially in the beginning, she always found a reason to find me. ‘Ka-see-dee’ was usually yelled as she was walking up to the porch, and she said it just loud enough for all of the missionaries to hear from their rooms. She eventually realized that she could see my room from the porch of her house, so she started yelling my name from her doorstep.. usually just to say hi. (the missionaries quickly told me that that needed to be put to an end!)

Sarai had no problem making it known that we were ‘bff’s’. More than a couple of times, she would walk into the missionary house with one delicious baked good, handing it to me without notice of everyone else in the room. When our Finca community came together in the chapel or during a fiesta, I’d always here the Honduran call (making the ‘shhhh’ sound very loudly) from Sarai so that I’d sit by her. Her kind acts baffled me, from cleaning my backpack to taking my laundry off the line and folding them to gifting me jewelry and perfume that her aunt had given her. This teenager has more generosity in her than all of the girls in my high school put together. Yet, she is 100% teenager. Her line that cracked me up the most is ‘One day without you feels like a century’. She loved asking me about my past boy experiences and which Focus missionaries were the cutest.

The two of us had our hard moments despite our friendly relationship. I’ve had to be the reason she couldn’t play in the soccer game for the weekend (big deal here), the reason she had to write lines for recess, the reason she cried (which indeed broke my heart to see). Our role as missionaries doesn’t mean we are just another friend working along side them but that we form them into their best self, which includes disciplining, correcting, and being an authority figure. With this abnormal relationship of superior and pal, we struggled at times but (to my surprise) always moved past the hard moments.

Though I’ve known Sarai for less than a year and she is only 17 years old, she has shown and taught me so much. How she treats the people she loves showed me how I want to treat the people I love. She knew how to read me, realizing when my eyes were puffier than normal and telling me ‘Te Quiero’ and ‘Animo’. She gave in ways that I have never offered to my friends or family. She always always gave me huge hugs. Like I wrote in a past blog post, she is one of the examples of Jesus’ love that I see here.

Last Thursday, I was told by Sarai that, after 15 years here at the Finca, she would be returning back to her home with her tia in 6 days. A new initiative for children’s homes in Honduras is to reintegrate kids back into their home once the living situation has improved or circumstances are right, and Sarai ‘s circumstances were right. Upon hearing this, you can believe I cried without being able to hold it in. It had been less than a year, but Sarai had made such an impact on me. She was a blessing that God had decided to give me my first year at the Finca, a blessing that I have many times thanked Him for. She is special, that girl, and I am happy to know she finally will be living a life she deserves, with a family. God gives us gifts through the people we have in our lives, but He expects us to keep our hands open to receive and give back all that He gives us. Ultimately, We are His and He is ours, and my mind will center on this knowledge, especially during my time at the Finca.

Please keep our Sarai in your prayers!

Life Demands Courage

Life demands courage—the title of a Father Mike Schmidt podcast

I agree with this statement. Maybe. Yes, life demands courage, but does it always? Did I need courage in high school and college? Yes, at times, to run the cc meets, to make those calls at NW Mutual, to ask the boy with long hair to formal..:)

So yes, life needs courage. If we want to see change and growth, our life will demand courage. And when our life stops demanding courage, that’s when we should be concerned.

 

 

The missionaries were asked in early December to return home due to the dangerous uproar to the 2017 Honduran presidential election. When the protesting started, we were 9 hours away from the Finca, on a retreat with Missioners of Christ. Airports were getting shut down and roads were being blocked, so our safest option was to be transported to the closest airport to return home to the US.

We didn’t know for how long we would be home. Two months go by, and we are finally able to return. If I could sum up my time at home, it’d be with these words—- emails, canes, visits, sushi, and adoration. Not so bad, I’d say.

Amidst the joy of being with my family and friends, the feeling of confusion never left. Two whole months of transition waiting to hear our call to return back.. that’s a heck of a long time! Yet, God was teaching me two main lessons during this time.

 

Detachment & the present moment.

Detachment- You’d think a strong faith would give you a contentment about wherever God brings you to. Well, that’s the goal at least. Yet, I found myself so discontent not being able to be where I had planned to be. I thought I was strong enough to not let what was external affect me. I realized I have so much room to grow in being dettached to things of this world.

Present moment- this is my every moment battle. I am positive this is easier for a guy to do than a girl. At times, I wish I could shut my brain off and only see what was staring back at me. The present moment.. the only moment where God is and where we should be.

 

God continued to do his work in all of us throughout these 2 months. He has led four of our missionaries to stay home and seven of us to return. We will miss those four so much, and the seven of us accept that these next weeks and months will be challenging. Who has left the Finca since we have left, who will teach English, do we have food in our house for dinner on Monday.. all questions waiting to be answered.

 

So, yes, life demands courage. Especially in times like these, courage will be a necessity. If we only have the courage to take the next step, God will give us the ground to land on. And, one step at a time, we will ‘make it happen’ —Matthew Heeder

 

Closing the Math Books

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On the 1st of February, I became the math teacher of 7th, 8th and 9th grade. 9 months later, I close the books, give the last of the math grades, and wave farewell to my days of teaching.

Coming to the Finca, I told myself I’d pretty much do any job available; I just wanted to be here. When I was first assigned the ‘math teacher of 7, 8, and 9’ on a Skype call, my first reaction was ‘oh, you mean 7, 8, and 9 years old, right?’ Due to clear memories of too-cool-for-school attitudes, braces, and cliques, I’ve always had an AVOID-when-possible mentality to work with preteens and teens. I even wrote myself off of hanging out with the teenage boys when I first arrived, not seeing any possibility of connections. Nevertheless, my assignment had me spending the majority of my time with this very age group. It made me super nervous, but it was the need of the Finca and where God has asked me to serve.

Teaching middle school math led me down paths I’d never cross before. Since I knew very little about teaching, I poured myself into my prep work, contacting old missionaries, reading and reviewing the ‘First Days of School’ teaching book, and refreshing my good-ole middle-school math skills. I was determined to have all my students above average; it seemed like a do-able goal.

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But, for all of those who believe that teachers have it easy, let me tell ya, teachers are living saints! In my head, I would teach math concepts on my white board, the kids would listen and ask questions when they didn’t understand, and they’d leave class with a high-five from their proud teacher. If that’s what your image of teaching is, a certain commercial that my sister and I laugh over ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIiQGKQ7pJM‘  can give you a closer idea to what class could turn into! Coming into teaching without knowing what a lesson plan actually was or how to teach math concepts in Spanish, I felt as though I was that kindergarten teacher in the commercial! There were several days where I’d leave the classroom sure that they didn’t understand a thing of what I had taught. There were also several days where I felt like I was teaching to the air around me, having to spend more time saying ‘Escuchen chicos!!’ (Listen!) than actually teaching. Me being who I am, I was extremely hard on myself every time I felt like I failed in teaching the lesson or receiving respect from my students, and this is where my hard days rooted from. Oh, did I have some hard days. From disrespectful attitudes and glances to hours of prep work that rarely felt like paid off, I had to push myself through some very hard moments.

Despite those times, God proved His plan to be purposeful and beautiful, as He always does. I grew in so many ways through teaching. Most importantly, my faith grew exponentially, understanding His Word on a different level than I had before. I received daily practice in speaking in front of people, speaking in Spanish in front of people, and knowledge of random math concepts (which my mom is convinced will help me land a job one day.. lol). I experienced and further understood the blessing of education and how a lack of a good education system leaves little potential in exiting the poverty cycle. I also shared some priceless moments with those teenagers I had once had in my mind to avoid at all costs, and I got to grow super close with my coworker and angel sent from heaven, Anne.

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Looking back at the year, I will miss all of the good times I got to share with the kiddos… all the moments they would stare at me without realizing when trying to think of an answer on their tests, the countless times of responding ‘yes, student’ when being called ‘teacherrr’ (with a rolled r), the humor of hearing the Finca teenage boys saying ‘teacher, I was good in class today, right?’ as I walk by their house. It was pretty fun watching theIMG_2840 (1) teenage phase from a distance, always being thankful for not being that age anymore, like the time David ripped his pants in class. (Thankfully, he just laughed it right off!) Never again will I be in charge of their grades, being able to make them do whatever ridiculous activity I made part of their points. My favorite moments where when I made 7th grade shove as many marshmallows in their mouths as possible for a fractions project, when I had them stand up and move their bodies to form angles to demonstrate their knowledge of degrees, and when they ‘had’ to do jumping jacks (or push-ups) for participation points to prove they were awake and alert.

 

Now that the school year is ending, I am on to my next jobs, which include Missionary Coordinator, PAVI, and Running Club coach! I am very excited to take on these new roles! IMG_2790In short, as the Missionary Coordinator, my role is to keep the missionaries informed, organized, and healthy. As PAVI Coordinator, my role is to prepare our older kids for their future through providing work options at the Farm, tracking and rewarding their work, and arranging informative talks. As running coach, I will get our kids to do the thing I love, run:)

 

My days will look much different than they have this past year, yet how different exactly is to be determined. I’m very hopeful to see what will come!!

 

Community fun!

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Kid loving!

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Spanish class attending!