It’s hard to believe that over six weeks have passed since I’ve written my last blog post. As I re-read it, I couldn’t help but smile as the feelings and thoughts I was processing then could still describe me today in many ways. Some things have changed; some things are the same. First, I want to thank my Heavenly Father for helping the other teachers, adults, and me the past couple months as we’ve had these precious children placed in our care. Our “family” has been growing, and we now have 20 children, and they still continually “keep us on our toes.” We continuously share some sweet memories, and I am grateful for this chance to have a tiny part in their lives. God has been teaching me so much through ministering here in the Children’s Home, and I know the lessons I am learning will continue to guide me throughout my life.
As I sit here gazing out at the beautiful Lake Chapala enjoying a rare moment of peace and quiet, I am reflecting on these different lessons. I am learning it is not the easiest thing to love others who don’t really reciprocate that love, but it is vital to living a joy-filled and Christ-honoring life. Patience is something that does not come naturally for me, and being surrounded by a different language that I do not know or understand fluently has been very frustrating. It takes patience and effort to listen and also to talk in Spanish, whether that’s to the children or to the adults that live here. Many times I feel “out of the loop” and I have to be content with not understanding the joke that everyone is laughing at or not knowing things ahead of time. It’s not easy, let me tell you, but somehow, it works out. I have loved watching my students “translate” my Spanglish for me to other people, whether it’s to strangers or to new students. I do wonder how much English they’re actually learning, but at least some of them have this Spanglish thing down. I’ll take what I can get. 😉 Teaching English here hasn’t exactly gone like how I imagined it would, but I have learned to be content with doing my best in a “different” learning environment and looking for small victories, rather than expecting giant ones.
One of the biggest lessons I am learning (and I think this will be a continuous life lesson for me) is to pray before I panic. And I tend to panic a lot, which means I need to pray a lot more. Just a few days ago, I received some information that caused me to start panicking as I tried to analyze how certain things were going to work out. I realized I needed to stop and pray (which I did out loud with a friend), and while I still struggled later in the day with holding back tears and not completely freaking out, I was glad that I had taken the time to pray in that instant. Flexibility has taken on a whole new meaning for me since living here at the orphanage in Mexico. It seems like the Mexicans are accustomed to not knowing what’s going on and just taking things as they come, but this American “northeastern” girl is definitely NOT accustomed to it, at all. I feel that I have grown in this area the past couple months, but I also know I have a long way to go to in learning to be content in being flexible. I literally just have to take things day by day. In some ways, it makes life a little simpler, and it helps me to just focus on each day and to try not to panic about the “tomorrows.” The Lord obviously knew I needed to work on these areas of my life, and I believe that’s one of the reasons He opened the door for me to come.
I’ve also learned the simplicity in showing love to others. It might be by buying snacks for the kids after our Thursday night church service in the nearby town, making handmade Valentines, giving a smile and just trying to pay attention to facial expressions of the children, or requesting that food be bought for one of our boys’ pet dove (yes, we have a pet dove here on the “ranch”). All very simple things but yet, I hope it shows the children that I love them. One of the things that has affected me the most has been trying to mentally put myself in their shoes. These children have been abandoned by their families, “voluntarily.” I’d like to think that it has been out of an act of love, that the families literally could not take care of their children properly, but it still breaks my heart to see mothers hugging their children goodbye as they are put in our Children’s Home. I cannot imagine going through that, especially at an age where I am old enough to know my mother, my family, and understand that they can’t or won’t take care of me. It makes me angry, and it makes me sad. I am so thankful that these children have a beautiful place to call home, delicious food to eat, clean clothes to wear, a school to learn at, and daily spiritual feeding through devotions and chapel times. Just this past week, I was reminded of a song that the children have learned in the past in Spanish, and I’ve been teaching it in English to my secondary class. It is a perfect reminder for the children, for all of us, that we are never abandoned by our Heavenly Father, and that He knows who we are, and where we are, at all times. The chorus goes like this,
“And He knows my name, every step that I take, every move that I make, every tear that I’ve cried. And He knows my name, when I’m overwhelmed by the pain, Can’t see the light of day, I know I’ll be just fine, ‘Cause He knows my name.”*
I hope the truth of this encourages you as it has encouraged me and has especially encouraged these precious children.
It’s hard to believe that I only have two more months left here in Mexico. I am so very excited about the future and the doors God has opened, but I know it will be hard to say goodbye to the children here when that day comes. I have some prayer requests I would like to share. To those who pray for me, words cannot express how grateful I am. It’s been so encouraging to see God answer prayers and help me throughout my time here. Thank you!!!
- For the children: Please pray that they will thrive here in the Children’s Home, and that they would grow spiritually, academically, and socially.
- For my health: It has gotten better overall, which is a praise!
- For safety: With our weekly commute to the city and back to the country again, much time is spent riding in a van or bus, and the roads here are not the “safest.”
- For my teaching: It is hard to motivate children to learn another language, especially one that is hard like English. Please pray they will be more interested in it, and learn as much as they can while I’m here. I want to give them a good foundation for the future.
- For staff in the future: Please pray that the Lord will continue to provide the staff needed for the Children’s Home.
- For Mrs. Murillo’s health: The Murillo’s are the missionaries in Guadalajara who started and oversee the ministry of the Children’s Home. Mrs. Murillo was just diagnosed with cancer last week. I know they would greatly appreciate your prayers!
Also, for those who might have missed my big announcement and praise in my last blog, I would like to share it again…. 🙂
PRAISE: I have a huge blessing that I am excited to share with my readers. Lord-willing, I will be teaching 4th grade at VFBA (the school that I grew up in) in Pennsylvania starting this fall. I am SO excited about this answer to prayer and opportunity to continue to serve the Lord through Christian education! Fourth grade is my favorite grade to teach, and it is also the grade that I have the most experience in teaching! For a long time now, I’ve had a desire to have more stability in my life, especially as I enter my 30s in September. God’s timing is always perfect!
*”He Knows My Name”, by Annie and Kelly McRae