The Journey into a New Decade

September 6, 1997…my 10th birthday. I remember the excitement building up to that day. I was going to be double digits, and I was allowed to get my ears pierced (which is still a special memory to this day)! On my actual birthday, I believe I spent the day at Six Flags (my first time being there) with people from our church. It was a fantastic start to a new decade. Flash forward 10 years and it was September 6, 2007. I had just started my junior year of college and was adjusting to a new dorm, harder classes, and being a room leader for the first time. I don’t think it really set in that I was starting a new decade then (I think I was anticipating turning 21 more). And now, here I am, with September 6, 2017, just in front of me…the big 3-0. To be honest, most of the time, I feel like I’ve already turned 30. That’s probably because I’ve been celebrating all summer long with my friends who also turned 30 this summer. But at the same time in the back of my mind, I knew I was still in my twenties. Now that’s about to change. I know a lot of people don’t really celebrate or focus too much on birthdays, but I do think they’re worth celebrating, especially the milestone ones. They give us time for reflection.

When I was 10, if you would have asked me what I thought my life would look like when I turned 30, I’m not exactly sure what I would have said, but I can pretty much guarantee that it would not match where I’m at right now. And that’s totally okay, because life is a mystery and an adventure and only God knows our future. As I look back on the last 30 years, I see His hand throughout my life, and I’m overwhelmed at how He has led and guided me, even to the point where I’m at today! Finishing up my ministry in Mexico in May (and my ministry of being a missionary teacher), moving back to Pennsylvania, moving into my own place and starting a full-time teaching job teaching my favorite grade, God knew I needed this stability in my life as I entered my 30s. It’s been a busy adjustment, but it’s also been a wonderful adjustment. This past summer was filled with so many more memories! Going to New England with my friend Bethany for our 5th annual spring vacation, going back to Uganda to visit my African friends and students, as well as missionary friends, visiting my 7th continent (Asia) where I spent an awesome day in Dubai, moving into my own place in July, teaching at VBS, spending some time in my beloved mountains, visiting Carrie and her family in Ohio with Nikki, and preparing and starting a new teaching job have made this summer to be unforgettable. I celebrated the end of my twenties the best I could. 😉 And it was God Who gave me the strength and the opportunity to do these things. I love being back in the classroom and being a “normal” 4th grade teacher. What a privilege it is to teach in a Christian school and to have the opportunity to hopefully make a difference in these kids’ lives!

God has also reminded me over and over again to be thankful for the family and friends He has given me, because He’s given me so much. As I enter my 30s, I want to invest more time into making memories with people that I know and love, while also getting to know more people. There is never a shortage on people to love and reach out to. I also want to grow in my walk with the Lord, specifically in my prayer life. Too many times I worry and stress out before stopping to pray and just give things to the Lord. I want to pray more fervently and specifically.

I don’t know what my thirties will bring…they might bring a new stage of life (yes, I’m referring to marriage ;)), or they might not. Undoubtedly, there will be joyous times and there will be painful times, because that is life. My thirties will also bring more adventures. They might look like different adventures than the ones I had in my twenties, but there will be adventures nonetheless. The most important thing I know and believe as I enter my thirties, is that my God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus will still be there. No matter what. It is a comforting and peaceful thought. “Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)” is a song that I literally just heard within the past few days, and it has been a source of encouragement, especially as I transition into this new phase of life. “In You I rest, In You I found I hope, In You I trust, You never let me go. I place my life within Your hands alone. Be still, my soul.” No matter what you’re facing today, my friend, you can rest in the Lord. Ask Him to help your soul be still. Friends and family, thank you for reading, encouraging, and praying for me through the years. Here’s to more journeys to come in my fun and fabulous thirties! 🙂

 

 

 

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Adios…

It’s hard to believe that today was my last day in Mexico. It also happened to be a holiday here in Mexico, Dia del Maestro (Teacher’s Day). As I think back on the years and places I’ve been a teacher, it’s amazing to think of all the children God has placed in my life to teach and love. This teaching experience has been like none other, as this time I lived with my students. It wasn’t just a 8-3 day with them; it was 24/7. I have definitely learned so much more about motherhood through my time here, and I thank God for this opportunity to have lived and taught in a Children’s Home. It was a truly unique experience! The past two weeks were very busy as we were in Guadalajara for the week-long Family Conference that the church here hosted. My favorite part of the conference was getting to sing in choirs and ensembles with my friends. I love singing to Jesus, whether it’s in my language or in another. He understands all of them! This past week we were back in the wilderness, and I got to enjoy the beautiful view of Lake Chapala one last time (although I really didn’t take the time to enjoy it like I should have). This past weekend I really wanted to make some more good memories with my students, and I’m glad we did. When I said goodbye to them last night, we were in a rush and it didn’t really sink in that I was saying “goodbye.” This morning, as I read letters from the students, the tears started to come. The letters they wrote and the pictures they drew are gifts that I will cherish for a long, long time. It’s like God was telling me, “See? Your time here was not in vain.” I already miss my kids, and I will be forever grateful for the 20 children I got to be “teacher”, “aunt”, and a little bit of “mom” to. I will miss Mexico, too, and the beautiful city of Guadalajara. If you told me six months ago that I would miss Mexico someday, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I’ve learned to really enjoy it, and I’ve also enjoyed learning Spanish and speaking Spanglish to people. 😉 I will also greatly miss my friends. God has given me some wonderful friends here, and they have been such an encouragement and such patient examples to me. Also, one of my new friends is the new English teacher for the Children’s Home that arrived this morning! I had met her in Mexicali, and I am so excited the Lord brought her here! She is bilingual, and I believe she will be a sweet blessing and help! God’s timing is perfect, and it’s a little easier leaving knowing my kids have a new teacher to love them.

Thank you, Readers, for your continued encouragement and prayers over the years! I look forward to starting this next journey of my life in Pennsylvania! Until next time! Dios te bendiga!

“Pero Persiste Tu”

What a whirlwind the past six weeks have been! The last time I wrote, I had two months left here in Mexico, and now, I have two weeks left. Just two weeks! While part of me is sad and struggling with the fact that I’m leaving these children and my friends, the other part of me is excited about the future and getting ready for the next phase of life. I don’t doubt that God wanted me here for this time. It’s been a stretching time and growing season in my life, and I know the lessons I am learning here will help me for the rest of my life. To be honest, it is still hard for me to put into words what life is like living in an orphanage. The trials these children have been through, just within the past 6 months that I’ve known them, are hard to digest at times. Since my last blog post in the middle of March, there have been more trials and times filled with tears and heartbreak….some were small trials; others were big. But through it all, I’ve been reminded that God is good…all the time. No matter what. It’s an important truth that as a Christian, I need to tell myself and tell others. It might not always “feel” like God is good, but that doesn’t change the fact that He is. And how do I know He is? Because His Word says so. Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” Psalm 118:1, “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; because his mercy endureth for ever.” I also know God is good because through the trials, I believe He sends His children “gifts” or “signs” to show that He loves us and hasn’t forgotten us. It could be a small blessing or a grand blessing, but either way, if we look for them, I believe we will see the blessings throughout the trials.

 

One of the blessings I got to recently experience was to travel up to Mexicali (which is on the border of Mexico and California) with Adriana, my friend and director of our school, and our four eldest teens from the orphanage for a youth conference at Iglesia Bautista Esperanza (Hope) Fundamental Independiente (IBEFI). The youth conference was such an encouragement to be a part of! There were probably close to 1,000 teenagers from all over Mexico that attended, and the preaching and music were so uplifting. Even though it was in Spanish, I was still able to understand some of it and my spirit was refreshed. I especially loved hearing the beautiful music. There’s just something about hearing people sing to Jesus in a different language; it’s definitely special! It was also fun to make memories with these four teens. It was nice to give the attention solely on them without the distraction of the other little children. We ate a lot of good food (you’ll see a picture of the tacos below), made a lot of Oxxo runs (which for my Pennsylvania friends, Oxxo is similar to a Wawa down here), made new friends and shared lots of laughs, and I got to witness their first plane ride. It was fun to see their excitement and apprehension about flying for the first time. As we took off, it was so cute to hear the one teen boy say, “It’s fine, it’s fine!” and the other one say, “It’s fun!” The theme of the conference was “Pero Persiste Tu” (“But Continue Thou”) which is taken from 2 Timothy 3:14, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of…” What a great theme and truth to be reminded of! I have been blessed to learn many things (Biblical, spiritual, practical, academic, etc.) throughout my life, as a child, a teen, a college student, a young twenty-something, and now an almost thirty-something. I need to persist, to continue, in what I have learned! And I need to continue in the work here for the time left God has given me, and then continue in the new work God has given me for the future. Time passes so quickly, friends, and as my mom reminded me of this verse in Proverbs, “A faithful man shall abound with blessings…”, we need to be faithful in the work God has given us…today, tomorrow, and as long as we breathe life on this earth.

 

I want to say “thank you” to all those who have followed my journey here in Mexico. It’s definitely been an adventure! I will try to write more before I leave or right after I get home. Thank you for your faithful prayers for me!

My prayer requests for the next couple weeks:

  1. For my health: I’ve had strep throat (or something similar) this week. Please pray I heal up fast. I’m thankful I was able to go to the doctor and get an antibiotic!

2. For the children: Please pray that we will make sweet memories the next couple weeks and that they’ll continue to grow in the Lord.

  1. For the Family Conference: We will be in the city next week for a Family Conference that our church hosts. Please pray for health, safety, and a spiritually blessed week for all involved.
  2. For continued safety: Please pray for our safety on the roads in the city, as well as our weekly commute from the country to the city and back again.
  3. For house parents and teachers: As the Children’s Home grows, they are in need of house parents and also for more teachers in the future.
  4. For my transition: Please pray for my transition as I move back to the States on May 16th. I am excited to be reunited with family and friends! The next few months are going to be busy with moving into my own place closer to VFBT and preparing to teach 4th grade at VFBA next year! More exciting adventures ahead!

Thank you again for your prayers and remember, “Pero Persiste Tu!”

“He Knows My Name”

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!!!

Prayer Requests:

  1. For the children: Please pray that they will thrive here in the Children’s Home, and that they would grow spiritually, academically, and socially.
  2. For my health:  It has gotten better overall, which is a praise!
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.
  5. For staff in the future: Please pray that the Lord will continue to provide the staff needed for the Children’s Home.
  6. 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

 

 

 

Back in Mexico!

Excited. Overwhelmed. Tired. Surprised. Frustrated. Encouraged. Awed. Thankful. Put all of these words (plus many more) on repeat, and they would describe my emotions the past few weeks. It’s been almost 3 weeks since I’ve been back in Mexico. This time around is so different from before, yet I am so thankful to be back here and that God opened the door for me to come back. I’m now living in the Children’s Home (orphanage) with the students, as well as my fellow teachers and other adults who help with cooking, cleaning, etc. The property where we live is about 90 minutes outside of the city, and it’s located on a ranch in the wilderness with an extremely beautiful view of Lake Chapala. Seriously, the view is amazing, and it is so refreshing to look at everyday.

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Living out in the country is something I’m continually adjusting to, but as time goes on, I’m becoming more at home there. We come to the city every weekend for soul-winning on Saturdays and church on Sundays, so it’s nice to get that bit of city life (occasional trip to the store or American place like Starbucks or Subway). I feel that I get the best of both worlds. The hardest part for me has been the teaching. I love teaching, and I teach three levels of English classes and then help with mathematics for Preschool level and other lessons for other grades. Teaching can be so much fun, but the language barrier definitely makes it difficult. Some of my students want to learn English, and I feel that some of them do not. Just this past week, though, I started to see more of an interest, and that is a huge encouragement to this teacher! I look forward to continuing to teach these precious kids and build more relationships with them.

 

Living in an orphanage has brought a whole new meaning to “one big happy family.” We have all ages (13 kids currently) ranging from ages 3 to 15. These are only the “volunteer children” (children whose families voluntarily put them in), as the ministry down here is still involved in court battles regarding the government children. (You can see my past blog posts that describe the raid situation this past fall). Please continue to pray that more children can be returned “home” to this ministry and also for house parents to help take care of the kids. Even though we don’t currently have a “large” number of kids, they do keep us on our toes! Never a dull moment, that’s for sure! To be honest, there have been moments over the last few weeks when I wondered why I am here or what my purpose is here, but then God always reminds me that He has a purpose for everything, and He brought me back to teach me many things and to hopefully help others along the way. Some of my favorite moments have been just playing a simple game like Skip Bo or Uno with the kids, singing “Complete in Thee” in Spanish as a special in church with one of the girls, watching my 1st-3rd grade class sing “God is So Good” in English in church, having the 4 year old boy tell me to come sit and eat with him, or just looking at the peaceful, beautiful view that God has given us to enjoy. I am keeping a daily journal, and it helps me think through what has happened each day. And through it all, there are many, many blessings. I want to make the most of the time God has given me here. God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.

Thank you so much to all of you who have prayed and continuously pray for me. In addition to the prayer requests listed above, here are a few more requests (and an exciting announcement!).

  1. For my health: I have fought a chest cold and a tough bout of influenza already during my first few weeks back. Good health is not to be taken for granted!
  1. 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.”
  1. For my teaching: I want to make learning English fun, exciting, and practical. Please pray that the students’ interest will increase. Also, please pray for me to have patience and wisdom in teaching them.

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 and thankful about this answer to prayer and the opportunity and privilege 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!

“Fear Not!”

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

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Did you ever notice the first thing that angels say to humans in the Bible? In almost every instance, their greeting starts with “Fear not.” This was pointed out to me through an Advent devotional I’ve been going through the past couple of weeks. Just in the Christmas story alone, the angel tells Mary and Joseph to “Fear not” as well as the angels that come to tell the shepherds the glorious news of Jesus’ birth! The angels wanted the shepherds to know that they didn’t need to be afraid; they wanted them to know that they needed to rejoice!

I love the different lessons God has been teaching me from the Christmas story. I’ve known the Christmas story probably since before I could spell my own name, yet here I am, all these years later, and there is still so much to learn from and apply to my life personally! I am reminded that I need to choose joy and celebrate even when I want to fear. The last time I wrote in this blog was November 17th. I was heading back to the States the next day and expecting to be back in Mexico two weeks later. But for those who have seen me around, you know that didn’t happen. As time went on the situation with the Children’s Home in Mexico continued to take longer than had hoped, so I had made the decision to stay home until after the new year. And I am so glad I did (which I’ll get to in a moment). First, I want to praise the Lord for answering prayer (and thank all of you who have been praying) as there has finally been a positive development and wonderful news concerning the Children’s Home! Just last week, they were able to reopen the Home and 16 children came into it, just in time for Christmas!!! It is so exciting to know that these precious children are home and safe!!! But the children from the “state” have still not been returned. Please continue to pray for those children and that justice, truth, and righteousness will prevail through the midst of everything! I look forward to going back in January and to start teaching the Mexican children again!

These past weeks at home have been wonderful as I’ve been able to serve through my local church and spend time with family and friends. Two of my favorite activities have been helping out with a widows’ Christmas brunch put on by the singles group from VFBT, as well as host the Christmas party for our singles group at our home. But the most important reason why I am so glad I’ve been home is to spend time with family, specifically my sweet grandma, as she had her last days here on earth. I was able to sit by her bedside and read Scripture, as well as sing Christmas carols and hymns, which was always my favorite thing to do with her. {Here’s a link to a blog I wrote about singing with Grandma last year: “Sometimes You Just Gotta Sing!”}

Grandma went to heaven this past Tuesday, December 20th, and she is walking on the streets of gold with no pain and no suffering. I will always treasure those last precious memories I had with her. God’s timing is perfect.

As I say goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017, I need to remember to “Fear Not!” and rejoice in what Christ has done for me and what He will do for me. The same is true for you too, my friend. I’ll be honest, there are many things I fear, especially the unknown future regarding going back to Mexico and then what to do in the fall after Mexico. But just as God has led me year by year, day by day, and moment by moment, I know He goes before me and He is always with me. I also want to have the attitude that Mary had when she responded to Gabriel after the announcement that she, as a virgin, was going to give birth to the Son of God! Pastor Wendal pointed her response out to us in his message a few weeks ago and said that it was one of the most faith-filled responses in the Bible. Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” That is my prayer, as I look to the future, “Here I am, Lord. I’m one of your girls, one of your servants. Whatever your will is, let that be done. Amen.”

I want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!!! Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement throughout my journeys!

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{In memory of my Grandma…Grandma, I can’t wait to sing with you in heaven!}

 

My Mexican Journey

“Faith is knowing that life can be unpredictable,                                                                                but trusting that it will all work out for good.”

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This quote is currently hanging in a framed picture on my bedroom wall here in Mexico. When I put it up on my wall six weeks ago to decorate my room, I had no idea how “unpredictable” life would become here in Guadalajara and how much my faith would need to grow. It’s hard to believe that I moved here six weeks ago. For the first 2 ½ weeks, I led a fairly “normal” missionary teacher life. I started teaching my English classes my first day here, and it was so exciting to be teaching again. I was teaching in the Christian school located at the church here, and my students were a mix of church children and children from the Children’s Home/Orphanage, with the majority being from the Children’s Home. I was writing lessons from scratch, which proved to be a somewhat challenging but fun task. My most favorite part of each lesson was teaching the song “God is So Good” in English, and adding a new verse each class period. I taught all different ages ranging from kindergarten to high school levels. I was enjoying settling into my apartment, getting to know my sweet apartment mate and new friends at the church and school, and bonding more with my students. My greatest challenge was the language barrier, but I was learning more Spanish little by little and teaching English to those around me. Things were settling into a comfortable pace, and I was once again enjoying the expat/missionary life.

 

Then came Monday, October 24th. Everything changed that day. I was at home in the morning as I didn’t teach until the afternoon on Mondays. I was keeping myself busy by cleaning, washing my clothes (yes, by hand) and preparing my lesson for class that afternoon, which I was so excited about. It was about noon when I checked my phone and saw that Mrs. Murillo (the missionary wife) was posting a live video on Facebook. I thought that was odd so I clicked on it, and when I saw what was happening, a sickening feeling started in the pit of my stomach, and I knew something was wrong. You see, the video was live footage of my students screaming and crying and being forced into vehicles. I grabbed my stuff and went as quickly as I could to the school, but when I got there, it was too late. My students were gone. The Mexican Welfare State had come and raided our Children’s Home during the middle of their school day and took our students away, against their will. There were threats of this maybe happening, as it had already happened to other Children’s Homes in our state, but I guess I just didn’t think it actually would happen to us. I can’t describe the horrible feeling of knowing your students are just gone, with their books still on their desks, and thinking that maybe you won’t ever see them again. It was surreal and unbelievable.

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What was also sad was that they even took children who were not under the state’s jurisdiction; they were so disorganized that they took other children, including church kids (who were later returned to their families). It’s hard to explain all the reasons for the raid, but what I can say is that it was unjust, unfair, and in some ways, illegal. It was mostly unfair and unjust to the children, who were taken away with the clothes (school uniforms) on their backs, not even letting them grab their possessions (such as clothes, toys, photos) from where they lived. Seeing the video footage of the children sobbing is enough to know that they did not want to go. Since that day, the missionaries and staff here have been working literally nonstop to get the children back and our Children’s Home reopened. We are working on improving one of our properties that we are being demanded to improve (although it was already nicer than many other places here). (If you are reading this and are interested in helping financially with that, please email me and I’d be happy to share with you how.) Also, on that day of the raid, I moved in and stayed with the missionaries, helping watch their own four kids and supervise their homeschooling, while they have been very busy. I was so thankful God had me here during this time so I could help this precious family. I stayed with them for over three weeks. I am now back in my apartment, and it feels weird as I haven’t lived here since before the raid. The school is closed for right now, so I am not teaching at the moment. Because of people’s schedules (including the missionaries’) and things that have come up, I’ve decided to take some time and visit home. Yes, I’m going back to Pennsylvania for a visit, and yes, I leave tomorrow. To put it simply, I am not needed down here during this next 1-2 weeks, and with it being over Thanksgiving, I’ve decided I’d like to spend it with family. I’m only planning on being home for maybe two weeks at the most, but at this point, I’m just taking one day at a time. I really am not sure what the future holds. As soon as I am needed, I will be on the next plane down here to Mexico. I don’t believe my time here is finished, and I look forward to seeing what God will do. We are continually hoping and praying that our Children’s Home will be reopened and our children returned very soon. What a wonderful Christmas celebration that would be for everyone! With God, all things are possible!

Some Scripture passages that have encouraged me during this time are:

Psalm 3, “LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about…Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.”

 

Psalm 62, “Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? Ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence. They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah. My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.         Selah. Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity. Trust not in                      oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your            heart upon them. God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power             belongeth unto God. Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.”

Thank you to all those who have prayed for me and who have encouraged me. As Thanksgiving approaches, I know I have so much to be thankful for, especially the chance to go home and be with family. But as I sit here and write this knowing I’ll be home soon, I can’t help but think of the precious children and teenagers who are in unfamiliar and bad places, wanting to be back home here in the Children’s Home.

Believe me, there is so much more I could write, but this is what I can share for now. Please continue to PRAY for the children to be returned to the Children’s Home here, where they are loved and cared for so very much. Also, please pray for wisdom for the missionaries and staff here as well. If you are interested in learning more about what’s been happening or in giving financially to help this ministry, please send me an email at gracecoulton@yahoo.com or find me on Facebook and send me a message. Thank you so much and God bless! Happy Thanksgiving!

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