It’s another day. Another Monday. I really didn´t want to get out of bed this morning and go to school. It was one of those mornings where you want nothing more than to just roll back over and sleep for 5 more days. I could also see my breath when I woke up this morning, it was that cold in my room. Although, I´m surprisingly getting used to that. Chilean winters aren´t too fierce but sometimes the mornings can be tough. Either way, I made it to the school and I´m sitting here now preparing for my last week of school. It’s crazy to think that I only have 2 weeks left here in Chile, and only one week left at the school. I would be lying if I didn´t say that doesn´t excite me a bit (or maybe even a lot). But, I know that every day counts and I´m trying to make the most of my last few days here.
I haven´t written a blog post for a while, partly because of a lack of time, but even more so because I couldn´t come to any conclusions on what to write about. It´s not because I have nothing to share, because trust me – I do! I´m just hyper aware of my audience, my purpose in writing these blogs, and my genuine desire to write honest and informative reflections. I have good days, I have bad days. I sometimes have small, but significant moments with students, and sometimes I just “survive” the day. But, the truth of it all is that the days are harder than they are easy. And in hard times and in our discomfort (in a new place, in new relationships, new environments, etc.) it´s easy to focus on everything that´s hard and everything that we don´t like. Maybe you´re just more positive than I am, and that´s not something you struggle with. But, I think if we´re honest with ourselves, we all get caught up in focusing on the wrong things sometimes.
Today when I woke up all I could focus on was how much I didn´t want to go to school and how much I just wanted this week to be over already. But, here I am at school and I´ve found myself humming a very familiar song. I don´t know how it got stuck in my head, but it did. I´ve got the Matt Redman, 10,000 Reasons song stuck in my head. I remember when that song first came out and it was so popular. We sang it almost every week in church and I learned it on the piano so I could play it all the time at home. I haven´t really sung that song for a while now, but for some reason I found my self singing it today.
The song starts out with the words, “The sun comes up, it´s a new day dawning. It´s time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, Let me be singing when the evening comes……..” I have never in my life thought more about those words than I have today. What I viewed my mornings as another chance to sing His song? What if I genuinely, truly and honestly, let myself trust the Lord more? I know I should. Of course I know I should. But easier said than done, right? I think it’s crazy the way God works. The way God uses small things, small moments, friends, teachers, and even songs to speak to us. I don´t have many wise words to say in response to this. But, I´m encouraged. And I´m challenged. And I´m reminded that we really do have, as the song continues, 10,000 reasons to sing His praises.
Join me today in making this Monday (and every day) a day of praises!
You know when…
You know when you´re feeling really overwhelmed with something and on the verge of crying but trying your best to hold it in and then someone asks “are you okay?” or “do you need a hug?” and then you release full on Niagra Falls levels of tears….? Well, over the past four weeks (yes – I´ve officially been here four weeks since yesterday, crazy!!) I´ve had my fair share of moments like that. I do something embarrassing just about every day (I considered doing a whole blog post on embarrassing moments but I´m whimping out, sorry haha) and some days are just so long and confusing that I come home and try not to cry but end up crying anyway when my host family asks the very simple question of “Como fue su día?” or “How was your day?”
The crazy thing is that even on those days where I end up crying because things are hard or confusing, God has this way or bringing peace to the situation. This post is going to be about two moments that happened last week that will seem so small, but meant so much.
So that happened… #1
I have this English class that I teach after school 3x a week and let’s just say, it´s not always the easiest. The kids are actually very polite and fun, but because of the reality of the school environment, schedules are always changing and the number of kids in my class has dropped dramatically. I walked into class last week and there was literally no one in the room… I was so sad because how am I supposed to teach a class to no one?? I waited 5 mins, 10 mins, 15 mins, and finally 3 kids showed up. I decided to just start the class with 3 kids. I planned my lesson for at least 10 kids, but 3 it was.
I was about to write something on the board when one girl asked what the meaning of “Shape of You” was. Now, if that title isn´t ringing any bells – it´s the name of a popular Ed Sheeran song. I laughed because how on earth was I going to describe to a 12 year old what that meant (because in reality, it´s about how the singer is in love with the shape of a woman´s body). I decided to just try and translate the words literally first. Of course I forgot how to say “shape” in Spanish so I proceeded to draw shapes on the board. Then, I drew a woman on the board and tried to explain how it was a metaphor for how much he loves this woman and the shape of her body (why oh whyyy I actually tried to explain this to 12 year olds, I´m not sure). In my attempt to explain this all as quickly as I could, I managed to draw the world´s WORST drawing of a woman, EVER. (check out the picture I´ll put at the bottom of the post for proof) I basically drew a blob with hair. Well, the kids thought it was the funniest thing in the world and one kid even said “it looks like her hands are knives” and granted, it really did… I couldn´t help it, but I burst out laughing with them. I couldn´t believe how silly my picture was. We spent the next 3 or 4 mins laughing so much at how much I clearly couldn´t draw that I think the kids forgot all about the fact that I just explained a slightly inappropriate song title to them and that there were only 3 of us in there.
All my stress and sadness about how small the class was, diminshed. At this point, 3 more students had joined the class too. We then continued the class and I taught them all about different activities (walking, swimming, running, etc.) and I acted each one out to them in an attempt to get them engaged and interested. It worked really well and they loved it! They loved it even more though when we got to one word in particular… I hadn´t thought properply about writing “dance” on the board until we got to it. Suddenly, I was playing a random song off my Spotify and “dancing” infront of all the students. If you know me at all, I can´t dance to save my life. But, thank goodness I could laugh at myself because I think it made the students’ day -the crazy “gringa” dancing infront of them. One girl even ran up to the front and asked if she could dance with me, so I took her hands and danced with her for a bit until I told her we had to continue with the lesson.
You see the thing is, I was so worried about that class that day. I usually have at least 10, sometimes up to 17 kids in my class. But none of that mattered because I ended up breaking the ice and reaching a new level with the kids that were there, and all through my terrible artistic skills and embarrassing dance moves. So, moral of the story – if you can´t dance, it might actually come in handy one day 🙂
So that happened… #2
This next moment is a little sweeter. And shorter. I came home one day last week and cried to my host family because the schedule at the school keeps changing here and I spent a few too many hours waiting around that day and it had just got to me (and made for a kind of long and boring day, to be completely honest). My host mom and grandma were quick to give me hugs (and even chocolate) and comfort me until I calmed down.
Now fast forward a few more hours… I was calmer at this point, but still feeling a bit down about the day, so I tried to describe some of the things I’m doing in school to my host family to try and start conversation. I explained how I’ve been teaching the kids a song in English and Spanish about God’s love. I asked if they knew the song, “Cristo me ama” or “Jesus Loves Me” and before I knew it, my grandma pulled out her old hymn book and found the song in Spanish. We ended up singing every single verse together (turns out there’s more than just one verse to Jesus Loves Me) and one song led to the next and soon enough we were singing hymn after hymn, for hours. Some of them I recognized the tune, others were brand new to me, but I sight read anyway. It was so special. Just three woman standing around an old hymnal singing and praising the Lord together. I didn´t always know what I was singing and we all weren´t always in tune, but it didn´t matter. It didn´t matter that I don´t know perfect Spanish and they don´t know more than maybe 5 words in English. We were just three people who love the Lord singing together.
(The featured image for this article is of the old hymnal!)
So what am I saying?
I don´t always have silly or special moments like that every day. Some days really are just long and hard. But, the truth is our Lord knows us and knows what we need. He knows what will make us laugh and lift our spirits and he knows how to use gifts and talents that have, or don´t have for that matter, to connect with His people. Allow yourself to be strong enough to be weak enough to let God handle it. Because, He knows what he´s doing – especially when we don´t.
Most of my week (Monday through Friday) is spent at the school in Chol Chol where I’m helping. However, on the weekends I get to explore! I’m very grateful that God put me in the hands of a host family who wants to show me around and a mentor that worked hard in advance to connect me with local people here who are around the same age as I! So here´s a little bit about some of my adventures here over the past few weeks…
Adventure #1 – El Campo
El Campo is the countryside! I have actually been able to go to the Chilean countryside a few times now, for various things. I visited 2 different families and even the land where my Chilean “grandmother” used to live. Each trip was between 35 mins and 1hr and 15 mins away from where I’m living. The countryside is very beautiful. It’s winter here, which means it rains a lot and is very cold, but our trips were still fun despite the weather! My first trip to el campo was just to look around and take in the beautiful nature! I learned that the national flower of Chile is the copihue (pretty and pink!!) and that if you’re careful, you can even swing on some of the branches (haha, my little 6 year old host brother taught me that one!)
My second trip to the countryside was to visit the bishop´s sister and mother. This was a very special trip. I couldn´t communicate that much to either of them while I was there (still trying to figure out Chilean Spanish), but I did my best to smile and be appreciative of everything. I got to explore the land and even watch my host family knock fruit down from the trees that had not yet fallen during the change of season. I also learned that if you pronounce “membrillo” (the fruit) just a little bit differently…well, let’s just say it’s not a fruit anymore! Haha!! (Oops, gotta laugh at yourself when that happens!)
My third trip to the countryside was to visit another family. It was a quick visit, but also a very special one too. I think I might save the details of that one for another post!
Adventure #2 – Temuco
This past weekend I got to go on a city tour of Temuco (the city where I’m living!). I went with a local girl, Carol who is close in age to me and studying to be an English teacher. We went to the Pablo Neruda train museum, the football (soccer) stadium, and this beautiful lookout spot (Cerro Nielol). It was a really fun day getting to explore and spend time with a new friend!
Adventure #3 – El mar
This adventure might have been my favorite! This past Sunday, we got in the car after church and drove just a little over an hour to the town of Puerto Saavedra by the sea, or “el mar.” We only actually stayed there for probably 20 mins, but it was worth all the time in the car because it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I wanted to cry it was so beautiful (although if you know me at all, everything makes me cry!! haha) It didn’t rain, the waves were beautiful, and we even got to see the sun begin to set. It was one of those days that just leaves you in complete awe of God’s creation.