The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Words from Family....

Hey everyone! I miss all of you! Things have been going great here. I have a small cold but I am feeling better. My dad and brother say they miss us a lot and the house is empty without us. The school went great last week in Las Perlas. The kids were really shy at first but then they got talking and interacting. It was so much fun playing with them at their recess. Seeing their smiles just brightens your day completely. Getting to know the people from Oxford was really awesome. I made many new friends in just a short time. It was good to see most of the girls that live here because I made such strong bonds with them, it will be hard to leave them again. Today we (mom, joy, lynn, holly, marta, kirvyn, and I) went to a very small school in Caña Blanca. It had eight kids and three adults (like teachers). The kids were very friendly, but shy. It just reminded me that if you so something small for someone it can make a huge difference in their day, attitude, or even life. I have loved seeing all of the beautiful plant life everywhere and experiencing the good weather here. But right now it is raining very hard, its taking up for the dry days we have had. Sorry for jumping from subject to subject, I am just typing what comes into my head. Sally (joys dog) is fat because of all of the puppies in her belly. She has been very lazy and will soon have the pups. I miss seeing my friends in mountain home, but I am loving it here too.

Love yall, Hannah Chapman

P.S. Remember:

Be strong and courageous and do not be afraid the Lord goes with you each and everyday he will never forsake you. Do not be afraid.

I am so thankful again for this opportunity to be in Volcan. What a joy to be with two of my children also doing this work.We miss Perry and John so much ,but know Perry is doing a great job taking care of John.The team from Oxford enjoyed the children at Las Perlas and I think they will all take back many blessings in their own lives. Chad,Amanda,Bradley,Omar,and Mary Margaret showed a strength that was so encouraging. I am so proud of all of them. Please continue to pray for the efforts here and know that many lives are being changed because Christ is being shared.Our translaters were a blessing too. Like Pablo and Tatianna, they are also Walton scholars at Harding University.We look forward to you meeting them over the holidays.They have been told how awesome all of you are, so please be on your best behavior!!

Today was a really good day at Cana Blanca.These children seem to even have a greater need than the children at Las Perlas.One thing remains the same..these angels want to be shown love and give love.What a joy to be in their presence. They can barely keep their shoes on because they are in such poor condition and it is evident they do not have enough to eat, but they smiled and were polite and kind to all of us. Please do not put any money in Joys account while I am here or we may never get home! Her and Lynn would take care of all of Panama if they could.

In Him,LaJeana

Today was my favorite of days since I have been in Panama this year. A tiny little school with children who have nothing but big grins and big hearts is the reason why. Lynn took his life in his hands and drove the 8 of us-the 8th being the teacher, to a one room school just down the road from here. It took us about 40 minutes to get there. Once there, we waited about 30 minutes until the children arrived. By the time we started, there were 4 boys and 4 girls-not all school age. We did 3 of our lessons and the children responded almost from the beginning even though they had never laid eyes on us. They were so eager. After the 3 lessons, lunch that we had prepared was eaten, and then a scavenger game was held with all being the winner. During the course of the day, I noticed that not one child had shoes on that fit or were decent. The soles flapped when they walked on one little girl, another had shoes on –but her toes hung off the end. One child{s shoes were broken and on and on. La Jeana and Joy came up with a way to get the sizes of their feet. We had a contest to see whose foot was the biggest compared to kirvyn{s . Needless to say, they will get shoes. The rest of the trip was too hard to explain in a few words. Just want to say—I am glad that God gave me the time and the means and the ability to come hear and be with these lovely children. Better go—will se ya´ll in July. With must love, Holly

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Working with Friends

What a busy two weeks! The very day the group from Riverside took off last weekend another group arrived that included a couple of Riverside folks, but the majority is from a youth group from the church in Oxford Mississippi. I am now sitting in the living room with young folks sitting behind me chatting about music and life. It has been refreshing, encouraging, challenging, fun, tiring and blessed to spend time with this group of friends, old and new.

Our week in Las Perlas has been amazing. The children could only stare, somewhat afraid of us the first day, but by Thursday they were all smiles and hugs and playing games with us. It has been pretty incredible to watch the transformation. The teachers were just as cautious as the students, but I feel certain that we won them over by the end of the week. We ended with thanks and songs and requests for us to return next year.

Las Perlas is in the poorest area of Volcan. There are 150 children, mostly indigenous. There are 5 teachers, one of whom serves as the Directora (principal). This is the first school where we have found handicapped students, both physically and mentally. We are not sure why that is, whether there are simply more because of the indigenous population, and their lack of medical care for years, or if the handicapped are more welcome in this school in general. But we met and played with Josh, a down-syndrome child of about 9 years old, and a mute kindergarten student named Cristian. There were two others who had speech problems and one 6 year old, Jennifer, who had cerebral palsy. They were all incorporated into the classroom, and the whole school seemed to care for them.

While the school is in the poorest area of the town, it is obvious that they are not forgotten by the community or the world, They have a very nice kitchen, a computer room, fresh pain in most cases, decent bathrooms, and signs on the walls saying this or that has been donated by one group or another. They receive donations for lunches on an irregular basis from a church down the road. With all of these things, they still had never had anyone come in to do Bible classes with them. We were the first, and I am certain that they will never forget this team of rambunctious, energetic, smiling young people. They danced and laughed and played together like one big family all week long.

All of us who live here in Volcan have been blessed this week, thank you Lord!

Our Friday was spent at the beach ‘Barquete’ on the Pacific Ocean, about an hour and a half from our house. Sunburns abounded, but we all had a great time. Of course, lots of folks come and say they will be back, but I really believe most of this team will return. They were touched by the acceptance and love of the children, and God blessed them each for their work and service.

Sorry the blog has been slow in coming. We will do better now.

Sunday church will take the majority of the day, then on Monday we are taking Holly, LaJeana, Hannah and our two new dear friends and translators out to Caña Blanca for the day to share our VBS stories and crafts with them.

Tuesday we will try to share more of the past two weeks in retrospection and whatever new has popped up! Know that we are being blessed daily, and, while we are tired, we have loved having the groups here with us.

Love you all!

Richest Blessings!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Thought you might enjoy a few words from some of the team. What a blessing for us to have such great brothers and sisters in Christ here with us. The week is flying by, so we are cherishing every moment together!

We are finally here! The weather has been wonderful, the people have been amazing, and my son can not get enough of the food! We have come here with open hearts and have already been filled. In my prayer journal today it has the scripture from Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” It is a great scripture to keep close to our heart on our journey here in Panama.

Today was our second day in the classroom and the children have already become very warm and welcoming. They have loved playing with Taz, Darbi, and Preston. Many of the children remember Holly, Gwynna, and Lisa from last year. Today we were celebrities! They kept going to each of us to get our autograph. We may not speak their language, but we can play, laugh, and sing together.

Lord thank you for your blessings, mercy, and grace. We love you all back in the US, and are excited to share with you our stories. God bless, April

The children here are so beautiful and loving. The area is very poor by our standards but the children don’t seem to notice. Some walk up to 3 miles to school and have to leave between 5:30 and 6:00. Some stop by and the Nelson’s serve them breakfast. Their house is more like an open house instead of a private home. They are truly doing God’s work. Every day at recess the girl’s play a dance game and today got first me, then Darbi and finally all of us doing(or trying) the dance with them. We had a blast but are really worn out tonight. I have never felt more blessed than I have this week doing God’s work and getting to know these wonderful children. God be with you all, Monte

I am having a blast!!! Everyone is so loving and very beautiful. It has truly been a blessing for me and my children to be able to meet such wonderful people. The weather has been great. Not too hot at all. I love how Joy and Lynn have the open door policy with all the people here. Adults and children alike come and go all day. Reminds me of my home!!!! The bathroom and I have become very close friends. Other than that the trip has gone very smooth. We are all getting very close to each other. I never knew what a nut Monty is!!! God be with all of you and I love you all!! Penny

My sincere wish is that each and every one of you could experience Riverside in Panama!! Your heart would go out to these niños that we are teaching in school. They are so lovable, you just want to bring them home with you. Everything is going well, Lynn and Joy have not left home yet, thank goodness. We thank you for your prayers and support, and we hope you continue to remember us. We miss all of you, and we will see you in a few days. God bless,,.Gwynna

This is my second year to visit this beautiful area of Panama, and it is truly awesome! Everyone that is able to come should do so and experience the beautiful and welcoming people that live here. We are all being blessed beyond measure this week. The children are just incredible. Joy and Lynn are being hospitable as usual, and we love them so much and are thrilled to be here with them. Thank you all for your prayers while we are gone. God Bless you all, Lisa

In the jungle, the mighty Panama Jungle, the lions in the den will sleep with Daniel tomorrow. The first 2 days of our VBS has covered David and Esther who were facing the giants by being strong and courageous. Tomorrow is Daniel’s turn and then Paul’s turn is Thursday. Each day is packed with rising early, eating a wonderful breakfast and then a short devo before heading off to the school at 7:30. Classes start about 7:45 to 8:00. At 10;30 there is recess, then another class, lunch, and our last class is from 1-2:00pm. We are all tired at the end—but lots of fun. You should have seen Monte as Goliath and King Xerxes. He was great!!! Wish ya’ll were here—the sun is shining and I actually got hot today!! Take care, love you all. See you the middle of July. Holly

This is my first time to come to Panama and it has been great so far. Hopefully I get to come back next year and get to see all the familiar faces. On our second day here me and Monte got chosen to join some little girls in a handshake/dance off. It was HALERIOUS! Then after a while they got the whole group out there and none of us could stop laughing. Also, another thing we couldn’t stop laughing about, was when Monte broke his chair and fell to the ground. Then, he got up and said, “I take it back Lord! I take it back!”(umm long story). But, don’t worry he was just kidding. Well, I hope I get to come back next year with more of you guys with us. See you when we get back. Darbi

Yeah, uhhhhh… Hola everybody! This too is my first time here in Panama and I’m lovin’ it! Ya know, I thought that the food here was going to be nothing but nasty beans. Boy I sure was wrong! I practically feel like a glutton down here. All the kids are amazing at soccer and are kickin’ my butt. The dang chickens won’t shut up and I got soaking wet, and I found out that I fell off the top bunk and landed on my face(which knocked me out), but other than that it’s all good.

-The Eatinator

(Preston Helmke)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What a Day! Team 2008 arrives

What a Day!

I know that you get tired of hearing me say that, but every Sunday seems to be better than the last. Today it had a whole lot to do with our dear sisters and brothers from Gassville arriving! We met the bus in David at 5:00 this morning. They report an uneventful trip, right up until we showed up – evidently the bus company personnel thought they were leaving Panama City on an earlier bus, so they put their bags on that earlier bus. When they arrived in David, the bags were not found in the storage compartment of their bus. I asked the driver about them and he said, “Oh yes, I forgot! They were sent on the earlier bus and they are at the storage department. You can go there and pick them up.” I asked where that was, and he could not explain to my satisfaction, so he went with Lynn, Monte, Preston and Taz to pick them up while the ladies and I got on the bus to head home. Lynn’s Spanish was evidently satisfactory because while we were waiting in Bugaba for the bus to complete the trip to Volcan, the men pulled up with the luggage, and then headed out ahead of us. So, everyone is here, safe and sound, and very tired from the 24 hour trip. They left Gassville at 6:25am on Saturday and arrived in Volcan at 6:30 am today, Sunday.

At this moment they are snoring away. I will not say who is snoring, but it is coming from the ladies’ room, and I have traveled with Penny before!!!!! The youngsters, of course, are out exploring the town. They left after lunch, and the rain has held off, so they are still out!

We arrived to a breakfast fit for kings. Dani had prepared hojaldras with cheese and ham and Ben fixed up a delicious fruit salad. Topped off by Lynn’s hot coffee, and the team was refortified for the morning!

Church members started arriving at 10 till 9:00. 40 minutes early for classes, which is normal. We had 45 in attendance. With the 9 from the States, we still had a new record of 36 neighbors. We had 15 children in class. Of the 15, 8 had memorized all 4 verses for last month. The two youngest were 6 years old! Only 1 of them can read. It was very impressive! During the worship assembly several of them rose and recited their verses. This was met by great applause, of course.

One hitch in the service this morning was that brother Gilberto felt the need to have a translation of the sermon. I was the only one who had a shot at it, so gave it my best, and it was….tolerable. I often get my 6’s and 7’s mixed up, so Ben helped out with the verses and song numbers. The lesson dealt with how we, as Christians, can have joy in our hearts always. It was brief but very good.

One really neat thing in the service was that two of our young men waited on the table for the first time. Jairo read Scriptures concerning the bread and cup, and Zavier said the prayers for both, as well as for the offering. It was wonderful to me to see this growth in confidence, and in their spiritual lives.

After the worship we shared a meal of beef soup prepared by Dani, with rice. Lynn, of course baked cookies – chocolate oatmeal this time, and as usual, they were a great success. We continued visiting for awhile, then the neighbors left and slow but sure the team retired to their beds. We will meet again at 5:00 for dinner and making plans for the work this week.

The team brought an amazing surprise to me – a huge bag full of books for children – in Spanish! They are beautiful! All very well illustrated, and perfect for our use, as well as the little school in Caña Blanca! What an awesome gift!

So, I am in heaven, I do believe, I have good friends form Gassville snoring in my house, a belly full of great food, my growing church family here all around me, my wonderful husband who, among other virtues, cooks great cookies, one of my sons to keep me happy, and time for a nap, to boot! Ain’t God grand???

Richest blessing to you and yours!

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Day in the Life, part 2

From Lynn’s perspective

It started off as usual. Joy flagged down a milk truck at about 6:50 this morning to give the teacher some Bible studies and coloring pages for her students at Gariche. (the teacher rides out to the school every Monday in the milk truck, stays the week in a little house behind the school, then returns to Volcan on Friday evenings, provided she can find a ride. If not, she goes out with the milk truck on Saturday morning again.) By the time Joy handed off the papers I was already working on the fully automatic washing machine which was making a terrible racket. I finally gave up after about an hour and a half, finding 3 quarters, but additional coins were below that I could not reach.

We left to purchase the groceries for El Valle school. We stopped at the school and Joy talked with the teacher in charge of the kitchen to find out what they needed for the week. As we passed Elsa’s, the little corner store we saw the teacher from Caña Blanca waiting outside. We stopped and talked with her. Her ride had not come by this morning. He usually was there by 7:00 am, but it was now 8:30, and he had not shown. Joy volunteered to take her after we ran our errands. She had forgotten that we had a tire with a big bump in the tread, so we ran to the tire store and bought 4 new tires ($400). Then we had to go to another store to have them put on (that cost $8.) While they were being changed we walked to the store and bought the food for the school then walked back to the truck. We then drove to the vegetable market, picked up the vegetables and headed back toward the school.

We went by Celinda’s place and dropped off some food for her children, then picked up the teacher. We stopped at El Valle school and dropped off the food. As usual, we were bombarded with small hands taking the bags as we pulled them from the truck. They love to help. Then we headed for Caña Blanca. By this time it was 10:45. We stopped one more time at our neighbor’s house to pick José up. He had wanted to go with us the next time we went to Caña Blanca. He has a house there, and wanted to pick up a mattress from the house.

Joy had a good visit with the teacher on the way out, and learned quite a bit about the situation there. This teacher actually lives in Puerta Armuellas - 4 hours away, and rides in and out on the weekends as well. We got her to the school, but it was late and the kids had already gone home. The standing rule, she told us, was that if she had not arrived by 9:30 the kids should go home, and they had. After that, José pointed out his house to us. It was on a mountain side across the valley. It was a one hour walk from where we would leave the car. He decided it was better to wait until another time to get the mattress, but he did have a rope he had borrowed from a man in Caña Blanca, so we took him to deliver that. When he returned to the car he had a small dog in his arms. He explained that the dog was his, but had been loaned to the man for breeding purposes. The little dog had been bitten by something and could not walk, so José was taking it back to his house to take care of it.

By the time we got home, Joy was late for her 1:00 English class. The day slowed a little after that. We had a late lunch. I began painting 450 5” pieces of 1 1/2” PVC tubing. (These are for the group coming down next week from riverside. i am told they will be music makers for the kids) Joy did go to town again in the afternoon and took 3 of the neighbor kids with her. We later had a little supper. One of the sisters came by needing copies of some documents. That is a service that we also extend. Joy is on the computer working. I am ready for bed. Tomorrow will be another day.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Sunday at Riverside in El Valle

We had 27 friends and family worshipping together today here in our little church-house. Brother Norman Ponce came up from David to teach the adult class and share some really good words from the Bible. We discussed our duty, and privilege to help others without expecting reward in this lifetime. He also led the singing, which is getting better all the time! We have one young man who absolutely loves to sing, and loudly, but doesn’t really have a good ear, or pitch, if you know what I mean. At any rate, he makes a joyful noise! But the rest are coming along – singing a bit more enthusiastically, and with more confidence, so we are sounding better. Lynn is getting the words down better, that helps, and of course, Ben’s perfect pitch is a tremendous plus, so we are sounding much better!

I taught the children’s class. We reviewed the stories of Jonah and Noah, then I share the story of the tower of Babel. We sang together and colored a picture of the tower. Of the 13 children present, 10 knew their memory verse, the other 3 were less than 3 years old, so I did not whip them too badly! The prize today for those who knew the verse was a new box of crayons. You would think I had given them a $20 bill!

During the sermon we tried something different. We had the kiddos stay at the table with coloring pages. It seemed to work well. They were more settled and less distracting. We did have a few who were so thrilled with their artistry that they yelled out for their mom or grandmom to look at their picture. Norman just grinned, complimented the coloring a couple of times, and kept right on preaching. He really does a great job!

For lunch I made ‘Sancocho’ for the first time. This is a typical Chiriqui soup made with vegetables you probably have never heard of, and I was taking a big chance making it. You use whole chickens and cut the pieces into huge chunks that still ahve the bones attached. It isn't Sancocho otherwise. the yuka, name and otoe are also cut into huge, bigger than mouthful pieces. then there is just the right guisa. It is very stressful! The ladies were quite complimentary, so I guess I did ok. If it hadn’t been any good, my stellar reputation as a cook would have been ruined!!!! Actually, we were all pleasantly surprised. I can’t cook worth a dime, and everyone here knows it! Lynn made no-bake cookies that were, yet again, a big hit. They all know that he can cook! My pride left me long ago in this arena. He can cook quite well. I can not. I can live with it. Especially when he makes no-bake cookies!

After lunch the rain came down in buckets, so I drove everyone home. It was a great day, thank you Lord!

The team will be here this Sunday. I am really looking forward to seeing familiar folks and speaking at length in English! I pray that you find someone who needs your kind words or a kind deed today, that you see it, and respond like Jesus!

Love you all!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Day in the Life

I was thinking that maybe I could paint a picture for you of a somewhat normal day here for us. So that you might have some idea of this life. Maybe it is just like yours. Maybe parts are different. At any rate, here goes a day in the life of normal people in the church in El Valle, Volcan, Chiriqui, Panama;

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Normally Lynn wakes up at 6:00 and I sleep until 6:30 every morning. That has become our tradition. Lynn has alone time for reading his Bible, and his first cup of coffee, and I sprawl out across the bed for 30 minutes more sleep. Today was an exception. We got in late from the Bible study in David, so Lynn was still snoring at 6:24 when we heard a soft, sweet “ Señora Joy!” at the front door. It was Yessenia, and it was also the third time she had called out. I went to the door in my pajamas and opened it to Olmedito and Yessi in their school uniforms. Normally they leave for classes at 6:15, but I was too asleep to notice they were late. It was raining for the third straight day. The road out front was about 10 inches under water. Yessi asked if they could borrow an umbrella. I said of course and gave them two. She said only one because Olmedito was going to take her on his bicycle. Otherwise their feet and shoes would be soaked before they left our yard. So, off they went; teenage sister and brother, on one bicycle with one umbrella. I came in and fixed the coffee.

About an hour and a half later, after a breakfast of fresh pineapple and papaya, cheese and toast, Dani arrived to work for the day. Dani is helping with the housecleaning, preparing for the team to come, and she also cooks lunch for us most days. She can do amazing things with whatever she finds in the frig. She is already soaked to the bone. She brought her youngest girl, Yeimi with her because she cannot go to school in the rain. Yeimi goes to El Valle, which is much closer than The High School, but the water is past Yeimi’s knees on the road, so she gets a day off from school. Yeimi went right to her coloring book that we always have ready for her whenever she visits. She went to the table in the classroom, got the crayons and sat to color. She stayed there, quietly for an hour or so before roaming the house singing, humming or generally making noise. This too has become a tradition. Lynn and are learning to appreciate the constant chatter, but is taking some time and work!

Another hour passes and I heard another call at the door. It was Yamileth and Jesus, two of Salinda’s children. They are soaked to the bone, and Jesus, who is 3 years old had snot running down his face like a river. They have come with a note from their mother. They had no umbrella. Jesus is wearing rubber boots on the wrong feet, a torn shirt three sizes too big, and a huge smile. I am in love with this young man! Yamileth has on flip flops, torn shorts and a stained t-shirt. She has the most beautiful, open smile everytime she sees me. She gave me a big hug and ask how I was - remember this picture – I am dry, well fed, in clean, undamaged clothes, in my nice warm house. She is dripping wet from head to toe, has had nothing to eat since yesterday, in very few clothes, and she greets me with a huge smile and asks how I am! Something ironic in that - Am I sacrificing?

Lynn got a blanket, towels and breakfast for the kids while I read the note. She wrote that the baby was sick and needed medicine. She had already walked to town to the Health Center but they were closed, so she returned home, again, with she and the baby soaked from the rain, with no medicine (If she goes to the Health Center, the medicine for the baby is free).

I told the kids to wait while I dressed and then the four of us went to their house. I took Dani with me to help get the right medicine. We spoke with Salinda, and she mentioned a specific type of medicine, but when we went to the pharmacy to get it, it was for older children. I got it for Jesus. We also got two different medicines for the baby. He is only 4 months old, and is sick a lot. I mentioned this to Dani and she said that this was the way of the Indians here. The women continued having children, because quite often the babies died young. If they take them out in the pouring rain, or send them out in the pouring rain regularly, it is no wonder! As I think this, and write this, I am also aware that they often have little choice. There is no refrigeration, so they must go out for food daily. There is no money for cars or taxis, so they must go afoot. What else can they do? Salinda has no phone. She cannot call me to help her. She must send one of the children. If her husband does not go to work he will lose his job. He can not stay home to help, or go get the food. There is much to be said for pre-planning, but that is not a concept understood, or utilized by many folks here. And when we think about teaching this idea, and look to the Bible for examples, we find verses like Matthew 6, reminding us not to worry about the future, or James 4:13-16, admonishing us to not plan or boast of the future, but acknowledge that God has complete control of our future. So, the first question becomes, are we right? Sure seems like the practical thing to do - to plan ahead, to have extra food set aside for the day when someone is sick and cannot go out. It is what the typical North American would do. The second is, until we are sure it is correct to change this attitude (because their attitude is the same as Jesus’ in this – God will provide), can we afford to tell them differently. We have not been able to answer either to our satisfaction.

Back to our day; After delivering the medicines, along with the directions from the pharmacist, we returned to the house where I began again to prepare the Bible lesson for Friday night. Lynn and Ben were working on the back porch – painting. I prepared the lesson on ‘Amabilidad’, that is to say, kindness. This is a continuation of our study on the fruit of the Spirit. I searched the Scriptures in English for references to kindness, and consider parables and examples of kindness, type it all out in English for myself, and for Ben and Lynn. Then I begin to re-search the Scriptures to see how it is worded in the New International Version in Spanish, and in the Reina Valera, because the church uses both versions to study. Sometimes the wording is such that it completely changes the meaning that I am trying to put across. I will be glad when my Spanish improves greatly and/or God provides another teacher for the class! I am learning more by teaching, so will not complain. Bless their hearts, the class does not complain either! They are very patient with me.

When that was ready, so was lunch. We ate rice and beans and bistec picado. It was delicious. The rain continued throughout the afternoon. Lynn kept busy with inside projects, Ben retired to his room to talk with Andrea, I expect, and read, and I changed gears and prepared for my English classes. Yaritza arrived at 1:10. Her class was scheduled for 1:00 but with the rain she was late, and wet. We studied the use of ‘to, at, in, and on’. She is a sharp student. She catches on quickly, and her class is moving forward rapidly. Yaritza was the first to be baptized here. She is 14 and is not enrolled in school because the year before her mom caught her skipping and refused to pay for more schooling. Education is a great sacrifice for parents here. We would have offered her a scholarship, but when we insisted that she make at least C’s in the classes she said she did not want to go until next year, when she can attend a different school with older students. The simple truth is she is lazy and does not want to do the work. She always does her work for me, as it is a requirement, and she would never intentionally let me down. She says I am her best friend in the world. She is a troubled teen, in a house where her mom is never available, and her dad is non-existent. Her mom is a good person, but works 14 hours a day to provide for her and her sisters and brothers. Yaritza is also a good person, and is trying to change many things to be more Christ-like, so the more time she spends here, the better. We have class twice a week in English and twice a week with the Bible. She lives a couple of miles away so she is dedicated to being here. She comes, rain or shine, for classes.

Yaritza left at about 3:30 when my next class arrived. She usually stays to visit and watch me work, or she helps if she can. Today I was pretty busy, so she just hung out a while then headed home when there was a short break in the rain. It did not last long. This class has only two students; Gissell and Abdiel. These two have been student here for 2 years. They are both in grade school, and neighbors. They managed to come when the rain was lighter, and with rubber boots and umbrellas, they kept relatively dry. The class lasted 45 minutes. We studied days, months and numbers. They also had a quiz over colors and vocabulary words. I have not found a curriculum that I like for any of the classes, so they are each individualized for the students in that class. I spend a lot of time putting together the lessons.

Shortly before 5:00 Lynn called my attention to an elderly lady who was walking in the 8” deep water toward her house, 3 miles further down our road. Her grand daughter, Isenith, who is 5 years old, was at her side. Lynn said, “Why don’t you go give them a ride home?” So I went. I had to put the car into 4 wheel drive to get to their house, but it only took 10 minutes of my time, and was a nice break from the studying. That lady was at church today (Sunday) with her grand-daughter. She said that she enjoyed the class, as did Isenith. Isenith already has her verse memorized for next week!

Back to Thursday. I worked on getting the lessons ready for classes on Saturday. That is my busiest day – I have 7-10 students in 3 different classes. I was preparing a test for the biggest class – all in Junior High. These guys are bright and eager to learn! They keep me on my toes! I quit at 6:00 pm to fix supper. We ate in relative quiet, and watched MacGyver. Yes, okay, this has become our vice. I bought Season 3 of MacGyver before we left the States, and every once in awhile we watch an episode. When it got dark, as is our custom, we shut our curtains and our door. It has become our signal that we are retiring for the night. Sometimes it even works. Not so on Thursday. Marlene came down to tell us about her doctor’s visit on Wednesday. We were happy to visit with her. She is a dear sister, and we are just getting to know her, so always look forward to visiting with her. She is anticipating a surgery soon, and we pray often together for good results to the tests she is undergoing in preparation. She is an eager student of the Bible, and we talk a lot about the upcoming or past lessons, or a Scripture she has recently read.

She stayed for about 30 minutes and walked home. She lives about three houses away from us.

At 8:00 we settled in to read and relax. That lasted about 20 minutes before Lynn and I were both ready for bed. We always end the night with a chapter from the James Herriot series ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. We take turns reading a chapter every night. Thursday was Lynn’s turn (always my favorite!) The story was light, and reminded us of what good folks there are in the world. We prayed and fell fast asleep.

This is a pretty typical day here in paradise. God keeps us busy, and yet, there is so much more to be done! We are grateful that God can and does use us to serve others. We believe that every person we serve is drawn closer to Christ by our actions. We may never see the fruit of our kindness, but someday, somehow, God will use it to His glory. We know that we make mistakes everyday. We miss opportunities to help our neighbors. We overlook a need, or just don’t think about helping when we should. As we become more a part of this culture, we see with better eyes. As we pray for guidance and opportunity, we understand better the needs of the community, and of this tiny church. We also understand that we don’t understand everything we need to about this culture. We need to study more. We need to pray more. We need to do more. The sermon today was all about people seeing Christ in us through our actions – through our giving spirit – through our helping others. It was good for us and good for Riverside (El Valle branch). God knows just what we need! Always has, always does, always will! Praise His Holy Name!

I pray that you will see Christ more clearly today. I pray that you will see the opportunities that He places in your path, and follow His urging to help someone tomorrow. I pray this because I know that if and when you do, you will be blessed beyond measure. He always gives better than He gets! Every time you bless someone else, God blesses you, and that is my deepest desire for you – that you are blessed richly!