Monday, August 06, 2007

June 2007

Classes finished June 21st...I know and we were supposed to go till July 6th. We held our first graduation for 6th graders and 3rd year of secondary. In Mexico 4 different graduations are celebrated: kindergarten, primary (1st-6th), secondary (7th-9th), and preparatory (10th-12th). Kids are given a ring and gifts for each graduation.
Above: Pledge and National anthem to begin graduation ceremony.
Below: We had 7 graduate from primary and 2 from secondary. The primary students will remain at Regents, but the secondary students will go on to the public preparatory.

Students with school and orphanage founders Gator and Deanna Carter (left) and teachers.

Secondary graduates Beto and Griselda. I will really miss them next year. They have promised to visit. I hope they blow their English teacher's socks off! :)

To celebrate their achievements, the graduates were treated to a rainy day at a water park. Consequently the teachers had to sponsor...sigh...oh the difficult job responsibilities we have. :)
Apparently it's OK in MX to leave the kids in the pool when it's thundering and lightening. :( We temporarily took our kids out.
We also had a really hard time grilling chicken in the pouring rain. The director got really creative.

Who decided June was the best month for weddings? Or better yet, who in Mexico decided that school should go into June and July? Either way, it caused my month of June to be quite busy. Thankfully I was able to go to both my cousin’s wedding and one of my best friend’s. I got to see family and friends in two full, blessed weekends.

Above:My sweet family at my cousin Andrew's wedding.
Below: My dear friends and supporters, Thomas and Natasha. She told me I would love this photo. I guess she was right.

Below: I also got to practice my Spanish with Natasha's Cuban Grandmother. We became best of buds.

May 2007

I like to incorporate art, music, and other "make class more fun things" in my classroom. It often takes the English speaking pressure off, and the students find themselves learning without even realizing it. I also teach content like history, math, and science in English to keep from focusing on English grammar and to reinforce the other subjects. Here is an example of these teaching methods. The students researched famous explorers, created a report on the computer, made paper mache sculptures of the explorers, then presented it to the class.

May is a month with many celebration days. It includes Day of the Child, Day of the Student, Day of the Teacher, and Mother's Day.
For day of the Student we had a party at the school and then took all of the Regents School of Reynosa students to Carl's Jr. for hamburgers. Unfortunately in transit Opal (our cook) and I got a flat tire. She didn't know how to change it. So i just walked into and office building and announced to everyone in their cubicles, "Excuse me, We have a flat tire and we need to use the phone!" Opal was mortified, the people were surprised to see an American, and I sat pondering if I had pronounced "flat" correctly....I don't think I did, but they got the point and we got our tire changed.:) Unfortunately, by the time we arrived to the restaurant, our food was cold and the kids were exhausted and ready to go home. Oh well, at least I got a good story out of it. :)

Above: Irving, Erika, and Cristian

Mothers Day
Mother's day is a big deal in Mexico. I had no idea. The most we had ever done in school for this day was make a card and glue macaroni on it. No, in MX they do full programs 1-2 hours long....! I think it is greatly celebrated because of the important role the mom plays. The number of single moms in Mexico is astounding. Of all of our students, only 1 has his father present in his life. The mother is the one consistent parent figure in the home. I think this is why she is so honored on this day.
Here are photos of different songs, dramas, poems, and dances performed during the Mother's Day program. Oh, did I mention that I was elected the MC. What were they thinking?! Do they not realize my first language is NOT Spanish?

The last song brought tears to the mothers' eyes. Unfortunately it did so as well for those students whose mothers did not attend the event.

Teacher Day!
Were were honored with a special dinner and a day off! Can't beat that.
Here are the teachers: L to R Me, Mundo, Josefina, Ariceli, and director, Rodolfo.

For our day off Mundo, Came, Dorthea and I took off to the beach at Matamoras. It is about a 2 hour drive, depending how lost you get. I like the Mexican beach. Sure it is a little bit dirtier (not too much though), but most people wear t-shirts and shorts rather than bikinis! :) They are there to play in the water and eat! I think I was the only one "laying out" and boy did I pay for it later! Also, people come by with carts selling fresh coconut, mango, roasted corn, candy, sunglasses (and I needed those because I soon lost mine in a vicious wave), etc. This is my kind of beach experience.
Here I am with Abril. She decided she needed to come layout with me.

Below: Mundo is putting on the 50 sunblock and wondering how he let himself get in this situation with 4 women.

Also in May, my wonderful parents came to visit. It was nice to finally have someone see my life for what it is and understand why I love it so. :) Mom and Dad jumped right in there with their Spanish and presented different things to my class. The highlight was when my dad pulled out his sculptures to show the kids. I don't think they have ever seen "real art" before. Their expressions, ooo's and aaaa's, and the fact I saw one kid slipping the little raccoon in his shirt seemed to indicate it. It sure made my dad feel good. :)

I think the kids really responded to my parents because 1. They have heard so much about them from me. and 2. because my parents are the ideal example of what loving parents are. I think many of them live vicariously through my life and my family. I think that's OK, but I hope that seeing my parents encouraged them to know what God can do in a home where Christ is the center. Their lives and their future families can be just that.

March and April 2007

Classes are going well. Here are the three secondary girls. They are 14-15 years old. Griselda, Erika (her sister), and Carla.
Here are the 5th an 6th grade students playing English verb and adjective games they created. This one is called "Verbopoly."

My neighbor Mundo and I had the opportunity with an American group to lead worship for the people down at the Canal. This area called the "Nopalera" is known for being one of the more impoverished areas in Reynosa There is no running water nor electricity. Most of the houses are shacks pieced together with scrap wood and other materials. I met many wonderful people here and it was nice to do ministry outside of what I am getting to do at the school.

Just a funny picture....
Here is a picture of Abril, Mundo and Came's daughter, after she found one of her mom's cassette tapes. She just looks so innocent doesn't she?

April allowed me to visit many friends and family. We did not have a spring break but are given 2 weeks for Easter and Holy Week. It was nice to have the two weeks combined so that I could travel more.
I got to see old college roommates Danyel Rogers and Cassy Gray. That was a blessing.

I also had the pleasure of visiting Dallas and my friends and church there.
Here are some of the pictures from the visit.

Shabbat dinner

RV trip to Austin to celebrate a friend's engagement (Natalie and Josh...pictured below)

Matt and Lauren Chandler (and Audrey) My Dallas pastors and dearest friends.

More former pastors and good friends: Natalie and Josh Patterson and Beau and Kimberly Hughes.
I also got a few days in Waco with my sweet little sister Abby and her husband Michael and the "nephew" Ebeneezer.
(Sorry if all that bored you, but I felt like I had to give a shout out to all the people I saw. Otherwise I might be getting some comments about why certain individuals were not pictured :) Thanks for your understanding.)
In April we also went to a circus and fair. This is the name of the circus....does it slightly resemble another theme park whose mascot is a mouse? Yeah, I thought so too. The rides were a little rusty and all run by the circus performers (I think they were a family); the acts consisted of clowns doing flips on a trampoline and a mut walking through a woman's legs;and the benches were old 2x4's roped together; but a great time was had by all.

Above: Mundo, Came, Abril and Dorthea (our school nurse) are enjoying a snack before the show.
Below: Abril is riding a slightly frightening clown ride. I don't know how much I trusted that thin, rusty chain.
Also in April I turned 27! I sure don't feel that old. We had a simple party at the orphanage with cake and presents. Unfortunately the electricity was out for about three hours (this is a regular occurrence), so the party was done in slight darkness with no fans. This is a gift from Barbara, our wonderful seamstress.
Also in Mexico is the tradition on one's birthday to shove their face in the cake as they take their first bite. In my opinion, students should never be present at their teachers birthday parties in MX. They tend to take advantage of the situation. Although I am smiling in the picture with the girls who shoved my head the hardest (Erika and Yaneth), I am painfully enduring the cake up my nostrils.

February 2007

Many people ask what I do for a social life. We watch lots of movies at home and often go to the mall (very modern) for dinner and a movie and occasional shopping. The movies are usually 2-3 months behind the ones in the states, and most are in English with Spanish subtitles. Good for me. :) This is a picture of Eva and the other Miriam at one of the malls. The store to the right is called Soriana; it is much like our Walmart.

Here are some pictures from our 2nd floor patio. In the first picture you can see the kids walking down the street to the orphanage after classes have been released. It's about a 3 minute walk.

Here you can see our guard dog Hershey. She sleeps so much during the day that she seems quite worthless, but at night...boy does she do her job. I like her. In this picture you can also see the houses on our street. The black tanks on top hold and heat water for showers.

Across the street is the workings of our parking area and Came's (my neighbor) future kindergarten.

These are my youngest students. Asael, Angel, Yareli and Gilberto. We are planting our lima been plants after growing them and studying about the parts of the plants. This is the only patch of dirt on the school grounds. The rest is cement. I hope it doesn't get covered, because I need it for some science projects. :)

February was a difficult month in saying "goodbye" to Mr. Poo, our beloved rhino beetle. After losing him once in the trash can (that was a close call) and noticing an increasingly lethargic and unsocialble attitude about him (not to mention a stinky classroom due to the old fruit we were feeding him), we decided it was time for his release. These animals only live 4-12 months and we had him for 5. It was time. The release was emotional, but we know it was best. Unfortunately his release was not well planned and I think we may have shortened the already short life span because of it. (See the gut-wrentching video here Here the secondary students are saying goodbye. The second picture should tell you something about the unfortunate release which resulted in what I diagnosed as a broken leg and possible concussion. Poor Mr. Poo.