Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Adventure Series #1

Living in a new country always brings adventure into life. Therefore, I have decided to begin sharing some of them.

I have wanted a cat for such a long period of time. Finally, I decided when I graduated from college that I would go to the pound and bring one home as a graduation present to myself. When I realized that I would move to Mérida to work at Blas Pascal I decided that it would be best to wait to buy a cat. Then, I married a man who is allergic to cats! Although Noah is allergic to cats, but still has a huge heart. We were on our nightly walk when suddenly we stopped because of a sound coming from behind a building. It was the sound of a baby kitten. Noah was determined to find it, and I was excited that I was going to get to bring it home! We stood staring at a grassy area full of trash looking for this baby kitten. Determined to have a cat I considered walking through the trash in hopes of finding it, but after seeing a rat and a possum crawling around I decided against it. Then, we saw the cat, or what we thought was the cat. Noah thought that it was big enough to take care of itself. I continued trying to convince him that it was too small and needed love. After discussing and staring at the cat for about ten minutes we realized that it had not moved in quite a long time. Then, we realized that the "cat" was really a piece of "trash". There is a kitten somewhere in there, but we definitely did not see it.

Moral of Story: For adventure filled with rats and possums, walk in a grassy, trash filled lot behind an OXXO (convenience store).

Friday, December 01, 2006

What will Noah and Julie do next year?

One of the main questions that Noah and I receive most often is “What are your plans for next year?”. We can honestly say that we are not sure. We don’t know where we will be living or working. It all depends on where God opens the doors for us. Both of us want it to be known that we are looking for a job, but it is hard to actually apply when we live outside of the county. However, we are doing what is possible from afar. One part of this is how exciting it is! We can live anywhere and do anything! The other part is definitely terrifying because we aren’t sure if we will find work. Noah would love to work at a church and in one to two years attend seminary full time, and I would love to teach. These are great passions, but we constantly remind ourselves and each other that we must be open to whatever God will have us do upon our return to the States.

When I began studying as an undergrad I KNEW without a doubt that I would become a dietician, but after two years I realized, with the help of our RUF director, that something wasn’t right with what I was pursuing. It is a wonderful profession, but it wasn't the one in which God was calling me to pursue. I was so thankful to take a semester and substitute teach because that is when I realized how much I enjoyed teaching. Before then I would never have considered the profession. Although I changed my major, God still uses what I learned in those first two years of school in my daily life to make healthier choices. Also, staying in school longer gave me time to become more mature, grow spiritually, and to meet the most amazing people, people who would radically change my life. Teaching and my new found love of languages helped me to discover a work that I would truly enjoy doing. However, God is still molding and shaping me. What I am doing now is what God has called me to do, and I want to constantly remind myself that God may have other plans for me in the future.

Please pray that God will lead us in the direction that HE would have us go, and that we will LISTEN as he calls us. We can live anywhere and do anything, but we really want to live where God has called us to live and work where we can glorify him most.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Finally Blogging Again

Is it really almost December? I am having a hard time comprehending this because just yesterday we were in the month of August. Time has definitely flown by quickly. A cool breeze lingered in Merida last week, but I think that the hot days are quickly returning.

A lot has happened since the last time that I have written, so I will write short updates. I promise to be better about writing in my blog. I hope that all of you will forgive me!
An update letter was mailed out about a month ago. If you did not receive this letter and would like to be on my mailing list, please post a note to me below so that I can know!

Noah and I have enjoyed over three months of being married. Being married is work, but it always ends up being so much fun. Each of us has our own tendencies that keep us learning and laughing a lot. Growing up my dad was definitely outnumbered by the females in the house, so I had a lot to learn about men once I became married!
I am thankful to be able to work along with my husband during the day. I enjoy how we are able to do so much of our ministry together, and we grow closer while we are doing it.

We have smoothly adjusted to the new level of English that each of us is teaching and at the same time we are getting to know our students better. I feel completely inadequate to be teaching a literature class, but I have learned so much while trying. I struggled with finding ways to make it more interesting so that the students aren’t simply reading and writing all of the time. I wanted them to interact so that I could learn more about each of them. Now, I bring a little of my own personality into it. The students may begin the class with a bit of Veggie Tales that has a Bible theme or a children’s book that is read on a c.d. Although my students are in high school, they can still learn English and learn more about God through these activities made for little kids. (Also, they are still enjoying the Bible verses put to a children’s tune!)

Currently, we are practicing for our upcoming Christmas performance. ALL of the English classes will be singing some Christmas carols together. I am sure that it will be crazy combining all of the students in the school in order to sing, but I think that it will be a lot of fun too! I was so glad to be able to help one of the lower levels practice their pronunciation and they were smiling at me because I had to speak in Spanish for them to understand. Many of the students’ faces were new to me, which made another good reason for being there. The lower levels will sing “Jesus Loves Me” and the chorus to “Go Tell it on the Mountain”.

Last week we enjoyed a visit from a friend. She was able to come and work with the teachers at Blas Pascal on using teaching maps and on classroom management. She was such a blessing to have at the school and in our home! I was able to learn more about her through such a short visit! It seems as though sitting over a good cup of coffee helps to build friendships, so I would highly recommend it! (I used Kathy’s idea of putting a little cinnamon on top of the coffee grounds in order to make it so good! Thanks, Kathy!)

Please continue to pray for us as we are building relationships in and outside of our classrooms!
Pray that God will always open doors for us to be able to share the gospel.
Also, pray that we will continue to grow as one flesh!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Teaching Languages

I know that it has been a while since I wrote last. Please forgive me for that, but time has flown by so quickly with so many things happening. I left Merida two weeks ago in order to take classes in the States which will help me to teach foreign languages more effectively. Honestly, I was really nervous about returning to school because I have never really learned how to study. I have always been able to make A's and B's without having to put too much time into it. However, I wanted this to be different. I wanted to be sure to truly learn the information that was presented before me so that I can put it into practice in my classroom and in the school.

In my first two weeks of classes I have learned how much I enjoy studying because I am learning something that is very important and applicable in my life. Outside of schoolwork, I don't have much free time, but it is always spent well and with people that I love. Last weekend I went fishing with my dad at a friend's lake. We each caught a fish, but both were so small that we had to throw them back. I wish that I had had a camera with me because I touched my first fish! I held it by the mouth (of course I was sqealing at the same time) so that I could try to pull out the hook. The moment was definitely life changing for me! My dad says that he will get me my own rod and reel now!

Personally, spiritually, and physically I needed this time in the States this summer. Before I left Merida my skin had become quite irritated. There were times when I would be itching so bad that I couldn't sleep or concentrate on anything else except the itch. After this ocurring for about a month a doctor has told me my problem, hives. They don't know what causes it because it varies from person to person. Through trial and error I have to find out what types of food, objects, or climates cause me to have a breakout. Then, try to avoid those things until all of this has passed. I rarely get sick, I don't have allergies, and never have a reason to see a doctor, which is caused me to become quite cocky with my health thinking that I was indestructable. This was definitely a wake up call for me. It reminds me of how thankful I should be for my health. Even what I have now could be much worse.

On the last day of class my prepa students threw me a surprise party. Here are some pics of an event that I will always remember.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Worshipping in PJs

I find it challenging every Sunday to understand the sermon in Spanish. It is difficult to understand a different language when the person is not directly speaking to you or if they say something out of context. The speed, accent, and tone of voice all affect my ability to understand. My favorite part about the worship services here is the singing. It took a bit of time to learn the words, the meaning of the words, and the notes to the song, but now I enjoy it so much! If for some reason I don't know the tune, I am able to simply listen to the words and praise God in this manner. And, of course, it is always cool to have a song to sing that I learned in English first, for example, "Open the Eyes of my Heart Lord".
Because I am not able to worship in my first language weekly, I enjoy having sermons on cd. It is a bit after midnight and I have just finished listening to my pastor preach on Acts 6:1-7. I have a few sermons on cd by some "big name" preachers too, but I always enjoy the ones from FPC for many reasons. Besides the fact that my pastor is an amazing teacher (and singer), and his family have been amazing people to have in my life over the past five years and I feel blessed to know them. Secondly, I enjoy singing the hymns with the congregation, listening to the organ, and actually feeling as though I were sitting in a pew worshipping with those that I love.
In about a month I will no longer be worshipping with my brothers and sisters in my pjs in Mexico but face to face. I know that it is hard to believe that I have been here for a year because time flies by so quickly (and that is why we should live each day to the fullest). During the upcoming summer I will be taking graduate classes to help prepare me for what lies ahead here in teaching. I am excited about the work that l will be a part of here! Next year I will continue to teach third level English at Blas Pascal. Along with teaching, I will help to begin an English institute at night for those who are older, and help to establish purposeful discipleship groups among teachers and students. God has opened so many doors in the last few months and I look forward to seeing where those paths lead. I will miss being here during the months of June and July, but I am looking forward to returning to the states for nourishment of the soul and the schooling.
Please pray for me as I prepare for the summer, the beginning of the English institute in the Fall, the short term groups coming here to work during the summer, and our team as we work with them.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sunday, April 16th, 2006

Friday night the young adults from Shalom spent the night in Celestun, which is an hour and thirty minutes away from Merida. Ayve (my roommate) has an uncle who lives there. We packed our bags, grabbed our hammocks, and headed to the beach. You see, Mexicans usually don't bring sleeping bags and sheets with them when they go on a trip. There usually aren't beds in the houses, but there are always hooks for you to hang up a hammock. We spent our daytime on the beach. All of the group was huddled underneath the shade, while I was the gringa trying to get a tan. (They did tease me a bit, but it was all fun!) I really enjoyed getting to know the people of Shalom better and make new friends. One thing that I miss most from the states are my close friendships with women from the church. As my language improves, God is giving me more courage and opportunities to have closer friendships with the women in the church. Recently, a young woman's bible study has begun on Monday nights. We are going to read a book entitled Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets them Free.

This morning I went to my first sunrise service. How amazing it is to begin the day in worship with other believers! I have wanted to attend one before now, but I usually go to my parent's house to be with my family and attend their church. The service began at 6:00 a.m. with a time of praise and worship and ended with a church breakfast. As we were reading from Matthew 28 I felt like I should cheer but refrained so that I would not be considered insane. At this point I realized how we, as Christians, may become more excited about a football game than about the gospel. I don’t know anything about football, and I only went to the games in college to chit chat and socialize. However, when Southern Miss scored, I screamed for our team. I am not saying that we should really yell and scream out all of the time (every now and then, it might be good for us), but we should have that kind of energy for Christ! Christ has risen! (And the crowd goes wild!)

Just a side note: After the worship service, we go outside to eat breakfast as a family. I know what you are thinking. Someone buys the orange juice while someone else brings the doughnuts. Wrong! This is Mexico! We ate homemade tamales (best that I have ever eaten), fresh fruit, fresh squeezed orange juice, and so much more! It was unbelievable! The Mexicans know how to do things right!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Jugando Boliche

Dian, me, and Cynthia

Yay! I FINALLY hit a pin!

Alan and Dian

me, Cynthia, Noah, Alan, Dian

Cynthia and me

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Enjoying God More

What is the chief end of man?
Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him for ever.

I learned that I am to glorify God with my life at a very early age, but I never understood the true meaning of it until my college years. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). So, as a much younger person, I was thinking that I must be a super good person in order to glorify God. If I do wrong, I would not glorify God whatsoever. In a sense, that is correct, and I still agree with the younger version of myself. However, I accomplished being “good” by going to church, Bible study, EE, and being a good student. People saw these things as being a good Christian, but I lacked heart. I lacked the relationship with God and the enjoyment of God.

While living in Mexico, I have learned the enjoyment of rising in the morning (although some mornings are tougher than others). This is the time with God that comes undisturbed by schedule and occurrences. So many times I put relationships on the earth over my relationship with God. I assume that it will be equally healthy with or without the time that I spend with Him. This is not true with my friendships, and is not true about my relationship with God.

These things have been my prayers as of late. I pray that I would learn how to TRULY enjoy God and spend time with Him. I don’t want to spend time with Him because I feel that it is my duty as a Christian to do this act, but I want to spend time in the Word and in prayer because it is my utmost desire. And in all of my actions I will be able to glorify God which He is teaching me to do through His word and His other children.

Monday, February 06, 2006

What we THINK we deserve

During the last month, Ayve, my roommate, and I have moved to her late aunt’s house. Before we moved in, there was some work that had to be done on the house because it had not been lived in for almost two years. Everything went smoothly until we ran out of gas for the water heater. It seemed as if everything went down hill from there. Taking one cold shower was no big deal, but little did I realize that it would be the last shower in our house for awhile. We bought a new gas tank, but couldn’t understand why we had no cold water. The water supply had run dry! There were problems with the city’s water lines so there was nothing that we could do to fix it. After awhile it became frustrating. You don’t realize how vital something is in your life until it is taken away from you. Katrina changed many of your lives forever.
It takes something as simple as water to say “Wake Up! You are forgetting from where this water comes!” God has blessed my life so much during the last 24 years, but I forget to thank Him for EVERYTHING. I become arrogant to think that I deserve this water, food, or chocolate, and I don’t see it as a blessing.