Sunday, August 26, 2007

Spanish Slip Ups

In the last month that I've been here, I've said some pretty ridiculous things in Spanish. Unfortunately, I don't learn unless I try, and I can't try without making mistakes! I'm going to share with you some of the more entertaining mistakes. :o)
~When someone asked how old I'll be on my upcoming birthday (well, if you consider November as "upcoming"), I said "veintiseven." So I said the "twenty"in Spanish and the "seven" in English! We all had a good laugh over that. Luckily I'm not the only person to have done something like this!
~When someone asked me if I like sports, I said "I watch, but no juice." Does this make sense? No. And this is why I got funny stares, and then I remembered...The verb "I play" and the word "juice" are very similar. And I know that, but quite often my mouth runs ahead of my brain...Which is dangerous enough in English when my mouth kinda knows what it's doing, but in Spanish....... Well, hence the possibility of this post! :o)
~I have said "I like myself" not once, but twice. And I can hear it coming out of my mouth as I say it and it's too late to fix it. How ridiculous does that sound! The difference between "I like it" and "I like myself" is one letter. And again, I know better...
~When I was talking to another American about a Christian youth competition going on this weekend, I committed my biggest mistake so far. And this time completely unknowingly. The name of the competition is "Involved Youth" but I couldn't remember the word for "involved," but I did remember how it sounded. So I started making guesses that sounded similar, and apparently one of the guesses turned out to be something like "Drunk Youth"!!!
There have been innumerable small mistakes, but they're not all that interesting. I don't think I've forgotten any of the funny ones, but you never know. And I'm sure I'll come up with some more in the next year!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A bumpy day

You know how they say that sometimes we encounter bumps on the road of life? Well, today was one of those days. Yesterday marked my 4th week in Chile, and today was the hardest one I've had so far. And it was all exacerbated by the fact that I'm exhausted today. Actually, it was probably mostly because I'm exhausted.
I usually look forward to Thursdays, and today was no exception. We have a prayer group meeting at the house, and I really get along with the three Chileans who come. (They're also in the young adults group with me, so I see them several times a week.) So all week I was looking forward to tonight--a chance to see these wonderful people, a chance to practice Spanish, a chance to pray together.
Well, it was a rough day at school today--a bad combination of me being tired and the kids being exactly the opposite. They were rowdy, although they usually are. :o) And it took all my energy to keep going. I had a lot I had to get through today! I got home and was able to have a few hours to alternate from working and resting. Which was much needed.
Then prayer meeting started. It starts at "8", which in Chile means 8:30. And there was food and fellowship first. People walked in the door, said hi, and then I remembered that I don't understand them. I keep forgetting, honestly. I just think about talking with them and getting to know them, like I would in the States, and forget that I can't do that here yet! It's an odd mental glitch, I guess. And I also realized that I've heard very little Spanish this week. So all those things put together resulted in the incapacity of my brain to switch to Spanish tonight.
And I grew very frustrated.
And quiet.
And my contacts started drying out.
And I got even more tired.
And I think I almost cried, but I stopped it with a mental scolding.
And I couldn't talk correctly...the words wouldn't come. (Although my comprehension did warm up by the end of the night.)
So, needless to say, I was in a downward spiral. I couldn't wait to go to bed and sleep it off. At the end of the meeting we split into groups and prayed, and I was paired with an American (whew!), and it was soooo great. I felt so much better after talking with God, even though I didn't pray about my mood. It really is amazing to see how much spiritual sensitivity helps with...anything--mood, problems, whatever. I tend to forget this. I tend to get wrapped up in my own little world, my own little self. And when I'm happy, life is good and God is good and everything is good. And then a night like tonight comes along, and I'm reminded that life is good because God is good, and my response should be one of worship, thanksgiving, and growing through constant communication. It frustrates me that I'm so human about this! What is my problem? Snap out of it!
Perhaps that should be my life slogan. "Snap out of it!" Whenever I get enveloped by my tiny finite problems...Snap out of it. Whenever I act stupidly and forget to take everything to God...... You get the picture.
But I digress...
Needless to say, the answer to my problem tonight is twofold: prayer and sleep (in that order). And that is what I learned from my bumpy day. When I remember to pray without ceasing, I can truly rejoice in the Lord always. I'll say it again: REJOICE!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What a week!

Wow, a lot has happened this week! It's been awhile since I've posted too, so I really need to catch up!
Well, the week started off on a bad foot. Monday was probably my worst day so far (and really, it wasn't that bad). I had several fights with the copy machine first thing in the morning. And it won every battle and the war too. So then I had to rush to my first class and couldn't set up for it, and the whole day was a whirlwind of just trying to keep up. I took one pile of stuff off my desk just to replace it with another! And the kids are actually MORE talkative on Mondays! They say it's because they haven't seen each other all weekend. This I don't believe. :o)
The week got better after that, school wise. So that's good! God is still continuing to be my strength and my guide as I teach these kids. There are several that I will need to help in various ways--academically, linguistically (some of them are not native English speakers), and attitude-ly (a few of them are very quick to jump on the "that's not fair" bandwagon). Please pray that I will be able to help each of them grow in the way they need most... Actually, pray that I'll be able to continue to allow God to work through me and not get in the way!
This week was also a week of firsts... My first time on the bus by myself and the first time on the metro also by myself. And it went off without a hitch! (Except for when I was supposed to meet someone at the metro to take me to the church, since I didn't know how to walk there, and she didn't stay to meet me but sent some guy and he couldn't find half an hour later, she came to get me anyway. Ha!)
I'm becoming more and more comfortable with the language (although I'm still sooooo far from my goal), and have had several decently long conversations completely in Spanish. It's pretty exciting! I'm just longing for the day when I can be normal in Spanish like I am in English (and yes, I am normal...mostly). ;o)
Wednesday was a holiday, and there was no school! Yay!! The Rogers took me up into the mountains and we played in the snow for awhile. It was a lot of fun and very relaxing! And needless to say, it was cold! :o) I would write more, but this post is already getting a little long!

That's a very quick update of the week. I will try to post more often so I can give more details (because I know you all refresh this webpage every 20 minutes looking for more posts!). ;o)
Please continue to pray for me! I cannot do this without God's help, and your prayer support means so much to me! Besides the normal requests, I have two others. Pray for my spiritual growth--since most of the church things that I do are in Spanish, it is a little more difficult to be fed. Pray that I would be extra consistent with my devotional time to help offset that. Also, colds and flus are rampant right now, and I feel a little off today, and I really don't want to get sick. So pray for health for all of us...and if I do need to take a day or two off for illness, pray that the kids won't suffer and will be able to continue their studies (it really will be a race to fit everything in this semester!).

Thank you so much for caring about me and my ministry enough to read these and pray for me. Please contact me whenever you want! I can always use the encouragement!

Friday, August 10, 2007


When I said perhaps there would be a snow day, I was joking. Well, that's what we got. I was almost completely ready when I got 3 calls in rapid succession telling me that school was canceled. There was only about an inch of snow where I live, but in parts of the city there was up to 8 inches! Santiago hasn't seen snow like this since 1999, according to the news. So I had a free day to do some work and watch some movies! It was productive AND relaxing, which is my favorite kind of day. :o)

Since I have some time, I want to show you some pics of an INCREDIBLE sunset we had a week ago. The picture above is down the street, and the other picture is a view from the other side of the house. The sunset picture below is a little doctored (it was dark and when I lightened it, it turned out a little pinker than real life, but it's closer than the picture above.) It was beautiful!!

This picture is from the snow, obviously. Notice the palm tree in the far corner of the neighbor's yard with snow on some branches!

The next picture is also from the snow day--it's the view from my window.

The last picture is a view of the mountains. I was about 2 blocks away from the house when I took it. They were so much more beautiful half an hour earlier, but I couldn't get out to take the pic. I'm sure I'll have plenty more opportunities!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Snow in August and an Earthshaking Experience

Today was a cold day--the coldest since I've been here. And to make matters worse, it rained all day. Aaaaallllll day. It started around 9 or 10 this morning, and just didn't stop...until a little while ago when it turned into snow! Snow in August! Now, I know that I'm living at the foot of the Andes mountains, but let me give you a few hints as to how rare snow is here... First of all, if I look out the upstairs window into the neighbor's yard, I see a palm tree...covered in snow. I know I'm not an expert on meteorology and ...plantology, but that seems like a paradox or oxymoron or something. Where do you see snow and palm trees in the same place? Another example, Melissa says that this is the first time she has ever seen snow actually falling from the sky. Usually she just wakes up to see it already there. And also, several of the neighbors were outside taking pictures for a good twenty minutes! :o) And lastly, as I was getting ready for bed, before I knew any of this was going on, Ruthann came running upstairs, calling my name with such vigor that I was worried as to what was wrong! She pointed me to a window, and I knew. She'd been talking about snow all day. So the three of us (me, Melissa, and Ruthann) oohed and aahed at the views from all of the windows in the upstairs, then proceeded to call several other Americans in the area and wish them a Merry Christmas! :o) It was quite a nice way to end the day. If there's still snow on the ground in the morning (which there should be) I will try to take pictures of it. That is, if I'm coherent enough at such an early hour.....

The other interesting thing to note from the day. There was an earthquake. My first one! ...Ok, well, earthquake may be a bit of a stretch. It was just a tremor. But still, that doesn't happen in New Jersey! It was relatively quick--it was practically over by the time I realized what was going on. And the "aftershocks" were so mild that you almost weren't sure if you were imagining them or not. Those are more common here than snow is. The kids started laughing when it happened, I mean, seriously. :o) For those of you who have never experienced a tremor before (which was me 12 hours ago), I will try to describe it. It felt like a wave went through the building. The windows behind me rattled ever so slightly and the whole room seemed to move. It was like....ok, you know when you're standing in the ocean, and a wave passes you, and then the water behind it kind of ebbs and flows quickly but smoothly? It was a little like that--but instead of water, it was the air and the floor and the walls and the desks and my chair and me too, a little.

Never a dull moment, that's for sure! I wonder what tomorrow will bring? A snow day, perhaps....

Monday, August 6, 2007

Toto...We're not in Kansas anymore!

Ok, I think what I'm going to do is have a series of posts that will have to do with the different culture I'm experiencing. Whenever I think of something interesting to share, I'll post it with a title similar to this one. It'll be educational and entertaining! Some of them will be the culture of Chile (probably most of them), but some will be the culture of living in a city (which would apply to a lot of cities).
My first culture post is about city life. Some of you may have even experienced this same thing.
Melissa and I went to the mall the other day with a friend of hers. We had to take several metros to get there. One of the trains pulled up, and it was PACKED. Literally. Sardine-like. And there were about 20 of us standing there to get on. So, I shuffled my feet forward, inch by inch (or I guess I should say centimeter by centimeter), as people condensed themselves to fit more on. Melissa and Chris got a little ahead of me, and then the train started beeping to let you know the doors were closing soon. They were giving me very significant looks to encourage me to get on the train asap. I wasn't worried...I just kept shuffling.
Well, Melissa grabbed my purse and made sure I got on in one piece, and a few more people crammed in behind me, and the doors shut. When Melissa let go of my purse, it did not fall back at my side. It was suspended in the air, trapped between the bodies of some very short Latin women beside me. Somehow my arm was raised in the air when I got on the train (probably so I wouldn't elbow someone in the nose), and I was not able to put it back down. I could feel the pressure of people on all sides of me. And by that I mean against me. :o) So I nonchalantly scratched my head for awhile, then used my oddly angled arm to brace myself on the ceiling, since I couldn't reach a pole.
A similar experience has already happened to me a couple more times. Although those times I looked like a normal person with my arms at my sides. :o)
And I'm sure it will happen again. And again, and again, and...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

School daze

Boy, I'm exhausted! And only 3 days of school done! I feel like I'm doing more work outside of school (to prepare for class) than in school! But I guess that's the life of a least a beginner. :o)

Friday and Monday were teacher inservice days. I met all my colleagues and became familiar with the school. I spent most of my free time that weekend feverishly making lesson plans and trying to figure out how to impart my knowledge and wisdom to 35 bright eyed students. ...Except on the first day I caught one yawning and almost falling asleep. :o)

I was interested to see how the teaching would go, seeing as how I've never done it before. I put a LOT of prep into my plans (and in fact, I still have a lot of set up work to do!) and that helped. The first day was easy...intros, housekeeping, and then an in class essay so I could learn about them... I did that on purpose. I didn't want to overwhelm the students (well, actually I didn't want to overwhelm myself!) on the first day. But I wasn't nervous at all!

Yesterday was the real test 5 periods of lecturing plus 2 study halls to monitor. Praise the Lord! It went great! I had enough to teach the kids to fill a period, they seemed engaged and interested (well, most of them, anyway) and they actually did the homework assignments I assigned them. It still feels a little surreal that I am assigning homework to these children and they are having to do it. And it definitely is strange to hear the words "Miss Kelly..." floating around the halls! :o)

But I can definitely see God's hand in this transitional time. I wasn't nervous at all when I got in front of the classes, and things went well. (Although I'm sure there are many bumps in the road ahead.) And I've already made a small connection with a few of the kids. ...The weather hasn't been too too awful. In fact, the first few days were actually really nice and sunny! I'm getting along great with the Rogers, the family I'm staying with, and I love living here. And I've even had a few small conversations in Spanish! God has been good!

Please continue to pray for my Spanish! It is frustrating to only kind of understand people, and I get a headache if I have to try to understand Spanish for long periods of time. :o) Also pray for me in school--that I will be able to fit everything in and the kids will actually learn what they need to--that I will be able to structure my lessons and get in the flow of things to save prep time (I"m exhausted!)--that I will be able to handle the inevitable difficulties I will face with some students and probably some parents.

So, that's an update on my first few days as a teacher! Hope you enjoyed it! Now I think I will take a nap. :o)