Monday, October 20, 2008

Independence Day!

Ok, I know it's a little late in coming (a month late, to be exact!), but here's an little synopsis and some pics of the Independence Day celebrations from September.

First there was a shindig at church one Sunday. It involved food, traditional music, and the traditional dance, the Cueca. I had learned the basics of the dance, but when it came to actually doing, I chickened out!! Maybe next year. :o) We spent most of the day there, enjoying the shows, the food, and talking with each other.

That week was a full one at school (even though it only involved 2 1/2 days of classes!). We had room decorating on Monday to make the school look festive. Each class did it and it was a school wide competition. Then Tuesday they had a "Dress in Chile Colors" day, also involving a competition. They also rehearsed for the program they would be performing in the next day. Tuesday night we got our food ready for the next day. I'm "in charge" of the Junior class for right now, helping them raise money for the banquet next semester. We baked some Chilean food to sell. Then Wednesday was the program, a game time, and then lunch of all traditional Chilean foods....All yummy foods too!! Then school was out until Monday! After school that day, a few of us went to a Chilean fair that they have during September. There's a ton of food, craft stands, shows, music...all sorts of fun stuff!!

To see pictures of all these events (and a little more detail than what I just mentioned...even a couple of videos at the end), click HERE.

After that, I went on a trip for a couple of days with some friends of mine. We went about 5 hours north to a town called La Serena. We walked around, did some shopping at the artisan shops, walked along the beach, went to a HUGE fair, visited some Japanese gardens, and had a fun yet relaxing time. My favorite part, though, was the evening that us girls took a tour to the observatory. There are a few sections of Chile that are famous worldwide for their clear skies and star gazing potential. And there are several observatories scattered around this area. We went to one that was about an hour away from where we were staying and took a tour that was almost 2 hours long. It was SO AMAZING! I saw Saturn and the rings around it. I saw some shooting starts. I saw a star cluster. I saw several of the constellations. I saw the Milky Way and its two satellite galaxies. It was a gorgeous night and the sky was crowded with stars. It was so incredible, and I was glad for this, because this was the main reason I wanted to visit this town. And after so much waiting and effort, I was afraid of being disappointed. But I definitely wasn't!!

To see pics from the trip to La Serena (although none from the observatory, since it was nighttime), click HERE.

I hope you enjoy everything! I just took a trip back to Argentina to help a friend renew her passport. It was a pretty mellow weekend, and Amy and I were both sick with a cold (I even stayed home from school today), so I don't have too many pictures to show you. But maybe I can come up with some. I'll see what I can do. :o)
Until then....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Growing Pains

Wow, the last several weeks have been packed full of things to tell you about! The only problem with doing lots of things to share about is that there's less time to actually write about it!!
We had our Independence Day celebration, and then I went on a short trip with some friends, and I have a lot to share about those events (including plenty of pictures!), but that'll be a project for another day. For now, I want to share with you how God has been stretching me lately.
It has been a very difficult couple of weeks for me...mainly because I have made myself very unpopular with certain groups of people. Let me break this down into three main events for you (I'll just give you the brief version).

1. Many of us teachers felt that the young guy teachers needed some help learning to be teachers and not students. We saw some things that worried us. One event even provoked me to speak with them directly. They pretty much blew me off, so I talked to the administration about it, knowing they had tried to talk with them too. So stories were passed around, details changed in the process, and things got a little ugly. The younger people involved didn't seem to understand the problem that the rest of us saw. They were upset with me (since they viewed me as the principle cause of the hullabaloo), and basically said they couldn't trust me anymore. This was very hurtful to me (although not unexpected) since I felt that I had done what was best for the students and for the other teachers. I assessed what I had done, and still didn't feel I had done anything incorrectly. Knowing that the other teachers felt the same way helps, even if I am the one to take the fall for it. Luckily, things seemed to have blown over. Unpopular event number one (the second followed hard on its heels).

2. A former student has returned to the school under some difficult circumstances. She was always talkative, but now it seems to be worse because she's grown very rebellious. Now that she's back, the whole class feels that they can talk, and I feel that I'm spending every 3 minutes reigning them back in. This is how my first semester of teaching was, and I didn't remember how miserable that was for me until the day this girl returned. It's nearly impossible to teach them now, and I've found myself feeling like I'm wasting my time and breath and that I'm not enjoying teaching at times. So I'm having to learn new things. I have to learn how to deal with this new attitude, how to be strict and firm with her even if that makes me her enemy. I tried to be kind and loving, but I gave her an inch and she took a light-year. So I can't take that route. Tough love it is, and this is not my forte. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on the view point), her attitude often makes tough love easy to hand out!

3. I caught some cheating on a homework assignment (involving the new girl, unfortunately), and unpopular event number two entered my life. I had to call the moms of the copier and copiee, and then I had to talk to each girl, give each 3 demerits and a zero on the homework assignment. Neither of them were happy, and my conversation with the new girl did not go well. It was heart breaking to see her so cold and defiant. She tried to excuse it, she complained at the way I was treating her, she tried to get me to see she was already in enough trouble. And in the end she told me she just doesn't care. I've taken enough psychology classes to see the defense mechanisms as the words flowed out of her lips, so I didn't take it personally. But it was difficult to do the tough love thing. I much prefer being the fun teacher! But sadly that is not what she needs from me.

So, all of this loveliness leads me to some prayer requests.

~ Pray for this girl. Pray that her heart would be softened and she would grow up some more. Pray that her defiance would melt away and she can be restored to healthy relationships with God and her parents.
~Pray that I would best know how to teach in the light of these new events....keeping the class under control, handling the new girl's attitude, keeping my patience and acting wisely.
~Pray that I would remain strong and not take the easy route. The verse "be not weary in well-doing..." has run through my head a lot this week. Pray that I learn what God is teaching me through this time.
~Pray that I still have the trust of my students and coworkers and that relationships I have built will not be destroyed.
~Most of all pray that God will be glorified in my life and the lives of all the students, because most of them are effected in some way by this new dynamic in school.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. I know God has me here for a reason, and I hope that each day I'm fulfilling His calling in my life. I feel very deeply for these kids that I teach, and I yearn to see God's fruit in each of them. I know that God can do abundantly more than I could ever hope or imagine!!