Thursday, December 18, 2008

Elena Schlener

As you know, all through the summer and in my newsletters I have been asking you to pray for one of our missionaries here, Elena Schlener. Elena was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and she, her husband Phil, and their kids moved back to the States for Elena to get treatment there. The Schleners have been a shining light during this time. As Elena's condition worsened, she grew closer and closer to her Lord. Last night, God took Elena to be with Him, and she is no longer in pain. God has accomplished His purpose in her life and we thank Him.

I would ask you all now to pray for those left behind who must wait to see her again. Phil is her husband; her children are Chris (in the military), Jessica (college student), Erik (high school senior), Austin (high school junior), Louisa (high school freshman), and Matthew (5th grade). Please pray with me that they will especially feel God's peace and comfort during this time.

I ask that you would also pray for the students at the school. We had the responsibility of breaking the news to them today. Children are so matter of fact about life and death, but I just pray that they would see God through all of this, if not now then later in their life. The high schoolers have taken it pretty hard today as Elena was one of their teachers, the Bible study leader for the girls last year, and Erik, Austin and Louisa are their friends. I pray with all my heart that these events will bring these students closer to God.

I look forward to seeing all of you this weekend. We are all in need of the upcoming break.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Tuesday, November 4th was a special day in my classroom. My student, Sunny, and I had been talking about Biblical things and, more specifically, about salvation since April. This was of course supplemented by Cathi Costa's "witness tutoring" over the summer while I was gone. :) When I arrived back to school in September, the prayers of so many of you for Sunny came with me, and God initiated such a clear time of teaching and learning basic Biblical doctrine in my classroom each morning. The other students were involved and Sunny just kept asking question after question, each one very well-thought-out. Whoever thinks you can't be mentally and spiritually challenged by children needs to spend some more time around them!
Along came November 4th, and during our morning devotional time, I read to the studnets about the old person passing away and that we are made into a new creation when we trust Christ. Sunny was baffled by this. She shot question after question at me, each one showing the thought process of a genuine, child-like heart (or actual child in this case!). I was still in the process of speaking to all my studnets when I brought up the phrase, "being born again." When Sunny said, "WHAT?? How can you be born AGAIN??" (probably a little less emphatically haha), then I knew it was time for her and I to talk alone. I took her to the library and we read the story of Nicodemus and Jesus in John 3. We talked about God's love, we talked about the forgiveness of sins, we talked about confessing with your mouth, we talked about believing in your heart. She appeared to be in genuine shock that it was "that easy." Only having been with us from Korea for about 7 months, she still struggles with the English language a bit and was wondering how to pray. I didn't want her to simply copy words that I said, so I told her to pray what was in her heart. She said, "Jesus thank you for dying for me and please forgive my sins."
If there was only a way to explain to you the change that I sensed in her during this time, I would. Her questions were not cyncial but curious. She was seeking, and that's the change I saw. She took her first steps of belief. Her heart was different. Since then I have listened to her in her first faltering class prayers which, if they have been such a delight for me to hear I can't even imagine how they must delight our Father.
To witness the work of God in someone is truly amazing, but to witness God in a child's heart is a gift inexpressible.
I praise God for all of you and your prayers for Sunny. Please pray for her and myself as I still have a little over half a school year to disciple her. Woo hoo!! God is truly capable of more than we can even imagine, and I can't wait to see what the future holds!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


GO PHILLIES!!!!!! YOU DID IT!!!!!!!! YOU DID IT!!!!!!!!!



I can't sleep now!

Thank the Lord we have off school on Friday!!!!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just a Quick Update

I thought I'd take this momentary opportunity I have to send you an update. This last week was rough in that it was busy busy busy. Ah, the life of a teacher, eh?
1.) My 5th grade student, Larissa, had to suddenly leave Portugal with her mother this week. On Monday I found out that they were to be leaving on Friday. This meant getting a lot of work together for her to do while she's gone! Larissa's mother, Marcia, is pregnant and things are not going so well. She has very high blood pressure and very swollen feet and the doctors here aren't doing anything for her, so they have decided to fly her to their doctor in Brazil. (They are Brazilian.) Marcia took Larissa with her and they hope to return in mid-January. Please pray for Marcia's husband, Larissa's father, Marco. They could not afford for him to go with them, so they will be separated for the birth and for Christmas.
Of course, this means I will be teaching only 2 grades for the next 3 months and that will be less workload for me, but I am sad that it happened this way. Please keep them in your prayers!

2.) Secondly, I had news of Elena Schlener this week and she needs our prayers more than ever. She is really losing weight and struggling with the cancer. Please keep her and Phil and the kids in your prayers. They have moved to Idaho in order to keep Elena from too much excitement, etc.

3.) I got sick and it won't go away. Mainly the cough. I've also somewhat lost my voice now for the past two days.

4.) Last, I had quite a discouraging day today, language-wise. I spent most of today with the band at a parade and concert. I was so discouraged to find that even when I try to muddle through in Portuguese, it is still just muddling and those that I'm speaking with tend to get a little frustrated. Of course they are nice and laugh it off, but then they kind of avoid me and this led to some lonesomeness for me today. I think it is truly the first time when I was upset over the language. Until now it has only been mild irritation. I find that people speak so fast and even when I ask them to slow down, they don't. Or when they do slow down I don't know some of the words they are using. This is all totally normal, it's just that it's never gotten to me before. That I was tired and sick didn't help. :)
Please pray that I will have the guts to speak Portuguese with the people I know can help me the most- that is the people who also speak English well. These are also the most intimidating people with whom to speak Portuguese because they already have a command of their language AND yours... and often times one or two more. Yeah basically I need guts.

So, that is all for now. It is 9:30 and I'm going directly to bed... yes, I'm that tired. :) I will try to make my next update more encouraging. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Praises to God

I would like to take this opportunity to praise God for a few things!

Thing #1:
I bought gas today at 1.33€ per liter. That translates into about $6.82 per gallon and I am pretty sure that is the LOWEST price gas has been since I came here last year!

Thing #2:
One of the reasons that the above is possible is because the Dollar is doing better against the Euro. As of right now it is 1.35 dollars to 1 euro and that is the best the exchange rate has been since I came here last year!

Thing #3:
As most of you know, I was in a car accident here in June. God spared me in a big way. He also allowed me to continue to drive the next day (in a different car!) and go on with my life with almost no emotional effects. Well (delayed reaction) a couple of weeks ago I had a rough week where I had my first dreams about the accident and then continually dreamed (nightmares) for about a week. I asked a couple people to pray for me and praise God those went away. Thank the Lord that He answers prayer and that He is in control, even of our dreams.

Thing #4:
You have been praying for my classes, I can tell! Even though I have had to add an extra session with one of my students during the day, I have switched some things around and things are going a little more smoothly. Praise God for His wisdom daily in the classroom. Please please continue to pray for me there. I am realizing more and more that there are all sorts of pitfalls to teaching multiple grades that I don't even know about and that I need to avoid. Only God's guidance can help me there. With that being said, I am so happy to teach these 4 children and we are having a blast! I couldn't have asked for something better. :)

That's all for now. I hope this messages finds all of you happy in your lovely autumn weather, with your hayrides, pumpkin picking, apple cider and that great smell when you walk outside of leaves and fireplaces being used for the first time of the season. Oh, how I miss autumn! :)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I Need God's Smarts

So, teaching all those lessons is getting harder and I could use some of God's smarts. Please pray that I will somehow be able to teach these kids what they need to know without them hating school at the end, and without unnecessarily burdening their parents. Most of all, please pray that the Holy Spirit would be more prevelant in my life and attitude than ever.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A little something to chew on...

We talked about jealousy in my Bible lesson with the kids last week in the context of Cain and Abel. Okay, no big deal, but when I was looking ahead at our Bible test and trying to prepare the students for it, I saw that there is a question that says, "What is jealousy?" Well I thought that was funny cause in the curriculum, it never actually has you go over the definition of the word with the students. However, they do have a glossary in the back of their books, so I looked it up there and found a definition that surprised me, mainly because of the way I usually use the word.
It said-
"being afraid that you will be replaced by another, or that you will lose something"
To which of course I said... huh?
At first I thought that maybe this was just a definition skewed by the publisher of the curriculum in order to get it's own point across (quite skeptical of me, huh?) So I looked jealous up in Merriam Webster and this is their definition-
1 a: intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness b: disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness2: hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage3: vigilant in guarding a possession

So... roughly paraphrased into the Tammy-Webster dictionary, this means-
Definition 1. I hold (or think I hold) a special friendship with Person X and then new Person Y comes along. X spends more time with Y than I think is necessary and I begin to become jealous of Y and angry at X. (Does this only happen with girls?) I used this example with the students last week, so at least I was right about THAT aspect of jealousy!

Definition 2. Emmanuel Pahud is the most amazing flutist I have ever heard and because he is so good I move from admiring his ability to wanting to hurt him. Or remove him from the picture entirely so that he can't be better than me... (Cain and Abel....) Fyi... I do not want to kill anyone......

Definition 3. I am vigilant in guarding my flute. I don't normally let other people handle it and I carry it with me on the plane as much as possible. I jealously guard it.

So as you can see, jealousy doesn't always have the connotation that we give to it. Such as the Phillies are in the post-season and I don't get to watch the games I AM SO JEALOUS RIGHT NOW of the people at home!!!

Nor does it mean that a certain person has an iPhone and another certain person is jealous of him. It does mean however, that certain person 1 may be jealous (vigilantly guard) with his own iPhone haha.

I'm sure by now you've started to apply this to those sometimes-confusing verses in Exodus and 2 Corinthians.

It seems maybe (as we always suspected but could never really figure out) that jealousy is not always a bad characteristic. In 2 Corinthians, Paul uses it to describe his feeling that he wants the Corinthians to "save themselves" for the true Christ. He is jealous for them when they give over their minds to a preaching of a Christ that is not true. That is certainly a godly form of jealousy? And of course the passage in Exodus, which comes up in Bible studies everywhere (God is a jealous God), really just means what it says- that God does not tolerate unfaithfulness. That is not wrong and there is in fact, nothing confusing about it. If indeed this is the correct definition of jealousy then of course God is a jealous God.

Jealousy can certainly be a bad thing, but this is an interesting example to me of how sin twists something that can be good into something bad.

Finally, it puts a smile on my face to think of God within the third definition- He vigilantly guards us.

Anyways, just something to think about!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Gift

Ever been to Epcot Center and walked around all the different nations around the lake? I was there tonight... but I was at the real thing. I had a concert tonight with the band. I was told to be there at 9:00 p.m. Of course, this is late for a school night. Also, the concert was in Moita... a town I've never been to... and no one was giving me directions. They basically just told me it was at the town hall and they fully expected me to find it with only that information. If you don't know me very well, I will tell you, this is just the kind of situation that I love. Finding a place I've never been to, no one I know is there, people all around me speaking a different language... it was just the kind of adventure I am looking for. :) So, that being said, I did make it to Moita (thank you, Wikipedia) and I am just comfortable enough with Portuguese that I could ask someone where the Câmara Municipal is and understand what they tell me. Well, once I get there, I find that the town is crammed full of people and cars because this is the town's annual holiday celebration. It was a quaint town and it was decked out with lights and there was Portuguese music coming from speakers that seemed to be everywhere. It truly felt like Disney World but it a much more authentic way. :) I finally walk my way around enough to find the town square with a full blown stage set up with no one that I know in sight. There are, however, hundreds of other merry-makers at cafes, sitting on benches, carrying baloons, dancing to the music. All I know is that I'm in Moita, there's a town hall, a stage, and it's 9:00. I felt the odds of being right were in my favor, so I texted the director who told me the band was still at dinner. This I partially expected. So, I sat down and waited. Because I was in a band uniform, I was a magnet for questions. In Portuguese. That's right, at least 10 people walked up to me and asked me all manner of questions, including children. And the amazing thing? I understood every one of them and answered them! Woo hoo praise God!! It was so fun just to sit in that environment and watch people and try to talk to some of them for awhile. Eventually around 9:50 the band shows up (we are supposed to go on at 10) and I join them and meet some more people that I have always seen but never officially spoken with. Much of this was in English. :) Finally we start playing. It's a perfect night, a light and cool breeze, a full moon, and I'm on stage playing my flute. It was during that heavenly 45 minutes that it was confirmed in my heart for what seems like the millionth time that there is not an earthly pleasure that I love more than playing music for other people. The crowd was so entertained, they clapped and gave us thumbs up and it was impossible to wipe the smile off my face as I walked the long walk back to my car. God has so blessed me in the gift of being able to play flute here. He brought me to the town and enabled me to speak with people, all with such joy. I don't expect everything in life to be so carefree and happy, but tonight sure was great. Thanks God. :)
The only downside? I forgot my camera.... sorry folks. ;)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

First Week Is Over

Well, the first week is over! I am absolutely exhausted and have a LOT of work to do tomorrow afternoon, and also a concert to play in, and of course church in the morning. So tomorrow will be a busy day. God has been so good to me this week. I am so blessed and so happy. And yes, I am tired, but I am so happy to be so tired. :)

I'll leave you with a picture of me with one of my 4th graders, Victoria. Tori for short. She has only been in Portugal for one year, but is adjusting well!

Monday, September 8, 2008

First Day!

The first day of school is complete!! I took some pictures before and after school so that you can see some of what I saw today. :) Praise God for His enabling me to get through a full day of subjects for all three grades! It was an exciting day for all and it's so good to be back teaching again!

This is my classroom!

This is Guimel, our new 11th grade librarian.

The high school hallway is decorated with flags representing the nationalities of all our students.

...and some educational quotes...

These are our two high school teachers, Nick and Craig.

Our Elementary students! Except Joao...

Sophomore, Thais.

Senior, Alison.

My class: Noah, Larissa, Sunny, Tori

This is Larissa, my 5th grader, with her parents after school.

These are the new Hamal cousins. Don't ask me to spell their names, I'd butcher them! They're from Nepal.

This is Maddie and Emma, future students! We figured it out today... they are the class of 2022. Yikes!

Well that wraps it up for the first day. Can't wait to go back tomorrow!! :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Zero Hour and the Schwa

Well, I guess it's not quite zero hour yet, but close enough for me. I'm in bed, trying to get my last minute stuff done on my computer, thinking that I should post something to my blog in order to stall getting my other work done. However I don't know that you can call it stalling when the thing you're doing in procrastination is actually something else that's productive. So anyways, the Parent-Teacher Tea went very well, excepting that we had no tea, but that was planned. :) At one point in the evening I heard lots of noise coming from upstairs, where the elementary portion of the school is located, to find the elementary students sitting in Miss Flietstra's classroom "playing school." I thought that was somewhat funny.
I've been frying my brain out for the past 4 days trying to figure out how to teach 3 grades at once. I planned on it taking about 2.5 hours to do my lesson plans and it took me about 6 hours. I am learning new things that I didn't know before like there is such a vowel sound as "the schwa" and what in the world does biogeochemical mean?? 5th grade stuff is harder than 2nd grade stuff!! Please pray for me. I am hoping and praying that God will give me a more clear knowledge of how to do this in less time. That was just the lesson plans, on top of that each week, there is the gathering of materials, photocopying, and other such things that come with being a teacher. The reward for this past week's work, however, will come tomorrow when I get to teach them. I can't wait. :)
Here is a way that you can pray for me in my personal life this school year. I have set one solid personal goal for myself, and that is to be more disciplined. I had one thing in particular in mind when I set that goal, but then started to realize just how much else in my life needs to be more disciplined. I have listed 13 things that I think should be a regular daily or weekly part of my life that I am really quite bad at doing consistently. I am so much a happier and healthier person when I stick to habits and routines. I will still be random though- don't worry. :)
Well, I have the privilege of conducting our 8 a.m. Staff Devotions this week and I need to gather my thoughts for tomorrow morning before I can drift off to dreamland tonight.
I'm getting up at 6 a.m... that's right... discipline.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Boxes and Jet Lag

Praise God with me that BOTH of my boxes arrived and I picked them up today at the post office with NO customs hassle or charges! Also praise God with me that He kept them in tact-- the one was just about to fall apart! It was an interesting ordeal finding out just WHICH post office was holding them, but with the help of a faithful friend, I found them and they are unpacked and re-packed and ready to take over to the school tomorrow.
I am still in the process of setting up my classroom and helping to get the Elementary school in order for our Parent-Teacher Tea on Thursday. We have our first teacher staff meeting tomorrow morning to touch base with each other. Please pray that we work together well as a team!
Also, thank the Lord that I had a VERY easy adjustment to the time change. I was never as groggy feeling as I have been in the past and I was completely over jet lag in about 2 days.

What's so very amazing to me about these two things is that I know people were praying for them specifically. God is so good to hear our prayers and answer, even things that seem small. :)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gearing Up

School is almost here and I CAN'T WAIT! My new roomie's name is Laurie Flietstra and she is the other elementary teacher this year, handling 1st and 2nd grades, among many other things! The two of us have already put in some time at the school, she is there right now and I am on my way over soon. My classroom is beginning to look like a classroom, just without the children. :)
Pray for me this week as I will be preparing lesson plans, finishing classroom setup, and re-meeting the parents and students at our Parent-Teacher Tea this Thursday evening.
Please also continue to pray that my first box arrives soon and does not get stopped in customs. I mailed it in enough time to receive it last week, as it has mostly school supplies in it, and have yet to receive it. I believe that God is in the details and He can make something as small as a box get to me on time. :)
I spent this morning worshiping at my church here, Igreja Baptista de Loures, and had a great time reconnecting with friends. PRAISE GOD that I understood even more of the sermon than I did when I left in June. God is great!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Have Arrived, not spiritually speaking, but I have arrived in Portugal. I got up about 45 minutes ago at 8:30am, which was 3:30am Eastern Standard Time... tammy time... and I am trying with all my might to drink the coffee sitting beside me and fight the urge to go back to bed!
I arrived yesterday morning after a good flight. God blessed me in that I was able to sleep about 4-5 hours, which I've never done before. I sat next to a wonderful girl named Kiki (I'm not sure that's how you spell it??) who just graduated from UCLA with a degree in European Studies and is moving to Portugal to find some sort of a job, maybe teach English, and see where things go from there. Kiki if you're reading this, HI!! and tell me how to spell your name haha.
Yesterday I had the HUGE blessing of being picked up at the airport by the Thomases. Noah Thomas was one of my students last year and will be one of my students in 3rd grade this year. He was also there with his younger sisters, Ellie (2nd grade this year) and Maddie (not yet in school!)... and of course, their parents, Jeff and Jenny, faithful missionaries here in Portugal. They took me to my apartment after we picked up the car I'll be driving this year and left me so that I could sleep!! I woke up around 2:00 after a 2.5 hr nap and did some grocery shopping and eventually ended up going to the theater last night to see the newest Mummy (critic Tammy says don't waste your money on that one...). I went to bed but didn't end up falling asleep until about 2 am. However, God helped me to wake up and actually get out of bed (SHOCKING) at 8:30 when my alarm went off and now here I am posting to my blog. Two things you thought I was not capable of doing haha.
WELL, some things you can pray for-
1. Please continue to pray for the Schleners. Pray for Elena as her body battles the cancer. Pray for Phil and Elena as they make decisions together. And please pray for the "kids" (not all of them are still kids!), I'll name them again for you here so you can bring them before our God by name. Matthew (5th grade), Louisa (9th grade), Austin (11th grade), Erik (12th grade), Jessica (college Sophomore), Chris (Air Force). God is mighty!
2. Pray that I adjust to the time change quickly.
3. Pray for school!! There are 4 of us teachers this year and we have a big job ahead of us. Pray for the children to grow closer to the Lord this year and also to LEARN STUFF! :)
4. This may sound small, but I have 2 boxes coming to me that I mailed to myself last week. Please pray they don't get stopped in customs. That could end up being costly for me.
And finally, things to praise God for-
1. Safe flight
2. The blessings of my missionary family here
3. My luggage made it! (Please still pray for my boxes!)
4. I've already had some language successes which by human means is shocking! Therefore, we know that it is from the Lord. "Every good and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of Lights." :)

Okay. On my agenda for today is to meet up with my good friends, the Herricks for lunch and then tonight attend the birthday party of 5 yr old Emma Lowe. :) And also unpack. And maybe hit the school for a little bit. :)

Ciao for now!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Prayer Cards

Hey my new prayer cards are done, courtesy of Joel Rogers Design :)

Feel free to pick up 1, 2, or 10 at my table on Sunday, as I have like 1,000 to give away. Even if you got some in the mail, feel free to take more!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Top Tens

Top Ten Things I Miss About Portugal:

10. People who blankly stare at me when I speak "Portuguese"
9. People who let me unknowingly struggle through speaking Portuguese then start speaking to me in English
8. Curves in Odivelas... the American Curves got nothin on my Curves in Portugal
7. The wind
6. The view
5. The band
4. My new friends
3. The other missionaries
2. The students

Top Ten Things I Will Miss About the States:

10. Carpet
9. Gas prices (yes, hard to believe, but gas costs more than double in Portugal than it does in the States)
8. Not worrying about the apt gas tank running out while I'm in the shower
7. Roads that make sense to me
6. Coffee to-go
5. REAL pizza
4. The Phillies and Eagles
3. Church in English
2. My friends
1. My family

I thank God that Jesus is the same- yesterday, today, forever, and across the Atlantic. :) Pray for me that I re-adjust quickly and I continue to feel the stability of God.

Monday, August 11, 2008

100% !!!!!!!!!

Praise God, with support already in hand, committed support, and promised support, I am 100% fully supported!! God has provided through YOU once again. He never fails!

I have purchased my plane ticket leaving for Portugal on Aug 25th, arriving Aug 26th in the morning. Please pray for me in my last two weeks here in the States that I will be productive and profitable, that I will not slack off (any more than I already have) in studying Portuguese, and that I will be able to fit all my stuff in two checked bags weighing no more than 50lbs!! :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Here I Am

One of the things that has absolutely blown me away this summer is the generosity and sacrificial giving of God's people. We all know the economy is not so hot, yet I found out at ABWE's annual Missionary Enrichment Conference earlier this month, that giving is UP. A lot. Do you find that hard to believe? I find it extraordinary. Sometimes I get caught in the negative outlook on this world and even (sadly) on my fellow believers. But there is no need for that- God is at work in people's hearts just as He always has been, maybe even more. Or, it is possible that He has placed me in a position to see it like I never have. As I approach the end of a summer filled with trying to raise support to get back to Portugal, I am awestruck by God's grace displayed in the financial giving of other people. I am officially only $2,800 away from what was originally a $20,000 goal.

"Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things
sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."
Philippians 4:18-20

Monday, March 31, 2008

When It Rains...

Dear Friends and Family-
I found out this past week that as of tomorrow I will be inheriting the third grade class in addition to my second grade class. I am happy about this change and excited for the challenge, but I write to you now to ask for prayer. My weekend has been overwhelmed with the preparation involved in taking on another grade level. As logic would suggest, it is twice the work. This weekend will probably be the worst of the workload as I also had the task of changing my classroom and learning new curriculum. I have several abnormal tasks to complete this week such as leading staff devotions each morning, teaching the high school girls' Bible study on Thursday, and cooking for a potluck dinner on Tuesday evening. In addition to this, our student teacher will be observing and teaching in my classroom this week, in addition to being observed in my classroom by her college professors. As I just spent the last hour and a half cutting vegetables for our elementary pizza party tomorrow, I realized how exhausted I am after this weekend, with a packed week ahead of me. Now that it's about 12:30 a.m. you may be asking me WHAT on earth I'm doing typing this post rather than sleeping. Well the answer is that I have realized again that this can't be done without God. So I ask for your prayers this week if for nothing else, energy to make it through each day.
I also ask that you would pray that my patience with the students would not fail. One of the two 3rd graders I'm getting is a brand new Korean student who is very shy and does not speak much English. Please pray for her. Her name is Sunny. I pray that God's grace would come through in my speech and attitude this week, not just to my students, but to all those around me.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. I hate to think of what things would be like without them. :)


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In case you were wondering, Germany is awesome...

I had the blessing of Spring Break this past week! My roommate and fellow teacher had sometime back suggested we go to Germany over Spring Break. Leslie is an MK who grew up in Germany and her parents, Rodney and Lindy Kidd, are still faithfully ministering there in Mannheim. They graciously took me, our new roommate and student teacher, Sarah Lounsbrough, and Leslie’s friend (Cedarville student!), Lindsey Lehmann, into their home for the week.

We were in southwest Germany – about an hour south of Frankfurt in the town of Mannheim. Not far away is Heidelberg where we saw and walked around a beautiful old castle and also did some shopping. We were also able to visit Rothenberg, which is a small walled town preserved to look as it did in the Middle Ages. In Speyer we were able to visit three different cathedrals, my favorite being the one constructed as a memorial to the Reformation. There was a statue of Martin Luther outside and the most beautiful collection of stained glass windows I’d ever seen. In all the different towns we visited, we were able to visit 6 different cathedrals. Definitely the most I’ve seen in such a short period of time! They were each beautiful in their own different ways.

Another wonderful part of the week was the opportunity we had to worship with the Germans on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Their worship is not all that different from what you would expect in the States- we sing the same songs. Unfortunately for me, they were all in German so it was difficult to sing along! It was wonderful to be welcomed in that church and to speak with so many after the service (ah English, the international language). We were greeted with such friendliness that I will not soon forget.

The food was awesome. We had a good deal of wiener schnitzel and shared many different types of baked goods. It made me feel at home to see soft pretzels and bratwursts everywhere!

Probably my favorite part of this vacation was the time I got to spend with the Kidd family. It is amazing to me how we have one Father and how He unifies us as part of His family all over the world. They made me miss my own earthly Dad, Mom and younger brother. They made me feel so at home and it refreshed my spirit just to be with them. I think this is the thing for which I am most thankful, because it is that deep part of us that needs to be recharged when we have a break, and God provided that through the Kidds.

Well, I could write on and on about my experiences in Germany but for this post you will have to be satisfied to know that of all the places I have been so far in Europe, Germany is my favorite. I’m writing this from the airport on my 4 ½ hour layover in Madrid, waiting to go back to Lisbon. I revel in the place that God has put me that I can’t wait to teach tomorrow. God has brought me so much joy.

Until next time, Tschüß!

History Week

These last two weeks have brought much happiness and excitement, including many new things, to my already jam-packed life. I'm so grateful for God's blessings in allowing me so many different experiences.

Last week was our last week of school before spring break. March 10-14th brought the Smith family of Virginia to our little American-Portuguese-Canadian-Korean-German-Russian-
Brazilian-Angolan-Nepalise school. This family of 5 came to interactively teach our students and the students of our neighboring Christian school, the International School of Cascais, more about American history. Each morning saw the students embark on a journey back through time to experience first-hand the workings of different time periods in American history. Each teacher or pair of teachers was set up at various learning stations where we would each educate the students on different facets of those periods of time.

Monday was Colonial Day in which I got to pretend I was a slave and teach the students who filtered into my little kitchen (complete with a hanging kettle full of potatoes) about what life was like for a slave during the Colonial period and what it was like for them to choose sides during the Revolutionary War.

Tuesday brought to us Civil War Day where I worked with Lindsey Smith to teach about 100 students what first aid was like in the mid-1800s.

Wednesday we concentrated on the different regions of the United States and I was placed in the Mid-West to teach about what life would have been like for a cowboy. I got to dress up and play a game with the younger kids to help them understand the hardships a cowboy would face and how important it was to care for the cattle.

Thursday brought the Great Depression. We did not do learning stations this day, rather, things were set up in a huge game. Each of the students received an identity which told them their income, how many were in their family, their occupation, whether they save their money in the bank or under their bed, and other such information. We played the game in rounds- they began before Black Friday. They went to the bank to collect their income, then came to a Financial Advisor (I was one of these) to get advise on what kind of car they could afford or type of house they could live in. This determined whether they were upper, middle or lower class. They would then proceed to the grocery store where they could buy what groceries they could afford, then back to their “neighborhood” to eat and await the next round. As time went on, we listened to speeches by the president saying things were fine, we listened to the announcement of the stock market crash, and then eventually all of them lost their jobs and the bank closed. The point was that each of the students would eventually, because of lack of money, have to end up in the lower class or even homeless. The funny part about running this game with missionary kids is that, due to their upbringing, in the first round each of them purchased cars and homes far below their income and so they all saved up everything they had and ended up with money in the end. As a financial advisor I even tried encouraging spending toward the end of the game, telling them it would boost the economy, and they still saved! They have been trained well!

Friday was by far my favorite day – Espionage Day. We all dressed up as spies, set up the learning stations again, and taught them different facets of espionage. I was at the Armed Combat station with another teacher, Mr. Schlener who we lovingly call “The Colonel” due to his retired air force status. We had nerf guns, Frisbees, balls, short range target practice, long range target practice, shooting on the run, and all sorts of fun stuff. There was a self-defense class, a fingerprinting station, and an interrogation room. Each of the students again were given new identities, their cover stories. Little 6 year old Joao was supposed to be a 38 year old chef from Italy! The kids memorized their covers for when they were sent to interrogation. The first part of the day was training. The second part of the day, we played a huge game where each of the students had to make drops in the market place. They were part of either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. They worked in pairs to make the drop, pick up the package and deliver it to safety without being caught by a third team which was INTERPOL. It was amazing to watch the craftiness of some of the students!

All in all, history week was a huge success. I don’t know if there are plans to try and pull it off again in the following years, but I hope so because I probably had more fun than the students!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Okay so I fell behind again in the posting... sorry!!!
Updates to prayer requests:

1.) The family I told you about that needed a nanny... God provided and they started with their new nanny last week!! It's really amazing to see how those things were in the works long before we knew that they were needed.

2.) I asked everyone I could think of to pray for my best friend's (Kim Lange Moran) 5-week old son, Jonah. Jonah and his parents are now home from the hospital and Jonah seems to be doing wonderfully. Unfortunately, even after growing several cultures, they were not able to identify the infection and it is still unknown what the problem was. The good news however is that he is well now and there seem to be no lasting effects. Thanks for your prayers!

New things to pray about:

1.) The one thing that is on my mind seemingly more and more lately is the "talk" I will be giving in the girls' Bible study on singleness in a few weeks. A big part of me doesn't want to do it, but the deepest part of me knows it must be done. I don't want to presume to be able to tell these girls anything about their own lives, but at the same time I know that God has brought me through various things in my own life so that I can share in the lives of others. Basically, the only true answer I have is that I have no answers that come from myself. I know only the truest satisfaction I've ever found for both my heart and my mind has been in God. So in that way I hope that my talk is nothing but pointing the big finger of my life's circumstances toward Him. Please pray for me that I will have wisdom in what I say, that I won't pretend, that I won't care if they like me, and most of all that in whatever happens, it brings glory to God.

2.) GLCA needs an elementary teacher for next year... as of right now, there is no one. The elementary will be exceptionally small next year- probably only 7 students. So technically, they only need one teacher. I would love for that teacher to be me. I'm trying to go through the proper avenues to see if this is a possibility, so please be in prayer for that need. Whether it be me who fills the spot or someone else, God's will be done.

So other than all that info, things are going well here! The weather has been AMAZING the last couple days (sunny, high 60s) and I know you are all jealous with your snow boots and shovels. :) OH! And I turned 30 this past Tuesday. Woo hoo!! I have survived 30 years of this world. Or vice versa... :)

Until next time- I MISS YOU ALL!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Carnaval and Prayer

Well, this week presents us with a 4 day weekend. The holiday is called "Carnaval" and is basically a time before Lent that people allow themselves to do whatever they want. As you may imagine, this is a time full of moral degradation. We will obviously not be joining in these festivities but we do get two days off from school to be able to catch up on some work and relax.

On a sadder note, one of my roommates had to leave to go home this week unexpectedly. She has been battling with perpetual headaches and she needs to be cared for back at home. This leaves a family here in Language School without a nanny and teacher for their two youngest children. Please pray that this hole will be filled quickly and please be in prayer for Danielle's health.

School is going well, the family of one of my students is preparing to leave on furlough and will be gone in 2 weeks. I can hardly believe it! Please pray for them as they need to raise more support back in the States and for their 4 kids' transitions. Okay and also for mine because I will be sad to see them leave!

So that's all for now, I hope to update you again soon!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Did you read my post last week? Did you pray for me? If so, you are in for a blessing. :) Cold? Gone. Patience? Provided. Music class today? Fun fun fun! God is Jehovah Jireh- my provider! Isn't it great to see Him answer prayer?

Now you may be wondering about my last request- which was for the language. Well- God has a funny way of teaching us sometimes. At my language class on Tuesday we started a new exercise called "grupos" which is basically translating and saying several phrases in Portuguese in about 20 seconds. I'm not going to lie, I did alright. My friend, Danielle, who is taking the lessons with me did even better. So we were feeling pretty good about our Portuguese... until last night, when the telephone repairman who spoke NO English and on top of that spoke Brazilian Portuguese showed up at our house. When you don't understand what someone said and you want them to repeat it, you say, "Como??" I said como a LOT. It was humbling, to say the least. :) However, it was another adventure in the language and we were able to tell him that we're American, have only been here about 4 months, that I teach second grade at an English speaking school and that Danielle is a nanny for 2 kids. That's sure a lot more than we were able to say 4 months ago! AND our phone is fixed. :)

So, in other news, I was asked today to speak at the high school girls' Bible Study about singleness. Somewhere inside of me, I knew that was coming... at some point. I guess when you're about 30 years old and single, it's time for you to start relaying what God has taught you through it. I am glad to be able to encourage the younger girls in the fact that God is still- never has stopped being, always has been, and always will be faithful. I do feel like there is much He has taught me. However there is of course, no end to learning. There's also the tiny little prick in your heart when you are asked to talk about being something you had never planned on being. Thankfully this talk isn't until the end of March so I should have plenty of time to let the Lord prepare me. I pray that He will use something I say- even if it's just something small- to teach or encourage even just one girl. I like to think of these times as my "Esther Moments"- maybe I have been placed here for such a time as this. :)

So that's all for now, we're about to sit down to dinner. I miss you all and will write more next week!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy New Year

Well, as any good person would do, I am beginning this new year with a resolution to update my blog more regularly. I want to make sure I keep you all informed of the great things that are happening here in Portugal, but also the ways that I need prayer.

After a wonderful holiday home in the States for two weeks, I'm back here in Portugal now. This week we jumped right back into things. School was back in session on Monday and we've had what has seemed like a slow week of getting back into the swing of things. Today I was able to teach my first real music class since beginning here. Up until now I had been preparing the kids for the Christmas program, but now with that out of the way, we can work on musical concepts. I had a ton of fun doing that today, but I'm not so sure the kids did! I hope to be able to make music a fun time for them in the coming weeks. Music is an important part of worship and I want them to enjoy it!

In case you were unaware, I've been taking Portuguese lessons twice a week for about 3 months now. This past Tuesday was my first lesson again after a two week break and it was hard to get my brain back in gear! However, God gave me the time and desire to study over the break and the lesson this Tuesday was very encouraging as I realized that I knew many more words than I had previously. I was also encouraged yesterday as I recognized more words out and about town.

Tomorrow is the ABWE Portugal Field Counsel's annual meeting. I will get to hear yearly reports of how God has been working here on this field. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the other missionaries again and hearing what God has been doing in their various ministries.

Ways you can pray right now are:
1.) That I will have patience and wisdom in teaching the boys in my class. It has been difficult for all of us to get back into school and my frustration level has skyrocketed on various occasions this week. I am an up-front example of Christianity for them- so I ask for prayer that I would be a good one.

2.) That God would allow me to learn the Portuguese language as quickly as possible. I am missing out on building relationships with many Portuguese until I can learn their language.

3.) That God would give me physical strength and health. I've been dealing with a cold again this week that seems to keep coming back.

Okay, that's all for now!