Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer in Reverse Order

Well, this one's really small. I don't know why, but it was taken on a short visit to Waco, with church friends, Eagles' Wings friends, old friends, young friends...You never know, you might see a familiar face! And we went to a church that didn't mention Jesus. It was odd.
My summer was mostly Eagles' Wings. Does that make 10 years for which that is a true statement? But I was so blessed to be there, not only loving kids, but loving staff. God's ideas are always better than ours!
OK, maybe trying to keep everybody under control?
Staff girls... Gotta say, the sister thing is special! I have two in this picture (one's just my soul twin! :-)
Saying "See ya" to lots of folks... thankfully Santa Rosa isn't as far away as Bogota, but it's still going to change my life! No longer will my evenings be spent with these (above and below) - "my kids." They're kind of grown up now, anyway.
Bible study twice a week for 2 months with this one and his family, and they are major Eagles' Wings blessings. Pray for Josh S. and his mom, that someone can be Jesus to them.
Happy Travels!!! I'll end with the beginning of summer, the restful and fun trip to a wedding in Ohio - of friends I met in Colombia.

Summer, then, in short - a reminder of all the ways God has blessed me in all the opportunities to which He's called me.... In length, read below!

Dear Friends,

Would anyone like to volunteer to act as the adult to tell me to go to bed right now? Actually, don't bother; I might respond like my almost 3 year old nephew and tell you "Me happy." I am happy. I just had a shower, a visit to the chiropractor, food of my choice, and I'm sitting in a rocking chair, in my own house, with internet. At this point, I desire little more, for the whirlwind of life has worn me to a sense of appreciating quiet.

The whirlwind of life, of change. That, I think is what makes it a whirlwind. When I was 12, my parents decided to move. Now, we didn't move far - only about 10 miles across the grass of our rural community. I didn't change schools, social life, or even addresses, yet I cried over leaving our very small, very old house. I don't deal well with change. That, then, is one aspect where the Lord is exemplifying 2 Corinthians, for in my weakness He is made strong. Change has come, full force.

Some of you already know the story for the most drastic part of this. My school in Albuquerque was forced to make some major budget cuts, my position was eliminated, and I was left searching for jobs throughout the month of July. One day in a discussion with Ms. Dianne (my Eagles' Wings director, mentor, and friend), I concluded that God would wait until the Friday before school started to give me a job, because He was proving that HE is Jehovah-Jireh, the Provider. The week before school started, I was tempted to question Him, to worry, to be angry, but I had to conclude I could not. If I trusted Him and believed He was sovereign, then I had to believe some door would open, that perhaps I needed to work somewhere else, to do something else. That Friday, the call came. On Monday I interviewed for a job for which I'd never applied (I'd left my number with the district after being told there were no openings). I was hired and started trainings on Thursday. God provided.

I am now teaching 2d grade at Santa Rosa Elementary. I have 22 little seven and eight year olds; most of the time, I am absolutely bewildered as to what they can or cannot do, and what I'm supposed to do with them. Going back into the NM public school system after 8 years out, I'm overwhelmed by the paperwork. I've said for years that the stress level of the average public school teacher is much higher than mine was in private school, and I was right! God knew that to do my volunteering with Eagles' Wings I needed to be at Temple, and God knows now that I'm free to devote myself to the outer fields. Excuse that side note! I mostly wanted to say that I feel frail, like a brand new teacher, yet not hopeless, because I know God gave me this job, so He will work His work as I am there.

He's proved it, too. Today, Day 8, was the best day we've had all year. I think they might have learned something. I laughed... I haven't had time to laugh much before this point, but I couldn't help it when one of the boys pointed to my backpack, sitting behind my desk with papers sticking out, and asked, "Miss Wells, is that your backpack?"


"Are you going fishing?"

I'm truly excited about being in Santa Rosa. It's a tight-knit, old school Hispanic community. I was told today I needed to buy a purple shirt because we wear purple on Fridays and at all school events, including the Homecoming Parade. They've been incredibly friendly and helpful. The elementary school has a dedicated team of teachers; I have a mentor, my principal is in and out of my room constantly, we had 280 kids in the gym for an assembly and you could have heard a whisper. The district is bilingual, which means every child gets Spanish instruction by a bilingual certified teacher. Right now, we trade second grade classes in the afternoon so my students can be taught by the endorsed teacher, but I have officially begun graduate classes for a bilingual endorsement. I'll be able to add Highlands to my list of schools, as Las Vegas, NM, is only a little over an hour from Santa Rosa. The second graders from the other class asked me if I spoke Spanish today. When I told them yes, they decided to test me. Their teacher requires them to ask to go to the restroom in Spanish, so a little boy walked straight up to me with a plan. "Mrs. Padilla, me puedo ir al baƱo?" I answered calmly, "No soy Mrs. Padilla" (I'm not Mrs. Padilla). That apparently satisfied the entire class, since they hadn't thought about using my name.

On the God-story aspect of this change... Remember, we are talking about a small town. Santa Rosa survives because of I-40 and the prison, although it is helped by the many lakes (I've yet to visit the Blue Hole, but it is a pretty area). Renting in such a place is tricky, especially at the last minute. God, however, thought of this as well. My parents have acquaintances, Christians, who they called for ideas. It "just happens" that these folks have a rental that will be available in October on a ranch about 13 miles out. In the meantime, a friend of my grandparents had a friend (!) who had an extra house; she did NOT want to rent it out, but was willing to let me stay there for a while. Problems solved: I have housing, I do not have to move in the midst of all my other adjustment, I currently live 3 blocks from the school, and I'm becoming acquainted with the community. Last week, I stayed so late at school that I got locked in and had to call the secretary to come let me out (climbing a chain link fence in a skirt with 2 backpacks did not seem wise). That worked out nicely, though, as she is a precious Christian lady and we finally got to chat.

Change is good. Of course, Ecclesiastes says there's nothing new under the sun, so all that is change to me is really part of life here and God's plan for many years! As for nothing new under the sun, that might describe my summer. I had ideas for new things. A trip to Morocco, a visit in Colombia, playing with my nephews in Wyoming... oh wait, that isn't new. Anyway! God changed those plans as well. Please pray for hearts to be softened in the Moroccan government; they closed a well-established Christian orphanage suddenly and without grounds, leaving many children with little care. This then, closed my opportunity for travel there. Yet, true to the principle of nothing new, God opened a door for me to serve again at Eagles' Wings Youth Ranch this summer. The directors were in Albuquerque all summer, unavailable for camp because he had cancer, and there were a lot of holes to be filled. I don't really know what my job was. I urged and encouraged staff. I oversaw games, transitions, and kitchen clean-up. When the kids were troubled, they spent "negative time with Miss Rebecca." I had one little girl that threatened to "kung-fu" everybody and one little boy who refused to function without an extra half of a hot dog. I was just - there - and in the best situation possible to drive me to build my relationship with the Lord, as I had time for that structured into my day. I talked one young lady through understanding salvation - and saw a major turn around in another. E. was one of the blessings of the summer for me; she'd had a bad experience with police and she hated all authority, even her young and fun staffers. Within an hour of arriving at camp, she was refusing to participate. It was a long week and we had lots of negative time together, but on the last night, she came to me crying. She allowed me to hug her. She told me that she missed her mom. Maybe, just maybe, her eyes are open now to how a just God is also a loving God. True to Psalms, prayer came early and late all summer... and it was a wonderful summer, although one of the hardest for me in saying good-bye.

I've had a lot of sentimental moments this summer, be that bad or good. I did get to attend a wedding of friends I met in Colombia... and received a message that a precious child from my 4 year old class in Colombia had asked about me over a year after I left. My heart is still very drawn to serving those who need to see the "upside-down kingdom" of the Lord Jesus and His salvation. Oh, on the note of the wedding trip. I was caught driving in the midst of a tornado warning. Very unsure of what to do, I kept driving until I reached the motel, where I asked about the sirens. Yes, they said, those were sirens and if the tornado came, I'd need to go in the bathroom. How would I know it was coming? I would see it. Oh my.

Back on a serious note, I've released most of mentor kids into the adult (or semi-adult world). All spring, I did Bible study twice a week with one family. We saw the oldest boy in that family pray to ask the Lord in his heart this summer, yet I haven't even seen them in almost a month. The mom had also claimed the Lord, but the chains of alcohol and lifestyle are strong; I was so often blown away by the differences in our life experiences. She was only a year older than I am, yet she'd lived on the streets since she was 13, she has 4 kids and a prison record - really, she's come a long way to have a home and her kids and some degree of sanity. Again, Jesus is the Lord of the harvest and He will have to grow the seeds planted.

As for the rest of my summer... I made a visit to Waco to visit one of my girls from church, took another young lady from church and an EW staffer with me, and met up with 2 friends that I met at EW when I was in college! It was a mini-vacation. I spent a few weekends with my family. My siblings are all leaving home now, such a strange phenomena for me to watch. I never made it to Wyoming, but I did find a few long-lost friends on facebook. :-) I shall end on that note, as I'm beginning to see the flip sides of technology. Please know that if you don't hear personally from me in the next few months, there could be many causes. I have very limited internet access during the week... I may go through electronic withdrawals, but that will be a good thing! You can call though. For the first time since the Bovina years, my phone is in its home area!

There, you've had a moment in my whirlwind. I pray a few blessings rain down on you through it. Please stay in touch.