Monday, March 28, 2011

And so begins week two...

My first week of student teaching here is done! This week has flown by, yet has been extremely long at the same time. I am growing to love my third graders more and more every day, they are so loving and affectionate and teaching them is truly a joy (though there are times they test my patience). They are constantly writing little notes and pictures at the bottoms of their quizzes and homework paper which always makes me smile. It is very different teaching here because there are so many different cultures and types of learners. Only two out the 19 students I have are native English speakers. While this can be a little comical at times (I had a little boy run up to me on the playground and asked me to tell the little girl he was playing with to stop “persecuting” him) This can be a big struggle and I have to constantly remind myself that English is not their first language. This really is a hindrance to them in the areas of reading comprehension, grammar and spelling. Pray for me as I try to figure out how to teach them in the most effective way possible. We read a book on the Statue of Liberty and I had them make their own Statue crowns. They really enjoyed it and proudly wore their crowns throughout the day. It’s funny because I am finding that when they enjoy the lesson, I enjoy teaching, when I feel like they don’t understand or do not like the lesson, I get discouraged. This past Friday after school, my co op had a “boys night” with the boys in the class. She had a sleepover with the girls in the fall so it was time to treat the boys to something special. So we took the six third grade boys after school for a night of bowling, pizza, soccer and a movie at their teacher’s house! There’s only six, should be easy…right?? NOT! Take six nine year old boys, fill them full of soda, candy and pizza and have them throw ten pound balls around….better hide behind something. As crazy as they were, it was a really fun night and they cracked me up the whole time. And I can proudly say that I was the bowling winner! (no one has to know who my competition was….or that we were playing with bumpers…)

It has been great getting to know my host family, they truly treat me like their daughter/sister. One of the reasons they wanted to host a student teacher was so that their children could be around an English speaker and improve themselves. Nubia now carries around a little notebook with all the new words and phrases I say in English that she likes. It’s cool to see their desire to learn. The family’s maid, Sabas, does not speak any English however. I have been using this to practice my Spanish skills on her, lucky girl!!! : ) She just started an English class so she will come to me with help on her homework or questions on pronunciation. I guess you could say we are helping each other! Sabas is a truly sweet girl, but she does not have a relationship with Christ. She has recently started going to church with the Olivers and Nubia has been talking to her a lot about spiritual matters. She has been asking a lot of questions and really seems interested these past few weeks! Pray that she would keep asking questions and taking in interest in Christianity!

This weekend was really fun! Brittany, Brynna (The other student teachers from BBC) and I went out with three of the CCA teachers to a place called Central and Casco Viejo. Central is a market full of locals and little shops. You can find Kuna people walking around selling various items. The Kuna’s are the indigenous people who live in Panama in villages a little ways from the city. Casco Viejo is an old section of Panama that was built by the French when they owned the canal. It was amazing! The architecture and buildings were so cool. It was like a mix of Latin America and Europe. This section is also the place that the Panamanians took their gold to hide it when the pirates attacked. So there were real “pirate gold” jewelry stores and souvenirs. Jack Sparrow would have been in his glory. It is also the place where a Survivor finale took place and being the survivor fan I am…I was in my glory as well. It was one of the sights I really wanted to see when I knew I was coming to Panama so I was really glad we were able to go. I am loving getting to experience this new culture and people!

A few things you can be praying for…

1) I would keep improving in my teaching and strategies so I can grow and teach these students to the best of my abilities.

2) That the unsaved students in my class would be able to see Christ through my life and in the ministry of the school and church. Also that I am able to communicate clearly during Bible class and that they would truly understand.

3) Saba’s salvation and wisdom for Nubia as she is the one who gets to talk with her the most.

Thanks for your prayers and for reading! Hasta Luego!

Monday, March 21, 2011

These past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions, from excitement to feeling overwhelmed! We are getting thrown into teaching faster than usual because of our short time here, this can feel very overwhelming especially right at the beginning. I’m trying to take it a day at a time so that I can enjoy each moment. I have been spending sometime writing lesson plans in the backyard hammock so I really can’t complain too much. : ) Although I find that I am easily distracted by looking for monkeys or sloths in the trees surrounding me. Friday night we went to a music festival in a local park. There were hundreds of people there and it was so awesome to get a taste of Panamanian culture. There was singing and dancing and a lot of music! So much fun! The moon was exceptionally bright and I kept thinking how perfect the night was. The next night Manuel and Nubia (my host parents) and Diana(their 11 year old daughter) and I went out to dinner for Panamanian food. The food was great and the conversation even better! We sat around and talked the whole time about everything from the education system, how to improve the education system (My profs would be so proud), different cultures and countries we have been to, church planting (My dad would be so proud), Christian education and its pro’s and con’s and how our worldview as Christians should effect everything we do. I love fellowshipping with fellow believers, especially when they live around the world. It reminded me how strong the bond of brothers and sisters in Christ is. We live thousands of miles apart, yet we have the same goal of spreading the word of God and encouraging one another. Poor Diana may have been bored out of her mind but it was encouraging for me! On Sunday we went to church at Crossroads (Where I teach) and again I was amazed to see the various cultures and nationalities that surrounded me, all praising and worshipping the same God! That afternoon we went to the causeway, which is a road that connects three islands off the coast. The road was made with the dirt that came from the Panama Canal when it was being built. You can ride your bike, rollerblade and walk on this road. That day was a kite festival going which was so much fun! There were hundreds of Kites filling the sky and I almost filled my memory card trying to capture every moment. We were able to walk down to the entrance of the canal and watch ships come in and out. These are the moments that excite me, when I realize that I just experienced something that I may never experience again.

Today was my first day teaching at Crossroads, it went better than I thought it would! This class is bigger than my last placement and love to talk! They are very sweet and were so excited for me to start teaching. They kept asking on Friday “What are you going to teach us?? When are you going to talk??” I have a feeling they will get tired of me talking pretty quickly, even I get tired of hearing myself talk all day! I taught Bible and spelling and both went well. Some exciting news is that a little girl in my class accepted Jesus as her Savior in class Friday! This truly makes me excited to be here at Crossroads. Many of the students do not come from Christian homes. Parents here so badly want their children to fluently speak English that sending them to this school is very appealing. It does not matter if it is a Christian school and they are Catholic (which most of them are). This means that Crossroads has a huge mission field, which they are taking full advantage of! Pray that more students will come to understand what is being taught here and know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Great things are happening and I am so excited to be a small part of it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hola from Panama : )

Well I’m here!! Can’t believe I am already in Panama, I am so excited! My flight and trip went very smoothly yesterday. The view coming into Panama was gorgeous as we circled around the skyscrapers of Panama City. Customs and Immigration was what I was nervous for and that couldn’t have gone better! (easy cheesy lemon squeezy, as they say in my new third grade class). As I exited customs, I walked into a crowd of people all yelling and holding signs for various people they were trying to pick up. I looked around for my name or a sign for crossroads for about ten minutes before I started getting worried. A very nice Spanish taxi driver began helping me search. It didn’t help that my phone wasn’t working what-so-ever either…Finally the man and I have never been happier to see my own name! Apparently they picked up a French doctor woman name Danielle as well, I guess she assumed that no one else named Danielle would ever be in that airport at the same time…haha I guess there was enough questions for them to realize that this was not the right Danielle and they turned around, thank God. Besides this event, everything went wonderful! My host family, The Olivers is so great! Their house is gorgeous, I could not ask for a nicer arrangement. Their house back up to the jungle…literally…. they told me that often times you will see monkeys climbing from tree to tree, way too cool. They have three kids Diana, Diego and Luciana who all attend CCA. They made me welcome home signs for when I walked into the house. Mauel and Nubia (Mom and Dad) are so sweet and helpful. The whole family is fluent in English and actually the Dad speaks Spanish, English and Russian. Mom speaks Spanish, English and French. Their family has lived all over the world including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, France and Spain. They are an AWESOME family. I am so blessed! Today is my first day at school and I already love it! The third graders are adorable and are already hugging me and saying I love you, so cute! They are a very diverse class, with students from France, China, the U.S. and several Latin American countries. I know this is going to be an awesome opportunity for me and definitely a growing experience. I will be very busy these next few weeks and am already a little overwhelmed with everything, but I will try to keep you updated as best I can! Thanks again for all you prayer and support. I love you all!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wednesday is almost here!!

I cannot believe it is almost time for me to start my student teaching experience in Panama!!! I am so excited and a little bit nervous! I have seen God provide so incredibly for this trip, like He always does. This experience started out a little rocky and I have to admit I wasn't sure it would ever happen. My placement was changed several times which pushed back the time allowed for me to raise the support needed. I should have remembered that God knows no time constraints. I raised the money faster and easier than any missions trip I have ever been on, and it was also more than I have ever needed. I am very thankful for his provisions, He knows what I need and has never failed to provide for me. I want to thank everyone who has supported me regarding this trip so far, whether financially or in prayer. I could have never done it without you, thank you for being willing to be used by God in my life. There are some things I am asking prayer for as I start this trip....
1. Time management and wisdom as I student teach: Student teaching has proven to be very time consuming and overwhelming at times. Please be praying that I find the time and organization skills to do my very best, even with the distraction of being in a completely new culture!
2. Transportation: One of the difficulties we are having is finding rides to and from the school and my host families house. There may be times when I need to get a taxi or ride the bus. This makes me nervous since I am not fluent in Spanish. Please pray that all those little details would work themselves out with no major problems!
3. My host family: I am going to be living with a Panamanian family during my stay. I don't know if this family speaks English or really anything about them. Pray that I will connect with them and that I will be an encouragement and blessing in their lives while I am staying with them.
4. My time at Crossroads: Please be praying that I will be an encouragement to the missionary teachers that I will be working with at Crossroads Christian Academy. I know that missions work can be very stressful at times and I want to be a blessing while I am there. Also be praying for direction in my life. If missions work is something God wants for my life, pray that I will be open to his calling.

I will try to blog often so keep posted on more news!