Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 1 of exams is over. 4 days left of school--oh. my. gosh. At some points this year, I thought that this day would never come, and now I find myself wishing I could slow things down! My kids are being so wonderful, and I am realizing how much I am going to miss them. I was thinking after school today--why am I leaving again? Why don't I want to teach? Then I remember all of the rediculous things that happened this year, and yes there were some very frustrating times, but through it all, I LOVE my kids! So much! I never really thought I would feel like this, but here I am! I think I am beginning to understand the parent mentality of loving your kids no matter what. There were so many times this year where I could have strangled my kids, but now I realize I really love them even through those moments of craziness! Because of those moments, we had some awesome conversations, and they as well as me were able to learn some pretty important lessons. I am realizing how much I actually care about them, and how much of a difference they have made in my life. Man, Friday is going to be a sad day!

For part of their language exam, I had them write a paragraph about this year in 6th grade. I got some pretty good paragraphs (and some pretty rediculous ones!) but this one is my favorite:

This year in 6th grade was the best year ever. In 6th grade, I started going to chapel with the high schoolers and going to Wyld Life. I went to Wyld life camp and it was really awesome. Now I am almost a big girl. In 6th grade I had a boy****** (boyfriend!) Now I am learning more about God thanx to Miss. Stanley. In 6th grade, I can go to break with the big kids. I started having more friends. I started knowing how I can live my life next to God. My birthday was really cool because I got to get highlights. In 6th grade its like the middle of your whole life, like in the 5th grade I was a girl who had never gone to WyldLife, who had to go to chapel with the little kids, and had to eat with the immature people. Life is changing for me. I thank God for this whole year that I passed next to great friends, a great boyfriend and a great teacher. I thank God for everything! I love 6th grade!

Yes, THIS is why I love middle school kids:)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! LOVE the Lord your God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul and with ALL your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deut 6

I was listening to a teaching by RVL this morning, and it totally took me back to the time I spent in Israel. I remember waking up every morning, and starting the day out by reciting the Shema. That was SO empowering! Why? Because the Shema is exactly how God tells His followers that we need to live, and repeating that every day was such an awesome reminder of the purpose for that day! Is the Shema WHO I am? Is it everything about me that matters? RVL always asked us the question: “WHO ARE YOU? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” That is such a simple question, but it has so much meaning behind it!

Who am I? Am I a person who is completely obsessed, completely preoccupied with obeying and following God with all of my heart, soul and strength? My goal as a follower of Christ should be one thing: becoming a woman who is madly in love with God, and therefore living out my life with that single purpose filling my mind!

What am I doing here? Is my time, energy and resources dedicated to bringing the kingdom? How much of my time is focused on God’s work and purposes?

“How we live our days is how we live our lives” Annie Dillard

Phil 4:4-5 “Celebrate God all day, every day! I mean, REVEL in Him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the master is about to arrive! He could show up any minute!”
Colossians 2:6-7 “You received Christ Jesus, the Master, now LIVE Him! You’re deeply rooted in Him. You’re well constructed upon Him. You know your way around the faith, now do what you’ve been taught! School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving!”

Francis Chan said “We live and plan like we don’t believe God even exists. We try to set our lives up so everything will be fine even if God doesn’t come through. But true faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God’s fidelity to His promises!”

As I wrap up my time here in the DR and start a new adventure, this is a big time of questions...and I hope the main question I ask myself is if I am making choices by how I can best serve, or what I want most?

Friday, May 27, 2011

This year, I have often found myself getting very discouraged and wondering if the kids at Wyld Life, and at school, listen or care about what we have been sharing (or attempting to!) with them all year! BUT, every time I begin to feel like that, God has seriously shown me some way in which the things I am doing ARE for a purpose! Then, I am always like “okay, this is seriously embarrassing….how many times does God have to prove to me that He is more powerful than I can ever imagine….when am I going to get it?” I was reminded yesterday that as long as I am living my absolute best out of love for God, He will use it! After all, nothing I am going to do or say is going to be perfect anyways! My job is to be all out for Him. That’s the best I can do, I just have to let Him take control, because with HIS intervention is the only way my human attempts to do the right thing can ever be successful!

We had our second to last Wyld Life on Tuesday night--the “final talk” ( we had general “Who is Jesus” talks all year, then the last three weeks were sin talk, cross talk, and then this week was the “Jesus did this for YOU and LOVES YOU” talk! Rachel spoke and did a GREAT job--the kids were really into it! At the end, she gave the kids the opportunity to write a note to Jesus if they wanted to, and throw it into a basket. These are a few of the responses…..

-We do so many sins and you keep on forgiving us! Thank you!
-I love you too, I want to feed your sheep, help me Jesus!
-I love Jesus back with all my heart, soul and mind
-Lord, I just want you to forgive me and love me! I love you and you know!
-Dear Jesus: I love you and I want to go your way. I want to be accepted like a daughter! Show me how to go in your way.
-Jesus, I just want to tell you I love you back. Thanks for everything. I really appreciate that you gave me life!
-Jesus, I love you back and I know I am not perfect and I fall sometimes, but doesn’t matter what happens, know I love you!
-God, I am going through some hard things in my life, but I know you are there for me and watching over me!
-Jesus, I love you and I want to follow you and want YOU to take control of my life."

Seriously, God has been working in these kids' lives! I think the most important thing I have learned this year is this: Ezekiel 2 “Your job is to speak to them. Whether they listen is not your concern. Tell them-This is the Message of God! Speak your piece, whether they listen or not!”

God can do anything, my job is to say the words, and He will take it from there!

I read some sweet things in 1 Timothy this morning….

“The whole point of what we’re urging is simply LOVE-love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God.”

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray-not shaking angry fists at enemies, but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God! Not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions, but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it!”


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Every week, my kids have to write a story to go with their spelling words… is the best one this week:

I acknowledged my ambition to meet Taylor Lautner. Some people exaggerate when they see him. I, on the other hand, will scream or faint! He is so magnificent, good thing he discarded his girlfriend! He was soo cute when Bella trembled and he helped her. Robert Pattinson is so repulsive compared to Taylor Lautner. I deliberately hate him because he thinks he is so hot. He is very conceited. I will have vigorous revenge on Bella if I ever meet her!

Love it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Friday my kids had book reports due, and one of my students (Claudill) read a book about a girl changing herself for a boy, and this is what she put at the end of her book report:

That is one thing I have drilled into their minds this year...they for sure needed it! If that is one of the only things that they remember from having me as a teacher, I would totally be happy with that!

On Sunday, we had our annual Kermes fundraiser, which is a carnival the school puts on! It was a lot of work, but so much fun! field games
Josue and Melanio shooting paintball guns
Nicole, Claudill, and Claudill's friend

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We had a birthday themed Wyld Life club last night!

We even had birthday cake!!

Melisa and I are a Dominican wannabe version of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift for program.....

Just after the talk ended, a transformer blew up and a fire started!! Crazy! The fire department was called.....and never showed! At least before we left to go home! It was raining and the kids said usually they think the rain will put it out, haha!

Overall it was a GREAT club!!! Only 2 more to go before the year is over!
I had such a good teaching day today! We are reading the book "Sounder" and in it the boy's life is changed because a teacher was willing to help him, so the kids did a writing assignment about a teacher or someone who has impacted their life....and some of them wrote about me:) I was feeling really frustrated with teaching this week after all that went down last week, so this was definitely a blessing!!

Rosemary wrote:
My favorite teacher Miss Stanley! You changed my life because you always make me laugh and I feel safe telling you my deepest secret! I don't say because you want me to, I say it because it is true and I mean it! I know sometimes you get mad at me and I get upset, but you will always be my fave teacher:)

Josue (my boy who was involved in the fight last week)
Well, YOU showed me how to behave and listen to what I like and that I don't need to pay attention to what other people think!

I have teachers that change my life. They are Jessica Stanley and Laura Stanley (her 5th grade teacher). They show me how incredible God is. They show me good things about God. I need to say thanks God for giving me these wonderful teachers!
--afterwards she came up to me and asked me if I read it yet, and she said "its so true! before I had you two as teachers, I thought that God was just something big, not that He was like my dad and He loved me!!!" SO AWESOME!!!!!

Yes, definitely the motivation for the attitude adjustment I needed!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On Thursday, there was a big fight at school involving one of my boys and some of the older boys. It happened to be my boy who is super sensitive and gets made fun of a lot. I am really not sure how much more verbal abuse he can handle from his fellow classmates! It is heartbreaking to see how the constant, outright meanness from other kids is affecting him. I honestly don’t understand how kids can be SO mean! He came up to my classroom a complete mess, kids were punished as a result, but that doesn’t change the affect their words have had on him! It is so sad to watch kids treat each other this way and not feel bad about it, and I feel kind of helpless in this situation! How do you make kids understand the affect of their words?

Friday morning in my class, we focused on just having a time talking about words, and how people are always going to say things, but God will never reject us the way people will. We read Isaiah 43

“ But now, God's Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
"Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.
I've called your name. You're mine.
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.
When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you're between a rock and a hard place,
it won't be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That's how much you mean to me!
That's how much I love you!
I'd sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.

So don't be afraid: I'm with you.
I'll round up all your scattered children,
pull them in from east and west.
I'll send orders north and south:
'Send them back.
Return my sons from distant lands,
my daughters from faraway places.
I want them back, every last one who bears my name,
every man, woman, and child
Whom I created for my glory,
yes, personally formed and made each one.'"
Get the blind and deaf out here and ready—
the blind (though there's nothing wrong with their eyes)
and the deaf (though there's nothing wrong with their ears).
Then get the other nations out here and ready.
Let's see what they have to say about this,
how they account for what's happened.
Let them present their expert witnesses
and make their case;
let them try to convince us what they say is true.
"But you are my witnesses." God's Decree.
"You're my handpicked servant
So that you'll come to know and trust me,
understand both that I am and who I am.
Previous to me there was no such thing as a god,
nor will there be after me.
I, yes I, am God.
I'm the only Savior there is.
I spoke, I saved, I told you what existed
long before these upstart gods appeared on the scene.
And you know it, you're my witnesses,
you're the evidence." God's Decree.
"Yes, I am God.
I've always been God
and I always will be God.
No one can take anything from me.
I make; who can unmake it?"

And listened to JJ Heller “What Love Really Means”

He cries in the corner where nobody sees

He’s the kid with the story no one would believe

He prays every night “Dear God won’t you please...

Could you send someone here who will love me?”

Who will love me for me?

Not for what I have done or what I will become

Who will love me for me?

‘Cause nobody has shown me what love

What love really means, what love really means

Her office is shrinking a little each day

She’s the woman whose husband has run away

She’ll go to the gym after working today

Maybe if she was thinner then he would’ve stayed

And she says…

Who'll love me for me?

Not for what I have done or what I will become

Who will love me for me?

‘Cause nobody has shown me what love

What love really means what love really means

He’s waiting to die as he sits all alone

He’s a man in a cell who regrets what he’s done

He utters a cry from the depths of his soul

“Oh Lord, forgive me. I want to go home”

Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside

And it said “I know you’ve murdered

And I know you’ve lied

And I've watched you suffer all of your life

And now that you’re listening I’ll, I'll tell you that I...”

I will love you for you

Not for what you have done or what you will become

I will love you for you

I will give you the love, the love that you never knew

We had SUCH an awesome discussion, there were lots of tears, and I really felt like God was working in that time…it was SO cool! Afterwards, I gave them each a piece of paper and had them write three good things about each person, then later that day I typed up a little note with all of them in it for each person, and gave it to them at the end of the day. It was seriously so cool. They were all shocked at what their fellow classmates had written about them, and were all running around the room saying “Who wrote this!” and “I never knew that”! I have never seen them so happy! It was such a cool time, but I couldn’t help thinking “This is great, but what will happen on Monday….” Life is hard! Being in middle school is hard! It is even hard for me, and I am just the teacher!!

Bible study this week we talked about Shalom, and how it means complete presence of joy, total flourishing in every dimension! If we want to bring shalom, we have to go into the messed up parts of this world, the brokenness needs to be renewed! This is what it means in Isaiah 58 to really seek God--to break every yoke and to set the oppressed free! We have been saved by someone who owes us nothing but rejection, and we need to turn and show that same grace and mercy to others!

What if complete flourishing described the body of Christ here on Earth? This morning at church, we sang "Eres todo mi Dios" (You are My All in All), and I really liked the Spanish translation of that title (it may be just my translation, but thats okay:)) To me, it means You are my everything, God! Good reminder that until God becomes my EVERYTHING, will I be able to experience and bring complete shalom!
Ephesians 5:14
"Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!"

I won't ever be able to bring Shalom unless I am loving the Lord my God with ALL of my heart, ALL of my soul, and All of my strength. Then can I serve others by living for them, loving them, and leading them!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I just had an AMAZING weekend! I went hiking with my friends Leslie and Deanna to Pico Duarte, which is the highest peak in the Caribbean and east of the Mississippi River! It was SUCH a fun weekend just being out in the middle of nowhere, enjoying the mountains, and actually having complete silence for once!

On Friday we drove to the town of La Ciénaga (1,110m) which is at the base of the mountain. Leslie has a friend who is working in this town with the Peace Corps, so he got us all settled with passes and our guide (you are not allowed to hike the mountain without hiring a guide and a mule), and we hung out at his house and got dinner! We stayed the night at base camp, but we got there at like 10pm (too late apparently) and had to stay in this really old building….definitely NOT a good night sleep! It was really gross and dirty, and I woke up constantly throughout the night because we could hear rats running around. Leslie even woke up once because she felt something drop from the ceiling onto her sleeping bag! It was not fun, and we were definitely ready to get out of there!! (This picture is me at Peter's house with some of the homemade weights he made with some boys in his town!! haha!)

Saturday morning we woke up super early to get ready to begin our hike. We hiked 18.1K to La Compartición (2,450m) which is the main camp. It took us about 7 hours, and we were so exhausted by the time we got there! There was a main building where everyone slept, basically just a big room with cement floor, so we quickly claimed some good spots along the wall before we got stuck in the middle! Food preparation was probably the most hilarious thing at Comparticion--we had to cook our food on a fogón, which is just a big pot over the fire. We brought Quinoa and vegetables for dinner, and were getting ready to cook it while all the Dominican guides were in there cooking their dinner as well--and they were so freaked out by what we were cooking! We tried to explain to them how good it is, but they just said it was some weird American food and refused to try it! Finally, we got our guide, Abolito, to try it, and he LOVED it! He even got all the other guides to try some, and they were very impressed! After dinner we made s’mores (substituting Nutella for hersheys chocolate), and forced Abolito to try one of those, and he proceeded to eat 3! Needless to say, he could not make fun of our food any more! We also met these really nice Germans who are a part of the German version of the Peace Corps here, and decided to hike the next morning with them! After dinner, we were SO tired, so we got ready for bed, but when we looked at our watches we realized it was only 7:30!! We went to bed anyways, because we were planning to get up at 3 the next morning to hike to the peak before sunrise!

Sunday morning, we got up in the FREEZING cold (I had on as many layers as possible!) and began our 3:30am hike to the peak. We made it to the top just in time for a beautiful sunrise (totally worth it!) and hiked down as fast as we could to go make a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee over the fire! After our breakfast break we left at 9:40 to hike back down the mountain. Overall, on Sunday we hiked for 12 hours, and covered 18 miles!

The hike to Pico Duarte is usually supposed to be a 3 day hike, but we decided to do it in 2 so that we could have Monday as a rest day, because we have no school on Monday for Dominican Labor Day! Overall the hike was 28.7 miles. We were pretty proud of ourselves, and our guide was definitely impressed!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Today was the Jarabacoa "Maraton" de La Montana! It really is only a 12 or 13K but they call it a maraton:) It was supposed to start at 2, so we got there expecting it to start a little later.......but after listening to Piedad (our govorner) talk for about an hour and then some other random people talk, the race finally began at 3:15! It was SO hot, but fun--I am so glad it is over though! Melisa and Natalie rode around on their motorcycle cheering us on and bringing gatorade...definitely made it more enjoyable!

This past week was Semana Santa (SPRING BREAK!!!) and my parents came to visit! We had a wonderful time! They were in Jarabacoa for 2 days, so I took them hiking to one of my favorite waterfalls, and we went on some fun adventures! As much as they loved the craziness of Jarabacoa, I think they were very excited when we headed to the beach!

We went to the beach on Sunday (my 23rd birthday! I am so old!)spent a perfect day on the beach, and then went to my favorite Sushi restaurant for dinner! I even got sang to:)

The rest of our week at the beach we had PERFECT weather. My parents took Julie-Anne and I out for some wonderful dinners (we were so very thankful to not have to look for the cheapest thing on the menu like we normally do!!haha!) We also did lots of boogyboarding, and my dad and I rented a Hobie Cat on the last day! So fun!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This week at Bible study we talked about the early church, and how they lived that was SO successful in bringing God's kingdom here on Earth. We read in Acts 2:42-47 that they weren't just a church that got together on Sundays, they devoted themselves to living together so differently from the rest of the world that they were a complete testimony in all that they did. I feel like I keep going back to this question of "what has happened to the original purpose/idea of the church?" We talked about how here in Jarabacoa, as Americans, we've got the "seperate community" thing down, but what are we really known for?! They know we are the "Christian Americans" but what do they see in action that shows them that?

Matthew 5:14-16
"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."

We are told that we need to be an alternate city where our lives shine forth, bring the Kingdom by embodying it in society which is both abiding in Christ and engaging in the life of the world! The study gave us three ways the Bible tells us to live out this idea of an "Alternate City".

1-Be Gospel Speaking, talking about Jesus constantly!
1 Peter 3:15 "If with heart and soul you're doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you're still better off. Don't give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath. It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God."

"The joyful effects of the gospel in our own lives must give us an enormous energy for witness. How can we keep quiet about such a great wonder? The love that we experience because of the gospel must remove from us the fear of thers' disapproval."

2-Be Neighbor Loving
Matthew 5:47 "You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that."

3-Be Community Transformed
"There is a credibility that comes if you are consistent in your behavior, there is a credibility that comes if people see the gospel transforming you."
"You and your fellow believers are meant to be known for your passions and for the Heaven you bring to earth."

This was a really cool reminder of the importance of people SEEING that I am a follower of Jesus, not just knowing because I have told them, or because they assume that because I am an American here that I am a missionary!
We have been having some major water issues lately....sometimes we don't have water, sometimes we do--but when we do, it usually looks like this:

This was my water BEFORE I put my dirty clothes in it this morning! So much for being clean...haha! That is the same water I am showering with!!

At least I live in a place that looks like THIS!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I have this new obsession with Shane and Shane is SO good, and so real! Here are the lyrics to my two faves:)

"When I Think About The Lord"

when i think about the Lord
how He saved, how He raised me
how He filled me with the Holy Ghost
how He healed me to the uttermost
when i think about the Lord
how he picked me up
turned me around
how He set my feet
on solid ground

it makes me want to shout
hallelujah! thank you, Jesus!
Lord, you're worthy
of all the glory, and all the honor
and all the praise!
Hallelujah! thank you, Jesus!
Lord, you're worthy
of all the glory, and all the honor
and all the praise!



holy design
this place in time
that i might seek and find my God
my God

Lord i want to yearn for You
i want to burn with passion
over You and only You
Lord i want to yearn

Your joy is mine
yet why am i fine
with all my singing and bringing grain
in light of Him

oh You give life and breath
through Him You give all things
in Him we live and move
that's why i sing

I played these songs for my kids today during Bible class, and they set up some really great discussion. I can't believe HOW far my kids have come when it comes to Bible class. For the first few months of school, it was like pulling teeth to get them to say anything, but ever since we came back from Christmas break, it has been the exact opposite! I feel like every class has led to awesome open and honest discussion time! Definitely praising the Lord for that!:)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Had an AWESOME weekend!!
Saturday we went on a motorcycle trip...

and Sunday, went on a waterfall hike!

LOVE living in the Carribean:)