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Archive for November, 2011

Gentle Reminders

It’s through a hug or a prayer or words spoken in love by a friend or possibly through a parent-teacher conference that gently reminds me that there are deeper battles than long division and linking verbs at play in my 5th grade classroom.  With only two and a half weeks remaining in bimester two, I’m overwhelmed. Yup, I can admit it.  I have a lot of material to cover in these few weeks and I’m completely sure it won’t all happen.  In the midst of trying to cram in the mountain of material, practice a Christmas program dance, and curve a few rebellious attitudes I can forget that I am accountable before God for each of these 22 students. I am grateful for gentle reminders that there are things more important than teaching American history.

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Welcome 24th year of my life!

Exhausted, I contemplate whether it is a wise idea to write a blog tonight; but as I would rather release my thoughts than sleep, the final decision came easily.

Today began my 24th year on this beautiful planet Earth.  How blessed I am! Not only to have safely arrived at this day but to be surrounded by people who love and encourage me.  Here is a brief rundown of my special day. 🙂

I hate waking up to alarms. It doesn’t matter how early I have to wake up but if I can wake up without an alarm, I will be happy.  And so, today began with a peaceful rising at 5:15am without the annoyance of ringing.  Ah, bliss.  While I was doing my devotions the thought crossed my mind that this year would be the first year that I would not follow the tradition of having breakfast in bed. I hadn’t told anyone about this tradition and didn’t expect those who knew to do anything about it. Boy was I pleasantly surprised when at 6am Katie and Chelsea came knocking at my door singing happy birthday with a delicious looking cheese and spinach omelet!  Although I not entirely sure who was behind this surprise, my gratitude and love go out to them. THANK YOU! Alas, another year passes and I have not yet broken the breakfast in bed tradition. 🙂

As my student’s arrived they showered on my “Happy Birthdays” and hugs and several had flowers and gifts.  They were all so sweet and I felt blessed to be in their presence.  The whole day was filled with staff and students wishing me a happy birthday.  At lunch my student’s cleverly tricked me and threw a surprise party complete with balloons, party hats, noise makers, the largest chocolatey fudge cake you’ve ever seen, and two types of jello and chips! After signing enthusiastically 3 different times I was able to divide up the cake for the eager kiddos.  What a lunch! Needless to say, I’m glad I will only distribute the chocolate fudge cake once this year. 🙂 After lunch I was called into the office where I and another woman were prayed for and celebrated on our birthdays.  It just so happens that the other woman who has the same birthday as I is also my prayer partner this month!  I had the opportunity to sit and pray with this other woman later in the afternoon.  At the beginning of the month, when we were partnered up, I was nervous because she speaks almost no English and I speak very little Spanish. I am humbled to say that this in no way has hindered ability to love and pray for each other.  Showered in love and appreciation,  my day ended with one of my students performing “Happy Birthday” and another song she had learned to play especially for me on the piano.  Honestly, she about brought me to tears. Here was a 10-year-old who is using the abilities that God has given her, cultivating and improving them, to show love to someone she has only known for 4 months.  And best of all, she doesn’t even know how much she is showing His love.  After a fantastic afternoon of tutoring, I came home to skype with Bethany and most of my family.  Someday I hope to write a quick post about why tutoring with James is so much fun, but this post is about my birthday and it is already running pretty long.

After spending some quality time with loved ones on skype I headed to Bible study with a few other brilliant girls. Again I say, I am so blessed! Opening up scripture with other young women, who desire to know truth, is wonderful. Returning home I realized that I have piles of work ahead of me and two other  surprises. One, a gift from a housemate and second, a piece of delicious apple pie and ice cream. Thank you Charla for baking one of the most tasty pies I’ve ever eaten! Thank you for your card and sweetarts that were so cleverly placed in my box.  Thank you thinking outside yourself even when you have thoughts and concerns of your own.  You are a true friend and I am so blessed to have you in my life.  Bethany, although I’ve said this to you in conversation I don’t think I can say it enough, thank you for your thoughtfulness in everything. 🙂

Here it is, 11:10 and I haven’t touched any work for this week or planning for next week.  Tomorrow is a packed day of school, baking two recipes, and Thanksgiving dinner.  Followed by another full day on Friday.  Planning and catch up work probably won’t be touched until this weekend, and yet I can’t (and don’t want to) shake the feeling of overwhelming thankfulness.  Praise be to him who created life!

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Snickers Salad

November 18th, I have no idea how it got to be November 18th.  Here’s a slight recap of this week

Sunday: Church, work and skype. It was really good to see and talk to my parents!

Monday: School, and Monday night dinner was here at the Casa Grande. Chili and cornbread with peanut butter chocolate bars was the perfect fall treat after a rather disastrous day. Lessons just seemed to fall apart all over the place. I was glad to be done with day.

Tuesday: School, tutoring, volleyball, tacos, and ice cream. Overall, a great night to a rather interesting day.  After a disappointing science lab, we had a fantastic conversation in Bible class. I pray they continue to ask questions as we further talk about sacrifice next week. As always, volleyball, tacos, and ice cream were refreshing and a nice break after a long workday.

Wednesday: School, tutoring, planning, and Bible study.

Thursday: School, primary meeting, caught a spider, family dinner, decorated our Christmas tree. Yes, that’s right we proudly have a decorated Christmas tree a week before Thanksgiving.  Thursday was a pretty eventful day!  Dinner was good and decorating our Christmas tree was fun.  Although it seems a little early, it will be nice to enjoy the tree and stockings for a few weeks.  Despite the 80 degree weather, it is beginning to feel a little like Christmas.

Friday: Friday’s are always crazy days, and today was no exception. A couple highlights include discovering that the spider I caught yesterday is a baby tarantula.  Who would have thought such a spider would be wandering through our house! Before you begin to worry, don’t.  My source informs me that it won’t hurt me and are helpful to have around the house because they eat insects and cockroaches! I’ve decided to keep him for a week to look at next week in science but then I’ll let him go in my little garden area. I’ve now had a gecko and tarantula as pets!  Highlight number two includes me teaching my 5th graders how to make snicker salad. Without coolwhip, it was slightly different than I am familiar with.  Whoever says homemade whipped cream is better, hasn’t eaten it in snickers salad.  Despite this difference, it was fun to see 22 5th graders participate in some way to make this desert. I sure hope at some point these ideas of teamwork and cooperation will really connect in their minds.  If only I’d taken pictures…… I truly don’t know how some teachers are able to take pictures in the midst of activities.  Spanish lesson was after school, and despite my inability to communicate effectively I love my conversations with Cynthia.

This weekend: Who knows!

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Mile Marker Something

Ah! Two fluffed pillows gently placed behind my twinging back, cozy blankets wrapped tightly around me, and JJ Heller quietly playing as I write.  Welcome Friday night, welcome.  I apologize again for the long delay between posts.  For various excuses I haven’t written and rather than waste time writing them I’ll simply say, I’m sorry.

After 4 hours of constant meetings with parents, I can cross off another monumental moment in my teaching career.  Parent teacher conferences are officially over, although I may have a few additional meetings set up for next week.  I’m so grateful to have parents of students who take the time to come to school and talk with me regarding their child! Why is it that the phrase, “parent teacher conference” strikes fear and cringing into all who hear it mentioned? Even I have this momentary creeping dread that flows through my whole body at the thought and I’m kind of unsure why.  I suppose as a child there is always this fear that your teacher is going to reveal something dreadful to your parents and resulting consequences will follow at home.  As a teacher, I’ve heard others express their frustration with parents who are argumentative and overpowering or simply apathetic to their child’s education.  Maybe these and more are reasons for these emotions, but after today I am well on my way to rewriting these emotional affiliations.

Beginning promptly at 8am I began with my first of fifteen appointments with my student’s parents.  Thanks to some wise advice I began each meeting with prayer for the parent, the student, and for the things said in the meeting.  I would strongly encourage this for every teacher.  Even though I work at a Christian school, I asked every parent if they would mind, and I even had one parent who looked uncomfortable and wanted to move right into the papers.  That was fine, I just prayed in my head.  Taking a minute to pray provided me a moment to take a deep breath, commit everything about this child to God, and show each parent a piece of my heart.

Beginning promptly at 8 am, I continued with meetings until about 12:30, when I was done for the day.  I remained in my classroom and was able to grade a few papers until 2.  Overall the whole day flew by! Having meeting after meeting with individuals waiting outside your door doesn’t provide opportunity to dwell or pick at things that were said or not said during a meeting.  You just keeping rolling with the new parent at your door! I truly feel that every conversation was beneficial and even the things that were difficult to say, came out and appear to have parent support. I can’t believe how blessed I am to have the students and parents that I do this year.  One of my favorite moments was when a mom opened up to me about some difficult things that affected their lives the day before.  I could see the tears whelming in her eyes and she talked and we were able to look back together on some of God’s promises. At the end of the meeting I prayed for her and these things.  Honestly, this moment still takes me aback a little bit.  Here we were, able to throw off the titles of “teacher” and “parent” and acknowledge that we were sisters in Christ.  I walked away from this and all the meetings feeling loved and appreciated. I am so blessed!

Other highlights:
* When a student had to tell their parent that I appreciate their enthusiasm in class, positive attitude and smiling.  How cute is it to see a 10-year-old boy blush?!

* When a student had to tell their parent that they rush through their work and need to slow down.  (The look the mother gave her daughter was priceless.)

* When several moms told me I looked pretty and then asked if I wanted to marry a Mexican man and stay living in Mexico. (I may have blushed on this one.)

*When a student left me a note outside my classroom telling me that she appreciates and loves me. Precious.

Overall, today was: effective and positive.

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Chiapas Trip 2011!

What a trip! I can’t believe it’s over and once again I’m laying on my own bed. So here are a few highlights, and a link to a friend’s blog who, quite honestly, has summarized the trip better than I ever could.

http://charlarbol.wordpress.com/

Day One: Tuesday the 18th
We began our trip early in the morning and were prepared for a 12 hour drive.  Having stayed out late the night before and getting up early, I was pretty tired.  I tried to sleep, and managed a few hours but I was eager for our hostal that night. The drive was good and it actually took less time than expected.  I experienced my first opportunity to drive on this trip, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I’ll pause here to explain my experience driving while in Mexico.

First, although speed limits are posted… they mean nothing. You may drive as fast or slow as you like. Second, although there are lines painted on the roads….. they may easily be ignored if you desire to pass someone.  This means you can drive on the shoulder, pass on double yellow lines or even when there is oncoming traffic.  Although this was nerve-racking at first, I’ve come to appreciate the convenience.  Third, the word “tope” could be a curse word.  Translated, it means “speed bump” but understand that these “speed bumps” come in a variety of sizes.  Some are smaller, known as vibrators, where others are mountains of cement/rock/tar that no matter how slow you go over them, you will hit.  If there is someone selling anything along side a country road, you can be sure to find a tope.  If there is a town consisting of two houses, you can be sure to find a tope.  If there is a hill, you can be sure to find a tope.  If you plan on getting somewhere in an estimated time frame, you can be sure topes will add hours to your trip.   Lastly,  I had the opportunity of driving through a part of Mexico City. As I came down the mountain and saw the vast expanse of buildings, I was overwhelmed.  I have no comparison for you, but according to a little research, I believe the population it’s very comparable to New York City.  With the prayers from my backseat companions, we made it though with little difficulty.  Traffic was busy, but we made it though!

Driving on the shoulder to let me pass!

Entering into Mexico City!

Day 2: Wednesday the 19th
We spent part of the day walking around the beautiful city of Oaxaca and then off to a near-by ruin site, Monte Alban.  After walking through a small museum we headed up a hill to discover an extensive Zapotec city.  What a surprise! We spent a few wonderful hours walking around and reading about the temples that lay in ruin.  As a fun game, we each claimed a building as our own before we knew what it was.  For those that are interested, I “live” in the building IV where we conduct sacrifices next to the building dedicated to dancing.  Leaving Monte Alban we were suppose to travel 3.5 hours to the beach, but God had other plans for us.  The road to Mazute twisted and turned through the cloud forest, up and down mountains, through fog and rain, and after several hours those in the car were feeling a quite sick.

Driving through the cloud forest. The cloud to the right is misting out and evaporating in the sun right before our eyes.

Upon Katie exclaiming that she thought she was going to vomit, we took a break to get some fresh air.  After a few minutes we hopped back in the car and started to go, only to discover our brakes had stopped working.  Charla, being the quick individual she is put on the emergency brake and sat.  We were stuck, literally on the side of a mountain, with no working cell phones, and no way to go anywhere.  The nearest city with a tow truck was hours away and we had no way of contacting them.  If I haven’t learned this yet in my 23 years of existence, God wanted once again to demonstrate his power and provision to me through this trip.  Within minutes of realizing our situation a older Mexican man was slowly bicycling up the mountain. He stopped and asked if we were ok and what had happened.  His name was Mosis, pronounced almost like “Moses”.  Just as God used Moses to save and lead the Israelites to safety,  God used Mosis to lead us to safety.  Down and around the next curve was a row of homes and a school built between the road and the edge of the cliff.  Here, Mosis secured a phone number for a towing company and allowed us to stay in his sister’s “house” for the night. He was so generous to us, even though we were complete strangers, foreigners.  The home we stayed in was similar to the other 5 or so built next to it.  They stood between the road and the edge of the mountain, roughly the size of a 10′ x 10′ room, built with whatever scraps of wood, tin, burlap bag, or whatever could be found.  It was a shack, with a little table and a double bed.  After thanking Mosis immensely the five of us gathered in a circle and spent time praying and lifting praises to God.

Cereal in a corn tortilla, not to bad.

Through the whole situation, God demonstrated his provision and goodness to us.  How blessed we were that the brakes went out while we were stopped!  How blessed we were that Mosis came up at the very moment we needed help! How blessed we were that there was a roof and a bed at our disposal!  This will probably be my fondest memory of this trip.

I know it will be easy for people to read this and think, “Wow, you slept in a shack,”

and it might be shocking and unsettling but as I realized and I hope you do as well; such a home is very normal, dare I say a dream, for so many around the world.  It was everything we needed, and isn’t that what God says he will provide?

Warmth

Day 3: Thursday the 20th

Alarm Clock

Awaking to the sound of a rooster near our heads, we eagerly made a few phone calls and secured a tow truck.  A few hours later they arrived loaded us up and we headed down the mountain.  When we reached the shop they unloaded the van and miraculously the brakes worked fine.  I don’t understand how or why, but they did.  For a few days I really struggled with the question, why?  Why God did it break down in the first place? After having spoken with the other girls

Our Cozy Home

I realized that it was probably for a variety of reasons. It seems God spoke something different to each of us while we were in the shack, ultimately bringing us closer to him, trusting in his provision and goodness, and that no matter the plans we create (even silly vacation plans) he is in control of them.  We finished our drive to the beach and spent the rest of the day soaking in the sun. The hostel we stayed at was directly on the ocean and was so peaceful.  With hardly any other tourist around, we had the place to ourselves and chose to sleep on swinging beds on top of a hill.  Another wonderful night was spent staring at the stars in conversation.

Day 4: Friday the 21st
I officially love swimming in the warm ocean.  At first hesitant and unsure of the saltiness, I have grown to enjoy the warmth and waves. What a thrill to be in the mists of something so powerful and massive.  I write this and wonder if that is how I should feel daily, knowing that I am part of the plans of an even more powerful and massive God.

Swimming with a Sea Turtle

In the morning we enjoyed a boat tour that showed us sea turtles, dolphins, a whale, allowed us to swim with the turtles, and snorkel. Here is a useful piece of information I learned during this excursion. If you desire to catch a sea turtle in order to swim with it, here is how you do it.  First, you drive your boat up as close as you can without scaring it and as quickly as you can dive in on top of the turtle.  Before the turtle has a chance to flee, grab it and hold on to it’s shell.  Wa-la! You have successfully caught a sea turtle.  🙂 I may or may not have witnessed such an episode.  The remaining portions of the day was spent walking, picking up shells, swimming, napping in the sun and ultimately resting.

Sunrise from my bed

Day 5: Saturday the 22nd
Leaving in the morning we traveled towards San Cristobal de las Cases.  It was a long journey but we eventually made it through the winding roads to our homey little hostal.  We grab dinner at a fantastic little Thai place and then wondered around the city for a few hours. After the humidity and warmth of the beach, I was not adjusted to the cooler climate of the mountains.  Despite my layers and blankets, I shivered most the night.

Day 6: Sunday the 23rd
Arising early and wrapped in layers, we stumbled downstairs to discover breakfast laid out neatly for each of us.  What a treat of cereal and fruit!  For the rest of the day we wandered throughout the city trying various foods and bought some Christmas presents.  We broke into small groups or wondered around a market individually and it was there that I realized the fun of bartering.  As long as I am by myself I am willing to try to use my Spanish.  Without fear of what people will think, I try and enjoy trying.  In the afternoon we loaded up our musty smelling wet clothes and continued our journey towards Los Lagos de Montebello, near the border of Mexico and Guatemala. After many hours of

travel and wandering around the area trying to find our hostal we realized that our hostal was located 45 minutes back in the city of Comitan. Augh.  Upon arriving at our reserved hostal we learned they did not have a washing machine or internet as the guide-book had promised.  The wet must laundry would have to sit for another day.  Although this was disappointing, we were grateful to have beds and a bathroom.  For the first time I tried Elote for dinner.  It was fantastic.  Kernels of corn with chile, cheese, and maybe something else, I’m not sure, but it tasted so good.  The corn is unlike sweetcorn and is a little more chewy. Hm, that is a poor description, but I guess you just need to try it in order to understand.

Day 7: Monday the 24th
After deciding that it would be wise to have the vehicle checkout before we continued on our journey, we dropped the car off at a mechanic to have a look under the hood.  An hour later it was decided that the brake pads needed to be shaved down, plastic rings replaced, a hole repaired, and I think there was something else too but I’ve forgotten.  Moral of the long sentence, we hitched a ride on a bus and headed back down to enjoy the lakes for the day.  The remainder of the morning and afternoon was spent walking around and in conversation.

Quite path through Los Lagos

Overall it was a good day and I really appreciate the conversations, but disappointingly we didn’t really see much of the lakes.  That just means that at some point in the future I will have to go back and see them again.  🙂  That night we picked up the car and headed north towards Palenque.   This was one of the few times we drove during the night, and once again God clearly demonstrated his unfailing provision for us.  While driving, we experienced a variety of obstacles but have no fear, we overcame them all.  If the endless amount of topes weren’t enough, the cows, sheep, goats, horses, and unexpected washouts of the road slowed us down.  The most excited “deslave” included a van speeding around us and then quickly slamming on their brakes.  As a result we slow down and upon approaching where they had braked, we discovered three rocks in the road “warning” that a foot beyond them our side of the road was completely gone.  No signs, no barrels, no lights, only three little rocks warning of immediate danger.  Again, God was so good to provide a van who braked ahead of us warning of danger.

Drying Laundry

Upon arriving in Ocosingo, we found a hotel that would allow us to use their washing machine and small kitchen.  The poor hotel man, he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to let us stay there.  5 loads of laundry later, all hanging on lines on the hotel roof, Katie and Charla finally went to bed late into the night.

Day 8: Tuesday the 25th

After a breakfast of oatmeal and pears, we left Ocosingo and headed north towards Palenque.  On our way we stopped at Agua Azul and Misol-Ha for a little sight-seeing.  Both destinations were breathtaking.  Although both are waterfalls, they speak very different things to the observer.  The bright blue water and various levels of cascading falls at Agua Azul spoke of God’s creativity and beauty.  They reminded me a lot of Tahquamenon Falls in Northern Michigan, although not quite as cold.  Finding a rope swing the 5 of us took turns participating in our own panamerican games, attempting to create the most graceful jump.  Buying a mere 12 empanadas, we gathered for lunch in a sunny area near the falls.  Wonderful? I think so.  Leaving Agua Azul we drove a little further towards Misol-Ha.  At this point our vehicle’s gas empty light was on and we thought about skipping this majestic fall in order to conserve gas.  Thankfully, this decision was decided against and we made our way to our next destination.  What a waterfall.  Completely different from Agua Azul, Misol-Ha spoke power and force in a different beautiful way. We were able to walk behind this 40 meter waterfall and up and back into a limestone cave.  If I had been wearing my hiking sandals, and had brought a flashlight, I could have spent hours walking back through the cave.  Next time.  🙂  After leaving the falls, we remembered our lack of gasoline and Charla went to ask the people at the gate if they had any they could sell us.  It just so happened that a Mexican soccer team from Mexico City was visiting the falls at the same time as we were.   Their bus driver gave us some gasoline and at the same time a few a players decided they wanted a picture with the “gringas”.  Although we’re used to being stared at, pointed at, made comments to,  having our pictures taken is a first.  We made our way to Palenque and found a cheap place to stay right outside the ruins. Anyone visiting Palenque should consider staying at the Jungle Palace.  Yes, that’s right, the Jungle Palace.  Hut type buildings in the midst of the Jungle is a “do not miss” part of any adventure.  What a beautiful place to spend two nights.

Jungle Palace

Day 9: Wednesday the 26th
Having slept well, partially a result of having stolen all the warm blankets from Abby, we arose early and walked to the ruins.  Upon entering through the jungle we came across our first set of ruins near a gently flowing river and cascading falls.  The day was dedicated to climbing up every temple, crawling though any building we could, and hiking though the jungle. This may be my second favorite experience on our Chiapas adventure.  I love being in the woods back in Michigan, and almost everything about the two days spent in Palenque reminded me of my wonderful Michigan home.

Waterfall at Palenque

All throughout the ruins there were individuals advertising for jungle tours.  For a small fee, they would take us through the jungle to see monkeys and other wildlife.  We decided that a jungle adventure was necessary, but that we could create our own.  After wandering in circles for little bit we eventually found a little trail that headed out into the jungle.  Having been trained well by my mother I wore my tennis shoes, jeans and brought a long sleeve jacket; you never know what poisonous plant or bugs are just waiting to make contact with skin.  Despite sweating profusely due to the humid hot jungle air I was so glad to be completely cover.  Any moment’s pause during our hike resulted in a swarm of mosquitoes.  We eventually made it to a temple ruin covered in vines and trees but still had standing arches.  Eagerly we climbed up and walked through the ruins.  Hidden RuinsIn many ways I satisfied my childhood desire to be an archaeologist on this jungle adventure.  What a thrill to be discovering for myself this ancient Mayan ruin.  Pausing for a water break, we were startled to see a stream of liquid falling on my friend, Abby’s head.  Glancing up we are shocked to discover two monkeys sitting in a tree above us, peeing on Abby!  In a mix of disgust, surprise, and joy we all took a few steps back trying to conceal our laughter as Abby tried to dry her head.  After laughing, taking pictures, and having satisfied our find ruins and monkeys, we headed back.

Peeing Monkeys!

Day 10: Thursday the 27th
Leaving Palenque, we began our travels back towards Guadalajara.  Heading towards Puebla we had a rather peaceful drive in the morning and were only stopped twice to have our vehicle searched.   Both instances consisted of us getting out of the car and waiting patiently for a few minutes while they realized we were 5 messy girls living out of a van.  It may have been the lingering scent of wet musty clothes, or the realization that nothing we possessed was of any interest, they let us go within a few minutes.  The real excitement didn’t unfold until we were a mere hour away from our destination.  It just so happened that once again we were driving through a winding mountain road.  Driving around a corner a car cut in front of me from the other lane.  A semi was broken down and in order to miss it, the other vehicle cut in front of me.  I pressed firmly on the brakes and to my horror a thumping sound was produced. My initial though was that I’ve blown a tire and slowly pull off in front of the broken down semi. We got out and while looking at the tires two men approach us placing caution reflectors behind our vehicle and began assisting us.  The tires were fine, but the thumping was unmistakable.  The men immediately begun working on the van.  I’m not entirely sure if they asked, or  just began helping. As it turned out they were mechanics who had just fixed the semi that had been broken down behind us.  They soon identified the problem as a bolt that had come out when I had braked hard just then.  It must not have been placed in properly when the van went through repairs in Comitan.  They drove off to buy the part and came back within an hour and easily made the repair.  Only an hour and a half delay!  Once again, it was such a clear demonstration of God’s protection over us.  It is not coincidence that the screw fell out while I was already going pretty slow, there was plenty of space for me to pull off, there was a mechanic already next to us, they understood this unique vehicle, were able to find the part quickly, and charged us a fair price. They finished just as night was falling.  God is always active and present in our lives!  At this point, night arrived and we are only a few miles outside of Puebla when we got stuck in the longest traffic jam of our trip.  In order to pass the time and ignore that our empty gas light was once again on we began singing our favorite Christmas carols.  To the hymns of Silent Night and O Come All Ye Faithful we continued on for another 2 hours until we rested at our hostal.  With much gratitude we checked in and began chatting with the man at the hostal counter.  It just so happened that there was chocolate cake sitting there, and exuding boldness Abby asked if we could have it.  He said normally it costs 20 pesos, but for us it was free!  Even now, the thought of the delicious chocolate Costco cake makes me smile.  To finish the night, the five of us devoured the cake, tacos, and fresh fruit smoothies.

Day 11: Friday the 28th
After a restful night in clean sheets, a warm blanket, and soft pillow we arose to head out towards neighboring town of Chulula. Heading towards an orphanage that Abby was familiar with, we were eager for another day.  Unfortunately, a further encounter with the police was in our future.  Upon turning left on a green light and not on the green arrow, we were pulled over.  After the police officer fully explained our error and demanded that the fee, 1500 pesos, be wrapped in a piece of paper and paid to him immediately.  Sound shady? I think so.  We told him no and that we’d rather have the ticket and pay it at the police station.  2o minutes of argument followed and eventually he decided to let us go “out of the goodness of his heart”.  Right.  Unsuccessful at his bribe,  the defeated police officer left to find another, less argumentative, foreigner.  Arriving at the orphanage we learned about the mission and the work they are doing.  We helped with some landscaping and then spend the afternoon talking and playing with the students.  It was a great day, full of thoughts and convictions that I will leave for another post.

Day 12: Saturday the 29th
Our final day of Chiapas 2011! Leaving Puebla we traveled northeast of Mexico City to the ruin site of Teotihuacan.  Although I was convinced nothing could compare with the ruins in Palenque, I was impressed with the sheer size and organization of Teotihuacan.  The Pyramid of the SunWalking down the “Avenue of the Dead” it is impossible to not feel the overwhelming sense of power and structure.  Symmetrically organized, this avenue still claims some of its previous majesty.   While walking amongst the temples Charla made a point of saying that despite how tall these pyramids and all building, they can not compare in height to the mountains God created.  I reflected how evident that has been throughout the trip.  In all the grandeur, power, and beauty of things that humankind has made, it doesn’t even come close to comparing with the things created by God.  The uniqueness of each sunrise over the ocean, the freshness of the blue cascading falls, or the roar and power of waterfalls, the blackness and brilliance of the night sky, the intricacies and shimmer of Bioluminescence surpass man-made attempts to replicate God’s ingenious creations.  For me, it is impossible for me to walk away from this trip and not humbly fall before God and admit his majesty.  What a God we serve!  What an honor to be called his child!
Leaving Teotihuacan we traveled through the day in order to arrive Saturday Night.  We finished out trip by grabbing tacos and papas at a taqueria in Guadalajara.  It was a great ending to a great trip.

On top of the Sun Pyramid

I’ve so grateful to the other girls for their friendship and uniqueness that they brought to this trip.  It was restful, educational, entertaining, and rejuvenating.

Thank you family and friends for your prayers while I was gone, they were felt and appreciated. If you read through all of this, I am impressed!  Congratulations on finishing what may be the longest post in the history of blogging.  Ok, probably not but I think you get the point.  Blessings!

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I’ve returned!

Dear Faithful Blog Checkers,

I apologize in my delayed return to writing.  I returned to Guadalajara on Saturday and have since began school and the normal activities of life!  In an attempt to create a summary of my wonderful Chiapas vacation, I have created a beast of a blog that isn’t quite finished.  Only two days left to journal about and then it will be at your disposal to sift through.  Thank you for your prayer while I was away, I know without a shadow of a doubt they were effective.  🙂  Curious? I hope to have it posted late tomorrow night.

Blessings!

Lisa

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