As I'm sure you have noticed, I have stopped blogging. The La Palma experience has been one that I hope to never forget. It has been hard and with daily struggles, but it has also been full of blessings. I find myself struggling to adequately put into words what I would like to say. Thankfully, the Apostle John has my back on this one.
3 John 1:13-15
I have much more to say to you, but I don't want to write it with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and then we can talk in person. I pray that God will bless you with peace! Your friends send their greetings. Please give a personal greeting to each of our friends.

Thank you all for your love and support over this past year. It has meant more to be than you will probably ever know. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Dios le bendiga.

Proud to be an American

Today, my hometown said good bye to a fallen soldier. I didn't personally know our hometown hero but my heart goes out to his family, friends, and fellow soldiers.
Its my understanding that the military funeral protestors showed up ready to make an extremely tragic and emotional situation worse. Rumor has it they were stopped at city lines by law enforcement. They were told they were welcome in the great town of Monett and in fact several people were out looking for them... and that the entire police force was going to lunch.  The protestors apparently decided Monett was not a town to mess with. Proud to have grown up in Monett, proud to be an American, and proud of our men and women in uniform.
Thank you to the men and women that continue to serve our country and at times are forced to make the ultimate sacrifice.
And as always, I'm very proud of my little brother. After the ceremony, he went to see how he could further serve our country.
love, Teresa

Teen Girls Class

A few weeks ago, I started a teen girls class. My roommate, Bessy, is a big help. She leads songs and helps with commentary to make sure the girls were paying attention. By the grace of God, I think the girls can actually understand when I teach in Spanish. I started the class by having the girls write on a post-it note what they wanted to learn from this class. I also told them that if they had any questions about the Bible or about the life of a teenager in general, to write it down. Some of the responses were very general, like "I want to study the Bible." But I had several that asked about how to become a Christian, questions about baptisim, and questions about how to be a faithful and true Christian. Based on that information, I have started a series called To Come to Christ/Venir a Cristo. Last night was the first night in this series. We started last night off with a 4 minute video that showed a group recieving the Bible in their language for the first time. The girls had never seen anything like that. Sometimes we tend to talk down to them or act like they are our charity case. I was able to show them (and me) how incredibly blessed we are. We have the word of God in our hands and in our language. It definitely changed the mood of the room. The girls were silent (which rarely happens) and then we prayed. Edith prayed for people around the world that don't know Jesus and she thanked God for our ability to have the Bible and to understand it. After that, we sang a couple of songs and then we had our first lesson.
The lesson for last night was "Why do we need Jesus?" I asked them to imagine that they owed the bank a 100,000 dollars. Of course, we couldn't pay it and it became this huge weight on our shoulders. Eventually, we were arrested and sent to prison for the money we owed. That was to be our life, alone in a cold prison cell. But then one day, the guard told us that someone had paid all of our debt and we were free. I explained that the world without Jesus Christ is really just a prison cell. Sad and lonely with no way of escape. We read John 14:1-4. I told the girls that Jesus Christ is preparing a place for us in heaven. He has a house/room specifically set aside for each of us. It has our name on the door and its not for anyone else, but ours. Its not special because its a mansion or comes with a nice car. Its amazing beyond words because it comes with Jesus Christ, the one who saved us when no one else could.

Next time, we are going to talk about what it means to be a Christian. Please pray for this group of girls. Theres so much chaos in El Salvador and in the Church here.  Pray that they know that, despite everything else, we belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

Keep praying!

Teacher Teresa

On Thursdays, I teach preschoolers, first graders, second graders, and two hours of seventh grade. Sometimes "teaching" the younger grades is more like wrestling with them to get them to be quiet, pay attention, stay in their seats, and not break the desks. Sometimes they are just precious and adoreable. But this last Thursday, I felt like I was losing the wrestling match.
So when my 5th grade girls left this surprise in my room during one of the recesses, it made my day.

Casa de Cultura

Earlier this week, the school went on a field trip to Casa de Cultura. The Casa de Cultura is basically a library, but instead of complete access to the books, the books are all kept behind a counter and you have to ask for which one you'd like to see.

That day we went to hear a presenation about a famous El Salvador writer. The students had questions to answer about this particular writer.

Here, one of our students reads a short story written by an El Salvador writer.

This picture was hanging up in the Casa de Cultura. It was done by someone of the name Llort, but not Fernando. I thought it was beautiful.

Keep praying!

Pictures from the past few weeks

Picture Index, top to bottom, left to right.
#1. View of the flowers blooming and the mountains in the distance, right out side the gate
#2 Set up for the carnival
#3 More set up for the carnival
#4 Candy vendors
#5 The sweets for the teen class
#6 The spider.
#7 carnival games Sunday night
#8 sort of like funnel cakes... but not quite.
#9 carnival rides at night
#10 *see #9
#11 *see #10
#12 ice cream/ snow cone vendor at the futbol fields
#13 pincho mixto con Erin a la Hotel La Palma, Wednesday night
#14 carne asada for THREE dollars at the rodeo.
#15 pre-game futbol
#16 Teti's pizza
#17 Butterfly, the bull. careful, he jumps.
#18 carnival rides
#19 I was standing in front of the massive speakers they were setting up for tonights dance. I fear that music is going to keep me up all night. And yes, I can hear it from the house.
#20 the hat I bought today at the carnival. I have a thing for hats.
#21 The Queen and the other canidates arriving.

Blogs blogs blogs

Blogs are a great source of guilt for bloggers. Its always, "I need to blog" or "No, really, I really need to blog," or "I haven't even blogged since..." Finally the guilt has gotten to me. So here I write.
Another common problem facing bloggers, myself very much included, we occasionally write based on what we think the readers want to read.
Sorry folks, today Im just going to be brutally honest.

The month that I've been back has been one of the hardest. The congregation here has really been going through a rough time. They've had to deal with rumors, lawsuits, and even disfellowshipped a former preacher. This has definitely hurt morale but I'm hoping that this is a trial we can overcome and that it'll only make us stronger.

As you know, I also teach at the school. The new director/principal is a wonderful woman and I really enjoy working with her. I'm trying teach her how to use a computer. It has been an interesting experience for both of us because Im trying to teach her how to use a Spanish computer with a Spanisk keyboard. But we are learning together.
As every teacher knows, the start of a new year brings new trials and new students. My new students have been great. The Ministry of Education has been slightly frustrating with their constant change in requirements.

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine was arrested here in La Palma. I'm not sure if he's innocent or not, but as my friend, he deserves the benefit of a doubt. Therefore, I doubt he's guilty. This has definitely added some extra stress in my life and I'm very worried about him.

Combine that with a side of homesickness and you can see its been a rough month. I'm asking that you please pray for me and for the work here. Pray that God give me strength and wisdom to carry out His will.

That being said, it hasnt been all bad. This past week was Valentines Day. Dia de Amistad. Started off last Friday by having our first teen girls class/Dia de Amistad party. I got the girls tons of cake and candy and we talked about living the "Sweet Life."
La Palma goes crazy over this week. There has been a carnival/festival in town all week, a magician performing on Thursday, a rodeo in town yesterday, a series of futbol games, and tonight a dance party in the street/crowning of the Queen. There has also been tons of vendors, including pizza vendors and lots of pizza vendors. Theres a company called Teti's. They make excellent pizza and I have been to see them three times this week. I love them and will miss them dearly when they leave after this weekend.

I have tons of pictures to post. I will post an additional post just for pictures.
Once again, please pray for the work here and that whatever happens God is glorified. Pray that we are doing His will and leading the Church in the right direction. Pray also that if we EVER start to lead the Church in the wrong direction, that we will see the light.

Sharing the Good News

Recently, Jose Castillo was interviewed about the work here in La Palma. Today that article was in the paper.
Below is the link for the article:

To save the non-Spanish readers some time, here is the same article after Google has translated it. I apologize in advance for anything Google translated incorrectly.

Church of Christ helps poor families in Chalatenago

Pedro Valle Contributor
Diario Co Latino Writing

For an initiative of the Church of Christ in the city of Monett, Missouri, United States, low-income families in La Palma and its surroundings in the Department of Chalantenango, receive humanitarian aid that allows them to afford food and educational needs.

When members of this church visited La Palma, they found some important features, including the friendliness of its people, which was then found ways to support the county, both spiritually as well as socially.

According to church growth, were born other projects such as assistence with a monthly payment consisting of food, health, and education expenditures, for it was founded a school where they are given the opportunity to children from low income to form fully.

Another signficant contribution is the medical bridgades are performed each year in coordination with the Municipal Hall in the city or in the districts and villages, with the idea of bringing health services to all people who do not have the resoucres to afford the medical services.

Most beneficiary families are members of the church, though there is openness to other people who can register their children, places of origin of the student population includes La Palma, San Ignacio and some cantons of La Reina, has until now seventh grade level.

The aim of the Church of Christ is to train new generations with a visionary approach, aimed to have the ability to be productive citizens who can function in society and able to bring up their families.

"From kindergarten are taught English and computer skills as part of this projection, so that in the future be able to serve humanity, incorporating a Bible college that trains teachers and preachers," said Jose Castillo, associate and preacher of the Church of Christ.

Back in La Palma

I arrived in San Salvador last Thursday, spent the weekend at the beach with my "tias" and my "primo." We had a wonderful time, minus the part where Joel got sick. I came back to La Palma Monday afternoon. I got my suitcases in my room and immediately left to go find some people that I had definitely missed over the holidays. We had worship service Monday night so I got to visit with a few more people then. After that back to the room to get better aquainted with my new roommate, Bessie.

Tuesday I found out that this year, I get my own classroom. I teach English and typically I go to each grade and teach in their classroom. This year, they will be coming to my class. I'm super excited about this and have been trying to decorate the room and prepare it for a new year of classes. I was a little concerned because I was told I wasn't going to have a marker board. I've become quite spoiled and am not sure I know how to teach without a marker board. God provides. This time he provided in the way of hermano Jose. Jose is our local preacher here and he's always busy trying to help out in every situation. He said the church had a marker board that they werent using. He even helped me move the board and hang it. So the classroom is starting to look like a classroom. Gracias Jose!

I had a lot of things I wanted to work on today, but Ive been foolish since my return. I haven't been eating food with caution and making sure that its prepared with clean water. I was sick all last night and spent the majority of today resting. I'm not 100% better yet, but definitely an improvement from this morning. I'm hoping that tomorrow I can go back to working on the classroom and go back to eating again.

El Salvador Bound

Lord willing, I will be flying back to El Salvador on Thursday. I'm very anxious to get back to La Palma and begin a new year with my brothers and sisters there. I have a lot of things planned for the coming year. It will be a challenging but rewarding year.
Although I'm ready to return to the land of warm tortillas, mountain views, and my Spanish speaking friends, saying good bye to my friends and family here is never easy. But with Christ, no goodbye is forever. As always, I'd love to see you all in La Palma. Currently, my plan is to move back to the States in December 2011.... but plans are always subject to change.
Please pray for me this week as I prepare to say goodbye and return to El Salvador. Also, please say a special prayer for the work there and that God will be glorified in whatever happens this year.