It is a testimony to prayer at how we are starting to feel settled in here. We have been in our apartment for three weeks now. It has been a huge blessing to have our own place since dismantling our house back in April. Clare has done an awesome job as you could expect in organizing and maximizing the space. I think all we have left to do is to get some coverings for some windows and to get a few things up on the wall. It has already been called "the vortex" since it just sucks you in. That's what we wanted. At times it feels like we are living in a college dorm again as the people we work with and socialize are just a few steps away. Except this time we have kids. We are very grateful for our neighboring teachers that were very gracious with us as they let us use their oven and washer and dryer while we were waiting on ours to be delivered and fixed. It has been fun to be in fellowship with our new neighbors and getting to know them, their background, and their faith. Just as we have been learning the cultural difference in Christianity while living in Panama, I am getting to see how there are many different Christians carrying out God's work in different ways and mindsets in the States. I just pray that we can learn to not see the differences but celebrate how we love our Saviour.
I believe it is all about relationships. We are here to glorify God and to share what He has done in our life with others. To be able to share and give input with others, you have to have put time in. That comes through family, being a friend in tough times, a listening ear, a shoulder, youth leader, counselor, carpooling, small group, bible study, or meals together. Relationships are what makes life messy. It is easier to not be involved in someone's life then to deal with issues and to love them through their faults and risk the same for yourself.
This contributes to why teaching is such a draining profession. You are in the middle of relationships with parents and students. You come across more people then most typical workplaces. I have been praying about seeing the children for who they are and what the Lord has in store for them. They will one day be husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. It is easy to lose track of that when you are trying to manage a classroom. I pray that I am teaching life lessons and shaping them to be joyful in serving our Lord.
Relationships back home are definitely missed. It is hard to be away from the ones that we love. It is more difficult in that I must choose to not dwell on what I am missing, but to be where I am. This is more a defense mechanism than anything. We are working on being content with where the Lord has us. Some days that is easy, as I play games with kids, see parrots flying by, watch a cruise ship go through the canal, learning a new language, and countless other things. Other days it is more difficult, as I deal with parents that don't communicate, drive for an hour after a practice or game to take kids home, deal with staff that is anti-sports, have to talk with kids about their apathetic attitude, and learning a new language. On top of missing out on family gatherings, small groups back home, and groving in Oxford before a big game. Ro is especially homesick these days after a visit from her Grancy and Grampton. When she prays it is "Help us to be in Panama, I don't want to be in Panama." She then prays for everyone that she wants to come see her here. It kills me.
Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to do so. Pray that we hear God's words of encouragement and not Satan's doubts. I pray that you see the hearts around you that need prayer and love. We are all in this together.