Monday, August 22, 2011

Just the Beginning...

We are thrilled about start to our 3rd year in Panama. We have some awesome new families and single girls that have joined the staff. I wanted to share some pictures from our first month back!

This picture was a last minute decision on the Richardsons part to join all the new staff and a few more adventurers on a night away from the City. We took a boat ride to Isla Grande on the Caribbean side of Panama after a 2 hour car drive through some of the more rural parts as well as some lush farmland with the healthiest looking cows we have seen in this country! I think we had 2 boat fulls in total (this boat also included everyone's luggage and those who know Clare well should know that she did not care if the boat capsized she was still bringing her own sheets and gluten free snacks!) This was a sweet time of fellowship and bonding! We are super thankful for all the people the Lord has brought into our and old!

Cannot believe we have 2 kiddos in school! Essie just started her first year in K4 and Ro is in K5. They are super eager little students, laying their clothes out each night and making sure homework papers are done as soon as they walk in the door....hope that doesn't change, but we aren't so sure! It has taken about 2 weeks for Essie's little personality to come out in her class. We warned her teacher that she was a bit more dramatic/passionate than her older sister...and we got a little note from her teacher reading, "The real Essie is starting to come out!" We asked Ro's teacher how K5 was going and she said, "Great....if everyone was like Ro!" Such fun watching them walk to the busito and ride off with their daddy each morning! Grateful for their adaptive little personalities and their love for one another!

We were running behind the first day of school because Field quickly realized he did not have a lunch box or a book bag and those things had to be packed...and with the appropriate materials! He threw up in the 5 min car ride home from school after dropping the girls off. I had been so excited to go home and enjoy spending time with him and a graduated CCA student spending the day with us. I just told our friend, "Welcome to motherhood! It is never dull! And never expected!"

This is Essie's Class on a field trip the first week to see a dinosaur exhibit. Field and I were excited we got to go because we were the Bus Drivers! They were all giving me their best roar!

Field missed his sisters and daddy for about a day and settled quickly into being the man of the house...he has been and absolute joy to be with. He gets up and gets dressed just like the girls and puts on his "soccer shoes" at 6:30, rarely to be taken off all day! He gets out his cars and animals and blocks and plays contently most of the day. He has been very compassionate with his pregnant momma, he snacks the day away with me and is happy to watch a video so mommy can rest! Couldn't ask for a better buddy! I am grateful for this sweet 6 months I have with him before the twins come!

Hope each of you has had an excellent start to the school year! We are thrilled about all the Lord is doing in our lives, the lives of our children, our friends both here and far, and in Panama! Much love to all!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Email Received

Below is a note, that I received last spring that I wanted to share. It was a huge encouragement to me in that the community is taking note of the difference in our students. That is a huge mission field for us as a school and a prayer of mine, that the community sees a difference in us in how we handle ourselves. If it is not noticeable than we are no different and we lose our testimony. It is our chance to witness to other schools and the community in Panama. This is also why I am so thankful for coaches that love on our players and speak into their lives.


I'm writing in great appreciation of the work I see you doing with the sports program at CCA. I've worked and coached at ISP for two years now and whether you remember me or not is not important. I leave Panama for good in three weeks and I felt I needed to write in applause of a program that I think is being run the right way. I fully applaud you, your staff, and your kids in the collective approach that CCA makes in sports.

Our JV team played your JV team this past Monday. I'm embarrassed to say that we won something like 9-1. If anything, I'd like to apologize. But what I did say to my kids at halftime was to take a look around. I wanted them to take note of our opposition. Your kids weren't complaining, asking to give-up, imploding, losing their cool, or otherwise embarrassing themselves on the pitch. I don't know that my team reacts in the same professional manner when the shoe is on the other foot. Luckily, this "learning moment" allowed a number of my kids, not all, to learn something about sportsmanship. It's one step at a time, and this definitely helped me teach something valuable.

I hope for this letter to validate the work of you and your kids. Sports, particularly youth sports, are meant to teach ethics, teamwork, camaraderie, and fair play. Winning gives us a reason to play. Unfortunately the winning is all too often what sports are about, here in Panama, in the US, and around the globe. I'm impressed to say that your program, at least in my humble assessment, values all that which are important. Your kids are headed for a bright future with the lessons you've taught.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Start of Year!

Well, we have gotten going again here down @ CCA! We are 2 half days into the year and it was great to see students again! It was even greater seeing both my girls with me at school! I cant describe how fun it is to se them at different times as they are out on the playground and they give me this little wave. Essie has been so excited about going to school, I can't wait to watch her bloom this year. Ro is getting right back in the swing of things and is a joy for her teachers. Both of them were so excited about the second day that they woke up at 5:45 and got themselves dressed including shoes and finished packing their lunches. All Clare and I had to do was breakfast and hair. We can dream that continues! Field continues to be a blast and makes us laugh constantly! Every day he wants to "Go Play Soccer!"
Basketball season starts up next week! As always things roll a little slow down here in Panama. I am waiting to hear from a few courts about us being able to rent. I am also still recruiting coaches to work with our teams. Thankfully the older teams are set, but still need some coaches for the younger teams. Please pray that the right people will be able to work with our kids and have a great season of loving and coaching these kids.

I am very excited about starting a men's bible study this fall. There has not been anything in this community for men. I have gotten great response from a number of guys. We are going to use the video series by Matt Chandler on Phillipians. I hope it will be a great time of fellowship and sharpening. I pray that we bond as a group of men that love the lord and want to lead this community well.

I was able to lead devotions for the staff the other morning and I shared from Phillipians as I have been reading it in preparation of the bible study. I was sharing how we as a staff needed to come together as a team and accept the different gifts and abilities that each other have. It is important to encourage each other in our strengths as that is the way God designed us. I find myself too many times wanting people to think, respond, and communicate the way that I believe they should. I need to remember to celebrate the individual that God is using for his purpose to His glory. Phillipians 2:3-11 gave me a big lesson on how to interact with others and a great example in our Saviour.

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. have this mind among yourselves , which is yours in Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient tot he point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."