war_247Happy Día de Amor y Amistad! Colombians celebrate this holiday of love and friendship during the month of September, so it often has me thinking of you, my friends back home. This holiday is similar to Valentines´ Day, but groups also play "amigo secreto," which is like secret Santa. I´m in two pools, with the teachers and with the senior class, and a couple times a week you "sweeten" your secret friend with candy or other small gifts. Every time I get an email or note from friends back home I feel "sweetened" because I always love hearing from you! (yes, that was cheesy, I know, but keep me posted with what´s new with you at home.)

Here in Bogota, the first quarter is ending. That means tests and project to be turned in, grading to be done, and report cards to set up before next Saturday when I leave for the Dominican Republic. I can´t believe we´re already one quarter of the way through our school year! Some highlights at school have been: dropping books and water bottles off the roof in physics to determine if they reached terminal velocity, listening to a week of seniors´ presentations on genetic disorders, and making DNA models out of candy that the students are selling as a fundraiser. On the other hand, two difficult times were giving two detentions for plagiarism. Also, two weeks ago they cancelled school for two days because too many teachers and students were sick. Feeling healthy and blessed, I went with three others to spend a night outside Bogota. It was hot and unpolluted; we walked around a lake and went to a swimming pool. I attached a picture of me with the 4th grade teacher, Giselle, by the lake.

Last weekend I chaperoned the 11th grade class when they volunteered in an orphanage. Each class at El Camino partners with a ministry on the 3rd Saturday of each month. It was wonderful to see my students thrive in an out-of-the-classroom, service setting. Since this is their second year going there, many of the orphans recognized them, and my students inspired me with their love for the kids. It was heartbreaking to leave because many kids tried to hide in our van or jump on the back bumper to come home with us. Even though I´m nowhere near ready to be a parent, part of me wanted to take one of these kids home to give him or her the love children deserve. Can you pray for these kids?

Also, can you pray for next week? I´m really nervous about my last biology unit with the senior class: evolution. This can be a sensitive subject, especially at a Christian school. Also, next Saturday (October 3) I have a 2 pm direct flight from Bogota to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I have been praying a lot for the people that we will serve and my friends who work for the medical ministry. I have also been praying a lot for friends at home. A praise has been God is helping me with Spanish. Sunday during church I resolved to think and pray that day in Spanish. After church we went to lunch with my family´s aunts, uncles and cousins- a large, loud group that had intimidated me. This may seem silly, but I was happy on Sunday when for the first time I contributed to their conversation!

Let me share with you something I journalled about this week: Psalm 124:1-5, 8 says, "If the LORD had not been on our side- let Israel say- /if the LORD had not been on our side/ when men attacked us, / when their anger flared against us, /they would have swallowed us alive; /the flood would have engulfed us,/the torrent would have swept over us,/ the raging waters /would have swept us away. ..Our help is in the name of the LORD, /the Maker of heaven and earth." Yes, if the LORD had not been on my side, when homesickness and speaking a new language have overwhelmed me, when unruly students were in front of me, when so many teachers and students were sick, they would have "swallowed me alive." Instead, God is so good, and I often wake up experiencing the deepest joy I have ever felt in my life. Thank you for your prayers- PLEASE keep them coming!

PS I put pictures up: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2068872&id=55302022&l=2f659aee21