Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Flashcards and Markers and Crayons... oh my!

Knowing my supports/readers, I am willing to bet that the majority of you love to shop for school supplies. I mean, who doesn't love a good matching Lisa Frank binder and pencil set?

Whether or not you are as in love with journals and pens as I am, I hope I can still infuse you with a little bit of my excitement about my new teaching supplies. My personality is one that loves to be prepared so having supplies to teach with has made this both a more relaxing and encouraging week. These supplies (and Jesus) help me believe that I can teach these kiddos well. Not to mention I love the smell of a crisp new book. One, Two, Buckle my Shoe. Three, Four... Alright, I'll stop reading out loud to my computer but now you know how to count to four don't you? You're welcome.

Anyway, back to school supplies. As I go through and pack my supplies I feel like I'm in one of those Target commercials where the teacher is listing everything the students need. See below:
I have markers, books, flashcards, colored pencils, balls and jump-ropes, books, crayons, folders for their work, pony beads, scissors, felt and yarn, stickers, books, dinosaurs, puzzles, abc games, songs, toys, leftover wedding bubbles from Laura and James, books, and many more fun craft things. Did I mention books? I have already read each of them a few times. Which is not that impressive seeing how some only have one word a page... but I love them because they are my books to teach God's kids. I have also already put together one of the puzzles. Just to, you know, make sure they were kindergarten friendly. I think the 12 jumbo sized cardboard pieces will work.

Here are some pictures of all the wonderful:
 The craft bucket, not to be confused with the hard core learning bucket. =)
 Crayola corner... only the best for these kids!
 I did the number's puzzle today and learned a lot.
 Animals! Both in tubes and free range.
My lovely books. Including "Dinosaur Rumpus", "The Beginner's Bible" in both languages (thanks to Loretta Lambert), and "The Cat in the Hat Spanish Dictionary."
 Yes, there are indeed glow sticks in there. Thank you Kimberly Johnson! =)
 A fun learning game.
 Construction paper and it's friends, the other paper. Also a folder for each kid to store their work.
We are going to learn colors through making bracelets.

Thank you Aunt Peggy for helping me shop and pay for all of it, and for making the process of lesson planning much much smoother. I feel not only ready to teach but excited as well! Whoever thought I would be excited to teach a whole classroom of kindergarteners? Giant leaps forward are happening here at the Johnson household!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Getting Ready - Spiritually

We all know that I am going to Mexico.
Most of you know my heart belongs to Haiti.
This summer I have been asking God (a lot) if I have any of my heart left to give to Mexico?
I thought not.

I have been rebelling against the idea of going to Mexico for an entire whole year when I really want to be in Haiti for those months. I told God that I didn't have a heart for Mexico and it didn't really make sense for me to go there. But I knew God wanted me in Mexico to train me up to serve him better, to teach me how to live selflessly, and to show me what it is like to be a missionary in a third world country while still being relatively close to home.

It wasn't until this past week or so that I really saw why God wants me in Mexico and I stopped dragging my feet whining "But God...I would rather be going to Haiti." Here are some reasons why I have changed my mind:

1. This Face:
Kids are snarky even in Mexico... perfect!
(These next pictures are from a friends' trip to Mexico this summer)
2. These Eyes:
I am so ready to teach kindergarteners.
3. This Smile:
How could I not love that?
4. And This Story:
I was the wedding coordinator for my friends Laura and James this weekend. So I spoke a lot with the pastor marrying them throughout the two days and my plans for the year came up. I told him that my heart was in Haiti but God was sending me to Mexico instead. He nodded and then we started the wedding. After the ceremony I went up to tell him thank you and he said this, "You know how you said your heart is not in Mexico? Well God impressed it upon my heart to tell you that he is sending to you Mexico to give you His heart instead." Needless to say, I cried. In that one moment I realized how much this year is not about me but instead about what God wants to do through me. I realized also that I am not going to Mexico for no reason but rather to gain more of God's perspective (a work He started on my Haiti Trip in June) for his creation and to gain a firsthand view of his love for the world. Thank you Pastor Cody, you have no idea how radically that changed my perspective. I think I am ready to leave on Monday now. =)

Getting Ready - Physically

The anticipation leading up to packing always makes me anxious. I am constantly worrying that I don't have everything I need or that I will arrive having forgotten something basic like socks or a toothbrush. I am now at the stage however, where I get to gather my stuff from all over the house and lay it all out. This stage is my favorite. I am past the point of being overwhelmed by my list of "need to gets" and I am not quite at the stage of wondering how I am going to cram it all into my duffel bag. In other words, this is the time where I just get to look at all my sometimes-pretty-mostly-functional missionary items and Praise the Lord that I don't have to go back to Target for a few days...

Especially since it took a very long day of shopping (thank you Cassie for getting me through that) to get most of my supplies and everything on the provided packing list. I have my shower caddy that matches my new water bottles that fit in my backpack where I can store my teaching journal and pretty colored pens. I also have my new dark grey TOMS (thank you craft ladies!!!) to soak up the dirt and a new bathing suit to soak up the sun. I have three pairs of Walmart sunglasses in case I break them and extra band aids in case I break myself. I even have a new planner for event organization and my giant study bible for life organization.

But... I don't think I will ever feel completely ready.

I am a little worried about having everything I need to teach English and make the lessons fun. Thank goodness that my Great Aunt Peggy (a teacher for over 40 years) is coming tomorrow to help me shop for my new kids. I feel better knowing she will help me find what I need and give me feedback on my ideas. Construction paper, pony beads, baby scissors, and Elmer's glue here I come!!!

School supplies aside, I know I will arrive in Mexico having forgotten something. At this point though (remember, this is the point in packing where I am supposed to be most relaxed) I am ready to be without things for a year. I better be ok with not having every luxury I am used to, I'm going to be a missionary in a foreign country for goodness sakes! Especially since whether I bring that extra sweatshirt or not, I am not going to freeze in Porvenir. If I forget my extra pillowcase, my head will survive (lice like clean surfaces the best right?). And if I run out of glue sticks in my classroom we can always use yarn to attach things... hmmm, I should bring a hole punch for that . I am ready to think on the spot and work with what I've got (rhyme not intended).

In conclusion, I am ready to pack! Any volunteers to sit on my suitcase while I try to zip it closed?

My Job Description

My official title this year is ESL Coordinator... duh duh duh. That sounds so professional! I think of myself more as an English-Teacher-Who-Doesn't-Speak-Spanish-For-Kindergarteners-Who-Don't-Speak-English. Ok maybe being an "English as a Second Language (ESL) Coordinator" sounds better.

Position Summary:
There is incredible power in serving, connecting and ministering to the marginalized children of the world. One such way to address the needs of these children is by teaching them English as a second language. Your central goal is to manage our ESL after-school program and equip and monitor the language instructors. Your role is to implement the curriculum, act as a liaison with the local community, monitor student progress and
provide timely feedback to parents. Although your role is evangelical and community based, you will be an integral member of our program team. The responsibilities of this position are to be performed in a manner glorifying to Jesus Christ and compatible with the mission of Ventana Ministries.

Core Responsibilities:
• Community Liaison
- meet regularly with school and town officials to discuss program
- develop and implement a marketing strategy for each term
• Monitor Curriculum and Classes
- implement and modify course curriculum in a timely manner
- manage instruction and assess learning regularly
- provide regular training for student teachers (the Ventaneros)
• Administration
- responsible for enrollment procedures and collection of fees
- provide regular and systematic feedback to parents and school officials
- maintenance and purchase of instructional materials

Sounds way out of my league and comfort zone. But that is where we have to rely on God most isn't it?

Mail and Other Contact Info

Snail Mail
I would love snail mail but we have some constraints on what we can receive. Here are some rules and information about snail mail:

1. Mail is picked up by one of us who makes a trip to the States.
2. We usually have room for the conventional letters and magazines. Those we can stuff between seats or duct-tape to the hood as an ornament.
3. Boxes are an entirely different story. We mandate that no box be larger than the Priority Mail Flat Rate Box (12x4x14) provided by the US Postal service.
4. One box per week will be allowed. I will be charged a $5 handling fee for each box that either exceeds the dimensions or quantity allowed. My box will be help hostage till I pay up but don't worry about me needing anything. We go to Costco once a week. =)

Keep in mind that it will take a couple weeks for me to get what you send since it has to be picked up by a staff member in San Diego and carted down to us. On that note... send me some letters! =)

Stephanie Johnson
c/o Ventana Ministries
PO Box 530435
San Diego, CA 92153-0435
Wireless internet access is currently unavailable at our campus. I have the option as a staff member to drive to a local internet cafe and pay for internet. Or, our whole team goes to Starbucks in Ensenada once a week for free internet (before our Costco food run). This all basically means I will be answering emails probably only once a week. Don't feel neglected if I don't answer right away!
I will not have a phone but I am excited for that part!