Monday, February 4, 2013

School, Puerto Vallarta, Valeria

Hey everyone!

I hope everyone is doing well!

The kids had two weeks off of school recently so teachers could catch up on planning.  They did this after they had started school in January.  Isn't that crazy?

It gave me time to get ahead in my lesson plans, which is such a relief!  This is what it looked like when I was working on my lesson plans!

I'm really excited about the new semester beginning.  Even though it's hard work, the kids are learning so much!  Their reading and math skills have improved in the past 7 months.  3 of the older girls I have been teaching are taking tests so that they can go to private and public high schools!  One of my girls has never been to school in her life, and she gets her chance this August.

Over the school break we traveled in two groups to Puerto Vallarta.  Some of the staff, including me, got to have a nice 4 day break from all of the work we do here at La Ola.  The kids went with the other staff members to a different beach and got to see whales!!  I was so jealous!  It was so great to have a break like that.  We got to just lay on the beach and enjoy silence for a while.  Even though we wanted to stay at the beach, it was good to get back home and get back into the routine.

Valeria, our youngest girl here (2 years old), has been caught washing the dishes lately.  She will scoot her chair up to the sink and wash her plate just like the older girls.

She has even been talking.  She calls me "Ewen, Ewen!"  She got in trouble today and had to sit "The Chair" for a few minutes (she does this quite often.  She throws many fits) and she said "Ewen, Ewen, Ya?"  Which means, "Erin, Erin, now?"  As in now can I get up?  It was so adorable, but I wasn't taken in my it!  haha, I made her sit for a few minutes longer and then let her down.  Something else that I recently found out about Valeria, is when she throws fits before taking naps or going to sleep at night, if I tap on the metal bunk bed above her, she goes silent and watches my tapping like a little cat.  So every time she throws a fit before bed, she drifts off to sleep to the quiet tapping of metal.  I'm sure glad I found that little trick...Pheww.

Anyway, I just wanted to send out a little update!

I love you all!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Woah.  Things have been crazy since my last post.  I'll try to fill you in without writing a book.  :)

First of all, Christmas is here!  Well, hats off to my parents...I never even realized how hectic Christmas can be when you have children.  Especially with 15 of them asking for different kinds of presents.  3 trips to Guadalajara malls.  Countless gifts purchased.  Hopefully happy kids on Christmas!  I can't wait to see the little kids faces on Christmas.  I'll definitely be video taping that for you all!

Recently, I took a road trip with Becky and Bob to fetch Cierra, a friend and fellow volunteer here.  I also had some issues with my visa so I had to get it reissued.  Into Texas we went.  It was so hilarious when we crossed the border because Becky and I started seeing American stuff everywhere!  Forever 21!  Olive Garden!  Red Lobster!  Wendy's!  JC Penny's!  Target!  Guitar Center!  We were thrilled.  I have a video that I will post at the end.

When we crossed the border into Mexico, it was amazing the change that immediately happens.  Buildings are different, everything is different.


Since it's Christmas, La Ola is putting on a Christmas program on Monday.  I'm a Shepherd.  I'm sure the role will land me on Broadway, haha!  We've been practicing a lot, and we did a full dress rehearsal today.

Yesterday I drove, yes DROVE through Guadalajara (a city as large or larger than L.A.) in a manual no less!  I'm trying to learn my way around and Bob was a great teacher.  Hopefully I will know where we normally go down pat soon.  I drove through Guadalajara to take some of our kids to the science center there.  The kids had a blast!

That brings us to today!  All we really did today was practice for the play, hand out Christmas present to needy kids, had pizza, and headed home.  So it hasn't been as hectic as usual.

Well, I just want to update you all on what's been happening here recently.  And I'm so sorry, that I haven't updated sooner!

Love you all!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Letters From Erin #1:  About what I do here at the orphanage.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Yo Ho Yo Ho a Teacher's Life for Me!

Let me just start off by saying, I now know how my family felt raising me....haha! 

Taking care of 14 kids is hard work but so very fulfilling.  So to all you mothers out there, I appreciate the hard work!

I'm still teaching my four students everyday and taking Master's classes.  Teaching is going pretty well, some of my kids have their "horribly off days" where they don't listen, cooperate, do any of their homework or make good marks on their tests.  Sometimes it's really hard to get one of my younger girls to listen or feel good about the work she's doing in school.  A lot of her problems come from her past which involves living in the street, being drugged and rapped.  She has many learning disabilities because of this.  For the most part though, she's been doing really well working from home.  It's just going to take some time to get used to learning.

None of my kids have ever had this much homework or this much learning expected of them.  And by a lot of homework, I mean, not much at all.  At public school here, the kids are overlooked and the aren't expected to do much at all except recess.  And the kids in public school that are the least bit behind?   The teachers don't want to take the time with them so they pass them to the next grade.

I'm now teaching the kids History and Geography.  On Fridays I'm going to start teaching on a major world historical event.  Starting with one they are ALL interested in: Titanic.  I talked a little bit about the tragedy of Titanic today, since I too was a crazy fanatic over Titanic when I was 13.  I probably crushed their little hearts when I told them that Jack and Rose weren't real people, but fictional characters.

I'm also teaching them (in Reading), The Hobbit and The Magician's Nephew which is really fun.  It's sad that I can't go in depth into symbolism, but I AM scratching the surface.  (I'm so glad I took that Lewis/Toliken class in college!)

It's amazing to see their faces light up (or fall in the case of Jack and Rose) when they learn something new.  It's a lot of hard work, but it definitely pays off in the end.

All in all everything is going great here! :)  I love you all, and I thank you so much for your prayers!  You rock!


Friday, August 31, 2012


Things have been going great here at La Ola!  Summer is over, the kids are back in school, and I have been given a new job.  I am now the teacher for 3 (ages 10, 11 & 13) of the girls here.  (They haven't had much schooling and are catching up.)  For those of you who know me well, you know that I have NEVER wanted to be a teacher. Ever.  Back in the States, when people would ask me if I were going to use my English Major to teach I would sometimes get frustrated and say, "No, I want to write!"

I'm not sure how teaching in America works (although I know what learning in America is like) but here at La Ola it goes a little bit like this:

We start class at 7:30 a.m. everyday with Spelling.  I'm currently teaching Spelling, Reading, Art, Math, Science & Geography.  I teach all of these class in Spanish/English.  (This has really improved my Spanish as well!)  I really love teaching my three girls here because it's in a small setting.  And I really love challenging them and watching them learn new things.

For instance, today in Science we were talking about soil and what it's purpose was.  (Last week we talked about plants and how they grow, etc)  I told them that for our Science Project on Monday were going to build a compost bin and see what happens for a few months.  They asked me what would happen after the fruits and veggies were put in the bin, and I told them it would eventually be turned into composted soil.  There mouths dropped open in amazement!  It's so awesome to see them learning and understanding how things work.  I can't wait to teach them about outer space!  They just finished a leaf collection project where they had to find and label 15 or more leaves.  It really got the younger girls to learn about how to do research.  Also, during the first week they planted a bean seed and watched it grow...that is until our new little girl, Enkerlin (age 1) got into our tiny flower pots.  That's what happens when you teach at home.  :)  I'll have them plant some sunflower seeds soon as a replacement though.

In Spelling, the girls get 10 new words to learn each week. During that week they have to write the definitions, write them 10x's, write sentences, write a short story with the words and have a test.

The younger girls, Ana & Nayeli, are reading Peter Pan out loud every day and learning about Characters, Setting, Climax & Plot.  This is one subject that I'm trying to work the most on because they are a bit behind with their reading levels.  My older girl, Angeles, is reading Treasure Island and also learning about the parts of a story.  I'm also going to get her used to writing outlines, first drafts, final drafts and doing oral reports.

Art is our creative outlet class that we have everyday.  Since manga is my forte, and they love anime & manga here, I've decided to show them how to draw that type of art first or until they get sick of it.  So far they absolutely love it and are asking for more.  So I've lined up lots of how to draw emotions, eyes, hair, hands, legs, bodies, clothes etc.  I really love teaching this class! :)   

Math is one of the subjects that I have lots of people who are willing to help me on.  A few people come a couple times a week to teach the girls the Math they need.  On the days those ladies aren't there, I drill the girls on multiplication and try to get them to memorize their multiplication tables as well.   We do lots of writing on the board and worksheets to get them plenty of practice.

They haven't really had an experience with a geography class so I've started at the beginning with all of them for this class.  We've been learning about to make maps the past few weeks.  This week we have started learning about the surrounding states of Jalisco and we will eventually work our way out from there.  I also want them to write short papers about the culture of the different states and countries along with giving oral reports on different places.

Even though it is so much fun teaching these girls, there are days when they have behavior issues and try to close up on me.  I just have to keep telling them that they can do anything they set their mind to and that even though they are behind in school that they are catching up fast and have already learned so much in these last 2 weeks.

I also have a couple of field trips planned, which really doesn't happen in the public schools here.  I plan to take the girls to a couple different museums (History, Science and Art) in Guadalajara.

So far, I really love teaching the girls here, and I'm excited to see them continue to learn.  Thank you so much for being part of my ministry through your prayers and financial support.  I wouldn't be able to do any of this without your help!  Know that I think and pray for you often. :)


P.S.  Also, September 10th, I will be starting my classes for my Master's Degree in Theology & Ministry!  I'm really excited about this! :)



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Aztecas vs Toltecas, School & General Life in Mexico

Hey all!

Sorry it's been awhile since I've written!  There's so much to update you guys on!  Warning:  This blog entry may be seriously long!

La Ola Olympics
A couple of weeks ago we had our yearly La Ola Olympics.  The two teams competing were the Aztecas and the Toltecas.  I was the team captain for the Aztecas.

Me, Acacia, Esme, Ana, Jhoana & Nayeli

Yosselyn, Karla, Angeles, Yessi, Jeff, Erendida, & Chuy

The day started early for the kids (7 a.m. which is early for a Saturday) with Becky banging a pan to wake everyone up.  The teams rolled out of bed, still in their pajamas and dragged themselves downstairs waiting for what would happen next.  The morning event was a surprise scavenger hunt!  The two teams were running around the entire compound looking for clues and trying to figure out riddles.  The scavenger hunt ended with someone from each team jumping into the pool (at 7am!) to retrieve one of Chuy's toy cars.  Toltecas 1, Aztecas, 0.

Although slightly let down, the Aztecas regained their team spirit when we drove to the Malecon (like a boardwalk/park) to participate in the relay race.  Kids were positioned all over the Malecon and had to hand off a baton to the next girl as they raced.  It was a super close event but the Aztecas won!  Toltecas 1, Aztecas, 1.

The third event was the sack race.  Even though one of the Toltecas fell down they still won!  Toltecas 2, Aztecas 1.

Next was the balloon toss where with a lot of luck, the Aztecas won.  Toltecas 2, Aztecas, 2.

The next challenge was the water relay race where we had to swim from one end of our pool to the other and touch the wall.  And then the next person would jump in and so on.  Super close race but the Aztecas won!  Toltecas 2, Aztecas, 3.

After that we had a water ball game (a mix between basket ball and soccer) and after 30 minutes the Toltecas had wiped the floor with us Aztecas.  Toltecas 3, Aztecas 3.

It was all down to the last challenge, pulling as many gummy worms out of whipped cream as possible with only your mouth.  After a really close day of games and good sportsmanship, the Aztecas won the La Ola Olympics this year!  I was so proud of my team and the Toltecas!  Everyone did such a great job.

Some of our older girls have already started back to school, however the rest of the kids start back around August 20th.  4 of our girls were blessed to be sponsored and accepted into a nearby private school.  These girls are super smart and they are all so excited to begin school in a few weeks.  Through generous donations they were able to get their uniforms, shoes, and everything else needed to be ready to start classes.  3 of our girls will be home schooled at La Ola by Yours Truly.  I've never undertaken anything like this before so please, when you think about it, pray that I have the knowledge to teach creatively and in ways that the kids understand.

Of course, I'm also still learning Spanish through books and online study so please keep that in your prayers as well.  I will be teaching the kids all the subjects needed to jump ahead to the grade they should be in for their age.  All three girls will be completing 3 grades this year.  The reason they are behind is because when they came to La Ola, they hadn't been in school much.  All of these girls are so smart and excited and willing to learn the material required for them to catch up.  I will be teaching them (Spanish, Science, Math, Geography, etc.) everyday for about 6 hours.

Theology & Ministry Master's Program
I have been given a wonderful opportunity to begin taking classes toward my Master's degree.  As some of you know, I had wanted to get my Master's at Fuller Theological Seminary after college, but it didn't quite work out.  I made a choice to fully pursue missions and decided that if God wanted me to have my Master's then I would pursue that later when it was God's time.  Well, God is being SO good to me, as usual!  The pastor of the church we attend here, Ross Arnold, is starting his own Theological University here in Mexico.  He actually graduated from Fuller with his Master's and from Regent College in Vancover with his doctorate in Theology.  He has all the permissions from Mexico to begin this school, and we start classes in September.  The best thing about all of this is that he is not charging us to take these classes!  What a generous man!  We only have to pay for the books which are fairly inexpensive here. Becky, Bob, Ciera and I are all taking these classes together and will be working towards our Theology & Ministry Master's degree.  We will begin with three classes:  Old Testament Survey, Old Testament Theology, & How to Study the Bible.  If you think about it, please pray that all goes well and that I can take what I learn and apply it to my work here at La Ola.  Our staff is extremely excited about starting these classes!  (This Master's degree will not be accredited in the U.S. or Canada.  It will only be accredited in Mexico and probably South America, however the information learned in these classes will be extremely beneficial.  And it's free so no loans!  Woot woot!)

General Life

La Ola received their new van a week or so ago and it's brand spankin' new!  And, it's a stick shift.  I learned how to drive stick shift in high school and practiced a little more in college so I figured that all of my past knowledge on the subject would have dissipated from my brain.  However, when I took it for a spin the other day, I remembered most everything and did a pretty good job while "re-learning!"  I will probably be driving it sometime tomorrow with our kids.  Be proud Dad, be proud! haha!

I've been working a lot on my Spanish so that I can become fluent.  I gets frustrating sometimes not understanding things (and having the kids making fun of you for saying things wrong, haha).  Please pray that I stay dedicated in learning this language fully.

This summer the kids have had so much fun with riding the horse and swimming and just forgetting about school for a few weeks.  2 of our kids, Chuy (6) and Mili (3) don't know how to swim yet, and I have been working with them a lot in the pool the past few weeks.  I was told that they wouldn't even go near the water last year.  Now they are holding onto my back and letting me swim them around, as well as letting me hold them as they practice kicking and moving their arms in the water.  Mili swallowed some water the other day, and I was afraid that she would tell me she was finished.  She covered her mouth and coughed for a few minutes and then said, "Otra Vez," which means "Again."  That is one determined little 3 year old!

Anyway, I know this week was a long blog entry.  You can read it in spurts if need be!  :)

You have no idea how much you guys mean to me.  I love you so much and think of you all the time.  I'll try to make some videos soon so that you can see and hear the kids.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for supporting me with your finances and prayers!