Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Not for me... for my students :) I have a sticker chart and each day that a class comes to PE they have a chance to get a sticker that will earn them a free day. Today two of my classes had earned a free day. Some students do the typical: boys play soccer, girls jump rope... but then there's the students that I'd love to peer inside their minds and watch the creativity working! In the second grade class, two of the girls took the agility hurdles, cones, and batons, and created an obstacle course that looked like a colorful Chinese dragon! In my third grade class, there was a group of 5-6 girls also made a race course. They laid out over 25 hula hoops to run through, hurdles to jump over, then a space where they ran and jumped rope using the rope they carried through the first part of the course. At some point they were going to add badminton racquets in it but they ran out of time.

I think that we can all learn something from children. As I was walking my Pre-K class to the field yesterday they all started erupting in laughter! The teacher side of me wanted to quiet them down, tell them that they had to be quiet in lines and respectful of the other classes and offices that we were walking past... the kid side of me won :) I started laughing right along with them. I don't even remember what they were laughing at anymore, I just remember thinking as they laughed the rest of the way down to the field, that we don't laugh enough.

The Lord is teaching me true joy right now. Not fleeting smiles that come because of circumstances, but deep down, soul-stirring joy that comes from experiencing the Lord every day. I see the Lord revealing himself to me through the children that I teach. There will always be times when I'm frustrated with behavior or upset at them being mean to each other, but when it comes down to it, when I sit back and reflect, it's the moments of laughter that stick with me. It's the moments of laughter that I will always remember.

Today, don't just smile... Laugh. Laugh a deep belly-shaking, eyes-watering laugh, and praise God for the joy he gives.

God bless!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Saturday was fantastic! Pinares hosted an all day soccer event. On the field outside, the high school teams played against parents, teachers, and alumni. Meanwhile, in the gym, the elementary students played futbolito. Miss Karla, the other PE teacher and I, were in charge of running the games inside. Each grade had played for about 45 minutes on the court. Games started at 8:30am and the last high school game got done at 5! It was so much fun to watch and to play! When I wasn't refereeing, I was playing in the games outside. It was a beautiful day and everyone enjoyed it!
4th Grade girls showing some team spirit!

The Juvenile (11th-12th grade) team vs. Alumni and teachers.

Future superstar goalie.

Pre-K and Kinder action.

Second grade stars!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Volleyball Game!

We had our first game of the season tonight against the International School! It was so good to finally play against another school! I think it'll give the girls more motivation and excitement for practice as well. We lost but it was a pretty good match up. Due to time, we had to shorten the games: 12-21, 18-21, 4-11. So, we didn't do so well the last game, and they went on a run on us the first, but overall the girls had fun and learned a lot too!

Good night and God bless!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Breaking Chains

Sunday I had the amazing opportunity to go to a worship service at a homeless shelter across town. We sat down to worship with a mix and match of people... from young people addicted to glue, to adults who lived under bridges. For the service, we sang some songs a cappella, read and received a message from Psalm 68:6, "God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land," and took communion. After the service, we made bologna sandwiches, 2 per person.

I had the opportunity to talk to a few of the people when I was there. One of the girls was crying and laughing at the same time during the service. When I went over to talk to her, she only asked when we were having the meal. I explained that first we were going to worship, then have communion, and after we would eat. At that point she decided not to stick around, picked up her glue bottle from the box at the door and walked out. It saddened my heart to see her go. Another person I talked to was Oscar (top picture, far left). He was sitting eating his sandwich and I noticed that one of his feet was wrapped up and half missing. He told me that in September his foot had been run over by a car. I couldn't help but imagine what I would do in that case... go to a doctor, have surgery, and hopefully 5 months later be able to be off crutches... but what if I had no means for medical care?

My heart reaches out for all of these people. Please join me in praying for them, that their hearts may be opened to the gospel through the ministry being done. If you'd like to see more, you can go to Amber is the one who runs the homeless ministry.

Thank you for your prayers! God bless!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day away from my Valentine

People have asked me if it was hard to have Valentine's Day apart from Jared. And obviously, yes. It would have been great to spend the day with him, go on a date together... instead we sat there, each looking at a computer screen, thankful for technology, yet frustrated at its limitations. But in all reality, yesterday wasn't any harder than every other day... every other day when we show our love for each other without being face to face. I was even blessed by Jared sending a beautiful bouquet of flowers to my office for Valentine's Day! A wonderful surprise that lit up my day!

We appreciate your prayers for us as we make this journey together. There's so many things going on in each others lives that are difficult to understand because of the distance. Please pray that we may continue to learn how to communicate and understand each other through humility and gentleness.

Before you go, I have a second request: if you love someone, give them a great big bear hug... maybe two... or three... and look into their eyes and tell them you love them... because some things you won't realize how much you'll miss until it's not there anymore. And on those days when you miss them the most, you can remember the bear hug and it puts a smile on your face.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This is Love...

What a day! It's a color day today, meaning that students can wear clothes other than their uniforms and teachers can wear jeans. There's going to be Valentine's day parties at the end of the day and students are already high energy!

As I was thinking about today and what it signifies, the first thing that came to my mind was John 3:16, "For God so LOVED the world..." It's true. What greater love is there than giving your son to die so that others may be saved. It's a love that we can only try to attain fully, yet this is the love that God gives to those who believe in Christ. We don't have to DO anything! Even when we fail to love and fail to obey over and over again, God gives us his grace.

The second passage that came to mind was 1Corinthians 13. I've read this so many times, yet when I think about the way that I love, I can't help but realize how incomplete my love is... Here are my reflections in applying each of these characteristics of love to my life... I encourage you to do the same.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (ESV)
Love is patient... when the students don't listen.
Love is kind... when my friend is hurting.
Love does not envy... when I see people recently married.
Love does not boast... when others praise my work abroad, for it is only by the Lord.
Love is not arrogant... when I make a good loaf of bread.
Love is not rude... when someone takes more time than I have to tell me a story.
Love does not insist on its own way... instead of listening completely to another persons ideas.
Love is not irritable... when I haven't had much sleep.
Love is not resentful... when I don't have a car to drive and have to depend on public transportation or getting a ride with friends.
Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing... when I fail to prepare for a lesson.
Love rejoices with the truth... when a student understands what it means to share.
Love bears all things... when wedding planning becomes stressful.
Love believes all things... that despite cultural and socio-economic differences, I can build meaningful relationships with the people here.
Love hopes all things... that God can use me in powerful ways through my weaknesses.
Love endures all things... the loneliness of being miles away from those I love.
Love never ends... even when the school day's over.

I pray that I may love you all with the TRUE love of Christ.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fresh Baked Bread and Fruit Smoothies

So, I've had some time to bake lately and this week made two great loaves of bread. The first one was a braided cinnamon bread with brown sugar on the top. The second was a whole wheat bread with flax seeds. Both super yummy, if I might say so myself :)

When the weather is warm and the fruit is fresh, who can't help but make a smoothie! We've had some really nice weather here the past few weeks and sometimes a smoothie just hits the spot. My two favorites are: pineapple, banana, coconut, and wheat germ with yogurt and orange juice or the one you see here. This one's made with strawberries, mora berries, blueberries, banana, strawberry yogurt, orange juice, and wheat germ. Absolutely delicious!

If anyone wants some bread or a smoothie, I'll make it for them anytime :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Update from Honduras

This is a recent email that I sent out! Thank you all for your continued prayers and support!

Hello to all my friends and family!

I pray that this letter finds you well! First of all, please send this to anyone I may have missed. :) What a year it has been so far with so many exciting things to come! As I write this letter, I am sitting in my office between classes. The weather is beautiful outside and the students are at lunch recess. I must say that in hearing about all of the snow in MI, I really miss it, but I cannot complain about sunshine. I've been back for a month already since being home for two wonderful weeks at Christmas. It was great to see so many people, and to those of you who I didn't get the chance to meet with, I look forward to this summer!

For a brief overview of the year:
The first half finished out well. I coached a 7th and 8th grade girls' basketball team, played volleyball on a club team in the city, and spent some weekends teaching English across town in a very impoverished area. My mom was able to come down for a week and see me. We had an amazing time together. She observed my classes, we toured around town a bit, and did a lot of wedding planning. For Thanksgiving I was able to travel with 3 other teachers to Utila, an island off the north coast. It was so beautiful and I went scuba diving for the first time. December went quick with several programs and Christmas parties and then I was home for the holidays. It was such a blessing to be back in MI for two weeks. The time was filled with Christmas parties, family time, games, baking, wedding planning (including finding my dress!), a trip to Chicago to see Adam play basketball and meet up with the Mobergs, and time to relax and rejuvenate before coming back to teach.

So far in 2011, I've been coaching an 11th and 12th grade volleyball team. The girls are so much fun! I've also continued to coach 1st-4th grade soccer on Saturdays. Luke Holtrop (the high school boys PE teacher) and I have been running a clinic since November. Next week is our last week. I am also now teaching out on the soccer field for PE! It's nice to be outside, but during the day it can get very hot and the field is dusty. I've had some extremely dusty and dirty Pre-K kids by the time they were done with PE class! Jared and I have begun marriage counseling over 3-way skype. Please pray for us as we continue to learn through a long distance relationship. Every day I am thankful for technology and the ability to talk to and see people over the internet.

Up and coming... in two weeks we will be having a futbol day where the Pinares soccer teams will play teachers, parents, and alumni outside while the elementary kids get to play inside. Please pray that this can be a great time for community building and fellowship among students, teachers, and parents! The weekend after, I will be going on a teachers' retreat!

Overall, this year has been a blessing. That's not to say that I don't have difficult days being away from those I love, or that the students are perfect, but God is stretching me and challenging me in incredible ways. Life goes in seasons, and this year is a season of growth. God has taught me several lessons...
1. TRUST: This lesson started when I took the job, and continues. The Lord is in control of my life. As much as I try over and over again to run things "Rachel's way," God reminds me that nothing happens outside of his will. (Psalm 37:3-7)
2. JOY: coming back from MI after Christmas was a very difficult time. The Lord taught me (again and again) that my joy comes only from him... not from being with Jared or my family, not from wedding planning, not from Christmas parties and good food, not from teaching a successful lesson... my joy comes from Christ. Circumstances and seasons in life continue to change, but the Lord never fails. (Matthew 5:6, 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1)
3. PEACE/COMFORT: I love planning, love structure, love organizing the week... and sometimes that's impossible. I'm living in a culture where things happen last minute, plans change, events start late, the power goes out unexpectedly, and where planning is based on relationships rather than time. I do not have a cell phone here and it is a blessing to take a step back from our information and stimulation overload culture that says we need things instantly. Everything happens in God's time. When I recognize that he is in control and stress is replaced with flexibility, I will have God's peace and comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
4. HUMILITY: I believe that humility is one of the most important, yet difficult, character traits that we are called to embrace as followers of Christ. If I humbly come before the Lord and lay down my own plans, I will be able to fully TRUST him. If I humbly seek him to fill me and satisfy my soul rather than pridefully look to my own accomplishments, I will have true JOY. If I let go of the stress and humbly let the Lord work through every situation, I will have PEACE. (Philippians 2:1-11, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement while I am in Honduras! As always, feel free to email me, and you can stay updated on my blog:

I would like to leave you with these words from 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV):

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

As followers of Christ, God has called us all to the same mission: to preach the gospel to the world. Each one of our lives is different, but we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, called to make disciples of all nations, and all peoples everywhere. Christ has saved my life by grace through faith in my Lord Jesus Christ. That is a reason to celebrate! Please pray for me, that I may be bold in sharing this truth with those around me, and I will pray for you to do the same. Share the joy you have in Christ no matter where you are or what season of life you are in.

God bless you all!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sunday Cookout

I must say, that I'm a fan of snow. Knowing that Michigan is getting dumped on right now is making me a little jealous! I hope you are all enjoying a bit of it for me! Meanwhile, I am praising God for the wonderful weather we've been having. Yes, I do get hot and sweaty, and usually covered in dust, teaching outside on the soccer field each, but the sunshine is beautiful.

Sunday was gorgeous so a couple of my friends and I decided to grill some burgers and zucchini. Brought me back to summer cookouts by the lake! Now if only there was a lake to jump into... :)