Hello! Happy Mother´s Day to all of the wonderful mothers, especially my own :) I love you, Mom!
Here in Ecuador, el Día de la Madre is in full swing. This morning I was awoken at barely 6am to Mother´s Day music (yes, they have that here) blasting at 1,000,000% volume :) Oh Ecuador. At Mass, the Colombian Sisters brought out cake and soda for all the moms present and did a special raffle with heart-shaped pillow and stuffed animal and shampoo prizes. And oh, the schools do it up big. At mine, San Felipe, there was a big Mass and celebration with students from each grade reading poems or singing songs. There was a "Madre Símbolo" presentation, where they crowned one special mom with a sash and gift and the works. The kids gave out the gifts they had made in class and everyone ate sandwiches and soda. Ecuadorians proove yet again that they know how to party :) But the sentiment is of course the same as in the USA or any country- taking the time to show our moms how much we love them and appreciate everything they have done and continue to do for us. Thanks, Mom.
In other updates, wow, a lot has happened. Vacations have come and gone. I helped run a six week long vacation courses through the parish in the afternoons, teaching English, Art, Math, and Language. It was such a blessing to meet a whole new group of fantastic and goofy kids from the neighborhood! I also taught a month-long English catch-up course at my school for the students who especially struggled last year and for new students coming from other schools that weren´t quite at grade level. Did you know that playing UNO is a great way to review simple numbers and colors in English? :) The kids sure loved it. In my free time, I did some private English lessons for a couple neighbors to help them keep up their skills before starting high school. It´s so easy to forget a language when you don´t use it for three months! And of course I did lots of visiting! Hanging with neighbors, playing card games or coloring with kids, giving sugar cookie and banana bread baking lessons :) It was a beautiful time! Also, I found a free Zumba class in a nearby school that I went to whenever possible. SO MUCH FUN!
Oh and HOLY WEEK! It was crazy busy and fantastic. We had evening Mass on Thursday, a 3 hour procession and acting out of the Signs of the Cross through our neighborhood on Friday (followed by Mass), Easter Vigil on Saturday night (the electricity was out, so it was candlelit the whole Mass...beautiful!), and Easter Sunday Mass. Wow! Talk about a lot of praying haha But in all seriousness, it was a wonderful time to be with our community and experience the true meaning of Easter (there´s no bunny here). I did, however, find plastic eggs and have some fun egg hunts with a couple of families and the youth group kids.
The school year was set to start on April 2nd, but the govenment pushed back the first day until the 16th due to the severity of the rainy season and flooding. Many schools were unfit to open. Since then, we have begun. I´m teaching twice as many English classes, which means more planned classroom time...so that´s good! I can´t even explain in words how much love and hugs I get each day. Especially from the 1st graders, who rush out of their seats yelling "Elisa!!" to hug me whenever I enter the classroom and then
start chanting "Cuento! Cuento!" until I pull a storybook out of my bag to read to them. It´s adorable. I also have Fridays off! I was working too many hours, plus the school day is a half hour longer this year (starting at 7am now...meaning I wake up at 5:40am...yikes!), so I talked with my boss and with Madre Lucely at the school and have the go ahead to spend a day in the community! I also started teaching an adult computer class one evening a week for some neighbors and friends of the school. It´s really difficult for a 40 year old mom who´s never touched a computer to use a mouse! That is my first task for them to master :)
So in short, life is beautiful. Full of blessings. Moving way too fast. :) I´ll blog again soon with some of the lessons I´m learning. There are many!