Monday, August 27, 2012

Enchanted Bluffs

This afternoon as I was grading papers, one of the maintenance guys came in to clean my classroom. If we see each other I practice my Spanish and he practices his English. Usually the conversations are brief and full of confused laughter. But we communicated somewhat clearly between a mixture of Spanish and English.

It's amazing how much of a blessing these small encounters between other people can be. I have been amazed at God's faithfulness to put people in my life here in Panama who have made this place seem like home already.

Of course, I miss my friends in little Cedarville and Tennessee, too. I am teaching Cather's "The Enchanted Bluff" tomorrow in my American Literature class and was reminded of the sweet memories friends share and of hopes and dreams.

This summer, my friend Katy and I spent many nights on the roof, our feet resting on the sun-baked roof still warm from the afternoon. We talked about our hopes and dreams. Of teaching, of living in Seattle someday, of following God with all of our hearts. In a way, that little roof on Main Street became my Enchanted Bluff, where I dreamed idealistically about the future. Often, those dreams did not match up with God's, but as I learn to guide my heart towards His, I hope that soon my dreams will coincide with His plan for my life. Not because I want all my dreams to come true, but because I desire my heart to grow closer to God's so that my true dreams are in step with His plan.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Some Mornings

 Some mornings I wake up and think, “I live in Panama!” And then I think how crazy this is and how surreal. But most days it seems pretty normal. I live, work, and hang out with people just like I did in the States. The culture is different of course, and everyone speaks Spanish. Instead of saying “hello,” we say “buenas” to people we pass in the hallways and in the streets. The traffic is very intense. Panamanians are usually laid back about time except when they get in a car. Suddenly everyone is in a huge hurry to reach their destination.

The little subdivision I live in called Clayton or the “Ciudad de Sabes” (City of Knowledge) is green and lush with palm trees and tropical plants. It rains almost every afternoon around three – just in time for school to let out. The birds that I hear each morning as I get ready for school sing different songs than the ones that sang outside my bedroom window in Ohio. Small animals called “Nueches” that look like a cross between a rat and a rabbit run around our little neighborhood. I think they look as bizarre as a platypus.

The school is much like schools in the States, except of course, the students are bilingual and it is normal to hear conversations in Spanish before class begins and in the hallways. I teach English 9, World Literature, American Literature, and Creative Writing at CCA, and I love it. I love the mix of cultures, interacting with teachers and families who are some of the most loving people I have ever met.

I could go on about life in Panama, about the trip to the beach, shopping, food, and little accidental escapades, but I’ll save those for another entry.

As my students say: Yolo – You only live once. Make the most of it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sense of Change

A few days ago I was reading an essay by E.B. White that I had read for a class in college a few semesters ago. White writes,

"The only sense that is common, in the long run, is the sense of change - and we all instinctively avoid it, and object to the passage of time, and would rather have none of it."

I dislike change, and I found my heart agreeing with White. This summer has been a summer of change, but it has been good change. I graduated from college in May and am embarking on my first teaching job as I write from the Atlanta airport. I'm flying to Panama City to teach literature and language arts at an international school.

I told myself I did not want to teach overseas again after Vietnam, yet, here I am. Clearly His plans are not my plans. I should have learned by now not to plan out my life, but I do it anyway. But He is faithful and I am excited for this new part of my life to begin.

Here's to travel and to hard work!