Sunday, September 28, 2014

How do you say.......

When I started to teach first grade, I also started to pray for someone else to teach first grade.

 It wasn’t that I hated it, but I was very overwhelmed. The idea of being in charge of 21 kid’s educations was/is slightly terrifying to me. The Lord has been faithful to remind me that He was in control, and this change of plans wasn’t a surprise to Him, but at the same time, I kept praying for someone else to do it.

Then, about two weeks ago, my prayer was answered, but differently than I might have expected. Instead of a first grade teacher, God provided a Quechua teacher, who was willing to help in first grade. Originally, she had planned to teach Quechua, but because she came later in the year, that position was already filled. Instead, she agreed to help in first grade!!!

Having help to teach first grade has made a huge difference! It is so nice to have an extra pair of hands in the classroom, or even just another adult to be able to bounce ideas off of.

About a week ago, we were talking during recess, and she mentioned that her husband was in Peru teaching Quechua, and she was looking for students to tutor to make a little bit of extra money. I had been planning to start Quechua lessons, but I had been too busy to go out and schedule lessons. As soon as she mentioned teaching Quechua, I began to pray about taking lessons from her!

This last Wednesday I had my first lesson, and it went much better than I expected. She is a great teacher, and I am enjoying learning.Here are some of the things I have learned:

Nuqa kani Daniela. My name is Danyelle
Nuqa yachachik kani. I am a teacher. (haha)
Imaynalla kasanki. How are you?
Walliqlla kassani. I am doing well.

As we worked on some basic vocabulary, I began to think of the places I would need to know. “How do you say church?” I asked. She thought about it for a while, and finally told me there was no word for church, because there were no churches for the Quechuan people when the language began.
I am so excited for the opportunity that the Lord has given to learn the Quechuan language, but even more, to begin to learn about the culture. I am so thankful for the way God has provided not only a teacher, but also a new friend. Please pray for wisdom and patience to learn, as well as opportunities to practice!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

When Brownies Fall Apart – In Christ Alone

In Bolivia, I am incompetent in so many ways. But let’s be honest, no matter where I am there are lots of things I cannot do. In Bolivia, it’s just harder to hide these things. Anywhere from buying gas to make my stove work, to solving division problems Bolivian style, to butchering chicken, I am almost completely incompetent.

But, when it comes to brownies…. that is something I can do.  If you have known me for more than 3 months, I have probably made you brownies. They are one of my favorite foods, and making them for other people is a great excuse to eat them myself.

So when my church announced we were having a bake sale, I got excited. Not just because it meant there would be lots of sweets available, but because I felt like I had something to contribute! I made plans with some new friends to make brownies, and I was equally excited to be able to eat and sell them.

The brownies turned out deliciously, and I snuck a few from the pans as they were cooling. Then I started taking them out of the pans. I had a little trouble getting them out of the pan in one piece, but I managed to salvage most of them, and the rest of the crumbs I put in a bag to share with the other young people at church.

Then I got to church, and somewhere between my kitchen and the bus ride to church, all of the brownies had decided to melt together into one nice big pile. Somehow the brownie pile got brought out to the table where desserts were being sold, and everyone looked at it curiously. Brownies aren’t common in Bolivia, but even if they were, they weren’t recognizable as brownies. Someone asked why we had meat at the bake sale. Everyone was very kind, but it was ugly nonetheless. Was is a tasty pile of brownies? Yes. Was it pretty? Not at all.

So as I sat in church feeling incompetent, I began to pray, asking why it was such a big deal to me that I made ugly brownies. And I felt the Lord begin to put the words of the song In Christ Alone on my heart.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

It wasn’t about the brownies, it was about where I was looking to find my identity. Was my worth and value in how well I could make a dessert, or in who Jesus is? Was my identity found in how well I can bake, or in what Jesus has done? Do I depend on other people’s opinions, or is Christ solid ground in my life?

So as much as my pride dislikes being unable to do things for myself, I am so thankful that the Lord has brought me to a place of humility (humiliation), and that in that place, He reminds me that I can stand in His love. That it doesn’t depend on what I can do or can’t do, but who He is. And how freeing that is!

I know you don’t read this to hear a sermon, but because I am so thankful for this lesson in my life, I want to encourage you to think about what you look to for identity and security. Is it solid ground?

I am thankful for you guys! Please let me know how I can be praying for you as always!

p.s. if you want a really good and ugly brownie recipe let me know. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

All Things to All People

(Or at least a lot of things, to a lot of people.)

Growing up, I was very picky about what people called me. I never like to be called Dany, because to me that was a boy’s name. I remember very clearly telling my Grandma she was never allowed to call me that. Over the years my family and friends have come up with nicknames, only a couple have been used consistently.

In Bolivia, or really all of Latin America, Danyelle is pronounced Daniel, and is a boys name. I learned quickly that if I wanted anyone to understand my name, I would need to change it. Normally I go by Daniela, but this year it seems like I answer to just about anything. ;) Here are a few of the most common name I have here:

Danyelle: obviously this one speaks for itself. Only other missionaries call me this though.
Dan-yell-e: Mostly government officials trying to pronounce my name on paperwork
Daniela: The vast majority of people
Dani: I’ve finally caved and am allowing this nickname. But to be fair to all who tried before, it sounds better in Spanish.
Tia Daniela: Tia means Aunt in Spanish, and the kids at Casa de Amor call all adults  “aunt or uncle”
Tia Danielita: The kids and women at the orphanage when they need a favor.  Adding “ita” to the end of a word is like a term of endearment.
Tia Nani: The kids who have a hard time saying Daniela.
Tia Daniela Guapa:  Occasionally some of the younger girls like to add “guapa” or “good looking” to the end of my name. Of course I don’t mind, but it should probably be noted that it is usually little Jhosi who is blind that calls me that. ;)  
Tia Hiney: This one is my fault, but I haven’t gotten rid of it yet. I wasn’t sure what the appropriate form of bottom was in Spanish, so I started saying it in English instead. Now the girls at the orphanage love to call me Aunt Hiney whenever possible. Thankfully, no one else knows what it means, but regardless…
Miss. Graves: I am still getting used to going by my last name at school, but this is what they are supposed to call me.
Miiisss: This is what they actually call me most of the time. We’re working on it.
Miss Grapes: Most of the kids have a hard time saying Graves, so it usually sounds more like Grapes.
Profe: This is short for “profesora” or teacher in Spanish.
Chocita, Preciosa, Amor:  “Blondie, Precious, Love” No one I actually know calls me these things. (Don't get too boyfriends.) Nor do I actually answer to them – but guys on the street seem to think these are my names.
 Mamita: All older Bolivian women call me this. There isn’t a great translation in English, but it’s also a term of endearment.
Hermana:  At church, people are often called hermano or hermana (brother or sister).

It has been so interesting to adjust not just to these new names, but to the new roles and identities that come along with them. I am reminded of the verse in 1 Corinthians 9 where Paul says He has become all things to all people, so that they might be saved.  I have certainly not become all things to all people, but my prayer is that by whatever name I am known, that Christ may be known instead. Please pray for wisdom in all of these roles, that God would be working through and despite me!