Friday, May 13, 2011

His love endures forever.

So we have been studying poetry in the 3rd grade world. For devotions we looked at Psalm 136. The "His love endures forever" chapter. So we wrote our own Psalm 136, and I couldn't help but share it because it was a really beautiful poem where I got to see what my students praise our God for, and what he really means to them. Each student wrote their own first line, and we put in the "His love endures forever."
He always love us.
His love endures forever.

He forgives are sin.
His love endures forever.

He created the earth.
His love endures forever.

He love us does not matter what happens.
His love endures forever.

He diad [died] for me.
His love endures forever.

He made us a big and beautiful world full of creation.
His love endures forever.

When he create the earth.
His love endures forever.

He is good and strong.
His love endures forever.

When he crate [create] us and earth.
His love endures forever.

He do everything.
His love endures forever.

He does everything for us.
His love endures forever.

He forgives me everytime I hurt him.
His love endures forever.

He die for my sins.
His love endures forever.

He made us and he send his Son to for died.
His love endures forever.

He forget when I do rogn [wrong] things.
His love endures forever.

He forgive all the time.
His love endures forever.

Glory to God who made heaven and earth.
His love endures forever.

[Revised Psalm 136 by Doulos 3rd grade]

Sunday, May 1, 2011

from presidente to perfection.

Last week for Spring Break we went to this more-than-marvelous beach for a couple of days called Fronton. Doulos takes our 6th and 10th graders there to study about the coral reef and lobster habitats. I have heard great things about it, so we HAD to go. [See next blog post for pics. Trust me you will want to see them Paradide I tell you.]

All along the beach there there is what we like to call "sea glass." We, mostly the Americans who visit, are obsessed with it. Basically it is just broken Presidente bottles, or other alcoholic beverage bottles that get tossed in the ocean. Then it spends a little time in the ocean getting all roughed up, and then we pick it up and find that its the most beautiful thing we've ever seen. I am convinced that the locals that live there break the bottles on purpose and then watch us from afar laughing it up and wondering why in the world we collect this trash. But let's be honest it's not my first time to collect trash from the side of the road hoping to create something. But that's another story.

As I was collected I couldn't help but think how perfect the sea glass was. I didn't care if I was crazy. I love this stuff and can't wait to make some sweet jewelry. I felt like as I was walking up and down the beach collecting it, God said,

"Hey Leah, this is YOU. This is exactly how I desire you to be. Broken."

I thought about it, and said, "well of course you want me broken. I know that. I know you will give us hard times. Blah. Blah. Blah." But as I continued walking and collecting, I noticed that I only picked up the ones that were REALLY roughed up. I threw back the ones that still had some sharp edges, and said, "they're just not ready yet." I wanted them to really spend some time rolling around on the bottom of the ocean, getting beat up by rocks, waves, coral, sand. THEN I wanted them. Then it dawned on me.

This IS how God desires my heart. He wants it to get pushed around by the waves, get messed up, roughed up, scratched up for quite some time. The more I am rolled around, the more beautiful I become in His eyes. He will be with me every moment of it. And one day, He will come along the beach, pick me up and say,


"The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God." Psalms 51:17

Ancient Egypt Expedition.

We finished our spring expedition (basically really long unit that we do at Doulos). Spring semester topic: ANCIENT EGYPT. Here are some photos from our 7 weeks! 

Making Egyptian jewelry with paper and magazines:

[Daniel and Andersen]

[Cristina always sticks her tongue out when she works!]

[Our Egyptian pose with our Egyptian jewelry]

Writing our non-fiction research papers. I was beyond impressed with how they did with this! 

[Carlos coloring his final copy. He likes to stick out his tongue too. May be it makes you think better, and I didn't get the memo.]

[Amanda and Brian]

For expedition night we made a model of a pyramid out of boxes. Then painted it. With mud. I have to admit, the kid in me REALLY loved it.  The teacher in me saw mud on the walls. I was a kid that day. 
[Our pyramid ready to paint.]

[We had some help! Mrs. Kerrie, the art teacher, and Josh, a guy from the work team that comes every year before expeditions to help up from Mosaic church in Ohio. Couldn't have done it without them.]

[What a radient smile from Abigail.]

[I got a little mud on my pants that day. They now have splattered paint and splattered mud. They will now be my '3rd grade pants.']

[Cristina looks less than thrilled.]

[The finished product. Doesn't it look like the real thing? ha.]

I will leave you with a final picture that has nothing to do with expeditions. But it might go down for my favorite picture of a student. Andersen was just enjoying a delicious cupcake from Elena's birthday, and ended up with a dirty 'stache. Classic Andersen. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Deliberately sharing life together. 
Eating. Living. Working together. 
Profoundly interdependent. 
Carrying burdens. 
Sharing with one another. 
Speaking truth in love. 
Serving one another. 
Confessing to one another. 

This is how were were made to live. This is how Christ intended it. All of those things I wrote above I have seen and experienced firsthand within the past 3 weeks. 

When I think about this community that I have been given I am nothing short of overwhelmed with gratitude. With joy. With pride in my God. 

A couple of weeks ago, when I went to Portland for the Expeditionary Learning (EL) conference, I was able to step out of this life I had been a part of since August, and really truly come to see the beauty of it. Much to my surprise, there was not much of a "Christian community" within EL. I was blown away because every one of their design principles [self-discovery, having of wonderful ideas, responsibility for learning, empathy and caring, success and failure, collaboration and competition, diversity and inclusion, the natural world, solitude and reflection, service and compassion] are so biblically based in my mind. I came back not just ready to use these new great teaching ideas, but more importantly to be back in my community and to share what I had seen and noticed. I left the conference and wahs able to be at home in Dallas for a few days and once again blessed by community. 

Since I've got back every single day I have been been 'wowed' by our God. This verse pretty much sums it up: 
"But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goddness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. One you had no identity as a people; now you are God's people. Once you received no mercy; now you have recieved God's mercy." 1 Peter 2: 9-10 

"We are a community. 
We are not ourselves by ourselves. 
We are born into communities, 
we live in communities,
we die in communities.
Human beings are not solitary,
self-sufficient creatures." 
-Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson

Sunday, April 3, 2011

life in the month of march.

Ok so here's a rundown of my life this month. So much for the more frequent posts. Now I am here doing a really long recap! I would like to say that March has been absolutely incrredible. And here's a few reasons why:

1. Went to Samana (beach on the north coast) and went whale watching with a great group of ladies! Saw a mom and baby whale while we were on the boat tour! It was pretty exciting!

2. Got to play "skip bo" (or something similar..I'm positive we were not playing by the correct rules) with some new neighbor friends! 

3. Got to take some engagement pictures for Brittany (an intern this semester at Doulos) and Matt! They were such a joy to photograph! 

4. The same day, me and Stef (also an intern this semester) took photos of Brittany and Matt, and since her boyfriend was in town we snapped a few photos of them too! They are so precious and so fun together! 

5. Doulos had service week. 2nd and 3rd grade went to a public school, Escuela Rincon, and did activities with the elementary kids. It was really great to see our kids grow in being selfless and what that looks like. I just wish we could do this every week! It was incredible! 

[the 5 staff from Doulos that went the conference. Robyn, Tim, Patrick, me and Abby]

[Instead of staying at a hotel we had the wonderful opportunity with staying with this couple, Roger and Karen. They were such welcoming hosts that made our time in Portland so much better.]

[morning view on the way to downtown Portland]

6. Went to Portland, OR for an Expeditionary Learning conference. It was nothing short of spectacular. I gained a lot of knowledge to take back to Doulos, and also it also reinforced a lot of things that I already knew and loved about Doulos. And of course we got to play a little in Portland and eat some killer food! 

7. On the way back from Portland I had a couple of days to spend in Dallas. Of course it called for a dinner at Babe's with this great crowd.

Friday, March 4, 2011

[dia de indpendencia]

2.25: The day that the Dominican Republic gained it's independence from Haiti. What better way to celebrate than to have every class in the school perfom? Dancing, singing, reciting poems etc. 

[Some of the high schoolers perfomed a wonderful dance with even more wonderful skirts. I wonder if I can borrow one sometime...]

[SOME of my class singing a song]

[That afternoon we had Revolution (an all school assembly) and the 4th grade danced to "Lean On Me" by DC Talk. It was right up their ally to get to break dance]

[Me and some of my students waiting for Revolution to start]

[capturing beauty]

2.27: So I know I am moving backwards in my posts, but I thought I should catch up a little bit. So I have this friend, Sarai. She works with me at Doulos. Last semester, I noticed what a beautiful woman she was. I thought to myself, "Man, she would be a great model." So I told her this, and then about 3 months later I actually got around to taking photos of her. She is quite an incredible woman, who has such a mighty heart for our Jesus. Here are a few of my favs from the shoot...

Thanks Sarai for the opportunity to capture your beauty. 

[he has planted eternity into human hearts]

3.2:Yesterday was the 3 year anniversary of a dear friend, Lauren Lewis, passing away. I will go ahead and say that I am going to be pretty candid in this post. This whole week I have felt that there has been this looming sad cloud over the week. Not only was I preparing myself for that day, and thinking heavily about Lauren's family, there were 2 students in my class that lost their grandparents this week. On Tuesday, when one of the girls came back to school, I just greeted her with a really long hug. It was the precious moment between us, and she proceeded to cry. Just the sadness in her heart, broke mine as well.
       In my team meeting on Tuesday, I shared with my fellow members about these feelings. Our instructional coach, Sara, thought that this would be a great opportunity to talk about this in devotions one day this week. To talk about loss, sorrow, pain. And let me tell you I was not that excited about the idea because I just thought I could not hold it together while we talked about it.
      So Wednesday night, I prayed a lot about it, and searched through my Bible for some good verses to talk about. And MAN did God totally show up that morning! I started off by sharing with them that today was a special day, a hard day for me because I had a friend that died 3 years ago on this day. We read

Ecclesiastes 3:11 "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end." 

       I asked them to think of a time when they had lost someone or had felt a lot of pain in their heart. Almost all of the kids raised their hands and shared about a time that either a grandparent had died, or a family member, or even a time when their parents told them about when their grandparents died. Many of them started to even tear up when they were sharing about it. I asked them why we get so sad when these things happen. Most of them said that its because "we want them around. We don't want them to leave." But one of my girls objected and said "No. I'm sad because my grandpa is sad that my grandma is gone." Wow. What a step in feeling empathy for someone. I was quite impressed with that statement. I skipped down to read verse 14...

"God's purpose is for us to revere Him."

       What does "revere" mean? To respect and to stand in awe of. As I was sharing this with them and explaining what it means to stand in awe of something, I myself was overwhelmed with the joy that will come when I get to "stand in awe" of God. In His majesty. I let them listen to the "Revelation Song" by Kari Jobe, which they all know and love. But I asked them to simply listen to the song, and think about when we will sing this song. Some of them just layed on the ground. Some bowed their heads. Some closed their eyes. But for once, not a word was spoken. During the whole song (which is kind of a long one) they did this. Their hearts and their minds were in this beautiful state of worship. For a few moments, I just looked around and watched them. And THAT is what brought tears to my eyes. 19 little 8 and 9 year olds worshipping our God together.
        We proceeded to talk about WHEN we will sing that song. In heaven. For eternity. Over and over we will sing

"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty. 
Who was,
and is,
and is to come." 

We will be in this place where "he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever." 
        So yesterday I honored Lauren in different "earthly ways." I wore green. I listened to Dolly Parton's "You better get to livin.'" I watched Across the Universe. etc. But I'm sure all those things REALLY didn't matter to her. She's not concered with any of that any more. She is now surrounded by God's majesty worshipping him all day ever day. And THAT is what I want to long for. I want to long for that moment. I want to long to spend eternity singing his praises
        So to all those who knew Lauren, I hope that today was spent honoring her, but more importantly left you longing for eternity. 
[Lauren and I at Habitat for Humanity in the fall of 2007]

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thank youuu!!!!

2.11: Last week we got some AWESOME student dictionaries in the mail from a friend, Mr. Gabriel. If you are reading this, I can't tell you how grateful we are! The kids were really excited to use them. Today we wrote thank you letters and one of the kids wrote "...I will use the dictionary to write in english. Like the word intoxication. I am using it to write this letter." Oh man! I laughed pretty hard at that line! They are so cute! 

[Here we are with the dictionaries. Not entirely sure why Daniel (in the front) is eating it...]


2.10: My kids completed their first group poster project this week about the regions of Africa. They turned out pretty good I think! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

::I will not boast::

2.9: Wednesday nights are always Bible Study nights. I have come to really really love these nights with the women in my group. Especially this semester the 8 of us have grown to know, challenge and love each other. Tonight all the girl's Bible studies got together just to have a worship night. I have to say that these nights are by far my favorite thing about living here. Whether its staff worship, or worship at someone's house, or all girl's worship. I don't care. I love it all. And every time I am still amazed at how Great God is. I always get this overwhelming feeling of "wow! I could just do this all night long!" Then I remember...oh wait...I DO get to do this forever. In eternity. In his presence. So tonight we sang a lot of songs, but this one in particular, I really just wanted to impress deep on my heart. It tells the story of what we believe. Why we believe. The last chorus is what really hits home for me. I don't really feel the need to comment on it much more because the words speak for themselves. So take a moment. Read them. Listen to them. Believe them.  

How deep the Father's love for us,

How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocing voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that helf Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I knoww that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Monday, February 7, 2011

superbowl sunday.

2.6: So this Sunday felt very odd not watching the Superbowl. I realize that it's not that I actually care about either of the teams, or even that I will remember this game a week from now, but it just felt like I was doing something wrong not watching it. Who knows why. Perhaps it was my dad always talking about football and getting so excited about it, or my mom getting excited about it because it's the last football game until next season. Either way, we still celebrated in our own way here. I was able to make yummy Superbowl snacks: lemon cupcakes with strawberries on top...which I realize is not actually that Superbowl-ish..really more girly. O well. And my roomie made some homemade mac and cheese. We headed over to a friend's house who had made some good ol' tailgating games. It was a good way to celebrate. And then today (2.7) I got to watch all the commercials, national anthem, and halftime performance on youtube because let's be honest that's really the only reason why I watch the Superbowl. I have to admit that this commercial made me miss Texas [and HEB] the most. A tad cheesy, but I'll take it.  

[This is me winning Mexican horseshoes...or whatever you call it]


2.5: So last semester when I was taking photos for my friends Tim and Whit I found this old window (I posted a pic of it on an earlier post...go take a look). So my and my roommate have been needing to clean it up and chop of the ends. So we finally got around to it this weekend. And let me tell you! It may be my new favorite piece in our house! I mean let's think about it...$0 for the window because I found it in front of some ladies house and she gave it to us. Our friend cut off the ends for us. And the only thing we needed were 2 little screws to screw it on in. I wish that Pottery Barn would let me on their website so I could post one of their pics and don't need to spend $800 on a piece of junk wood. Instead..actually use junk wood! What a novel idea. So as if we were resourceful enough, one of our friends came over and was looking at the pieces we cut off, and being envious over our fabulous window and had the great idea of using one of the pieces as a little shelf! Oh man...I wish you could have seen our excitement. So we painted the bottom a little bit to make it look a little better and voila! 2 for the "price" of one! So take a look....

[my roommate is holding a plant because we plan on putting a plant on that side, but don't actually have one yet. And yes the plant is we haven't exactly perfected our gardening skills yet. Also we plan on putting other things around it, but just don't know what yet, so if you have any creative suggestions, let me know!]

[check out THAT authentic shabbiness]

[here is our cute little shelf! and my roommate went to Thailand this Christmas to visit her family and brought back these mugs from a pottery factory. MAN I'm really coming to love our house!]

So there you are. DIY and cheap decorating at it's finest. 

100th day of school

2.4: Friday was the 100th day of school. I must admit that I hadn't been counting with my students like some teachers do, but let's be honest, I jumped on that opportunity to dress in theme for a day! I did regret my decision a little when I walked into staff devotions that morning and I was the only one decked out, but it made it totally worth it when I saw my kids and they saw me. Many of them just died in laughter, which I didn't mind. Anything to make their year memorable. Perhaps they will remember me as their crazy 3rd grade teacher who dressed like she was 100 years old. All of the teachers were asking me where I got all these old response: unfortunately these are all things I wear. Embarrassing? Naw. My mom did always say that I'm gonna turn old before she does. This is one of these times that she's right. 

[my girls dressed up like little old ladies. it was pretty funny]

[one of the VERY few other teachers that dressed up. middle school math teacher, Robyn, wearing 100 math related materials]

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Am Confident.

1. 28 and 1.29 and 1.30: Last weekend was a women's retreat here in Jarabacoa. What an amazing weekend it was. I realized on the way there that I have never actually been to a women's retreat, so I started to get a little apprehensive. I mean an entire weekend. With women. I mean don't get me wrong, I love girlfriends, but was this gonna be overboard like what you see in the movies or something. Well, whether I was proved wrong, or I was a part of a cheesy weekend, I still absolutely loved it. The whole weekend was about our Identity in Christ. We all chose different name tags for the weekend. For example, "I am a daughter of God...redeemed...light...forgiven...chosen" etc. etc. The one that I chose was "I am confident." I feel like so many times I worry that I'm not good enough to be here. Or good enough to be teaching at this amazing school. Or good enough to be surrounded by all these incredible people. And yes, it is not me who is "good enough," but I can be confident that Christ has chosen me to do this specific job. Confident that he will use me. Confident in Him. We had so many opportunities to just have some alone time. Quiet time. To really sit and think and pray. It really was much needed. And perfect. I will be looking forward to this weekend again next year. 

[My small group for the weekend. There were some of us from Jarabacoa, some from Santiago, and one from Santo Domingo]

1.31: A little something we call DOL (daily oral language). The students have to correct the sentences. Don't worry I'm not actually that unaware of my grammar. I decided that today called for a special shout out. 

[We are now pen pals with Lauren's 2nd grade class, and I've never seen them more excited. And they were a little confused by the word "unthank." ha]

2.1: Snow day. 

[While you guys are busy wearing 4 jackets and stuck at your house for 3 days, I'm wearing sandals. Ok so I rubbed it in a little, but partly it was out of jealousy I had to post this]

2.3: The pen pals letters arrived! 

[Lauren just had to put how she feels about wearing helmets]

[The kids were literally SO excited. I'm not sure if I quite captured their enthusiasm unfortunately]