Monday, May 21, 2012

Well, the school year is coming to a close. Steve was able to teach a psychology unit to the juniors and seniors. The content of the unit contained information about the different fields of psychology and how to evaluate secular psychology from a Christian perspective. The unit seemed to go rather well; he enjoyed teaching the unit and there were some good discussions that resulted from the lessons.

At the end of the week, we will go with our 11th graders on a service trip to Villavicencio, which is about 135km Southeast of Bogotá at the base of the other side of the mountain, to serve local Christian schools in that town. We will be going to 4 schools, providing professional development to the teachers, teaching English to students and teachers and leading various day camps activities. Steve will be in charge of a group of students who will be leading games and activities and Marlayna will be with a group in charge of teaching English through science activities. Each group will share the gospel as it pertains to the activities. We are hoping to provide at least 30 hours of service for the 11th graders over the 5 days.

We are looking forward to returning to the States for the summer and would like to schedule time with as many of you as possible. If you are interested in having us share what God has been doing here in Colombia with your friends, family, or church, we would love to do that, whether it be a social event or through an individual conversation.  Please contact us and let us know some dates you are available if would like to get together with us in the month of June. 

There are also plenty of positions still open at the school for next school year, If you are interested in teaching or serving in Colombia, at ECA, please let us know and we will help get you signed up to come! We would love to have you come serve along with us!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"When was the last time you did something for the first time?"
5th Grade Family Retreat

Right around the time we were working through Marlayna's appendicitis, Steve received an invitation to be the guest speaker at a family retreat that some of the 5th grade parents were putting together. The parents wanted to do this retreat in response to the difficult time they and their children had at the 5th/6th grade retreat that ECA hosted. The 5th/6th grade retreat was the first time many of the parents had ever let their children spend the night away from home. A few parents had some difficulty letting their chicks out of the nest for a day, and as it turned out, the kids didn't seem to know how to handle their new-found freedom. We were told that the parents wanted Steve to give one workshop with the parents, and if we wanted to, another workshop with the children. After collaborating with the 5th grade teacher, middle school principal, and middle school chaplain, we decided to do a workshop on how parents can help their child transition from late childhood to adolescence. We (Steve & Marlayna) played around with some themes to do a workshop with the kids, but we didn't have a concrete plan or even certainty that we would be doing anything with the kids.

The retreat took place this past weekend, from Sunday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon. Being that this is Colombia, the schedule of the retreat was put together a day at a time each morning. In an attempt to have the most families participate in the workshops because some of them were not staying for the entire time, some coming late and other leaving early, it was decided around lunch time on Monday that we would do workshops for the kids and the parents later that afternoon. Fortunately, the 5th grade teacher had not left yet, so we were able to solidify a plan with the kids. Marlayna and Steve talked with the kids about the truth that if we claim to love God (which they all did) then we need to also love our neighbor: including others, meeting the needs of others, correcting and confronting others, and asking for forgiveness. The 5th grade class has been struggling with friendship and excluding others from activities. As a part of the workshop, we created real life scenarios and then discussed with them how each person's choices impacted everyone else, how we naturally blame others and deny our sin, and how to forgive one another. We then had the kids draw a picture or write about how the choices in the scenario could have been different so that each person would have shown love to their neighbor. We found out after the parent workshop, that the parents believed the problem of exclusion to be one of the major issues amongst the students. We praise God for the opportunity to be used by him to speak into the lives of the kids on issues that directly apply to their everyday life at ECA.

The parent workshop that Steve gave at the retreat was based on a number of the other parent workshops he had done early in the school year, primarily from workshops on How to Help Your Child Overcome the Stress in Their Life and another on the book Shepharding Your Child's Heart. If you have any interest learning more about or even receiving the powerpoint & notes of these workshops, feel free to email us: We give Christ the praise for the encouragement we received and we ask that you pray with us for the families from the retreat, that they will continue to become a brighter reflection of Christ to the world and to one another.

On a side note, the retreat was a wonderful, refreshing cultural experience. The theme of the parent retreat came to life for us: it was the first time Steve was the guest speaker for a retreat, it was the first time Marlayna or Steve had ever sung Karaoke, it was the first time a scavenger hunt involved catching a live chicken, and it was the first time we tried to catch live fish with our bare hands in a swimming pool. We certainly hope we are given another opportunity like this to share in fellowship with other Christian Colombian families. You can see some pictures from the retreat on the "Ministry Pictures" page.