Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Powerful Learning Experience

I was to write about a powerful learning experience for my Masters in K-12 Education course at Bethel University. Creating learning experiences is essential to teaching. I believe that is why Teach Like A Pirate touched my soul so deeply or the #youmatter and #geniushour ways of teaching. Here is what I wrote.

The year was 1999 the month was January. It was New Year’s Resolution season and like  many New Years come and gone, I have made resolutions, but this year was different. I was led by the Holy Spirit to pursue teaching overseas in Costa Rica where I was born. I don’t recall the exact day, but I was sitting next to Angie in the choir loft at North Heights Church at the time when the Pastor Vaagness suggested that maybe the Lord is calling YOU (Who me?) to do something different this year.

My heart’s prayer has always been, “Here I am Lord, send me,” and he did. I applied at one school, got the job. I sold everything but 4 boxes of “stuff”, my home, my car and as a single mother of a 3 year old, I moved to Costa Rica to teach technology Pre K-12th grade at a school high up in the mountains.  Was I scared? Yes! I was also excited.

Picked up by my aunt and uncle, I got settled into our apartment 45 minutes down the hill and around the corner from the school. This also became known as a long bus ride in the cool mornings, the heat of the day and the rainy season. I often wished that year for my very own car there...but realized driving in Costa Rica was a nightmare!

It has been thirteen going on fourteen years since then. I have not been able to return since to my birthland but the moments of that year linger still in my heart, my mind and soul.

I can still smell the Mercado Central with the stench of fresh fish (or not so fresh?) the flowers for sale, the breads and the gallo pinto lunches. I can still hear the bustle of busy streets filled with busses and cars with drivers who can’t drive! I can see the mountains spanning up to the top of God’s sky. I can still taste the copos--shaved ice with syrup and tres leches on top.

I can recall deep, life lasting friendships full of laughter, deep conversations. I can name the places and spaces of events like I know the age spots on my hands. I still know the feeling of anxiety from stepping over the beggar who fell asleep on my front sidewalk outside the apartment with my son by my side. I can still hear the drunks at 6:30 AM at the bus stop down by the Iglesia Catolica de Moravia and their cat calls.

I can still hear the worship from church, Vida Abudante with the worship team ever so glorious and songs by Marcos Witt still take me back!  I can draw for you the city lights as I look at them from the tops of the mountains and wondering is this what God must see when he looks down at Earth at night?
Why do I recall these things so? I believe it is because I was in love. I still am. Costa Rica is my homeland it calls to me. This was not the first time I had been back. Have you ever felt a call so much on your soul that thinking about it again and again makes you cry? Like now? If I could go back RIGHT NOW I could. I love my country. I love my people. I love my language. I love my food. I love my dancing.

I can’t express for you the pain of not being able to travel with two kids and life happening here. I can’t find the words to tell you what this season of “staying put” feels like on my heart that wants to fly, to travel, to see the world. I am trying to be faithful to the Lord and to appreciate this season, but I admit
it is hard. I take trips in my mind. I look up places to travel, things to do there, restaurants to eat at and places to stay for virtual trips around the world. It helps, but it is not the same.

God has blessed me richly with godly parents who adopted me and gave me a marvelous life and who developed in me a love for my heritage both by birth and by adoption that brings tears to my eyes to think about. I have been so blessed.

When I think of a passion based learning experience, I think of this. I desire this for my children. To be so close to God, to be so hot wired to him that they hear his call on their lives and go. That they become global explorers. That they make connections with the people around them and seek first to understand!

This experience was not passive observation. It was living life loudly. Breathing in each thing. Making snapshots of it in my mind. I was highly challenged. I was curious. I felt alive. That is how I love to live life. That is also how I prefer teaching. I want it to breathe! I want it to be passionate. I want it to have meaning.

 It is a different season of life right now, however in my heart, I am always in Costa Rica. Viva siempre, Costa Rica! Que te amo mucho!