Becoming bilingual

Since coming to El Paso, I’ve had many good experiences with speaking Spanish, contrary to my expectations. So far at work I’ve had two conferences with parents who don’t know English very well, and I’ve taken some inquiries, too. One time last week, someone called while my boss and one of our assistants was in the room. The person on the other line said “Buenos días” and I started talking to them. The assistant left the room with her mouth hanging open… she thought I would need her help translating. I asked her later how I did.. she said I spoke slowly but very well and that I was easy to understand. I was elated.

In our care group (small group) we have a family from Juárez who moved to El Paso about ten years ago. I’ve been able to talk with them weekly and it’s been great for both of us; they’re trying to learn English, which is why they started coming to our church.

I’ve learned two new words that are used quite often…

-Huera or huero means “blonde”.. I’ve been called this affectionately by friends here.

Mande is a phrase used when politely asking someone to repeat themselves or when asking them to tell you something.

I love the mix of cultures here… it’s much more seamless than I thought it would be. Oftentimes people go between Spanish and English without even realizing it.

I think I’ve (finally) realized what I want to do when I go back to school, if I go back… I want to get my bilingual certification. The psychology of second language acquisition eludes and fascinates me.

I apologize for not having posted in awhile.. our life is busy but still wonderful! We really like it here.. much more than I thought we would!

Being a servant

I look at my recent posts and I’m surprised, and not surprised, that I’ve posted about once a week. What is that?! Usually I have a lot more to say.

But as it stands, I’ve been learning a big lesson on how to be a servant. I can thank my current job for that.

I know I’ve been called to my job right now for a reason. I know positive changes are being made. But the only way to gain real respect and trust is to be a servant. I try to compliment “my” teachers (I say “my”, since I’m kind of a boss… or something.) If someone shows frustration, I try to get to the bottom of it and fix the problem.

Pastor Lee’s sermons recently from The Sermon on the Mount really have me thinking about what it’s like to be a servant.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

As a peacemaker, amateur as I may be, I’m supposed to be bringing God’s peace into situations, and living it out in my life. I should not sacrifice integrity for peacemaking, but I think I’m good at not doing that. I’m the kind of person where if I know I’ve wronged someone, or even think I might have wronged someone, I have to make it right otherwise I can’t sleep at night. (I didn’t always used to be like this! Ask my family…)

At work I’ve really been focusing on having a good attitude, not getting stressed over anything, even if it’s big, and being consistent. I think the last thing there is key to gaining respect… being consistent. People can then see my commitment, that I’m all in.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I was jumping up and down when I was offered this promotion. In fact, my heart sank. But I know I’m there for a reason, and slowly things are improving. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to use my God-given gift of teaching… I have been dealing quite a lot with educational issues. I’ve also been able to continue teaching some students. And I can guarantee you that when I have my own classroom again, I won’t be nervous to talk to parents!

On a different note, if you want your faith to be stretched, your soul to be refined, or you want to learn how to be a servant… get married. Aaron and I have been doing very well lately with communication. In the midst of things happening in marriages around us, we are thankful for what we have. Couple that with being apart for two years (five total in our relationship) and you have a strong bond! I get emotional with him, he gets impatient with me, but we work through it and talk it out. Communicating our fears and weaknesses is one of the hardest things to do, I think.

And I don’t mean that when you get married you become that person’s slave. You serve them with your attitude, your listening abilities, your willingness to work through things, your blatant refusal to be selfish. If you want to add in some dishes or laundry, you can do that too. 🙂 In a true relationship of mutual servanthood, it won’t go unnoticed.

It will flood into other areas of your life, too. Before you know it, you’re being a servant to your friends and family… by praying for them, listening to them, offering a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board for venting… it’s pretty cool how it all works out!

I just love the Beatitudes… (and I did not know this but Wikipedia taught me that “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin adjective beatus which means blissful, happy, or fortunate.)

Matthew 5

 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
4 Blessed are those who mourn, 
   for they will be comforted. 
5 Blessed are the meek, 
   for they will inherit the earth. 
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
   for they will be filled. 
7 Blessed are the merciful, 
   for they will be shown mercy. 
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, 
   for they will see God. 
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, 
   for they will be called children of God. 
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,

for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Busy week!

It makes me sad that it’s already the middle of October and still close to 90* here. Bummer dude! I love this time of year; I just wish it didn’t fly by so quickly. I’ve now transitioned into my new position at work. I’m working five days a week (although I did have to go in for a meeting on my day off, and will have to next week too) and it totals out to about 33-35 hours per week. With this job, one has to have flexibility because unexpected things happen all the time.. parents come in to talk with you, kids come for tutoring at the wrong times… you just have to go with the flow.

I have an office. I’ve never had my own office before. Other people use my office, but I put up a couple pictures and a Bible verse (fruits of the Spirit.. a good reminder for the workplace!). It’s weird to call parents into “my office”. Strange.

I’m thankful I had the experience I did at this place a few years ago.. it’s really prepared me for the work we have to do. There are a lot of procedures that have gone by the wayside and so part of my job is aligning things again. Hopefully morale increases once better communication is established.

I tried my first freezer-to-crockpot meal this week: savory pot roast and veggies. It was delicious! I let the roast thaw in the fridge for a couple days, and let the bag of veggies thaw the night before. In the morning, I plopped everything in the crockpot with a little water, and dinner was served.

I’ve also run a couple times this week. Monday I ran 3 miles on the treadmill next to Aaron. I felt really strong! Wednesday we did some cross-training and last night, he met me at work and we ran around the east side. It turned out to be about 5 miles! I haven’t felt so good on a five-miler in such a long time!

I’ve had some time this week to hang out with a couple friends. I went and got manis and pedis with one yesterday (although the place wasn’t great.. we found the deal on Living Social) and then got coffee with another friend and spontaneously donated blood. There was a drive going on at the PX (post exchange, kind of like the mall). I was nervous about my hemoglobin levels but it was at a 14.6 I think! That’s up from 10.6 in March. I’m feeling lightheaded now when I stand up, and just ehhh in general, but it’s for a good cause and I’m sure I’ll recover quickly. I like donating to the ASBP (Armed Services Blood Program) because it goes right back into the military. The staff were really nice, too. They were excited because I’m O-negative, the universal donor.

Anyway, on my thoughts this week was the Bataan Memorial Death March in March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. I’m excited to actually start training for it! I feel like this week really boosted my morale as far as running is concerned. It also helps to have a supportive and participating hubby. 🙂

Gettin’ busy in the kitchen

I am in love with the prices at the commissary! When we first got here, I was really skeptical about whether the prices and service would be better. We try to plan to go every other week, on the non payday weekends since it’s less busy. It was pretty busy today, but there’s a four-day weekend for a lot of soldiers.

We got all of our food and household items (including toilet paper, paper towel, etc) for $125. That’s not bad considering we got a ton of produce and a few packages of meat. We get the 18-roll toilet paper and it lasts us like six weeks or something crazy.

So, we went to the store and then went and saw “Dream House”. It was pretty good! We bought the 2011 bucket of popcorn last time, which was like $15, but you get refills each time you go back to the movies for only $2.50. We got a large drink to share, so all in all, concessions were $8. Movie tickets are $5/person for military, so we spent $18 at the movie theater. We had been planning to go to the “Bodies Human” exhibit, but tickets were $15/person AND honestly, the preserved bodies creep me out. I know I’m a grown woman, but still.

After we got home from the movie, we found that someone had stolen our pumpkins from in front of our house! We picked them last weekend at the corn maze and were going to paint or carve them. 😦 That made me sad and upset. Who the frig steals pumpkins?!

I let out my frustrations in the kitchen.. I got a LOT of food prep done for the week, and even tried my hand at crockpot freezer meals. Well, one.

Pinterest has been my go-to place for recipes and ideas…

cantaloupe, strawberry & kiwi salad
ready-to-eat veggies for lunches or snacks
freezer to crockpot

I got the freezer-to-crockpot idea here. On the left are veggies, spices and bouillon prepared to go in the crockpot with a roast. On the right are some of the leftovers of veggies and bouillon to start a homemade veggie broth. I can use it for vegetable beef barley soup or chicken noodle soup. Really, the possibilities are endless. And it’s a great way to use up that celery that’s kind of too flexible. I also hate throwing out the celery leaves.. great for flavor!

I also cut up potatoes, onion and garlic and they’re ready for cooking and mashing.

cheese, egg & bacon "muffins"

I got this idea for an easy breakfast here. I mixed up 12 eggs, cooked and crumbled bacon, cheese, milk, salt and pepper and cooked in muffin cups for 25-ish minutes at 350. Ready to freeze and heat up one-by-one, or two-by-two.

I got this idea for homemade chai from this site. I guessed on measurements, and tried it without the cardamom. It was pretty expensive, so I went without. It still turned out great! I would love to can this stuff and give as gifts. I’ve also found a dry instant mix version that I want to try sometimes. Mix the liquid concentrate with milk and/or half&half and done! I think next time I’ll try using less water so it’ll be stronger. I also need a very fine strainer. I rednecked it this time and used my flour sifter.

homemade chai tea concentrate

 

I guess I should also add to this post that I’ve accepted a full-time position at the tutoring place I’m at now. I interviewed last week for a teaching job at a charter school, but I doubt I got the job as they haven’t called me but said I’d know in the next couple days. It’s okay. We’ve been praying for a full-time job for me since the extra money is nice for saving and paying off debt. My prayers were answered, just not the exact way I wanted it. Oh well, as my dad would say, You can’t have everything!

In conclusion, I’m looking forward to two more days off with Aaron, and enjoying our time relaxing in this beautiful “autumn” weather… 75-ish for the high, 55-ish for the low. Perfect!

It’s beautiful here.

Darn you, El Paso, getting on my good side. This weather now is gorgeous. High in the 80’s, lows in the low 60’s. We stuck by our “explore El Paso” plan this weekend and headed out to the corn maze, and my friend and her daughter came too. The maze itself was kind of lame, but we picked our own pumpkins and rode on a hayrack. It had no hay, but it’ll make due. The best part was that this place was just across the border into New Mexico and also in the valley…

at the corn maze in La Union, NM

it's a field! and it's green!
overlooking el paso from transmountain road