The Life of Maestra Megan

Adventures in the life of a Costa Rican Missionary

Are you ready? February 6, 2016

It is one thing to follow God’s way of service if you are regarded as a hero, but quite another thing if the road marked out for you by God requires becoming a “doormat” under other people’s feet. God’s purpose may be to teach you to say, “I know how to be abased…” (Philippians 4:12). Are you ready to be sacrificed like that? Are you ready to be less than a mere drop in the bucket— to be so totally insignificant that no one remembers you even if they think of those you served?

my utmost  Gulp.  It feels like I am blindsided every time I open up this year’s devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.  Oswald Chambers, how could you know?  Especially since you died a hundred years ago.

 

I am a missionary, in my 10th year of working with many unwanted, unloved, and disadvantaged children and families in a slum outside San Jose, Costa Rica.  People look at me and tell me “you do amazing work” all the time.  It’s easy to let such comments go to my head.

 

I also struggle–as a single woman in a foreign land–with a sense of belonging.  Most of the time I feel like I definitely don’t fit in, or that others don’t allow a place for me in their world.  So, being noticed gives me a somewhat fleeting significance.

 

This is not what God wants for me.  He does not want me to turn heads, receive accolades, or to be remembered over a lifetime. He wants me to serve him… rejoicing even as I am entirely used up.  (Philippians 2:17)

 

I guarantee I am not going to get this right most days, but I am ready for a change this year.  Here’s my subsequent conversation with God….borrow it if you’d like.  I know He would like to hear from you.

 

 

“Father God, forgive me.  You know how self-centered I am, and how much I want to be noticed by others and told “well done.” Change me, Lord, from the inside out.  Teach me the way of your suffering servant.  Teach me to pour myself out to YOU, not to others around me.  Fill me with joy, whatever menial task I face, and most especially when no one takes notice of me.  Make me willing to be utterly forgettable, if it means that you receive the glory.”

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February 10, 2015

A new year for all the students in our Sunday Bible school

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CFCI education building in Carpio, San Jose, Costa Rica

 

Costa Rica has the highest literacy rate in Central America, and tourist guides frequently boast of its free education for all…yet nothing here is truly free, and there are thousands of impoverished families who are at this moment choosing to educate or feed their children.

Free education for all—but you must send your children in approved uniform and footwear.  They will not be accepted otherwise.  Free education–but the list of supplies is staggering… It fills an entire page—from preschool on up, parents are required to provide the supplies, and generic brand items are often rejected.  Not only do children have to purchase notebooks, pencils, markers, scissors, etc., they are to bring to school toilet paper, toothpaste, whiteboard markers, masking tape, paper towels etc. for the classroom.  And 150 colones each week (= 25 cents) for photocopies.  Plus monthly fees.  And the initial registration fee (that schools are not supposed to charge but do).  The transportation costs are enormous ($20-$30 month) when you realize that many families in Carpio are living on a few dollars a month…so parents are forced to send their child to the overcrowded local Finca La Caja for 2.5 hours of schooling per day—no English, art, music, computers, physical education or any other extras.

This free education available to all….often costs $200 per child to start of the academic year.  Parents must choose: food, or school. Or, “with 5 children under 11 years old, which ones can we afford to send this year?” Some children take off their uniforms and shoes at noon and pass them to siblings who then get dressed to go their afternoon learning…

Christ For the City programs offer hope in the midst of such injustice.  Tutoring classes in reading, writing, math and English are held twice a week, to coach elementary school children in reading, writing and mathematics.  (The $1 monthly fee is waived if families are unable to pay.)   Kids clubs, sports programs and craft times are held at no cost.  The clinic offers medical attention to all for $4 a visit, including medications. A recent medical fair provided free health care for over 450 patients.  Adults are learning sewing, carpentry and baking skills to generate future income. Licensed psychologists offer free counseling.  Young men and women are studying to complete their high school diploma at Life Institute, more Bible studies are springing up, I could go on and on!

The Bible tells us that “those who delight in the law of the Lord are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. “  Praise the Lord, who continues to prosper the Christ For the City programs in La Carpio.  I also thank you for your continued prayers and support.

If you’d like to invest in this important ministry, you can donate online at https://christforthecityinternational.cloverdonations.com/missionary/ and look for my name,  or mail to the address below.  Feel free to contact me with any questions—I would love to share more about specific needs!

 

Please send your check written to “Christ For the City International” (make a note that it is for “Megan Crow”)
CFCI
PO Box 390395
Omaha, NE 68139 USA

 

 

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A little fun in the midst of a school day

 

 

 

Adventures in English language immersion November 18, 2014

Does immersion really work for language learning? You tell me!  Here are a couple of interactions from today’s 3rd grade class:

Denisie: “Teacher, qué es boy?”
Megan: Isaac is a boy.
Denise: “Oh! Yo hubiera puesto boy!” (and promptly fills in girl)

Denisie bumps and pushes her benchmate out of the way. I prompt her, “Excuse me.” About thirty minutes later, I am sitting next to Denisie on the bench. She turns to me and says, “Excuse me.” I was so proud of her for saying it that I stood up as fast as I could!

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ESL routines May 28, 2014

Classes are going very well, I am so pleased with the progress the children have made. 

Every morning we begin with our circle routine (calendar events, weather, songs), and every student takes a turn saying two simple sentences.  Some examples: My name is _________. I am a ________ (boy/girl). These are my ________ (feet/ears/knees).  I like the color ________ .  This is a red shirt.

 

I usually teach a general lesson–new vocabulary or review the material we have covered–in a large group.  My volunteers are good sports, since I often use them as props (Where is Teacher Daniel’s nose?  Teacher Natalia, do you have brothers?).  I am especially thankful for two graphic design majors from the Universidad de Costa Rica who have perked up our flipchart with amazing drawings. 

 

After we have learned the subject matter, I send them off to work in small groups…filling in the blanks, label the body parts, practice writing sentences, reading comprehension among other things.  I am so blessed with great volunteers, and praise God, I can send a volunteer teacher to work with a group of 3-7 children.  The children’s writing and speaking abilities have improved rapidly!

 

After worksheets, it’s game time!  And when we’ve spent most of our energy, we sit down on rugs to listen to the Bible story.  This year we are reading through the life of Jesus–in English only.  It’s always a challenge to tell the story in such a way for them to understand the deep truths of what Jesus did and taught, but I trust God to fill in the blanks in their young minds.  I see the kids truly are following the stories, for they can answer the questions (English only) and they also comment afterwards (in Spanish) about what they learned.

 

Then comes listening practice, dialogues, or interactive demonstrations such as big/small items hiding in a pillowcase, stations to practice the 5 senses, name the classroom objects…And class usually ends with a fun activity, such as puzzles, a simple craft, board games or reading books. 

 

Teacher Megan says “CLASS IS FINISHED,”  to dismiss the class after an hour and a half.  (I have two groups back to back)Sometimes I have to say it two or three times, as many of the students wish they could stay all day.  It is common for me to walk around the room, shooing them out the door! 

 

After several months, I no longer hear any student say “Adios”, but “Bye, Teacher!”  “Thank you.” “Goodbye.”  “See you later.” and “See you Monday.”    I am so proud.

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Carpio Camp December 9, 2013

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I’m not a mover and a shaker.  I don’t know people.  I don’t even hardly know people who DO know people.  I wish I did.  I wish I could move and shake to the tune of fifteen thousand dollars..that with just one Facebook post, in a few hours we would have raised the entire $15,000 needed to take 170 kids out of an unstable city slum to a camp in the countryside. 

 

Try to imagine what I see every day:

Dirt roads leading to concrete steps leading down into dark, narrow entryways past leaning doorposts, to one room homs inhabited by an entire family.

Students who can’t pay attention in English classes, because they haven’t eaten any breakfast.

Young ones not in school, but pushing wheelbarrows around, searching for scraps of metal to sell.

Kids who scavenge the floor for bits and pieces of craft paper they can take home. 

Eleven year olds wearing clothes three sizes too small, when that’s all they own.

 

We are less than a month away from Carpio camp, and the kids are counting down the days.  Many of them are going for the first time ever.  To my dismay, we have only raised $750 of the $15,000 needed and I can’t bear to tell the kids that camp won’t happen this year.

Giving $25 pays for one day of camp;  when you donate $100, you sponsor a camper for the full four days.  Come, be a part of Christ For the City’s Carpio camp–your investment will bring great joy into the lives of our youth!

Donate online at http://www.cfci.org

 

Thank you Bethany!! August 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — ticameg @ 12:54 pm
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I am especially grateful for Bethany, an education major from Tennessee. She came to volunteer for 3 months, and quickly became my right hand in the English program. I cannot begin to say how much she has helped me….. lesson plans, games, crafts, hugs, encouragement, prayer, etc etc etc.

Fully trusting in her creativity and capablities, I was happy to hand the class over to Bethany most days, allowing me to work from home, and to rest more than normal. She finishes on August 9th.  During June/July we had also many extra North American visitors join a few classes.

Meanwhile, I have two wonderful helpers from the Universidad de Costa Rica, and should be getting a few more UCR students (doing their community service hours) in September.  Now I’ll be teaching full time again and we still have 4 more months left in the school year, so I’d appreciate your continuing prayers for energy!

 

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When you just don’t understand April 25, 2013

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Six times a week, I read a Bible story to the children in La Carpio.  In English.  Only.

 

These are not bilingual kids.  If anything, they came into the year knowing how to count to ten (“wan, too, tree, four, fai, seex, seven, ate, nain, ten”) and a few of the colors.  They are in grades 2-6, ranging from 7-13 years old.  They have no language learning videos at home, no Spanish-English dictionaries, no storybooks in English, and few have access to Internet and Google Translator.

 

They also experience hunger on a regular basis, wear worn out or too-small shoes and/or share clothes with siblings.  Their parents did not study past third grade (if they went to school at all). More often than not, their father isn’t even in the picture.  Anger and shouting in their home is the norm, and abuse is rampant.  They walk streets impregnated by the odor from tens of thousands of tons of garbage trucked in and out daily.   They are a community ignored by the rest of Costa Rica.  These are my kids. 

 

Back to my point.  Six times a week, we run English classes for the kids, and while my wonderful volunteers teach most of the material, I read the Bible story every day.  With all the odds stacked against my kids, and their complete  lack of English, how in the world can they comprehend deep spiritual truths in the span of seven or eight minutes?

 

During the first weeks, as we went through the story of creation, and of Adam and Eve in the garden, I watched my kids struggling to understand what I was talking about…relying on the pictures in the Beginner’s Bible to clue them in.  One morning I told them of the many fruit trees in the garden, and how God told Adam and Eve “you may eat from every tree here…BUT THIS ONE.” 

And one little boy looked up and asked, “Por que?”  Why?

 

I was so tempted to switch back into Spanish and tell them the whole story….when I suddenly realized Adam and Eve didn’t know why.  God told them, “do not eat the fruit from this tree or you will surely die.”  He didn’t explain himself.  He gave them a directive, and expected them to obey. 

 

My kids are on the same ground as the Bible characters themselves, thousands of years ago.  They are hearing God’s truths and promises but they don’t comprehend the full weight of the words.  There is not an illustration for every part of the story, and they certainly don’t always understand what is going on. 

 

You and I don’t always understand either, do we?  It’s actually quite rare when we do comprehend what God is doing!  I may be outside the USA, but I see the posts of sadness, anger, confusion, doubt after Sandyhook, after Boston, after the many disasters and emergencies befalling our planet these days.  We throw up a challenge to God, “Do you even exist?  Are you anywhere nearby?  Tell me why you have allowed this to happen!”

 

God didn’t explain Himself to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, to Jacob or any others in the Bible.  He asked them–and He asks you and me–to trust Him, to keep your mind and heart fixed on Him.  There is a perfect peace that comes only from remaining in communion with God the Father, Jesus his Son, and the Holy Spirit who is our daily guide and comforter. 

 

May you be like my kids, listening attentively every day to your Creator.  If you search out God’s word sincerely and regularly, the bits and pieces start to fall into place. 

 

 
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