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Hi, friends! You may have wondered where I have been this past month, so I wanted to tell you. I started a process back in October of last year to apply for teaching positions overseas. My Mom has done this for the past 9 years, and it is something she enjoys very much. It is an amazing way to get to know about other cultures, countries and education. I had just missed this hiring cycle in October, so I waited until May. After several attempts at interviews, I had to take an exam to certify that I could teach ESL. (English as a Second Language) I took the exam and became certified, and heard nothing. Then a few weeks ago, I was given a call and told there were openings near where my Mom was teaching in Panama. I had three weeks to sell most of my family's belongings (we kept the important stuff in a small storage unit), get my pets paperwork complete so they could come with us (I think this was the most difficult part), and rent my house. By the grace of God, everything was finished and we have been living in Panama for a little over a week now. I wanted to share all our adventures we have had here this first week. Thanks for being here on our journey with us :)
1st day of School
The House (La Casa)
We rented a house while we wait for placement in a school. It is a beautiful house that is owned by a family who only visits once a year, and this is essentially their vacation home. When they are not there, they rent it out and it is furnished which was a blessing because we did not have to buy many things upon arrival. In the backyard, is a garden that is shared by the family who owns the house and the couple who lives behind us. This couple is the one who takes care of the garden and who watches over their house, as well as the house we are renting. They are also believers in Christ, and it was something we all sensed from each other from the beginning. The husband asked us in Spanish the other night, "Do you believe in Christ?" I think that has been the best question I have ever been asked. They have a restaurant in the garden, and grow many of their own produce for it. This is a picture of the bananas they grew, and have graciously allowed the boys to pick from it whenever they would like, and they also bring us about 5 or 6 bananas every morning. They have been truly amazing during our transition here.
This is their pet turtle, Michelangelo. The turtle gets to wonder around the garden when he is not in his bin.
There is a cement wall or fence in between properties here. The wealthy homes have wrought iron around the windows and entry areas. The less fortunate people here have broken glass on the top of their walls to protect from anyone trying to jump over the wall into their home or property. It is actually really safe here despite these precautions. The police here are scary and no-nonsense. I think the risk of having to run into a police officer or risk going to jail here, has the area very safe. The people are actually really nice and say "Buenos" (hello or good day) when you see them. It is a small community where we are and everyone knows everyone. They sit on their porches and talk with each other, and to the people who pass by. There are mini markets on almost every block where you can buy items that would be in a convenience store in the U.S. and everything is close, so we walk. If things are far, we get a taxi for just a few dollars. The taxis are clean and the boys have enjoyed their taxi rides we have taken.There are also buses to take you into further places.
This is the back door to the garden. It is a gorgeous garden, and so very peaceful. We have seen butterflies, birds, and even bats at night! They fly right over your head! There are also cats that visit the garden. My Mom had some friends visit the other day, and they were floored to see our kitty living in the house. Most cats live outside here and are not kept as pets,
This is the kitchen. There is a gas stove and stainless steel appliances. There is running water, and we also have filtered water to drink. Some of the stores, schools, and homes here have air conditioning but we don't. That was quite an adjustment at first, but there is windows that we open to bring air in, ceiling fans and also electric fans. There is also no hot water. This may have been a deal breaker, but after two days of being here the cold showers have proven to be refreshing. It's like jumping into a pool on a hot day. The people here also love firecrackers, and it is not surprising to hear the "bang, bang" of a firecracker in the middle of the night. They usually wait for the weekend to do this thankfully.
The Beach (La Playa)
This beach is a less than 10 minute drive from where we live. The couple who lives behind us offered to drive us there to experience it. When we got there, they taught us how to clam! We all had a blast trying to catch all the clams we could! I greatly appreciate clam dinners now, and the effort that goes into catching them.
The boys also found many hermit crabs on the beach, and had so much fun picking them up and watching them move.
There are no major restaurants here. In some of the nearby towns there are McDonald's, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Dairy Queen, Domino's Pizza, and Subway. People where we live have restaurants and cafes they run out of their homes. It is within walking distance, and the food is delicious. This is one restaurant we went to in the center of town. It has a trampoline for the kids while the family waits for food. We each got adult meals, so that is five adult meals (including my Mom), plus two milkshakes and we spent less than $40 including the tip! Here are some of our meals:
Shrimp with fried plantains
Chicken with yuca fries (Pollo con Papas) - The boys love what they are calling "Panamanian french fries." They are made out of yuca, which is a starchy vegetable similar to a potato but full of fiber and much healthier than a potato.
Pork Chops with fried plantains
Remember how I told you we went clamming? That night, the couple who took us brought us these cooked! They were incredibly delicious, and this is just how kind they are. We have been truly blessed by them.
A field trip to Panama City!
The boys and I got a chance to be chaperones with my Mom, and visit Panama City with the middle and high school students. This was 6:30 in the morning!
The boys ready for an adventure on the bus!
Here is some beautiful scenery on the way.
The boys had a blast with the "big kids." The kids were so nice with the boys, and extremely respectful. They invited the boys to play an app called, Heads Up. One child has to hold the cell phone on their forehead, and their friends given them clues as to what the word is. It is a great way for them to practice their English, and the boys had an awesome time with them. They also played Pokemon Go! together.
Mountains in the distance!
This is one side of crossing the Panama Canal. We hope to make a return visit, and really get to see more on the history of this.
This is a picture of what they call "Old and New Panama." The older part is in the front, and then the modern city lies behind this.
Welcome to Panama City!
We thought this was a cool building.
The boys got a chance to learn about Astronomy in Spanish! They were able to recognize some of the constellations and stars, and learn how to say it in Spanish!
This is the book fair the school was visiting. It was insanely busy!
We then got a chance to visit the mall there, where the boys found a Nickelodeon store. We have never seen one of these back home, so they that thought this was amazing. There were many stores and restaurants that we recognized such as Carl's Jr., Starbucks, Ruby Tuesday, and Under Armour.
This is a picture of my Mom watching the city. The area we were passing here is very poor, and extremely dangerous. The city lays just beyond this.
This is the other side of the Panama Canal.
The Talent Show
We were blessed to be invited by Mom to see some of the kids we met on the field trip, at their talent show a few days later. The kids enjoyed getting to see the boys again. The Physical Education teacher also met my oldest son, and asked him to be on their soccer team!
The kids did a great job of dancing, and playing music. Many of the songs were even in English!
This is the teachers waving goodbye to the parents, and also giving them a chance to get on stage to give credit to them all for the hard work they had put into the show.
Getting art lessons from Gamma!
The boys busy working on their reading and phonics.
It was a busy week! I will be updating this post later with more of our homeschool week, but wanted to give you all a chance to see what we have been up to. Thank you to those who have known about our adventure and for all the prayers. They are greatly appreciated, and we love and miss you all so very much :)
Homeschool Lesson Plans
Homeschool Lesson Plans