Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Run You Clever Boy, and Rembember...

Five months have gone by, and let me tell you, it has really been one big eye opener. First, it started by getting ready to attend graduation for the first time-- as a teacher. Then, I attended a Christmas concert hosted by two choir groups. I also attended two parties, one for the bishop and the other for the diocese office. I had an opportunity to chaperon prom for my students as well, and then ended it by having mass on Christmas Eve and spending Christmas with Patricia and her family.

Let me start off by saying I commend all teachers and staff that work with a school district. It was a tough job getting all the grades in and knowing that you will have students at the last moment wanting to make up a grade. I know these past five months have been eye opening and I now know how difficult it is being a teacher. On December 17th,  there were two graduations, one for 9th grade and one for 12th grade. I taught 9th grade so I really felt proud seeing these students walk across the stage receiving their diploma. In 9th grade you graduate from primary and figure out what bachelor you want (Science, tourism, or commercials). Below are some pics from that day.

On the 15th of December, Cantus Panama and Coro Musica Viva held a concert benefiting the Cathedral of St. Lucas. It was filled with many Christmas and native songs. I did not take many pictures because my tablet was acting up and I have not bought batteries for my camera.

On the 19th of December I attended a party for the bishop that was hosted in my apartment (I did not know that would be the location at the time). It was just a good time to get to know the staff and just celebrate the bishops birthday. That same night, I went with Rachel to chaperon the 9th grade prom. It was a fun and the kids saw me dance salsa for the first time. On the 23th of December there was a party for the diocese staff.  There was a lot of turkey, ham, ceviche, and music. It was the first time that I really got to meet the staff and it was a fun. All the music and dancing made me realize that you don’t have to be afraid of what you look like or if you can dance, as long as you want to have a good time, you are always welcomed.  

On Christmas Eve, there was a night service at the cathedral. It was strange how much it felt like my church back home, with the whole lighting the candle and singing “Holy Night, blessing of the nativity, and singing “O Come O Come Emanuel for the offertory hymn. On Christmas day I woke up early and headed of to Villa Lucre where Patricia and Rachel live. They said breakfast starts at 9 and it was a 30 min drive so I headed out about 8:30. However, in Panama nothing starts on time, but thinking it was Christmas, I thought it had to start on time. Well I was wrong. We did not eat “breakfast” till about 11 but it was worth the wait. What really got me was that Patricia said that breakfast was only for family and to know that I am part of her family was a true Christmas gift. I also got to meet Rachels mom who gave me a stocking full of candy and Time magazine.

I was truly blessed these holidays, getting to spend it with people that I love and finding a place in my heart was a true blessing from God. I know a new year is coming and I feel the presence of god is stronger than ever and I know that my faith has been guiding me through difficult and good times. I Hope you all have a wonderful new years and a prosperous one. My journey is just beginning and I know what that journey is.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Long November

Wow, it has been a long time since I’ve updated, and I am sorry for that. Many things have happened to me this month -- and it all started off with me going to Costa Rica.  As soon as I got back, my students were preparing for an activity they do every year. I also had to prepare final exams for the ninth grade students because they graduate that year in Panama.

But first, I’ll start off with my little vacation to Costa Rica. In order for me to stay in Panama for a year with my tourist visa, I must leave the country every 90 days. I flew out on Friday November 8th. I was kind of nervous because I did not know who was going to pick me up. As I walked out of the airport, I saw a giant sign that said: JOSEPH YASC. I was hoping the sign was for me, and not for another Joseph. When I first got out of the airport, I looked at all the surroundings and felt a little at ease because I was not in a big city anymore. I arrived at the Costa Rica diocesan center and was greeted warmly. I started to unpack and was told the bishop wanted to see me. I started to talk to him and found out that he just got back for my home diocese in Texas. He talked with Marthe Curry and said that they want to have a partnership with them. I thought that was a true sign that God was there guiding my way. I spent most of my time relaxing and going off downtown and soaked up all the restored building and just wondered off to who knows where. I was only there for the weekend so I did not have time to see the volcanoes, but I am definitely going back. Here are some pictures of my weekend:

When I got back home, I went straight back to teaching science. I am still wrapping my head around the idea of me being a teacher. The one thing I said I would never do was be a teacher -- yet here I am and here is where God has sent me. The students were practicing for an event called Coronación y desfiles de tunas, which is basically a parade in which traditional Panamanian clothing is worn, as well as loads of singing and dancing. Each classroom in the entire school represented a separate region in Panama, and therefore wore the clothing that was traditionally worn in that region. Here are some pictures of what unfolded that day:

This was also a very different Thanksgiving for me. The week was full of being thankful. Rachel asked if I wanted to go to a thanksgiving dinner that she was invited to from her church. It was on a Wednesday night and it had all kinds of side dishes and turkey. I was really glad that I was able to spend a thanksgiving with a bunch of strangers. It helped me realize that god has always been giving me a reason for me to be thankful.
I am truly sorry for not updating enough, but November is probably the most insane month in Panama. I just want to say how grateful I am to continue doing this journey. Sometimes I feel do miss home but that is erased when I remember that I have great people that I am surrounded by in Panama. I hope I can update on a regular not because November is gone and December is going to be quick…I hope.