The Fall semester began last week for Spain. Elementary children started back on Sept. 10, while Secondary school kids began Sept. 15th. School is 100% in-person (for now). Do we still have Covid? Yes... Spain is still registering hundreds of new cases every day. Are there precautions in place for in-person school? Probably as much as they are anywhere. Honestly, there is only so much you can do with 28 students in one room and hundreds in one building. Everyone is wearing masks. Everyone is washing hands and disinfecting desks and classrooms. Administrators are attempting to keep distancing rules and lower hallway traffic.
In this situation, we are all the same. It doesn't matter if you are in Texas or Spain or wherever in the world... this is hard. No one knows the right answers. Everyone is doing the best they know how to do under these circumstances. But it's hard. And it's stressful. Teachers are stressed and bearing the weight of education AND public health and safety. Parents are stressed and worried whether or not their children are safe, but they also need to go back to work. The local government is stressed and stretched beyond their limits... no one signed up to lead during a pandemic and no one in city hall can predict what will happen next. There is no good answer. Everyone is just doing their best.
We feel it, too. Trust me. As a former teacher, I feel it as I think about my teacher friends. As a mom, I feel it - I have a son who is a teacher and a daughter taking classes. In fact, my family is full of teachers... my son, my brother, my cousins, my aunt. Many of our best friends back in Texas are the people we taught with. And if you aren't a teacher, you are a mom or a dad who is concerned about your child or grandchildren this school year.
At La Mesa Turquesa, we are also "back to school". On September 7th, we started back with our full schedule of morning and afternoon offerings. We have Spanish classes for non-Spanish speakers every morning, as well as English Conversation groups and language support. Our mornings are full of energy as people from many different countries and cultures come together at our table to learn language and build community.
We have several new volunteers! This is very exciting for us!!! Our volunteers came in for special training on how to be language guides and they are really stepping up to the plate. It is so nice for us to have help, and for the people who use La Mesa to have several local faces to help them learn and grow and assimilate in to the community.
In the afternoons, we offer English homework help for 5th-12th grade students (all students are required to take English every year). We also have a variety of relationship building activities... story time, game nights, afternoon coffee and conversation times, special workshops, and field trips to cultural sights in town.
All of this comes with it's own stressors for our team. Just like teachers and administrators and local officials, we are constantly concerned with public safety and keeping the Friends of La Mesa Turquesa healthy. We are always watching our cleaning protocols, always monitoring masks, always counting bodies and making sure that we are keeping our capacity in check with distancing regulations. We worry when someone coughs. We notice when someone isn't there for a class and we wonder if they are healthy.
Just last month, we were forced to close for 2 weeks because 50% of our team was exposed to a positive case of Covid - not in our center, but at another event in town. We had to wait while our teammates quarantined and awaited negative testing results. Because of our close contact as a team and the work that we do with others, we must be careful. Our team is not big enough to be able to handle a 50% shortage of workers. Any hit to our workforce is detrimental to our work. Another reason we are REALLY happy to have new volunteers now!
Pray for us as we navigate this Fall schedule and how to stay safe while ministering to others.
We are definitely praying for YOU as you also navigate a very different "back to school" season.
If you would like to partner with La Mesa Turquesa and be a part of this work for neighbors and community...
La Mesa Turquesa exists because of partners like you. 100% of our funding comes from donations from people who believe in the work we do. Would your like to help? Could you or your small group partner with us each month? Your provision makes it possible for people to learn language and culture and build relationships with neighbors as they learn to make a new life in Spain. To help us:
TMS Global link (online giving) - be sure to check the box to make your gift recurring each month. Go to https://www.tms-global.org/partners-and-projects/details/refugee-community-center
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!