Monday, January 26, 2009

Online Garage Sale

In the process of moving back to the United States, I realized that I would not be able to take everything in my apartment with me. As much as I would like to, my dining room table and chairs just will not fit in the suitcase. So what do you do with a bunch of household items when you are moving out of the country? You have a garage sale. However, that is easier said than done in Venezuela.

Garage sales are not really done here. Everyone kept telling me to sell the items in my house, but nobody was really telling me how to do that. Finally, one of my friends gave me a great idea- a Facebook Sale.

I opened up a group in facebook and added pictures of everything I need to sell before leaving. I then invited into the group everyone I know living in Maracaibo.

And so commences the online garage sale.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Sunday School Student?

This morning, we had a new visitor to the 4-6 year old class...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Next steps: Trusting God

As I approach my first Aniversary here in Venezuela, it is time for my church's missions committee to review the work from this year and see and plan what to do this year. My original contract was for one year, so either they need to renew it or plan something else. Last week, I spoke with my mentor from my home church in Ohio. She called me to tell me of the decision made by my church's missions committee. They have decided that I am moving back to Ohio in February, when my visa expires.

They looked over all of my reports and documents, accomplishments, goals, etc and feel that my time here was very successful and want to see me move forward in a career in Missions. But they feel I need to be in the USA to do that.

This news comes as a shock to me. I was not expecting it. There were days last week that were hard for me, spent mostly in tears. I trust God and know that if He is closing the door here, He is planning on opening up a bigger one somewhere down the road. Everything is in His control and I trust Him completely.

So, for now, I have less than 3 weeks to pack up everything I am bringing home, find homes for everything I am leaving behind -which might have to include my turtle :'-( - finish up my work, and spend as much time with all of my friends as I can before leaving, since I do not know when or if I will be returning.

Goodbyes will be difficult for me. I have made a lot of friends here and really have a family here. I have adapted to the language, culture, and way of life here in Venezuela. I do not really want to leave. However, if God does not want me here, then I do not want to be here. My blog title is "Jyll Schenault- Servant of God". If I am His servant, then He is my master, and I will do as He says. I may not understand why He wants me to do something, but I trust that He knows what He is doing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Naked in church?

Today at church, I walked into the children's ministry office and found clothes that looked like they had just had a person in them, sitting on the chair with a pair of shoes lying on the floor. They hadn't been there just minutes before and I had no idea who they belonged to. My first thought was to try to find the person who was naked in the church and find out why their clothes were in the office.

After just a few minutes, I found the owner of the clothes. The owner was actually not naked. The clothes belonged to one of the children's ministry teachers. He was doing a dramatic dance presentation for the children and had changed clothes in order to do it. It was a beautiful presentation to music portraying the crucifixion of Jesus. I wish I had had my camera to record it.


After 10 months of separation, they finally have their reunion. Hopefully they wont have to wait another 10 months to see each other again.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Church games

In the children's ministry, we have been trying to take small steps to make the ministry more lively and a little less predictable for the children, although this has not been easy with the difficulties and set-backs that we have been facing lately.

When I saw the lessons for Christmas a few weeks ago, particularly the last lesson, I knew we had to do something different with it. The activity for the last lesson had several questions on a paper in squares that were meant to be cut out and used as trivia questions. There was also a paper spinner with the numbers 1-4 on it that you could cut out. The directions said that when you land on an orange, read an orange question and when you land on a blue, read a blue question to answer. That was it. No other directions. No anything else. When I saw that, I knew we needed this to be put in game format. And so began the project for the last few weeks- creating game boards to play with this lesson.

If I was going to make board games, I would need to make enough for several small groups of kids, so my goal was to make no less than 10 boards- complete with game pieces, dice, and trivia cards. I also decided to make the boards out of fabric instead of cardboard so they can be folded to save space. I found a great fabric that I was able to use and got to work. I created 10 different game boards- yes, each board is slightly different. I also found game pieces and large, fun, colorful dice at a toy store. The questions for the game today were based on the Nativity, but we can change the questions to use in future lessons.

Today, I brought the games in for the kids to try. Here is what it looked like:

Friday, January 2, 2009

Blessed New Year 2009

Well, 2008 is gone. We are now looking forward to what 2009 has in store for us. I am looking to see what God has in store for me and how He plans to use me here in Venezuela or wherever else He takes me this year.

The year in review:
A lot happened in 2008 for me. In January, I moved to Venezuela and began a new adventure serving God. I adjusted through the transition of a new country, new culture, and new language; working in a new job; having new friends and "family" (and I became the "Mom" of a baby turtle); and a completely new way of life. I took 3 trips during the year- as required by the Venezuelan government accoring to their visa regulations (I am required to leave the country every 3 months to renew my visa). One of those trips was back to Ohio as part of the first mission team from Filadelfia Church in Venezuela to travel to Northeast Ohio to evangelize. I worked through developments, difficulties, changes, and successes in both the children's ministry and the mission's ministry in Filadelfia Church. I spent every holiday and family birthday away from my family- which required quite an adjustment and control of emotions (and sometimes a lack of control).

However, through this year, I have grown- in maturity and spiritually. I know that I am not in control of my life, God is. Whatever He has planned for me, I have allowed Him to fulfill- and He has. He has taken me places I never thought I would go- but I know He is faithful. While I do not know what is in store for 2009, I know that He will continue to be faithful and take me where He wants me to go.

Even though it is common to wish you a Happy New Year, I would rather wish for you a Blessed New Year- that you may accept all of the blessings that God will bring to you this year.

¡Feliz Año!

How I spent my New Year's Eve....
In Maracaibo, New Year's Eve is an important time to spend with FAMILY. Most of my friends were staying with their families until after midnight. I spent the evening with the family of my friend, Diana.

We attended a church service at the church last night and arrived to Diana's house around 9:30pm. We prepared the food and ate dinner around 10:30pm. We then spent time together until midnight- which was celebrated with lots of hugs! This is Diana with her sister, Samira.Outside, many people on the streets are shooting off fireworks. Around 1:30am, some of my other friends came over. We hung out, played Scrabble, and talked. They left around 5:00am. Before they left, we did spend some time in prayer- dedicating this new year to the Lord.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

¡Feliz Navidad!

I hope you had a great time of celebration of the birth of our Savior with your family and friends. This was my first Christmas in Venezuela- my first Christmas away from my family. At times it was very difficult- with everything being different and me getting a little homesick- but I was still able to enjoy Christmas.

I want to give you some examples of how Christmas is different here in Maracaibo than it is in Ohio.

The Differences:
  1. It doesn't feel like "Christmas" here. To me, Christmas is cold with the possibilities of a "white Christmas". Here, the temperatures are still in the lower 90s during the day and upper 70s to lower 80s during the night. No chance of a "white Christmas".

  2. It doesn't look like Christmas. While I do see decorations around, I do not see the many rows of houses decorated with lights and fake snowmen and Santas in their yard. There is one street here, Bella Vista, that is completely decorated with lights and displays. There is also a lighted Nativity scene on Lake Maracaibo (Yes, ON the lake!) No real Christmas trees either- due to lack of pine trees in the tropics- but artificial trees are plentiful.

  3. It doesn't sound like Christmas. Instead of hearing "Jingle Bells", "Santa Claus is coming to town", "White Christmas", or "Joy to the World", I am hearing Gaitas. Gaitas are the traditional Christmas music for Venezuela. When a Venezuelan hears this music, they think Christmas. While I have heard an occasional rendition of our traditional Christmas music, it is mostly Gaitas. Fireworks are also a very big deal. Fireworks are sold on the street by street vendors.I have been hearing the loud boom of fireworks- set off by anyone- all hours of the night for the last week or so.
  4. It doesn't taste like Christmas. The main Christmas food here is called hallaca. It is a dough mixture that is stuffed with meat, chicken, pork, olives, raisins, chopped up veggies (like green and red peppers), then wrapped up in banana leaves and boiled. They also eat a special Christmas bread called Pan de jamon (Ham bread). This bread has ham, olives, and raisins inside of it. Pork is also widely eaten, along with a chicken potato salad. A common drink called Ponche resembles eggnog. For dessert, you will see Panettone- a type of fruit bread which looks similar to fruitcake but has more a bread texture.

  5. Different date? Here, Christmas is celebrated on December 24, not December 25. On December 24, I attended a Church play. I then went to spend Christmas with the family of my friend, Michelle. We arrived to her house around 11:15pm. We then ate dinner- yes, that late at night- and then did our gift exchange. We were done with the exchange around 12:30pm. We were going to spend some time with friends, but they were a bit tired. We went to bed around 2am. There were no events scheduled for December 25- just a day to rest. By the power of technology, I was able to spend some time on the phone with my family during their Christmas celebration on December 25. Thank you Lord for technology!!

  6. Who brings the gifts? Here, there are two options that children have for the person who brings the gifts at Christmas. Some children believe that Santa brings gifts to good children on Christmas (sound familiar?). Other children believe that baby Jesus brings the gifts. This will vary by family. One of my friends grew up believing in Santa, another in the baby Jesus. At Michelle's house, her sister excitedly set out cookies for Santa. However, this Christmas, she discovered the truth about Santa- that he cannot possibly get to everyone's house in one night so he brings presents a few weeks early to some children and leaves them in their parents' closet (oops!).

So, no matter how you celebrated Christmas, the important thing is that you did celebrate- celebrate the birth of a little baby who would save the world from their sins.
Merry Christmas!!