|Checking out the jungle leaves!|
We first met Serena about 9 years ago. She was a 6th grader at the time and came to the AWANA program at our church in Idaho. Clay had just been called as youth pastor, and I was learning the ropes with my first baby…and as a youth pastor’s wife.
Over the years, we grew to love Serena. She has always had a sweet personality and was eager to help out and serve. As a youth, she helped in the Cubbies room during AWANA (that’s the 3-5 year olds…and we all know it takes a special kind of person to work there!), she taught in Vacation Bible School, she raked leaves on ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) days, she participated in the mission trips our youth group took, and so much more.
|Checking out the smelly fish department of WalMart|
For the last three years I have been trying to convince her to come to Mexico to help us. She was studying elementary education…and I already knew she was qualified to work with little ones. It made perfect sense to me that she would one day come down and homeschool my kids! I just had to convince Serena. (And her Mom)
|I finally convinced her!! (And her Mom too!)|
Last summer, Serena wrote me a letter saying God was doing “something” but she didn’t know what it was yet. And soon after that, I received a Facebook message telling me that she thought God was calling her to come to Mexico! (I think I let out a squeal when I read those words! And then I cried tears of joy!) I called Serena that evening and we talked it over. The hardest part was waiting seven months until we could pick her up from the airport!
|Matthew, Tammy, Petrona, and Serena|
It had been over three years since we had seen each other. The best part was seeing how God has changed and transformed her from a quiet, timid youth to a confident, brave, godly young woman. Can you imagine your first trip away from home...and you go to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language? But you don’t go to a city with lots of modern comforts. You go to a remote village in the middle of the jungle with few modern conveniences and two new languages. That takes courage, obedience, and trust. (We question her often about what she was thinking putting her life in our hands!)
Serena has jumped right in to this great adventure of jungle life. She spends her mornings in the classroom with four energetic young scholars, and she juggles the circus wonderfully! In the afternoons, she adapts to the spontaneity of our life, offering to play hostess to a surprise visitors, or holding the crying baby so that Felicity can spend 15 minutes listening to a Bible story. A few afternoons a week, she holds “Serena Surprise Time” where she entertains the kids (and sometimes some of their friends) with arts & crafts or games. And in her spare time, she studies Spanish and bakes cookies! (One of my favorites was watching her play Go Fish in a combination of Spanish, English, and ZK.)
We are thankful to have Serena with us and we are excited to see what God has planned for her future. I have no doubt that after living in the jungle for 6 months, her life will never be the same!