About Me

My photo
Eugene, Oregon, United States
I am just a simple girl who has the most amazing adventures because God has made me strong and courageous. Right now I am living in the state of Oregon where I am spending a year as an ARISE Intern.I hope you enjoy reading what God is doing in my life and the simple and great things He does every day...

Friday, May 6, 2011

"They sing beautiful!! Have you trained this children?"
Standing in front of the choir, timidly I said "yes".
"Congratulations!! You have done an excellent job with these children".

This was five months ago. Today that moment came to my mind again with the same feeling of that day... that amazing and fulfilling feeling of being the one who makes the "song" happen. Of being the one who taught them and encourage them to do their best. There's no feeling like that in the world. After hard practice, disappointment and frustration, there's no feeling as the enjoyment of the outcome of "the song".

There are some things that happens when you make music; whether you are performing, or conducting. Your thoughts are focus on the music, nothing exists outside the music; but at the same time, along with  that absorption, comes the enjoyment, a feeling of satisfaction and plenitude only my colleagues would understand.

But that is just the outcome. The most important things to make the "song" beautiful, is what people don't see. Behind that there are days and nights of endless work, dullness and no satisfaction; of frustration and wondering if finally the time spent in it will be worthy.

The true is that the words of that old man (the same mentioned at the beginning), started a flow of thinking of God and His guidance in my life.

I thought about how in the eyes of the audience, the choir performance and the outcome of the presentation were so related to the job that I have done. The choir was singing beautiful and that man attributed their excellent performance to my "good job" though I just thought to myself: "It is them singing, not me.." But in reality, it was the outcome of "teamwork". I gave my best. I tried to direct them as best as I can. I thought them how to follow my directions; when to sing louder, softer; when to stop singing; when to start, etc.  But what if they sing bad? What if after all the practice and all the directions that I gave them they just want to do their "own thing? What if they don't look at me and loose the beat or come in when they're not supposed to?

And I thought about Him... the great "conductor" of my life. I thought how does He leads me and how much He has taught me to follow his directions; how to adapt to His conducting style; how sometimes even when He leads so perfectly I took my gaze away from Him and I mess up the beautiful song He's leading in my life. How sometimes he tells me to stop and I don't...and how sometime He want's me to begin or continue, and I miss the "cue". I thought about how the way I sing "my life" unto others, influences the way people think about my "Conductor".

And as I'm reaching to the end of my service in CAS, I think about how much He still believes that I can sing the song the way He wants, even when is so difficult.

Like in every turning point in my life, I face myself, and ussually, my failures and mistakes, surround me and made me argue with my conductor and tell Him:
Are you sure I'm able?"

Are you sure you want me to be part of your choir?

Are you taking this risk?

And then I think about tonight; I think of my 12th graders. They were not as great as the "Special Choir", the choir I led last semester for Christmas performances, and for which that old guy congratulated me. They are not as musical as them; and mucho menos. as motivated as the kids. But I had to do it. We should sing at graduation... and I struggled with myself and God as well: Am I being the teacher I should be? Are you sure you chose me to do this?

But I did it. And I'm glad I did. Cause tonight, I just had my first presentation with my 12th graders, and besides that they sang as beautiful as they could, that feeling came again...and that thought of how even when I doubted a little bit of my 12th graders, (and they gave their best, cause I pushed myself and made them give their best), God had never doubted of me. He still pushing me to "sing a more beautiful song everyday"...and He wants me to, and He rejoices through me; he dances through me....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I can't wait!!

I know this is not the experience I would want to write about to come back to my blog. But sadly, is the last experience that have touched my life in these late days at Cambodia....The day when the world went wrong...

Since I went out from my hometown, to Andrews and eventually to Cambodia, God have blessed me in many ways. I've been far from my family, but somehow God manages to bring people that becomes your family while your away. At Andrews He sent amazing people; a place I can call "home". Cambodia was not the exception. God again, not only sent one family but He has given us 3: The Rogers, The Scott's and the Khan's.

All of them are really special to my heart, but the Khan's grew a little closer to me for different reasons: They live downstairs, and they had two kids: Avak,7 and Neha, 4. Sumara, their (kids) aunt, was a plus, I love her as a sister (She went back home, to Pakistan in December). Back home, I have nephews and nieces; being far from them in Avak and Neha I found two little persons to share my love with.

 The Khan's are the sweetest people you can ever meet. They are kind and loving . They always share food with us (really yummy Pakistani food) and they always welcomed us for a chat and tea. If in the busyness of life we would forget the blessing of fellowship, and friendship, they would remind us with an invitation to drink tea or a yummy Pakistani rice and dahl!
The Khan's and us sharing tea

And there comes Neha...she was "our girl" or as I used to call her "Mi Nehita". A beautiful, talkative, loving, smart,  joyful and honest 4 year old girl. She lightened our days, she made us smile, she was the girl I hugged and kissed and play with "in :the name" of my nephews and niece back home. She was "mi Nehita" and I was her 'Baji Olga" (which means, "older sister" in Urdu).

 Every morning, as I went down the stairs on my way to school, she was standing at the door:
"Hello Baji Olga, I like your shirt"
"Thanks, Neha" I will reply knowing that there was more to come:
"But I don't like your shoes" I would smile, "It's ok Neha, I like them"
"You look beautiful, I like your dress" and with her sweet voice she would reply: "Thank You, my mommy bought it for me".
Annie and I made jokes sometimes saying that if a robber wanted to come to our house, it would be impossible cause Neha would definitely see him and ask "What are you doing"??. She was our faithful guard.

On December the Khan's went on vacation to their home at Pakistan, and it was so lonely here. We really missed them, specially we missed Neha standing at the door, or crying every night at sleep time. The day they got home, we knew right away. I heard a girl crying downstairs. Quickly I tell Annie: "Is that Neha?!...Neha!! their home!!!" We ran downstairs to met them. The kids were so big..Neha was so big..Our neighbors were back We were so happy!

As Neha was growing, she got into the stage of: "What are you doing?" Why?. why? She would come home almost every evening. We knew she took a shower and as she came with her wet hair she used to say: Baji Olga, smell my hair, smell my hair!!! It smells nice, right?" "Yes, Neha, it smells very nice" as every night we had to pretend that we never smelled it before :). There are countless memories with her: Helping her with her math, teaching her how to jump the rope, watching her ride the bicycles in circles with Avak getting home from school, trying to workout with us, helping her with puzzles, going for an ice-cream and realizing that we hadto carry her because she didn't bring her shoes, and many more...

We always had something to share about her...one night Annie comes from downstairs and she tell us: "Neha was praying and she mentioned every single person that she knows..."Be with dad, and mom and Avek,and masso (auntie)" and so on. Another day Phil came up and told us: "So, Neha was singing: "Yes Jesus Loves me, yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me , yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me"...... and eventually she concluded: "The Bible tells me so..". One of my last memorable experiences with her was the last Saturday "Game Night" at the Scott's. She asked me to helped her to make wooden blocks animal-pictures puzzle. I spent a long time with her as God tested my patience "Neha, here focus, you're doing very good, but focus" Annie, Phil and Fay laughed at us as we were trying to accomplish or goal. And we made it. We made two. She was so happy and proud, and I would tell her: "Go, show Auntie Fay" (As you can notice we're all family here). She wanted to make more, but I was tired, and we decided to play "Jenga" and make big buildings. She would share her blocks with me and in exchange she will ask me if she could tumble down my tower. That was the las Saturday night Neha was with us.

Next Saturday night was supposed to be another normal and happy Saturday night together. Instead, Neha was taken away from us in an ambulance...until Jesus comes again, we won't see her again, we won't smell her hair again, we won't see her beautiful and smiling face.  It's hard to write about all the things that came to my mind the moment I knew. We were shocked. I had to ask like 5 times before I could understand. I thought about her mother:we knew how much Alia loved her girl: I have sister's that are mothers and I have heard them said they could not imagine if something bad happens to their children. I felt her pain, though I know I will never completely understand... I thought about Avek; how they were always together and how much did he took care of her. And I imagined my Kelly and Emanuel (my older sister's couple) and how much did they love each other. And I thought about her dad, and the look in his eyes for his beautiful princess.. and I thought about my dad and how did he cried for me when I left to Andrews (that was shocking for me, since I never before saw my dad cry, besides my aunt in-law's funeral). The rest, is too painful to write about.

Monday afternoon, was the funeral service in Cambodia, before they leave to Pakistan for the burial. As I was going up the stairs of the church, I thought about how wrong this world was. In my mind I was waiting to see Neha, riding her bike or playing around with his brother, instead, I was walking to her funeral service. I was walking to her funeral and in my mind I was still waiting to see her around ready to put her shoes outside to go inside the church.

The days after that have not been easier. As we go up or down the stairs we always wait for her standing at the door. There's no one to tell us if we look beautiful or if or shoes are not nice. No one to ask us where are we going, what are we doing..."  And as I think how much I miss her, in my heart there's a family for which I pray everyday. As I know there are no words to soothe their pain, my prayers are lifted up to heaven now in a different way...for Jesus to return sooner than I ever wished for and for Him to comfort this family until that day comes. That they can rest in His promises and that God renewed mercies strengthen them each day.

We don't understand pain, suffering..death...Though it surround us everyday in accidents, tragedies, earthquakes and wars we can never get used to it. Inside of us, we know we were not created to die, to suffer the absence of a person for the rest of our lives here. But there's hope. There are thousand of promises that I know are going to be done. Thanks to the great sacrifice of our Savior Jesus, we can have a hope to see our loved ones again. One day "Spring will Come" and He will give us "Beauty from the ashes". In the funeral service, Pr. Dean read a beautiful prophecy from Isa.11:6 that I will like to share:

"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a child will lead them."

He said that he's sure that Neha's going to be one of those child. As I read the meaning of the verse 
the words "peace" and "security." "harmony" stand out. In heaven what was wrong, what was twisted by sin, will be in perfect harmony again, such as this,  that a child will live in complete security and peace. I just can't wait for that day....but like SCC song I guess "I just have to wait"....

Almost at the end...I'm back!

There is no reason for having abandoned the blog for such a long time... ESL lazzines, or just "plain" laziness...ha-ha I don't know. I'm always "blogging" in my mind, but nothing like words to share and to remember. That's why I decided I'll try my best to update all the amazing, hard, and "normal" experiences that I've had these last months in Cambodia...I apologize and also thank you in advance for taking your time in sharing my experiences...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


That's how I would call this week. And it can sound very common when I am a music teacher and I teach it everyday. But this week, I had to lead the music for the Week of Prayer in School (High school level), plus I had the auditions for the Special Choir. Very busy! But I had so much fun!

The week before I started thinking for a theme song that was related to the main topic. I picked "Everyday" from Hillsong.  I also wanted to teach them "How great is our God". So with Teacher Phil at the bass, 2 of my 12th graders at the guitar and me, with my "debut" at the piano :D. Yeah, I couldn't even believe myself. It wasn't too complicated, just chords and a simple rythm, but with the bass and guitars it sounded well.

So here we were. We practiced a lot on Sunday and Monday was the first day of the Week of Prayer.  It went really well. It seemed like the students enjoyed the songs.  I was really nervous but I enjoyed very much the experience of leading worship while I was also singing and playing the piano.
Tuesday was lovely. There was no piano. Simply because it started pouring, just right before our High School period. I had to run all the way to the picnic area and I got soaked!!! It was very funny how a student offered me her poncho just after I got there and was all wet. I loved it! Rain here is so wonderful!! It makes me go back to my childdhod years in Puerto Rico when I used to play under the rain!

Well, going back to the week, Wednesday I had a long afternoon after school.  Seventeen students signed to audition for Special Choir.  They were very excited, I was so tired! I had to put great effort looking for their potential, since I had to take into account that most of them, haven't had much exposure to music before. But most of them have such beautiful voices! They put so much effort in singing "Christmas song", which was the last requirement (they could sing any other song if they would not know a Christmas song). It was a good experience. I can't wait to start!!!

God is really amazing!! I have always dreamed of leading worship and be able to sing and play piano. He sent me to Cambodia to get me started... though it wasn't as "perfect" as other worships I've been able to participate, we are starting to try our best for God. I'm starting to understand and experience the great fulfillment and responsibility of being a worship leader through music. I want to be able to put in practice all that I have learned in Andrews about music and worship. I want to be able to carry the "light" that God has put in my hands and through music lead the students to have delight in worshipping God through music. It thrills me the fact that they are not biased. They can sing an "old" hymn or song with the same enthusiasm that they sing a Christian Contemporary song. "Week of prayer" ended on Friday singing "How Great is our God" and "Everyday". It was such a blessing to hear them singing. It was such a privilege from God to choose me to do this. And the best is that this is just the beginning!

Is hasn't been 2 months yet and God has given me more than I can imagine. I have a music service to lead every week, a handchime and recorder ensemble, a Special Choir to lead and a bunch of kids to teach music and of God through music. Also I have a drama class every week, a Drama to put up for CAS Christmas program, which I am also in charge!!

At the beginning I was a little scared and kind of stressed out, but today as He is teaching me to trust Him, I am enjoying every moment and putting everything to His care. I am enjoying it, having the certainty that is not by chance, but that God has given me all this so I can give "My Utmost for His Highest". I know I don't deserve it but I feel more than honored to work for Him...

Saturday, September 11, 2010


It has been a month since I am here in Cambodia, and I was thinking about how my life has changed so far and the fears I have overcome...

“The key to change... is to let go of fear.” Rosanne Cash

1. Profesional: Let's face it. Having pursued a Master's degree doesn't make you fearless about teaching. Being a student is so "easy". Being a teacher, is a completely different thing.

My role has completely changed; from being a student my whole life, now I am a teacher. From being a follower, now I am a leader. Now there are students who look up to me, who admire me and who believe what I say and notice the little acts that I do. 

From being a full time student, to a full time teacher. But the EXTRA-ordinary thing is that I am not a teacher in my typical surrounding: I am a teacher in a foreign country!(topic no.2).

I teach from Pre-K to 12th graders. How much fun it is!! If they would know how much do they teach me! What I enjoy the most, is the opportunity of sharing with all kinds of ages. All of them challenge me in different ways. I love them, and I know they love me. There is no more fear.

2.Cultural/Social: Moving to US was a little scary, but it was "America", Western Culture... But...the other side of the world?Asia? SouthAsia?Cambodia?? No way...it was a little scary...may be a lot!!

The culture that surrounds me is so different. Riels, instead of dollars. Khmer instead of Spanish, Khmers (cambodians) instead of latinos and/or Americans,Tuks tuks instead of taxis, bycicle instead of a car. Unexpected things like an elephant walking down the street while walking home are a plus!!

Going to the market is still an adventure. Annie and I ride our bycicles, since we can't help our obvious physical differences, glances and "Hellos" are part of our everyday trips. There is NO khmer that does not stare at us and say "hello" everytime we pass by. But getting to the market don't make things better. Taking pictures make them laugh, and my "curly-voluminous" hair make them wonder if my hair is "real". So far, Annie and I can understand the numbers and can pay without overpaying(as long as we believe). Going to the market also makes me very happy that I am a vegetarian :P

In the other hand, in my regular daily life there is no Spanish anymore: English has become my first communication language and Khmer has become "the language to learn". So far my Khmer vocabulary has increased by almost 20 words, which I write in my personal "Spanish-spelling". My favorites are: soksabai (how are you?), chomrrriang(music), akuncharai, (thank you very much), borisom (Holy), preJesu (Jesus), prochiechon (people). Learning a new language has made me wonder how did I learned a second language and it reminded me how hard it is!

Furthermore knowing about their history and getting to know the people, help me to understand and feel more empathy with them.  Stories from past king rulers and great civilizations, a horrible genocide, a different religious background, help me to understand better this new culture that I'm living in.

In the other hand, there are some things thet remind me so much of home. The extremeley hot weather and humidity, the kindness of people and of course, eating rice every day!!


I can't really separate my spiritual life from all the other areas. My spiritual life is influenced by the others and vice-versa. I know that no matter where I am, God always want to teach me something and take me a step further. For this stage, he chose Cambodia. Two years ago I was in Andrews, which meant I was in a completely "SDA-Christian surrounding" environment. I was surrendered by great and varied Adventist churches, Vesper programs, and most of all by a bunch of amazing friends which love God the same way as I do. Now, I am surrounded by a Buddhist culture, with little altars with incense everywhere, Buddhist monks walking in the streets and pagodas everywhere.

Here there is a big Adventist church, and many other groups that meet in home-churches. Having the service in Khmer with a translation of the sermon in English, along with the hot weather, makes it a little hard to focus, but I'm still thrilled by the fact of being part of their worship. The big church is exciting cause I get to see must of my students, from which I get a lot of "Happy Sabbath tee-cha!".

The home-churches are always exciting. We go to a different one every Sabbath. These are all in Khmer and if we take part in it, someone translates for us. Also, I like the fact that we have to take off our shoes, as to show respect.

In my spiritual journey I have found myself surrounded by the amazing fact that, one more time my dreams have met God's will. I have found myself not surrounded by that "bunch" of friends but having one friend and roommate, with whom I share about our new experience of serving God in this "foreign" country. And I have found myself daily encircled with spiritual impressions about how should I forget about my "self" and focus on HIM. Everyday He shows me that I must decrease and He shall increase. I know He is disciplining me and everyday He is CHANGING me. In His word He says that "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear".

Was there fear? May be a little...but there' s no more. I want to change. Be like HIM. I'm dwelling in His perfect love, where I decrease and He increases. There's no fear in CHANGE...

Monday, August 16, 2010

My first week in Cambodia!!!

So I'm finally writing! It's been a week and because of Annie's encouragement I am finally doing it...though she says I'm her "home ESL student", so I warn you... it's an ESL speaker writing so... ;)

So I'm living in Cambodia!!! (Stealing Annie's favorite phrase, besides "let's go get ice cream"). So Annie is my roommate. She is my only girlfriend now, and I'm her only girlfriend here. Due the fact we had a lot of friends back there :). So far I am getting used to the fact that I'm living in Cambodia. One year ago I barely knew about this place.  Today I am living here, in the other side of the world! Last week, my first week, I didn't even know how did I feel. Before leaving I was excited, but weeks before, more scare than excited. When I got here I think I was kind of shock that I wasn't shocked!!

So my life was pretty busy before coming here. Still being busy but in a different way. So, in the airplane i got a lot of time to "rest", to think and to only be still. Finally sat and thought about the amazing ways of God. I couldn't believe where I was heading to! Alone again, like two years ago when I went to Andrews. But I wasn't scared because I just remembered that "We have nothing to fear of the future, unless we forget how God has led us in the past". And how amazingly He has been leading me! It has been only a week, but many thoughts have been running through my mind. Thoughts about life, purpose and God's plans. Sometimes I wonder about what is God's purpose in leading me here.

So I am not living in a hut nor even teaching in them. The school used to be held in huts, but not anymore. It is pretty nice. I live in the city, actually in the capital city. The most usual things to see here are very beautiful houses (mansions) in front of a very very poor house. The city is not nice, besides some buildings. Pollution is everywhere as well as trash. Families ride in motorcycles and the babies seem like they know how to hold well to their parents. Everyone here rides a motorcycle. Even children. The most common transportation  is motorcycle, bikes or tuk tuks. In our "trips" to the city, tuk tuks are our option. For school I'll ride with Fay (school librarian and misionary here for 15 years) or bicycle. Tuk tuks are my favorite (though ours are always the slower ones) and bicycle rides are an "adventure". Just the thought of crossing the street is a challenge and a nightmare for me. The first time I did it I thought It was going to be my second and last day day in Cambodia, and actually in the whole Earth!!! Bicycles are allowed in the streets, well better said, everything is permitted here. A good thing about crossing the street is that if I don't get to cross all the way, I can stay in the road, and even be riding in the wrong way!! hehe! I learned with Annie, that here they won't hit you. They will swerve you!

Otherwise, my life in school is amazing! Just to hear "Hello tee-cha Olga" and see their excited faces when they see me, gives me all the encourage that I need to survive the tiredness of the hot and humid weather. (I think Michigan took me away the aclimation to the hot weather). Children here are amazing, They are so respectful and adorable. They say hello and thank you with their hands together and they stand up for answering a question. They always smile at you and are very reverent when it's time to pray. It's so rewarding to see them laughing and enjoying music, like any other child! I also enjoy when they try to teach me khmer words, like "shom-rrrriann" (music) (with that specific emphasis).   According to them, I never say it well.  Twelve grade is my everyday group. I enjoy them so much. I laugh with them, specially when I pronounce their names in the wrong way!!! (Now I understand when Americans use to call me "Bo-NEE-ta").

So far I just have realized one more time, that we can be so different, but in the inside, we're all the same. We all laugh and eat; we all struggle in life, we yearn for a better place to live in and we all need a Savior... Also I realized that I may be not know for sure my purpose to be here but I read this last week and I am starting to understand:

    "Look at God's incredible waste of His saints, according to the world's judgement. God seems to plant 
     His saints in the most useless places. And then we say, "God intends me to be here because I am so
     useful to Him". Yet Jesus never measured His life by how or where He was of the greatest use. God     
     places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging
     where that may be". Oswald Chambers

I am not here to be useful, but to give Him the most glory! That's what I have learned so far!