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When a job is more than just work

November 16, 2023

We received our job assignments last week. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about what would be asked of me, especially if it was going to involve teaching in the school because I am NOT a classroom teacher, nor do I have any experience in that area! That is for sure Pat's area of expertise, not mine. Yes, I've homeschooled my own children, but that is completely different than managing a classroom of Honduran students for whom I only marginally speak their language! However, I prayed about it and asked God to open my heart to serve wherever I was needed most. Once again, God provided what I needed in a beautifully unexpected way… through my own children.

In the meeting with the missionary coordinator about job assignments, Tess and Helen were asked to team-teach 1st and 2nd grade English (2 40-minute classes, 4 days a week.) Obviously, as a 16-year-old and 18-year-old, they have zero experience in this area, and even less knowledge of Spanish than I do. But the way they responded to this request was truly inspiring. They expressed none of the self-doubt or anxiety that I had been feeling; just joyful acceptance to serve where needed, knowing that if this is where God was asking them to serve, then He would provide the means and strength to do so. WOW. How could I not follow their example and joyfully accept that God was stretching me outside my comfort zone, asking me to have faith, and trust that no challenge is more than I can handle. In a matter of minutes, my mindset shifted from one of fear and doubt to joyful anticipation of meeting the smiling faces of my 3rd and 4th graders when the new school year starts on February 1st. ❤️

Pat will be teaching 5th and 6th grade English, as well as what they refer to as special education but which is actually math tutoring of individuals or small groups that need more 1-on-1 instruction.

Inside one of the classrooms

One of the free-standing open-air classroom buildings

Pat will also be the Retreat Coordinator for the missionary community, and he will lead "Tema", which is sort of like a youth group for all ages focused on spiritual growth and knowledge of the faith. His other project is directing a program called PAVI (Puenta A la Vida Independiente, or in English, "Bridge To Independent Living"), which helps prepare Finca kids for when they leave. The Honduran government requires that they leave the care of the Finca upon turning 18, so this program is intended for the teenagers here. It includes everything from basic life skills like cooking or childcare, to resume writing and interview prep, to increased responsibilities and mentoring younger kids here at the Finca, to practical vocational training or apprenticeships. It's a big job, but once the program is designed and laid out for the year, other staff and missionaries will plug in with their own unique skills and talents to help execute the goals of the program.

Lastly, he'll be giving reflections and helping with the community's various spiritual events throughout the week (Laudes, Communion Services, Holy Hour and Adoration, etc.)

And of course, he would never NOT use his musical talents! Here he is leading music practice with some of the older girls, and an impromptu music session with some younger boys…

"Papi Patricio" (what the Finca kids call Pat) playing music with the boys from Casa 2

My secondary job (in addition to teaching my English classes in the school and helping Pat with Tema) will be as Event Coordinator for the Finca. I'll be working on any community-wide celebrations like Christmas, New Year's, Easter, Día del Niño (Day of the Child), Honduran Independence Day, etc. as well as other more individual events like feast days for individual houses, quinceañeras and other kid and staff birthdays, etc. The irony is not lost on me that I moved to a third world country to do a job that was my first career 25 years ago! And lastly, I'll be doing a Women's Group (like a Bible study) once a week with ladies from the neighborhood adjacent to the Finca property.

As for the girls, as I mentioned above, Tess and Helen will be teaching English to 1st and 2nd graders. Tess will also be assisting one of the other missionaries with donor relations - helping kids write to their benefactors, taking photos to raise awareness and provide content for the Farm of the Child social media, etc. All 4 girls will also be on "Vegetables"... every Thursday the Franciscan sisters go into the city of Trujillo to buy fresh produce for the week for the entire Finca community, based on what each house has requested for the coming week. Those vegetables need to be sorted for each of the 6 children's homes, plus the convent and the missionary house. A perfect job for 4 able bodied Looby girls!

Helen and Tess checking which vegetables each house ordered so they can be distributed appropriately.

All the girls sorting the vegetable orders for distribution

Of course then there is our most important job - being present to the children here… playing with them at the beach, taking them to the playground, playing soccer, reading to them, and just plain loving them.

Through all this talk of jobs, I've been thinking a lot about what a job means. Is it something you're hired to do and paid for, in exchange for your services? Sometimes. But we don't get paid. Is it something you study and prepare for, through education or apprenticeship? Sometimes. But we don't necessarily have experience in what we're being tasked with doing.

What I really think it means is that you're filling a need. Sometimes it's paid and sometimes it's not; sometimes it requires experience and sometimes not; but it always requires a willingness to serve. When I bend down and wash out a scrape on my child's knee or kiss a boo-boo, I'm not getting paid to do it nor am I a trained medical professional. But it's my job as a mother. When I'm being asked to instruct Honduran children, or teach them about the faith, or make their celebration of Christmas more memorable, it's my job as a daughter of Christ to fill this need for the less fortunate. It's my job and it's hard work, even though it isn't rewarded with pay, according to the world's standards. I truly believe we're all called to this work, or these jobs - filling needs and doing it joyfully. The beauty of it is that there are needs everywhere. Not everyone feels called to move to another country to do what we're doing, and that's perfectly okay! The world needs people to do these "jobs" everywhere. Look around. They're there. People who need help. People who need love. It's our job to give it because as Americans we have so very much of it to give. Resources in excess. And if we re-prioritize our days just a little bit, and are honest with ourselves, we have a surplus of time too.

Ok, that was a tangent! 🤣 If you're still reading, great!

After the months of preparation, plus 6 weeks in language school and the travel that it took for us to get here, we're now finally beginning to see the concrete ways that the donations we are receiving in order to be able to do this, will make a real impact. The Finca needs teachers. They need nurses to staff the clinic. They need people to lead and coordinate essential programs. And they need people on the ground to do the day-to-day things that brighten the lives of these children that the world has abandoned. That, in itself, is a very big (and essential) job… whether that is sitting and reading a book to them, making them pancakes with sprinkles for their birthdays, pushing them on the swingset, or taking a houseful of little boys to the beach in order to give their extremely hard-working "Tia" a much-needed break. (What these Honduran women do every single day, as caretakers of someone else's children, is nothing short of heroic.) The point is, we couldn't fill any of these critical roles and be unpaid volunteers, if it weren't for the generous benefactors that have made it possible for us to serve in this way. Every donation is helping to give these kids a better life right now, today, but also giving them a chance at a brighter future. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU!

Here are some photos of other happenings around the Finca in the past few weeks…

Helen celebrated her 16th birthday, on the same day as one of the other missionaries, Nate! She requested my homemade chocolate-peanut butter cake, so I did my best with the ingredients that were available!

We celebrated All Saints Day complete with some last-minute thrown together costumes (St. Bernadette, Angel Gabriel, St. Padre Pio, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Lucia, and St. Joan of Arc)!

Bernadette and Vivian helping in the Kinder classroom.

Please continue to pray for all the children and staff at Finca del Niño, as we continue to pray for all of your specific intentions!

¡Hasta la próxima!



P.S. Stay tuned for more info on Giving Tuesday coming up on 11/28/23! We would love to have your ongoing support so we can continue to do this valuable work! If you would like to increase your gift, or make a NEW donation, you can always give at the link below.

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Hi! We're Pat & Shannon.

We have a passion for education and a heart for service. Our goal is to make a global impact beyond our local community.

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