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It’s almost here, fellow teachers.    Like it or not, we will wake up Monday morning much earlier than our summer sleep schedules are accustomed to, and we will walk back into the buildings we simultaneously love and fear. The newly waxed floors will look foreign without any tossed away papers and all used-up pencils, and the bare bulletin boards will mock us as we remember the cute ideas we saw on Pinterest.   We will make multiple trips from the car to our rooms, carrying bags filled with the magic we are convinced will make this year the best. We will stand surveying our rooms, hands on hips, as we envision a space that inspires and welcomes.   The plans will have to wait, though, as we sit through multiple meetings where we team-build and common-core learn and technology policy question… And don’t forget lunch-plans make, as this is the week – the only week – where we are allowed to leave for the sacred lunch.   Our non-teacher friends will roll eyes as we mention ‘heading back to work,’ and they will make snide comments about us having the whole summer off. We will roll eyes back as we mutter, “You just don’t get it.”...


Pastor José’s eyes were rimmed with red as we gathered at the front of his church. We had just finished painting his house, transforming a drab concrete building into a vibrant standout in his barrio. “My family – we gather every morning to pray, and we have prayed for a year to have our house painted,” he explained softly as the translator relayed his words. I dropped my eyes to the dirt floor of the “Jesus is the Way to Heaven” Church. I have just repainted my entire house, and prayer was not part of the process. The money was in the bank, the desire was in my heart, and that’s all there was to it. I wanted to, so I did.The humble pastor went on to tell us how his family has prayed for paint, but God did not allow for it until now. “Many people in my country think pastors are becoming wealthy,” he said. I wondered what they would think of American celebrity pastors as wealthy as our athletes. He told us of how just that morning God revealed to him a lesson about protection. He said that God kept them from having the money to paint...


Her brown eyes followed our van as we passed her on the bumpy road, looking through the windows at a dozen Americans conspicuously out of place in her neighborhood. We had come to bless a local Nicaraguan pastor by painting his house, a luxury for a man whose family can easily be without food. She spoke nothing to us, but I wondered what her words would be. What stories could she tell of living in such a place? Homes walled with black plastic sheeting; floors nothing but dirt. Garbage littering what passes for a road, leading to a neighborhood where children wander unattended and adults loiter because there is no job to be worked. I saw her for just seconds, but her face is on my mind tonight. She could be me.My natural reaction on any trip away from America is to pity the inhabitants of wherever I travel.“They just don’t know what they’re missing,” I think. Which is what? More electronic devices than there are people in the house? So much food that I toss expired bags full? So many channels to watch that I never have to converse with the people I love most?Maybe I’m the one who is...


Tomorrow is a big deal for the new Mrs. Scott. From this point forward, it shall be known as 'the day Jennie got on a plane on purpose for the second time in one summer.'Kind of catchy.The first time was to catch a cruise ship out of Puerto Rico for a luxurious honeymoon where someone else turned down my bed and made cute animals out of my towels. Sunday is to go to Nicaragua for a mission trip where bats are said to fly through the house I'll be staying in and where I will have zero access to a hair dryer or flat iron.So the trips will be slightly different.Other than the plane ride, I'm so excited I can't stand it. If I could just be beamed up like Scotty, all would be well. However, beaming up technology hasn't made its way to me yet, so I'll be forced to zoom through the air at 500 miles an hour in an aluminum can.Can I get some pills, please?Suffice it to say I'm not the best traveler. I have what might be called in some circles a slight case of the panic attacks. My poor new husband still bears the...