Wednesday, January 2, 2013


To celebrate 30 years of marriage and both turning 50 this year, my dad surprised my mom with a trip to Brazil!  She knew she was going on a trip but didn't know to where.  My dad packed a suitcase for her with a little of my help when I was home in July, and he added another surprise when he bought tickets for Ryan and me to meet them in Brazil!!!

We spent our first few days in Rio de Janiero and did the "tourist-y" things: Sugarloaf, Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer) and the market at Sao Cristovao.

Sao Cristovao
We even did a cooking class and learned that acai goes great with fried cheese!  The Brazilian Steakhouses were one our favorite memories...especially Pao de Queso (Brazilian Cheese Buns!) which we served at the Christmas party this year.
Cooking Class
Our second stop was at Iguassu Falls which is one of the Seven Natural Wonders.  It is the longest waterfall in the world.

Iguassu also had an incredible bird park which we saw many tropical birds I'd never seen before!

Our last stop was in Manaos where we stayed at Ariau Treetop Resort.  We adventured in boat tours of the Amazon where we went Piranha fishing, Rainforest survival training and alligator spotting at night.

Saying Goodbye to Brazil
  Thank you Dad and Mom for an incredible trip of a lifetime!!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Final Trimester: From English to Science

During my (Erika's) last trimester of teaching at AFE, I was assigned 7-9th English and 9th Social Studies.  I felt completely out of my league for teaching social studies, but there was a class that needed a teacher, so I took it willingly.  I did my best to come prepared with an interesting discussion and a powerpoint lesson, however, it was never what I wanted it to be...I just wasn't in my element.

In addition to this anguish I felt, I was teaching English which was the students' 2nd trimester of English this year.  They were all feeling restless and nothing I came prepared with was gaining their interest.  I brought projects, creative writing time, games, etc., and the days seemed to get longer.  I had a thought one day, and realized that I was in a huge funk.  And I could do something about it!  So for the final month or so of teaching at AFE, I changed my English class to a science classroom...decided to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. 

I was able to teach them about ecosystems and food chains & webs...I incorporated an Owl Pellet Dissection Lab at the end of the unit which the students extremely enjoyed!  Finally I ended with a microscope discovery lab and every student in high school now knows with expertize how to focus on a specimen or sample through a microscope.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

7th Grade Math

The government approved home-school curriculum used by AFE is set up so that 7th grade takes a math class for the first 2 trimesters and not for the last trimester.  Adam thought, and I agreed, that it would be a good idea to have 7th grade continue with some sort of math class for the last trimester so they don’t get out of the “mode of math”.

What started out as a class I dreaded teaching turned into one of my favorite classes of the entire year (my physics class was another favorite).  My idea for this math class at the beginning of the trimester was to incorporate what they learned in the first two trimesters into “real world” math problems.  For example: “Two cars are 500 kilometers apart and moving toward each other…”.  Needless to say, the kids HATED coming to class.

Then I got the idea to change this math class into a project class, incorporating math, physics, and engineering principles.  I knew this was a successful change within the first 5 minutes of the very first project.  We did the following 10 projects over the trimester:

1.      Tessellations – form unique patterns without overlaps and gaps by using a combination of shapes, including triangles, squares, octagons, etc.
2.      Building your dream house – draw your dream house using a scale of 1 cm = 1 foot
3.      Velocity Experiment – calculate the speed at which you run and walk uphill and downhill
4.      Parachute Project – build a parachute with the given materials to slow down a falling object
5.      L.1,000,000 Project – spend L.1,000,000 exactly down to the cent.
6.      Bulls-eye Probability – throw arrows at a target and calculate the probability of hitting each ring
7.      Force of friction – find the angle at which the friction force changes from static friction to sliding friction for 4 different surfaces
8.      Paper Olympics – a 3 part competition involving paper (tallest tower, longest bridge, furthest flying airplane)
9.      Surface Tension – build an aluminum boat that can support the most weight
10.  Point Load Exercise – apply a point load to popsicle sticks and construct a graph using Microsoft Excel that compares the distance between outside supports to the weight required to break the popsicle stick


At the end of the trimester, I asked the kids how many of the projects they could remember without looking at their notebooks.  I was happily surprised when they came up with all 10 projects within 2 minutes.  They also had no trouble telling me the main concept they learned from each project.  It is amazing to see how God can use me to connect with and teach these kids.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

September Update

Marriage Retreat Weekend: Sept 7-9th

Ryan and I had the privilege to attend a marriage conference led by some amazing couples The Feazels and Steve & Debbie Wilson Marriage Matters Now who shared their stories and wisdom for 3 days, 2 nights.

We had the opportunity to focus on the parts of our marriage that we both want to strengthen, and we left with some great tools to navigate the rougher parts that we haven't hit yet.

"You would never go to Tegucigalpa to learn how to drive a manual, the same is with marriage, you first learn how to drive and then you will be better equipped to navigate the more challenging parts."  

We have grown so close this past year and I can honestly say that Ryan has my back - he is my very best friend. 

Roatan with Friends: Sept 10-16th 

We found out in the last week of August that we were going to have the 2nd week of September off, so as we were hanging out with our friends, Becky, Hollie & Adam, we couldn't think of a better way to spend that week but on the beautiful beaches of Roatan.  Thanks to many blessings, we were all able to manage transportation to the island and had an incredible and unforgettable time.

Desfile del Dia de la Bibla - Bible Day Parade Sept 30th
PHOTOS: Courtesy of Hollie Macenczac 

Both AFE and our church Amor y Vida have been busily preparing for the last day of September known as the Day of the Bible here in Honduras.  This year, more than 30 churches were uniting together to celebrate this day to celebrate what the Bible is to us as Christ Followers by parading downtown Tegucigalpa until we reached the Presidential Palace where there would be a worship concert for all.

The high school girls were as enthusiastic as ever, dancing to music blaring from the speakers in the back of Jeony's truck.  They were followed by the rest grades from AFE holding up hand-made, painted signs. 

But then it started to rain. And I mean it poured. For the entire duration of our march of 50 minutes...needless to say, the kiddos had paint running down their arms and everyone was soaked.  But I was so impressed at the attitudes of each and everyone of our AFE students.  I didn't hear one bit of complaining or the end, the sun came out!

Side note: Becky was appointed the official mask maker of the nursery and preschoolers as they would be set up in a boat made out of cardboard to represent Noah's Ark.  I was recruited as her assistant.  We were pretty proud of ourselves when we were finished, and decided that if teaching didn't work out, we would go into business.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day of the Student

We have learned that Hondurans like to celebrate any and all holidays that they can!  "The Day of the Student" is one of those said days.  On Friday the 7th of September, the political team of a presidential candidate for the 2014 elections stopped by AFE to give a "Day of the Student" party.  They brought 8 pinatas, pop & cake...and despite the obvious political statements that were being made, we know the kiddos still had a fun day off of school!

Before the fun started, Ryan and I joined the students to 30 minutes of jump rope fun!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happy 16th Birthday Chris!

We have the privilege to live right next door to an incredible Honduran family who has devoted their life to transforming the lives of the people of the garbage dump here in Tegucigalpa.  For those of you who don't know the story of AFE, Chris was 4 years old when she urged her dad, Pastor Jeony, to help the people and children of the garbage dump. Months later in 2001, AFE began with classes in the garbage dump.

Since then, Chris has grown into a beautiful and intelligent young lady with hopes and dreams of her own.  She is incredibly stylish and loves riding horses on Saturdays.  We were invited to celebrate her 16th birthday with friends and we had an incredible time bowling! 


We attended language school in Copan Ruinas. Tegucigalpa is where we are serving as teachers at AFE.