My brother came out a different person after his eight days sedated on a respirator, fighting the virus for his life. Yes, he is thinner, and his stamina is not the same, as he slowly exercises his lungs back to normal, but that is not what I mean. He has a deeper sense of gratitude to God, a more intense sense of wanting to live fully, a new appreciation for friends and family, a new awe of the power of prayer, and a new zeal for giving God the glory for the gift of each day.

My doctor son-in-law was exposed to COVID from a patient in the emergency room, and was placed on 14 days of quarantine. Lucas came out a different person…those 14 days of reflecting, wrestling with God, allowing God to take his fear of being infected and his anxiety about the future as he was exposed daily to the virus, learning to trust God anew with his family (my daughter and our four grandkids), and just letting God remind him that he is loved and that God is enough.

At ECA, little has been the same since mid-March…we are teaching our students with a whole new format, as we have learned to take our curriculum and present it for home-based education. Events are virtual, staff are teaching from all over the USA and here in Bogota, and parents are struggling to work from home and supervise students on screens. Parents have lost jobs or had major pay cuts, policies need to be revisited and adjusted, and changing directives from the government don’t allow for much advanced planning. 

Recruiting teachers in these uncertain time has new twists. Watching our team come together has had its ups and downs, but each time I meet (virtually, of course) with those who are moving forward to join us, I am filled with joy, as I watch our incoming staff trust God to guide, as they continue taking steps to integrate into our ECA team. I am grateful to God for continuing to draw faithful servants to Bogota!

With all the innovation, we have had to trust God. Not able to lean on tradition or habit, we have had to use the creativity God has given us, learn from the experiences of others, and interact with a worldwide team of educators to find solutions to these COVID-produced challenges. We have learned lessons as a school and have found processes that may very well carry over into our new chapters. Virtual parent meetings with excellent attendance and no travel time loss for families, therapies done where parents can witness and support progress, new platforms and technologies used that enhance the teaching/learning process…these are just some of the new discoveries that may be incorporated into our new reality post-COVID.

Personally, I have my lessons learned also. My prayer/devotional life has been strengthened with parking lot prayer walks; my family ties have been refreshed due to weekly Zoom calls that began as we banded together during my brother’s hospital stay; Rafa and I have enjoyed new shared adventures in the kitchen, on nightly walks around and around our apartment complex and even watching the news; and I have been pushed in new time-management and tech skills.

I have been challenged to reflect on the lessons learned and to put into practice what God is speaking to me about. As I shared today in our staff devotion, our obedience stems from our abiding relationship with God. James has 108 verses and over 50 commands…wow! We need to put into practice what we are learning! I have been teaching health this year. For their final project, my 9th graders are sharing what they learned throughout the seven units and what commitments they have made to help them live a healthy life (physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and socially). What joy it brings me as a teacher to hear what my students have learned and retained and what solid commitments they have made! If I, as a mere 9th grade health teacher, rejoice to hear that my students have actually learned and remembered key lessons and are determined to carry them out, how much more does our Father and Teacher rejoice to hear us recognizing lessons learned and seeing us put them into practice!!

So, what lessons have you learned during this COVID chapter? What are you putting into practice? Take time to reflect on these past months and verbalize in some way what you have learned (or are learning) and then start putting the lessons learned into practice. Don’t let these be lost months, but instead, a forced pause that has pushed you to grow in multiple ways. Take advantage to the fullest of this opportunity to grow!

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