Monthly Update • February 2019

• there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy •

Thank you for your patience and grace while I have been busy here in El Salvador with a thousand things, except, apparently – email updates! Life has been a whirlwind of teaching, coaching and of course – loving on my handsome husband (it still tickles my heart to say that – “my husband”)!

I will try to be brief (oh but how I love the details!) in my update of the past few months!

Celebrating my birthday with Mario and some of our most beloved friends!

Back in August, I began teaching at Colegio Salvadoreño Inglés (CSI), a private school in San Salvador. I teach Environmental Management to 10th graders (basically how to save the planet), literature and writing to 11th and 12th graders, and English as a Second Language to those same 12th graders. The school is bilingual, so I teach all my classes in English!

When I stepped out of Walnut Ridge High School for the last time in May 2015, I swore to the Good Lord and anyone who’d listen that I was DONE teaching.

“NEVER AGAIN!” I vowed.

“Teaching just ISN’T for me!” I declared.

Well, turns out I was wrong. I would return to teaching and I would finally fall in love with the job. Sure, it’s stressful and overwhelming at times, but it is also fulfilling and fun. Everyday, I find some moment of calling. When Gabriel smiles at me in the hallway, I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. When Rebeca looks at me with a trust few other teachers have from her, I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. When Alejandra stays after school every Monday for our Sisterhood group that hasn’t quite caught on yet, I know I’m where I’m supposed to be.

ahhh…Sisterhood…

Sisterhood is what happened after God jolted me from my sleep one November night. To read more about the vision and how you can pray for this group, click here! We continue to meet each week, but most weeks it’s only Alejandra and me, sometimes only me. Who knows…maybe Alejandra is my starfish. Maybe it’s enough that they know every Monday, from 3-4pm, Miss Ashley will be sitting in the 12th grade classroom, ready to be a safe place when they have nowhere else to run from their storms.

Photos from the CSI Christmas Show in December
The group photo is me with the senior class
🎓

When I am not in the classroom, using all my willpower to not roll my eyes at one more student who forgot his textbook, I am coaching newbie missionaries in their initial phase of support raising. This is done through weekly phone calls in which I hold them accountable to their goals and pray them through the valleys of rejection and the mountains of affirmation.

I am blessed to have yet another job I love. I may not have all the answers to their logistical questions (I’m still learning too!), but what I lack in knowledge, I make up for in heart. I have been where they are and I have felt the joy of reaching that 100% financial goal. It is a privilege to walk with them on their journey from accepting their calling to their first step on their mission field.

Next month, on March 13th, I will head to Raleigh, North Carolina for a Reliant New Staff Training at Summit Church! USA! USA!I am so excited to be back on US soil for a few days (you know imma get me some Chick-fil-A Gospel Bird!)! But I am SUPER excited because last year, I went to this same training and got my first batch of trainees. I will get to see them and catch up with their first year of work!

 My first trainees from Summit Church (April 2018) – Keevy, CJ, Cody + Alexa!

God came through big time to allow this trip to happen. At the school where I teach, we do not get paid time off/vacation days, so I had to ask for special permission to be gone for four days – something that most teachers don’t usually ask for! After a little convincing, the head director gave me permission to leave for the States!

I will be Stateside from March 13th – 18th in Raleigh, North Carolina. Unfortunately, I won’t have time to travel back home to Ohio, but it will be nice to be back for a bit!

Yesterday, February 8th, Mario and I celebrated eight months of marriage! Phew! When people ask how it’s going, my only truthful answer can be that it is everything. Name an emotion and marriage is that. Happy! Oh, for sure! We are definitely happy! Confused! Definitely. I mean, why can’t he just squeeze the toothpaste from bottom to top?? Amazed! YES! I am daily amazed at how hard Mario works and I know it’s not for his personal gain but for our family. Sad! Sure, we all have moments of sadness, but now I have someone to sit beside me as I cry, whether it’s over another unanswered phone call from Dad or because there are so many puppies on my Instagram feed and zero in our apartment.

Sometimes I find myself looking into his eyes, speechless at the fact that this handsome, hard working, tender man will be by my side for at least 95 more years. So yeah, marriage is good.

We visited a part of El Salvador called La Union in November
Our first Christmas together as 
husband & wife!
Celebrating six months of everything at the beach

So what now? For the past four years, I have been looking ahead to something – the move to El Salvador, the wedding, a suitcase filled with Chipotle from a mission team (still waiting on that one)…so now what am I waiting for?

Now, Mario and I are waiting to move back to the States, most likely Ohio. It has always been our plan to head back a year or so after getting married. We love our friends and family here, but we see a brighter future for our family in the States. No country is perfect, but between the violence, poor healthcare and political unrest in El Salvador, Mario and I have decided that moving north to the US is the best plan for us.

This means that Mario must get a residency visa (also known as a green card). Right now, he has a tourist visa, which is great, but in order to live legally in the States, he needs a green card. Using a Columbus, Ohio based lawyer, we began the application process as soon as we were married. The first step was a petition requiring us to prove to the US government that we got married for love and devotion to one another, not just for a green card. On January 6th, we were notified that our petition had been approved! HALLELUJAH! I won’t get into all the tedious details here (message me if you’re curious!), but I will tell you that if everything continues to go as planned, we could be in the States by this time next year!

Mario and I after his tourist visa was approved in June 2017

There is so much to think about and so much to plan, so for now, we are just taking it one step at a time. We will continue to keep you updated as the application progresses. More than anything right now, we need your support and prayers for a smooth process.

Thank you for continuing to love and support Mario and me. In this time of momentary stillness while looking forward to change, I lean on God’s Word to give me the direction to move or the courage to still.

“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:11‬

This verse is everything to me. God has promised to guide us. He knows our desires and when we feel like nothing is happening, He will strengthen us in the waiting. If we stay connect to Him, the Source of Life and the Provider of Joy, He will be our Redeemer of Dreams.

Long Distance Friendships

Your continued support is what allows Mario and I to do our jobs here without having to worry about how we will pay rent, if we have enough money to afford groceries and it is definitely helping in planning for our future!

*NEW* Email: ashleyelaineramirez@gmail.com
Facebook: facebook.com/AshleyElaine85
Skype: ashleyelaine85

Prayers:

  • That the girls of CSI would come to Sisterhood and that it would be a place of trust among friends, old and new.
  • For safe travel to North Carolina and back and that Mario doesn’t starve to death during his first time living alone ;)
  • For wisdom and knowledge as I continue to coach new missionaries
  • That Mario’s job would be a place of happiness and not continual stress.
  • That God would provide the needed money for Mario’s green card process and our subsequent relocation costs and that everything would continue to be approved.

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