Monday, July 18, 2011

A long awaited update


I wanted to take a few minutes and say "Hello" to all of you! I realize it's been nearly forever since I last wrote an update about my life, thus keeping you on tenterhooks as to the goings on of yours truly.

There is a lot going on in life and I am overjoyed to say that God continues to bless me in incredible ways.

First, I am still living in Estoril, Portugal. I have been there for three years now and am happier being there now than ever. I have found a place that feels like home, where I have an amazing amount of support, a fantastic life, and a bright future. I am still working at the Carlucci American International School of Lisbon though my role at the school is soon to change. For the past three years I have happily taught 3rd grade. In January I was approached about my interest in moving from the Elementary School to the Middle School to become a 6th grade teacher. While at first I rejected the idea, the more I thought about it and talked with friends the more the idea grew on me until I finally told the school that such a proposition would interest me very much. And so, starting in about a month and a half I will do the unthinkable and become a middle school teacher! I am filled with both excitement and trepidation when I think about what the following year is going to look like and oftentimes am consumed with the desire to run back to school begging to be given my old job, but this next year will challenge me to grow as a teacher and as a person and I welcome the challenge. It helps a lot that both the principal and the middle school coordinator have great faith in my abilities and are encouraging me to do things in my own style, giving me plenty of freedom to play with how things are presented. I will continue to coach at the school, basketball, soccer and cross-country and will be looking for other ways to make an impact once the school year starts since some of my old avenues will no longer be viable.

Secondly, since November I have become involved with an AMAZING church family just outside of Sintra. If there had been any area which had really been lacking for me in my overseas journeys it was that I hadn't ever found a church home where I felt comfortable and welcome. Grace church is so much more than I could have dreamed of. From the first time I visited I have felt welcomed. I have now become a part of the church in several ways. On many Sundays I have joined with others in leading worship either through playing the jembe or singing or a combination of the two. I am a part of several bible studies and prayer groups, which have given me so much more strength and courage as I try, day by day, to live a faith filled walk. I have been doing a lot of hanging out with the youth and some with the children and hope to do a lot more with those groups in the future as they are an astounding group of young people. I thank God for granting me the opportunity to find this church where I am able to nourish a part of myself that has gone unwatered for far too long.

Thirdly, Joana. :) Joana is the BEAUTIFUL woman who is in this photo with me.
Her accolades are far too many to count. Let it be known though that she constantly pushes me to be more Godly, more loving and to be a better pool player as she has thoroughly smacked me down in that game. We met after having seen each other once or twice during a movie night at a friends house. Our mutual friend, Zuzia, called ahead to ask if she could bring her roommate to movie night. I, half jokingly, asked the person Zuzia had talked to on the phone if it was the cute roommate. Lo and behold the two of them walked in the front door and it WAS the cute roommate! I then proceeded to make an utter fool of myself in trying to play it cool while at the same time flirting shamelessly. At the end of the night, though the movie wasn't over and I wasn't really tired, I said that I was and asked Zuzia if I could get a ride back to my house with her and her roomie. I have no idea what the two girls talked about on the ride home as the whole time I was thinking, "I really want to talk to this girl some more. But Zuzia is here and I can't ask for her number in front of Zuzia, what if she doesn't want to give me her number? When will there be time to ask her? Should I ask her now??? No, that would be dumb, they're talking about something. Oops, they asked me a question! What did they say?" "Yep, I agree with that." "I hope that was something I would agree with, but who cares, how can I talk to this girl again?" And so forth on what felt both like an eternal drive and yet was over before I knew it. In the end I ended up giving Zuzia a bottle of wine that one of my students had given to me, while at the same time saying I had gotten it for her as a going away gift (is it bad that this all started out on a little white lie?) so that she would be distracted and I could finally ask Joana for her phone number. She smiled as she gave it to me, (my heart melted a bit with that smile) and we promised to talk more soon. Never having been one to claim patience as a gift, I called her the next day and we set it up to go for a walk on the boardwalk the next day. And we kept hanging out. She is now someone who I share bible studies, church services, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, pool games, stories, happiness and frustrations with. God has absolutely blessed me with someone who first loves Himself and secondly loves me and I could not possibly in my wildest of dreams be happier.

And that is kind of my life right now. I'm in the states looking forward to supporting my amazing sister as she gets married next Saturday. I have been fortunate to spend time with my family and friends.

Lastly, I want you to know that whether it has been hours since we talked or years, I appreciate you. I appreciate the support that you have given to me through ups and downs. I appreciate the prayers, the advice, the phone calls and emails, and most of all the love that I have felt from you, my friends and family. You have made me who I am today and I thank God for each and every one of you and beseech Him to bless you as I have been blessed.

In Him,
Justin Wallace

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reaching out to the world

My kids just started a project last week that I have high hopes for.

We wrote a letter, as a class, telling who we are and asking questions like, "How many people are in your class?" and "What do third graders do for fun in your country?" We then chose 50 countries from all over the world that we would like to know more about. I then spent several hours looking up international schools in each of the 50 countries, (Which was way more interesting than I thought it'd be. I may have some new ideas about where I want to go next.) and copying down their addresses. The kids then practiced their address writing skills as they filled out 50 envelopes, folded 50 letters, placed a postcard of Portugal in each envelope and then carefully sealed each envelope.

We hope to get responses back from each of the schools. We look forward to learning more about others, to making connections with people from all over the world. To learning how other people lead lives that are different from our own. To discovering how much we have in common with people we've never met.


At times I find myself in a state of wonderment for the pathways that God has brought me down. I am so blessed. I have so much to be thankful for. There is so much to look forward to.
I hope that I can live up to the expectations that God has for me. I hope that I honor Him with my life. I hope that I make Him proud.