A few weeks ago we had a retreat in the mountains at the Sacred Forest for our teachers. The Sacred Forest is a coffee farm being developed into a retreat center by our friends at SuNica. We had finished a very challenging first trimester of school working with way more children than we had planned on. I wanted us to take time to connect and share some events in our lives that had impacted us. Many of the stories are too personal and private to tell without permission. But in the moment, while the candlelight flickered, I was deeply affected as I heard how and why these women were able to fight for their education in a world that doesn’t value it or them as women. At one point or another most of these tenacious women choose hunger so they could stash away a few cordobas to pay for exams needed to pass to the next grade. They would look for fruit on trees to stave off hunger as they walked to school. Half of the ladies came from families with only a mother who fought to provide something for breakfast, rising early and trying to get scraps as fishing boats returned with their catch each morning. They shared stories of the challenges they faced working hard to stay in school only to fail the end exams because the rural education is so far behind. Stories of the crying out to God about the injustice of it all and the way He gently reminded them how deeply loved they are. We laughed a lot, tears flowed, and we walked the forest asking for wisdom in quiet places to serve the children of Salinas better. It was a very rich time and I’m thankful for the role models that our teachers are.