Good news and bad news

The past few days have been a mixture of really good things and a couple pretty bad things. I think I'll just start from Thursday night and update you from there...

Thursday night we had the second Bible study in the girls' dorm and again, I was blown away! God is doing something SO huge here. I wish you could be here to see it! We talked about the importance of God's Word and how we can get to know Him by spending time reading it and studying it. I introduced them to the REAP method that I learned at church in Austin. It is a fantastic method for studying scripture, and very easy to learn and use. I explained it to them, showed them examples from my REAP journal, and then broke the girls up into small groups to practice with each other. I was truly, truly amazed by the girls' reception and excitement. In my group, we went through a chapter in Matthew and each girl chose a verse that stuck out to them. They each verbally went through the REAP method with their verse, explaining how God ministered to them through it. It was amazing to see how God was using His word to teach them and encourage them right in front of my eyes. After talking to the other group leaders, they all said the same thing and that their groups seemed really excited to begin using this method and the Bible reading schedule that allows them to read through the Bible in one year.

My next favorite part of the night was when two of the young ladies came to me separately and asked if we could talk. One of them was struggling with figuring out if it was ok to have a relationship with someone who wasn't a Christian and wanted my input. She also said she is trying to leave her bad influences behind and get serious for God. Another young lady said she is struggling with peer pressure right now and wanted to know if she should stay true to her convictions and risk not having friends or do what the other kids were doing so she could have friends. God showed up in both of those conversations and I am so thankful for what He is doing in their hearts. Please pray for these girls. Each of them, along with all the others, have choices they are faced with and they all want to get serious for God. Being a teenager and wanting to get serious for the Lord can be challenging, especially if you have friends who aren't supportive.

The bad news happened the very next morning at breakfast. I was brushing my teeth when I heard a loud crash and screaming. When I went out I saw that the breakfast serving table had collapsed and the urn filled with hot water had fallen and burned three of the kids. One girl was burned on her legs and two of the guys were burned on their ankle/foot area. Another guy had a cut on his thumb from some broken glass. It wasn't a good scene. Fortunately they were all taken care of at the hospital and they will all be fine. Only one of the boys has a fairly bad burn that requires him changing his bandages each day for a bit. I again ask for your prayers in the safety and health of these precious kids, as well as the wisdom of me as one in charge of their care.

The other good news is that I accompanied the kids to their youth group last night and it was amazing! I loved every minute of it and am very excited about attending this time with them each week. At the end of the night we had three boy boarders and two girl boarders, as well as a couple of other kids who wanted to commit their lives to the Lord or were deciding to get really serious about their walk with Him. He is doing such huge things here, which always brings spiritual warfare with it. I covet your prayers for the kids and us as leaders as we work to pour into their lives, reflecting Christ to them, and discipling them in the Lord. We have future "world changers" on our hands! Thank you so much for taking the time to invest in their lives, too.

Here is the link for some new pictures:

January 24 Updates

Mail!!! I am so excited to report that I received my first package today, along with three cards! Mail like that is few and far between around here so everyone congratulates you when they see you got a package. It’s so cute! But seriously, it was so nice to have a little touch of home come to Botswana.

Week 2 feels like week 20! It’s funny because I feel like I have been living here for so long already, teaching these kids and living with these boarders for months. I guess it’s just because that is my main focus right now and what takes up most of my thinking. Regardless, on week 2 of work things are still so wonderful. The relationships with my boarders are flourishing. I love these kids! I just can’t get over how fulfilling this job is. I am around teenagers who are filled with energy and joy and aren’t afraid to let me into their worlds. My heart fills with more love for them every day.

My class continues to be great, too. I really enjoy the subjects I am teaching and of course just adore the kiddos. Even my older kids that I teach computers to are doing great. Working here thus far has just been full of things to be thankful for!

Sunday we had “Fun Sunday” at church where all the kids are combined (preschool through seniors) and we break into competition groups, come up with a war cry, color, and animal, and then have various competitions with each other. I am proud to say that my group came in second! There are many pictures from Sunday in my web album now, as well as some candids of the boarders and some more pictures of my students.

Healthwise, I am incredibly excited to say that I am healed! Not long after I posted a request for prayer because I wasn’t feeling well, I began healing. A day and a half later, I was completely cold-free! It is still going around the dorm, though. It seems like everyday another young lady or gentleman is knocking on my door for cough syrup or some other type of medicine. Such is the life of a ‘mother’ of 32! (One benefit I realized today, though, was having many hands to help bring in groceries!)

The only new request I really have is just for energy. A week and a half of basically working two full-time jobs is beginning to catch up with me and I am just not getting the sleep I need to. I love everything about what I am doing, but I do need to take care of myself more and take some time to rest more. (Not an easy feat!) I continue to ask for your partnership in prayer for the spiritual condition in the boarders and for me to be able to really build relationships with them and be a constant reflection of Christ to them. And may I never take for granted this amazing opportunity God has given me. Thank you for your prayers!

Here are a few new pictures from this week:

Me surrounded by kids at "Fun Sunday" at church on Sunday.
With two of my boarders, Ludo and Cherith.
Two of my sweet students, Billy and Fetsi.
My class saying hello to America!

More Praises and Blessings

I’m sorry to bombard this blog with so many posts this week, but goodness, there are just so many blessings and praises to share!! It’s too hard to keep it all to myself, so I will keep posting on here and hope that you are as blessed as I am by all that God is doing. It’s so amazing!!!

The first Bible study with the girls was so great. We read in Matthew 13 about the parable of the sower and the four different ways that seed fell. We talked about what it meant and how it applied to them. I also shared my testimony and how at different times in my life I could relate to each of those seeds. The girls seemed to be soaking in all that was being said and really seemed hungry to learn. At the end of the study, I broke the girls up into groups of two to have them get real and honest with each other about their current spiritual state and where they would like to be and then to pray for each other. (For you Austin Stone-ers, this is laying the foundation for LTG groups!) I was incredibly encouraged when: 1) Before we broke into groups, one of the older girls shared part of her journal where she had meditated on and beautifully wrote about God’s love 2) when I heard 7 groups of young ladies sitting around the dorm, all talking about the Lord at the same time 3) when “lights out” time rolled around 45 minutes later, most of the girls were still talking about the Lord and 4) when I heard one of the older, spiritually mature young ladies sharing with some of the younger ones about what it means to give your life to Christ and sharing her personal testimony. All I can say about all of this is….WOW! I give God ALL glory…I know me too well to take any credit at all for what He is doing. I am just so grateful to get to watch it happen!

I’d like to petition your prayers for one young lady who is one of my older boarders. I heard that last year she said she’d go to church and everything, but she just didn’t believe in God. During Bible study I could see a wall up around her, and she seemed almost defensive. She is a beautiful, sweet young lady, and I see such great things in her. I am praying fervently for her heart to be softened and God to do something amazing in her. Although she appeared to have a wall up during Bible study, she definitely is not resistant to building a relationship with me. In fact, she seems to make an extra effort to be around me, volunteering to help me with breakfast, knocking on my door today to see if I was feeling any better…actually while I was typing about her! I know that God is calling her and I believe He is establishing a trust between she and I that hopefully He will use to help draw her to Him. Oh how I pray that I will be a reflection of Him to her in all I say and do. May I be emotionally available not only to her, but to any of the girls who are seeking and needing guidance. This is such a big job and one that I know I cannot do on my own. Thank you for praying with me for Jesus to daily equip me. I can’t wait for the many, many answered prayers and praise reports that are to come!

Lastly, I’d just like to ask for prayers for my health. Thursday night, right after Bible study, I began to feel something coming on, and yesterday I battled a sore throat and stuffy nose all day. I really want to be at 100% for all the ministry opportunities the Lord is giving me. So, I am praying for a complete healing with this illness and protection from sickness in the future. Thank you so much again for partnering with me in prayer for this and the ongoing ministry here in Botswana. You guys are amazing!

Life Update

We started school on Tuesday and I LOVE it. I am teaching standard 5, which is like our second semester 4th grade/1st semester 5th. I love everything about it…the school atmosphere, the small class, the sweet, respectful students, the beautiful classroom, the freedom to have a devotional and pray with the kids…so many blessings! No matter how much I thought I might enjoy teaching here, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would really love it. I look so forward to getting into the classroom each day, and the kids also seem genuinely happy to be at school. There is quite a “family” atmosphere around here and things are so peaceful. I could go on and on, but I will just say that God has definitely answered prayers and blessed me abundantly! The only thing I am a bit nervous about are the two computer classes I will teach a week to form 1 students (8th graders). They can be a bit more of a challenge to teach than my little guys, so I am trusting God to equip me a little extra with them.

This week we release every day at 1:00, which is very nice. I am feeling pretty tired this week, so it’s good to get out early and have a little break before the boarders come home (they release a little later). The evenings are occupied with supervising the boarders (and playing UNO with them…since I taught the boys how to play, that’s all they want to do during free time!) The kids and I seem to be getting more comfortable with each other each day and are really settling into a routine. All in all, boarding seems to be going really well...I think the only mishap so far was one of the girls getting stung by a scorpion her bed!

I am thrilled that tonight I will have the first Bible study for the girls. (It will be at 8:00 p.m., which is noon there. If you read this before then, I’d love to have your prayers!) God led me to some great scripture to share with the girls tonight. I am praying for them to have open hearts and for us to bond more as we have our time together. After reading the answers to the questions on a "getting to know you" paper I gave the girls, I see that many of them are desiring to grow in their relationship with the Lord, which is so awesome! A few of them even asked me if I could help them grow closer to Him. The ministry opportunities have definitely started!

Thank you so much for your continued prayers. Even amidst the feeling of incredible peace I have here, I still have moments of missing home and the people there. I also have times where I feel a little overwhelmed. Last night in fact I had one of those times. So your prayers are still needed and appreciated so much. And please keep in touch and let me know how YOU are doing. Here are a couple of pictures from school of my kids and part of my classroom:

Life as a Boarding Mistress

What full days I’ve had since I last posted! So much has happened and God is doing amazing things in my heart. I don’t have the time to share everything, so I’ll just share about the boarders today and wait until my next post to share about teaching and children’s ministry. I apologize in advance for the length, but there is just so much to share!

Just about all of the boarders have moved in now and I am officially a “mom” to sixteen girls and sixteen boys. I wish I could sit down with each of you to tell you in person about the time I’ve had with them so far and what God is doing in my heart…it’s huge! Up until a few days ago, I have felt uncomfortable and inexperienced when it came to teenagers. I never had a huge desire to work with them, whether teaching or in ministry. Oh, how that is changing! These past few days with these kids have been wonderful! They are so respectful and helpful and have so far shown no problem at all submitting to authority. While getting my classroom ready, five of my form 1 girls (8th grade) came to help me, and some boys helped me move some heavier items. Every question asked is answered with a ‘yes, miss’ or ‘no, miss’. One of my older girls knocked on my door tonight just to tell me ‘thank you’ for coming to live with them and be their boarding mistress and that she was so happy and excited. So precious!

Graham, the boys’ dorm master, and I share responsibility of the kids, so I am spending almost as much time with the boys as I am with the girls. We all eat every meal together, which has been a great time to get to know the kids more. At night we have watched a movie (High School Musical 2…actually the boys’ choice!), played Uno and checkers, and sat around and chatted. I had my first group meeting with the girls just to discuss some logistics and it went very well. Can I just tell you how amazing it is that we can sit together, discuss things, and pray! I love it!! I cannot wait until we start our weekly Bible study!

While we are eating meals, I am also able to spend time with my friends, Gary and Stacy, since they are boarding parents at another house. I love this fellowship time, and God is using them to show me how to easily interact with and minister to youth. It’s amazing that in such a short time God has moved my heart from not really being interested in working with teenagers to now being so excited about it and really growing to love it! I can’t wait to see how God uses me with these kids over the next few months. Not only will I be living life with them on a daily basis, but I will also be working with them at church, since all of them are required to go to youth group and church on Sundays. Not to mention the amazing opportunities I will have with the girls during our Bible study time! I am so excited and ask that God would just use me daily and that my life would be a reflection of Christ in all I say and do. I’ll keep you posted!

P.S. Don’t forget to clink on the link for the pictures. I have been and will continue to add to them! Here is one I took of some of my sweet girls.


Hello! I have my first ministry-related request. I would like to go through the book, A Young Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George with my boarders, and will need eighteen copies of the book. If you would be willing to donate a book or two, that would be wonderful! You could just send it in an envelope here. Or if you are a part of a group that could get together and donate all of them, that would be great, too! Would you please just e-mail or comment me to let me know how many you'd be contributing and I will post an entry to say when I have enough coming. I am so excited about going through this book with the girls! I went through the one for women and it is one of my favorite books. I think we'll be able to have some great conversations and some good lessons will be learned by reading it together. I'll put the ISBN number at the end of this post. Also, I have added a list of package ideas to the right of the blog. People often ask for ideas of things to send, so I will try to keep this list current with ideas of things I need or would just like to have. Thanks so much for wanting to help!

I will try to post another detailed blog entry on Sunday, but for now I'll just let you know that I would love some extra prayer right now. With school starting and the boarding girls coming, I am beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed. There is really so much to do right now. I also have to make some decisions about my role in the children's ministry here. I won't go into detail now, but I just ask you to join me in praying for wisdom in how to invest my time. There is so much I want to do, but there just aren't enough hours available. So, I am praying hard that God would direct me on how to spend every minute and would give me the needed wisdom for making decisions. Thank you so much!

Book ISBN: 0-7369-0789-0
P.S. I forgot to mention in my last post that I killed a scorpion right outside my bedroom door the other day...AND someone killed a spitting cobra snake close to where I live the same day. Yikes! Thanks for continuing to pray for safety!

More New Beginnings

The past few days have been very full! Sunday morning was amazing...I can't adequately explain to you just how beautiful those kids are. They are so generous with smiles and hugs, and my heart is warmed from just being around them for a little while. I'm so excited to get to work with the children's ministry at church while here. I hope to have lots of pictures because the kids LOVE to get their picture taken!

Monday I got all moved in to the dormitory and it is so great! My room is set up, I am unpacked, and I finally feel really settled. Things are very quiet there for now, but not for long...the first boarders come on Saturday! I've taken advantage of my time there alone to pray over the building, that God would do amazing things in the girls who will be living there. I pray that all who enter the dorms feel His Presence, His peace, and His love, and that the girls who are moving in will be forever changed by their time here. I can't wait to meet each of them!

Yesterday and today I have been busy with school preparations. I got keys to my classroom, which is so beautiful! I love all the space and windows. Plus, it is right across from the dorms, so I have a VERY short walk to work every morning! I got copies of all the textbooks for standard 5 and have been reading them, trying to get a feel for what I will be teaching. It's comforting that so much of it is what I have already taught in the States. Social Studies will be interesting because I will be teaching the kids about Botswana history and culture. I will be learning right alongside them!

Yesterday I had a special moment. I took a minute to stop and really observe my surroundings. This place is so peaceful! There is so little noise here...all I could hear yesterday evening was the birds chirping and the occasional rustling of leaves. The only movement I really saw was the ants scurrying around and the birds flying above. Then I noticed the!! I can't paint a good picture with words, but it was painted with various shades of pink and purple as the sun was setting. I regretted for a minute that I didn't have my camera, but then realized that a picture would never do it justice anyway. I just stopped and absorbed everything in that moment and realized that this is what true peace feels like. Everything about this place just warms my heart and makes me feel so at peace. I feel God's Presence so strongly and can only give Him praise and glory for calling me here and providing for me every step of the way. I hope you feel that you are able to experience Botswana a little bit through me...and maybe God will one day provide a way for you to be here yourself!

Please notice the link on the right to get to my pictures. I will be updating it, so be sure to check back again. I'll leave you with a verse that God showed me last night.

"I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable." Psalm 145:1-3

My First Week

It's amazing that my first week in Botswana is almost complete. Time certainly goes by fast...and things have actually been pretty slow paced around here. I can't even imagine how fast time will go when the kids arrive!

This week has been kind of a "settling in" week. I won't actually move into my room until Monday, so I am still living out of my suitcases for now. The dorm looks so great, though, and I think I will really enjoy living there. School starts the 15th, so I will be spending the next week preparing both the dorm and my classroom!

I think the most important thing about this first week was relationship building and just letting the reality of me being here settle in. One of the missionary families here has been especially wonderful to me. Patricia and Jeremiah have two beautiful girls and a little boy on the way. They have made me feel very welcomed and like part of their family already.

My friends Gary and Stacy (the youth pastors) are living here at the mission now, which is a HUGE blessing. Also, Stacy's sister and I are staying at the same house right now. I met all three of them when I came in March and have loved keeping in touch with them the past nine months and looked very forward to living so close to them. God has been so gracious to surround me with friends already!

The only downfall of this week was adjusting to not having regular contact with my family and friends in the States. The internet has had many problems lately, especially at night when I would want to use it the most. Yesterday evening was the first time I experienced some homesickness and felt frustrated that I couldn't communicate with my parents. I believe the internet should be improving drastically during the next couple of weeks, though, so hopefully keeping in touch will be easier.

I had an important cultural lesson this week, too. I was in the office and made a phone call to a hardware store to ask a question for someone. In the States, after the person answers, we are free to ask a question. Well, after I hung up the phone after doing that, Gary corrected me. He told me that here in Botswana it is very important to take time with every interaction with people to greet them properly with a "Hello, how are you?" and to wait for an answer and possibly other conversation before ever asking a question. Relationships are extremely important here and it is vital to never make someone feel overlooked or unimportant. I'm so excited to become more a part of this culture. I think this priority on people and relationships is beautiful!

I can't stress enough how important and valuable your prayers are to me. Sometimes if I am having an overwhelming or lonely moment, I just stop and find comfort that someone, somewhere across the ocean is praying for me, giving me strength to move on to the next moment. God overwhelms me with His grace and His blessings. Reading through my journal last night brought me to tears as I remembered the incredible road He's had me on to get me to right where I am.

I look forward to being in contact again soon and sharing many more stories and pictures!