A change of pace

The past two weeks have almost been like starting life all over again here in Maun. The kids are all gone and life is so very different! I went through a couple of days of just feeling kind of lost and really missing the kids. But God has opened up new opportunities and experiences that I wouldn't normally have when school is in session. Here is a recap of the past couple of weeks:
  • I have been busy helping Adrian, our IT manager, update our LBOM website, specifically with the staff pages. This project has not only helped occupy time, it's taught me new skills and enabled me to get to know lots of new people. (Feel free to check the staff pages out here.)
  • I have been house-sitting at another missionary family's house while they are out of town this week. I've enjoyed having all the extra space and being in a "home" again.
  • I apparently have a new pet! A cute little kitty began showing up at the hostel each evening last week and being the softie for animals that I am, I couldn't let her just stay outside the door all night! So, she began staying in with me and acted like she'd been there all along, just totally making herself at home. It was nice to have a little friend after all the kids left. God always provides in fun ways!
  • I LOVE having a vehicle!! I haven't driven all that much, but I love having the freedom to just jump in the car and drive to the grocery store or even to the other end of the mission plot. It's been interesting driving on the opposite side of the road, but it's turned out to actually be pretty fun! The challenging thing about it all is that I have to stay very alert to my driving. Not only am I trying to stay on the correct side of the road, at any moment a goat, cow, donkey, or small child can appear in the road and cause me to have to brake fast. It's a little scary, but worth it to be able to finally drive myself around!
  • One of my recent prayer requests was regarding feeling kind of lonely and in need of fellowship. Well, God has definitely answered that prayer! I have had some really fun times with my friends, Gary, Stacy, Angela, and KB during this break, including a serious domino competition last week. I am extremely disappointed to have to report coming in 2nd place, though! (Ok, maybe I am a little competitive...) In addition to that, getting to spend my days at the offices, I've been able to get to know many of the other people working at the mission and I see God really forming friendships with them. I am so excited about this and am very thankful for the quick answer to prayer.
  • Now that I am not eating every meal at the dorm, I am finally able to get my healthy eating/exercise routine going again. I am on a mission to be healthy again and this month provides the great opportunity to kick-start it. Things are going well and I already feel much better.

Thanks for your prayers and e-mails of encouragement and updates. It's so great to "stay in the loop" with what is going on at home. I have missed home more lately, probably due to having so much time to think about it. It helps to stay in communication so that I don't feel so far away. So, keep those e-mails coming. :)

Thanks so much for your prayers and support...you can't imagine how much it means!

Special Moments and Making Memories

Right now I am living in total silence because all of the boarders have now gone home for the term break. It's weird! I am not sure how I am going to do this for a whole month. Not to mention that I won't be teaching either. What will I do?? Truthfully, I do have some things I will be working on, namely children's ministry stuff and helping with website updates for the mission. I also look forward to spending a lot of time with Jesus during this time and getting rest and rejuvenation. I will be praying a lot during this time for all my girls while they are at home. I pray that they really go deeper with the Lord and come back with an even greater passion for Him.

I have new praises to report! On Monday, April 7th, Tshepiso (Gary and Stacy's daughter) came into the world. Her timing was perfect, as they will now have a whole month with her before the boarders come back. And I am especially excited because they asked me to be her godmother! What an incredible and humbling privilege. I already love that little girl to pieces and can't wait to pray for her and encourage her growth in the Lord throughout her life. I believe she is going to be a world-changer for God!

Another huge blessing that also came on Monday is my vehicle! It arrived safely on Monday evening, although a fuel hose did break on the way and had to be replaced. It is running well now and I have had a couple of opportunities to drive it around the plot and to the end of the road. Tomorrow I will test it out in town and just pray that God helps me remember to stay on the left side of the road!

Other fun things going on are that last week several of the girls and I started going to my classroom in the evening and exercising to one of my workout dvd's. We've had so much fun! We all agree that we need to make that a regular part of our week when the second term begins. Also, the 80's are coming back here in Botswana! A couple weeks ago I showed some of the 80's dances to a couple of my girls just for fun. (which of course produced a great amount of laughter!) That led to me showing them some YouTube videos of New Kids on the Block. What is hilarious is that the girls actually like them and now walk around singing their old songs, as well as doing the 80's dances! It totally cracks me up and has really been fun to watch. I feel like every day here I am making memories that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. What a wonderful and fun way to live!

The only prayer need I have right now is that I am really craving fellowship and friendship. I have a wonderful friendship with Gary and Stacy, but am not always able to spend a lot of time with them, especially with little Tshepiso here now. I was looking forward to spending some time with Maureen (the other missionary my age) during the term break, but she is now going to South Africa for two months. I've just really been feeling the void and need for spiritual family, fellowship, and accountability. I would so appreciate you praying with me for the Lord to either send that to me or for Him to show me relationships I should invest in to build that. And in the meantime, I would love to hear from you! I love hearing from everyone back home, getting updates and just having a hello from America. So feel free to write as often as you'd like! Thank you also for all your wonderful prayers, which are needed and felt!

Here are a couple of pictures of this week's new blessings:
Baby Tshepiso...my goddaughter!

Isn't she gorgeous!?!

Yay! The car is finally here!!

Watching God work!

It's been such a spiritually-full week here among the teens of Maun, Botswana. I have been totally blown away with all that God has been doing with the teenagers here. He has made my prayers and expectations of how I thought He would work seem very tiny compared to the ways He actually has. My heart is just bursting with pride for all of my kids...I'm just so proud of them!! I am so encouraged, inspired, and challenged as I watch them pursuing God with all of their being. Let me just give you a small look into what I've seen this week:

Last Saturday evening, I walked into one of the girls' rooms to find almost every one of girl boarders on the ground with their homemade REAP journals and Bibles and heard them sharing verses with each other. When I went in a little later, they had a worship cd playing and were all on their knees with their hands raised and eyes closed, praising God with their whole hearts...right there on the floor of the hostel bedroom! Then Sunday night I went in to check on the girls and again found them gathered on the ground, but this time they were deep in prayer, divided up into groups of two or three, praying out loud for each other...even the young lady who just four months ago said she didn't even believe in God! Amazing!!

When I talked to sweet Mariam later on (the incredible young woman of the Lord who lives in the hostel), she informed me on how these prayer sessions came to be. Apparently on Saturday it started out with just two of them meeting together for Bible study and just grew from there. They all got their REAP journals and began sharing things they'd been writing in their journals and verses that had impacted them. This then turned into a time of just worshipping Jesus and prayer. Sunday a few of them approached Mariam and asked if they could all meet again last, which turned into over an hour of mostly prayer time. Mariam said some of the girls were praying out loud fervently for God to allow them to know Him more and just telling Him how hungry they are for Him. This is amazing!!

All of these girls are from ages 13 to 16 and most of them didn't even own their own bible when they came here, much less spend time studying it and sharing scriptures with each other. Truly, I am totally blown away with how BIG God is and how He can take such seemingly little seeds and grow them into an overwhelming harvest!

Things did not stop there, however. These girls have started a group that they have entitled "CA's or Change Agents" that meets daily during the lunch hour at school with a focus of being changed by God and then sharing Him with others so that they can also be changed by Him. They want to spend time studying the Word and encouraging each other. Since they began meeting, other people in the school have expressed interest in joining in, even some boys! So many people have joined in now, that they actually had to find a bigger place to meet! These young teenagers have taken it upon themselves to form their own Bible study/accountability group...even reaching out to others in the school. Now they are working on making disciples!
Just one week after beginning this group, they already presented a skit at Fire by Nite in front of their peers. It was a beautiful skit beginning with a group at church who commit their lives to Christ then spend the rest of the week going to their friends and neighbors, telling them about God's love and inviting them to church. The end of the skit showed all those people hesitantly coming into church, but by the end of the service making decisions of their own for Christ. It was fantastic! And to think that this is completely student-led...these are our future leaders!!
Last night was our last Fire by Nite for the term and it was such a great celebration of all that God is doing. When Gary asked how many kids had given their lives to Christ this term, it was wonderful to see the several hands that went up. Even more amazing was how many of them raised their hand when he asked how many of them have been changed by the Lord this term. I am overwhelmed with how God is moving among these teenagers and truly making them into new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) Please, please pray for these kids, especially as they leave next week to head home for a month. I pray that they would use this time to really go deep with the Lord and to be bright, shining lights to their families and friends back home.

Here are some pictures from last night: