I have some random thoughts and things to share that I haven't posted before on what it's like living here in Botswana. Enjoy the randomness...hopefully it will help you in getting a clearer picture of day to day life here.

1. I recently stopped to think about the friends I have here. I live in a very multi-cultural environment and you can really see that by looking at my friendships. My friends here represent these countries: Botswana; Guyana (South America); Zimbabwe, South Africa, and America. My co-workers represent these: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Scotland, Ghana, the U.K., Malawi, Sweden, and America. Wow!! During a recent domino night, we tried out a "multi-lingual conversation". Within two minutes, we had a conversation where you could hear Setswana, Shona, Creole, and even a bit of Spanish!

2. Each day in class we have a devotional/prayer time where we read a Bible story, discuss it, and then share prayer requests. In the past, I would pray over all the requests, but this term I have begun having students volunteer to pray. It is absolutely beautiful to hear these 9, 10, and 11 year olds pray aloud for people who are sick and injured, for safe traveling, for help on upcoming tests, for our troubled neighbors Zimbabwe and South Africa, and for our friends at Giddens Elementary in America (who sent us great books and games!). My heart was incredibly moved recently as one of my students raised his hand and asked if he could pray for all the schools in America so that they could pray in school again. His heartfelt prayer was amazing as he prayed not only for the students at these schools, but also for the teachers and principals to love God and help teach the students about Him. This is now a daily part of our prayer time.

3. Someone asked me recently what my typical day is like. Here is a brief description: Alarm goes off at 5:30 and the girls are already up and going. We have breakfast at 6:50 am and then I go off to my daily teachers' meeting at school (only a short walk from the dorm) at 7:20. After the 15-20 minute meeting, I go to class and teach until 10:05 when the whole school goes on a break for 25 minutes. Teachers typically meet in the "tea area" for tea, coffee, snacks, and conversation while the students are scattered throughout the school grounds eating their snacks. After break time, I teach until 1:00 and then we have lunch, where I return to the hostel to eat. I only teach after 1:00 twice a week. The other three days I am finished with my teaching at 1:00. I typically use the afternoon to rest, write e-mails, plan lessons, visit friends at the offices, go to town, etc. The boarders return to the dorm around 4:00. From 5-5:30 I am giving rides to people from the offices to the main road, a time that I have grown to love. I return to the hostel at 5:30 for dinner and chill time. The kids have study time from 6:30-7:30, and I typically use this time to work on my Bible study or e-mails. From 7:30-9:30 is coffee and snack time with the kids and we usually sit around and chat, watch t.v., play games, color, etc. Lights-out is at 9:30 and then I usually stay up for about another hour and usually chat with friends in America, read, or work on website updates. So, there you have one of my typical days!

4. Living in a different country introduces you to all kinds of new ways of saying things. Here are a few new phrases and words I've had to get used to saying: tomato sauce instead of ketchup, petrol instead of gas, biscuits instead of cookies, torch instead of flashlight, "this side" instead of right or left directions, "I am touched" can mean a good thing or a bad thing, "rub out the board" instead of "erase the board", tackies instead of tennis shoes, braii instead of barbeque, "yes, miss" instead of "yes, ma'am", SMS instead of text messaging, football instead of soccer. Give me some time and I'll think of others to share!

Ok, that's all for today. I'll be sure to post some more randomness soon!

Many answered prayers and blessings!

Thank you for any prayers you offered up after my last post. God is so faithful!! I am very excited to report on many blessings and answered prayers!

1. One of the things burdening my heart the most after the kids returned was not having the time to invest in the new friendships that God has given me here. My heart was aching that after spending a month building those new relationships and investing in their lives that I was now having to kind of put those relationships on the back burner as I focused primarily on the kids again. Even the wonderful domino nights that I'd come to love seemed to be over because of needing to be on duty with the boarders. Well, God has provided in wonderful ways in this area! First of all, He's helped me make the best use of my time so that when I have an hour or two free, I am able to spend some time at the offices, keeping communication going with my new friends. I've also begun taking a night off each week so that I can go out for dinner or just have "hang out time" with other adults. Then a HUGE blessing is that we have four summer interns here helping out at the mission. One of their jobs will be to cover for us at the hostel every Saturday night for three hours so that we can continue with our domino fellowship nights! I can't tell you how wonderful this is and what an answer to prayer!!

2. With God answering prayers concerning friendships, He's also opened up time and opportunities for me to spend time with the kids and really enjoy my time with them. I've been able to have some wonderful chats with both the girls and the boys and have been so encouraged with the spiritual growth going on with them. I think a great foundation was laid with the teens last term and it seems that God is really deepening those relationships now. It truly feels like a huge family, which I love!

3. Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE having a vehicle?? It's wonderful!! I love being able to make a quick trip into town whenever I want to buy groceries, go to the post office, or just get out for a bit. And a fun new ministry/serving opportunity that has come up is a little "taxi ministry". Every day from 5-5:30 I go to the offices and give rides to people who are heading home. When you leave the mission offices, you have to walk a long dirt road to get to the main road. The walk can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes and leave you really dusty! I know that God did not bless me with this vehicle just for me and I don't think there is any reason for anyone to walk that road when there are vehicles here that can drive them. So, I gladly make myself available each day to make a couple trips down to the main road. It's really one of my favorite times of the day because not only am I able to bless others, I am doubly blessed in return because I am getting to know so many new people and getting even more fellowship time!

4. Other various blessings include my cat, "Princess" who I just love having! She stays in my room and goes in and out the window as she needs to go outside. She is such a sweet kitty and a wonderful little companion to have here. Also, my healthy eating/exercise routine continues to go well and I feel great! Having the ability to go to the grocery store whenever I need to has given me the freedom to have more salads and healthy foods again, which I've really missed since being here. I've also found a way to go jogging/walking a few times a week and have an aerobics night with the girls once a week. I just pray that now I continue to stay motivated and disciplined!

Finally, I am very excited at the opportunity to teach the guys here about American football. :) They have been working hard to teach me about soccer and I've spent a lot of time watching the big matches on tv with them. Well, I ordered the 2006 College Football National Championshp game on dvd and have a date with the boys to watch the game together and explain American football to them. We're all really excited and love getting the chance to teach each other. Plus, I get to watch some football! (Something else I've been missing.)

Thank you again for your prayers. As you can see, God has been answering! I continue to find myself amazed daily that I am able to be here, living here, serving God in this way. And can you believe I've already been here six months now?? Crazy! Thanks so much for walking this journey out with me!

P.S. Congratulations to my brother, Jason, and his new wife, Kristin. I was extremely sad to miss their wedding last weekend and Saturday was a pretty rough day for me. I hear the wedding was beautiful, though, and I have really enjoyed seeing the pictures. I love you guys and am so excited for you both!

Heart Issues and Prayer Requests

To be honest, I have been in kind of a confusing place lately and have been feeling kind of "off". The transition back to teaching and having the boarders again has been a bit more challenging than I would have thought. The thing is, the first couple of days after the kids left were very, very hard. I had no idea how I would make it through the month and struggled with what my purpose would be each day. Then, God opened up some incredible opportunities to develop friendships with other adults here at the mission and I grew to absolutely love the friendship-building and ministry time with them. The ultimate purpose didn't change of being a reflection of Christ to those around me, but the way it was lived out became different. Instead of discipling teenagers and children, God began burdening my heart for the adults around me, for their hurts and struggles, as well as the individual journeys they are each on, seeking to know the Lord more. In the process, He also met my need for fellowship, friendship, and laughter. Though I was extremely excited to have all my kids back, I quickly realized that the new relationships that have been built over the past month must now kind of be pushed to the back burner, as there just isn't the same kind of time available to invest in them. This has made me feel pretty torn. I am asking God to show me how I can do both, be a minister and discipler with my kids, but also continue cultivating those very important adult relationships. I would very much appreciate your prayers with me as I seek God's wisdom, direction, and purpose on how best to invest my time and how to have a good balance. I know that He has a purpose and plan for every person He's put in my life. I pray that I would always be open to what He wants to do with me; how He wants to best use my life here in Botswana.

Having said that, I must also say that tonight was quite amazing. I went outside about 30 minutes before bedtime and found a group of guys sitting around and chatting. I joined them and our conversation ended up turning to spiritual things. It turns out that these young men are so hungry to know how to grow in the Lord, how to be godly men, how to be disciplined and walk in purity, and how to deal with peer pressure and ridicule from classmates and friends from home. They were throwing all kinds of questions at me and listening intently as I shared what God was placing on my heart. It was such a special time and I am so encouraged with what God is doing in these young men's hearts. When it was time to go inside, they all insisted that we continue this conversation tomorrow. Would you please pray with me for God to give me the needed wisdom in sharing with these guys and for the Holy Spirit to speak to them directly as they seek God's heart. What a wonderful reminder of why I am here and why I love what I do. Thank you for heart of partnership with me and for your wonderful prayers. It really is so amazing to share this experience with each of you. Thank you!

The Latest

Term break is now over, all the kids are back, and term two is in full swing. It was such a wonderful month-long break and I am so grateful for God's blessing of new friends. I loved having the time to really get to know people here, to fellowship, and to laugh! And I loved the weekly domino competition that took place during the break. Such a great time was had by all! You can find all the domino pictures, as well as any others from the break in the online album.

The kids began coming back on Sunday and what a treat it was to see them! It was a wonderful reunion with big hugs and lots of stories to tell. All the girls said they really enjoyed their time at home for about the first week...then they began to miss the hostel terribly. I told them that was exactly what I went through when I went off to college. It's great to have them back and I'm excited to see what all God does in their hearts and lives this term.

During Thursday's Bible study time, the girls and I will be going through the book, A Young Woman After God's Own Heart. Special thanks to my precious friends who donated and shipped these books from the States. I also had a sweet friend who had her sorority purchase journals for each of the girls and write personal messages and scripture in the fronts of them. I gave each of the girls their brand new book and journal on Tuesday and they were ecstatic! It was priceless to see the look on their faces at receiving such gifts sent with love. Thank you so much Abby, Melanie, Kelli, and Charlotte for making that happen!

Finally, I'm excited to report that the youth minister from my home church, Tyson, got his youth group on mission with us and together they sent close to 25 nice Bibles for the youth here who do not have one. The ones we have given out already have been very well received! The kids are so excited to have their very own nice Bible to read and use to get to know the Lord more. On that note, there are still several youth and even many adults around here who do not have their own Bible. If you make it by a used book store like Half Price Books or come upon a good sale at a Christian bookstore, good Bibles are needed and appreciated here! Just contact me if you need more details on this.

Prayer requests:
I would love for you to join me in praying that God would allow my new friendships to grow and that we would have "iron sharpens iron" friendships (Prov. 27:17) spurring each other on in our relationships with Christ. I pray for all the kids to grow spiritually by leaps and bounds this term and that God would give me wisdom in discipling them. And finally, I just pray for extra energy. I am finding the transition back to working all day to be kind of a tough one!

Looking forward to rejoicing with you in the awesome ways God continues to work here in Botswana!

Our domino crew
Dinner with my new friend, Angela
The girls showing off their new journals

Pictures finally updated!

I apologize for falling so terribly behind in posting pictures to my online album, but I finally found time to upload a whole bunch from the end of the term. Just click on the link on the right to see them.I will try to upload any pictures from the term break within the next week or two.

Other than that, there sadly isn't really much to update on. Things have still been very quiet around here without the kids and I've really only filled my time with spending time with people here at the mission, catching up on e-mails, making trips into town, or helping with website stuff. Needless to say, I will be so glad when the kids get back! I really miss them and although I've enjoyed the rest and opportunity to build new friendships, I am ready to have all my kids back.

I hope to have more exciting updates soon. Until then, enjoy all the new pictures!