I think this year may just hold the record for the most changes within a 12 month time period ever in my life. Not only did I pack up my life, sell most of my stuff, say good-bye to family and friends and move across the world, I have also watched myself change and grow in so many ways this year. God has shown me some not-so-great areas in my life and helped to grow me in them, and He's stretched me in more ways than I can count. I've found I can do a lot more than I thought I could when I am doing things in His strength and in His ways. It hasn't always been easy at all, but I already see some of the great results of what He's been doing.
However, today I am kind of having a "change anxiety" moment. It's all kind of hitting me how much is changing in the next two months. Almost every single friend I have made here has already or will be moving in the next month and a half, including my best friends here (Gary and Stacy) and my beautiful god-daughter. One of the missionary families that I am closest to will also be moving in a few weeks. On top of that, the school year is winding down and some of my kids will not only be moving classes, they will be moving to other countries! (This is what happens when you teach at an international school in a transient town.) I am finding out now that there will also be lots of changes with boarding next year. New boarding parents, new boarding students, and it looks like the boys will be moving to another housing area so it will only be girls around here. (Who will I talk football with next year??)
If I sit and think about all of this too much, including that this will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas away from my family, I definitely feel overwhelmed and pretty sad. But I am inspired by a verse God recently showed me in Isaiah: "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19. God is challenging me to not hold on so tightly to the things of the past (or the present) but to hold loosely to things, knowing that God will give and take away many times in our lives. But His ways are always perfect and He's always working things out for good.
So, today I am making a choice to trust Him and wait with expectancy to see what great things He is going to do. As a good friend once told me, when God removes something or someone from your life, He is creating a void that He can fill with something or someone else. He is doing a new thing, so I'll just patiently and expectantly wait to see what all that is.
For part of the day it worked out that at least one class would be out for music or languages and I could sit with the other, but for three hours this morning I actually walked back and forth between the classes being both a standard 4 and standard 5 teacher at the same time. It was a bit tiring but actually kind of fun! Fortunately both classes are pretty well trained and can work well independently. Here I am with my two classes today:
Standard 4 Class
Standard 5 Class
The other interesting part of my day happened as I was driving people home after work. One of the ladies lives off of a very sandy road. I've almost gotten stuck a few times and even got mildly stuck on Friday. Today I tried going a slightly different route. Bad decision. I got really stuck. Two men actually had to dig my tires out of the sand! I really wish I had a picture of that, but unfortunately I wasn't thinking about it while in the middle of the situation. Anyway, thanks to those wonderful gentlemen, my car was freed and I made it safely home in time for dinner. :)
If only you could be here and see the youth as they pray and worship passionately during church...but it doesn't stop there! You can walk around here at just about any time of the day and find at least one teenager doing a Bible study or devotional, you can walk by the dorm room at night and hear a room full of girls praying together every night before bed, you can see a group of guys and girls sitting around talking about God and what He is doing around them. I am now hearing of the teenagers sharing about Christ with their classmates at school!
Last night two of my girls asked if they could use my classroom to lead a Bible study for some of the boys wanting to get deeper into the Word. I walked by the classroom several times and even listened in a bit. What I saw and heard were 16 boys and the 2 girls sitting around a table with their Bibles open, reading verse by verse and discussing what they were reading. At the end of the two and a half hour study, the kids were spread out around the room in prayer. I love what He is doing among these guys!
My prayer is that He will continue to move in the hearts of these teens and that He will give them burdens for those around them. I pray that they will draw close to Him personally and as a group, that they would dig into His word and pursue His heart in times of personal prayer. I pray that they would walk in His truth and in the power He's given us. I pray that each of them would be just beginning what will be a lifelong love relationship with Him. These are the future leaders of Botswana. Exciting, isn't it? :)
I just walked by one of the rooms tonight and heard all the girls in there taking turns praying before going to sleep. This is a recent thing they have started and I love it! It has helped to remind me of how God is working among these young ladies in a real, powerful way and also brought me some needed encouragement during kind of a rough week.
Without getting into details, there are many issues we are dealing with right now in the boarding hostel. I have found myself feeling discouraged, doubting, and a bit overwhelmed. The great thing, though, is that God promises to bring good out of all things and I already see that in this situation. He’s also reminding me in a big way of His sovereignty. Nothing catches Him off guard or shocks Him. No matter what ever happens in life, He is still on the throne and it’s comforting to remember that He is in control.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
These are two verses that I've been meditating on lately. Several things in my life seem unclear right now, specifically regarding my future. One thing God has taught me in the past few years is to hold on loosely to my "plans" because those can very quickly change! At one point in my life, I thought I had my life planned out well and felt comfortable with the direction it was going in. I never in a million years pictured that this is where I would be right now and this is what my life would look like. I'm so thankful that God knows best and that no matter how much we plan things, His will is perfect and will prevail.
Having said that, I am working towards living in a place of total surrender to whatever the Lord has planned for my life. I am coming to terms with the fact that it might mean my life looking quite different than I think. I am not sure what it all means, but I just hold on to these verses that He will establish my steps and make my paths straight. I pray that He would rid me of my selfishness and that I would live out His purposes and plans with total contentment and joy. I would love to ask for your prayers of agreement in this area.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8
1. I am a seriously clumsy person. Some of my friends have lovingly nicknamed me "The Clutz". You would be shocked at some of the crazy ways I have injured myself throughout the years. Probably the best story involves me breaking my collar bone in Germany because of an extremely avoidable bicycle accident.
2. I love, love, love music and especially love listening to it loudly with my headphones on. I love picking out all of the different instruments and sounds. I find it very interesting that despite this passion for music, I can't sing (this of course doesn't stop me from singing, which can be unfortunate for those around me...something my teenagers are quick to point out) and I don't play an instrument (unless you count me playing the violin from 5th-7th grade or the fact that I can drum the beat for the song, "Wipeout")
3. I am a horrible procrastinator and sometimes joke that "procrastinate" should be my middle name. I really do want to improve in this area...I think I'll start working on it tomorrow.
4. I absolutely and totally despise bananas. Don't ask me why, but thinking of them grosses me out. I also don't like carbonated drinks or really sugary candy.
5. I am a huge animal-lover and used to want to be a veterinarian. I changed my mind as soon as I learned I would have to euthanize animals. I then wondered if I could be a pet shop owner instead.
6. I am not a tv watcher. In fact I don't even own a tv and when I did own one in America, it was only for watching movies, of which there are only a few that I enjoy watching, mostly the sweet, inspiring ones. I would much rather be reading a book, spending time with people, or have music playing.
7. I once climbed a mountain in Alaska, which is an almost miraculous feat for me for several reasons (see number 1 for one of those) and was only accomplished because I was with my amazingly motivating and patient brother, who also tricked me into thinking we weren't actually going to climb the whole thing. When I realized we were, it was too late to turn around. Nevertheless, I'm now thankful that I can say that I did it...and lived through it.
I tag Abby, Aimee,Becca, Charlotte, Emily, Leah, Maureen, and Sarah. Enjoy!
Here are some of the new fans:
"I love how everything I am learning about God right now seems to all go together. Right now everything seems to be about worship. I used to think that worship was just about singing worship songs, but I am learning that worship is actually more, it is a lifestyle. Even on Saturday in our group when we were reading Philippians 2, when Paul said in verse 17: "Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all," that is a form of worship. Paul was willing to sacrifice his own life so others can know God, which is a way he is worshiping Him."
Yes, these are the wise, insightful words of a sixteen year old girl. I praise God for what He is doing in this young lady and wait with expectancy to see what amazing things He is going to do through her life!
A few years ago my brother began the huge task of teaching me about football. Through great patience and perseverance, he eventually was successful. Since that time this has been something that has bonded us together and we both look forward to football season each year when we can discuss the different college teams, predict who will do well and who won't, and watch/analyze the games together. It began as just being something I could share with my brother, but I soon found myself actually watching games all by myself and growing to really love the game!
This football season is a sad one for Jason and I, as we are both overseas and don't have access to the game we love. I am now having to rely on you guys back home to keep me in the loop! So, if you are also a college football fan, feel free to email me any time with updates and predictions. I will then pass on the information to my brother so that we can keep up with our traditional football chats. :)
P.S. There is an ongoing argument with the teenage boys here in Botswana about which is the better football, American football or the world's football (soccer). We both passionately argue our points, but one way they always stump me is when they throw the question at me, "Why do you even call that football?!? You hardly use your foot with the ball at all!" At this point, I have to shrug my shoulders and agree. Why do we call it football??
- I get to sleep in a little bit :)
- I am able to have a nice, long time with the Lord without rushing to get to work
- I can take a long walk or go for a quick jog while it is not too hot outside yet
- Discipleship group!! This is by far my favorite part of Saturday.
Our discussion time was once again wonderful and one of the awesome things I heard this morning from one of the girls was: "Before reading Philippians chapter 2, I always thought being a Christian was just about me and God. But now I see that it is also about other people. And we go to church not just for me and God, but to also be with other people. We're supposed to see how we can also help people around us." An amazing "aha moment" for a sixteen year old!
So our group challenge this week is to be available to serve others and look for how we can help those who are hurting. One of the ways we can help and serve others is through prayer, so we are also working as a group to grow as intercessors. They each made prayer notecards with different people and prayer requests on each card, which they'll carry around and pray over whenever they have time during the day. This tool has been a huge blessing to me, so I'm excited to pass it on to them.
I'm so proud of these young ladies and I love how I am also so challenged and encouraged by my time with them. May we all grow as "Philippians 2 Christians."