Giving Thanks

Today is the first Thanksgiving I've spent away from home. It's been a bit emotional at times, but I am happy to say that I still celebrated Thanksgiving today. All week long I have been teaching my students about the history and meaning of this holiday we celebrate in America. One of their homework assignments was to make a list of as many things as they could that they are thankful for, with a prize for those who reach 100. The kids came back with over 100, (one of them even reaching 230!) and a new appreciation for all that they have in life to be thankful for.

Today in class we pulled our desks together and had a "mini-feast" as a class family. No, it wasn't turkey, mashed potatoes, and green been was actually hot dogs, chips, and fruit. :) But the meaning and celebration were there. We took turns praying before we ate and then as we passed the food around the table, we each shared something we are thankful for this year. It was a beautiful celebration and one of the most meaningful ones for me. Here are a few pictures from today's "feast". :)

Gathered around the table

Saying "Happy Thanksgiving!"

Digging in!

We even had dessert...and just ignored the "Merry Christmas" on the cake. :)

I have so much to be thankful for this year. I have a wonderful family and friends who I love with all my heart. I have so many people who have become extended family to me as they have supported me and walked this journey to Botswana out with me through their prayers, encouragement, and financial support. I have even discovered more "family" here in Botswana and am incredibly thankful for these relationships God has put in my life while I am so far from family and friends back home. I live with precious teenagers who have a heart after God and teach some truly incredible kids, who I have grown to love. I may not have a table full of family or turkey this Thanksgiving, but I most definitely have a very full heart of thanks. Happy Thanksgiving!

News and updates

Sorry to be kind of absent from blogging lately. It's a combination of being bogged down with end-of-the-year stuff and internet connection issues. Anyway, here's a quick summary of the latest around here.
  • Unbelievably, we have a little over one week of school left for the year. I can't believe it's already over! I am thankful to have finally finished all of my reports (which takes forever) and am now able to just enjoy the last few days I have with my class and boarders.
  • It looks like next year I will be teaching a combined class of standard 5 and 6. Although this will be a little tougher, I am thrilled at the idea of having my class again! Sadly, three of my boys will be leaving, but having the other nine again will be such a huge blessing!
  • The good-byes have started. I've already said good-bye to my friends, Munya and The Walkers, who both have recently moved away. Coming up next is Gary, Stacy, Tshepiso, and Angela, all of whom are leaving next week and Adrian and Tendai, who will be leaving in the next couple of weeks. It's so bizarre (and quite heart-wrenching) to say good-bye to so many people I am close to, all at the same time. I trust God, though, and already see how He is opening doors for new relationships here.
  • This week has been a little strange since it is Thanksgiving back home. I am happy, though, that there is going to be a Thanksgiving celebration with all of the Americans here on Saturday. I'll be sure to post pictures and tell stories afterwards. I will miss my family so much, but it's nice to know that I will get to celebrate with some of my "family" here.
  • The rainy season has finally started and the weather is much, much better! I love the cooler, overcast days which are pretty common these days. And everything is so green and pretty now!
More updates and pictures to come soon. Until then, may you each have a wonderful, blessed, fun-filled Thanksgiving!

Road trip reflections

I had tons of fun on my recent road trip with friends Gary, Stacy, Angela, and baby Tshepiso. Here is a short breakdown of the trip...and lots of pictures!

The trip began a little late because the three of us girls usually run late and one of us accidentally over slept. (ok, I admit it was me...oops!) So, much to the dismay of Gary, we left Maun at 5:30 rather than 4:00 am, which I personally think was an incredibly ambitious goal anyway.

Stop 1: Serowe
We stopped briefly in Serowe to see Gary's family's plot and the building progress of the home they are building on it. We then visited some of his extended family. Here are pictures from the plot and from his grandparent's garden. The adorable little boy is Gary's cousin, Katlego, and I was smitten with him!

Stop 2: Selebe Phikwe
We next stopped in Gary's home village to stay for a couple of days. There we saw the copper and nickel mine, visited with Gary's grandmother, visited his home church, and I had a little Tshepiso photo shoot. How can I resist with a baby as beautiful as her??

Stop 3: Mahalapye
We briefly stopped to see a friend of ours, Juby
(Sidenote: Juby was Miss Botswana 2004, which I think is amazing!)

After leaving Mahalapye, we stopped at the exact point where the Tropic of Capricorn passes through Botswana. This was our last stop before we reached Gabs.

Final stop: Gaborone!!
I was so excited to finally reach Gabs, the capital city of Botswana. I loved every bit of being there. I was actually only there for one full day because of needing to get back to Maun, but I had a very, very full day! Some of my Gabs highlights were seeing traffic, which reminded me of home :), eating at Mugg and Bean and getting coffee and cheescake, going shopping at a mall, and eating wonderful food!

Before we had our great meal at Spur, we had tons of fun with the little hand-washing bowls they brought us. I think they are cute!

A few more highlights were running into Botho, my first friend in Botswana whom I met in June of 2006. He was one of the translators for the mission trip I was on and he taught me lots of Setswana. It was a such a joy to run into him! After that, Angela and I had fun visiting with Santa...and then getting in trouble for taking pictures in the mall. Who knew it wasn't allowed??

I ended my Gabs experience by going to see High School Musical 3 at the theater. You can only find cinemas in Gaborone, so we were sure to take advantage of it! Since we'd already gotten in trouble for taking pictures in the mall, we had to get special permission to get this shot from the cinema manager. Fortunately he was very sweet and even took the picture for us!

I flew back to Maun on Wednesday and the rest of the group arrived back in town on Saturday. We are all very thankful for the time we had away and the the great fellowship time we had. Thanks so much for your prayers for the trip!


I made it home safely from my road trip with friends and look forward to writing all about it and posting some fun pictures in the next few days. But today I am pausing to remember someone very special who went to be with the Lord this week.

Eric Stovall
was a dear friend of my dad's, especially during the time he lived in Illinois. He had kept in close contact with him and since I arrived in Botswana, Eric has also kept in contact with me. Every month I knew I could expect to receive a wonderful email filled with encouragement and support. He and his wife, Phyllis, have been true blessings to me throughout my time here and huge supports to me in many ways, especially with their faithful prayer support and encouragement.

Eric was a wonderful man with a huge heart. He loved the Lord and cared deeply about others, and those of us on earth touched by his life will miss him dearly. I pray today for God to graciously provide His love, comfort, and strength to his precious wife, family, and friends during this time. And I thank the Lord today for Eric's life and how He used him to encourage and bless so many others, including me.

"For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you." Philemon 7

Road trip!!

Tomorrow (Saturday) I leave on a road trip for a few days with my friends Gary, Stacy, Angela, and baby Tshepiso. I cannot possibly put into words how excited I am about this! We are driving to Gaborone with a few stops on the way. I've never been to Gabs (Botswana's capital city) and I am so looking forward to being in a city for a couple of days! We will go shopping, maybe to a movie, and hopefully go to Mugg and Bean Coffee Shop so I can get one of those cheesecakes I've been craving! :)

Please pray for our safety (9-10 hours on these African roads always needs prayer coverage!) and for many blessings in the time with my friends. All of them will be leaving me in less than a month, so I am extremely grateful for this quality time with them. I look forward to sharing stories and pictures when I return next week!

New perspectives and blessings

God has really blessed me the past few days with a new perspective on upcoming changes. Yes, change can be hard and even painful, but it's only really through change that we can grow. God has been growing me in many areas this year and I think much more is yet to come. I welcome the stretching if it will help me to increase my faith and bring more glory to Him. I believe He has an incredible amount of blessings in store for my next year in Botswana, including brand new friendships, experiences, and ministry opportunities. When I think of things this way, I feel excited and hopeful, and I'm encouraged by remembering that God is sovereign and His plans are perfect. Thank you so much for praying with me on this.

In other news...
  • It finally rained here in Maun! This is a huge deal when you go months and months without even a sprinkle. When the weather is hot and dry (even reaching 111 degrees last week!) you really feel the ache for rain. We had a few teasers recently, with only a few sprinkles, but thankfully we finally received our first real rain last night!
  • Today I could have briefly forgotten that I am in Africa. America has been all over the news here and the center of many conversations. It's very interesting to view this election as an "outsider" and have a different viewpoint on things. It's really been a neat experience for me.
  • I may be taking a little road trip the early part of next week! I haven't been to the capital city here yet (Gaborone) and Gary and Stacy will be going for a few days and invited me to come along. As long as things work out ok, it looks like we may be leaving in just a couple of days! It will be great to see more of Botswana and have some time with my precious friends before they leave next month. :(
Be blessed and enjoy your nice, cool temperatures...and your new president!