"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

To share a little of my heart, something God has been showing me lately is that my faith is really weak at times. I used to think that it was stronger because God has demonstrated His faithfulness and His ability to do what seems impossible to me so many times in my life. But then another situation will come up that requires a new level of faith and I realize that even though God has shown Himself so faithful in the past, I suddenly find myself doubting that He will work in this situation, whatever that may be.

God has been revealing to me lately how much I allow my faith to be affected by circumstances. I feel like the person referred to in James 1:6, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." That is definitely me at times that require faith and trust in God where circumstances don't look promising. I certainly do not want to be that person, though. God has shown me over and over and over again in my life that circumstances do not dictate the outcome that He has planned. And actually when circumstances look the least promising, God receives even more glory when He works things out!

One of my absolute very favorite verses is Jeremiah 32:17, "Ah, Lord God! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you." And honestly, when you think about all God has created and all He has done, how could we ever doubt that anything is too hard for Him??

I am thankful the Lord is revealing to me this shortcoming in my faith. I pray that He will help me to become a greater woman of faith, knowing that God is who He says He is and He can do all things, regardless of how circumstances may look. I'm excited to see Him surprise me!

Trip Highlights

I am home from the trip to Selibe-Phikwe and it was so great!! I loved my time with Gary, Stacy, and KB in the car. Although long, it was definitely a fun ride. I am also fully convinced that little Tshepiso is the most adorable thing in the world! Here are some highlights from the trip:

I am so thankful that we made the long journey there and back safely in my vehicle with no problems at all! This is a huge praise because the whole road is just a narrow two-lane road with hardly any civilization along the way. This is also the first road trip in all the African road trip experiences that I've had where we didn't have a break-down or flat tire. Yea!!

Even though I see Gary, Stacy, and KB often, our times together are usually focused on work. We made a deal as we pulled out of Maun that we wouldn't talk about work at all during the week. That was a great idea! We had a wonderful time just getting to fellowship and catch up with each other. And as is usually the case with these three, there was A LOT of laughter!

Leaving so early from Maun and traveling back during sunset, we were able to see some fun animals along the way. On the way there we were able to see tons of zebra and a giraffe. On the way home we saw more zebra and a big ostrich. (So different from the plain old deer I'd see along the road in Texas!) Here are some of the zebra we saw:

I loved having the opportunity to stay at Gary's parents' house and experience the amazing hospitality that is so common in the people of Botswana. Everyone living in the house squeezed into one room to allow Gary and Stacy and I to have our own rooms. (KB didn't stay with us because we dropped him off in Francistown along the way.) The food was great and the accommodations were very comfortable. It was so nice to be in a home for a few days! We also were able to see Gary's grandmother, and here is a picture of her with Tshepiso:

A fun and unexpected part of the trip was getting to shop! I am not a big shopper at all, but when you go for 7 months with not much variety for shopping at all, it is a huge blessing to see a big area full of different stores to shop at. I had fun and was able to purchase a couple of new outfits, some books, and a few little things for my students.

Seeing New Things
Being in larger towns in a different area of Botswana allowed me to see many new things. I was able to see my first Botswana "robots" (stoplights for those who didn't already read this) Phikwe's wonderful park, a new kind of red soil, and much less dust! I also saw a new level of poverty as Gary took us driving around Phikwe's poorest neighborhood. When I saw how many of these people live and their houses, if you can really call them that, I feel that I've been very, very spoiled in my life and blessed way more than I've given thanks for. (Out of respect for the people, I didn't take any pictures in this neighborhood.) Here are some shots from Phikwe's beautiful park, a statue of Botswana's first president, and a set of "robots":

The Phikwe park

Sweet family picture

"Mushroom house" sitting area

African "robots"
The President Khama statue

I know everyone thinks their babies are the cutest ones in the world, but I have to say that my little God-daughter is definitely in the running for one of the most beautiful little girls in the world. She is just so precious! I admit to going totally snap-happy with her and now have tons of new pictures. How could I resist with a face like this??
Bath time

"The pout"

All smiles...and so beautiful!!

Thanks for your prayers for a safe and fun journey. I feel refreshed and excited for the next two weeks of school. And then I will begin my next Texas!!

Road Trip!

I am very excited to be heading out on a road trip tomorrow (Tuesday) with my dear friends, Stacy, Gary, little Tshepiso, and KB. We are going to Selebi-Phikwe, Gary's hometown, for a few days. We'll also be stopping in Francistown, one of Botswana's larger towns. I've never been to this area of Botswana so I am very excited! It's about a 5-6 hour drive and we are leaving at 4 am....crazy, I know. I would really appreciate any of your prayers for a safe journey there and back. We'll be returning on Friday when I'll be sure to tell you all about the trip!
Here's a map of Botswana so you can see the places I'll be visiting. (I live in Maun.)

Toto, I don't think we're in Texas anymore!

Update: Sarah, a fellow missionary here, also wrote of this experience with additional information on the encounter. You can read her account here.

Just when I begin to forget I am living in Africa, something like yesterday happens. (And Mom and Dad, be forewarned that you will not like this post!)

I teach most of my day in the junior dome of school, where my standard 5 classroom is, but I teach two computer classes to form 1 (like 8th grade) students in the senior dome. I was teaching one of those classes yesterday before lunch and when I finished, I made my way back to the junior dome. What I discovered when I got there was one of my students yelling through a window to other students for them to come in through the window and I noticed that the passageway was blocked up. A closer look revealed a few men with guns (!) shooting inside the dome. As I reached the barricade, I realized why. A HUGE grey cobra snake was slithering away in the middle area of the dome...right outside my classroom!! I even saw it lift its head up and the neck come flaring out in anger as the men were shooting at it!

The good news is that no children were hurt (totally God's grace because ALL the classroom doors were opened!) and the snake was captured and killed. The bad news is that I am totally paranoid now! I never imagined that a snake would come into a building filled with children in the middle of the day. Crazy!! Had I been teaching in my classroom at that time, it could have been ME that first saw the snake...what would I have done?? I can honestly say that something like this never happened in all my teaching days in Texas! Yes, I am most definitely living in Africa! :)

Request for prayer

Dear friends, this will just be a quick post, but an important one. I see God doing so much right now among several of my teenage girls and I see Him on the brink of doing really huge things. With that, spiritual warfare is expected and it is definitely present! I am writing to petition your prayers on my behalf as I am feeling kind of bombarded with stuff right now. My relationship with Jesus is going great and He has definitely been answering my prayer for Him to be my first love again and for me to desire above all else to be in His presence. My time in the Word has been wonderful and ministered to me so much! The discipleship group with the girls is fantastic and is helping to challenge and encourage me in many ways. So much good is going on! But at the same time, there is a lot burdening my heart right now. Many of the relationships I have here are being tested right now, even with a few of the girls. It seems like lately there has just been one conflict or misunderstanding after another. I have found myself questioning various aspects of my calling here lately, thoughts that are definitely not from God.

The sermon at church here on Sunday was extremely applicable to me right now as it referred to times of testing that the Lord will allow us to go through. Although difficult, they are necessary in our growing process. There are also times of spiritual attack from the enemy, in which times we must fervently pray to fight back. During either time, prayer is essential. Therefore, I am writing to petition your prayers with me through this current season and especially for Romans 8:28 to come to pass. God does work all things for good to those who love Him and have been called according to His purpse and I know He will bring much good out of this current season.

Thank you in advance for your prayers!


"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58

God has been really challenging me to put forth 100% into my girls right now. I think He is on the brink of doing something huge! One of the things He put on my heart recently was to create a discipleship group opportunity for those girls who are interested to go deeper into the Word and have an "iron sharpens iron" group atmosphere. In this group they would have a daily Bible reading assignment and would need to be ready to make some serious commitments. I put a note on our notice board about it and six girls said they were interested, but when we actually met on Wednesday evening, twelve girls showed up!

After our meeting time, I went to the girls individually and asked them just what their expectations were from the group and what about it spurred them to want to try it. The answers were amazing! Many of them said they really want to grow to know the Lord more. Two of the girls said they have a friend in school who they are trying to share Christ with but her response to them is always to remind them that they just became Christians themselves, so what can they really teach her. So the girls want to know more so they can share Him better. (Amazing!) Two of my older girls said they were most excited to hear all the other girls share about how God is moving in their lives and what He is teaching them, because they know that by listening to others share, that will encourage them in their spiritual growth. And another of my girls said she's been praying for something like this for a while now.

This week the girls were to read one chapter from the book of Romans each day and when we came together, we would discuss some of the main verses that struck them while they read. We met today and I was amazed at what I saw and heard! These girls are serious!! Even from the moment we started I could see it, as I asked if anyone wanted to open us in prayer and they all did, so we went around the circle and everyone prayed! After that, the girls really took over the group with each one sharing one or two verses from the first three books of Romans that stuck out to them and ministered to them. I was inspired by the wisdom and insight these girls gained while studying the Word. Romans has some pretty deep concepts in it and these teenage girls are getting it all! They are so very hungry, asking if they could please continue with their homework throughout the week-long break we have coming up, to which I responded with "of course!" At the end of our time together the girls broke into groups of two and shared with each other their personal prayer needs and spent time praying over each other. It's so beautiful to see these young ladies pouring out their hearts and praying for each other!

I just praise God for how He continues to pursue the hearts of these beautiful young ladies. I also am realizing that many of my struggles recently (exhaustion, homesickness, etc.) are the direct result of spiritual warfare. I pray to remember my spiritual armor from Ephesians 6 and to be diligent in pursuing holiness in my life. I pray that I would be a leader who is above reproach, pure in heart, and submissive to God's will for me and how He wants to use me. It's amazing for us humans to be able to be a part of God's plans in reaching every heart and revealing Himself to the world. It sure makes life have an incredible amount of purpose!

Thank you for praying for my girls and me as their leader. More exciting updates to come!

Girls' Afternoon Out

Because the bathroom would get so messy during Term One, I began assigning groups of girls to be in charge of keeping the bathroom clean each week. What I didn't tell them was that I was watching to see which group did the best job. After five weeks of watching the different groups, one of them really stood out. At Bible study last week I shared about the secret contest and revealed the winning group. The prize was an afternoon outing to a nice little restaurant here in town to have lunch and dessert. Here I am with "Group 5" today as we enjoyed our little outing. We had such a wonderful time!

Happy 4th of July!

Since OIS is an international school, we try to celebrate major holidays from the different countries represented. Today we had a small 4th of July program at our chapel time and then in my classroom I taught them a little more about the history of America's independence. The kids had fun learning and even listening to some patriotic songs like "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "America the Beautiful," and "The Star Spangled Banner." During free time, several of the students drew pictures of some of the American symbols or created a flag. The most precious part of the day was during our daily prayer time when one of my students suggested we pray for all the Americans celebrating today that they would have fun and be safe.

So, Happy 4th of July from Botswana! Sending love your way!
Mason bringing in the flag for chapel
Ms. Pat sharing facts about America's beginnings during chapel time
Happy 4th of July from Botswana!

Being stretched

To be completely honest, I have been in a bit of a challenging place recently. I've been feeling more worn down and tired for a little while and have been trying to figure out why. Well, last weekend I had a wonderful morning with the Lord where I was able to just get away and spend some time with Him. During that time, He showed me that I have begun to lose sight of my first love and have been trying to do things in my own strength, just kind of going through the motions. We can only do that for so long before we run out of strength and energy. Ministry and relationships with people are very important, but my relationship with Him must come first. It must be the absolutely most important part of my every day. In Him I find my strength and my joy, my peace and my direction. Without that, I begin to feel like I am just kind of aimlessly wandering.

With so much going on, it can be more of a challenge to find time to just get away and spend time with Jesus. I find that I'll put that time to the side so that I can get everything else done. But then of course what happens is that I begin to run out of steam and lose my joy in serving. When I examine why this is, I see that my priorities have gotten off balance and I've spent too much time "doing" rather than just "being".

The verse I've been praying for myself recently is John 3:30, which says "He must increase, but I must decrease." I pray to have a life where you see less and less of Andrea, and more and more of Jesus. I pray to have a heart overflowing with love, peace, and joy. I want to put others above myself and love sharing Christ's love with them more than anything else. I pray to be moldable, like clay in the potter's hand, having the heart's cry of Isaiah 64:8, "But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand."

Could you please say a prayer for me that I would live out those heart's desires? That I would return to my first love and not be so busy serving that I lose sight of the most important relationship in my life? And that as I seek Him first, all other things will fall into place, conflicts will work out, and energy will be restored? I praise the Lord for His invitation to come to Him, to seek Him first, and He will take care of everything else. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30