Um, yes, that is most definitely a scorpion in my movie case!!! Imagine my shock when I went to open the case and found this most unwelcome guest hidden in there!
In case you'd like another look:
Unfortunately this guy's life was cut very short tonight. He definitely chose the wrong place to snuggle in at.
Oh, and don't forget about my new roommate:
At least this guy is harmless...really, he is.
I only hope I don't have any other unexpected discoveries like this for a long, long time!
Here's a bit of random information about happenings lately:
- It is HOT right now. I mean really hot. I can't believe when I left in early August I was still wearing light sweaters during the day and heavy sweaters at night. When I returned just a month later, I was shocked at how much the weather had changed. I just looked at the forecast for next week and we are going to get up to 104 degrees one day next week! And the summer is just getting started!!
- This week I was awakened one night a little before midnight to be warned that there was a bush fire dangerously close to the mission plot and to be on guard in the case of a need for evacuation. Thankfully all turned out ok, but it was pretty scary to see the sky lit up in red and orange hues just a short distance away from where I live! For more on this story, you can read Kelly's account here.
- All the kids have headed home for our five-day holiday to celebrate Botswana's independence. (Actual Independence Day is Tuesday the 30th) Although I'll miss the kids, I am very, very excited for some time off to rest. I plan to read, take walks, spend time with friends here who I don't get to see enough of, and talk to friends back home, which is a lot easier when I am not "on duty" all evening and don't have to wake up at 5:15 am. :)
Here are a few fun pictures from yesterday and today. The rest have been posted in the online picasa album.Fun times with the girls
We might have been a little bored :)
My students celebrating Botswana Independence Day
My precious girls
Two of my students who were all snazzed up!
My whole class...I love these kids!
At the same time, sometimes I just get lonely. I miss my friends and family back home dearly. Sometimes I ache to see them, talk to them, pray with them, and get hugs. The internet is such a blessing, but when it has trouble (as was the case this week), I really feel the void left from not being able to communicate with home.
I love the Lord so much and love my relationship with Him. I know that really He should be (and is) enough for every part of me. But He has also made me a relational person, placing a very high priority on relationships. He constantly uses the people in my life to teach me, encourage me, sharpen me, challenge me, and lead me closer to Him. I am so incredibly thankful for each and every person He has put in my life.
My prayer is that He will continue building my relationships here in Botswana, too, especially providing a close, spiritual sister and friend. I also pray that in those times when I do feel lonely, that I will draw near to Him and find joy in my fellowship with Him.
My friend Maureen posted a blog post addressing a bit of the emotional roller coaster that is experienced by being a missionary. Yes, it is definitely an amazing blessing to live this life. But I also know that with this blessing comes quite a variety of emotions. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement, which really do mean so much more than you can imagine and help me so much as I work through all these emotions!
Lord, help me to be a:
Woman of Faith
Woman of Prayer
Woman of the Word
Woman of Worship
Woman of Love
Woman of Purity
Woman of Mission
We read over that and prayed that that would be our purpose as a group. We then had a time of Bible study, beginnning our study of Philippians. We read and discussed chapter 1, as well as Paul's circumstances surrounding him writing this book. The girls then had a time to just share verses that had ministered to them this week. This was probably my favorite part of our time. There's something so special about hearing these teenagers share God's word and how He is speaking to them through it, and then to hear them encouraging others with it, too. I love it!
We next had a small time of worship and reflection, which ended with a time of prayer. This term we will also dedicate a part of our time to praying for another country and their needs. (I have a nice little calendar that provides this information.) Today we prayed for the Congo and I think it was a great way for us to work on being "women of mission" as we focused on praying for the needs of the people in a place that none of us have even ever been to.
Our time was concluded by working on making visuals for ourselves to remember our group's purpose. So, with markers, colored paper, fun music, and girl chat time, we worked for about an hour on our little projects.
Here are the lyrics:
Got a stack of books so I could learn how to live
Many are left half-read
Covered by the cobwebs on my shelf
And I got a list of laws growing longer every day
And if I keep plugging away
Maybe one day I'll perfect myself
Oh, but all of my labor seems to be in vain
And all of my laws just cause me more pain
So I fall before You in all of my shame
Ready and willing to be changed
Take all that I am
With the blood of the Lamb
With Your gracious hand
Break me till I'm only Yours
Oh You call me daughter and You take my blame
And You run to meet me when I cry out Your name
So I fall before You in all of my shame
Lord, I am willing to be changed
Take all that I am
With the blood of the Lamb
By Your gracious hand
Break me till I'm only Yours
When I heard this song the first time, it broke me because I felt like it was written for me. I constantly struggle with feeling this need to "do" more and "better" myself. When I inevitably mess up and realize that I just can't do it in my own strength, then I realize again that all I can really do is run to Jesus, lay myself before Him and just ask Him to take all of me. Much more than He desires us to "do", He desires us to just "be", letting Him do the healing, molding, and changing. Our place is just to be one of surrender.
- On Sunday I was able to sign for Monty again. I am realizing how rusty I've become and my need to practice more. I am hoping and praying for some opportunities to spend time with Monty outside of church, building that relationship and getting lots of sign practice!
- On Monday I was blessed at the immigration office with another 30 day extension with almost no problems at all. This was a huge praise!
- Tuesday was a wonderful day! One of the new teachers here, Megan, had a birthday and her husband is out of town, so we had a girls' night out with the two of us, my friend Stacy, and my new friend Kelly, who just moved here with her husband, Matt (our children's pastor). We went to a nice restaurant and had dinner, and I was able to get a yummy cafe mocha. But the best part by far was the chance to have fellowship with other girls and begin building new friendships, something I am really needing right now.
- Wednesday I began teaching a sign language class to the secondary students and I was unsure if the turn-out would be all that good. I was shocked when 34 students came! (This is a third of our whole secondary school.) I hope this will be a great chance to build more relationships with the teenagers at the school.
This week is not even over yet, but it's already been full of blessings! Another huge one that didn't actually happen here, but was a blessing to me also was that a good friend of mine in Austin, Heather, successfully went through brain surgery on Monday and is doing absolutely wonderful! My students and I have been praying a lot for her, and it's great to share this praise and blessing with them. (We love you, Heather!)
I look forward to sharing more praises soon!!
I am going into the immigration office on Monday with one of the leaders from the mission and I am praying for divine favor. Immigration issues in Botswana can be really sticky ones. If you are able to any time during the next couple of days, it would mean so much to me if you could just lift this situation up to our Father, petitioning His intervention and His peace in my heart. I don't always respond well in these situations and see holes in my faith (probably why He keeps letting me go through these things!) So, I am praying to be stronger and more full of faith and peace during this one. I know He'll work it all out...I just need to trust Him!
In addition, I'm sure most of you already are, but I'd just like to remind you to pray for all of those being affected by Hurricane Ike. My heart is heavy for my friends in that area, experiencing quite a hit right now. I am praying for protection and for quick restoration of power for all of those affected.
My first term teaching here, I taught a sign language class to standard 5, 6, and 7 girls once a week and was amazed at how much they picked up and how thoroughly they enjoyed it! I haven't done much else with it since April, but God changed that today at church! At the beginning of our worship service, one of the leaders at the mission asked me if I would help interpret the service for a young woman who was new to the church and actually just gave her life to Christ last week! I was definitely nervous and seriously questioned my ability to interpret anywhere close to what she needed, but I just prayed and asked the Lord to take over.
Monty is 24 and is a precious young woman. She was so sweet and patient with me, and when I didn't know a word, I would just spell it out for her and she would sign the word for me. We were kind of in our own little world during the whole service. She would look at me as I signed the songs and then join in with me. And when the speaking started, she so patiently and intently concentrated on what I was signing. I wish I could explain how amazing it is to see the look of understanding come over her as she comprehended what I was signing and seemed to really be involved in and enjoying the sermon.
My heart was so full of joy at the end of the church service today. (Which reminds me of my post from yesterday!) What an unexpected and wonderful opportunity to serve God and love on someone here in Botswana in a whole new way. I love how He puts a love in us for something and then uses that thing for His glory. So cool!! And I was encouraged at how intimately involved God is in our lives and how faithfully He provides for our needs. You see, last week she came to church with Jana Lackey, who also knows sign language, and as Jana interpreted for her, Monty gave her life to Christ. But Jana returned to the States on Monday and would not be at church today. God knew this, however, and had already arranged for a mission team to be here working with the children's church so I would "just happen" to be in the service. God is watching over Monty and is taking care of her in a special way. What a special reminder at how much He cares for each of us, too!
P.S. My boarders came back today and it is so good to see them! :)
Recently a friend of mine was trying to have a better understanding of joy and contentment. After some internet research, I found a couple of great sites that really ministered to me as well. The overall theme of one of the sites was that our joy is first found in our relationship with the Lord, but after that, we gain great joy in life when we are serving others. I think it is a natural tendency to focus on our own lives, issues, and pursuit of happiness, but as we allow the Holy Spirit to change us, we find that we begin to desire to live more to serve others and focus more on them, being "others-oriented". It's amazing to me because I definitely see that the more focused I am on other people and the less concerned I am with myself, the more my joy in life multiplies exponentially.
Jesus of course set the best example of this "living for others" and putting others' needs over His own. I think Paul's words in Philippians capture this servant attitude of Christ and the challenge for us to follow His example beautifully:
"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Phil. 2:3-8
I pray for each of us to be a little bit more "others-oriented" today, and thereby see our joy increase in an amazing way!
It was wonderful to arrive and find my precious friends, Gary and Stacy, waiting for me at the airport. It was great fun to catch up on everything! I then had a great time going around the mission offices to say hello to everyone. I didn't even realize how much I missed them all until I saw their sweet faces again.
I praise God that this past month was a journey going from "home" to "home" and back. It's a wonderful feeling to have friends and family on opposite sides of the world, a part of two separate homes. Thank you again for your awesome prayers throughout all this traveling!
Thank you in advance for your much appreciated prayers. More news from Botswana soon!!