Let me try to make a long story short...and just get to the HUGE blessing!!

When I came back to Botswana in August, I needed to book my return flight for December 2009, but that was too far off, so I told my mom to just book the flight for April and I would call and move it later. When I called to do that last week, I was told because the flight was only valid for a year, I have to use it before September 1st or lose it. After minorly freaking out a bit, I quickly saw the great blessing in this situation.

Just in my last post, I shared how much I've been missing family and friends lately. Honestly, the past four months have been difficult ones, causing my yearning for family and friends to increase. Often the past few months, I just wished I could get a big hug from my mom and pour out my heart to her. Along with missing other family and friends, I've also missed my friends, Gary and Stacy, so very much. They've left a big hole here in their absence!

So, I have decided to go ahead and use this plane ticket now, especially since my mom already had it booked for the weekend after term ends. Which means I will get to be home and get my huge "Mom-hug" in just over two weeks!!! On top of that, I will get some much-needed time with other family and friends, including Gary and Stacy! I can't tell you how much my spirit is blessed right now. And the blessings just keep coming.....

It's been planned for a while now that my dear friend, Stacy, was going to come and visit me the beginning of May. Well, she still is, but the exciting thing I get to fly with her! I spent a loooong time on the phone to be able to get on the same flights as her, but the time was well worth it because it worked!! This will be such a wonderful blessing for both of us!!

On top of that, today I was talking to my friend, Megan, who is from California and has been teaching at OIS for six months. She moved here with her husband so he could participate in a research project, and she decided to teach while they were here. We've become good friends and I'm so sad to see her leave. I knew she was leaving right after term ended, but I didn't know that she was leaving on the same day as me, at the same time...on the same flight!!! So, it turns out that I will get to fly with a friend back to the States and with a friend back to Botswana. YEA!!! Those 13-18 hour flights are horrible to endure alone!

God has really, really blessed me this weekend. I feel like I can finish off this term well with such a huge gift to look forward to. I love that God knows the desires of our hearts and works in such amazing ways to meet those desires when we are delighting in Him. (Psalm 37:4)

Thank you for your prayers! They obviously worked really, really well! :)

Prayer requests

Here are a few things I am needing prayer for right now:
1. I am sick and feeling "blah" right now. Praying for God's quick healing.
2. My car is also sick and not drive-able right now. Praying for the right part to be found, a speedy fixing, for as inexpensively as possible. (I am really, really missing the freedom that having a vehicle brings!)
3. This week is "report week"...(fellow teachers, think report cards times 10.) The reports we send home here are great and provide the parents with tons of information, but are super-hard to get completed. My boarders from last year know that "report week=stress." I am praying for the Lord to help me manage my time well this week to get everything finished grading and to get all the reports written on time with as little stress and craziness as possible.
4. Boarding drama continues. I need God's peace, contentment, wisdom, and perseverance like crazy. Praying Philippians 4:6-7 over my life for the next two weeks before school break.
5. I'm really, really missing family and friends right now and feeling like December is SO far away. I am praising God that my wonderful friend, Stacy, is coming to visit in a little over a month (Yea!!!) and asking for God to help me be content in Him and in the place He has me right now.

Thank you so much for any prayer you are able to offer up on my behalf. Your prayers mean much more than you know!!

Walk to the river

Recently I went on a wonderful walk to the river with eighteen of my girls. We had a great time...and got some nice exercise! :)
The scary bridge we have to cross when we get to the river
Enjoying the scenery
Beautiful girls...
Enjoying the sunshine (we are on an incline...our height difference isn't really THAT much.)
We even caught a fisherman in action...
...and got a fish lesson!
Captive audience
I love this scenery...
Such a cool tree!

Crossing the scary bridge again
All the girls together
We had such a fun time!
Headed home....

We made it!

Special Request

I am writing with a special request from my teenage girls. I have found that probably their very favorite thing to receive from the States is a journal. Just like most other teenage girls, they love writing out their thoughts and feelings, but journals/diaries are almost impossible to find here.

Before this term a few wonderful people sent me several journals, and there were actually enough to give all the girls one of their own. Now that we've been in school awhile, some of them are getting close to finishing theirs up. Since people often ask what is something that would be really helpful here, I thought I would pass this information on. If you are able to send a journal or two this way, please know that it will be put to great use and will be VERY much appreciated!

P.S. Another thing really appreciated by the girls are fiction novels written for teens. They love these, but unfortunately don't have much access to them at all. (Our library is really not stocked well for the senior school.) And they also really, really love gum. :)

**Update** I also forgot to mention that I am always needing more Bibles. There are always kids wanting their own Bible. I've found really great deals on Bibles at used book stores if you're interested in sending one or a couple.

Some recent set-backs

Wow, life has been interesting around here lately! Let me start with Tuesday... So, the day started out normally with all the students and teachers in their classrooms, along with the mission staff in their offices, when out of no where, a bus full of about 20 police officers shows up and begins going up to teachers and people in the offices, demanding to see their passports and work permits. We were not warned about this at all and were quite taken aback by the way the whole thing was handled. The police officers I crossed paths with were all pretty curt and unfriendly.

Now, if you remember from any previous posts of mine, dealing with immigration here is always a HUGE issue. It took months and months for my paper work to get sorted out properly. Because of this, of course we had a few people who's paper work is still in the process of being handled. But there was definitely no grace being handed out by these guys! In the end seven of our staff (and most of them quite essential around here) were sent home to await the completion of their paper work before returning to work. Had they come this time last year, I would have been one of the ones in trouble! I've never been so thankful to have two pieces of paper:

On Wednesday we had another surprise. Since both bus drivers were affected by the immigration issue and were unable to come to work, we had someone else come in to fill that role. We were only able to find one person, however, so we were short one bus driver, causing an interesting transportation issue on Wednesday. But to top it all off, we had very, very heavy rains, which resulted in very, very muddy roads. Just outside of the mission gate, our poor bus got itself badly stuck in some of this mud. A lot of manpower would be needed to get the bus unstuck. Therefore....boarders to the rescue!
What a mess!
"Don't worry, we got this!"
Ready for the challenge
Talking strategy
Taking their places
Extra weight for traction purposes
One, two, three....PUSH!!
Unfortunately the attempt was unsuccesful and all the kids got out of it was a fun memory...and very dirty! :)
(The bus did find its way out of the mud the next day, thanfully!)

Joy through Praise

God has used this Hillsong dvd (Saviour King) to start something among the boarders that is very exciting! The teenagers love Hillsong worship songs, and we watched parts of this dvd last year. On Sunday of last week while a few of us were sitting around, I suggested watching this dvd again, to which they all excitedly agreed. We watched several of the songs and the crowd began growing.

Later that night Keturah and I went to a small social at the mission and when we returned home, we found almost all of the girls gathered around the tv, watching the Hillsong dvd and singing along with all of their hearts. One of the songs that touched them deeply was the song, "Hosanna," which is one of my favorite worship songs on the dvd. It was beautiful to see them singing beautiful praises at the top of their lungs!

On Monday I received a wonderful package from my parents which also included the new Hillsong DVD, "This is Our God." The kids wanted to watch it immediately, and we ended up having a praise and worship night at the hostel! The dvd was taken out again on Friday, and we enjoyed another praise and worship night. What I love is that even the kids who weren't on their feet, singing along were still there sitting and watching. The words in these songs are powerful and I believe God is using them to minister to these kids' hearts. I believe seeds are being planted, especially as these kids are watching many of their peers worshipping God with all that they have.

This evening instead of turning the tv on, one of the girls put in one of her Christian music compilation cds. When some of the faster songs were playing, the girls began singing and dancing together with huge smiles on their faces. There's something really amazing about having this music playing around here, and I see how it is affecting the whole attititude of boarding. I really, really think God is doing something among these kids and it is so exciting to watch!!

Here is a short video of the girls singing, "Hosanna" that first night:

Birthday Fun!

Today I celebrated my birthday in Botswana for the second time, and it turned out to be a really nice day. My morning began with opening the gifts that my parents sent me from home. Seriously , I have the most incredible, loving, and generous parents in the world! After opening gifts, I was serenaded at breakfast by the girl boarders and then again by my standard 5/6 class at school. Later in the day, I had a mini-celebration with my class, where we enjoyed some yummy chocolate cake together!
Have I mentioned before how much I adore these kids??
I was blessed all day with messages from home, bringing loads of smiles to my face throughout the day. And I had a wonderful evening out with some other ladies at the mission. We went out for dinner, cappucinos, and sweet fellowship.
(l to r) Keturah, Serena, Kelly, me, Camilla, Sarah L.

When I came home I found three of my teenagers with a giftbag of goodies for me, including a Botswana Zebras shirt, jewelry, candy, and cards.
With my kiddos and my sweet gifts!

Birthdays are always a nice time to stop and reflect, something I've been doing a little of today. I am really quite amazed with how God has worked things out in my life. I never would have imagined my life would look like this at this time, but I'm so thankful that it does! God's plans are great ones and I'm so glad that He knows much better than me what is best for me. I am also overwhelmingly grateful for the people He's put in my life. I am very blessed! :)

"Nurture" Conference

On Saturday all the women at church, including the teenage girls, had quite a treat! We had a few hours of "girl time" including worship, panel discussion, prayer time, and hearing encouragement and testimonies from women visiting from America. We loaded up all the girl boarders and went as a family to the conference. The main message for the teens was "Love Thyself" and they were reminded of how beautiful and precious they are to their Heavenly Father. They also heard about guarding their hearts, being young women of purity, and finding the great potential within themselves.

I think we all returned home feeling blessed, loved, and a little closer to each other.
Here are scenes from our day:
On the bus, heading to church
Dineo and I feeling excited!
My beautiful girls....

Time to dance!

Conference leaders
The girls representing the teenagers on the panel, asking questions most teenage girls have. Older women and mothers then answered the questions. It was a wonderful and very insightful time!
All of the girls got one of these mirrors...
and were reminded of how beautiful they are.
Obekeng and I on the way back home
The girls and I rejoicing after a great afternoon!