Updates from Home

Sorry for my blog absence! I have been having such a wonderful time at home, though. I totally loved my time with my family and just having the opportunity to rest. I also was able to meet up with two friends from high school who I haven't seen in at least fifteen years! I got a lot of shopping in and got all caught up with American Idol. (Thank you Elizabeth!)

Another one of the highlights from my time in Seminole was getting to visit a precious group of kids at one of the churches in town. The girls belong to a group called GA, which means Girls in Action, which has a focus on missions. Last year this group sent me a packet of sweet letters and cards that really encouraged me. When one of their leaders, Michelle, found out I was in town, she invited me to come and share with the girls and boys that meet on Wednesday nights. I had a wonderful time talking to them about Botswana, answering all their questions, and receiving all their hugs!

I arrived in Austin on Sunday and I've already been so blessed with my time here. Last night I went to my church, which is definitely one of the things I miss the most. The sermon was a great one about dealing with times of pain and suffering in our lives and allowing God to use those times for our good. Really, such a great sermon. Please go here to listen to it when you have some time. (Also, my friend Emily wrote about it beautifully here.)

After church I had so much fun seeing people, getting lots of hugs, and catching up on the latest. I then enjoyed some sweet time with friends for dinner and coffee. (Only my first day in Austin, and I already went to Dominican Joe twice! What can I say, though...I love it!)

The rest of the week should be a wonderful week of fellowship as I meet up with several different friends and just enjoy being in Austin for a few days. I love this city and soak up any time I'm able to be here. Stacy and I will board our plane Friday evening to head back to Botswana to begin our fun vacation!

I haven't taken many pictures this trip at all, but here are a few:
I loved getting to see Gary, Stacy, and Tshepiso!
Such a sweet baby girl
I hated having to say good-bye :(
Mom and I enjoying some yummy Rosa's Mexican food
My meal of choice: bean and cheese burrito with chips and salsa. Yum!!
A few of the girls in GAs that I was able to share with
Keri, Heather, Charlotte and I on our Freebirds dinner date. I love these girls!

"The Journey Deepens Retreat"

A couple of months before leaving for Botswana, I went to this amazing weekend retreat for prospective missionaries. I HIGHLY recommend this weekend to anyone who feels like they are called to missions or who just has a heart for missions in any way. You can go to the website (http://www.thejourneydeepens.com/) to read about the weekend retreats offered.

Here is a little bit of information on the weekends:
  • These weekends help prospective missionaries explore what it is like to be a missionary, discover whether a missionary or sender role is God's fit, and connect with mission agencies.
  • This is for high school seniors, college students, young adults, mid-lifers, baby boomers – anyone willing to explore becoming a missionary.
  • Each retreat of 50 participants and 10 missionaries from multiple agencies is highly relational with extended worship, small group discussions, personal reflection and much prayer. Discussions include guidance, finances, singles/families, etc.
  • In spring and summer 2009 the dates and locations are:- Apr 24-26 near Chicago, Illinois at the ITeams conference center- May 29-31 in Dallas, Texas at Wycliffe Bible Translators conference center- Jun 26-28 near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the WEC conference center
  • At this retreat you will not be overwhelmed with overchoice! Here's some of the subjects that will be covered:I feel a pull from God to the nations. What should I do next? Which of my gifts and interests could I use in another culture? How can I deal with school loans? What's involved in raising prayer and financial support? How do I discuss missions with my family and my church? If God leads me to stay and send others what would that involve?

If you'd like to read about my experience at "The Journey Deepens Retreat" in the fall of 2007, click here.

Relaxing family-fun

I love my family. I really, really do. And I love getting to be here with them right now, especially since this trip was so unexpected. It's such a gift!

I loved getting to have a couple of days with my grandparents here, just being able to drink coffee together and catch up on things. Since they left, I've had wonderful Mom/Daughter time! We've gone shopping, hung out at coffee shops, gotten haircuts and pedicures, and shared stories of Africa and her recent trip to France. I've also been able to sleep in, watch a couple of movies, read, work on emails, joke around with my dad, and watch old American Idol episodes at my sister's house with the family. Overall, I've enjoyed some great, relaxing family time. I didn't even realize how much I was missing this, but God knew and He has totally blesssed me!

The really exciting thing is...I still have another two weeks to go!! :)

Ahhh....home :)

So, I've now been here in America for three days and I have to say...I'm loving it!!

The trip started out great by me getting to fly with Megan from Johannesburg to Washington D.C. We had a lot of fun shopping together at the airport and then enduring the icky, 18-hour flight together. Although terribly long, the flight is much more fun with a friend!

On the flight from D.C. to Dallas I was able to sit next to a soldier who's home temporarily from Afghanistan. We shared "living away from home" stories and talked military talk. I am so, so proud of our soldiers!

My time in Dallas began with my sweet friend, Susan, picking me up at the airport and taking me out for a yummy lunch. Both the food and the company were great blessings! I love Susan's heart for the Lord and for missions, and just spending some time talking with her really encouraged my spirit. (Thank you, Susan!!)

I then met up with my wonderful friend, Kelli, for some girl time and Starbucks! Kelli has been an amazing friend to me through all the stages of God getting me to Botswana. I love that we share a heart for Jesus, Africa, and kids...and coffee! :) It was also so special to have her meet Gary and Stacy. It was like two of my worlds colliding as they met each other. I loved it!

My time with Gary, Stacy, and Tshepiso was an incredible blessing to me in so many ways. Gosh, I miss those guys! We were able to spend time catching up, laughing, worshipping and praying together, and just enjoying each other's company. While living life together in Botswana last year, we became more than friends and co-ministers; we really became family. I'm so proud of them and thank the Lord daily for putting them in my life.

Now I am beginning my time with my family, and I've already enjoyed spending time with my mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law, and grandparents, who are also here visiting. I am so looking forward to time with all of them and time to rest. I also am looking forward to some major time with the Lord, trying to refocus and get prepared for the rest of this year. He's already speaking things to my heart and I expect that He'll do a lot more of that during the next couple of weeks.

Thank you so much for your prayers for safe travel. It really is so good to be home!

Almost there!

Just 24 hours now until my plane takes off from Johannesburg. About 24 hours after that I will arrive in Dallas (after a stop in Washington D.C.) As the time gets closer, I am finding it very, very hard to contain my excitement! I seriously can't wait to get home! I know it's only for a short visit, but I am needing this time so badly.

I may not be online again before I leave, so I'd like to go ahead and ask now for your prayers over my trip, specifically from 10:30 am Texas time tomorrow (Saturday) until 11:00 am Sunday. I look forward to sending updates soon...from home!! :)

Counting down....

Only four days until home!! I absolutely cannot wait for this trip. Here are just a few things I'm looking forward to:
  • Flying to America with my friend, Megan
  • Mom's hugs
  • Coffee shops
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • Mexican food
  • Good salads
  • Sleeping in
  • Time with Mom, Dad, Elizabeth, and Erik
  • Visiting with Grandma
  • Seeing Gary, Stacy, and Tshepiso in Dallas
  • Shopping!!
  • Watching movies with Mom
  • Haircut
  • Spending time with Susan, Kelli, Stacy, and anyone else God allows me to see :)
  • Church at The Austin Stone Community Church, quite possibly the coolest church in the world
  • Collecting books, journals, games, and classroom supplies for my class and boarders
  • Not living with 60 teenagers for a whole month
  • Catching up on American Idol (Thanks to Elizabeth and DVR)
  • Lounging on a couch
  • High speed internet
  • Bringing Stacy back to Botswana with me! :) (Only for a visit, of course)
  • And all the other blessings that will come with being home!!

I praise God for this wonderful gift, and I am working hard to contain all my excitement! I can't wait!!


I feel like I need to post an update to yesterday's post. Friday evening was a really tough one around boarding. We caught a bunch of the teenagers in a big deception and caught a few of them even stealing. When confronted, not one of them showed any remorse. Instead we were answered with a massive amount of disrespect, eye rolling, etc. On Saturday morning we gathered all of the boarders together and had a huge meeting with them. Part of the meeting was allowing them to share their opinions and grievances. I left there feeling totally dejected and hopeless. My heart totally breaks for how things are going right now with the boarders. I know that God has called me here to pour into these young people's lives and disciple them in the Lord, but it seems like I am faced with such a huge challenge this year with so many of them having such hardened hearts.

Thankfully, later in the day, two of my sweet girls came in to check on me and assure me that not all of the boarders felt the way a few of them expressed at the meeting. They thanked me for being there for them and reminded me that this is mostly because of spiritual opposition and that I should stand firm and know the Lord is about to do something great. Such wisdom from these girls! God really blessed and encouraged me with our conversation.

Afterwards, we had our Saturday Bible study, which I moved to the afternoon instead of the morning. Can I tell you how amazed I was when two of the young ladies who'd been complaining the most walked in to Bible study?? One of them also gave me a note expressing total remorse and asking for forgiveness. Our time in in the Word was sweet as we studied Colossians 3, and God really encouraged my spirit. I remembered the wise words offered to me earlier from my two sweet girls that this is a spiritual battle and if we will just join together and pray, God can turn things around.

Praise God that He has not left us alone, that He does not call the equipped, but equips the called, He gives us the needed words when we need them, and in our weaknesses, He is strong. Please keep praying for these teenagers, especially as they go home for the next month. I pray that God will work in their hearts greatly and the second term will be one of total revival. I still believe great things are to come!

In need of a break

I am so incredibly thankful for my break that's beginning on Wednesday afternoon. Seriously, this term has been horrendous! I have no idea what in the world is happening...other than an obvious spritual issue. I mean, just when I think I'm making some headway with the teenagers, they shock me all over again. I know that I wasn't the perfect teenager and definitely made some mistakes, was disrespectful sometimes, and had times of not being totally honest with my parents. So, I guess that kind of behavior shouldn't be too shocking. But it is.

Maybe it's because last year things were better, or maybe it's more shocking because culturally youth are usually much more respectful to elders here. Whatver it is, I just have to ask God for an increased amount of strength and wisdom constantly. I apologize often to my parents for anything I put them through as a teenager. And I seem to be asking more and more, "God, are you sure I am the best person for this role?" As for now, He hasn't opened up any other door or sent anyone else to fill this role, so I can only assume that He still wants me here, serving as boarding mistress. I'll just keep hanging on, singing "The Desert Song" and believing that on the other side of this desert season, a "promised land" is waiting. Until then, praise God for a much, much needed break!

"The Five Love Languages"

If you've never read these books, you really must invest some time in reading them, especially if you are married. I promise you, the time will not be wasted. You will learn a lot about yourself and the people around you that you care about.

For the past three weeks I've been teaching the teenage girls about the five different love languages. It's been a fantastic study and the girls seemed to really learn a lot. We went over words of affirmation the first week and took time to write little compliments down for each other. The second week we went over physical touch and gifts. We first had a "hugging time" where we went around and hugged each other. After that they wrote down a little gift that would really bless them, and then they each drew someone's paper before they left, with the intention of buying a little gift for that person.

Finally, today we went over quality time and acts of service. They communicated with each other some kind of acts of service that would really bless them, and then we talked about some different ways to spend quality time together. When we were finished, several of the girls stayed behind to take a little "test" to see which of the languages seemed to be their strongest. It was so insightful! Some of the girls I'd already pegged as definitely speaking words of affirmation, being quality timers, or being gift givers. But some of the results were quite surprising!

I'm so thankful for these books and all they've taught me. I'm happy to have had the chance to pass this insight and wisdom on to the girls. Now I need to allow God to show me how to creatively speak each of their separate love languages. (And need some extra help to find time for all those quality timers, which surprisingly is a lot of them. Soooo challenging with 60 kids!)