Last Days Part 2: Teenagers

Here are some pictures from my last couple of weeks with the teenagers in Botswana:

Game Time!
Win or lose, game nights with the teens were guaranteed fun :)

"Crazy Dress Night" at Fire by Night
Um, I think these pictures speak for themselves

Chao's Good-bye Slumber Party and Dinner
Chao was kind of my 2nd in command while I was boarding mistress. She was such a help and blessing to me! To send her off as she graduated, we had a mini-slumber party...loaded with fun and laughs! On her last night in Maun, she and I had a nice dinner out, enjoying some nice quality time. I miss this girl so much!

Sign Language Girls
The few weeks before I left, we were blessed to have three deaf teenagers from one of the local high schools come to church, and I loved getting to interpret for them! Here is a picture of them, along with Patricia, who helped me with interpreting

Tummie and Maipelo
These sweet girls were in boarding my first year in Botswana and it was so great getting to know them. Right before I left, they returned to Maun to get baptized. It was such a treat to get to have some time with them, give them big hugs one more time, and get to celebrate their baptism with them!

As the days wound down, the silliness seemed to increase! Here are pictures from the last week at school, the last Fire by Night, and the last Sunday at church with the teens

Boarding Christmas
Haha! I just love this sad little tree that was part of the boarding Christmas decorations.

Last Movie Night
One of my favorite things to do once I moved out of boarding was to have frequent movie nights where a few of the teenagers would come over to hang out and watch a fun movie. This was our last one when we watched "Steel Magnolias".

These are pictures from different times of saying good-bye to the teenagers. I was able to have lunch with the last group that left and then go with them to the airport. We had a wonderful time, although watching them leave was one of my most emotional moments. :(

It's funny because before I moved to Botswana, I had almost zero experience with working with teenagers. When the opportunity was presented to me for me to be the boarding mistress and I had such a great stirring in my heart for it, I knew that the Lord was up to something big. I could never have predicted how challenging and extremely rewarding it would be to live with these kids, to build relationships with them, and to have the opportunity to disciple them in the Lord.

I am so thankful to have developed what I hope will be lifelong relationships with many of these guys. I can never thank the Lord enough for taking me out of my comfort zone and giving me such an incredible life-changing experience with those precious teenagers!

Processing through Lots of Random Thoughts and Feelings

I can't sleep tonight. Today has been a day full of emotions for me and I have so many thoughts and feelings that I'm still processing through. This morning I had a job interview, and although it wasn't anything major (just an introduction interview for substitute teaching) it was still kind of tough. I didn't expect to feel so nervous and self-conscious. On top of that, I never know what small thing I will see throughout my day that will remind me of someone or something in Botswana and get me all emotional and teary-eyed. Today while waiting for my interview, it was two young girls walking through the school hall, whispering and giggling, each wearing their school uniform sweatshirt. Something about that moment just made me ache for my sweet kids who I love and miss so much.

It felt so strange to be about to have an interview for a new job, kind of the first big step to starting over. Actually the feeling started last week as I began filling out job applications. It's funny because the applications ask for a job description of my previous job and only give me two lines. How can I possibly sum up my experience from the last two years in two lines? The first day I started on the applications, I ended up taking a break and making a long Skype phone call to some of the teenagers. I just needed it.

This afternoon I spent time buying things to get me settled into the room I'm staying in at a friend's house. Although mostly it is really exciting and helping me to feel settled and ready for what's next, I also have all of these other unexpected emotions. I have a bunch of little trinkets around that I bought in Africa, and it's weird looking around the room and seeing them now mixed in with the new things I bought today. My past mixed in with my future.

I found myself praying so much today for the country of Botswana and the people who live there. It's kind of like I've come full circle; this is so familiar to what I did three years ago before leaving. I was always thinking about and praying for the people there, my heart so full of love for them. I knew for certain that God was doing things there and felt humbled and excited to be able to be a small part of what He was doing. I couldn't wait to get over there! Now unbelievably, I've already been and come home. And amazingly I've been home over two months already...that's so crazy to me!

I don't really have a point to all of this, other than it was all running through my head so I decided to type it out instead. I have this weird feeling of fear that I am going to lose this love I have for Botswana, that I am going to forget, that I'll move on to something else and think back on this as "those two short years I lived in Africa." I pray that that doesn't happen. I pray that no matter where I am or what I am doing, my heart is always stirred for Botswana. I hope that I remain in prayer for the people there, people who are no longer just pictures in a book, but who have names, whose lives I was a part for a while, and who occupy such a huge piece of my heart. I hope also that I can help others to not forget about this small, sweet, beautiful country thousands of miles away that still needs our love and prayers.

Ke a go rata thata thata, Botswana.

Last Days Part 1: My Class

Here are pictures from the last week with my class:
Christmas at OIS

Last Fire by Night

Ice Cream Outing

My Surprise Going-Away Party

Final Ice Cream Outing

I wish I could put into words just how special each of these kids are to me and what a great blessing it was to teach them, but I really can't. Honestly, being their teacher, mentor, and friend was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I miss these kids like crazy, but I know that the Lord has them in the palm of His hand and will continue working in their lives. My prayer is that He will continue sending people into their lives who will love them and take time to invest in their lives emotionally and spiritually. I pray that they continue working hard in school, doing their best, and will each be academically very successful. And I pray that they all grow up to be men and women who love the Lord with all their hearts and love other people well, reflecting Christ in all that they do.
I'm so proud of these kids and I just praise God for the opportunity to have had a small role in discipling this young flock. What a blessing it truly was!