Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
I have had Sierra Leone on my mind. In a
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
When I first went to Sierra Leone in 2008, I met cute little Mariama and our sponsor child Janet.
Mariama was almost still a baby. She wanted to be held all the time; she went through this phase where she wouldn't smile for pictures, and she didn't really talk in English. Three years later, she is a girl. A big girl, I might add who likes to assert herself and take charge in social situations. When I entered her village of Ngolala (pronounced Gwola like balla), she grabbed my hand and directed myself and the team straight through the middle of the village to her home. When we arrived, she bustled around and got all of us chairs to sit in (quite customary), passed out all the babies to the women (ditto), and then proceeded to change from her school uniform into afternoon attire. She also, I might add, directed who needed to take a picture with whom, making sure of course that she was in a plethora of shots. Quite the hostess with the mostess. And no longer that cute little baby I used to hold.
Then, there's Janet. When I met Janet in 2008, she was an incredibly cute 8 years old girl. She tagged along with me everywhere I went, held my hand constantly, and played ga-ga (a rock game akin to jacks) and hand-clap games with me galore. Now, she is 11. She is an incredibly, beautiful young woman. But as most 11 year old young women go, she is too old for hand-clap games and too young for serious conversation. She is, as well, maybe a little bit in that awkward stage. But I love her all the more and was glad for the particularly sweet moments we had toward the close of my trip. I was encouraged to here that she is going to church on her own, since 11 is such a critical age for such decisions of faith. She is on my heart and in my prayers as she continues to realize and decide who she is and what she wants to become. I have many fears and many hopes for her that seem especially pertinent given the fact that she is entering a new chapter of life.
Seeing these precious ladies grow is one of the things I am thankful for with the opportunity to see Sierra Leone again and again. For many people, visiting Banta once in their lifetime is an incredible experience that they (and I for them) are thankful to have had. To come once is to see God in a grander capacity at work across culture and to see new faces that you can call friends. But to come again is only that much richer. This could be another post in and of itself, but for now let me say that I am incredibly humbled and thankful that these girls do not stay stagnant on my fridge, forever frozen in time. Instead, they are dynamic, same as me. And as I change and God changes me, so He does the same for them. And I can bear witness to it.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I am back in Denver. Time in Sierra Leone was incredibly sweet and comfortable, and while I have numerous thoughts and stories to share, the process of where to begin seems quite overwhelming. So little by little I will go, but for today let me share with you the faith moment I had during my time away.
I am not one keen on emotional responses, particularly in situations or events where there seems to be an expectation to have one (say like in Africa). So I am often thankful when God works in the midst of my stubborn personality and brings me those moments in the mundane.
One of my biggest fears about leading a team was getting my team successfully from point A (US) to point B (Salone). I may or may not have had a few nightmarish dreams prior to leaving about losing teammates, and in all my previous trips to Sierra Leone traveling never went smoothly. So, while I and other prayed for 'travel mercies', I was not truly shocked to get to Accra, the capital of Ghana, and hear that they had overbooked our Kenya Airways flight and that we would be stuck in Ghana for two days. Of course we would. I was quite cranky but the fact that I had almost expected it made it worse. Throw in the mix that, in my quite limited opinion, Ghanians seem more equivalent to New Yorkers in their attitude of helpfulness as compared to their West African counterparts in Sierra Leone. A good reminder that Africa is not one country, but I digress.
My team left three weeks later and were of course all somewhat nervous about the return voyage via Ghana. In my clear-headed, logical course of thinking I had decided (hilarious) that if they simply got on their Kenya Airways flight on time that they would have no problems in Accra since the Delta flight would arrive and leave on schedule without massive overbooking. Thus, I got my team to the airport at an excessively early time to ensure they had seats and just in case gave a girl on my team calling card and contact information in case of an emergency. Good think I did. As I was coasting off to blissful sleep around midnight, I received a call that my team was stuck in Ghana for one day with still no confirmed flights for all team members. This time- Delta. Apparently the Delta employees in Accra decided they were tired and went home before my team could de-plane and receive their boarding passes. So while the Delta plane sat on the tarmac, a few hundred feet away my team was once again sucked into the black hole of Ghana.
Therefore, I had NO faith that I was getting out of Ghana without getting stuck and was quite premeditatively cranky about it. Eric had asked people to pray Stateside and I had petitioned all my Salone friends to pray for me too, but deep down I was already stuck in Ghana in my mind.
The night before I left as I was sitting in my little guesthouse room in Freetown, I realized (thank you Holy Spirit) that I didn't even have a mustard seed's worth of faith that I would make in through Ghana on schedule. And while the fact that I wasn't carrying seeds might please U.S. Customs, it definitely did not please or bring glory to God. It's funny once I stopped to consider my state of belief, since I realized that subconsciously I believed that Ghana was bigger than God. Which of course logically speaking is ridiculous, after all even singing vegetables know that God is bigger than the Boogie Man. But it is what I truly believed. How could I see God at work in a million ways in Sierra Leone or in my life but believe that God's power could not be made manifest in Accra.
So I went and laid my fears and doubts before the Father (thank you Jesus). And it was not a lot of faith that I was able to give. But I did feel strengthened and re-encouraged to depart.
If I say flights went smoothly, that would give most of you seasoned by American travel an improper idea of how things went down. But relatively speaking in the sense that I arrived on time for all my scheduled flights and had a seat on each, it did. This- is nothing short of the grace of God. And I am hear to tell you that indeed our God is bigger than Ghana. Thanks be to Him.
Incidentally, this is the kind of small moment, Big God story that might be shared during Testimony time at Church of the Nations in Sierra Leone. You would begin by saying, I wan fo tel God tanki. I have many of these moments that I am excited to share with you soon.
Friday, June 10, 2011
I wrote this as a letter, but I thought I'd post it to my blog too...
This will soon be my view, and Buwa will soon be my greeting! As many of you already know, I am returning to Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa, tomorrow to continue working with the national teachers and the Children of the Nations education program. Returning has such a nice sound to it. I remember when I visited for the first time in 2008. Excitement met fear, and I wondered what in the world I thought I was doing. What happened that summer is that I met a lot of teachers, other adults, and children that were people just like me. They had strengths they shared, and I had mine. We took these gifts from the LORD and did life together. And I am excited to do this again.
This year, I am taking a leap of faith and adding Teacher Team Leader and Team Host to my in-country responsibilities. This had led to a busy season of preparation, but I look forward to being stretched and grown in new ways. As team leader, I am leading our team of 8 to work with the national teachers through inservices, co-teaching, co-planning, and modeling. Our inservices will cover assessments, teaching English as a second language, math strategies, cognitive development, being a Christian who is an educator, the reading and writing continuum, and leadership development within the school. When the teacher team leaves on July 3, I will be stepping fully into the role of Team Host. As the host, I will be working with the other Children of the Nations teams as a liaison between them and the national staff. It will be a wonderful opportunity to see other pieces of the puzzle that are building strong community and future leaders in the area of Banta Mokelleh. Perhaps, most importantly, it will give me more time to spend with my padi, or friends, in this special place.
I would like to ask for your prayer during my six weeks away. Summer is a busy season, but knowing that you are petitioning the Father on behalf of myself, our team, and Sierra Leone will be an immense encouragement. I know that HE can do great things in this nation, and my prayer is that I can be a part of it.
Please join me in praying:
v F For COTN (cotni.org), in its mission and vision as an organization in Sierra Leone.
v v For safety and health for myself, my team, and all the teams coming and going this summer.
v F For unexciting plane flights that come with no delays or problems.
vv For excellent interpersonal relationships between the team and the national teachers.
v F For an attitude of servanthood from both the national staff and the international visitors.
v F For cultural differences to enhance, rather than destroy, relationships.
v F For the LORD to meet team members where they are at and reveal more of Himself to them.
v F For personal wisdom, grace, and clarity in duties or conflicts that may arise as Team Host.
v v For personal faithfulness in spending time in prayer and rest before the LORD .
v F For our marriage to be strengthened as Eric and I are apart this Summer.
I value your prayers. What a blessing it is to have good and faithful friends on both sides of the Atlantic!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Tomorrow is my anniversary, and tonight the Mavs gave us a 5th game win to lead the series 3-2. I am glad to say that just like the Mavs, our marriage is better after 5 years.
Love you Eric (way more than Dirk...).
Sunday, June 5, 2011
2. I was the one gone.
But, we will survive. Minus my bout of emotional crying during good-byes at the airport that may make you think otherwise, I am doing fine. I've lined the kitchen cabinets, killed hoards of moths (what's up with this moth attack, Denver??), duct taped a window (re: moths), and eaten take-out Chinese by myself on a Saturday night. The latter is my biggest feat yet. It's come as a shock to realize how much Eric entertains me!
But back to fortunes- for I was lucky enough to get two. When I opened them, I had to laugh...
First of all, anyone who knows me well knows my best ideas always come in the shower. Seriously. I think my successful interventions for my students have always come between shampoo and conditioner. So really, I got this fortune in the bag. It's more like a cheerleader "Keep up the great thinking" reminder. Perfect.
And then, onto Changes... I feel like I could mostly sum up life right now with that word. Eric being gone and beginning what will hopefully become a career in the AF is biggest change Numero Uno. Then there's the fact that I will be gone in Sierra Leone for 6 weeks and trying out team leader and team host. And how about that half my friends are leaving Denver (crazies) and leaving me to my own devices, like Saturday night Chinese and the urge to walk up to random people and befriend them. Which leads into my favorite question, "What are you doing in 2012?" To which I reply, "We are living in ambiguity" which is code for 'We will have no idea what changes are coming for a long, long time'...
Good thing we will settle happily.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
No sarcasm here, either.
Being a super type-A person, I received a manual that lays out in nice flow charts what I'm supposed to do as Team Host in Sierra Leone this summer.
As, Sarah put it, "She'll have it read by the end of the week." True.
What is a Team Host, you ask? As teams with Children of the Nations come to serve in Sierra Leone this summer, I'll help them out. A basic "Kindergarten style" definition for sure, but it pretty much sums it up. If you want to know more, I do have a very lovely manual.
I do want to clarify that I am still also leading the teacher team and working with the teachers (yay)- just call me a woman of many talents.
Time to read.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
So, I'm busy. Ha-right. Of course I'm busy, I'm American. Yes being a team leader is a lot of post-work working and now I'm pulling my clothes out of suitcases on the weekends for 3 weeks running and, and, and.... I'll stop before I lose you, because, well you're busy too. It's our American simultaneous blessing and curse. And chances are as you read this, you're thinking of how busy you are.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
I ventured with my dear friend Sarah up through Seattle, Olympia National Forest (I think!), and Victoria, B.C. (because after all, Canada is always awesome). We were even in Port Angeles, now famous thanks to Ms. Meyer.
Sarah was the most excellent tour guide. The last time I had ventured up here was during my senior year of high school during which time I suffered from both awkward-hormonal-teenageness and also a bout of food poisoning. Washington is now redeemed.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I have a
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
If you happened to run into me today, and I seemed sad, mad, cranky, disillusioned, or overwhelmed- rest assured I wasn't.
I just have this-stupid-cold.
And stay away from my classroom. We are a cold festering machine.
A Sickie (aka SnotFace)
p.s. in case you didn't know, neti pots and downward dog do not mix well.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
I have always been quite the vivid dreamer. For example, I can still picture in my head quite clearly a nightmarish dream I used to have when I was 3 - 5 years old.
an old farmer-ish man in blue overalls and tall, yellow straw hat climbs over the red brick wall into our backyard. he carries a burlap sack to kidnap me in. I wake up.
I am also a classic dream i got up and left for work dreamer. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I've been so disappointed to really wake up and realize I have to get ready for work all over again.
Or how about these recent dreams (in which apparently all my subconscious fears of leading a team come out)...
our team gets all the way to banta to discover that i have left one of our team members at the jfk airport. i leave freetown and fly back to new york to retrieve her, only to discover that i left my passport in banta. yes. my dream ends with the menacing airport security approaching me for my passport.
i arrive a couple of days early to sierra leone only to discover i've brought almost nothing in my carry-on and didn't take my other suitcase (not sure why).
There's a kind of anti-malarial medicine you can take just once/week, instead of every day. However, there's a side effect of potentially crazy dreams. Obviously, it is not for me.
Friday, February 18, 2011
This is my belated Valentine's Day post of something I love.
To help out a friend
To give to her friend
So that her friend could watch Dirk in style.
(or something like that)
Friday, February 11, 2011
The idea for this post has been on my mental backburner for a few months now. I've alluded to it several times. And if you're lucky enough to live close by, you're probably tired of me talking about it. In fact, the absolutely awful break from my new streak of better blogging is because of it. I knew this was the next post I needed to write, so I've been putting it off.
dum. dum. DUM. -que dramatic music-
I will be in Sierra Leone for most of June and July this summer!
- que the celebratory-
After working full time last summer to save for this, I am missing this country in West Africa like crazy and am so excited to return. And by country, I really mean people and the stretching toward the Prize that is happening there. I will be returning with this year's teacher team- this time as team leader/team host (re: trepidation). I will be working with two international people who are much, much more knowledgeable than me and who know Salone in a much deeper way, which is quite encouraging. And I know this will probably be a sweet and stretching time coming into a leadership role. But it will be so good. So good to see Janet. And Aunty Miatta. And Aunty Khadi. And Aminata. And Joseph. And so many others- I hope they're there. And it will be different. Life always is. But it will be so good. This is why this post is challenging. Because my heart is so full, it's hard not to stare at this box I'm typing in and just smile. mmm. More to follow.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
While my January attempt at reading Love in the Time of Cholera was starting to look like it would take more than 100 years of solitude, today I was able to pick up and re-read this book in only a couple of hours.
I first read this book before my return trip to Sierra Leone. While reading it then for SL was helpful, my real aha! moment came when I realized why living in Alabama was such a foreign experience. The author, who has lived in a combination of European, American, South American, and Middle Eastern cultures, outlines that people generally fall into two groups:
Hot-climate cultures and cold-climate cultures.
Those favoring "Hot" tend to be all about the group, are relationally focused, indirect communicators, as well as several other things.
Those favoring "Cold" tend to prize individualism, are task-driven, very direct communicators, as well as several other things.
Each of these broad cultural approaches brings with it many good things, however miscommunication and the fall-out from this abounds when cultures who do not understand each other mix.
For example, I can identify mostly with cold-cultural traits, but the U.S. "South" is mostly a "hot" culture. AHA!
This time as I reread Foreign to Familiar, however, I was reading for more than nostalgically diagnosing my differences with our southern countrymen. This summer I am preparing to go back to Sierra Leone to work with the national teachers there. This time leading the team. And since it's been a long year and a half since I was there, I wanted to spend some time reading and reflecting about how to use the cultural differences God has blessed us with to best communicate and help each other and help the Sierra Leonean children. But all this deserves its own post.
For now- know this. If you travel for service, business, or pleasure internationally or work with people from different cultures nationally, read. this. book. Especially if you like to see lightbulbs popping up above your head. And recommend it to your international friends. This book equally explains both sides of the cultural coin.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
This month has been amazing! My dear friend, Sarah, has returned from working with teachers in Sierra Leone and has been gracing us with her presence in Denver during January. It has been wonderful to have good talks without resorting to book-length emails or Skype calls that average 5 - 10 disconnects per conversation. And it has been so good to talk about Sierra Leone together.
It has been great to have some college friend time too. I have some pretty amazing friendships that began in undergrad and that have just grown over the years. Some of us JBUers went out to hike in Boulder on Saturday. We also hit up the Celestial Seasonings factory for some free tea. If you weren't with us- we missed you!
Friday, January 21, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Tomorrow is the day when live animals are entering my room, specifically fish. I have made it five and 1/2 years into teaching without having to deal with "pets" but that stops tomorrow.
I am freaked out.
They're fish you say. Yes, and I didn't even keep my cats.
But fish are low maintenance you retort. Yes, and they probably die easily.
Folks, there is a reason I have been a "No Pet Zone." When my students in the past have said, "Second grade has baby chicks." or "But they have a hamster up in fourth grade," I have replied with a "Won't that be fun when you get there" line.
Basically, I like to avoid the topic of death in Kindergarten. And having no pets greatly helps that plan.
However, the science curriculum calls for it. The fish are out in the hallway til tomorrow.
At least it's still a day away.
Monday, January 17, 2011
First of all, it's only fair to credit the brother-in-law with the first half of my title, and Eric with the second.
Also, this post is being inspired by one of my best friends, Julie, who is currently a little bit (or a lot a bit) of a sickie down in Nicaragua. Please lift her up in prayer as you read about it here.
Julie is an amazing friend for many reasons (as is her husband Chase), and while I won't go into a litany as to why right now, one of their awesome qualities is their love of games. I mean they're even playing games in the hospital. Love. It.
Basically over the past 6ish years, any slightly off the beaten path game I have come to know and love has been introduced by them or has connections to them. And while, Settlers has become mainstream (seriously- I saw it at Target!), it is the grandfather of all my enjoyment of future games that have followed it. Here are a few of my favorites.... what should I add to the list?