Monday, December 29, 2014

The RULE follower

By very nature I am a rule follower and people pleaser. 

I grew up in a fellowship with a list of rules and regulations... some spoken but many unspoken.... can't dance...don't drink... must be affluent and white.  And as much as I wanted to follow the rules I always felt  like a failure because I could not meet the standards of others. 

It wasn't until my high school years that I realized that it wasn't about a list of rules but about a relationship. 

It wasn't something I could do on my own but what had already been done.

It wasn't about me striving for perfection in my own strength but totally relying on His strength.

Intentional 2015!

It is 4 am on the eve of New Year's Eve.  It has been ages since I have awoken this early for no good reason.  I have laid here for almost an hour pondering why I am awake... bathroom? Check.... food? Check... stand in the gap for someone? Check... And the sleep still has yet to resume so I am laying under the covers in my 14 degrees Celsius hotel room blogging what is on my mind with hopes that it will allow me to go back to sleep for a few hours before breakfast.

I could start off by saying this year has flown...which it has.... I could say 2014 will go into the record books in less than 48 hours as a crazy year...but that would be an understatement... I could set resolutions for 2015.... but we all know my feelings on that (search blogs for past new years updates!)... so instead I am going to write down what I have been mentally processing through over the past few hours and days...

My goals for the next year on this quest to live intentionally are grouped as follows...

1.  Invest in people...as I learned recently...people are going to say and do things that hurt... I want to love them anyway and that takes supernatural strength.
2.  Be healthy... this may be the first time I have ever had to state this but that means eating regularly.  Since moving here and my new work schedule... I have yet to find a comfortable eating schedule where I am not eating super late or skipping meals.  Hoping once I have my own place I can actually cook and pack food with me that I want to eat! 
3.  Exercise more... I want to not just exercise because I have to but find ways to include it in every aspect of my life.  Love living here where I can walk to work or bike to the store.  Want to live life actively with friends!
4.  Live intentionally... there are so many things left on my bucket list to do and this is the year to get some of them done plus add a few more.  I want to wake up each day spending time with the one who created me... working on goals set before me!

I am really not sure what this year holds but if it is anything like the last couple I know it will be filled with great adventure and lots of fun stories!  It is already off to a great start as Friday I get to move into my apartment AND get my own classroom with 8 classes per week due to the unexpected departure of a coworker. ( I have been floating... doing demos... and subbing since I got to Chengdu and I really want the consistency of regular classes!)

May your 2015 be filled with His amazing blessings!

Grinch or Scrooge...what will it be?

Yes I realize Christmas has past...but this blogpost has been rambling around in my mind for quite some time and I just haven't taken the time to sit and write down my thought...

I recently heard that the singer/songwriter, Adele, is only able to write songs when she is unhappy or going through a difficult time in her life. Now that she is in a good relationship and a mother... she is unable to write the songs she is famous for therefore her career is at a standstill until something tragic happens.

How often do we live our lives this way... we are only "happy" when everyone around us is miserable and we take pleasure in the unhappiness of others  We sit around focusing on the negative and complaining about the horrible hand that life has dealt.  This is what I am going to term... Grinch or Scrooge Syndrome. 

There are times in life that things happen... relationships fail... trust is broken... harsh words are spoken... accusations are made.  We can't help when those things come our way but we can control how we respond.  Are we going to attack back with harsh, unkindness or are we going to rise above the circumstances and keep movng forward?

Grinch and Scrooge would respond with unkindness... words and actions....attacking those around them that are trying to be nice and then complain that things are so awful.  The glass is always half empty.  They will belittle and put down others just so they don't feel as bad about them self.

Steps to not be a grinch or scrooge...not just during the holiday... but all year round...
1.  Love intentionally with no conditions...people will hurt you...love them anyway!
2. Count your blessings... even if it is for waking up with a roof over your head
3.  Be thankful for the people in your life... even if they are grinches or scrooges... they teach you how to rise above.
4. Give... even when you have little... you can still share
5. Forgive... let it go... you don't have to forget and keep allowing those things to happen in your life... set boundaries but forgive.
6. Positive, kind, uplifting words carry you much farther than negative, condescending words.

I don't want to be either one of these infamous Christmas characters... I want to be known for the one the season is truly all about. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chengdu or bust!


Made it to my final destination yesterday... my home city...Chengdu!  Home to pandas and spicy food!  May not be leaving China with any tastebuds at the rate I am going.

Left the hotel a little before 6am to walk to the metro to get to the airport with luggage in tow.  Made it to Hongqaio airport in about half an hour then checked in and found my way to the gate where we boarded and took off almost on time.  (Very unusual due to all the air traffic here in China. )

Landed in Chengdu around noon... was met by my Language Learning Director (LLD) Jeremy and Senior Foreign Trainer (SFT) Tracy.  We took a cab to Hong Pai Lou where the hotel is that I am staying at and the Disney center is literally a 10 minute walk.  Love the 10 minute commute!  Checked in the hotel and dropped my stuff off then Jeremy took me to the center and introduced me to everyone then on a walking tour of the area... good places to eat... the grocery store... good apartments to live in... etc.  Came back to the hotel and started getting settled in. 

The television in the room has 4 English stations... CNN, MTV, HBO, and Discovery channel.  I don't think I have ever been this excited to watch CNN in my life.  Slept really well as the bed is super comfortable.

Today met up with another FT (foreign trainer) that arrived last night and is staying at the hotel as well.  We had breakfast and  then wandered over to the center.  The center staff took us out to lunch then we went grocery shopping.

Currently I am sitting in the hotels laundry room waiting for my wash to dry.  First time I have actually used a washer since being in China... yes that means hand washing all my clothes for 5 weeks. 

Temperature wise I think it was getting up to 7 degrees c today... but I think this morning it was supposed to be 1!  Winter clothes... heavy coat... scarves... and boots... are all being put to great use!  This Hawaii girl is freezing!

Looks like I will be spending the holidays in a hotel but I am really close to numerous center staff and I have really nice accomodations.  It is a holiday in express.  :)  Feel free to write or send cards etc to the full address below.

迪士尼英语
成都市武侯区长城西一路53,55,57号
P.R. China 610000
 
Disney English (c/o Angela Calhoun)
No 53,55,57 First West Great Wall RD
Wuhou District Chengdu
P.R. China 610000

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Oh...Shanghai!

With 24 hours left before I head out of the world's most populated city... I have been thinking of how much this city has grown on me over the last 5 weeks.  Yes...I have been here a month...and this country mouse may be turning into a city mouse!

It is 6am on Friday  morning and I have been awake for an hour or so.  Woke up sweating as I had turned the heater up way too high when I went to bed a little after 1am.  Still getting used to living in a cold wintery climate... however I didn't open my window to the single digits outside... just turned off the heater in the room!

Yesterday on my way to work... the realization hit that I am moving to an 'unknown' city in 2 days... christmas is in 2 weeks... and all the people I have grown close to I am leaving in Shanghai... plus missing family and friends.  Was almost to work when the song from Les Mis 'On my own' started playing through my earbuds and I couldn't help but have a twinge of sadness over missing certain people in my life and saying goodbye to more.  Sat down in my classroom to prep lessons for my 3 afternoon/evening classes and then took my Chinese learning partner out for coffee and donuts as it was her last day working. 

I have been blessed with dear friends here in China that are from China that make living here so much easier.  From helping to translate coupons to shipping luggage and packages to ordering food to directions... they have definitely assisted this not mandarin speaking American to settle into life here!

One of the additional perks of living in China... teaching English for an international company is there are lots of other expats around.  After living in the village for a year as the only one... it is a definite perk to have other native English speakers to go out to dinner or drinks with and to show you where to go and find good Mexican food.  And yes I discovered really good Mexican food in Shanghai! 

I also love love love the learning center I have been working at over the last 3 weeks.  I came in to sub while they found a permanent teacher for these classes and the staff and management have taken me in as family.  They have invited me to their houses and out for dinner... they have assisted with lessons and given this newbie lots of valuable information on how to teach certain topics.... they have shown me where to get the best Christmas decorations and they have made me feel welcome.

As half an hour has passed...my room is now at a temperature where I can curl up under my down blanket...and comfortably go back to sleep until breakfast... I will sign off! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Back in the classroom

Yes I know I have had a lot of questions about my sanity to return to the classroom after some time being an administrator and finishing my master's degree in early childhood education. 

I do realize that I could have taken another admin job getting paid the big bucks and being "in charge".  However I didn't get into education to sit at a desk all day with paperwork... nor did I get into educatoon for the money.  I got into education to make a difference in the lives of children.

After finishing training last Tuesday... I changed centers and became a floater.  Which means until I leave for Chengdu the middle of December I get to fill in for people that are out for various reasons... ie sickness...vacation... or let go.  Due to the later circumstance... I am in my own classroom for the next couple of weeks teaching 7 classes of children that range in age from 3 to about 10.  And may I add... absolutely loving it!

I really think it is the best teaching situation I have been in... the teacher's guides and curriculum are very detailed... I have a room of realia (hands on learning props) at my disposal... I have roughly 20 teaching hours per week leaving the other 20 for observations, lesson plan prep, and meetings!  Yes I actually get paid to lesson plan!  Plus I am currently working with a great staff that share some of my same interests in music and mexican food!  We don't have to stay at the center to lesson plan so starbucks and dunkin donuts are popular places to sit and write up lessons!

Now onto the children...  granted I am in a very different situation than my last couple of positions but still working with little brown eyed cuties and teaching them the basic skills of the English language.  For the most part these children want to be here and their affluent families want them to learn English so they work with them outside of class. 

I was teaching a class of 7 and 8 year olds on Friday night.  Our vocab list was daily, weekly, monthly, often, sometimes, rarely, always, never.  We were coming up with sentences to answer the question....What do you do _blahblahblah_? The kiddos were struggling with the concept of rarely so my learning partner explained it in Chinese.  Thinking they had the concept... I asked one of the boys... What do you do rarely?

Just as my senior foreign trainer Bryan walks in... the boy answers... I rarely brush my teeth. 

I could see Bryan grin at this comment and I decided to play off of the comment and I think by the end of the class they had the concepts.  Oh the joys of teaching!  So love watching the faces of these children as they finally get a concept that they have been struggling with.

Living subtitles

Tonight as I waited in the crowded metro station for a friend to join me for dinner I enjoyed watching people. 

It is always amusing to me when you watch people where
1...you don't understand their language and
2... they are very animated when they speak to one another.

This leaves a lot of room for creative subtitles. 

I watched two employees having an 'argument' while one was changing out the coffee machine.  It was animated and the woman kept showing the man who was removing the coffee machine an empty coffee cup.  If I had to add subtitles... it would look something like this...

W... we need more coffee
M... what kind of coffee?
W... WE ONLY SELL ONE KIND OF COFFEE.  The kind that goes in this cup.
M...if you only needed one cup, you could have justntold me and I could go to the other side for a cup of coffee.
W...NOT ONE CUP! THE CONTAINER IS EMPTY. FILL THE CONTAINER.
M...Why didn't you just say so?
(Add woman slapping man as he walked off)

And this is how I fill my time waiting!  You should hear the dialogue going on in my head!  LOL!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tribute to FRIENDS

And I don't mean the tv series!

The last ten days of my life have been a bit crazy... with relocating to China... meeting new people... starting a new job... training and observations... along with finishing my grad school portfolio... preparing for my oral defense which was from 2am to 6am this morning... all while living out of a hotel and trying to figure out this thing called life in a big city.

With all that said... there have been no tears and more blessings than I can count.  One of the reasons I knew I couldn't live in Uganda permanently was the lack of like minded individuals that could understand me...friends to hang out with after a long day at work or someone that checks in when they haven't seen you around or someone that just breaks into song at certain key phrases. 

Many of the blessings over the past few days have come in the form of friends.  Several friends from my onboarding team have come alongside in this journey and listened as I practiced my oral defense... or called to go for a walk when a break was needed...or just checked in to see if I wanted anything.  I have also had friends else where that have messaged or skyped asking how the adjustment is going or just checking in on life in China.  I have been too blessed to be stressed!

As today was the culmination of 3 years of grad school work... my onboarding team had promised to take me out after I had rested from my "all nighter" oral defense due to an 18 hour time difference.  So we met up to celebrate with drinks then walked to find dinner... and then followed it up with ice cream.  A great evening spent with friends out on the town.  I really wasn't expecting much but was treated to lots of hugs, gifts, and just a lot of fun. 

So THANK YOU to all the amazing people in my life that make me feel so special!  I am truly blessed to have such great friends!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Getting oriented...

For all of you that keep saying that you are living vicariously through me... thought I would share the first official day of Disney orientation...

FUN FACTS:

Walter Elias Disney was born December 15th, 1901

Oswald the lucky rabbit was created in 1927 and taught the disney company about character integrity

24 hand drawings for 1 second of air time so an animated movie like Snow White would have more than 3 million hand drawings... yeah for the current digital age!

Disney has a total of 180,000 cast members... 60,000 work at Disney world in Florida

Motto:  Disney is special entertainment with heart!

So the majority of the day consisted of hands on activities ... the Disney experience... and history.   I have to say it was very entertaining and motivational of why I am working for Disney.  Their business model is definitely a giant takeaway for the future for me.

And if you are curious... yes I have disney perks which means getting into the parks (except Tokyo) for free with 3 friends... basically 18 times a year.  :)  plus lots of other disney discounts and perks.  So anyone interested in meeting me in Hong Kong for a disney excursion?

Going to sign off tonight as I have a mandatory health check for the Chinese government in the morning.  Will report how that goes tomorrow,

Downtown...

When visiting a new city... there is nothing better than going downtown to explore.  As a couple of us were discussing what to do during our free day ... we decided to go downtown (which brought on us singing... "downtown.. down where the lights are bright... downtown"...I think I am in good company!)  So Sunday a friend and I went to downtown Shanghai to explore ...

We meet in the lobby and unfolded the map only to find we really had no clue where we were going so we took the metro map to the receptionist and were able to use the point method of what we wanted and figure out what metro line to take and what stop to get off on.  Oh the joys of not knowing mandarin!

So we were able to get to the metro... go 5 stops... get off and the explorations began...

We weren't really sure where we were in the middle of Shanghai nor which way we needed to go so we just walked around taking it all in. 

Taking pictures... at one point a group of 4 chinese ladies stopped Lindsay with her blond hair and blue eyes to take their pictures with her.  I then got pulled into the picture and each one wanted a picture with us... like we were celebrities.  We walked away laughing and starting a  mental tally of how many people take our picts while we are out and about.

Lunch... in order to get our bearings straight... we stopped at McDonald's for lunch and to consult the map... and decided that we were heading in the wrong direction so after visiting M&M world and the Great Wall of Chocolate we looped around the block to find the Bund... which is on the waterfront.

Lots of people out and about... walked through a huge tour group of Japenese in their matching hats... it was like swimming through a huge school of fish... keep on swimming!

The water was very dirty with lots of debris floating but the city scape was amazing including the Pearl tower.  Their was a war memorial but due to the fact it was all in Mandarin... not sure what it said.  Explored until tiredness kicked in and then headed back to our side of the city.

Epic love story

During one of my flights I watched a movie entitled 'the fault in our stars'.  Very heart warming and touched my heart to think of my own epic love story!

From the beginning of time our hearts were created to desire to be loved.  Our creator wrote the greatest love story ever and it has made me set my standards high knowing that I was created to be loved.  I have said numerous times that I just want to be loved for me...craziness and all.

Will a man not just love me when I act silly... but join me in the silliness?

Will a man not just love me when I sing at the top of my lungs to "Let it go"... but turn up the music and sing along?

Will a man not just love me when I am happy... but reach out big strong arms to hold me when I am sad?

Will a man not just love me when I am dressed up... but thinks I am gorgeous with no make up in lounge clothes?

The answer to all of these is yes with the right man.  I truly beleive that each of us has an epic love story written by a divine hand that is tailor made for our individual wants and needs.  As an uncle recently shared as he went over his own love story with his bride... "when I met her, I knew I couldn't find anyone better so I made her mine".  That really touched my heart.  My epic love story will not be like anyone else's but is progressing just as the designer created!

"Some people are worth melting for!" -Olaf in Frozen

Here we go again...

Differences in cultures...

After a couple of days in Shanghai... I have some random thoughts...

Does the face mask really make those who wear them healthier?  Good research project or science experiment...

How do women walk all over down town in the fanciest...frilliest...adorable outfits with stilettos and not be uncomfortable? I spend a couple of hours walking around in heeled boots and my feet are not happy with me.  Personally much prefer comfort over cute!

Do children prefer corn instead of apple slices with their happy meals at McDonald's?  Corn is served with almost everything here... including as a pizza topping.

With so many differences within the Asian culture from the American or African culture... there are a  lot of similarities again reminding me  that people are people no matter where they are in this third planet from the sun!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Upon arrival

Well I made it!  After two delays... one in Honolulu and one in Tokyo... and almost 15 hours of flying...not including airport time... I arrived into Shanghai a little after 10pm (was supposed to be in at 8ish).  So at the moment I think I am either 17 or 18 hours ahead of Hawaii???   Now my body has to get used to another significant case of jet lag!

Was meet by a Disney rep and driver... sorry no live Mickey upon arrival!  The driver took me to my hotel which was about an hour car ride.  Upon checkin at the hotel I did get a plush mickey like in the movie Saving Mr. Banks... just a smaller version.  Plus got a bunch of other goodies.  Will post picts when I get internet.

At the moment... just took a refreshing shower and since it is after midnight ... going to bed.  I have on boarding at 9:15am!

Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Beware of what you say!

With moving in less than a week... I have been attempting to write a "christmas" letter and a note detailing what is and is not acceptable communication while I am overseas.  Due to all the changes in my schedule and jetlag and wanting to spend time with people... my brain has not been all here to do much detailed writing... so with that said... here is an attempt...

First and foremost... don't be afraid to keep in touch.  I want to hear from you!  I am working for a well known secular company so I am going to teach English and build friendships.

Be careful of certain code words in emails, snail mail, fb posts, and messages that may be picked up with the censors.  Everyday terms like FATHER or SON or THINKING OF YOU are fine... others more specific may cause issues. 

Sending verses (or portions) are fine just don't include the reference or the specific name of where it is coming from.  Also it can be referred as the BOOK. 

As for facebook... no tagging me in group messages or posting things to my page.  Private message me. 

Will still have my email so feel free to use that just with the above coding. 

If you post something and I untag myself ... I still love you and want to know what is going on... just want to fly under the radar. 

I will be open and honest but know that I can't be super specific.  Read between the lines!

Once I get an apartment and settled... I will let my family and friends know of my address.  Feel free to send notes or packages just watch what you write and no religious type of stickers or lingo on the outside of the envelope or package!

With all that said... I am not foreseeing any issues but just want to give everyone a heads up.  I am super excited about this new chapter in my life and would love to have visitors!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cultural differences

"So, you'd have  me turn into one of those girls parading down the street in tight jeans with their hair exposed for everyone to see? Do yo you realize that each time a man looks at them, a sin is counted on both their slates? How many sins would that make per minute, good sir? Or per hour? How many sins would add up in a whole day, or a month, or a year? What about a lifetime?"  ~Candygirl by M M Tawfik

While at the American University of Cairo with Lori a week or so ago... Justin and I were exploring the campus and the bookstore and ran across their freshman required reading...Candygirl.  After reading the back cover, it looked intriguing so we got it and during the time at the Red Sea I read it.  It is a novel based in Giza Egypt and Charlotte NC of trying to capture this Egyptian man.  All the while their is a love story running through the storyline.  Overall not the best book I have ever read but culturally interesting.

I ran across the above mentioned quote while reading and it made think of the reasons why women in this culture cover themselves.  Wearing tight clothes that expose parts of their body as well as having their hair uncovered is a big no no in the Islamic culture because it causes others to stumble.  I am not sure I could have put it any clearer than this quote.

So as I sit in a lounge chair in a very conservative one piece American style swimsuit feeling very uncovered.. all around me are women in brukini's (spelling?)... covered from head to toe because that is what is appropriate for what they believe.  I have looked at some of these ladies in full garb while their husband is walking side by side with them in a speedo... wondering how fair that is.  Then I realize that it is also a way that the husband protects his wives and daughters from the undesired attention of others.  We as Americans could learn something from dressing a little more conservatively.

Being real

"We feel it's our Christian duty to look our best.  We can't afford to show our flaws.  Let's give the world (and each other) the airbrushed version of ourselves as proof that the Christian life really works." ~The gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Curtis James

While enjoying a restful weekend at the Red sea I was catching up on a couple of books and ran across this quote.  At the moment I didn't want to use the brain power to blog my thoughts but now that I am held captive and awake for the remaining 4 and a half hours of an 11 hour flight from Amsterdam to Los Angeles... I thought I would share my thoughts!

This particular quote hit me with quite force as I do consider myself a follower of Christ.  How many times do I act a certain way because of what I think others expectations of me are? Most of the time these expectations are put on us by ourselves...  you know what I mean...

....putting on a happy face and claiming that everything is fine when your world is falling apart...

...saying something because you know it is what the person wants to hear versus what is really the truth...

...acting a certain way because it's 'normal' and what is expected only to hide your own personality...

...setting rules that limit what you can or can't do because of what people may say...

Do you see where I am going with this? We live in an airbrushed culture where normal or being real is not good enough and I want to challenge that mindset.  Anyone who knows me ... knows I don't do the normal thing well.  I am tired of being put on a pedestal of others expectations where I can't be the real me.  Christ did not come to set up a museum of all these perfect creations on display...  he came to set the captives free.  I, for one, am a captive of living in rules and regulations and others expectations that have kept me from living to my greatest potential.

Recently I met a dear person that helped me understand the freeing concept of being loved for me... in who God made me to be... including all my flaws... and craziness.  We have gotten so good as a society at putting a front on of 'perfection' that we have forgotten what real looks like.  I don't want to be an airbrushed model on a pedestal for display but a real friend that comes alongside to model what it looks like to live this thing called life the way Christ intended.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Off my meds

Random thought of the day...

Sometimes you don't realize how toxic or painful something is in your life until it is gone. 

After almost a year of being on malaria pills to prevent malaria while living in Uganda... I have been off of them for almost a week and can't believe how much better I feel. 

No more headaches!

No dizziness!

No throwing up!

No nauseous stomach!

And lots more energy!

I am thankful that they have things on the market to prevent serious illnesses like malaria but I have to say that I am not a big fan of the side effects. 

As we were walking around AUC's campus today... I couldn't help but think ofnhow nice it was to be in my right mind and off my meds!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Million camel smile

Coming into Cairo my bride price was 1,000 camels ... however after a week in Luxor the running joke is that my bride price has gone up to 1,000,000 camels.

Even though I am dressing appropriately within this culture... long sleeves and long pants or skirts... I can't seem to go anywhere without attracting attention... stares, comments, and offerings of camels.  The guys in our group won't let me go anywhere by myself so I feel very protective.  Most of the time I am oblivious.

We went hot air ballooning on Sunday morning... the videographer would pan quickly past everyone else then stop in front of me and wait for me to wave for a few seconds and then move on only to come back to me a few minutes later.  Hence the running joke started of the million camel smile!

When we went to the Giza pyramids one of the security guards asked Justin if I was his wife and he protectively said yes.... then the guard tried to trade his two wives for me! Really? I have gotten really good at pretending to be deaf, blind, and mute in this culture as it assists in me not getting trapped in a situation that I would need to be rescued out of.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wishes to my little brown eyed cuties...

Every mamma has wishes for her children.  Even though I have technically not produced any children of my own I feel like my heart has carried hundreds. 

Last Friday at chapel when I made the announcement that I was leaving the village for a while... I saw numerous little brown eyes fighting back the tears. 

In my 'see ya later' message I challenged them to grow in wisdom... to follow the Lord... to stand up of what is right... and to study hard in school.  I told them that I would be checking in on each one making sure that they were doing well and I would be back to visit. 

Later Victoria told me that she was fighting back tears as I shared with the little ones.  These little ones have become so close to my heart over the past year and I truly think that it would only take a phone call or message from the village saying that one of my little ones was left orphaned to get me  to drop everything and head back to the village. 

I have watched these children grow both physically and spiritually... I have walked with them as they have lost parents... I have held them as they have undergone medical treatment in the clinic... I have doctored skinned knees, fungal infections, and panga cuts... I have given kisses and wiped away tears...I have paid school fees for families where the father has left the mamma struggling to take care of their little children...and I have given food when I knew resources were limited .  They have stolen my heart and I am forever changed by their smiles, hugs, and handshakes! 

The joys of traveling within Africa

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love to travel... I enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories...learning new languages... experiencing differing cultures... and taking time to enjoy the scenery. 

On today's trip through Ethiopia to Egypt... I was reminded of a couple of other joys that I have only  found in  Africa... Ebola checks and Security agents that are players...

Ebola check...  as we deplaned in Addis Ababa we were met in the corridor by men is white hazmat suits...looking like something from a Stephen King movie...  as we walked past... a gun looking thing was held to our forehead and our temperature was taken.  If the temperature was found out of what they were looking for you were sent behind a white sheet.  Since my temp was normal... I did not get to experience what went on behind the white curtain.  Guess I don't have Ebola!

Players... in Uganda I have had numerous run ins with players... men trying to use their charm to sweep me off my feet.  Today as I was going through security to board the flight to Cairo, one of the security agents started asking where I was going... and why was I going to Egypt if I wasn't Egyptian... and why was I not spending time in Addis to visit him? Everything in me wanted to respond how I normally would in Luganda to this guy... but I knew it wouldn't work due  to the language difference.  So I just gathered my belongings and laughed as I left the last question hanging ....rescued by the passenger behind me!

Well I am sure as this journey continues... there will be more funny stories along the way... but at this moment my tablet is running on low battery.

Until we meet again!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

To marry or not to marry...

After a recent conversation with a friend about to get married, I have a bazillion thoughts running through my head on the comments from other believers on marriage.  You have probably heard some of these....

Just make the choice and God will bless it.

Oh he doesn't need to be a believer... that will come later.

Or... you're single... he's single... and you both are believers. 

You are too young... you don't know what you want.

Or... you're not getting any younger... you just need to settle down.

When you are ready to get married, just pick someone.

And my all time facorite... You're single? What is wrong with you?

Ok... the more of these I write the more irritated I get over what our society and culture has done to the sanctity of marriage... an institution put in place by God.  The verse that says 'it is not good for man to be alone' has been thrown out to me so many times with the implication that I should just find one and settle down.  Now to be completely honest... I have met some amazing single men ( believers and unbelievers) but I have not been called to marry them. 

Could I have made the choice to marry one of them?  yes
Could it have been used for my good? yes
Would it have been God's best? Probably not

Ultimately I believe love is a choice... I will choose to love and respect the man that God puts in my life for His plan and purpose in His timing.  After 20+ years of getting to know the God of the universe, I do not believe that he just started the earth spinning and let it go... he is involved in the day to day operation of each thing that happens.  The Word  says that nothing happens without his knowledge and his permission... for he is omnipotent.  How much more should he be involved in the entity of marriage... something that is to image the trinity? (A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken = God + husband + wife... found in Ecclesiastes)

So for those that say the only stipulations to marriage for a believer are that they be single and a believer.... I disagree.  (If this the case... why are their still beleivers that are single and why is every believer not happily married? The stats still hold true that 50% of Christian marriages end in divorce.)  What happened to seeking and hearing the Lord's voice? Where does the peace that passes all understanding come in? Where does seeking godly wisdom come into play?

With all that said... God loves you whether you are single... married... divorced... or separated and He chooses to use each according to his perfect plan!  You are no less of a person because you are single.

Married believers ... come along side the young married and engaged couples... encourage them to follow the Lord wherever He leads. 

Married ladies... be that Titus 2 woman that encourages the younger women how to respect their husbands and raise their families in the way of the Lord. 

Single believers ... stand firm in what God has called you to do today.  God doesn't write two identical love stories so know that yours will not look the same as any one elses expectatuons. And just remember... your God loves you more than giving you second best.

To marry or not to marry...

After a recent conversation with a friend about to get married, I have a bazillion thoughts running through my head on the comments from other believers on marriage.  You have probably heard some of these....

Just make the choice and God will bless it.

Oh he doesn't need to be a believer... that will come later.

Or... you're single... he's single... and you both are believers. 

You are too young... you don't know what you want.

Or... you're not getting any younger... you just need to settle down.

When you are ready to get married, just pick someone.

And my all time facorite... You're single? What is wrong with you?

Ok... the more of these I write the more irritated I get over what our society and culture has done to the sanctity of marriage... an institution put in place by God.  The verse that says 'it is not good for man to be alone' has been thrown out to me so many times with the implication that I should just find one and settle down.  Now to be completely honest... I have met some amazing single men ( believers and unbelievers) but I have not been called to marry them. 

Could I have made the choice to marry one of them?  yes
Could it have been used for my good? yes
Would it have been God's best? Probably not

Ultimately I believe love is a choice... I will choose to love and respect the man that God puts in my life for His plan and purpose in His timing.  After 20+ years of getting to know the God of the universe, I do not believe that he just started the earth spinning and let it go... he is involved in the day to day operation of each thing that happens.  The Word  says that nothing happens without his knowledge and his permission... for he is omnipotent.  How much more should he be involved in the entity of marriage... something that is to image the trinity? (A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken = God + husband + wife... found in Ecclesiastes)

So for those that say the only stipulations to marriage for a believer are that they be single and a believer.... I disagree.  (If this the case... why are their still beleivers that are single and why is every believer not happily married? The stats still hold true that 50% of Christian marriages end in divorce.)  What happened to seeking and hearing the Lord's voice? Where does the peace that passes all understanding come in? Where does seeking godly wisdom come into play?

With all that said... God loves you whether you are single... married... divorced... or separated and He chooses to use each according to his perfect plan!  You are no less of a person because you are single.

Married believers ... come along side the young married and engaged couples... encourage them to follow the Lord wherever He leads. 

Married ladies... be that Titus 2 woman that encourages the younger women how to respect their husbands and raise their families in the way of the Lord. 

Single believers ... stand firm in what God has called you to do today.  God doesn't write two identical love stories so know that yours will not look the same as any one elses expectatuons. And just remember... your God loves you more than giving you second best.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Reflections from a content heart

Tonight as I was taking a nice hot shower... the realization hit that in a few days I am leaving the village that I have called home for a year. 

This is met with a mixture of emotions...
-sadness to say 'see ya later' to my 100+ little brown eyed cuties that call me mamma and make me smile when they keep repeating 'see you' or 'bye'
-excitement for the next steps in my life
-joy in knowing that anytime I come back I will be welcome with open arms
-trepidation as I step into another culture in a few weeks with a lot of unknowns

But ultimately... my heart is overwhelmed with contentment...

This year has taught me to be content...

I have learned to be content with bucket baths and hot showers...

I have learned to be content in solitude as well as with visitors...

I have learned to be content with the simplicities in life along with being blessed by the abundance from generous friends and family...

I have learned to be content with simple meals as well as exquisite dining...

I have learned to be content in my quiet time along with corporate worship no matter the language...

I have learned to be content in sickness and in health...

I have learned to be content in my wilderness as well as in the promised land...

I have learned to be content with the local critters... ok... maybe not so much on this one!

With all this said, I look back over the past year thankful that God used me despite my imperfections and my fears.  I have been blessed above and beyond what I could ever ask or imagine in this journey to a new land and know what He has for my future is for my good and His glory.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

That is what faith can do...

On the drive back from Kampala today I was pondering how God was going to work out some big (by my standards) financial issues. I was reminded that if I have faith the size of a mustard seed that a mountain can be moved .... and this seems like a mountain from my view point. 

So I am stepping out of my comfort zone to see what faith can do...

There never seems to an abundance of resources waiting for a project but the other way around.  I normally do not stress about money because God has shown me time and again that he is faithful to provide.  For whatever reason I am being called at this moment to stand in the gap for specifics for the school, our children, and our support staff. 

With leaving in a week and a half and after a conversation today I realized I have been spending a lot of my own money for school and staff needs.  It hasn't been an issue until I came to the realization that my finances are dwindling after not receiving a salary for a year and I have set an expectation that when something is needed it will be gotten (a teacher's heart).  Because I haven't said anything,  our staff on the ground just thought it was ministry money coming in and being put towards these expenses.  This encouraged a talk with some of my co-workers in the ministry here of the situation and making sure they were aware to not have the same expectations of my predecessors.

Here is what we are looking at...

School supplies...curriculum, classroom supplies, kitchen supplies for cooking and cleaning... this is an on going thing as we grow ... adding classrooms, children, and staff.  We are attempting to provide quality education for these children which requires certain supplies... here are some recent examples of supplies that were requested by the teachers...

Pens, scheme books, long rulers, chart paper, and other supplies... around $75 per term
Dictionaries relevant to east Africa... 30,000-40,000 shillings each $12-15...bought 2
Calculator for end of term reports... 60,000 shillings each $25...bought 1
Curriculum books... need 4 @20,000 each... about $32 total
Omo cleaner and sweepers for cleaning the dirt out of classrooms... 125,000 shillings $50

Supplies for the kitchen...
Soap, bleach, omo, scrubbers to make sure the dishes are sanitized and everything is kept clean... about $100 per term
Sugar, tea, salt, oil, curry powder, etc for staff meals... about $100... which doesn't include the posho and beans bought for children's and staff meals...that is budgeted for.

Needs for children...

Shoes and socks for new children... with the addition of a bunch of new children 2nd and 3rd term...a little more than 1,000,000 shillings has been spent on shoes since I arrived back in country the first of August. (about $400)...some of this was money left from last Christmas but definitely had to be added to.

Leaky water barrel... went on a home visit last week and as I was visiting with the family they shared that their barrel used to collect rain water is leaking... it is metal and has rusted through... without this rain catchment system they have to walk about 3 km down the side of the mountain to fill jerry cans with water from the bore hole that ITFM provides.  To replace this barrel with a sturdy plastic barrel it is about 85,000 shillings ... about $35.

A new school block... as we are nearing the end of our second year of school at Integrity Primary School we are in desperate need of a new school block to add P3 and P4.  The cost is about $25,000 and we are about halfway there.  The goal is to have it ready to go by February 2nd... the first day of school in Uganda.

New muzungu staff

...housing... furnishing... living expenses...transportation... etc... -with the blessing of a new young couple coming to take over the work that I have been doing over the past year, comes the need to build a small private residence for them as well as all of the start up furnishings.  I am excited that God has provided willing hands to serve full time in this village and in turn would like to do everything I can to assist in the transition

The need is great and even though some of these seem small and insignificant... added together it is a big financial situation in my mind.  I am simply sharing what the LORD has put on my heart and if He is calling you to assist feel free to give at... http://inthefieldministries.org/angela/angela.htm and it will be passed on as specified.

If you are unable to give please join with us in prayer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Never a dull morning

I was recently asked what my normal day looked like.  Well there is really no such thing as normal and I have learned... I have to be flexible.

Monday morning I had planned to greet the childre,  have a staff meeting, go visit each classroom, give out gifts for perfect attendance, and work on some paperwork.  Well it seemed like everyone else had other ideas... two new children needed to be registered... school fees needed to be paid and receipts written... children came in for shoes...Mamma V (our kitchen cook) was off campus for the day burying her aunt that just died so our gardener was put in charge to make breakfast and lunch for everyone...met with our clinic staff to see how the children's checkups were going and found out we had 4 children with jiggers again... and the list could on.  After school, it was finally sunny so we went on a couple of home visits to get some information on a few of our children.  The first home we went to was a 20 minute hike UP the side of a mountain that I wasn't prepared for... and these children do this numerous times a day! 

Today started off with me not wanting to get out of bed.  Came down to greet children and staff. Saw one child come walking up to come to school that was not enrolled but with school supplies.  Sent him home to bring his jaja to fill out the registration paperwork and haven't seen him since.  Then as I was walking around the classrooms taking attendance one of my staff had an urgent message that her baby was not doing well and she needed to quit.  So we are now looking for a middle class teacher.  Truly never a dull moment!

Crazy?

I am in an odd mood tonight...  can't really explain everything...

,.. maybe it is all the changes coming up quickly in the near future
...maybe it is all that is going on in the village at the moment
...maybe it is the craziness of a certain 19 year old living with me at the moment... AVE MARIA

I feel the need to pull out my proverbial soap box at the moment.

Everytime I look in the mirror I am seeing more of these silver strands and lines that didn't exist yesterday.  Recently while in the market in town a man walked up  to me asking if the 20 year old with me was my daughter only to have the same sentiment replayed a day later by a self proclaimed 'player'! REALLY? 

I have been told to act my age at several times in my life only to be left wondering... how is someone my age supposed to act? We have already defined the fact that I don't do normal well and since I don't really know what someone my age acts like... I am going to act how I think I should act!

Now in regards to the self proclaimed player... no woman needs a man to play with her heart and emotions and not be serious.  If you are planning to sweep me off my feet, you better be ready to catch!  I don't want empty promises.

So with that I crawl down off my soapbox to my walker... and will cruise through this journey called life.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Life is hard... but God is good!

Today has been one of those days ...

It seems that maybe I was in a fussy mood or woke up on the wrong side of the bunk bed... but almost everything today has bothered me. 

Today school fees were due.  I had been telling the children from the first day of school this term that if school fees were paid by their entire class... the class would have a party with snacks and gifts.  Call it bribery or positive reinforcement... but something was needed to motivate these children to bring in school fees.  (Now I will clarify... our school fees are very reasonable and much less than other surrounding schools.... nursery fees are about 8$ and primary about 12$ per 3 month term.)

From past experience the only way families send school fees is if their child is sent home from school specifically needing to bring back school fees.  Today was that day.  I went down to the classrooms and called the list of students that had paid all or some of their school fees or families that had made prior arrangements... those children could stay.  Everyone else had to go home to retrieve school fees.  Well just as I am dismissing the children to walk home... they get halfway down the road and it starts pouring down rain.  I felt awful.

Once the rain slowed down a jaja comes into my office and lays out last terms receipts not understanding why I sent 2 of her grandchildren home.  I had to pull  one of my teachers out of class to explain that school fees for term 3 were due today even though the term 2 school fees for these two children were paid this morning.  After trying to argue for me to let the children back in class... I asked when she would be able to bring the term 3 school fees in... and after sheepishly looking at me... pulled the money out of her hand and put it on my desk.  Frustrated that she sat there and argued about school fees when she knew good and well they were due today and she had them.  (This happens regularly.)

To add to the frustration I realized after lunch that a couple of children came back and were admitted to class without paying their school fees.  Had to talk to the teachers and remind them that they need a written note or to show their receipt to get back to class.  And I get the bobble head effect!

As I was sitting in my office this morning ... one of my teachers made the statement... If you give me your office key at lunch, I will have my students clean your office.  As I looked around my office I realized how dirty my office was with all the mud that had been tracked in... and I also realized that I had those crazy ants that build those enormous dirt mounds working on one in the corner of my office behind my file cabinet....  have I mentioned how much I HATE dirt and bugs? So to relieve my frustration...I have spent the afternoon chipping the dirt mound and trails off the wall with a ruler.... sweeping out all of the dirt... and moving furniture so the little critters can't hide!

So at the moment, I am sitting in my office waiting to see if anyone has school fees to pay by 4pm which was the cutoff to get a party.  Unless I have a mad rush in the next 20 minutes... there are no classes getting a party.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

From the eyes of a child...

Or to be more specific... from a little brown eyed cutie!

Today Victoria flew in to Uganda to spend a month assisting with the ministry. Since she came in mid day and we wouldn't have to spend the night in town before coming to the village... I decided to reward a couple of my kids who had been super big helpers with school related tasks on a field trip to the airport. 

This may sound like a mundane task for many but for Samuel it was like winning the lottery.  The day I told him...  he clapped excitedly all the way from my house to the goat pen with a great big smile on his face.

Our day started out rather wet with a major rainstorm overnight that continued well into the morning making the road way rather muddy and all of us rather soggy!  We took the pit latrine digger with us to Busunju to get a new pick ax as the other one broke due to so much rock.  From the time we arrived in Busunju... Samuel and his sister Fiona started asking questions...what is that? Where are we? Look just there!   The impressive part for me was that all of their questions were in very clear English!

I needed to go grocery shopping before picking up Victoria so we decided to go to the new mall near Entebbe to shop and have lunch before heading to the airport.  Our first stop was Nakumatt and when we walked in to the right was the electronic section.  The kids just froze ... starring at the flat screen tv's.  I had Hannington explain what they were and after a few minutes moved on with our shopping.  This type of store was very new to them so their was a lot of questions and comments about what they saw.  After getting groceries... we went to put them in the cooler in the car and then headed back to the mall to take lunch at KFC... that just opened.  I knew that they would be familiar with chicken and potatoes so this was the best choice.  Fiona got so wrapped up watching the people in the mall that she only wanted her coca cola...so we packed the chicken and chips for the ride home.  Samuel ate every bite of his chicken and chips.

After lunch we had a few minutes before heading to the airport so we took the children on the elevator in the mall.  Fiona squeezed my hand so tight as it moved up and down... something she had never experienced up until this point.  Fiona was also very concerned about all the security guards and police.  Not sure what she has been taught about them but she was very unsure of these people and clung to my side.  We got back to car and started to the airport.

As we passed lake Victoria, Samuel is starring out the window... and states in awe... Mamma, so much water.  It occurred to me that he has probably never seen anything bigger than the swamp in the village so Lake Victoria was 'so much water'.

Near Entebbe there is the old Entebbe airport and runway that the UN now uses as a base.  At the end of this runway there are several old planes just parked... turning green with age.  Samuel and Fiona had never seen an airplane much less so many different ones so they were in awe.  As they made comments or just starred it hit me... these simple things in my lifestyle that I take for granted are a huge learning experience for this 10 and 14 year old.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Stand up and be counted

Well I had seen the signs posted in Kampala that the census was being taken...

A young man named Fisal came by the village today to register all that are residing here.  It also happened to be the first day of school.  So between the opening assembly and running errands for the teachers... and hiring a new teacher for P2... I took the time to sit in my office and meet with the census taker.....

As he asked the questions I just had to laugh because the way they were worded or the info they were trying to glean would only be asked in Uganda!

Here is a sampling of some of the questions  and comments that were made ...

How many years have you made this year? When I gave him my age... his comment was...you are not very young.  LOL!

Marital status... when I told him I was single... he asked "are you searching?"

How many children have you produced from your body?

What is the floor of your house made of?

Are you lame in any part of your body?

Is there a flush toilet in your house? To which I replied, yep... the only one in the village!

Does every member of your family use soap to bathe?

So I do realize that my answers are very different from the majority of the people living in the village and I do understand that the government is wanting to make some changes and that is why they are doing this... but I found the entire process very amusing!

The good... the bad... and the ugly...

Sometimes in this journey on planet earth ... you will go through moments that are good... bad... and ugly. 

For most of us... we like the good.  You know what I mean... those times when everything is going well.  You feel good!   You are living at peace with those around you.  The basic needs of life are being met.  And the list goes on...

The bad... not many of us like this ... much less the ugly that can come along with the really bad.  Oh... you know what I mean... you are not feeling well... loved ones are sick or dying... your best friend just found out she may have cancer... the bank account is registering in the red... it is a toss up between gas in the car or food on the table... all the way to ugly... where life is just so heavy you can't get out of bed... life is just not worth getting up for.

Recently some things have happened in my life as well as those close to me that make me ponder... how do we handle the bad and the ugly times in our lives?

First and foremost... we were not meant to go through the good... the bad... or the ugly by ourselves.  Our Maker wants us to rely on him in each situation... trusting that he knows what is best.

Second... I was listening to one of my favorites songs on the drive back to the village today..."Blessings"... and it reminded me... what if the trials in this life are his mercies in disguise...

-what if He allows something to be taken out of our lives .... only to replace it with something better?
-what if He allows sickness in our lives.... to slow us down and make us thankful for health?
-what if He allows someone around us to have a need... so that we see He answers prayers through us?
-what if He allows tough financial times... to show us what really matters in life?

As I continued pondering the happenings of life... it hit me ... I just need to be thankful for today.  He's got this...whether it is good... bad... or ugly!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hail on earth

Well to be more specific... in the village of Nabisooto... in Uganda... in Africa of all places.

One of the popular questions while I was back stateside was 'what is the weather like in Uganda?'.  Many were surprised that it seldom gets above the upper 80's and that we have 2 seasons... rainy and dry. 

At the moment we are in the midst of rain... and at the very moment we are in the midst of a serious thunder storm complete with hail.  You can hear the hail hitting the metal roof and rolling down! 

The lightning and thunder have been going on all afternoon/ early evening and standing on the veranda you could hear the rain coming across the mountain before it actually started falling at the house.  Preparations were made... goats put away... windows closed up tight... and anything that could get wet on the veranda is brought into the house.

Then we sit... in the dark enjoying the lightning show while knitting and blogging. 

This is life in the village!  Now just praying that Hannington can make it up the driveway in the morning without getting stuck in the mud! 

My take on the ice bucket challenge

For the past couple of months a lot of my friends have been posting videos of buckets of ice water beind dumped on their heads to avoid giving money to charity... and before I get nominated to do this by one of my well meaning friends I need to make a stance...

I WILL NOT ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE

So even if you tag me in it... it won't happen ... and here is why...

...FIRST and foremost.... I can't get that much ice in the village... much less clean water where I currently am.  Even if I could, why would I waste that much water when some of my little brown eyed cuties still get their  drinking water from the swamp... (and I am not dunking myself in swamp water where the cattle bathe!)

...giving to charity is a good thing and I recommend it for all... your time, talent, and treasure are important to God and to others... if you are feeling obligated to do the ice bucket challenge because you do not have the $100 to give to charity... give in some other way... there are countless charities (like homeless shelters that would love to have a couple of willing hands for an hour or two)

...before you give... research what your hard earned dollars are going to... morally and ethically I struggle supporting organizations that may be doing something good but use aborted babies embryonic cells to further their research.  Human life is valuable!

...something to think about... for all of you that have had to go buy ice to make this possible... what if just the money you spent on the bags of ice were given to charity... what kind of change could you be?

With all that said,  I have had some good laughs on watching you guys get dunked with ice... it is a fun way to challenge people to give... however I want to challenge you to not always follow the crowd and think through what you are doing. 

Should you want to branch out on the ice bucket challenge... I challenge you to give some of my little brown eyed cuties a hope and a future by sponsoring their education or sending a donation to inthefieldministries.org to continue the ministry here.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Preparing for deployment

Now I know I am not in the US military (or any other country's for that matter) but I am in the Lord's army ...so when someone recently referred to me moving to China as my next deployment the term kind of stuck in my mind.

As I am preparing for this deployment... there are lots of preparations that need to be done within this transition from Africa through the US to China and I need other members of the Lord's army to come along side.

First the praises...

+in searching for direction, I never dreamed that this is where I would be headed.  It is truly beyond the desires of my heart... beyond what I could have even asked or imagined.
+I have been blessed with a team both stateside and in China that have been very helpful in telling me what is needed, answering questions, and eventually will walk side by side as all my paperwork goes through
+the reactions of the news have varied among family and friends but for the most part the reactions have been positive and supportive.
+I am also thankful for basic benefits like medical care and training expenses being covered.
+I am able to enter China legally with a world renowned company behind me.

Now for the partnership...

+in the midst of this transition there are lots of preparations that need to get done...visa paperwork submitted...receiving employment verifications... completing 20 modules of TEFL-C training... background clearance...etc all while trying to finish my grad school portfolio and do what I have been called to do here in Africa... please pray that all this gets done in a timely manner
+one of the most difficult parts of getting into China is the visa process... so in addition to a passport  (which I have)... I have to get a Chinese visa that entails a LOT of work.  Praying for favor for the officials that all the paperwork that gets submitted is appropriate and there are no issues.  Will get my work visa once I get in country.
+again I am transitioning into a culture, people group, and language (written or spoken) that are not my own... His grace has been sufficient in all of this while in Africa so I ask that it continues to cover in this move
+preparations as far as moving to a cold climate for a year and knowing what is needed and what is not
+peace for friends and family as I move far far away...again... and just in time for the holiday season
+continued strength for myself as I follow wherever He leads ... even when it looks very different from what I expected.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Whim to whimsical!

Have you ever done something... say on a whim... unexpected... just because... and it turned out to be whimsical... exceptional... and just where you need to be? If so... welcome to the story I am about to tell tonight that has become my whimsical fairytale called life. 

(Ok... so this story may not be perfect like a fairytale... it is just a simple princess trying to follow the King of her life!)

It all started when this princess came back to the US from Uganda to finish grad school a few months ago.  I had marching orders for 10 weeks and after that I foresaw a precarious cliff leading to the unknown.    As I was coming dangerously close to the edge of the cliff (oh lets say 2 weeks before finishing grad school)... my King gave instructions for the next 10 weeks. 

This princess really would like a magic ball to tell her the future... but that is just not how it goes in the real world!

Well... I followed those instructions all the while pursuing the opportunities put in my path and living intentionally.   I kept joking that if none of these opportunities panned out ... I would go assist my favorite Mouse friend in the great sunshine state. 

So at the princess' 35th birthday celebration...  I was sharing this with my fairy godmother and her  beloved husband and was encouraged to follow this dream...

(Am I boring you with the details? Just remember... life is not about getting to the final destination but making the most of the journey along the way....)

After the party I went on the world wide web to search how to make the dream come true... unexpected doors opened to use my gifts and talents ...  and long story long and drawn out...  I am moving to the magical kingdom of Cheungdu, China on November 6th (Lord-willing) to teach with Disney English.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Seriously?

Sometimes God does something and I look at Him asking... really, are you serious? 

He opens a door that seems illogical and rather silly at the time only to reveal his masterful plan down the road.  Last night I lay in bed pondering some recent happenings in my life and wondering if God really said for me to do this. It doesn't fit my logic but what in God's economy is ever logical
He brought me back to the story of Abraham by asking the question... do you want an Ishmael or an Isaac?

Ishmael was the the son born to Abraham by his wife's maidservant... Isaac was born to Abraham and his wife-Sarah!

Ishmael was born in Abraham's time where as Isaac was born in God's.... seems illogical to me for Sarah to have a baby at 90 years of age!

Ishmael was Abraham trying to figure out God's promises in his own strength whereas isaac was God's promised child.

With all that said... I made the decision based on desiring God's best in my life... not human logic.  And if you are curious about the decision... that will be revealed publicly in the next day or so.... and I will give you a hint... I know what more than 10 weeks of my life looks like!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

In the life of a little brown eyed cutie...

Living in the first world most of us take for granted many things...like where our next meal will come from...decent medical care when needed... a safe place to stay at night... an environment where death is not commonplace for young children and a society that for the most part values human life.

After being in the village for a few days I am reminded of the things we take for granted that are serious issues in the third world...

+Thankfully the growing season and harvest have been good this year.  This is important as the children will have food at home and families have money to pay school fees.

+Had a little one at school this morning that was not playing and when I  checked on him ... I noticed that his hand and leg had been cleaned and bandaged.  I followed up with our clinic staff and they told me, Godfrey was helping his mother cut up food and sliced through his hand ...then dropped the knife with the blade slicing his leg on its way down to the ground.  After he had eaten... Nurse Josephine walked him the 3 km home to make sure his parents were aware to bring him back each day to get it cleaned.  Serious concern about infection setting in.

+Yesterday one of the praises at church was shared by Jessica... a mom of 4 young children that woke up to find a large snake next to her sleeping children.  The praise was the snake did not harm the children.

+On my desk, in my office, my teaching staff had written notes of those children that had lost family members over the last few weeks.  Unfortunately it is common place to have parents die of AIDS or malaria.  One of my little ones... Emmanuel... that was missing alot of school when I moved out a year ago because he was hiding from his very abusive father... just had his father die from an accident.

All the reminders of the differennces between 1st and 3rd world living.

Blogging before bed

Well after 52 hours of flying and 6 flights ...we hit the ground in Entebbe, Uganda Thurday evening about 11pm.  Went through immigration... got luggage... went through custims (1st time ever when arriving into Uganda)...then met up with Han outside.  Drove to the Sheron Hotel where we were to stay the night and were in bed by 1am.  Besides being somewhat tired and my feet really swollen from sitting for so long... I was otherwise ok.  Felt so good to just lay down and rest!

Got up this morning and had breakfast then Courtney and I sat in the garden and chatted until Hannington came by to pick us up.  Had to go and exchange money and then go grocery shopping.  Had lunch at javas and the headed to the village.

The main thing on the agenda for Friday was to unpack enough to find bedding and make the bed.  The goal was to make it til 7pm without laying down. Made it til almost 8pm before hitting the hay... now going to bed!

In the life of a little brown eyed cutie...

Living in the first world most of us take for granted many things...like where our next meal will come from...decent medical care when needed... a safe place to stay at night... an environment where death is not commonplace for young children and a society that for the most part values human life.

After being in the village for a few days I am reminded of the things we take for granted that are serious issues in the third world...

+Thankfully the growing season and harvest have been good this year.  This is important as the children will have food at home and families have money to pay school fees.

+Had a little one at school this morning that was not playing and when I  checked on him ... I noticed that his hand and leg had been cleaned and bandaged.  I followed up with our clinic staff and they told me, Godfrey was helping his mother cut up food and sliced through his hand ...then dropped the knife with the blade slicing his leg on its way down to the ground.  After he had eaten... Nurse Josephine walked him the 3 km home to make sure his parents were aware to bring him back each day to get it cleaned.  Serious concern about infection setting in.

+Yesterday one of the praises at church was shared by Jessica... a mom of 4 young children that woke up to find a large snake next to her sleeping children.  The praise was the snake did not harm the children.

+On my desk, in my office, my teaching staff had written notes of those children that had lost family members over the last few weeks.  Unfortunately it is common place to have parents die of AIDS or malaria.  One of my little ones... Emmanuel... that was missing alot of school when I moved out a year ago because he was hiding from his very abusive father... just had his father die from an accident.

All the reminders of the differennces between 1st and 3rd world living.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

And the journey begins...again...

It is that time to be headed back to the other side of the world... where lions roar...zebras gallup...hippos wallow...and little brown eyed cuties play!

The last few days have been filled with a lot of good memories.  I have spent time with dear friends.  I have enjoyed lots of beach time.  I turned another year older.  I have gotten rid of more earthly possessions getting me down to one closet.  Details have been worked out and God has provided above and beyond what I could ask or imagine.  Dear friends have blessed me with a little cottage to stay in with an amazing view... other friends let me borrow their tacoma which introduced me to a love for standard pickups!.... I have enjoyed many dinners at friends houses and many hours of fellowship sharing stories of my recent adventures.

So as I sit in the Honolulu airport watching the sun go down with palm trees swaying in the background... I am sipping on a Starbucks mocha cookie crumble (birthday reward!)  Waiting on my flight to the US mainland to board.  This is the 2nd flight of 6 and 2 hours into a 52 hour journey of airplanes and airports.

So stay tuned... more adventures are soon to come!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My heart will go on...

Yes I know this is the sappy love song from the movie Titanic but as I am thinking of all the things that God has done in my life over the past year... I can't help to think about all of the heart break... the joys... the trails.... the laughable moments... the failures... along with the successes. 

In this journey I am called to be on at the moment... there are lots of things that I struggle to put into words especially for human understanding.  Everytime I get to that point where I just verbally can't explain what my head and heart are going through I reflect back on the passage in the old testament where Mary finds outnshe is going to be the mother of the messiah.  Scripture says... and she pondered all of this in her heart.  How did Mary do this?  Unwed mother... not to mention trying to explain who the father was.... in a culture where she should have been stoned to death for this.

One thing I have learned about God is that He is true to his word... He does not lie.  When it says he will bind up the broken hearted and set the captives free... HE will.  God's grace is sufficiemt for all and even when I can't verbalize what is going on in my heart I know my heart will go on as Jesus  has a plan and purpose in everything he allows to happen.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

When the music fade...

When the music fades and I am coming back to the heart of worship... it is all about Jesus....

Sometimes in the stillness and quietness... when all the distractions have been taken away... it is humbling to be reminded that this life is not about me! 

Please excuse the ramblings for the next few moments ... but there have been some things said recently that have been like a two edge sword... one side cutting in to take out the junk and the other used to heal and restore life.

My dreams... desires ... goals... ambitions... and thoughts should never take precedence  over God's calling on my life.  The sense of entitlement that often creeps in of I deserve... or I want...  or I should... has to take a back seat to what the Lord ultimately wants.  It is a strange place not knowing what the future holds but having complete trust on the One who holds my future.

In one way this is a new concept for me to grasp because I am a planner... I want to know what is coming next... but I am holding onto the fact that God has yet to let me fall.  I am excited to see what He is about to do.

So to the question that has come up recently... what's next?  Besides Africa for the next 3 months... I am unsure.  It is unnerving... exhilarating... scary... and exciting all at the same time.  I am not one that thrives on the unknowns but my God gives me the strength to go through these dark passageways. 

I have my thoughts on what I would like the next step to be but as I was reminded recently... any time we put our priority before God's will we are setting ourselves up for destruction.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Isn't it GRAND

Pictures from the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, and Route 66 from Arizona!










Local beauty: Signs, fruits, and flowers
















Sights in Sweden...




The only person that carries a "legal" weapon!  Had to get a picture.



Singin n the rain

Swedish trolls!