Thursday, April 18, 2013

Friends, Elephants, and Books

    Let’s just get this over with… I AM THE WORST BLOGGER IN THE WORLD. Okay, now for the other stuff.

    My second 6 months in Ghana is almost half over….How is that possible? I have no idea. Time FLIES here more than any other place I've ever been. So let’s just review here since I've been absent for a few months.

   I went home in December. I had the most amazing 5 weeks at home. I was encouraged and refreshed. I was able to see so many of my amazing friends and spend time with my family, although sometimes it was hard to balance the two!  I had a really hard time saying goodbye to my mom, Hayely, and Addie at the airport. I truly did not want to leave again. But I sucked it up and got on the first of 4 flights back to Ghana.

   As soon as I stepped off the plane and was hit by the wave of hot African air, a huge smile appeared on my face. As hard as it was to leave “home” it was good to be back.  The first Sunday back in church at the village, Pastor Stephen announced to the congregation that God had guided me safely home to America, and back home to Ghana. Even though he spoke in his language and not my own, tears filled my eyes with his words.
Women in the village I attend church. They just returned from a wedding and came to greet everyone. They asked me to "snap" their picture. 

My joy.

   February and March were filled with building amazing relationships with two other volunteers/missionaries. Diana(American), Rachel(Canadian, we won’t hold that against her ;)) and I lived together for about 6 weeks at the Dzokotoe abode. We became so close over those short 6 weeks. There is something about being in a foreign land with people of similar backgrounds that allows you to create fast and lasting bonds. During our time together we loved on some sweet kids at a local orphanage, lead Sunday morning service at a women’s prison, went to the Ghana independence day celebration, and rode donkeys for fun on a Friday night (okay, they rode on donkeys, I’ve had experience in that area before and was not interested). We also started our own little bible study twice a week just studying scripture and talking about life. It was such sweet community and I am so thankful for that time with them. 

The flags of each of our countries displayed at the school. Diana and I (American), Dzifa (Ghanaian), Rachel (Canadian), and Julia (Dutch). 

Ghanaian Independence Day celebration- It was well over 100 degrees this day with thousands of people.

After the celebration we went to a restaurant nearby to cool off and the children were surrounding all of the "salimingas".

Loving babies.
 At the end of their stay in Tamale, Rachel and I went on a weekend trip to Mole National Park to see some elephants! It was an incredible trip that I intended on writing an entire blog post about, but we all know that that didn't happen. We went on a two hour walking safari and were able to see 7 elephants playing in the water hole, a jeep safari where we got way too close to a male elephant and a canoe ride down a little river with 4 hilarious Ghanaian men. One of which sang to us in the local language while paddling the canoe and holding a cell phone to record it. There is so much more to tell, but I could never explain how wonderful of a weekend it was, so I’ll just leave you with that and a few pictures.
"Shopping" while waiting for the bus at the station. 
After waiting for 5 hours at the bus station, our bus arrived and we were set to go! 
Rachel and I on our jeep safari.

Just hanging out on a safari...WITH AN ELEPHANT.
Our first close up view of the elephants. 
Riding on the moto with Osmand, my personal driver for the weekend. He let me drive for about 20 minutes down a long dirt road,  it was perfect.
After our tour guide explained that elephants are the second fasted animal in the world, this guy right her stomped down two trees (which is a sign he did not like us being there) and as we drove away he started chasing after us.
 It was of course so hard to say goodbye to my new friends not knowing when I would see them again and it is a task I have become all too familiar with. A couple weeks after they left, I completed my big project that I had been working on since I arrived back in Ghana in January. The Ministry of Education in Ghana produces what they call a syllabus for all of the schools to follow from kindergarten to high school. The syllabus basically includes everything the very minimum that needs to be taught over the course of a year for each required subject. This is great! Except for the fact that it is not available to any of the teachers except for in a computer file that is not easily accessible for the majority of teachers and also is not composed in a way which is easy to follow and understand. I spent a week reading this 600 page document and then got to work on outlining week by week what objectives should be taught for grades k-4. After the outlining was complete, I printed the information included in the syllabus and compiled a binder for each grade and each subject. We had a training day to explain this new resource to our teachers and they seemed very happy to have them as a guide for what to teach their students.
Pretty excited about completing all of the work!
Working with the dean of the school to train the teachers on their new resource books.

   After that project was complete I was ready for the next. Our school currently doesn't have a library, but we have some books. So I am in the process of starting one along with another volunteer, Julia who is from The Netherlands. We are coming along quite well and I am so excited to see it completed! Today I entered the 1000th book into the register system. I had no idea we had so many!
The books for the library before we started working on it.

   I have some really, really exciting news to share. One of my best friends sisters is COMING TO GHANA!!!  Adoration has been planning on coming to work with me in Ghana for about 6 months. I’ve been helping her with the preparation of it all and just a couple weeks ago she was able to purchase her ticket to come in May. We are beyond thrilled to have this time to spend together but more than that excited to see the work that God is about to do through us and in us. Please join me in praying for her. Mostly that God will just prepare her heart for the things she is getting ready to experience for the first time and also that all the fine little details will be worked out and she will arrive here safely.

This one time we didn't see each other for 1 1/2 months because I moved to Colorado and we thought it was the longest time ever.... This is what will happen at the airport in 33 days!        
*Photo Credit: Hayely Queen

   Oh, did I mention how God provided for her? Yeah, well, one day (very close to one of the last days for her to purchase her ticket in time to come) she only had about half of the money she needed to buy her plane ticket alone and then the next day, after a lot of prayers about this, she discovered a forgotten savings of MORE than what she needed to purchase her ticket and pay for her other expenses. God provides for his children when we go to Him in prayer and have faith that He will answer them. He just does.  Addie will spend two months here with me and we will come back home at the end of July. I cannot wait for this new adventure to begin!

   That’s about it…except not at all. There is so, so much that happens in my day to day and I truly wish I was better at documenting it. However, I've come to terms with the fact that most of the things I experience here will have to be my own, and I won’t be able to share everything, not matter how difficult or amazing they may be. 


Sunday, September 30, 2012

An African Routine

Today marks the beginning of my 11th week in Ghana. This is the half way point until I am home for Christmas (not that I am counting). As I've said before, I cannot believe I have been here that long! Time flies when you are having fun...always.

I have finally developed somewhat of a routine. For anyone who has been to Africa for any amount of time you know that those two words, routine and Africa, do not go together.  Over the last two months I have somehow figured out what exactly my role is at the school I am working with. Before coming to Ghana I was under the impression that I would be teaching and training the teachers of the school. With that information I racked my brain for weeks before departure and tried to figure out what exactly I would be training them to do. Once I got here, I realized that there was no way that I could have prepared for this job before seeing the unique needs of the school, individual needs of the students, and understanding the culture. Below are some of the things I do regularly at Greater Heights.

-Interview Potential  Teachers-This is one of my least favorite things to do. It is a long , boring process, and we rarely have anyone that is truly qualified to teach. When we interview a teacher that passed most of their classes and seems to have an actual interest in kids, it is a good day. You might think that this is something that would be done before the school year started and we would only need to do it once a year, however that is not the case. We interviewed about 60 teachers a month before school started, five more a couple weeks after school started, and then 20 more just last week. This seems to be a never ending process. 

-Plan Curriculum- There is a huge gap in education here. I could write and entire entry about this alone. The "text books" that you can buy here are about 50-100 pages and are expected to be used throughout the entire school year. That just doesn't add up. So, instead of ignoring the problem like I would really like to do some days, I try my best to fill the gaps. Every week I plan what will be taught and the work that students will do for Nursery 1 (2 year olds) through 3rd grade. I supplement the curriculum with other materials like books from home, activities that I find online (lets be honest, just pinterest), or other ideas from educational websites. At first this was a very overwhelming task. After two weeks of stressing over this I decided I needed a schedule so that I could get it all done. Now I plan two grades each day for the following week. Most days don't go as planned and I end up doing most of it at the end of the week, but by Friday I must be finished with planning. For some of the older grades I use 4 or 5 different books for a subject just to get enough for them to really grasp the concepts. I hate to admit the fact that I give them worksheets, yes I said it, worksheets. I would love nothing more than to utilize all of the amazing ways to teach that I learned in college, but for now we are lucky to just have enough desks and chairs.

-Student placement- Many of the students coming from new schools are coming here because they were struggling to learn in their previous school. I would too if I was stuffed in a classroom with 50-100 students, one teacher (on a good day, if they show up), and a less than lacking curriculum. This is their reality. Most other schools would just throw them in the next grade like they have always done, year after year, whether or not they have learned anything. There may be a 9 year old in first grade, or a 6 year old in 2nd grade just because there is very little structure to the education system. After identifying this issue I decided we needed to test every incoming student to see what grade level they were really on. We found that most are at least a grade below in their math and reading if not more. Our school is not like the other schools here. We think differently than the other schools and we believe strongly that each student can learn, it just takes more work. 

Waris and Umar working on correctly writing letters.

I wrote the letters with chalk on the floor and we played a game. They had a blast!  Hamid can  jump!

They had to jump from letter to letter and when I said "stop" they had to tell me what letter they landed on. That is Linda, our volunteer from Holland, playing along to show the students what to do.

This is our classroom! I am back there doing flashcards with Hamid.

Cutie Waris. 
- Reading Recovery- After doing the placement tests we found a handful of students grades 1-4 who could not read at all. One boy is 10 years old and should be in the 4th grade, however, he doesn't even know all the letters of the alphabet. I saw a huge need to bring these students up to where they can at least be in the regular classroom and then their teacher can work with them on getting to a higher reading level. I had no idea the best way to go about this, so I just decided to make an extra class for these students. After lots of ideas, and many failed attempts later, we now have a reading class. I never planned on teaching it, I was just going to tell the teachers what to do and supervise it but once I worked with the kids on that first day (before we even had a teacher for it) they stole my heart. I accepted the fact that I would be the one teaching the class. I have a volunteer from Holland that is helping me with the class. She has never taught before but I would never have guessed that, she is a natural. So from 8-10 each morning you can find me in the car port beside the house working with my sweet little readers. We are still working on the letters of alphabet but I can't wait to see how far they come by December. Teaching this class is my favorite part of the day. 

-Pen Pal Program- Even when I was in elementary school I loved the idea of talking to someone in a different country, it always fascinated me. I thought it would be really fun and a great learning experience for the students here to be pen pals with a school back home. Also a great learning experience for the kids back home! There are so many benefits from participating in a pen pal program  My mom has a friend who knew of what I was doing here and had the same idea. So I figured we might as well give it a try! The other teacher that I am working with, Mrs. Hays, is a kindergarten teacher from my hometown. She found a teacher from 1st-3rd that are also going to be participating in the program. The first letters will be sent from the Logan-Rogersville classes to the Greater Heights classes via email this week. I am so excited to see how this grows over the next year. 

-Recorder Donations- One of our Ghanaian teachers knows how to teach recorders and we really want to have a music class. The only problem is getting recorders. They are much more expensive here than they are back home. I learned how to play the recorder in 5th grade and my junior year in college. If it was mandatory for me then, that means that it is still mandatory for a bunch of students now. I know that I didn't keep my recorder around and I am sure that most of the other students don't either. I contacted both the elementary music teacher from my hometown, and my college music professor and simply explained what I was interested in and they were both so glad to help out. They both informed their classes of my request and are collecting any recorders that students want to donate. Some of the students in the 6th grade music class even asked if they could donate other small instruments! It is amazing what people are willing to do when you just ask. When I go home in December I will pack all that they have collected and bring them back with me in January. 

There are lots of other little things that consume my days, but these are some of the highlights. There is so much work to be done here and at times it can be very overwhelming and stressful. The Lord is always closest by my side on those days. I am thankful to have a full year to work with this school and I cannot wait to see where it is at when I leave. 

*Oh, and a little story to brighten your day, cause it sure did mine. I was on my way back to the house tonight after walking to get minutes for my phone and all along the way sweet little voices yelled out "hello salminga!" like they always do. As I was about to walk into the gate that surrounds our house, I saw a little boy running down the road towards me. I wasn't sure if he was running to me or just happened to be in my direction. He was probably about 3 years old, no shoes, and wearing only a dirty old orange shirt. He ran with purpose, as fast as his little legs would take him. I just felt like I needed to wait at the gate until he got there, so that is what I did. He ran directly up to me and without saying a word gave me a strong high-five and turned right back around to go home. That was all he wanted. To give the salminga a high-five. It is moments like that that make me know I am supposed to be here. Those are the moments I hold onto when it is hard. Could you imagine if we all ran to God like that little boy ran to me today? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

To Be Known

It has been over a month since my last update. That is both hard to believe and not a surprise at all. It does not feel as if I have been here for a month and a half already. It is not that I have been so busy that there has been no time to post, but I am simply terrible about communicating specifics about my life. Since I am in it and living it, I sometimes forget that the only image of my life here that people back home have is my last post or the pictures I've uploaded on facebook.

The first couple weeks of being here were simply getting over jet lag and adjusting to the culture.  It is a completely different world in every aspect. Once I was a little more used to everything here, I was able to focus on what I am doing with the school. I began with creating a workshop for the teachers from Creche (1 year olds) to Primary 4 (4th grade). I had no idea where to begin. Sure, I went to college to be a teacher but my professors did not teach me how to teach other teachers in a third world country. I was incredibly overwhelmed by the entire idea of doing a workshop at first. I really thought that God was crazy for calling me here. I thought that Di, the lady I live with who also started the school, was also crazy for believing I could be of any help here.

 So I prayed. I prayed a lot. I prayed that the Lord would simply help me do whatever He wanted me to do. Every morning I would pray for guidance, direction, and wisdom. Once I began, the Lord just continued to guide me. Somewhere between having no idea what I was doing here and the end of today, I created and presented a  workshop for 24 teachers at Greater Heights. I am realizing that even though I wasn't trained to do exactly what I am doing, I am using so much of what I learned in college that at times I thought I would never use. The beginning of the workshop was going over very general components of teaching and the expectations that I have for the teachers. The schools here are nothing like the schools in America. I do not want to change their culture, but I want to give them the knowledge of how things are done in other places so that together we can combine the two and make it work for Ghana. In the last part of the workshop I explained and somewhat demonstrated three different activities or methods of teaching. Circle Time, Centers, and Guided Reading are the three components I decided to introduce. I was very worried that nothing I said would make any sense to them. I'm not saying that they are not capable of understanding me, but what I was teaching them are things that have been engraved in my brain over the last 4 years of college and I know them like the back of my hand. I wanted to make sure that I was communicating it correctly to them so that they would realize that even though this is something they have never heard of, they will be able to use it in their classrooms.

Other than creating the workshop I have been busy planning the curriculum for the first part of the school year. This was another place where I had no idea what I was doing, but God did. I started with a basic overview of each grade for one month. Then I made a weekly plan for each grade and gathered all the materials for the first week of school. This will be a work in progress as the year goes on. There is a lot that I have to learn, and so much of this aspect can only be done week by week because it depends on so many different things.

Aside from school I go to church in the village every week with my dear friend Dorcus and I go on walks around our house in the evening after school. There isn't very much to do here for entertainment and I'm learning that I am okay with that. I did learn how to drive a motorbike though.  I have so much more time to devote to being in The Word and prayer that I actually enjoy not always having something else to do. I'm realizing how distracted I was from God before.

It is not always easy. I had in my mind that God would be enough. It would be okay that I didn't have my friends and family because I would have God. I was so confused when it wasn't enough. It took some time, but then one night it just clicked. God wasn't enough now because before I came here I hadn't taken the time to get to know Him they way I knew my friends. I know my friends better than they know themselves sometimes. They were my whole life. They were what I put all of my energy into. They were what mattered most to me. God was there when I needed Him and I didn't need Him as much when I had my friends. Now I don't have any of my friends and I somehow expected God to just fill that spot. It isn't that easy though because friendships take time and work. Time and work that I had never put into getting to know God before now. I didn't know God well enough for Him to fill every void. Don't be mistaken, this was by no fault of His, but completely mine. I'm now in the process of getting to know God better than I know my friends.

My biggest lesson the last few weeks has been that I am on this earth for one purpose. To make His name great. I am not here to live an exciting, adventurous, or even comfortable life. In everything I do, I am here to make Him known. To show His love, mercy, and power. In that, I have realized that I will rarely know what I am actually doing but God will always know what He is doing. He delights in being strong in my weakness.  That is so much of the beauty of this story. Through God's grace, He is using me to write another part of His story. And even though it is difficult  a lot of the time, that is what gets me through. The simple fact that this is His plan and I am only in it by His will, to make Him known.

Grace and Peace,


Monday, July 30, 2012

Nothing Without Love

A week ago today I got on a plane and set out on my biggest adventure yet. With one backpack, three suitcases, a passport and lots of prayers, I was ready.  I met up with a missionary team in Atlanta and ventured across the ocean on a long, but exciting flight to Accra, Ghana. After spending three very long hours in customs because of items the team brought to give to the village children, we headed to the GILLBT guest house not far from the airport. I had been traveling for over 24 hours by the time we arrived at the guest house and was exhausted. We had to be up by 5 am the next morning to take one more short flight to Tamale (Tah-mah-ley). Once we arrived at the airport I was greeted by Dan and Di Dzokotoe, the lovely couple that I am now living with.

The drive from the airport to their house was the first time I really saw Africa, but it was like I had been here many times before in my mind.  I was not shocked by the women carrying babies on their backs and baskets on their heads, or barefoot children with ragged clothes, or homes made of scrap metal and trash that lined the streets. I was shocked that I wasn’t shocked by it all. After arriving at the Dzokotoe’s home I walked through the backyard to the school. The children greeted me and yelled out “Auntie Becca!”, I was told that the last American girl that left only days before I arrived was named Becca and we look quite a bit alike. Meeting the children for the first time almost brought me to tears because I have waited so long for that moment. Before I left America I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that I would really be teaching in Africa soon, but standing in front of them made it all very real.
goats in Tamale 
A few of the kids at school

On Friday I was able to go out with the IHH team (the group I flew over with) to the village of Tarikpaa which is about a 40 minute drive from Tamale. We met with the Ghanaian team in the church that is being built in the village. We had an hour of prayer to start the day off. It was more of a traditional Ghanaian prayer meeting so there was lots of loud singing, praying all at once, and translating from English to Dagbani.  At the end, Pastor Mohammad called me up to the front and told everyone there what I am doing at the school and the entire group prayed for me. It is hard to describe how that moment felt. But try to imagine over 50 people, young and old, different languages, all praying for you and the work you will be doing. It was an untouchable moment.  We then walked into the village hand in hand with beautiful, barefoot, dark skinned, little kids. My heart was so happy. We got to meet the chief of the village. He has a nice hut where he was sitting up on a platform and we sat around him in chairs and on the floor. He was very kind and even let us take a picture with him at the end. It is acceptable in Ghanaian culture to have multiple wives and he currently has 3 and over 40 children. The last thing we got to do in the village that day was visit Pastor Mohammad’s home. He lives in a very small hut with other huts connecting to his that his wife and children sleep in. He wishes that he and his wife could sleep in the same hut but it is their culture that the wife sleeps in a room with the children and since their goal is to reach the people of the village they want to be as much like them as possible without going against their own beliefs.  Something that I just cannot get out of my mind is when his wife showed us where she sleeps. Two plastic mats sit in the corner that she rolls out at night on the concrete floor. Beside it was just her bible. She was not ungrateful or ashamed of her living conditions, but she was satisfied with what she did have. It painted the most beautiful picture of simplicity and truly relying on God. It made me feel very ashamed of the way I have lived so richly in America. I was reminded how overly blessed I have been growing up with more than I could ever truly need. I never want to forget her and her similarity to the woman described in Proverbs 31. I’ve never met a woman that depicts the scripture as well as she did, and I had only just met her.
walking through Tarikpaa

huts in Tarikpaa village

The IHH team with the chief of Tarikpaa

just love 

the woman in the center is Pastor Mohammad's wife, this is her kitchen

this is where Pastor Mohammad's wife sleeps

saying "goodbye"

In this city of about 1.5 million Ghanaian people, one white American stands out and there is no other way to put it. I am getting used to all of the stares and waves because of my skin color, people telling me they want to be my friend just because they think I have money,  the Muslim call to prayer that wakes me up at 4 am every morning (also after lunch and dinner, every day), cold showers, power going out at any time and for however long, never using my left hand (it is considered and insult), never being in a rush for anything, going to bed early, never wearing makeup, and long skirts every day.

 However, I was fearful of what I would teach these people and how I was going to help them. Twice within two days before I arrived in Tamale the scripture 1 Corinthians 13:3 was shared with me in America and in Ghana by different people.  "If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.”  God was so clearly telling me that all I have to do is love them. I complain to God often that I hate how much love my heart has to give, because it often just leaves me with a broken heart and people to miss. This is absolutely why God gave me the heart he did, to love these people. I may not have any clue why God has called me here or what exactly I am doing to help them, but I do know that I can love them. 

village children 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

12 Bittersweet Days!

I haven't posted in a long while, sorry about that!  A lot has changed since I last posted. I graduated college, moved out of my house into my parents, switched towns, changed jobs, and a lot more little things. I am a bit of a procrastinator, so my "Africa to-do list" has been sitting on my bedside table and rarely does anything get marked off. Until now that is! I am 12 short days away from beginning the journey to Ghana!

 It is amazing to me to see how things come together. I am easily overwhelmed by the amount of things I have to get done before a certain point, but when I truly hand it over to God, it always gets done at just the right time and in the right way. I now have my passport, visa, vaccines, malaria pills, itinerary and more long skirts than I will ever need!

Story time: I was expecting to pay about $200 for my prescription medications to take with me so I was putting it off till the last minute (because that will make it cheaper, right?) and yesterday I went to get them filled, said a little prayer on my way there that they would be affordable and if they weren't that I just accept it and not dwell on it. When I went to pay, they were only $50! 1/4th of the amount I was prepared to pay! When I got home I was then even more blessed by my dad giving me that same amount to cover the cost. I was busy worrying about how much they would be because it would cut out of the funds I have to live on while I am there, and the whole time God knew I wouldn't have to pay a penny for them. I'm truly learning to cast my cares on the Lord in this whole process.

"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22

When I have read this verse in the past, I just thought it meant tell God what you are worried about and he will take care of it. After just reading it again, I began to really think about what "cast" means. The definition is to "throw something forcefully..". Throwing forcefully and casually sharing are two very different things. If we are intentionally casting our cares on the Lord, we are giving all of our worry to Him and leaving none left for ourselves. He will work in amazing ways if we begin to follow this command.

I am more than certain that God is going to keep me safe and provide for me on my journey, but I ask for your prayers too. If you feel called to pray for me please focus on these specific needs:

-Safety in all of my travels to and from Ghana.

-Openness and flexibility to things that are different from what I expect.

-Financial support for living expenses while I am there and funds to return to Ghana after the first 6 months there if it be in God's plan.

-Ability to recall what I have learned and use it to my best ability to help teach the students and teachers of Greater Heights International School.

-Confidence to share God's love with the Ghanaian people.

-To clearly hear God's voice and learn why I am called to Ghana and what my future holds.

I will hopefully be posting more often with updates from Ghana!

Grace and Peace,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where Love is Fear Won't Tread

Last Saturday was the 100 day mark. I've been anxiously anticipating this day and now that it has come I am slightly more realistic than I expected to be. I thought that I would be full of the excitement that I have been holding back, but instead the fear that I have been hiding and ignoring began to overshadow that excitement. All day Saturday, on the 100th day till departure, I had the strangest mix of emotions towards going to Africa. Like I posted before, emotions have been a very real part of this entire adventure. For some reason, in my mind, I was not able to have any true feelings toward the trip until the countdown hit 100. Yes, I have been excited, and nervous, and anxious, and sad, and curious, but it was all a blur.
I have had countless people ask me "Are you scared?" I always respond with the same thing, "Yes, but I know it is what I am supposed to do." I put on a face that portrays confidence and I leave it at that. Not only have I been convincing others that I am brave and unafraid of moving halfway across the world to a country I've never been and to live among people I've never met, but I have also been convincing myself of the same disillusion.
Monday night I was at a bible study that I attend regularly and we were worshiping with singing and praying. I was in a living room full of like-minded people. We come from all different walks of life but we have one thing in common; we all love the same God. As I was sitting, surrounded by friends, praying and singing to the Lord, I broke before Him. I confessed that I am terrified to leave. I am scared beyond anything I've ever known to leave these people. How can I leave them? I don't want to. I cannot imagine not having them right next to me, a phone call away, and in the same community.
In the middle of praying these things to the Lord which I had not even realized until that night, a dear friend came up to me and told me she was going to pray for me. I always feel honored when someone wants to pray for me so I gladly nodded, giving her the goahead. She began to pray over me the exact words that I had said to the Lord just moments before. I was in awe. Completely humbeled before God, I began to sob. I could not hold in the fear any longer, the Lord was asking me to give it all to Him. The words that the Lord spoke through her to me are something I will cherish forever. I know that our God is a loving, caring, compassionate, real, and present God. He is active in our lives and He wants to be in every aspect of them.
The one thing that my friend kept asking me was "Is God big enough?" Is God big enough for our problems? Our fears? Our secretes? Our insecurities? Our worries? I know He is!   Is God big enough for you?

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not My Plan

Emotions are a strange thing. I have never felt such opposite feelings in all of my life. I am constantly excited and yet terrified both at the same time, with many more emotions mixed in between. There have been a few nights that I have cried myself to sleep while letting my mind reel of how lonely I most likely will be while in Africa but the Lord gently whispers "you will never be alone" and I am reminded that He has led me here and He will be with me the whole journey. On the other hand, multiple times a week someone I don't know very well at all will ask me about Africa or someone will post words of encouragement on my facebook and I truly cannot smiling because of the feeling that I get when I think about what I will be doing over there. When I get lost in thought (usually during class, sorry professors) of being in Africa I can actually hear, see, and feel it. I can hear the kids coming up to me and hugging my leg, I can see the red dirt all over my feet, I can hear the kids laughing and learning and it gives me a feeling inside of complete joy that I cannot put into words. I have come to believe that it is simply the devil trying to stop me when I think of being alone and scared. Then the Lord reminds me again that this is HIS plan and I am able to see the joy and feel His peace.

Things are coming together just as they should. I have my passport and the airline ticket has been reserved.Support letters are sent and fundraisers are being planned. Bracelets have been ordered to sell and will be in soon. Raising the money is a huge part of this  and it is easy for me to become overwhelmed by the dollar amount but again, I have to remind myself that I did not plan this, He planned this and He will make a way for me to go. I am so excited to see the Lord work in this aspect of the trip. This is where I have the most doubt and I know that He will just blow me away.