Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Journal of Today

Devotions today:

"Now may the God of peace (not chaos or turmoil)
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great shepherd of the sheep,
by the blood of the eternal covenant,
equip you with everything good (yes, it really says that!!)
that you may do His will,
working in us that which is pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen."

And I am now done with Hebrews. What a blessing of a book it has been to read through. :-)

* Spending time filling in for the house-parents helping the kids with their homework and spending time hanging out with them. It was absolutely wonderful.
* Chatting further with the principal of the school. She is such a sweet lady and so very approachable!

* Always have in mind what COULD go wrong in the lesson and do everything possible to prevent the problems from even getting started. Being a teacher is all about having eyes to see into the future.... Kind of like the verse in Proverbs "The wise man foresees the evil and hideth himself, but the simple pass on and are punished." Hmm, I never applied that to teaching before this moment. lol
* As a teacher, I can make conversation with the kids while I am handing out the worksheet that we are going to look over. I could even ask, "What would you like to know about me? Are you interested in my family? My hobbies? My university (college)?" And before the kids even realize it, the worksheet will be passed out.

* Waking up dreading the unknowns of the day (I have to be honest, I was nervous for the way the day would go with my professor here to observe our teaching) and then being blessed to see the most gorgeous sunrise shining out over the African plain. Seriously, I can't even put it into words how beautiful it was. I think it was there as God's special affirmation to me :-)
* Papa John's sporadic invitation to take the four of us interns out to eat tonight (even though it was just Nando's, which is the equivalant of Culvers I suppose here in South Africa) Emily summed it up nicely when she spoke from the backseat, "It feels like Dad is taking us out to dinner!"

Two more days of the first term! Then we have a week long break to further explore Africa.... Oh boy I'm looking forward to that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


In my journal, I've been (trying) to write each day just a short bit about what happened during that day in Africa. I've been finding it's easiest to break down the day into 3 meaningful categories, and just jot a couple things under each.
Like this: :-)

* Having my lessons all ready to go for tomorrow

* Mama Fran coming over and voluntarily making Kettle Corn for Emily and I while we watched Bolt (yay for hilarious kiddie movies!)

Lessons Learned
* Believe in the kids.... I want to be an inspiring teacher who sees each student for who God made him and how God could use him. Tomorrow, I'll be talking about a letter-writing competition that my students are entering. Their assignment is to write to a famous athlete explaining what is special about the Olympics. Rather than just assume that my kids probably won't win the nation-wide competition, I'd like to approach it with the idea that they have a unique perspective to offer. Like I said, if God will be gracious to help me in that, I want to inspire the kids to work hard to present what they have to offer to the world.

* To be honest, I've been battling the discouragement that I'm not doing enough and not making a big enough difference. I'm slow at writing lesson plans, and I don't have near the servant's heart that Emily has. It's true that no matter where you go in the world, you will still have the same sin problems tripping you up (and in the ministry, these sin hindrances will only be magnified times like fifty!)
But I realized tonight that's exactly Satan's desire. He knows that if I'm focused on my own impact, then it will be greatly downgraded. Don't let a seed of discouragement take root!! He will not have the upper hand. Just keep pressing on, not ceasing to do good and pour out love to people. God will strengthen me to do that and He will take care of the rest. He is so loving and good and faithful.
I even had three separate friends write to me over facebook today to say that they have been praying especially for me. For that I am grateful beyond words! I know their prayers make a marked difference on my outlook and daily life here.

* Sitting in the classroom for an hour after school talking with Heather about our students. It was so eye-opening to hear the background stories of the kids. It also gave me a better sense of how to approach them and how to better help them grow in godliness (or grow toward accepting God!)

* Mama Fran told me the story of how she made a scrapbook full of bird pictures for one of the third grade boys last week. She told him that it would be his job to label it and gave him an information book on birds. Then today she asked him how the scrapbook was coming. He said he had not started on it. At this she was very disappointed, and informed him that scrapbook took alot of time to make. She said she wanted it back so that it would not go to waste and unlabeled.
"Oh no, Mama Fran!" he said. "I just cannot find the book. If I knew where it was, I would work on it."
She took that time to use it as a teachable moment, saying, "You need to keep track of things. It's very important." And then she helped him to find the book.
And you know what? He sat down and labeled every single picture in the book right then.
I thought it was so cool of her to take an interest in him and take the opportunity to teach him to finish what he starts.

Anyway, that's usually the type of stuff I try to write every day (except not that detailed because I'm a much slower writer than typist :-) But you get the idea. It's a system that's working pretty well for me. And I'd say it makes it easier and more interesting to blog too!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Change of Scenery?

Maybe now that I'm in Africa I should change the snowman.

One of the 7th grade girls told me the other day that she's never seen snow.

Or maybe - haha- I will leave them up a while longer!....

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

South Africa So Far

Well, after a week and a half of being on a different continent and not blogging a single word, here I am!....

Mostly because mom facebooked me and said, "You need to write on your blog! That's how I know what's on your mind." And that made me smile. (Yes, I DO talk to my mom, but usually I'm so busy telling her all the stuff that's going on, I don't always take the time to write my contemplations.)

I can't believe I've already been in Africa for a week and a half. It's so different!
And since I can't find the rushing fountain of words tonight to tell you everything that I would truly love for you to know about my time here so far, I'll just make a list:

10 African joys

1. An orange/pink sunset beyond the Bethesda gate every single night
2. The spirited clapping and singing that filled the small, hot room used for the church services
3. Barefeet. Everyone. All the time. Or at least sandals :-)
4. Beads that the kids use to make necklaces so they can sell them to teams that come through.
5. The adventure it is to cook dinner every night with such minimal experience in the kitchen as Emily and I possess.
6. The birds. Every day I think I hear a new and foreign bird call. I'd like to know what some of the kinds are....
7. One of the boys in my class knocking on our door tonight with a shoelace draped across his hand like it was a snake. These kids.... :-)
8. Talking with the Mixons in the car on the way to and from church.
9. Watching Emily's reaction to seeing a zebra and an ostrich on way to church the first week.
10. Taking a walk around the property after school with any number of kids telling stories and begging to "Run, maam!"

And I haven't even gotten to the classroom part yet!
I will say this - since getting here, God has been answering specific prayer requests, and some in miraculously unexpected ways. It's nothing good that we do, but He is faithful as his servants at Bethesda keep looking to Him for wisdom. That's the cool thing - they really do seek HIS will in all things.
Right down to the teachers that we work with. Two of them live together, and they have been praying for wisdom to get a new car. Monday morning, we found out that God heard their prayer, and answered with a $20,000 gift from their church! This amazing story renewed my confidence in His faithfulness to provide. It's so fun to watch the teachers tell everyone. They are like little kids bragging on how strong their daddy is (pardon the illustration). :-)

Another awesome thing that happened is one of the kids in my class (grade 5) accepted Christ as his Savior last week! He has been here at the Children's Home for years and he has known what he needs to do to get saved, but so many people have been praying for him to actually make the choice to DO IT. Thank the Lord that Thursday he brought it up on his own, and wanted to pray with Miss Small right there in the class storeroom!

God is good, and He certainly is at work here in South Africa.