Monday, April 14, 2014

Tanzania

There is so much to say about this amazing trip but I know that long-winded blogposts can get old really fast. So I'll try to be as brief as possible.

Myself along with 3 other adults from BFA took 23 kids to work with the Masai people in Longido Tanzania. Most of our work was done at the school that was located right behind the campsite where we stayed. Everyday we did VBS with the students there and spent the afternoons just hanging out with them. A group of our students also worked on a fence to build around the school to keep out unwanted animals. As last year was with Kyrgyzstan, this year also changed my worldview of life. I tend to forget just how much we take for granted living where we live. Last night when I got home, I reveled in taking an actual shower and not pouring water over my head with a bucket of water that had to be boiled first in order to rid the parasites away. When I brushed my teeth it was the first time in over a week that I didn't have to use a bottle of water and not tap water. And when I got into bed, I didn't have to check for scorpions or other insects.

I got to experience going to church at a traditional African church and it was something I've always wanted to do. Worshiping alongside the people there, I could feel the Lord's presence saturating the tiny building where we met. It was hot and by the time the service ended, I could feel sweat dripping all over me but I didn't care.

One of my favorite experiences was getting to meet a sweet girl named Anna. She immediately connected with me the first day. We got to talk everyday and the last day that I said goodbye, Anna wept in my arms. She gave me a handmade necklace before I had to go. I left her two pairs of shoes. It wasn't enough and I wished I could've left her with more.

And for those of you who know me well, I went hiking up a mountain in the African bush. And I survived! Despite the teasing from the other leaders a/b there being cobras lurking (and I don't even want to know if there were!) I made it! The view in itself was worth every bit of it!

A piece of my heart is still in Tanzania and always will be. I met some great people there that I'll never forget. I'm so grateful to Pam & Dan who were our leaders and did so much for us. I hope I get to go back next year because of the experiences had.






Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Annie & Prague

These two events happened within two weeks of each other. Which explains why I didn't get a blog post up about it. Life has been crazy to say the least.

Annie,Jr.
My middle schoolers rocked this show. Seriously, rocked it. I have never been so proud of a production before in my life. They worked so hard and gave 3 stellar performances. At the end, multiple kids were asking me if we could take the show on tour. Obviously, I would've agreed wholeheartedly had it not been for the fact that I kind of had to work and they kind of had to go to school ;)



Prague
Last year I took a group of Choir kiddos to Budapest for the annual ACSI Honors Choir & Strings Festival. This year, we got to go to Prague. I had an amazing time w/my kids and co-workers. It was so much fun to hang out with them and to see them work as hard as they did on 10 pieces of extremely difficult music. I'm pretty sure I was the wild card Choir teacher there. I don't do classical pieces. It's just not me. But listening to my kids sing them really made me wish I'd been trained in that capacity. It's ok. I like Broadway and Pop way too much ;)


And next up.....
I leave for Tanzania on Friday to co-lead an M-Trip w/3 other leaders and 24 kids. I don't foresee life slowing down until May...maybe June.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Watching Goodbye

"I hate saying goodbye!"

We were standing at a tram stop last night in Prague about to go back to our hostel. I turned around and saw one of my senior girls clinging to a friend she'd gotten to spend time with over the weekend at the Honors Choir & Strings Festival at Christian International School of Prague. They'd been friends since elementary and they're both graduating in a few months, going to different schools. Elizabeth knew she wouldn't be back to Prague for a long time and she has no idea when she'll see her friend again.

As we boarded the tram, I watched her sobbing as she looked out the window while Prague passed her by. She had to say a lot of goodbyes this weekend in a very short amount of time. I took it all in, watched her crying, and my heart broke for her. It's what so many of my kids go through year after year.

Saying goodbye isn't something that comes easily, no matter how many times you do it. The interaction between Elizabeth and her friend last night was proof of that.

Monday, March 3, 2014

300 Kids is Why

This month has been a difficult one. When I found out my financial support had waned, I immediately went into a slight panic. I thought it would get better. When I got my last statement, it had only gotten worse. I resorted to the one thing I know how to do best - rely on myself. Friends and family - well meaning of course - told me I should look into options back in the States. "It would be easier"... "You won't have to be stressed about raising money"... "You'd be near the beach again" (is it wrong that that last statement is the one that I resonated with the most??). And so I caved for a few days. I looked online for job listings. I even printed out a job application "just to see." I began to think how comfortable I'd be if I were closer to my family again, back at my old church in Ft. Lauderdale, not to mention only a few miles from Miami. I got lost in daydreams of how "perfect" life would be. I'd be making money and I'd be "comfortable."

And then we left for High School Retreat on Friday.

The theme over the weekend was Colossians 1 & 2. To summarize it - things will happen, we're going to mess up, but God is bigger and he loves us more than we'll ever realize. It was a weekend of being with the small group that I co-lead with Elizabeth and bonding even more with our girls. Talking deep, big stuff with each other. Exploring a medieval German city. By Saturday night sitting in the session, I knew this was where I was supposed to be. And then later that evening, I sat down with Rachel and told her what I'd been struggling with.

"My family and friends want me home. And it seems easier to get a job back there then go through the valley of raising support again"

Rachel took my hand and said, "God always places you where he wants you. You have gifts that belong at BFA. You're doing exactly what you love. The easy thing is to go home and get a job but you know that God's plan isn't easy." (She might not have said those exact words but it was something to that effect).

That's when it hit me. Of course it's not easy. It's not easy to send out an email where I'm basically telling people, "Hey, I need money" and not feel like the world's most vulnerable person. It's not easy to sit here in Germany, wondering if I'll make it to next month and knowing that I'm incapable of doing anything else. I'm here because God put me here and until I know for a fact that He is calling me to leave, I'm not going anywhere. And if I know that to be true, I know that I'll be OK. No, from the outside it doesn't look like that. But I am relying on someone bigger than me, bigger than others' opinions of what I should do, bigger than my opinions of what I think is best.

Looking around at the 300 kids in the sessions this weekend, I feel at peace. I feel at home. This is where I'm supposed to be and I don't know for how long. I just know that I love my job and I love these kids and God's not finished with me here just yet.

(photo courtesy of James Grout, our speaker this weekend)

The best small group on earth


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Immunization. Check.

So I leave for Tanzania in about a month and a week. Today I had to get my last immunization for the trip, which was a Yellow Fever shot.

Yes. Yellow Fever.

Had anyone told me a few years ago, "Hey, so you're going to go on a mission project trip to Tanzania and you have to get at least 2 shots before you go..." I would have said, "Yeah, no. I don't do trips where I have to get immunized"

I hate shots. HATE them. Like I still try to talk the doctor out of them when I have to get one. And let's not even start when he has to draw blood. I've been known to say (a time or three), "Didn't you just get my blood last year? I don't think it's changed." The only reason I don't have a tattoo is because I cannot stand the thought of a needle jabbing into my skin over and over and over again. And yes, I know that after a while you "don't feel it" but I don't care. I can barely handle the prick that goes into my skin when the needle meets it's point. I still will never understand with all of the brilliance in modern medicine how we have not figured out a way to get the immunization into the bloodstream w/o using a needle.

All that to say...I have successfully been immunized to the point where I'm wondering if I've missed any? I feel like with the Yellow Fever shot that's kind of my ticket to go into any country and be OK. I feel the same way about the Polio and Typhoid shots. "Bring it on disease! I'm immunized!"

And I have to admit that once the shot was done, it was a great relief. I felt like I could start to really get excited about the trip and the kids who're going with me.

Of course in about two weeks or so, we have to start on our Malaria meds. But there's no needles with that. We all just might be violently ill for a few days.

Still, I'd rather be violently ill than have malaria.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Galentines Day


Justina's birthday is today and so yesterday as part of her birthday weekend, she wanted a few of us to  venture to the thermal baths outside of Basel. Thermal baths are really popular around this area and there are a few around Kandern, but the Sole Uno in Rheinfelden is our favorite! You have a choice of several saunas that are scented with eucalyptus, sea salt, citrus, or other refreshing scents. There is a Hamam (Turkish bath), outdoor salt pool, whirlpool, and my favorite is the Dead Sea salt pool where you float in a pool of dead sea salts and listen to music playing under the water! All eight of us left feeling very relaxed and pampered! We ended our evening with take out from our favorite Italian restaurant and a lot of laughing until late into the night.

Yeah, Valentine's Day doesn't really appeal to me right now and I've become more cynical about it the older I get, but last night was among one of my favorite ways to spend the day! I'm so thankful as always for the friendships God has given me over here!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Rainy German Days

This semester has already flown by. How is it that we are only 3 weeks away from March? Not to mention 4 weeks from today the last performance of Annie, Jr. will be happening. If it's true that every year goes faster the older you get, then I'm living proof.

Today I woke up feeling more tired than usual. I'm pretty sure staying up until 4am last Monday threw me off of a decent sleep schedule. Yet another reminder that I'm not 21 anymore and definitely in my mid-thirties. So most of the week I was having trouble sleeping and was thankful that my body clock let me sleep in past 8. It was kind of a miracle. Anyway, so I woke up to a rainy day and had already made plans to go with Amy to F├╝nfschilling for lunch. Tonight I was supposed to spend the evening with my former pastor's wife but due to illness, we had to reschedule. I got home at 4:00 and as bummed as I was about not being able to spend time with my friend tonight, there was something about putting on my sweats and platzing in front of the Olympics that excited me. Especially because ice dancing was on.

I think I'm realizing that as extroverted as I am and as much as I love being around people, there are just some days - like today - that remind me it's OK to have some time for myself. Justina is out with friends tonight and I've made a cup of Chai and plan on watching something on Netflix later while munching on kale chips. Yes, I'd say I've mastered the art of relaxation today. Especially because the next few weekends will not allow me this chance until well after Spring Break. I don't mind the quiet, the empty house, or the rain. With all I've got going on, I feel as though this is kind of God's surprise gift to me today...