Thursday, May 19, 2016

This...


This is what the halls on third floor looked like a week ago.  Actually, this picture doesn't even begin to capture the chaos spilling out into the hall as students cleaned and packed.


This is the blurry line of grads Saturday.


This is when I tried to get a picture of all the grads after the ceremony, but I waited too long.  I was trying to be patient and not push through the crowd to get a shot, but maybe that was a bad strategy.


This is their class motto: Be who God declared you to be.


This is the senior class at Wayumi.


This is my new living room set-up.  There are still a few little things that I'd like to do, but at least the furniture buying is over.  Oh, and can I just say how thrilled I am with how comfy that loveseat is?


This is my snacking weakness: Cheez-its.  Did you know it would take 1.1 quintillion Cheez-its to fill the Grand Canyon?  I wonder how long it would take me to eat my way through 1.1 quintillion Cheez-its...


This is what ministry looks like sometimes - mountains and mountains of guest house laundry (and this doesn't count what was in the washer and dryer at the time).  Nothing even remotely glamorous there.  No seeming eternal significance.  Just...laundry.  And yet it's a very necessary part of running a guest house.


This is packing for my visit to West Africa...tomorrow!  Eeeek!


This is because my neighbor-friend, Kayla, asked me to dry flowers she was given just before she left town. 





And not pictured: the after-graduation bonfire Saturday night (with temperatures not far above freezing), the light dusting of snow (insanity!) waiting for us Sunday morning, the staff picnic tonight, the great study I had with Jackie (see the end of the my last post), or the way my brain has felt all week.

Speaking of how my brain has felt, I must keep pressing forward with my to-do list, or my brain will go into fits or possibly explode.  Which I'd like to avoid.

So, until I return from sunny Africa!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Of Tulips and Such {But Mostly Tulips}

I freely admit: I am obsessed with tulips.

It makes me immeasurably happy that spring here means tulips are blooming everywhere.  I take almost-daily walks, motivated more by the tulips I'll see around than by my need for exercise.  (Don't judge my motivation...I mean, I am still getting the exercise!)




The school grounds have been well cared for by one of the staff kids.  Actually, he's not really a kid, but that's beside the point.  He does a good job keeping things looking nice.  That's the point.


Daffodils.  Such sunny flowers.



This was one of my very favorite tulips.  Sadly, this plant is done blooming for the season.



- - -

Graduation is this Saturday.  I can hardly believe it.  See, when I came, people hadn't even come back from Christmas break, and now the end of the semester is just around the corner.  Where in the world did that time go?!


Last week, we had an evening for all the married senior ladies to share about their two years here and what God has taught them during this time.

So good.  So. good.

Of course, there were tears because the friendships formed in these two years are so special and so deep, and goodbyes are staring all of them in the face right now.  But there was also a lot of thankfulness that night.  God has been so good.  So faithful.  So amazing to work in their lives and shape and change and grow them.

Hearing their stories encouraged me very deeply.  First, I can never be reminded too many times how good and faithful God is.  Second, seeing the extent of transformation that has taken place in their lives over those two years reminded me that ministry here is valuable.  I have struggled with that.  With how people perceive my ministry here compared to what I could have been doing overseas.  ...Which is a rabbit trail I don't need to drag you down today, but suffice it to say I was grateful for the encouragement.


Here are married seniors (minus one) with their deans.

- - -

Sunday after church I took a mini-road trip with three friends for a tulip festival.  Tulips are my one weakness, you know.

I didn't get many pictures, and we didn't get to do everything I was expecting (partially because the town was insanely crowded with Mother's Day tourists and traffic was a mess).  However, we did see lots of tulips, and we got to walk around in the fresh air and sun, so I'd still say the day was a success.






Meet Martha, Meg, and Josephine.  They've been such fun to get to know this semester.  Martha and Josephine are graduating this Saturday, but happily, Meg still has a year left here.  I'm always glad to postpone goodbyes.


A lone windmill off in the distance.  Apparently you could see it up close (and maybe even go inside?)...for a price.  I don't recall seeing entry tickets mentioned on the park's website, so none of us girls were prepared to pay.  Or to stand in a long line to get to the ticket counter in the first place.  So we didn't.  We're brilliant like that.

- - -


I'm going through a study called "Facilitator Training" with Jackie, who was one of my small group leaders back at MTC.  I'm really enjoying the study so far (only about two weeks into it), and Jackie's input is going to be very beneficial, I can already tell.

That's all for today!  I doubt if you'll hear from me again until after graduation...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

This...


This was last Wednesday, when we finished "the unstapling project" (which is really just part of a bigger project, "the scanning project").

There are thirty-six drawers filled with files that need to be scanned.  First, though, all the staples needed to be taken out so the records would be ready to scan one at a time.  It sounds simple.  And it is.  It's just...well, you multiply a dozen or so staples in each file, by all the files in a drawer, by thirty-six drawers...and you have a project that takes longer than just a week or so.  Actually, though, with Tamara, Linda, and I all working on it regularly (and a couple other ladies helping as they were able), we got it done in about two months.  Now the real fun can begin: scanning every single one of those documents into our database...


Tamara's holding a jar of all the staples we pulled out.  It was a fun way to see our progress.


This was the school picnic on Saturday.


It was beautifully sunny day.  A bit on the chilly side, but still a good day for a picnic.  I'd forgotten how much I like picnics.



This was the lake we ate next to.  So gorgeous.



This was a gloriously foggy Tuesday morning.



This was in the school cleaning supplies room, and it made me laugh.


This is my friend Kayla, who came over last night for pizza and laughs and good conversations.  I'm happy right down to my toes that she's going to be around for another year.


This is my one weakness: tulips.  They're blooming everywhere right now.  I take walks everyday after work - even when it's wet and cloudy (like today) because there are tulips to see!  It's like a scavenger hunt.  "Find all the new tulips opening!"


- - -

Thought: it hasn't been a particularly easy week on a lot of levels.  But God keeps reminding me of His goodness, His faithfulness, and His unshakable love.  I'm so thankful that He is who He is.

Monday, April 25, 2016

She's Gotta Trust Him Too

Ling wasn't the easiest semester of training for me; I've told you guys that before.  There were a few especially memorable bad times.

One was a day when class had already been very challenging and we took a break for our usual mid-morning prayer time with the other classes.  The Ling class ahead of us was in Oklahoma for their practicum, but their teacher was there and gave us an update on how they were doing.  One of the ladies had two kids and was expecting her third during their time in Oklahoma.  She went into labor during one of her language sessions, but didn't let that stop her from finishing the. entire. session.  She gave birth that night - and the next day she had her language helper there, ready to keep going with sessions.  Talk about a rock star mama.

I went back to class feeling so small, so close to tears.  This is pathetic, I thought.  She's got three kids and can totally handle this but it's crazy hard for me and I don't even have a family.
I sensed the Lord saying, "She's got to trust Me, too.  You look at her life, and it may seem so easy.  Maybe linguistics really does come easy for her and maybe it isn't something she struggles to trust Me for.  But there's something else, something you may never know about, that she has to trust Me for."

Perhaps my posts over the last few months have painted an overly-rosy picture.  I do love being here.  I do love my life and what God is giving me and teaching me in this season.  You may be sitting in the middle of your own struggles right now; maybe it seems like my life is easy by comparison and that I don't have to make much of an effort to trust God.

My coworkers are great (a blessing I realize not everyone enjoys).  I enjoy my roles.  I'm content with the church I've found.  It hasn't necessarily been a huge struggle to trust Him in those areas.

And yet...I still have such a desperate need to depend on Him.  There are things I need His wisdom in, situations I don't know how to handle, priorities I'm not sure how to manage, areas of stretching and even painful growth that may not be obvious to others.

What I'm trying to say is this: We. all. need. Him.  No matter what it looks like on the outside, nobody has it all under control.  The Lord gives us different talents, different circumstances, and different abilities.  Looking at someone else's life, it may seem like they'd have an easier time of it than we do.

Truth says we all have to trust and God gives each of us different opportunities to learn that.  Your opportunity to trust may not be mine, but I will have another opportunity to trust.  So much discouragement could be avoided if we stopped comparing what God is doing in someone else's life to how He chooses to work in our own.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Home Sweet Home {Wherever THAT Is}

Home is where the heart is.

Home is where your story begins.

Home is not a place, it's a feeling.


There are all kinds of sentiments out there about what home is.  It's something that I've thought a lot about in the last couple months, mostly thanks to the move here.

People ask me where home is sometimes...and it's funny to me.  Usually, in this context, they mean, "Where are you from?"

Easy.  California.  In a sense it'll always be home; it's where I spent all of my childhood and it's where my parents and sisters still live.

But it doesn't feel entirely like home anymore.

In just a month, I'm going back to Senegal for a visit.  That was home at one point, too.   Home enough that - in spite of all the challenges - leaving was very difficult.

But that isn't home anymore, either.

Sometimes I wonder how I'd describe home and what actually determines where (or what) that is.  I don't know that I necessarily agree with three statements above.

The fact is that every place God has brought me to has eventually become home, if only for a little while.  And maybe any place can be home if we choose to accept it as such.  If we choose to be all there wherever God leads us, maybe that's home.

I don't know.  Just thinking. :)

- - -

Some of life (in "Home Sweet Home") right now -



Kayla, my next-dorm-neighbor, gave me half a dozen plantlets the other week (so sweet!).   I got them to root in water...



...and then turned my kitchen into a potting station.



I added a couple pots to my apartment collection and took the others down to my office.




Have I told y'all how much I love plants?



I have really been enjoying the ladies study at church.  We're going through a book called Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted (which I'd highly recommend).  I went through this study at a ladies retreat when I was in Missouri ('way back in 2010!), and it's been so cool to go through it again.   Obviously I'm at a completely different point in life than I was then, and just seeing the growth and change in perspective that the Lord has brought about since then is so encouraging to me.



My new kitchen table and chairs.  The picture is lame, but the table is really lovely.  Exactly what I was hoping to find.



Oh, and then there's this part of life.



I may have left nephews in Senegal and California, but happily there are still adorable little boys in my life and I'm so glad I get to claim them.















Spring has come!  Almost overnight, it seemed, the trees just burst into bloom.  And I cannot even begin to express how happy I am to see tulips in bloom.  (So happy, apparently, that I forgot to take pictures.)



Daily walks are now possible (without the risk of freezing, I mean).  It hardly seems possible that only a week passed between this picture and one with a thick blanket of snow covering everything.



The office has a few more frames now...



...and a couple plants.  The three frames on the right are ones I made with fabric I brought back from Senegal.

And that's all for today, friends!