Monday, March 30, 2015

My New Normal

The longer I live in Niger, the more difficult it seems for me to write a blog post.  When I first moved here, everything was new and exciting, very different from suburban life in Pennsylvania.  Informing friends and family back home was easy because of my many new encounters with Niamey.  Now, the once-crazy, jaw-dropping sights on the streets or in the market place are less shocking.  I don't find myself staring and I no longer have to tell myself to "get a grip, Hannah, it's just Niger."  Niger has become my new normal.

Don't get me wrong, of course there are some hilarious sights when you are out and about - a man talking on his cell phone while riding a camel, four men riding one motorcycle, bush taxis packed inside and out with chickens, goats and mattresses.  You really never know what you are going to get.  Niger is unexpected like that.  But I'm learning to expect the unexpected.

I've recently begun driving in Niger (wahoo!), which is a big accomplishment for me, since when I first came here driving was a rather stressful idea.  But I have some friends who have graciously loaned me their car and I've successfully made it to the airport, various restaurants, the grocery store, the tailor, church, and friends' houses.

With only one more quarter left of the school year, I can confidently say that teaching has become more normal, as well.  Much like Niamey, every day is an adventure, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.  By no means am I perfect, but I find joy in being with my students and am sad to think that I only have one more quarter left with them, some of them leaving Niger for good.

"Adulting," a term I stole from a good friend (thanks, Debbi!), is something I hope I am getting better at, too.  Being on the other side of things (the adult, rather than the child), has given me plenty of opportunities to learn, mess up, and relearn.  I am finding it challenging to maintain consistent discipline.  Yes, discipline is Biblical, but how do you discipline in a godly way?  I've never really been in a position in which it is necessary to rebuke.  Of course, I've held leadership roles before, but being an adult feels much different, and in a lot of cases with my students, I am the higher authority, making the calls.  I have found that it's not fun for me to send students to the principal's office or have them lose a few minutes of recess.  And yet, I'm learning the importance for me to follow through.  Actions have consequences and that's an important lesson that I hope my second graders are learning!

I had a humbling encounter last week during parent teacher conferences.  As the third quarter ended, I had the opportunity to touch base with about half of my students' parents.  As I ended one conference in particular, my offer to pray for them was reciprocated.  I immediately felt encouraged and convicted as they prayed that I would be a godly example for their child.  Those are the kind of prayers that I so desperately need.

I continue to navigate life and the journey is not always smooth.  I trip and fall and get back up again over and over.  So yes, may the students I serve and teach see my mistakes, but may they also see the redemption of God Almighty through me.  I think being a godly example does not mean that I have to be perfect, but rather that Christ's perfection covers me.  I want to live in that - in the truth that I am made new in Christ.

As we celebrate Easter, remember exactly what this celebration means for you in your everyday life.  It is more than a holiday and an excuse to eat candy.  It is a glorious remembrance of  Christ's death and resurrection, giving us holy access to God Emmanuel, Redeemer, Counselor, and Friend.

Happy Easter, everyone!

"He is not here, he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay."  Matthew 28:6

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