Monday, May 23, 2016

Past, Present, and Future Blessings

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift.  That is why it is called the present."  -Master Oogway, Kung Fu Panda (Bill Keane)

Hello all,

It's been awhile since I've posted.  And, well, I miss you.  I'm glad we meet again here.  Welcome to my life in Niger, West Africa.

Fourth grade has a paper chain count down for "days until we become 5th graders."  There are only 6 more rings on the chain.  Can you believe it?!  Fourth grade just started yesterday, right?

As I reflect on this year, I realize just how good God has been to me.  On Sunday, we were reminded of the importance and power of remembering.  I don't want to forget that Jesus has graced me with blessing after blessing.  My heart is filled with gratitude:

  • I had the privilege of being joined by my parents, a testimony to the entire community here.  I never thought I would teach at the same school as my mom or have classroom help from my dad.  What a blessing.
  • God blessed me with a wonderful class and class parents.  I loved every field trip, read aloud book, and creative paper.  
  • I was blessed with wonderful housemates.  Housemates who loved me well.  Who did the dishes countless times for me, helped hostess lovely parties, and who would listen to my heartaches. 
  • And my neighbors.  I couldn't have asked for better neighbors.  They take care of us single gals - fixing water filters, installing lights, replacing locks and keys, and sharing meals.  

It's exciting to move on and to look forward to what's ahead.  But it's also sad to end another season.  I am filled with mixed emotions as I celebrate the many blessings of this past year.  And yet, I grieve the loss of friends, as June begins the yearly mass migration of students, teachers, and friends.

I'm grateful for the past, living the present, and anticipating the future.  I am so thankful for what I have to look forward to:

  • I am an aunt!  I get to meet my niece Ellie Jane, who was born April 4th. 
  • I have the honor of participating in the sweet marriage of my good friend Abby.  She and Stephen tie the knot June 18th in Michigan, which means...road trip!
  • My youngest brother graduated from Grove City this May!  I am so proud of him and look forward to catching up on lost time. 
  • I look forward to family, friends, and a summer at home.  God is good.  

Reflecting develops gratitude and anticipation produces motivation.  But I don't want to forget to be fully present.  Just as Jim Elliot said, "Wherever you are, be all there."  So I take time to list everyday blessings:

  • Rain.  This May has brought more rain than anyone expected (last year it didn't rain until almost July).  Thunderstorms bring a freshness and coolness that is so life-giving in a dry desert.
  • Friends.  I received an unexpected phone call from a friend who recently moved to the bush.  What a blessing to know that she is well and to catch up.
  • Teachers.  The staff at Sahel are a different kind of people.  A couple weeks ago, I was sick almost all week.  A fellow elementary teacher didn't hesitate to step in and take on my class in addition to her own!  While being sick was miserable, I felt so loved and cared for.  Teachers are super heroes.  
  • Newborns.  There have recently been many new babies being born in our community.  I had the privilege of visiting one of these newborns of a mother at my church.  What a gift to hold him, just 2 days old.  His naming ceremony is on Saturday.

Thank you for journeying with me.  Thank you for your prayers and support.  Thank you for kneeling before Jesus on my behalf.  I have needed every prayer.  And my need for Christ hasn't changed.  From the first day I boarded a plane to Niger until now.  If anything, my realization of my need for Jesus has only increased.  I am a sinner in need of Almighty God's grace and mercy.

Thank you,

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