Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Right now I'm snug as a bug, curled up in bed  at grandma's house. The past 2 weeks have been an amazing and wonderful whirlwind of events.

The excitement started when I arrived have 5 days earlier than my family expected. After 40 hrs of traveling, I arrived sleepy to Greenville and spent the night with my goddaughter and her family. The next morning I surprised my mom in her classroom, by walking in with a birthday cake and singing happy birthday. The shocked look on her face was priceless!

Later, I also surprised my dad at his work asi came to pick him up so we could head to my brother's graduation. 

And the last big surprise was for Chris, my brother who was graduating with a second degree in nursing. Both he and I were nearly in tears, as well as several of the other nursing students. I was so excited that I could be there to see him graduate from none other than my alma-mater, AU!

The rest of my time here has been spent seeing friends, birthday parties,  concerts, Christmas parties,  traveling, beaches, playing with neices, snuggles, sleepovers, family and more. Right now I'm in a tough place of wondering, "why did I ever leave the people and places I love so much?"

And the answer is...  Does life ever come easy? Did Mary want to leave the family, friends and town she knew so well, when she was just about to have a baby? 

Did Joseph want to leave Bethlehem when he was just getting settled, so that he could take his family to a foreign land where his ancestors had been slaves generations prior? 

These weren't the first choice plans for their lives, but it WAS exactly what God had in mind. (He even sent angels to send the message) right now, the thought of not seeing my family for 6 more months makes me really sad, but I know it's God's plan for my life. 

God never promises that life will be easy, but he does promise to be faithfully by our side. I guess what I'm trying to say is thy if you saw snapshots of my life, maybe you'd think I had it all, but life is a struggle. Thankfully, today we celebrate the birth of the ONE who was perfect. And because if his perfect life and death I know that these difficulties are merely temporarily. Even on Christmas Day, the one day where we want everything to be perfect and everyone joyous, we still live with the weight of our sin. We look forward each year and hope for the perfect Christmas. Someday, I'll get to spend the ultimate Christmas where there is no more suffering. Thank you Jesus for coming and making that possible!

Merry Christmas and God bless you everyone!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Pageant

"Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of year"

Things are wrapping up for the year. Today I finished my last day of classes, then next week we have exams, then it's homeward bound to see my family and friends!  

While I love my students, and know that God has called me here to ACA, I am also really longing to be home right now. I know I complain about the cold in the winter, but sweating through a Christmas pageant is a new one for me. 

When you haven't grown up with warm winters, it's hard to get into the Christmas spirit, especially with every other song being about snow and sleigh bells. That's not to say that I haven't been singing Christmas songs non-stop for the past week. I'm enjoying getting to see some of the Christmas traditions here in Nigeria. 

Tonight our lower school had their annual Christmas pageant. Looking around the packed auditorium tonight, I was struck again by the fact that we have so many different cultures under our roof. As our students were singing their hearts out about the birth of the King, I got teary-eyed and my heart began to swell as I realized, maybe the parents and families here can learn about Christ through the singing of  a 7 year old. 

"Going to see the King, king of everything..."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

God bless the USA

Last week I participated in Namaste, an Indian celebration. If you could have told me exactly a year ago, that I would be performing and dancing in front of a crowd of around 350 people from India, I believe I would have laughed in your face.However, that is exactly what we did. 

When we were asked to represent our culture, we were completely stuck. Our South African friends decided to do a Afrikaans tribal dance. Several Indian friends were showcasing dances from their region, but as an American, what do we do? How would we represent America, this blend of so many cultures. 

We struggled with this for weeks, until we realized we had to come up with something or else we'd look completely foolish standing on stage. 

So in a cumulative effort, we decided to do a little skit with dancing to show how diverse America is. We started out with a Bollywood ( India's film industry) dance. Meghan and I learned the steps to Jia Ho, the song at the end of Slumdog Millionare. 

After doing the dance, our "director," Lee Ann, cut us off, saying that it didn't quite showcase "America."
Next, we showed a little bit if Nollywood(yes, it's a real thing, Nigeria has it's own film industry) Sam and Gretchan came out dancing to "Azonto," which is technically from Ghana, but hey, it works. 

Finally, together we showcased Hollywood, with several songs and dances we made up to go along. 

We started out with "Born in the USA"

Followed by, "Surfin' the USA"

Then we all started line dancing to "Cotton Eye Joe"

We finished with a dramatic, "Proud to be an American"and right there, on stage, I realized that I'd never felt as patriotic as I did at that moment, raising the our American flag up, in front of hundreds of people from different cultures. I guess you could say that's the thing that defines us. We are proud of who we are. 

And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.!

The event ended in a fashion show. Most of the ladies wore clothing from their regional areas of India, but there were several internationals who brought other cultures clothing to the show. I was asked to be the “showstopper” and wear a western wedding dress next to a woman who wore her beautiful wedding sari.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day of Thanksgiving

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
 for his steadfast love endures forever.
-psalm 136:1

Yesterday was my first Thanksgiving away from my family. I woke up slightly disappointed that I couldn't spend the day with them and upset that I had to teach. This thought only lasted a minute, as it was swept away by unfathamable gratitude. It started with the ray of light that was slipping through the curtains. I jumped up to look out the window. 

The sunrise was amazing. 

Just as the warmth of the sun spreads over the earth, joy and gratitude filled my entire being.  So, I started thanking God for what I did have, and you know what the first thing that I thought was, "thank you God for allowing me to see my students today!"

I have so much to thank God for! He has blessed me so much and I can't help but rejoice. Even my longing for seeing my family was satisfied with, not one, but two FaceTime dates before and after dinner. 

I had a half of a day of teaching, then the afternoon was filled with decorating and cooking. I love to decorate and just like I do at home, I went on a little scavenger hunt around the compound to find beautiful things to decorate the room with. 

We had around 25 people gather together, representing 8 different nationalities. What a blessing to share our American holiday with so many people! The food was amazing, the fellowship better, and the time of singing praise songs at the end was the best.