This past week has seen some fun changes for me and my life at Kasana. A week ago, I packed my bags, said goodbye to the Britton family who had graciously kept me fed and housed since I arrived, and moved across the road to New Hope’s secondary site. Here, I’ve moved into a cozy two-bedroom house with Wesley, a lovely fellow American girl who works on administrative staff. It’s a happy-sad occasion, really—I’m sad to miss out on the daily excitement of living with Mary and Geoff and the kids, but very much enjoying having a place of my own. Wesley and I have been unpacking and organizing and coffee-drinking, so life in the new place is off to a very good start.
A few weeks back, Wesley also popped into my class with the Primary 3 kids. Being the wonderful photographer that she is, I’ve snagged a few pictures from her to give you a few more glimpses into my workplace over here.
This week at school, end-of-term exams are in full swing. Aside from a few teachers’ meetings and school events, my work hours are shifting from time at school to time at home, preparing for Term 3. Reflecting on the past term, I decided I felt very ready and willing to take on more classes, so I will likely be adding the two preschool classes as well as the P4s and P5s next term. So over the next several weeks of “holiday,” I’ll be planning out some fun projects and activities for the various ages in each class. Very excited for third term!
God continues to sweep me off my feet in this new life. I am consistently, repeatedly, and overwhelmingly aware of his blessings—and not just his blessings, but He Himself. At our mid-year staff meetings only a week ago, I was challenged by the question: has God called you here, or has God called you to Himself? As a person who has always struggled (see?) with the concept of “God’s call,” this perspective grabbed hold of me in a new way. We are all of us called to be in constant transit toward our Savior. Along the way, he may lead us to specific places or specific people. But always, our ultimate call is to Himself.
How are you answering your call to move toward Him? Next time I’m around, I’d love to hear about it over a good cup of coffee. Let’s share in each other’s journey Godward.
I am deeply full of simple things;
of anticipations and doubts and light brushes with the universe.
Like the painted buntings ruffling the goat weed-
now poised above it, now diving beneath it-
I do not wish you to attend to me.
Soon I will walk in two-thousand-year-old cities
and I will be like a single cobblestone, or a half of one.
Two-thousand years of feet will flow over me,
and I will not be crumbled by time’s trampling,
but I will hold out my hand for the marks.
I will walk in great shadows and not shake,
for it is good that they be large and I be small.
On mountains that will outlive me, I will be a single fern;
curling and unfurling once, twice, and then no more.
I will only be a worshipper.
Serving in this place is easy.
Here, the needs of this hungry nation are often more tangible, and the service more visible. There is a heightened awareness of those who live among the poor, the hungry, and the orphaned in a foreign setting—it’s romantic in the classic sense. Different from the commonplace. More exciting, perhaps, than other callings.
But serving in this place is hard.
Here, I am continually confronted by my own duality. With one foot, I am planted on the red soil of this place and see only this side of heaven—the side that is so achingly filled with poverty, disease, death. With the other, I am stepping out as much more and much less—humanity transformed, a soul trying to reach those souls all around me. Some days, the first foot wins out. Others, I take the head-first plunge into this relational journey heavenward. And both days are hard.
Serving in this way is easy.
I am continually supported, in ways I will never be able to repay. I am a missionary, a title that carries its own sort of status. This is a work in which others take interest, and I am honored to be their connection to these people, this place, and this culture. Mission work is, often enough, service within the spotlight.
But serving in this way is hard.
I am so very human, and it seems like such a short step from wholehearted service to an inflated sense of my own importance. Perhaps this is the primary spiritual struggle of those who work so near the spotlight. Over and over, day after day, I crave the reminder that He must increase, and I must decrease. This is possibly one of the hardest elements of daily Christian living—as important in the States as it is overseas, and yet somehow here shoved to the forefront in my mind.
Serving these people is easy.
They are a culture full of hospitality and huge smiles. So often I am joined by a friendly face as I walk from one place to another, or greeted by name as I pass. And the little ones in my classes each week? It would be difficult not to fall head over heels for each one of them. I have so many friends amongst the children I am here to serve, and each day I learn more and more from their lives, their struggles, their faith.
But serving these people is hard.
So often, I feel in over my head—beginning to drown in the circumstances of these children, so far beyond my frame of reference. What do I know of abandonment? Of that singular word, “orphan,” or the complete absence of immediate family? Of unspeakable childhood traumas and abuse? Thank God, I know very little. And yet I ache to be able to comfort them…when the reality is that sometimes I can do little more then hold them in my arms and beseech a higher Father to wrap them in his love.
In so many ways, this life is the easiest one I could choose. And in so many ways, it is the most difficult. I don’t know yet how these two sides meet, or what to make of the intersection. But in both the easy and the hard, the prominent and the unknown, the fun times and the strange ones, I am convinced: the paths of life that we walk as children of God will always be very much alike. We will ever be walking in death to our bodies and life to our souls. We will always be a people who give much and ask little. We will constantly be the ones who cannot help but tilt glowing faces heavenward, because we are not at home yet—not on any one of these paths that we take.
Right now, my path is the red roads of a small country on a big continent. I’m joined by dozens of smiling young artists and eager learners. Sometimes, it’s a path of high visibility. Often it’s full of Africa-size ruts and potholes. Always it is grace-filled.
And if you are also a lover of my Jesus, our paths are probably more similar than we realize.
“As you serve and give in every corner of your life, desire to be seen less so He can be glorified. And challenge yourself by asking: will you serve as passionately in the shadows as you do in the spotlight?” (a snippet of inspiration from the beautiful Tandy)
if it was eternal night
and small humming noises were suspended around us like
and if, in the flaring light, you striped the hallways with your pacing,
breathe in, remember,
breathe out, forget,
there in the sterile corridors I would touch you gently;
if we were warping wanderers, I would try to ease the fading.
I’m still not completely sure how this term is already halfway over, but students at both Primary and Secondary are busy this week with their midterm exams. For me, that means a quieter week than usual, since all but one of my classes are happening during exam periods. So thanks to extra free time, the end of the week will hopefully find me with finished lesson plans for the rest of the term! (Now that that’s public, you guys can hold me to it.)
All of my classes in lower primary have been following the same lesson plans this term, as I figure things out and learn my way around this whole teacher business. Each week, we’ve learned about a “building block” (element) of art, and made a fun project using it. Currently, we’re learning about color, and having loads of fun while we’re at it! Last week, we moved class outdoors so we could observe colors in nature (there’s plenty to be found at Kasana). After introducing the color wheel and learning the primary colors, we did some experiments mixing the primaries to get secondaries. Using a clear plastic bag, I added some paints and had the kids guess what color we would end up with. The guesses were pretty entertaining, and the kids’ faces as the colors mixed together to create a new one were priceless!
A few years back, I truthfully never would have anticipated finding so much joy in teaching. It’s just never been something I considered myself particularly drawn toward–especially in an elementary school context, when my very limited experience had been with a predominately junior high/high school crowd. But once again, my Abba Father seems to know me better than I know myself. Teaching in EEVPS is something that I love doing. I love the excitement in the kids’ eyes as I show them the day’s project, the creativity I see unleashed as they bend over their papers, the enthusiasm as they raise their hands to answer a question, the satisfaction as they see their masterpiece completed. Here in my new home, I am able to teach what I love to children I love in a place that I love.
And that, my friends, is a lot of blessings!