Saturday, August 9, 2014

When the Way Doesn't Make Sense

   Hey there! So... it's been a long time since I've posted. Months, in fact. Oops! Much has happened since I returned home, beginning with a beautiful welcome home at the airport and including the wedding of one of my best friends, two plays, a 3 1/2 month long job search, visits from family in Texas and a friend in Australia... it's been busy, full, and on the whole, wonderful! Adjusting to being back home was much easier than I anticipated, which I know was an answer to a great deal of prayer. Quite a few people have asked me if I plan on going somewhere else in the near future. The answer is.... I'm not sure! I will definitely be at home this year, and beyond that I haven't the slightest idea. I think there's a very good chance that I will end up somewhere else at some point, but I don't know how that will look, and I'm just trusting God to lead one step at a time.

   This summer I have been studying attributes of God, focusing on one in particular each week, and it's been great to take the time to dwell on all that He is. I finished up this week by studying His guidance. One point in particular stood out, and so I thought I would share!

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. (Exodus 13:17-18)

   From a human perspective, the way God was leading didn't make sense. There was a much more direct path than the one on which He led them. But He saw what they didn't- the quick way would lead them right to the Philistines, an enemy they were not ready to face. They were equipped for battle, but they weren't yet prepared for battle. They had much to learn, not only about fighting, but about trusting the One they followed. What must have seemed a foolish waste of time from their perspective was actually His protection. 

   It's not that He led them on an easy path, after all, they're headed straight for the Red Sea! There they would soon be trapped, and accuse God and Moses of leading them to their deaths. But God had a plan all along. He led them straight into a hopeless situation, that they might see Him move mightily on their behalf. His goal wasn't merely to get His people from point A to point B, but to teach them to trust Him in the process. 

   I pray for grace to trust Him always, even when I can't see why He is leading me somewhere. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Goodbye Teaching

  Yesterday was our last day of school, and I really can't believe it. Our first day was over six months ago, and though it's felt long in moments, the time has flown. I remember the questions and worries I had in the months leading up to it... How can I possibly teach four kids when I've never taught one? How in the world do I plan a school schedule? How can I help them learn things that I've forgotten? But here I am at the end, and God has somehow enabled me to do that which was so intimidating before.

  There have been plenty of moments when I've blown it; when I've let fear or impatience rule. There have been long days. But I can say without hesitation that I have loved it, and I'm not ready to give it up. I'm not ready to say goodbye to these kids. I'm not ready to stop being their teacher. There have been plenty of frustrations on all sides, I know, and hey... if you're a 1st, 6th, or 8th grader, school is school. But my goodness, we have had fun. Laughing over creative writing assignments, naming the neighbors' puppies after the explorers were studying, imagining life on the international space station during Astronomy, reading through 4 out of 7 Narnia books (Miss Lindy had a bit too much fun with the voices sometimes!), and sometimes just pausing to be silly (this teacher is admittedly not always the most... uhh... "grown up" individual)... so many wonderful, wonderful memories, and a little blog post can't possibly do them justice.

   Now it's time to go home, and Shannon will finish the remainder of the school year. I posted this after the first week of school. It's amazing to look back on all that has happened, and to see how God has provided so faithfully. When He calls, He enables. His grace is indeed sufficient, and has been sufficient for me.

Early on Eli offered to take "school photos." There were some nice, normal pictures... but this one is my favorite!

Kyle's science book always instructed us to use safety goggles during experiments, and we decided to try it for this one... After all, you never know when water, pepper, tissue paper, and chewing gum will blow up and blind you forever.

The girls and I studied Astronomy... here we are making "craters."

Art was one of my favorite subjects to teach. One day I had them do pictures in complimentary colors, and this was Kyle's.

Another science experiment: making a model of Mercury. It was supposed to harden over a few days... ours sort of melted instead.

We would always pause to watch the helicopter arrive on flight days.

Sophia and I spent most of the morning working one on one. This little first grader is becoming quite the reader, and I am blown away by how much she has learned this year!

Kyle's math... he very kindly made a slight adjustment to a name in this story problem. Thanks Kyle!

Charlotte's spelling test yesterday... *sigh*

Friday, February 21, 2014

Last week in the Village

In a sense, it feels like I just got here. Wasn't I just saying goodbye to my friends and family at the airport? Didn't I just arrive here and begin to adjust to a new family, culture, and lifestyle? Wasn't I just organizing the school room, trying to wade through piles of books and teacher's manuals, and feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead?

Now, I am packing, not just for a short trip, but everything. I'll be home in less than 6 weeks, and we'll be away from the village for most of that time. I'm getting our schoolbooks organized for the time we'll be away, planning the remainder of my time as teacher, and preparing to pass the baton to Shannon for the last bit of the school year. How did time go by so fast?

On the other hand though, it feels like I've been here much longer than almost 7 months. I love it here. When we return to the village after a trip, I call it home. The Talbots feel like family, and I love spending time with all of them. Though there are still plenty of challenges, even the challenges have become familiar. Believe me, I am so eager to go home, but the idea of leaving is honestly a painful one.

Things are a lot like they were 7 months ago, when I was getting ready to come here. There are so many unknowns ahead, and saying goodbye is going to hurt like crazy. But God was absolutely faithful then, and He is faithful now.

Here are some pictures from the last several months- sorry I've been so negligent in posting them!  

Out for a walk with some of the Talbot and Easton kids, with some of the village children tagging along (the Eastons are the Talbot's co-workers).

I finally got to ride a water buffalo!

I had two big boxes coming for Christmas; the result of the combined effort of wonderful family and friends. Long story short, they didn't arrive at the guest house until January. I was expecting this one to come in on the helicopter, but Chuck and Shannon arranged to have it brought in a week early without telling me. Here it is arriving via water buffalo!

I was so surprised! (I find Chuck's expression quite amusing!) 

The kids and I will periodically have a "tea party." Those at home will laugh at me for saying this, but it gets quite "cold" early in the year. One gets used to the hot temperatures, and in the 68 degree weather I was freezing!

That house was built beside ours early in the year.

Jenna likes to brush my hair. Kyle suggested the addition of clothespins, so Jenna and Sophia collaborated to accomplish... this. According to Jenna, I look beautiful... haha. Of course, they needed some too! 

Making sugar cookies for Valentine's day

We had a village party for Bea's 1st birthday. About a hundred people came, and many helped with preparations! Shannon and I tried pounding rice, just for fun. I failed miserably, but at least I can say I did it!

So much coconut!

Rolling balls for nansilot- a dessert made with sticky rice flour.

Hala and the birthday girl

Party time!

Fun with the balloon animal kit from my box. These swords were later used for an epic... and loud... battle. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Another Village

 You may remember me mentioning Vicky in a post shortly after I got here. She first came to the Philippines as a missionary in 1980, and works in another village. I had the amazing privilege of spending nearly two weeks with her there. I'm not quite sure where to start, but it was wonderful- the perfect mix of working and resting.

Vicky has a lovely alto voice, and we had so much fun singing together. One night we even stayed up late singing hymns! I went on walks through the jungle with her or Heidi, Vicky's co-worker, and loved having the chance to see more of this beautiful country and getting to know each of them better. I was able to help with lots of little things, and enjoyed it so much! Vicky gives away a lot of clothes to the babies and toddlers in the village, and while I was there we organized the bags she had brought from the States and made a decent sized dent in her supply as lots of mothers came by asking! One day Vicky, Heidi, a lady from the village and I took a long hike to visit another area nearby. We were gone for 5 ½ hours, and estimated that we hiked for a total of 4! We visited some houses there and had fresh coconut, and even got to see a big waterfall! We were all tired, but it was so worth it.

I particularly enjoyed the chance to be more involved with the people in the village. Lots of ladies and kids would come to the porch to visit, and though I obviously couldn't understand the conversation, it was still great fun, and I made friends! I did manage to learn a few words and phrases, both from being surrounded by it and from asking questions. Vicky and her co-workers have been there a long time, and there is a church that meets under Jonathan and Heidi's house. The Talbots are just getting started here, and so it was nice to be able to see something on the other end of the spectrum. I was there for two Sundays, and it was especially fun to try and sing along with the worship songs! I knew some of the melodies, which helped. Everybody made me feel so welcome, and made it very, very hard to leave! I definitely left a piece of my heart there.

I anticipated a lot of growth and stretching taking place during the trip. It did, but it didn't look at all like I thought it would. I wrote pages and pages in my journal, but I'm not sure how to summarize it here. Through talking with Vicky, seeing the way she interacts with the people in the village, and just by living there for awhile, God taught me so much about patience, loving people with His love, trusting Him with our weakness, following Him no matter how hard things get, resting in His love for us, being willing to endure suffering when it comes (because it will surely come), serving, and really, just what it is to be a missionary. It was a full, joyful, peaceful, challenging, growing time. I thank Him for it, and I pray both that I will never forget all of that God taught me and that He'll lead me in applying it.

Will you join me in praying for God's continued work in that village?

I was surprised to see the stone paths in the village. So pretty!

The bridge over the river

Ladies visiting on the porch
The view from Vicky's porch


coffee in progress!

Out for a walk... isn't it beautiful?

Vicky and new baby Darren

Me, Vicky, and Heidi before our long hike

In the jungle... I can't believe I get to do this!

Big fern

With Arsilie (I doubt I'm spelling her name right...) by the waterfall

This beautiful basket was given to me "for remembrance." I will surely never forget!

These are the clothes for the village babies.

Yes, it was wonderful... but there were still some moments I could have lived without!

Jonathan, Heidi, Vicky and me right before I left. I wasn't ready to say goodbye!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


  Today I read Luke 12:22-31. It's a very familiar passage. Jesus says to His disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.” (v 22b) He goes on to describe the Father's care for the flowers and birds. If God provides for them, won't He surely care for us, His own children? “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to the span of his life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (25-26, 29-31)

When I was younger I used to worry about finances a great deal. That was foolish, of course. I should have trusted my parents. What about now though? Now I'm living in the “grown-up world.” Isn't worrying being responsible, because there are very real practical issues that need my attention? Umm... no. That's not to say that we should be haphazard or foolish in planning or decision making, but there is a world of difference between being responsible and being anxious. Jesus commands us not to worry, and not just about things that are out of our control, like getting sick or loosing a loved one. In this passage, Jesus is addressing areas where our actions do have an effect, like having food and clothing.

Worry means anxiously focusing on something- dwelling on it and being weighed down by the burden of it. But what is the purpose? Our worry can't change anything, and will have no practical effect outside of making us miserable and joyless. 

One thing that was particularly convicting for me today was the rebuke in the middle of this passage: “O you of little faith.” (v 28b) I struggle with worry. But worry isn't simply a bothersome personality trait. It is sin. It is an active declaration that I believe God is not trustworthy. It's saying, in effect, “Yes God, I know that You have said that You are in control, but I need to hold on and make sure that things are ok, because I don't believe that You will handle things as they should be handled.” Ouch. If I truly believe that God holds all things in His hands, that He will do what He has promised, and that He is working for my good even in hard things, then steadfast confidence and peace should define my life. 

That was a highly convicting reminder that I very much needed! He is trustworthy, and I want to live like I believe it.