Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What About West Africa?

As I write this, the rain is pounding down on my roof.  I am in West Africa, and it is rainy season.  Three months ago, I was living in Central Asia, and Africa was not even on my radar.   My husband and I were preparing to leave the place we had called home for almost 7 years and had no idea what God had next.  We were seeing hints of maybe this or that but no definite leading.   Our first month in the states was full of seeking, updating resumes, and filling out applications.  We sought counsel and talked with friends.  We took long walks, prayed, slept and ate too much good food.  By the end of the month, it was clear we would be going to West Africa.  So today I want to tell you about how we got to this place. 

Now I am not saying that I was one of those gals that said she would never go to Africa but I was pretty close.   I did specifically say I didn’t want to move to the Congo.  (Sorry if any of you live in there.)   This move would also be different for our family.  We were moving without the kids.  I would need something to do in this new place.  I no longer had the kids to occupy me.   So as we sought opportunities, we looked for something that would be a good fit for us.  We explored international schools, other jobs overseas, and even working at a college in the states.  Our hands were open to what God wanted from us.  Some choices seemed hard.  Others just a little cushy.  My husband seemed more excited about the opportunities that fit me better.  Whereas I leaned towards those that fit his skill set better.  But through it all we kept asking, “What about West Africa?”

“What about West Africa?” There was a need, actually one that needed to be filled sooner than later.  This would mean a fast turnaround.  But my husband would still get to fly and fix planes as well help lead the small aviation program there.  It was a good fit for his skills.  All the other options would be no flying options, and we were not sure we were ready to give up flying.   The thing is there wasn’t a job for me.  Being a teacher, we knew I could eventually find something either at an international school or helping out somehow in the community where we would live.   Still I had a peace that it would be okay somehow.  My husband would talk about another option that was a good fit for me as a teacher, and I would find myself saying, “What about West Africa?”  It didn’t make any sense.  I don’t like hot weather all that well.  I had no desire to go to Africa.  And I wasn’t sure what there was for me in this new place.  As we prayed about it, we made the decision that if they offered my husband the job, we would take it in faith that God had something for me. 

But then God…  Isn’t that how all good stories work?  God is at work in the places we do not see.    We were interviewing with the country director finding out more details about the program and life there.  Then the director asked me to tell him about myself and our children.  I told him about our life in Central Asia, how I was a teacher and had the privilege of teaching at the international school as well as homeschool my kids and others, and about W and Big D and where God has them now.  Then the director told us that his education program director had just turned in her resignation, and they were looking specifically for a secondary teacher who was strong at math and science.  It would be a job that would require supervising homeschooling as well as doing some direct teaching.  Basically the job would take all my past experience and put it all in one job.  But God…   You can guess what happened next?  I applied for the job and got it.

April was spent with my husband and I getting ready to move to West Africa.  There were interviews, shopping, doctor’s appointments, and much traveling.   As America decided to have a cold spring, I tried to figure out what living in a warm, humid climate would look like.  I also wondered if I was up to this job God had sent my way.  Yes, it is a good fit.  But it is also a new thing.  I will be doing more admin stuff plus also dealing with a kindergartener and second grader.  Total I will have 6 to 8 students most of them being in middle school.  It would not be a walk in the park but there was a need and God is with me.

Now it is May.  We had orientation, good byes and now we are here in this new place.  It is all so different from places we have been before, but that is okay.  And though it doesn’t feel like home yet, it feels like the place where we are supposed to be in this season.

How has God been leading you?  It may be a big thing like a job change or adopting a child.   It could even be taking on a new role or becoming more involved in your neighborhood.  I would love to hear you story in the comments.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Lessons Learned in April (2016 edition)

This month has worn me out.  We have traveled from Tennessee to North Carolina to Iowa to South Dakota to Idaho then back to Iowa.  Next came Texas, Missouri, and Tennessee and now we are in Illinois for the weekend seeing my sister.  It has been a month of transitioning and getting ready for our next adventure.  We have enjoyed time with friends and family.  Slowly all our i's are being dotted and our t's are being crossed as we are getting ready to move to West Africa. A reminder to self: Next time you are making a transition, don't try to do it in two months.

Each month I take time to look back and see what I have learned.  I also link up with Emily and other bloggers at Chatting at the Sky in what they have learned.  

Here are five lessons from the month of April

1. I Don't Like to Travel Alone

On the leg from Iowa to Texas, I was by myself.  I thought it would be okay.  I could listen to whatever music or podcast I wanted.  I would have time to think.  Instead the hours dragged on and on as I made my way to Texas.  Maybe next time I need to travel alone, I will make sure to have an audiobook or fly.  

I did enjoy stopping in Tulsa for a night to see a friend I had worked with in Central Asia.  So breaking up the trip was a great idea.  

2. I Want to Be As Healthy and Energetic as my Mom when I am 70.

My mom turned 70 this month.  I was blessed to spend a week with her and see her the morning of her birthday.  We spent the week playing scrabble, shopping, watching Hallmark movies, and going on walks.  

At 70, she still mows her huge lawn and has a big garden.  She is active in the children's ministry at her church.  When the whole family is there, we often take long bike rides or play tennis.  The day I left she was driving 9 hours to see my sister.  I pray I can stay healthy and have that energy when I am her age.  Maybe it's in my genes?  

3. You Should Call Every 6 Months to Renegotiate Your Different Bills.

While in Texas, we were able to watch an "expert" negotiator in action.  Our friend puts it on his calendar every six months or so to call the electric company and other companies whose plans or rates change periodically to make sure he is getting the best deal.  We witnessed his exchange with a telephone/internet/cable company.  He was patient, firm, and persistent.  His internet which he needs for his work had been cutting out.  He was working on a resolution and some type of reimbursement.  In the end, he was able to save his family $500 for the next year plus a few other perks thrown in and get his internet issues fixed.  Our friend told us the time he spends talking to the companies is worth the money his family saves.  

4. Medical Issues Bring Out the Worst in Me

I lived in a high security area for almost 7 years.  No problem.  Give me a possible medical issue, and I freak out.  My medical issues really are minor especially compared to many issues that my friends face.  But somehow the worry creeps in and tries to take over.  It helps that my husband is supportive and helps talk me through it.  On a spiritual level, I need to acknowledge that God is in control of my body just as much as He is in control of my circumstances.  So for now, I am learning to cope with my right pupil being bigger.  Luckily, I really like my new prescription sunglasses.   Even though I hate taking medicine, so far I have been blessed to not have to take much in my life time.  Hopefully things will settle and I can go back to just taking my vitamins.  For now, I am trying to trust in God's plan whatever it may.  Thankfully these little things are not life threatening just annoying.

5. Stories Strengthen Our Faith

This past month as we have traveled, we have stopped and seen family and friends.  We have heard stories of God working through the buying of a yellow house and making it available to be used for God's glory, by an after school club in the projects turning into much more, and children who have been adopted growing in spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  God is good and working.  Sometimes we can get overwhelmed by the news but maybe we need to start sharing our story and listening to the stories of those around us.  What is your story?  How is God working around you?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sweet on You Give Away

** The give away is over. **
I hate transition seasons and currently I am in one.  But one thing that makes those seasons better is books by Chautona Havig.  There is something about her writing that helps me take a deep breath and step out of the craziness for awhile.  I am excited to be a part of her launch team for her new book and have the opportunity to have a first peek at her book.   With her new book, Meddlin' Madeline: Sweet on You, Chautona Havig takes a step back in time to an era when cameras were called brownies and cars were owned by only a few.  

Enter Madeline, the mayor's daughter who tries to follow the social conventions of the day but sees nothing wrong with a women wearing a bowler hat.  When Madeline observes a friend's beau acting suspiciously, she decides to check it out.  With the help of a few friends both old and new, she tests out her detective skills.  There is Russell, her best friend's brother, who is suppose to be keeping an eye on her.  Then there is Jimmy and Essie who though they are little should not be underestimated.  Is her sleuthing meddlin' or caring about her friend enough to find out the truth?  Will she find out the truth or just get herself into trouble with her Aunt Louisa and others?  

This is one of my favorite books by Ms. Havig.  The characters are delightful.  The setting is in a time period that is new to me, and I am enjoying the rich vocabulary but also the slang that goes with that time period.  But mostly I like that it is a mystery without a murder.  It is also a story of figuring of a girl figuring out who she is and what purpose she wants in life. Sweet on You was a great read to take a break from the craziness of getting ready to move back overseas. I am looking forward to the next book in the series already. 

I was able to ask Chautona Havig about who her favorite character from Sweet on You was.  She said....

"Okay... favorite character. I'm going to say other than Madeline. 
I expected Jimmy to be my favorite supporting character--a sidekick, if you will. But little Essie Chandler stole my heart--as well as my editor's heart. That's why she's the heroine of the FREE bonus short story: Essie's Endeavor. (I was going to do "Adventure" but it sounded a bit childish, AND... well, with the whole Meddlin' Madeline, I figured some alliteration would be cool.)"
So if you buy Sweet on You before May 1st, you can get a bonus story about Essie.  Check out the details here

I'm also excited to say that I am giving away a free electronic copy of the book to one of my lucky readers.  To enter, just leave a comment below.  This give away will be open until this Saturday, April 30th at Midnight.  

(Note: All links to the book above are affiliate links.  Also I was given this book free in return for my honest review.)