Tomorrow will worry about itself.

I’m sopping wet walking through a rain-forest in Ghana, legs shaking after an eight-hour hike through two rainstorms and one very cold dip in a huge waterfall. It’s always when I am surrounded by God’s beautiful creation that He shakes me awake, gives me a reality check. Yes I was soggy, cold, and had more bugs and mud on my body than I would desire, but at the same time overcome with an overflowing joy and peace. The kind that makes you feel like you may burst into tears. Joy and peace in the midst of uncertainty.

For the past few months I have been fighting against my fear of the future. The older I get, the more experiences I have, relationships I build, the closer I cling to Christ, the more my future plans begin to slip away. Not my dreams or passions in life, but that ten-year plan that they always ask you about in college or job interviews. I had never really been a ten year, five year, or even next week planner. However, I did have a general outline of how I thought my life would lay out, and while I thought it would become clearer after college, or after I found the career I was passionate about, it only becomes more blurry. I have wasted so much time worrying about my next step, my future, I have become blind to the work that God is doing around me, in the present.  As I walked and climbed and slipped through the forest I was amazed by the intricate details of His creation and in that moment this verse rang in my ears.

“Look at the birds of the air; do they not sow or reap or store away in the barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable that they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?…

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6: 26-27, 31-34

He cares deeply for His creation. The detail He put into each centipede, ant, leaf, mountainside, tree root, each having its own purpose and each provided for. Did they do anything for it? No, yet God provides. How much more does he provide for us?  He created us in HIS own image; He sacrificed His son for us in order to be in relationship with Him. How dare I worry about tomorrow? It should be a relief that my future is a mystery because I know that it is in the hands of The Creator. It should be easy, yet it is not.

I can’t just tell myself to stop worrying and wake up the next morning fearless and worry free. Because I am human, prone to sin, prone to worrying. BUT I am not just human, thanks to Christ’s grace, I am a child of God. I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me and I am called to a higher purpose. The more I continue to trust in my own strength and abilities the more I will be crippled by the anxieties of this world, the fear of not being in control. But if I seek Him first, His Kingdom, He will lead me on a journey that is far more rewarding than my own plans.

What does it mean to seek first His Kingdom, His righteousness? Honestly, I am still learning. To seek Him first before all things, before all my plans, all my mundane tasks of the day. Practically, it’s spending time in with Him in His word or praying every time my mind begins to worry about the future. It’s about living in the NOW. Looking for Him in everything I do, and praising Him even if I can’t tell what He is doing. If I don’t know Him, spend time with Him, how can I trust Him with my tomorrow?

Trusting and seeking Him has not been easy. It has been scary, full of challenges, heartache, and uncertainty. However, if I would have stuck to my clear ten-year plan rather than seeking Him I would have never been on that eight-hour hike to a waterfall in a Ghanaian rain-forest, I wouldn’t have chosen to teach in Accra, wouldn’t have gained the relationships I have, heard the beautiful testimonies I have, and witnessed God move in countless hearts. I look back and thank God daily that my plans did not come to pass, because he has taken me on an adventure filled with far more joy than I could have ever imagined. Yes, I still worry about the uncertainty of tomorrow, but faith requires action. I have to choose to wake up daily and seek Him, because tomorrow will worry about itself.

green panaroama

 

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“Ms. Walsh, My Heart is Crying”

Last week I woke up to the smell and breeze of ocean waves crashing in just outside my window. As I lay under the blue mosquito net staring out the window at the palm trees, I thought I could do this every morning. Wake up with no worries, no where to be, no cellphone service. Just a few days before I would have already been at school looking at the cluster of sticky note to-do lists all over my desk and reading through my emails before all my students rush in. What would life be like out here without the stress of the the teacher life? If I just dropped everything to live off the land on the coast. All of this was sounding pretty good to me. Then, as always, God began to speak.

Third quarter had been crazy busy. Several school events, coaching, new students, meetings, goals, testing. I could go on and on but I don’t want to scare off any future teachers (I really do love my job). Time seemed to fly by and creep along all at the same time. My mind had become clogged with 1,000 things to do and people to talk to that I could hardly think straight. That is when the negativity slips in. Negativity about work, church, about the people around me. When I am in survival mode my entire focus becomes revolved around myself. Not on the students, my coworkers, my friends at church, and not on God.

As always my students humble me. Sometimes I wonder if they teach me more than I teach them. We studied 1 Corinthians 13 together, discussing love. Near the end of the unit I asked my students to focus on one attribute of love that they want to improve on and pray about. I was expecting them to take a long time to pick, grumbling at the assignment, but their response surprised me. They all began to shout “ONE?! Ah, I could circle like six. Love is not self-seeking, easily angered, keep records of wrongs, does not envy, always perseveres…..” I was so impressed with their vulnerability with their struggle to love. As we made our goals, love is not self-seeking continued to run through my mind. I had been so caught up in my to-do lists and complaints that I was missing out on loving those around me and blind to what God had been doing around me. I began to pray that God would expose me to all my selfishness and help me to focus on Him and others more. Praying for Him to be glorified in all things so that His kingdom will grow rather than for my own needs. He answered.

As he humbled me I began to remember the God I serve. The love that surpasses all understanding, and overwhelming holiness that puts my selfishness and pride to shame. I felt so little, so unworthy of His love. Yet knowing He has called me worthy anyway. He highlighted countless moments where He had moved and I was oblivious and ungrateful-but that didn’t stop Him. The week before last was Spiritual Emphasis Week at AIS. During this week we spent every morning worshiping God and spending more time teaching about Him. Throughout the week I had one student in particular on my mind. He had been asking very deep questions about religion, Christianity, Jesus, and more for a while now. He is very analytical and inquisitive. I was asking God to speak to Him and give me the wisdom to help him learn. On the last day he came up to me in the middle of worship tapping my shoulder. He looked at me puzzled and said..

“Ms. Walsh, when we worship, it feels like my heart is crying.”

He is only nine. You see, God was moving in his heart even when he didn’t quite understand how or why. Even when I am negative, doubtful, stressed, and distracted God continues to move through me and those around me. Just because He loves us.

In the midst of lounging on the beach and enjoying the peace of doing nothing over spring break, God reminded me of the joy in the calling that He has given me. I was able to rest in His presence, thanking Him for every prayer answered and for the grace given to me each day. I wouldn’t be honest if I never wrote about the hard times, but in the midst of the hard times there is treasure. 2 Corinthians 6:4-10. Below are just a few of these treasures.

  • Getting the opportunity to coach girls high school basketball. Watching them improve significantly in their basketball skills (many never playing before) and loving each other and other teams with the love of Christ.
  • Celebrating the 26 different countries represented at AIS during International Day. My students performing a dance and skill for our country, Brazil!
  • Watching my church Hope City explode with new members as we moved into a new building and splitting into two services after only 7 months in our new building. The youth ministry, NEON youth, is also continually growing with over 130 kids at our last event!
  • Watching God move in the hearts of my students and their families throughout the semester and Spiritual Emphasis Week.
  • Visiting a school in a village near Accra opened by one of my friends from church. Hearing about God’s provision and guidance in her journey.
  • Countless long conversations and prayer with co-workers and friends at church.

Prayer Requests:

– Students who have decided to follow Jesus this semester, for growth in their walk with Christ

– Hope City church in our transition to two services, welcoming new members

– Energy and perseverance through our last quarter of school!

Again, thank you for all of your prayers and support!

Aubrey

The Danger of Getting Comfortable.

 

We all enjoy being comfortable; feeling safe. Even after moving across the “big pond” (in my dad’s words) I still find a way to crawl back into my comfort zone. I have lived in Accra for over a year now. What was once foreign has now become the norm. In the beginning of my journey I was overwhelmed with a new culture and with my first year of teaching. Sitting down to write a blog about life here has never been easy, but it was a lot easier when everything was new and different. Living and teaching here is no longer different, it’s just life. This has been a pattern throughout my life. It is hard at first when I am thrown into a new season in life, but somehow no matter which corner of the globe I am living in, I still find my comfort zone. It follows me.

I know this sounds backwards. Comfort zones are usually referred to as a safe place, the opposite of dangerous. Why is it a bad thing to feel safe? Doesn’t God want us to have peace and safety? Recently God has been revealing to me the danger of the comfort zone.

As I dive deeper into His word, He has shown me all of those that He has worked through that have been thrown out of their comfort zone. I can’t think of anybody, including Jesus, who was comfortable at carrying out God’s will. Moses, Abraham, Noah, Jeremiah, Mary, Peter, and on and on and on. All thought they were not qualified and question why God was choosing them. Recently a pastor came to my church here in Ghana and spoke about Peter walking on water. I have heard and read this story countless times but not once thought about the other disciples on the boat. Jesus did not say “Peter, come walk to me” he said “Come”. He wasn’t just inviting Peter but all of His disciples and Peter was the one to accept the invitation. Matthew 14:22-33

Many of us think that walking on water is for other people. We would rather sit in the boat where it is safe and cheer “those people” on. I would rather fry some plantain, scroll through Instagram and like other peoples’ posts about the outreach they doing in their communities than get up and get involved in the community around me. I like the seat in the boat near the front where I don’t get seasick and have a nice breeze. God has asked me to step out of that spot and onto the water multiple times. Each time I listen and dip my toes a little deeper but always retreat to that same spot, the comfortable, safe one. I like to watch the others step out, especially those who step out and walk on the water for a while, praise Jesus with them…in my seat, watching from afar. But what I am forgetting is that we all have the power through Jesus to get up and walk on the water.  He is calling all of us. It’s just a matter of listening.

So this time when I found myself slipping back into that comfortable seat here in Ghana I asked God to open my ears to listen to Him. Listen to Him when he is asking me to GET UP. This is how he has answered that prayer.

  1. I have one of the biggest/enthusiastic (best in my opinion) classes in our school. I spent most the summer praying about this class worrying about my ability to manage this class. The first quarter has been difficult, yes, but not near as challenging as I thought it would be. I became more confident and comfortable. So God sent two new girls from Japan with no English to join my class. He has taught me to rely on Him rather than my own ability. They read their first English book last week!
  2. I have always loved working with elementary students. I have so much experience working with kids with summer camps, teaching, and daycare . I have never been interested in working with middle schoolers. or high schoolers not because I don’t like them, but because I didn’t think I would be good at communicating with kids that were taller than me. I was comfortable and content with my elementary students. So God asked me to co-coach the high school girls’ basketball team and be a leader for our church youth. I have learned to rely on Him rather than my own experience and ability. I was able to watch eight of our youth be baptized! He is so good!!
  3. I have been a Christian for a while now. I gave my life to Christ in early high school. Jesus has completely flipped my life upside down since that day. He has given me joy, purpose, the ability to love and forgive others, a relationship for eternity with my Father and Creator, and so much more. God asks us to believe and then be baptized. I was baptized as a baby, and am incredibly thankful for my parent’s commitment to raise me as a Christian. However, I was not able to understand who Jesus is and believe in Him as a baby. God has continued to give me opportunities to be baptized as a believer. But I was already a Christian, already reborn. I didn’t understand why I needed to be baptized and worried what others would think. Even Jesus was baptized because it was the right thing to do “to fulfill all righteousness”. But I was comfortable in my walk with Christ and didn’t think I needed to be baptized. So God asked me to teach my students about Jesus’ baptism and asked me to be baptized again. This time I said yes. God has used my story, my baptism to speak to so many people around me. My act of obedience as a way to share His love with so many others.

 

The bible never says how long Peter walked on water. We don’t often read the story and think about how amazing it is that Peter walked on water. We just think about his doubt, how Jesus had to save him because he sank. He sank when he realized how crazy it was that he was walking on water. When he took his eyes off Jesus, looked at the waves and wind and started to think “I can’t do this”. If we continue to live our lives based on our own ability then we begin to sink. We begin to get scared and crawl back into that comfortable seat because we know that we can handle anything that comes our way in our comfort zone. Here lies the danger. If we continue to rely on ourselves then we are not allowing God to work through us (to walk on water). We are closing ourselves off to learning more about Him and seeing Him work through us and others.

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7

 

Prayers:

  1. Students and families connected to AIS who don’t know Christ
  2. Hope City-my church in Accra just moved into a new building for more space to grow!
  3. NEON Youth group-about 30 kids ages 11-18. That God would use us as vessels for these kids

My Wonderful third grade class!

Hope City, NEON Youth

Adventures in Togo, absolutely beautiful.

“You’re Welcome”

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From the moment you enter into Ghana through immigration at the airport you are always greeted with a warm “you’re welcome” or “akwaaba”(twi). Where ever you go, church, shop, restaurant, another’s home, “you’re welcome”. I love this phrase, “you’re welcome”. It’s just not the same as “come on in!” or “welcome”. It’s more personal, it’s about the individual. You are welcome here.

I’ve been here nine months now. Accra has become my new norm, my everyday, my home. Many times I forget how far I am from home, Colorado home. While at times I feel I completely belong, I am reminded where I come from and how different my life in Colorado is from life here with a trip to the market or the village. Squeezing through a sea of people speaking twi carrying produce in large baskets on their heads, or being ambushed by two hundred children in the village shouting obroni, obroni (foreigner) will remind you of where you come from pretty quickly.

However, even through these experiences, that for a moment make me uncomfortable, I am also filled with a deep joy; joy in the midst of discomfort, because God has called me to be uncomfortable. In the end, we are all obroni’s on this earth, all of us who are in Christ are foreigners. Just as he loves me, His daughter, I am called to love His children. And that means I have to step out of my comfort zone, whether I am in Ghana or Colorado. In these moments when I am reminded of my purpose in Christ, when I am filled with joy, God says “you’re welcome”. You are welcome, as an heir of the Most High King, as a servant of a loving Father. You are welcome to join Him in furthering His Kingdom. The more I lean into Him, worship Him, read His word, and listen to His will in my life, the more I feel welcome and am filled with peace and joy.

Life has been busy, its hard to sum up everything in one blog post so here are some highlights from last few months.

International Day: Over 20 different nations are represented in our school body at American International School (AIS). We were able to celebrate all the different cultures that make the AIS family unique. My class learned all about Togo and performed a traditional West African folktale and sang the Togolese National Anthem. They still burst into song in the middle of class every once in a while. Students dressed in their culture’s traditional clothing, we ate amazing food from all around the world, and learned about all the countries represented at AIS.

Spiritual Emphasis Week: Each year AIS has a week where we have chapel every day and really focus on what Jesus did for us. This year a group from the United States came in to host Spiritual Emphasis Week. We were able to use a church nearby. Students bused to this church every day and worshiped and learned about God’s word together. Many students hear about Christ for the first time when they attend AIS. This week was such a good week for us, as teachers and staff of AIS, to focus on why we are called to this school in the first place and to be very intentional in prayer for our students. My students are in third grade. They are at the age where they are starting to form their own opinions rather than listening to those around them. Many of them come from Christian homes, however after speaking with them throughout this week I realized many of them don’t actually know what they believe they just do because their parents do. I was blown away by their attentiveness during this week, and eagerness to understand God’s word. Each day they came in with what seemed like a hundred questions about God for me and for their classmates, and about what Jesus did for us on the cross. God answered our prayers in my classroom and across the school.

Spring Break: The principal at my school has lived in Ghana for several years now. Her and her husband started a school in his home village in the western region of Ghana about ten years ago. I was able, with a few other teachers at AIS, to travel to the village to help with teacher training for teachers in the village. We were also able to hike through one of the biggest untouched rainforests in Ghana, and visit Cote D’Ivoirve. There are many stories attached to this adventure and I won’t go into detail now. However if you want to know more let me know, I would love to share them with you.

End of the Year: The end of the school year is only three weeks away! These last few months have been packed with school events including a science fair, bazaar, art show, school musical, and more to come. Half of our little third grade family is moving away, which many have told me is a part of working at an international school. However it’s weird to picture school next year without them. They are all getting very antsy for summer break. Please pray for them as their families travel and for me to be filled with patience and love each day until the end of the year.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.”

Isaiah 55:9-12

Prayers:

  • For students who gave their life to Christ during Spiritual Emphasis week and throughout this year. That they would continue to grow in their faith.
  • AIS transition: Many teachers will come and go as well as students. Pray for unity among the staff and students next year.
  • Hope City transition: The pastors at the church I attend here in Accra are moving back to England after planting Hope City seven years ago. New pastors will come from Sheffield to lead the church.

 

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God Hits the Re-Route

I have started this blog and given up about five times. It is so hard to sum up what has happened in Accra over the last few months and the joy that filled me to be home over the holidays. I teach my kids summarization and main idea reading strategies almost every week, yet it I takes me months to use those skills in my own blog writing! So if there is anything you want to know about American International School (AIS), or living in Accra that I have not mentioned, please let me know.

I’ll begin by attempting to express my gratitude and awe for the love and support that comes from my home town community. Your prayers and thoughts are deeply appreciated. All I could think of as the plane touched the ground in Denver was seeing my family, snuggling up under a blanket with a hot cup of coffee (and not sweating), decorating the Christmas tree and watching cheesy hallmark movies, and food! Coming back home is always confusing when your life is somewhere else. Meeker is home because it’s where I was raised and where my family lives. Greeley is home because it’s where I discovered who I want to be in Christ. Dublin is home because it’s where God called me to further my passion for culture and teaching. Ghana is home because God had called me to teach here. God has taught me to live in the present, where he has called me. To seek him in everything I do. So while I was ecstatic to be home, I was equally as excited to get back in a plane to fly back to my other home.

It has been two weeks now since I have been back in Accra, and two and a half weeks back in school. All my coworkers told me that my big plans to work over the Christmas break would never happen, and naturally I didn’t believe them. I figured I had plenty of time to re-organize, lesson plan, and prepare for this new semester. They were right. Time flew by, I ate way too much food, and I enjoyed relaxing with my family (wouldn’t go back and change anything). Anyway the semester started off a little rockier than I thought. My computer decided to crash the day before school started, I caught a nasty cold (probably due to the 100 degree temperature difference), and was overwhelmed with planning. Slowly I began to focus on all the things that were going wrong. The semester was not starting off like I had imagined, and I was frustrated.

As soon as we pulled out of the driveway headed to the Denver airport I was focused. Focused on the blessings in my life, on my purpose at AIS and in Accra. I was overwhelmed by God’s grace and goodness, as you usually are after Christmas and in the New Year. It was as if I was walking straight forward, following the path that God had laid down for me. That lasted about 2 hours. Then we hit a big snow storm. The airport was canceling flight after flight and I began to worry, slowly stumbling off that straight pathway. I made it to Ghana and my computer stopped working, I stumbled a little more. I lost my voice for the first two days of school, stumbled a little more; each time falling away from that straight path I started on.

When I moved to college I wasted a lot of time lost, driving in circles. Growing up in a town of 13 streets didn’t help my directional skills. Anyway, the worst was when I would start off using google maps on my phone and then gain the confidence to turn it off, only to get lost again. In the end I always found my way because I could pick my phone up (with a little shame) and hit the re-route button. I believe this is what God does for me every time I stumble off his path. I wonder off to the right and he hits the re-route. I wander off to the left and he hits the re-route. No matter how many times I fall off that path or how far I fall, he continues to hit the re-route. Here are just a few of the ways he has re-routed me.

  1. In the midst of hundreds of flight cancelations in Denver, my plane took off.
  2. Another teacher at my school had the same problem with his computer and was able to help me fix it with two days!
  3. Before school started a teacher shared a devotion about how Big our God is, and reminded me to ask myself if I am making my problems bigger than my God.
  4. Before I left for break my class spent time praying for people we know who don’t know Christ. The first day back two of my students asked about the people in my life, by name, who don’t know Christ. I knew they were praying for them.
  5. The church that I attend in Accra is having a ten day fast. I am fasting for the first time in my life and feel God pulling me closer to Him.

After the Christmas holiday’s AIS has J-term (January term) for about two weeks. During this time, secondary students choose to take different classes including cooking, running, Asian culture, and so on. The Elementary chooses one theme to focus on for the term. This year we chose “Serving others”. Students learned about taking care of the environment, participating in trash pick-up days and bottle recycle activities. In class we discussed what it meant to serve others just as Jesus served us. Throughout J-term, each class raised money to donate to a local orphanage, Beacon House. To celebrate the end of the term we invited Beacon House over for chapel and a carnival! The kids had loads of fun and were able to apply what they learned about serving others to the community around them. We are now back into our normal schedule, and very busy!

Prayer

-Please pray for all the students at AIS who don’t know Jesus. Also for the students who do; that they would continue to grow in their faith and be a light to those around them.

-AIS is participating in a basketball tournament in Uganda. They will also be doing some outreach mission during their trip. Pray that they will be fully funded soon and for the safety of their group as they travel. If you would like to support their team please let me know!

-The church I have been attending in Accra, Hope City, is looking for a bigger building. Please pray that Hope City will continue to grow and they will have the funds to move to a new building with more space!

-A group of local kids hang out at our apartment compound on Tuesday afternoons. We attempt to play futball with them, and also teach them about Jesus. Pray that God will continue to send more kids, and that we can be the light for them!

Thank you again for all your prayers and support!

With love-

One Day In Your Courts…

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I apologize for taking so long to update you all on life here in Accra! Sometimes I forget how much time has past. It may be that it still feels like August (well twice as hot and humid as August in Colorado). This past month has been crazy busy, but when you get to hang with these kids everyday, all the late nights and stress is well worth it! I have officially survived my first quarter of teaching,  first field trip,  and first parent teacher conferences. I was also able to spend a long weekend relaxing on the coast outside of Accra during our fall break. This past month has been full of challenges, anxieties, and exhaustion. But along with the challenges there are endless blessings, thanksgiving, and joy. Rather than telling you everything that happened since the last time I wrote, I want to highlight just a few of the joyful moments in the Chaos that is teaching.

My class, as well as the 4th grade class, spent the day at the local botanical gardens on our first field trip! We had a blast running around the gardens in a scavenger hunt searching for different types of animals and plants, complete with a monkey chasing us out of the gardens.

 

October was reading month at AIS (American International School). The students made reading goals and we had various reading activities throughout the month. We finished off the month with “read all day, day” and “character dress up day”. Third grade, as well as many other classes at AIS, spent “read all day day” reading in forts and sharing books with other classes.

 

Fall break followed first quarter. I was able to travel outside of Accra and spend the long weekend on the beach with a few friends. Nothing is better than a hammock on a beach to help you recover from your first quarter of teaching. Enough said.

 

Transitioning from life in the States, Ireland then to Ghana has not been easy, and transitioning from college life to my first year teaching has been even more challenging. For the first few months I was here, most of my thoughts were filled with questions. Questioning whether I am bartering the right price for a taxi, whether I washed my fruits and veggies the right way, whether I taught that lesson to the best of my ability, whether paying double price for cheese is worth it, and much more. I have had days that were more exhausting than I have ever experienced in my life, and then another day comes a long that beats that one. Teaching is hard. Of course I knew that before becoming a real teacher, but the reality is you do not understand until you experience it. But the rewards are so much sweeter than you imagine as well.

While the end of September and most of October was a very busy season for me, it was also a very restful season. Lately I have felt, the biggest part of my transition to life here is over, and I feel more comfortable and at home here in Accra. I have more room to think and reflect on the amazing things that God is doing through AIS and in Accra. To be filled with thanksgiving for my calling here. For the joy my kids bring me each day, for the fresh pineapple (pineapples at home will never compete), for the community I am building at church, for the peaceful walk to school each morning, for kids club (kids from our neighborhood come over to school us at soccer and learn about Jesus), for my amazing co-workers and the vision of AIS, I could go on and on.

Most importantly, I am thankful I get to serve a God that fills me with joy and peace each day. In church there is a song we sing with the lyrics, “One day in Your courts, is better than a thousand elsewhere”. I love this verse, meditating on it. I think back to before I knew Christ. My insecurities, lacking understanding of unconditional love, unknowingly loneliness, and compare it to my life in Christ. The complete joy I have in Him, the love he gives me that I don’t deserve, and the peace in my soul. I would take a thousand of my hardest days as a Christian over one day without Christ.

This past month has woke me up and reminded me to live each day knowing that I get to spend another day in His courts.

Prayer:

  • Pray for the health of all AIS staff
  • That God would speak through the staff at AIS and students to reach students who don’t know him
  • For strength and energy for all of our teachers and staff

Ways to support AIS and Accra:

  • AIS’s high school basketball teams are going to Uganda for basketball tournament and missions trip. They are raising support to get there! www.gofundme.com/ghanatouganda
  • The church I attend here, Hope City, is partnered with a ministry called City Hearts. They are an incredible ministry that helps at-risk students stay in school. http://www.city-hearts.co.uk/what-we-do/city-hearts-africa/

 

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers!

 

Rejoice!

“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight a boxer beating the air.” 

1 Corinthians 9:26

It’s easy to slip into that state of running aimlessly when I am buried under lesson planning, grading and deadlines. It’s easy to fight the boxer that punches air when I am tired and sleep deprived. It’s easy to forget who I am ultimately working for, the reason I am here in Accra, and only focus on trying to purely survive teaching. It’s frustrating when I find myself living in the school bubble and feeling like I don’t have the time to enjoy living in Ghana. I always feel 10 steps behind in my classroom, trying to keep my head above the waters (which I am assuming/hoping most 1st year teachers feel) I start to feel sick when I realize the relationships back home in Colorado are slowly slipping away because of distance. I am in love with discussing the love and grace of Jesus Christ with my twelve 3rd graders, but often spend more time planning for their lesson and spiritual growth, than my own.

But then God wakes me up.

He uses my students to humble me. They are the ones who remind me who I am serving and why I am here in Ghana. Recently one of my students reminded me of an acronym that I learned in college that helped deepen my prayer life;

P-raise

R-epent

A-sk

Y-eild

We have been talking about the Power of Prayer (P. O. P.) in class and I have been overwhelmed by my students understanding of God’s goodness and power. Often students make connections to Christ throughout the day during our science, math, social studies, and language arts lessons. Over the past month my students have memorized 5 bible verses, and like to shout them as loud as possible in the mornings. One morning (same morning the printer broke down, sending me into panic and stress for the day) they had this great idea to hide in the 4th grade classroom, just before they came in for snack, and pop out shouting our bible verses from the past two weeks. I got goosebumps when watching the joy pouring out of my 3rd grade students and the 4th graders as my students yelled Philippians 4:4-7 at the top of their lungs.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; I’ll say it again, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious in any situation, but in prayer and petition, and thanksgiving in your heart, present your prayers and requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard you hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” 

As we work as a family to integrate God’s word into every part of our classroom, I have started to see God’s word integrated into every part of my life, now and in the past. It’s in these moments of realization that I begin to gain aim in my running and face the real boxer. There is a reason Jesus tells us to have faith like a child!

This past weekend I was able to get away and see more of Accra! A group of teachers from the school were able to spend our weekend at a beach resort about an hour away from the school. I don’t think I have ever been more relaxed in my life! We spent the weekend lying on the beach, swimming in the waves, sketching and painting (with some help from local kids who decided to join us), eating delicious food, and dancing to live reggae music under the palm trees. Now I understand why all reggae musicians always look so happy (well besides the other reason…). Throughout the weekend I kept picturing my students shouting “Rejoice; I’ll say it again, Rejoice!” I am filled with joy and thanksgiving for God’s blessings in my life: the places I have seen, the people I have met, the prayers He has answered, and His grace that pours over all His children. I am filled with joy, shouting “Rejoice” to the Lord our God!

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In Awe

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I apologize for taking so long posting an update! I can’t believe it has already been 3 weeks since I landed here in Accra! I have been overwhelmed by amount of support, and love here at AIS, and from all of you back home, I can’t thank you enough!

Its hard for me to sum up what life has been like here in Ghana over the past 23 days. Since the moment I landed it feels like I haven’t stopped moving. Each day is full of new challenges and blessings. I have moved into a new apartment, set up my new classroom, met my students, and already taught for 10 days! My mind is completely consumed with planning, check lists (mostly losing my check list and trying to remember what was on it), deadlines, each one of my students…etc. It never stops. In college, when I would procrastinate until the last minute, I could multitask. I could rehearse the lesson I was teaching the next day in my head while I was driving, or buying groceries, or drinking a cup of coffee at my favorite place. But when you move to a new country and you are suddenly a foreigner to everyday life, driving to work, grocery shopping, and even sitting in a cafe is no longer easy.

Driving anywhere consists of catching a taxi and bartering price, catching trotro, or walking (a lot). Grocery shopping involves a lot of math converting from the USD to GHC, and walking in circles trying to find your way around the store. Sitting in a cafe enjoying coffee may or may involve electricity, ordering your coffee in the dark is strange. I am overwhelmed by the tasks of being a first year teacher, at the same time as learning how to live everyday life. You may read this and think that sounds awful! And to be honest sometimes it’s not great.

BUT through all of the stress of teaching, and moving to a new country God continues keep His promises and show me that He is in control! Below are just a few of the countless moments that have filled me with joy and complete awe in His perfect will for my life.

  • AIS staff prayer walking throughout the school, for each classroom, staff member, and student
  • When asking my students the 4 basic needs that all living things need, one student replies “water, sun, air, and….the Holy Spirit!!”
  • A student finally understanding a math strategy and jumping up and down with joy when she go the answer right!
  • All of the smiles and greetings I receive walking to and from school (practicing my twi-local language)
  • Going to a coffee shop to plan but the electricity cuts out and spending the night laughing and talking with new friends
  • Being surprised by a day out and dinner for my Birthday! I’m so blessed to be surrounded by those here at AIS!
  • Following two girls maybe 9 or 10 to school carrying 5 gallon buckets of water on their head with ease (thinking me and Jenna should have tried this method at the County Fair)
  • Walking through “Chale Wote” an art festival in Accra, taking in this beautiful culture I get to live in and experience!
  • Worshiping with believers from all over the globe every Sunday morning

I could go on and on and on! My class’s verse this week is Philippians 4:4-5.  Yesterday and today we have practiced 4:4. “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice” We shout Rejoice as loud as we can, and each time I think I am so unworthy to serve a God this good. But through grace He has called me His daughter, and I will rejoice that I get to serve Him everyday!

Prayer:

  • Please pray for my students! That God will overfill our classroom with His presence
  • For AIS staff! That we would push through stress, and business and focus on His purpose!
  • Health for the staff and students

Thank you to all of you who have prayed for me through this transition! Please feel free to message/email me if you would like me to pray for you!

 

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“You’re So Brave”

So here I am, sitting at DIA, trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I will be in Accra, Ghana tomorrow! The past two months seemed to pass in about 10 minutes, packed full with graduation celebrations, trainings, work, and too little time with friends and family. I have been overwhelmed with the amount of love and support friends and family have shown me. God has opened my eyes to all of His blessings in my life! I was able to spend time with loved ones, enjoy His creation (soak up as much mountain air as possible!), build new relationships, love on my pets (because that is important!), and so much more. God is so good!!

Although, I want you to know that my 10 minute summer wasn’t all smiles and good feelings. Transitioning from a college student, to a graduate, to a missionary teacher in Africa, was not as easy as I thought it would be (or building my RAFT for those IMPACT attenders reading!) My summer was full with tearful goodbyes, and financial stress. As time passed I starting to ask if this struggle was part of God’s plan the whole time.  And I think it was. You know when your about to do a trust fall into someones arms and your knees won’t stop shaking because your trying to resist bending them? I guess it depends on who’s about to catch ..or not catch you. You would think when God asks you to do this, to trust Him with all your heart, it would be easy. Nope. But this is the good news. God is ALWAYS faithful, and ALWAYS keeps His promises. So in that moment (multiple moments) when I wasn’t sure if I had enough money to get to Ghana, I found myself saying “I know I am not supposed to worry or be anxious, but I am a little worried and a little nervous. But I trust you. But I am just a little worried. Just a little”. God pointed me to His word, and the more I read the less my knees were trembling. He reminded me as I meditated on His word, His truth. And He provided.

So to all of you who have loved me, prayed for me, and supported me I want to thank you a million times over. In Ireland they always said “Thanks a mil” and I love that! So thanks a mil for helping me further His Kingdom! I am so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people, and I am so excited to share with you how God is working in my life as a missionary teacher, and in the people (and kids!) around me. And to everybody who had told me “you’re so brave” or thought “you’re so brave” I want you to know that I alone, am not brave. That with out my Father, with out Christ, I would not be brave. He makes me brave, so that I can trust fall with out trembling knees.

Love you all!