18 May 2012

Wrappin' It Up

 "Those who walk by faith usually don't know where they are going, but they do know the One leading them. That will be enough." - Gary Black

My friend Ashley Wingate posted that from Haiti the other day, and it really stood out to me because boy, has that been true for me in the last 18 months!  A few years ago I had no idea this is where I'd be today, but God did, and I'm so very thankful for His direction and His faithfulness.

Earlier this week

It's hard to believe, but my first school year here in Kenya is about to draw to a close.  Two weeks from tomorrow I'll be on a plane headed west!  While I can't wait to get home for a visit, it truly has been a wonderful year here, and I look forward to coming back in July.  As I've been thinking through some things, there are three categories that things keep falling into: things I've done for the first time, things I'm thankful for, and things I can't wait to have/experience during my 7 weeks back in the States.  Some things are humorous, some more serious, but I thought I'd take this chance to record some of them, for myself and my own memories if nothing else.  If you happen to enjoy the lists too, then great!  In this post, I'll tackle the first two lists, and I'll save the things I'm looking forward to for next week!  (Two posts from me in one week?!  Yikes.  Watch out!  It's about to get crazy.  Haha!)  :)

List 1: Things I Did for the First Time Ever
(In Random Order)
  • drove on the right side of the car on the left side of the road
  • hiked and camped along the rim of a volcanic crater
  • walked among zebras and giraffes
  • snorkeled in coral tide pools and caves
  • dined in a cave restaurant
  • helped distribute food to Somali refugees
  • flew in the smallest plane I've been in yet
  • ate Ethiopian food (took a few tries, but now I crave it sometimes!)
  • ate Indian food (found out the secret was to add a little salt--YUM!)
  • celebrated my birthday in another country
  • Skyped with 3 services at my church
  • ate KFC in a country outside the US
  • felt an earthquake
  • had students regularly thank me for teaching them
  • had a student tell me I was "so modern and cool"...while I was wearing PJs
  • shared my faith daily and explicitly with students
  • got "stung" by a caterpillar and had a rash for a month!
  • used a squatty-potty
  • held a baby and thought I was going to break her ribs trying to pick her up because she was so malnourished...and fell in love with her instantly
  • kissed a giraffe (or rather, it kissed me)
  • got up in the middle of the night to watch a sporting event. twice.
  • watched the Cats win a national championship online
  • welcomed and helped host 30 children on their first trip out of their village and watched the same kids experience swimming for the first time
  • drove on a rural Kenyan road in a rainstorm (accompanied by a live chicken)
  • bought a whole chicken with intention to cook it (it's still frozen...)
  • played telephone pictionary
  • followed high-altitude baking instructions
  • said "soda" instead of "pop".   boo.
  • became a certified alien and a resident of another country
  • got a driver's license from outside the US
  • had a complete stranger tell me why I'm not married
  • witnessed a recorder quartet in concert
  • paid over $10 for a box of cereal (at least it was a BIG box!)
  • visited a Masai village
  • got stuck in the mud in a Land Cruiser; didn't think it was possible; it is
  • visited a tea farm
  • had a security guard say to me, "I can see your car is as clean as you," um...thanks?????
  • made my own beer cheese (yum!!)
  • paid someone else to do the cleaning and laundry (love it, but still not really used to it!)
  • got a massage (2 actually, and hardly paid anything for them!)
  • had a bonfire on the beach
  • was asked (along with the entire congregation) to play air guitar during church
  • attended a Christmas Eve pool party
  • held a hedgehog
Those are some of my "firsts" for the year.  I'm sure I've forgotten some, but you get the idea.  :)  The next list is a bit more serious (in most cases) as I reflect on God's blessings.

List 2: Things I'm Thankful For

  • the people God has placed here; there was a substantial number of new staff members here this year, and some of those people, as well as others, have become an important and regular part of my life; this year wouldn't have been the same without them!
  • relatively good health; doesn't appear I've contracted any strange diseases or critters; (this will be confirmed by a doctor tomorrow, I hope!)
  • the ability to stay in contact with friends and family through facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, Vimeo, and all those other crazy technologies that keep us connected
  • cheap cell phone calls and texts to the States
  • the friends who have made the effort to stay connected with me and their many notes and comments to encourage me during the last year 
  • my family's support and help with Stateside business stuff--couldn't have done it without their help!
  • Lucy at Central Bank--she's been a life saver!
  • the patient and cooperative professors at Georgetown who have enabled me to complete my degree from here
  • having a school that genuinely cares for its staff
  • being able to live in a place in Kenya where I generally don't have to worry about extended power outages, water shortages, safety, etc.; I'm pretty spoiled/blessed here.
  • the chances I've had to travel within Kenya so far
  • the 25 children I've had as students this year and their supportive parents
  • supportive administrators
  • no state testing!!!  :)
  • I got to see a face from home when Diane came to visit in February!
  • iTunes, for allowing downloads in Kenya!
  • that God provided the Waltons to take care of Bailey and give her a wonderful year
  • the memories I've made here
  • having a pool within walking distance ;)
  • the upcoming opportunities I have to travel this summer and the financial means to do so
  • the chances I've had to watch my students grow spiritually
  • receiving continued confirmation that this is where I'm supposed to be for now
As you can see, it has been a fun, growing year for me.   I've been challenged, and I've definitely identified some ways I want to grow in the coming year, but I'm thankful for where I stand right now and for God's faithfulness all along the way.  Thanks for sharing in the journey with me!  Next week: Things I'm Looking Forward to In the States!  Some things might surprise you...  :)

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