Thursday, April 24, 2014

Infinitely More

God, You truly do work all things together for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose.

As I recall several moments of doubt from the past 4 months - I am humbled and amazed by the way You have been weaving experiences, situations, and passions together to create the beautiful masterpiece to designed my life to be. 

When I applied for jobs last fall and interviewed for a position in first grade at one school - You asked me to wait as you orchestrated an opening in special education at another. After an early morning overseas Skype interview (that I was completely not prepared for) you placed me in the school I now call home. 

Over the past four months, I have been utterly blessed, nurtured, and affirmed by my principal and co-workers. 

OH yes, I was baptized by fire with a few students on my caseload - there have been many tears, several questions, and even an adult temper tantrum. 

Yet at just the right time, there was an affirming word from a co-teacher; a moment of sheer delight in working with a student; breakthrough progress with "she who shall not be named"; and the fact that you have paved the way for me to do the work that I am doing here.

Within my first week of teaching, I received an unassigned contract for next fall. Within a couple of months, that contract was assigned to continue in the special education position I now hold. You are truly faithful.  

Yet I was not. 

I was not satisfied to stay and began to seek every possible way out. I have realized that I don't enjoy working with older kids as much as I thought I would. Special education - I've felt so very ineffective this semester because of the nature of my position. Joy has been so elusive these past four months. My passion for education began to wane just as You began to reveal the work You were doing.

First, an early morning conversation with the 1st grade team leader who asked if I'd ever consider teaching in the primary grades. 

Then a conversation with my co-teacher about the joys and mostly the struggles of teaching special education. This teacher and I together share a love for younger kids. Together we daydreamed about teaching first grade next year. 

Hope was lost for a moment as staffing came out with my co-teacher placed in first grade and myself, again, in special education.

A little while later, that same co-teacher made the decision to apply for positions in another district so that she and her husband could delete a 2 hour commute from their marriage. 

With a pending opening in first grade at my school, I began to ponder why I felt like I had to stay in special education. I also marinated in all the reasons I could come up with for why I'd like to teach first grade. With that, I realized that my passion is neither in special education nor with 5th grade. My heart is with the little ones at the foundation of their learning. 

Oh, to teach someone to read, to ignite a love for learning with those who are so excited to learn. To plan and prepare lessons and to build relationships with kiddos across the span of an entire day - 5 days a week - several days a month - for a whole year! So exciting!

This sparked an impromptu conversation with my principal about my desire to teach in the primary grades - and not to always get stuck in special education. She was receptive and was glad to know how I felt. I found freedom in letting her know how I truly felt and was grateful for her understanding. With the nature of my continuing contract, she would need to contact HR to determine whether or not it would be possible to switch from special education to general education. In addition, we would have to wait for my co-teacher hear back from the district she had applied for.

Not long after that, I was retelling my story to my mentor. Again I realized that my passion is not in special education as I heard her speak with conviction and joy as she declared she would never want to teach anything but special education.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I waited patiently, thoughtfully, and prayerfully. 

For a about a week it seemed as though time itself had stopped. Then slowly, the situation began to unfold. 

My co-teacher was invited for an interview. The next day she was offered a 1st grade position at another elementary school! (God made a way for her and used this situation as a part of his plan for me!)

I waited again with bated breath to hear from my principal now that the position was open.

On Monday morning, I received the following e-mail:

"Hi Meg!

As you know, with *Sarah leaving for Millard we have a grade one opening.  Human Resources has given the OK for you to move into regular ed if that is what you would still like to do.  The Team 1 team leader is supportive and would love to have you on the team.  Would you like to move to team 1?  You can email me or I'll catch you in the morning.  

Your Principal"

*names have been omitted or changed

Needless to say I jumped out of my chair and danced/ran next door to tell my co-teacher! We hugged and drank in the moment, silently praising the Lord for answering both our prayers. 

God, You have been faithful through it all. I'm so excited to be a first grade teacher next fall and so blessed to see your hand at work in mine and in others lives!

Though this semester has been challenging - I've learned so much about myself as a teacher and have a better idea of what to prepare for next fall. I have realized that nothing is wasted and I wouldn't trade this semester for the world. 

There are still moments when I consider switching careers - but as I reflect even now, it is evident that God has called me to teach. He has made away in the desert and has made things considered impossible, possible. 

As I look towards the future - I don't know what it may hold (though I have many dreams and ideas!). But I do know that God has given me a the task at hand, is refining me every step of the way, and is preparing me now for whatever may be in store some day.

God is faithful. 

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Eph. 3:20

Saturday, March 15, 2014

His Purpose Prevails

It's hard to believe that it's been 5 months since my most recent adventure began. 

As was eating Thanksgiving dinner with some wonderful people in Papua, Indonesia - God was working out his plans for me back home in Lincoln, NE. 

Before leaving for my student teaching experience in Papua, I had interviewed for a position at an elementary school here in Lincoln that I was CONVINCED was meant for me. As I went over seas, I made mental plans for the position that would hopefully await me upon my return.

"We can make our own plans,
    but the Lord gives the right answer.

People may be pure in their own eyes,
    but the Lord examines their motives."

As I waited to hear back from the first school - I offered prayers of praise to God, thanking him that even if I didn't get the position, I knew he would provide for me.

"Commit your actions to the Lord,
    and your plans will succeed."

The very next morning, I had an e-mail from LPS stating that two schools were interested in interviewing. I called both over Skype and had an interview that very morning. Not in interview mode at all, my answers to  questions weren't as polished as I'd have liked - no time to research the school and pad my answers with information from their website! 

"We can make our plans,
    but the Lord determines our steps."

The following week, I got a e-mail from the district offering me the position! Before accepting the position I did a little digging on their website - turns out the way that I had answered the questions aligned with the schools vision and mission statement. (The Lord knew!)

"The king is pleased with words from righteous lips;
    he loves those who speak honestly."

As I packed up and headed home, I barely had time to recover from jet lag before my first day arrived. Freshly graduated - now a "proper adult" - I had no doubt in my capability for this new position. 

"Pride goes before destruction,
    and haughtiness before a fall."

Three months later (just last week), I sat with my head on my desk, choking back tears before my students entered the room for math class. My first months of teaching have had some serious ups and downs:

  • On my first day one student asked me if I was pregnant.
  • However, after just a week of teaching, I was offered an unassigned contract within the district for next school year. 
  • Another time, a student (using appropriate B.I.S.T language, I might add) asked, "Ms. White, is this a problem in your life?" as I fumbled through a lesson.
  • Just a few weeks ago, I received the news that I would officially be teaching at the same school in the same position next year!
  • One student's comment made me laugh. As we were working together on a spelling assignment, he looked up at me with such hope then looked back at his paper and scratched out his answer. "I know I didn't get it right because you didn't give me 'the eye'."

With an onslaught of professional development, I.E.P's, parent teacher conferences, and the day-to-day routines of teaching, I have been humbled. Truly - I had no idea what I was getting myself into. There are somethings teacher prep and student teaching just can't prepare you for. 

There have been several days when I have seriously considered choosing a different profession. Thankfully, the Lord is much more faithful than I am and has given me encouragement and affirmation along the way. Co-workers who have spoken truth and life into me in those moments of doubt and the clearly marked path laid ahead of me give me the grace to move forward.

"Kind words are like honey—
    sweet to the soul and healthy for the body" (smattering of Proverbs from chapter 16)

Although I'd like to run away and not back into my classroom on Monday morning - I have hope. My reason for hope is that I know that Christ is not finished with me yet. He is walking with me and guiding me and giving me the desire and the power to do what is pleasing to him. 

I might not be the most effective teacher (actually, in reflection - I'm definitely ineffective at the moment) but I have the desire to become more effective. God has given me the talents and the strengths for such a profession. Although the challenge set before me is daunting and downright overwhelming at times, I have faith in a God who moves mountains. 

There are several books that I have been reading recently that have given me insight into myself, my role in the Kingdom of heaven, and best practices for teaching.

Living Your Strengths by Albert L. Winseman D.Min., Ph.D. Donald O. Clifton, Curt Liesveld M.Div.

My strengths include:


After reading into each one, it's uncanny how I can identify these strengths (and their corresponding weaknesses) in my life. 

The Book of Mark:

14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. (Chapter 10)

Clearly God has a heart for children. He welcomes them freely into his Kingdom and urges others to accept Him as children do. God has given me a passion for working with children - and no matter how much I try to deny it at times, it is truly a privilege and a gift to be able to guide and shape the life of a child. Definitely frustrating at times, and so unpredictable - but God is revealing to me just how much of a child I still am. I am in desperate need DAILY of wisdom and direction from The Teacher. 

21 "You can make many plans,
    but the Lord’s purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:21

This verse has been a constant reminder to me - through teaching, relationships with family and friends, volunteering in the church - and making a downright mess of things with the way that I plan and attempt to execute those plans- that through all the plans I make, the Lord's purpose will prevail. 


So with Monday just around the bend - I am determined to take each moment as it comes; to praise God for each moment; to let him continue to bring me to maturity; and to trust that His purpose will prevail. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Beautiful Struggle

Trip Interior:the village of Kirimu on the way to Bias
 My life has been so full the past few weeks and through it all, I find joy in what the Lord has done. Through a trip to a distant village, various community events, and people that I've met, there are countless lessons that I have learned about who God is and who I am because of Christ's sacrificial love for me.

 I could try to tell of the ways He has been shaping me the past few months but I that post would be endless. 

As I begin to reflect on the past year, it's hard to believe that I'll be coming home in 3 weeks! My year of world travels is coming to an end and I am in absolute awe of our Mighty God. 
The past months have flown by and I'm praising God for all He has taught me throughout this season of my life. 

A Wycliffe One Story Project in Bias
He has used people I have met, places I have been, things I have done have do shape me and to turn me back to Him time and again.

God's grace has covered over my mistakes over and over - I am humbled by His love. I am humbled by His Son who is the Great High Priest. My Jesus has been, is, and will continue to pray for me and intercede on my behalf. 

Adventure's with the Reynolds family in Bias

In Him I have all that I need and all my hopes are in Him.

Whatever the delays, whatever fears or anxiety, whatever broken relationships, whatever unknowns lie before me I stand firm on the promise of God and find my identity in Him:

"[I am] clothed with strength and dignity,
    and [I] laugh without fear of the future."
Proverbs 31:25

Even though at times it has been an incredible struggle: I have felt the sting of loneliness, the frustrations of culture shock, and the weariness that comes with living the sojourner's life. 

But I am SO blessed to be called away from everything and everyone in whom I find comfort - to be molded and shaped into the woman God has designed me to be. 

Beach trip with a group of English Language learners.
In many ways, I mourn the fact that this season is coming to end - this beautiful struggle - but I hold on to the hope that God continues to carry me. Earlier this fall I wrote a song that expresses the way I have come to understand God's work in my life. 

You have carried me this far, so far
Never once did my feet walk alone

Whipping up some Pabeta (traditional Papuan dish)
When I flee from Your space
I'm back on my own, reaching for Your grace.

Oh Lord, it was never mine to hold.
It was never mine at all.

Remind me of Your greatest act
stepping down to love and serve,
Paying all that I owe.

Oh Lord, it was never mine to hold,
Students playing Mancala after a math lesson.
It was never mine at all,

For I'm held within Your scars

As You gaze upon my face
Looking with favor UNEARNED
Overwhelming me with grace

As Christ died on the hill
I know He goes before me still
So I can rest inside Your will

Oh Lord, it was never mine to hold,
it was never mine at all. 

Enjoying some street food! Squid is DELICIOUS :)
As I read and sing these words, I'm reminded that God IS who He says He is. He does great things for those who love Him, and it is completely undeserved I have found my life and strength in the love and grace poured forth from the gospel. The life I live in Christ is as I've title this song: Unearned. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Warm and Heavy Blessings

It's Sunday in Sentani and as I reflect on the past week, I am satisfied by the faithfulness of God.

To be honest - I don't fully understand why He called me here. Today's sermon at Newman Chapel reminded me that there are things we practice in our daily walk with God that strengthen the instincts of our spiritual muscle memory. 

Hearing today from elders in the church of tangible ways they put off the old self and put on Christ each day was truly an encouragement to my faith. The joy, the peace, and the freedom that come with living life in Christ are pure and true. So blessed by the body of Christ here in Papua. It is amazing to here their requests regarding the people groups that they work with: new air strips, new people groups, new babies - God has been incredibly faithful to these people, it is clear that He is in control and it is His Spirit at work in and among the believers here! 
Jumping off Rocks!
Beautiful mountain falls

This afternoon, I had the chance to hike to the water falls I can see from my window - how beautiful and refreshing the water from the mountains. As we were finishing up, it began to pour. The rain reminded me of God's sanctifying work in my life. 5 years ago I absolutely hated rain. I was born in a thunderstorm in late June and it has rained on many, many birthdays since then - always ruining my plans. At Camp Victory my first summer, it poured and poured for at least a week. During a Staff worship night, we were invited to worship God in whatever way we felt led. Oddly enough I felt led outside into the pouring rain, to the soccer field. I walked around for a bit not knowing if I should dance or sing or spread my arms open wide - it was so COLD! Gradually I began to lift up my arms and let God's love surround me. I started singing all of my favorite praise songs and as I was singing, there was a mysterious echo - almost as if, the angels were joining in praise. I got the chills and stopped for a moment to see if I was imagining things. I truly believe His Spirit was with me that night. Ever since then I have loved the rain. Rain is such beautiful reminder of God's promise that nothing He sends down to earth returns empty (Isaiah 55). He uses things that may ruin our temporary plans to water the earth, to provide clean, pure refreshment to plants, animals, and mankind. This afternoon, the rain was warm and heavy as we hiked down from the falls. I believe Gods promises for my life are like the rain - satisfying and refreshing - I gladly welcome Him to ruin my plans with his warm and heavy blessings. I will praise Him in the storm!

Now here's an update from this past week:

Ice Cream Cone Times Tables
Monday: Today I taught my first math lesson and it went well. There were a few hiccups at first – I had the students do a math vocabulary matching activity. I neglected to explain it well enough so two of my four groups were pretty clueless and I basically ended up giving them the answers (A+ for the teacher.) The activity would’ve gone more smoothly had I given them more concise instructions and expectations and given them one instead of two words. Regardless, they seemed to enjoy it – simply needs to be revamped. The white board review went well – again, another brief hiccup in my explanation but was able to show an example and the group was able to move on and were engaged for the majority of the time. A few things I would do differently: select fewer questions and rewrite them to be ELL friendly. Instead of spending time writing each problem on the board, I would prefer to have them already typed up to simply glide through- this way students still have the visual (less stimulating than the book) and I have more time to walk around and check for understanding while they work. Something Sarah suggested that I think might be helpful to avoid further confusion: have students repeat the direction – this way we both know the expectation and can be successful without a lot of teacher help.

Today at lunch, the special education teacher Mary Kay Kolb and I discovered what a small world it really is. She asked about how I got to NWC, where I was from and if I had any siblings. Well, Mary Kay and her husband, Roger, are from Cedar Rapids, IA. They are good friends with my sister-in-law Hannah’s parents the Watters. Mary Kay and Roger were even at Greg and Hannah’s wedding! Uncanny!

Sarah and I have been plotting a trip “interior” with the Reynolds family for the past couple of weeks. Next weekend (November 8-11th) I will take a trip to visit the Reynolds who are working on a ONEStory project in the village of Bias.  Basically, I’ll get to spend a few days in the village experiencing life in the village and what life is like for the people there. Should be an adventure!

Tuesday: This was probably the BEST day yet and I’m praising God for it! The God of Angel Armies is always by my side and it is so apparent on days of grace like this one. The morning began with a reminder of how I’ve been washed clean by the blood of Jesus- God no longer sees the sinful skin I’m in, rather He sees that I am united with Christ- it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. It’s an incredible blessing to remember that on judgment day, I will be pardoned for my partnership with Christ. Wow. 

I have been praying for God’s creative spark in me. It has been a struggle for me to plan lessons with enthusiasm when I’m planning from a 3 pound curriculum. Being around Sarah and getting to know my students better has helped me to understand how to develop lessons with creativity that will inspire students to learn not just teach them the facts. (Now as I sit and type this it is starting to rain heavily on the tin roof outside my window – like music to my soul!) 

Mouse and the Motorcycle!
Today I got to spend some time in a reading group with my students – we were able to swap some stories and get to know one another a little better. After our math test we enjoyed some math games: tan grams, puzzles, and dominos – it was fun to see students in the context of a game and not in academic work. After lunch I enjoyed playing knockout with some of the younger 3-5 graders, again, a chance to be a part of their games and get to know them, so fun (and good exercise too!) I’ve been working on my science unit and I’m really excited – it’s been so fun to plan, so I hope it’s fun to teach and fun for the student’s to learn. There are a lot of hands on activities and relevant connections that I’m excited about teaching! This afternoon, I had time to finish up my plans for tomorrows lesson in math and time to relax. It feels nice having planned ahead – able to enjoy life in the community! I dropped my things back home and then took off for a walk around the soccer fields. The middle-schoolers were playing sharks and minnows so I joined their fun for a few rounds. After I took my walk, I joined a few of the high school girls to spot them in their tumbling and teach them some stunts – it was so fun to see their success and their joy as they accomplished new things! Afterwards I went to Hostel 1 for dinner. I’ve been interested in being a house parent and so it has been a huge blessing, getting connected with the Mills. I had the chance to interact with some of the high schoolers as well as the Mills family. What a joy! Now that I’ve been here a little over a week, I feel as though I’m becoming more familiar with the community. Now when I plan lessons, I know some background of my students’ lives, their interests and the ways they learn. When I go to futsal games, I know a little bit about the players. Lord, thank you for this incredible blessing – that nothing is outside your plan, that you are using the things in my life for Your glory in Your time. Thank you for the conversation Cherie and I had – just the reminder that you qualify the called, not the other way around. You use the weak to declare Your strength. For the glory of Your name!

Wednesday: God has been revealing to me how great is the power of praise to awake my sense of trust in Him. The more I praise Him the more I realize how great He truly is. As I praise Him, I realize how long He’s held me in His hand, He is more than trustworthy and I’m blessed to live by His guidance and grace.

Great idea for picking partners!
Today’s lesson went well! The problem of the day was a reteach from yesterday’s test; wish I could’ve come up with a way to check for everyone’s understanding, maybe with another similar problem. The Multiplication Table was fun and the kids seemed to understand how to use it – wish I would’ve tried another activity, maybe next time making a picture with the products to multiplication sentences. Using the School House Rock video again for the 3’s song went really well! They loved the video and they sang the song throughout their homework time. My guided practice questions were OK; would’ve been better if done in sequence with the multiplication table or with examples from the homework practice. I loved the “Find Your Partner” cards with several different stickers on them – so fun for the kids; tomorrow I’ll try to let the students exercise more independence in finding the person with the matching sticker.

Thursday: God is constantly reminding me that I can do all things through HIM who gives me strength – this theme from Philippians 4:13 has been a source of power and grace throughout my lifetime. NO longer am I dwelling on my own
strength; I now consider myself to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:11). What a wonderful promise! Not only am I alive with Christ – He is my source of love and joy, He is my Life!

Especially when I make mistakes and try to do things in my own strength: The lesson started out well with our review of the Multiplication Table. We then progressed into a discussion about doubling. During the Multiplication Table Detectives worksheet the trouble began. There were a LOT of multiplication sentences – would’ve been better to start out with something simpler. This activity took up about 25 minutes when I was anticipating about 10. After that I felt really rushed to get everything I had planned accomplished. We flew through our flashcards and didn’t even get to our flashcards. Afterward I felt really flustered and was having a hard time recovering. After my conversation with Sarah I realized that these things happen and it’s all part of time management as well as pacing appropriately with students’ learning curve.

I needed His grace this afternoon when my lesson went poorly. Sometimes I beat myself up and begin to get frustrated with others not understanding my needs. But then He reminds me to think from another perspective: HIS. He has given me so many wonderful opportunities to learn, to teach, to reflect, to grow, to see Him at work in the world and to get involved in the lives of His children!

This week I’ve also had the opportunity to do a little coach with a few girls who are interested in tumbling and stunting (Amy Dahl, you were right!) It has been a blast working with these girls and encouraging them with their talent!

My roommate and I also had a really great open conversation tonight about our beliefs, our spiritual lives, our joys and struggles – planning my lessons ahead of time has allowed me to enjoy spending quality time with the people in this community!

Friday: “It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5. This is such a good reminder that God will continue to completion the good work he began in us for His namesake. There are so many areas I find myself deficient or start to look at those things in the lives of other but I realize that God uses those who are small, weak, and inadequate to prove how Great, how Strong, and how Adequate He is to do the work he desires in our lives! My identity does not come from who I am on my own, rather who I am in Christ and how His Spirit works on my heart.

During my math lesson today The homework practice took awhile. One issue I had was trying to be thorough – go figure! The kids understood what I was teaching but it was going slowly because I thought I needed to pound every point. One thing I thought of: my last placement was Special Ed so I needed to go from slowly and be more thorough. I’m still adjusting to this group of kids – they are bright kids and they pick up on new concepts quickly. Big things I need to work on: time management, and pacing with student understanding.

Ms. Sharp at the 3rd grade game: Marbles and Toes
This afternoon was fun fair – a celebration/thank-you for the Indonesian workers at HIS and their children. Different water games, taste-testing, karaoke, and mini-golf were spread out throughout the campus. It was so fun to interact with the people of Sentani more, however, my language gap was revealed!

After the fun-fair, another Friday Night Game; this week the seniors hosted the meal with sub-sandwiches! This community-wide activity has been a favorite of mine. I love sitting at the games catching up with people and cheering on the HS girls and guys futsal teams. Futsal has become the cherry on top of my week!

Boat ride to the beach
Saturday: Spent the day at the beach again (just for your information)! This time I got to do some snorkeling – absolutely amazing! There were angel fish, parrot fish, green and purple coral, anemones with clown fish peaking in and out. Sea cucumbers, starfish, and even little crabs – let me tell you what, the ocean puts Finding Nemo to shame! God’s creation is much more mystifying and glorious than a dentist office aquarium.

Please be praying:

Throughout the past year, I've had some dairy related stomach problems, this weekend confirmed that I am definitely lactose intolerant. Please pray for me as I make this adjustment- that if dairy is served I remember to take medication. It has been a miserable couple of weeks health wise adjusting to the food.

Please pray for a new airstrip being christened this week! After 10 years of battling different village leaders and governmental figures - the gospel will now reach people groups who need the hope of Jesus Christ!

Missionary life is really tough ;)
There are at least 3 missionary families in Papua who are expecting in the next few weeks and months. Please pray for safe travels to various hospitals, for safe delivery and healthy moms and babies!

Praise for a missionary family who has been here for 20 years today! God has shown his grace to them and done great things through them!

Thank God for the people He has placed in my life here to pray for me, mentor me, and take care of me. I feel so welcomed and loved! 

Pray that God would continue to reveal his calling on my life. Not sure why he has me here now - pray that I would have peace for the moment and trust for the future.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Selamat Malam! (Good Evening!)

During my trip, God was full of grace! Although I've traveled before, even traveled alone - this was the longest trip (over 24 hours!) that I've ever done. It is true dear friends and family! 

Never once did I ever walk alone: each leg of the trip God guided me. On my very first flight I had an interesting conversation with a woman who absolutely lives like Christ but refuses to believe he died for her sins. God opened the door for me to share why I believe in Jesus Christ. One thing that I learned is that we are certainly shaped by our culture and our country when it comes to faith. I am blessed to have a Bible and in many passages of Scripture, God states that His Word is "THE way, THE truth, and THE life - none can get to the Father EXCEPT through HIM!" John 14:6 (see Thursday for more) I am saddened when I see good people choose to go their own way but ultimately God is sovereign. We have been presented with the truth, it is our choice as to whether or not we will accept that truth.

The second leg of the trip, I was able to sleep a lot on - which I PRAISE God for because it was a 16 hour flight! 

Third leg from Hong Kong to Jakarta, there was a man from America sitting right next to me who works on the rigs. He has traveled there often and was able to help me find my way through customs/immigration once we got through Jakarta.

Waiting in the Jakarta for four hours in the transit area of the airport, God sent me a friend and a protector. The Jakarta airport is a little sketchy and trying to sleep on a bench surround with 4 other men all trying to sleep on benches was not ideal. Shebani, a man from Burundi, introduced himself to me and we chatted for most of my layover. So thankful for his companionship and the protection his presence provided. He was very sweet and we talked all about differences in cultures and even talked about our faith! I was sorry to part with him - my first friend in Indonesia!

On my final flight, I sat next to another man who works for the oil companies. This man was Indonesian but spoke some English. We had a brief layover (45 minutes) in Mikasar before continuing to Jayapura. I didn't realize that my final flight was indirect so he helped me figure out what was going on. He then told me that when we got to Mikasar, he and I would have a traditional Indonesian lunch (at 9 am mind you)! I felt like I couldn't say no. And this is the part of the story where the sketchy old man takes me to the executive lounge of the airline for a nice dinner before I get sold into the slave trade... OBVIOUSLY this didn't happen but this is what was running through my mind as I prayed furiously and tried to eat the food this man kept feeding me. I was so thankful once they announced my flight was boarding! I thanked the man and he guided me back to my flight. 
My first taste of Indonesia - something banana.

God truly had his hand of protection over me throughout my trip and it has become so apparent that I am here for a reason and I am under his divine care! He has also made it clear that he desires my obedience and he also delights in my praise. These are two big themes I am sensing upon my first week here. 

I enjoyed spending time getting to know the community of Friday night at a HS girls volleyball tournament. Met my cooperating teacher and a few other people!

Saturday: Here are some of my thoughts from the day: 
Inside the Pasar
just finished my first full day in Papua. What a day it was. The sun rose at 5:20 and so did I. After a slow morning Sarah took me to the Pasar (market). I'm so glad I've been to other countries (Mexico and Israel) where the marketplace is similar - but the SMELL!! The piles of dead fish! The men at the fish marked were so fun though and enjoyed taking pictures with me - hollering with laughter when they got a chance to look at it! 

Soaking Fruit
All fruit has to be washed in this stuff called PK - a small purple crystalline substance that you put in water - fruits and veggies need to soak for at least 15 minutes for a person to avoid getting typhoid :)
Nasi Bunku

For lunch we got some nasi bunku (rice package) with fried chicken and greens. We took our food and rode to the lake - it was so HOT but so beautiful! 
View from the dock inland
Dinner with Sarah and my roommate Cherie and another teacher Jennifer (we had homemade pot pie) then drove into town for dessert (hard to describe but like a chocolate-cheesy pancake)

Sunday: During my morning devotion, God revealed to me his desire for my complete dependence on him. I love the image in Isaiah 50:3-7 "the sovereign Lord has spoken to me: and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. I have offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who would pull out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting. Because the sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. "The sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning, he wakens me and opens my understanding to do his will. Therefore I have set my face like a stone. Determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame!" I love the picture of this servant - I pray God shapes me into His determined servant!
View out to sea

Cherie and I went to Newman Chapel on campus in the multi-purpose room of Hillcrest (HIS) a missionary, Buzz Maxey, spoke about reflecting on the victories GOD has won in our lives and in our ministries. Had a chill afternoon then went to a Wycliffe meeting. Met TONS OF PEOPLE on Sunday! Went to dinner at Manna House in Sentani ate Mie Goreng or fried noodles - delicious -but my tummy doesn't agree
How we get around Sentani

I learned a few words in Indonesian: 
Selamat blessed or good
Malam evening
Sore afternoon
Siang late morning
Pagi morning

Monday we had day off of school so we took an intense trip to the beach (5 miles away but on crazy WWII roads - only a slight exaggeration!) It was beautiful (pictures soon!) Got to go to a real grocery store to stock up on lunch food). In the evening went to dinner at one of my student's (Ann) house.

This day I realized how important total surrender is in taking up our cross daily to follow Christ with my life. Whatever the cost may be I'm not here for my own will or purposes but for God's Holy pleasure. I offer myself to him, all that I am and hope to be. I give him my rebellion and my fears; my body and each of its members; my entire inner being; my past present and future. 
Friends: this burden is one we daily bear - but it is light - God is with us and he will help us - we never walk alone.

Tuesday was my first day of school and my jet lag decided to set in :( I've also been quite sick from the food so I've been quite exhausted. However, I got to meet my students: a boy and a girl from America; two girls who are Dutch-Canadian, a boy who is Korean, a boy from Papua, a girl who is Javanese (another Indonesian island), and an Australian girl! They are so sweet and their families have been sending me all sorts of goodies: pumpkin muffins, bagels, and inviting me over for meals! I feel very welcomed here!

God has been teaching me so much His faithfulness in my life and my desperate need to completely depend on him. One of my all time favorites: "You are able to do immeasurably more than we can ask of dream of." Ephesians 3:20

(from my Student Teaching Journal) 

Wednesday: Another day of observations! Made some notes during Bible: ideas of ways to teach the lesson, get students into the Word in an authentic way.  Also checked out some of the standards so got an idea of what I should focus on. My student’s parents (and others in the community) are making me feel very welcomed with gifts and meals! We also had a medical orientation today – I’ve been sick almost since the day I got here with some sort of stomach bug so getting some information was helpful. I was given charcoal and worming medicine to eradicate whatever it is that I have. I’m ready to stop being ill on and off throughout each day!

Thursday: This morning I got the chance to teach the kids a chant to go with their memory verse: 1 Samuel 15:22 “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (I did that from memory BECAUSE of the chant!) They will perform it tomorrow during our 3-5 grade chapel. I got a chance to finish my introduction Prezi – and ran into a situation I wouldn’t really have to think about in the states: downloading. Because the bandwidth is so spread thin, my Prezi was using a lot of it. After talking with Mr. Fennell, the computer teacher, I realized that was probably not something I should have done on the schools internet; not because it was inappropriate but because so many people depend on the internet quality. How I take for granted Wi-Fi and internet at home because it is so easily accessible! That’s one mistake I hopefully won’t make again. I also got to meet one of the Hostel parents this afternoon Kim Mills. She and I talked about some cultural things and I believe we’ll be able to meet about once a week to just talk and debrief living in another culture. AND she’s a house parent which is something I’m definitely interested in. I was still there when several of the girls returned from class and it was so fun to see them flock around her and tell her all about the day’s drama! I think I’m going to try to spend more time with the girls (totally fun!). Tomorrow at chapel, I will be sharing my Prezi as well as giving a brief testimony.

Friday: So there's been a mouse problem in our duplex but we haven't seen it all week. Well yesterday Cherie shrieked as the mouse scurried across the kitchen counter. She commenced buying glue traps to catch him but wasn't going to put them out until the maintenance guys came to set something up. I encouraged her to put them out to try to catch him sooner rather than later. As I came out of my bedroom Friday morning- I realized it would be sooner. 

After taking a picture, I picked up the trap, put it in a plastic bag and carried it out to the burn pile.

After all of that, I went to school and was able to share a presentation about myself as well as my testimony for 3-5 grade chapel.  
Presenting  (Go HUSKERS!)
Friday Night: Every Friday the whole community of ex patriots (mostly missionaries) gather for a meal at whatever sporting event is in season (in this case LASAGNA and futsal (soccer)! and the whole night was Duck Dynasty themed - what could be better?)
Actually it DOES get better:
The team HIS was playing was a group of nationals (Bible teachers, pastors, youth leaders) who have been on campus all week learning how to use soccer to share the gospel!
In between the games, they showed an AIDS awareness video some of the High School Boys made last year - it was incredible!
After the game I got to go watch the Big Bang Theory and Brooklyn Nine Nine with some Canadians - that was just the cherry on top of the best day yet!

Boiling fresh tuna from the Pasar
Saturday I got the chance to go to the Pasar again this morning with some 20+ year veterans of missions. They knew how to pick good fruit! Spent the morning washing everything and boiling fresh tuna! Had a lazy afternoon napping and planning math lessons. Then spent the evening at a ladies night out with the ex-patriot community. So fun getting to know so more women in the community. These women have amazing stories about the way God is at work in their lives. 
Bananas, Jack fruit, and Hairy fruit

For since the world began,
    no ear has heard
and no eye has seen a God like you,
    who works for those who wait for him! Isaiah 64:4

Sunday This morning at Newman Chapel, Ben Simmons spoke about the possibility, the necessity and a few strategies for killing (or rooting out, if you will) the sin in our lives. 
Romans 8:13
Inside of Hairy Fruit - looks like an alien laid an egg.
The strategies he shared were John Piper's acronym ANTHEM
Avoid (somethings are easier to avoid than others. Not always the best strategy - sometimes need to confront sin)
Say No! (Immediately! don't give it an indulgent edge)
Turn your mind to something beautiful
Hold the beautiful thing in your mind and use it to fight the temptation
Enjoy a deeper satisfaction (sin usually offers a satisfaction it can't deliver- think about how it will effect your relationship with God)
Move on to something productive. (let it go, get up, and do something better!)

After a delicious church potluck - I spent the rest of the afternoon planning math lessons - whoohoo! 

This evening I plan on watching a movie and calling home! 
(P.S. - I promise all my posts won't be this long. Just trying to catch y'all up on my first week here!)