Sunday, January 16, 2011

Enthusiastic Peanuts Reunion! :)

Friday night my facegroup kids from 2 years ago and I got together for a reunion. After school we did a little bowling...
Then we headed back to my apartment for a little dirt-cake making lesson-- their request-- ordered some pizza, and played some games. It was great to catch up and laugh together. These kids are so great! :)

Alpha Retreat

Last weekend I was able to be a chaperone for the 9th grade Alpha Retreat. It was my first weekend back, so I was still a bit lacking in the sleep department, but I'm so thankful I was able to go. My first class is now in 9th grade, so I got to re-connect with many of my former students. The focus was on the Holy Spirit, and it was just so encouraging to see the kids thirst so much for the things of God. It was a fun and encouraging weekend.
hanging out on the beach-- getting ready to play Romans & Christians
Natalie and I :)
The retreat was held at Noah's Ark. It's a real-life size replica of Noah's Ark, and we stayed on the top floor.
I love Hong Kong!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Well, I wrote this on the airport coming to HK, so it's a bit old, but oh well...

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while as I left Ghana about 2 ½ weeks ago already, but being home the time just snuck away from me and I didn’t take the time to write. But New Year always brings reflections on the past year and projections for the future, so here goes…

First, a big thank you to all of you who’ve kept up with me throughout the last year and a half as I was in Ghana. Your prayers, support, notes, love, and financial gifts kept me going!

When I think about my time in Ghana, the one thing that sticks out the most is how little it matched my expectations. In fact, if I had to choose a theme verse, Proverbs 19:21 would be a good one: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

It seems from day one that anything I planned—whether it was an in-service for the teachers or an activity for the kids—crashed and burned in some way or another. At first it was extremely frustrating for plans to constantly change and for my plans, hopes, and ideas to not pan out. And honestly, there were times toward the end where it still was frustrating, but overall, I learned that it’s not at all about what I accomplished while I was there. In fact, it wasn’t about me saving the poor children of Africa. No, it was so much more than that.

It was about God showing me more clearly how He saved me and how He loves me unconditionally. I learned firsthand what it means to forgive and love even when it doesn’t seem to be reciprocated.

It was about God showing me that obedience is what counts. He doesn’t measure our success in the same way the world does. He wants us simply to obey. I was so blessed this year by so many of you who supported me.

I learned that it was more about the small moments. I cannot change the world, and that was frustrating. Many times the things I witnessed hurt. A lot. But the good news is that I could give hugs, bring smiles, encourage students, and hopefully instill hope in these kids… hope that there is a God who loves them and no matter what this life brings them, there is eternal hope in a life spent with him for those who believe.

In a VERY small nutshell, there are my thoughts!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Running Around the World

From pot-hole filled dirt roads in 85 degree humidity to the icy roads in freezing cold WI to the happy medium of Hong Kong, I've really taken a liking to running lately. I signed up to run a 10K here in HK in February, so that's been motivating me to work toward that goal, and in the meantime I've really started to actually enjoy running...what a concept!

For many months I woke up to the sun shining in through my windows, and quickly laced up and journeyed out on the roads in Ghana. I really enjoyed this time every morning, as I was able to listen to a sermon and get to see Ghana "wake up". I really feel like I was able to observe the culture so much by getting out every morning and even make some friends, since everyone I passed was so friendly!

When I went home for Christmas, there was a slight scenery change as I ran on a nice, new, fancy treadmill with a built-in TV...a little bit of culture shock? Yeah, just a tad. While I loved the machine for keeping track of all the statistics, I'd much prefer the Ghanaian scenery-- ladies walking to market with their produce, cute children playing before school or walking to school, people joining me in running, etc.-- over watching HGTV anyday!

I did bundle up a couple of days and brave the WI winter weather by running outside. The first day was only 39 degrees so it was a bit chilly at first, but I warmed up rather quickly. It was so beautiful to run past the snow-covered fields as the sun set and made the snow glisten...wish I would've had my camera-- which is STILL in London (side note)! Grrrr....

And now I'm in Hong Kong, and I went for my first outside run tonight and it was amazing. I run alongside this river, which I'll admit, isn't that pretty in the daytime, but is gorgeous at night. The Christmas lights and lights from the tall high-rises lining both sides of the path reflect off the water, and it's just so pretty and peaceful. Not to mention the nostalgia that goes along with it since the hotel I stayed at the first two weeks I was here in 2007 is along that route, and it brings back many good memories.

So, there you have it. That's how I've ran around the world in 3 weeks! Man, I'm fast! ;)

I'm so thankful for all these experiences and for a healthy, able body to be able to run! Praise God!

Monday, January 3, 2011

First Day Back

5:45 pm...I'm writing this because the only thing I can think about right now is sleep. I really want to sleep. I need to last at least 2 more hours though! So, I will tell you about my first day back in Hong Kong.

In some ways it feels like I've been gone for a really long time, but in a lot of ways it seems like I never left. One thing I really appreciate is the fact that I'm familiar with everything. The adjustment won't be as tough this time around, as I'm used to the currency, transport system, the school, the culture, and just the everyday "how to" things. Today I was reveling in how nice it was that I knew where I was going without anyone helping me! :)

So today...I went to bed around 2 am, after getting home around 12:15 am. I slept until about 6:20-- not bad for the first night. However, I'm hoping for a bit more than 4 hours tonight! Then I exchanged my money, bought my Octopus card (for transportation), and did some grocery shopping. Here was my first scare. The grocery store has adopted something new since I left. They don't use any plastic bags... you must have re-usable cloth ones, which is really great. However, I had planned on bringing my roommate's until I bought my own, but as I approached the check-out I realized that I had forgotten. So, I searched for some that I could buy... to no avail. Uh oh...was I seriously going to have to put all these groceries back, because there's no way I could carry them all?! Well, luckily I asked the lady and I was able to buy one... let's see how many times this is repeated and how many re-usable bags I end up with!!!

Went home and put away my groceries and headed off to IKEA to get a few things. After that I came home, resisted a nap, ate some lunch, and headed off to school...excited!!! :) I got there just in time to talk with some of the kids during their lunch. It was so great to see them all. The kids have all grown up so much! Some of them I hardly recognize.

I got to visit with some teachers and got the low down on teaching, which will start tomorrow. I'm really excited about it. It feels great to be back.

My feet are sore. I forgot how much we walk here, but I love it.

The weather is nice! It's refreshing, although it would've been nice if I brought a coat as it was a bit cold on the way home... it was about 50 today.

How's that for some random thoughts for the day? That's all I got. I'm afraid to stop typing, for fear that the zzzzzzzzs will take over!