Processing and Pondering Or How is October already over?

I was just talking with Hannah about whether or not we cried much when we were little kids. I mean, my parents probably remember better than I do, but I don’t recall being an especially tearful kid. I don’t know when the transition happened. Maybe it was when I began seeing more of the pain and destruction in the world. Maybe it was when I began to see all of the disastrous pride, selfishness, and sin in my own life. Maybe my hormones simplpy decided to take over my life and overflow my tear ducts.

Regardless of when it happened, I’ve somehow become a bit of a crier. In fact, that’s one thing that I’ve done consistently well here in Niger: cry. 🙂

But please don’t assume that I want to be on a plane heading Stateside. On the contrary, a few of my recent cries have centered on the paradox of wanting to be home while really, desperately not wanting to leave this place or these people. Other times, I’ve cried from feeling overwhelmed or simply at a loss. Truly, I don’t always know why I’m crying. For me, my tears seem to signify a few very significant recognitions:

  • I’m weak.
  • I’m imperfect.
  • I don’t have the answers.
  • I still, always need saving.

God has been reminding me of these truths, along with many other less depressing-sounding realities. He is all-sufficient. Maybe, someday, eventually, I’ll live as though Christ is all that I need. For now, I say it, I believe that I believe it. But I’m clearly re-learning this life-altering truth: God loved me when I was still a sinner, He loves me now, and He is all that I need.

I guess in the same way that I needed to do some re-teaching for the Theme and Organization lessons in my World Literature class, God needs to re-teach me about His sufficiency.

In other news and since we’re all mostly interested in the happenings and goings-on in Niger, West Africa, here are some specific situations where God has been humbling me and proving himself faithful:

edTPA: Accomplished

The edTPA is done!!! Last night around 2am Niger-time, I was fighting the temptation to quote way-too-important quotes in slightly irreverent ways: “It is finished.” Or “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.” (While I resisted the temptation last night, I clearly did not resist the temptation just now. C’est la vie.) Due to the support of wonderful Cedarville professor and Sahel colleagues, the prayer and patience of so many friends and family members all over the world, and they grace of a works-in-the-details Savior, I submitted my final assessment for my undergraduate studies. My other obligations for student teaching include: being observed at least 1 more time; teaching moderately successfully for the next 4 weeks; generally not ruining students’ lives. Due to God’s faithfulness and his sovereignty regardless of the outcome, I’m learning to trust him for those final responsibilities. And I’m feeling soooo good about being done with the edTPA. 🙂

Hippo sighting

I got to see hippos. Yeah, it was really cool! Mostly, though, riding in a boat on the Niger River was truly wonderful. A couple of weeks ago, a group of about 9 of us Sahel staff/missionaries and visiting family members went on a guided Hippo Tour. We ended up seeing about 6 hippos all hanging out together in the middle of the river, a very safe distance away from us. 🙂 The hippos were big and a little intimidating. The time on the river? A beautiful, peaceful, breath-taking view of river-life in Niger. Pictures are on facebook, although they hardly do the trip justice.

Alambaré Outreach

A week ago from right now, I was sitting on some wooden benches in the Nigerien village of Alambaré, after eating a meal of peanut butter and jelly on baguettes with 11 of my students and 3 other adult supervisors. Sahel students go on weekend-long outreach trips to Alambaré at least once a semester. While we were there, we played with the kids from the village, told them Bible stories (the students spoke in French and the local pastor translated into their tribal language), and enjoyed a weekend away from Niamey, sleeping in tents or in the open. (I was in a tent, although apparently outside the tent was pretty nice, too: not too many mosquitoes and gorgeous stars.) Although I did not anticipate the fact that I would be an impromptu leader for the Alambaré trip, I had a great support system and we had a really awesome weekend. I loved spending time with the kids in Alambaré, hearing the Gospel presented in 3 different languages at least 5 different times throughout the weekend, and seeing our Sahel students really step up and step out of their comfort zones. I’m still processing from the trip (which will not surprise many of you), but I’m also undoubtedly glad that I went on it.

A mini-Cedarville Reunion

About mid-October, I had the chance to sit down and talk with one of the missionary couples here at Sahel. Of course, I get to enjoy many spontaneous conversations with a lot of amazing missionaries here in Niamey, but this was a more of a planned event. I had seen some similarities between Stephen’s and my story and Coach and JJ’s story. (He’s the PE teacher and the softball coach; naturally that has become his first name.) Both Coach and JJ attended Cedarville, studying to be teachers. Coach played soccer at CU. JJ currently teaches middle school English and helps coordinate all of the new middle school, partially due to her capacity for organization and long-term planning. (Yeah, I’m not sure why I see similarities between this really great couple and Stephen and myself… Bazinga.) Kathy invited their family over and we had a great dinner with Coach, JJ, and their 4 kids. Then the kids walked back home—they also live here on campus—and we just sat and talked. About life, missions, support-raising, teaching, married life, waiting on God’s timing, knowing God’s will, trusting God completely, etc. We just sat and talked, 3 Cedarville alums and my wonderful roommate chatting about life until about 11pm. Of course, I then started on lesson plans for the week, but the nighttime work session was totally worth the previous time of enlightenment and idea-exchange. And encouragement. I sincerely hope that I can be at least minimally as encouraging to others here as they are to me.

Thinking of Hungary

I helped to FSL last Thursday. That’s right. You may have heard of ESL, but have you ever thought much about FSL? French as a Second Language. I, a second-language French speaker, got to help teach French to Zarma-speaking Nigerien women last Thursday, and it was so much fun! It reminded me a lot of my time in Hungary teaching English to Hungarian speakers. I don’t know any of their native language and I’m basically trying to somehow impart at least some French to them. Of course, when I taught English in Hungary, at least I feel pretty confident in my English-speaking. But still. I liked the flexibility, the vulnerability of language learning, the risk-taking and smile-sharing that happen when nobody is that great at French. I went with the fourth grade teacher at Sahel, and the two of us worked with about 10 young women who attend a sewing school here in Niamey. They may or may not be literate in Zarma, and they are at various stages of literacy in French, the language of the government and the educated here in Niger. Unfortunately, I’ll only have 2 more Thursdays when I can help teach French. But I’m already looking forward to those days.

Afraid of the lasts

I’m going to be a mess. That’s funny. I’m already quite a mess. All I have to do is look at a calendar and I start freaking out. Here’s the issue: sometimes November looks like the longest month ever and I don’t know how I’m going to last or what I’m going to teach or how I’m going to stay focused here instead of just thinking about getting home and seeing my family and seeing my boyfriend and being done with student teaching.

Other times?

Other times November looks painfully, frighteningly, unreasonably short. I still have souvenirs to buy. I want to see the giraffes. I really don’t want to exchange this weather for snow. And I’m not ready to say goodbye. To this place, this school, these people. And how many lasts am I going to have? My last day at church. My last day teaching yearbook. My last time seeing friends who don’t teach here at Sahel. My last time talking with each of my students. I don’ t know how to legitimize my sorrow and my reluctance to leave without becoming a self-important drama queen. I don’t know how to honor God through this process. Which is probably why He has me here, huh?

The last few months have been so brilliantly amazing while also feeling like a rather “normal” possibility for how life could be. The next few weeks are terrifying and daunting and going to come whether I’m ready or not. Because I won’t be ready, and I don’t have to be.

What Hannah reminded me of earlier this week:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Exodus 14:14

What God reminded me of just now:

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

Isaiah 42:16

Ways we can praise

  • God’s faithfulness and patience with me
  • The edTPA is done!
  • I still have a month left, thankfully. 🙂

Ways we can pray

  • That God will keep watering the Gospel seeds that Sahel students helped plant in Alambaré
  • That I will finish well—with student teaching and with my time here in general
  • That I’ll keep learning what God’s teaching me

Learning to be a teacher Aka The emotional roller coaster Aka Choosing joy

Teaching is hard. It’s also amazing and fun and exciting and fulfilling. But it can just be hard, too. Also, teaching for the first time, with only 4 years of theoretical “experience” is pretty rough. Add to that being away from home, learning to exist in near-constant heat, and constantly battling internally over whether or not I’m “experiencing the culture” enough—then teaching becomes très difficile.

To give you better, clearer insight into my emotional roller coaster, as my sister and I have labeled it, here are a few categories of my life from the last few weeks:

Category 1: Reasons I’ve wanted to cry.

  • Mondays and Wednesdays have been pretty draining recently. I teach both English classes on those days. And when I have my 9th grade class, after lunch, sitting and reading for at least 45 out of our 90 minutes—it can get exhausting managing the chaos. Unfortunately, I’m still learning how to channel the chaos, using it for the greater good instead of allowing it to fuel my desire for a nap. Thankfully, Dietrich, my cooperating teacher, is very sympathetic and helpful in the brainstorming-for-ideas-that-will-make-this-class-more-enjoyable area. It’s a work in progress.
  • I’ve allowed the edTPA project that I need to do for Cedarville trap me with fear. It sounds so stupid, even when I say it to myself. But I’m so scared of skipping a step, or misunderstanding something, or just doing a bad job. Also, there’s a selfish, lazy, scared, sinful part of me (sidenote: I think there are quite a few of those sides within me) that just doesn’t want to do the project. Now, I know that this isn’t an option. Trust me. This achievement-driven, recovering perfectionist knows that “I didn’t want to” doesn’t cut it for missing a due date. I know that I need to do my edTPA. And I will. But first, I need to overcome this irrational fear. (Good joke. I need to listen to truth and allow Christ to eradicate my fears. Just sayin’.)
  • There are days when the last bell rings, my students escape from my sweltering, stench-filled classroom, I begin gathering my teacher-y stuff, and all I can think is this: “Did I actually teach them anything today?” I question my effectiveness as a teacher. Did I just babysit my students for 90 minutes at a time, giving them meaningless “activities” to keep them busy? Is my assessing actually influencing my planning that is truly turning into my teaching that is legitimately leading into another assessment? And the only logical answer I have at that point is: I want to nap. (Clearly, sleep is my escape. I already knew this, but it’s solidified now.) I don’t always have a happy-ending answer to those questions. All I know is that I need to keep asking them and keep responding to them as long as I keep teaching.

Enough of the depressing.

Category 2: Reasons I immediately praise God.

  • A box from my mother, packed full with not 1 but 2 new journals; mints so that I don’t kill my students with coffee breath; enough Mio flavoring to last me at least a year; and other various forms of encouragement.
  • My students send me to God with thanksgiving. Of course, at times they drive me nutty. But other times, one of them asks if I would meet with her some mornings before school to pray together. “I would love that,” I quickly respond. Another student offers me the beginning of a story that he wrote, “So that you can let me know what you think. But you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.” “Oh please. I would love to read this. Thank you!” Another student asked me what I’m going to do after my internship: “Adjust to cold weather again.” “No, after that. Like, where are you going to work?” “I’ll probably substitute teach for a semester.“ “You could always come back here. Sahel pays real good.” The irony is funny. The sentiment is huge.
  • A letter from my boyfriend, the same week that the package came from my mom. Such a surprise and encouragement and blessing. And the pictures that he sent me are already on my wall. 🙂
  • Last week I went out to eat twice with different groups of friends from Sahel. It was so fun and so encouraging. And so yummy. 🙂 God has blessed me with such a rich community of my peers here in Niger. It’ll probably be harder to find this kind of friend group in Saginaw, Michigan, than it is to find it here. Also, I tried minced camel. It was pretty good!
  • I French-braided my hair, successfully. For the first time. In Africa. What more could I ask for? (Of course, I didn’t take a picture. But I swear that this event will be repeated, with photographic proof.)

In general, I’m realizing that I’m living in a paradox. Student teaching is really hard, but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing right now. I miss my family and my boyfriend, but I don’t want to leave here. Sometimes I feel so anxious about teaching and my Cedarville assignments that I begin to use journaling and praying as an excuse to avoid work. Other times, I actually learn to dwell in the peace and confidence that God gives me, knowing that I am in this here and now, in Niamey, Niger, at Sahel Academy for this time to serve God and to draw closer to him. I just started reading in Esther yesterday, and you know what? Even though I can’t see the whole picture and I don’t have a wise uncle guilt tripping me into advocating for my entire people group, there is part of me that thinks I might be here “for such a time as this.”

That realization goes under the “Reasons I immediately praise God” category.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, listening to my woes and my joys. Thank you for praying with me and for me. God uses the church, His body, to encourage and edify and lift up in amazing ways. Thanks for being a part of that.

Ok. Enough avoiding lesson planning. And no more naps. At least not today.

Liking it here

You know, I thought months were longer. When did 31 days become so short? Of course, time always goes faster when I have a deadline, like, I don’t know, all of the stuff I need to turn in to Cedarville for my student teaching internship. But at the same time, I thought that these 4 months away from my family and boyfriend might feel like they’re dragging by. Well, dragging they are not. Zipping past is more like it.

My first month in Africa has been amazing, really. It’s been challenging, of course. I’ve had multiple late-night freak-outs where I’m sitting on my bed, journal open on my lap, pen in hand, trying to think of what else to say as I peer at my own handwriting through tear-filled eyes. I’ve had frustrating days of teaching, wishing that I could sit down with my students and just ask them, “What do you need me to do differently? How do you learn well?” I’ve had multiple conversations with Stephen where all I can say before we hang up is “I miss you. And I know that this is good and we can’t change this distance thing, but it’s still true: I miss you.”

So yeah. Life isn’t easy. And it’s funny, but all my sin and pride and crappy attitude followed me here to Niger. Apparently my sins didn’t get the memo that missionaries are supposed to have a handle on their lives. Ah well. Good thing God’s grace, forgiveness, mercy, and His convicting Spirit “followed” me here as well. 🙂

So, the other day, one of my students asked me pointblank, “Do you like Niger?”

“I do,” I responded, honestly. “I really do.” And that got me thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know). What is it that I like about Niger? So here you are:

Seven Aspects of Life at Sahel that I Really Like

  1. I love this missionary community. Sometimes I feel separated from actual Nigerien life, since I live on the Sahel compound and I don’t have my own car. But the positive side of that is the fact that I am getting so much time with so many interesting, driven, Gospel-loving, grace-accepting Believers. And I am so grateful.
  2. I like teaching. I know that this doesn’t surprise most people, but it always seems to surprise me. I’m actually enjoying the planning portions, too. There are still many times when I feel clueless and scatterbrained, but there are also times when my students come into my classroom before school starts, just to talk. And my day is made before 7:25am.
  3. Sometimes, I like the heat. Seriously. I just have to remind myself of the -15 degree Fahrenheit weather that destroyed all of our Tuesday classes at Cedarville last winter. With that perspective, I understand why Suz would miss this pervasive heat. 🙂
  4. I love that God is still constant and diligent, working in my life. I had a bad attitude after school on Wednesday. I was frustrated and drained and I allowed one not-so-great class to distract from all of God’s goodness throughout the rest of the day. So he reminded me of some verses that I read that morning:

Ezekiel 36:26-27

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

He convicted me. I prayed for a better attitude. He answered my prayer. Same faithful God whether I’m in Freeland, Michigan; Cedarville, Ohio; Kecskemét, Magyarország; or Niamey, Niger.

  1. I love that I can hang out with young adults/my age people, and I can hang out with more experienced, time-wizened missionaries. (Is that the right way to say it? 🙂 ) In my last year at Cedarville, I attended Southgate Baptist Church, and I had the chance to get to know some wonderful, godly, hilarious women. Most of these women were about 15-35 years older than me, approximately. I love the blessings of friends who are around my age, so that we can process through similar things together. I also am so very grateful for my friends who can share years of wisdom with me. Since I’m living with Kathy and Nancy is right next door, I get to hear lots of stories, learn from lots of years of missionary life, and enjoy a beautiful community. With Mallory, Hannah, and Rachel about 25 steps away, I can also go hang out, listen to 90s music, eat no-bake cookies, and talk about how we have no idea what we’re doing with our lives. It’s a beautiful balance.
  2. I like hearing and speaking French. I need to get braver. But in general, I just really love the language. Even when my students bust out into off-topic French in class, I enjoy hearing it. I tell them we’re parler-ing en anglais, maintenant, but I do like to hear la français.
  3. I love getting to know my students and the other Sahel staff. These kids are great. And truly, I’m teaching mostly young adults, not kids. They are not perfect and they still have all the normal teenager-life-stuff going on. But they’re so much fun to get to know and to learn to teach. I’m so grateful that they are willing to get to know me, even though we all know that I’m leaving in 3 months.

So, that’s a little bit about why I like being here. If I didn’t have lesson planning to do (or sleeping to do, really), then I’m sure I could make it past 7 aspects. For now, though, this is reminding me of what I have to thank God for. And hopefully it’s allowing you to feel at peace about what God is up to and how He’s using me here. Hopefully it’s also giving you an idea of how to pray:

Praising God for:

  • A great first 2 and a half weeks of school
  • Good health and a good memory—I’m taking my malarone everyday. 🙂
  • My students and their families and all of the ministry here in Niger
  • Technology and the ability to communicate frequently with my family and Stephen

Asking God for:

  • Wisdom, creativity, and humility as I prepare to teach and as I actually get in front of my classes
  • Safety for friends (the DeValves) as they finish visiting in the States and then return to Niamey
  • Strength and passion for the believers in Niger
  • Opportunities for me to communicate Christ’s love to my students and my colleagues

Random side notes that will hopefully have pictures soon:

  • I played softball. Yes. Me + sports. It happened. 🙂 And I only bruised one of my pinky fingers!
  • I went with a community outreach group last week to a local hospital to play with some of the kids. We colored and tossed around a ball and attempted to “communicate” between English and Zarma/Hausa with one translator. It was wonderful.
  • I’m teaching 2 of my cooperating teacher’s 4 classes. I’ll pick up class #3 on Friday, then class #4 next week. Gah!
  • I’ve had the chance to show my pictures of my family, pets, home, and boyfriend to some of my friends here. It’s been good to share some home. 🙂
  • Michigan schools will start on Tuesday. We started 2 and a half weeks ago. Talk about a head start on learning. 😉 Well done, Sahel. Well done.

Let the Games Begin!

It’s been a great first 1 (almost 2) week(s) here in Niamey. It’s also been a relatively busy few weeks. I’ve gone out to eat at three different restaurants, four if you include getting ice cream at Amandine’s. I have purchased some African fabric (although I haven’t taken it to a tailor yet…). I’ve been grocery shopping multiple times. I almost swam in the pool at the American embassy recreational center; it rained that day. I’ve also worn every skirt that I brought at least once. 🙂 (Thanks for helping me pack, Sisser!) I’ve been able to use Viber or Skype to talk with my family and boyfriend back home. I have also learned to cope with the heat. Haha. That last one’s a joke. I’m still learning that. 🙂

And today, I had my first full day of school as a Student Teacher! It was a great first day. The high school at Sahel is on block schedules with a “Schedule A” for Monday and Wednesday and a “Schedule B” for Tuesday and Thursday. On Fridays, all classes meet for only 40 minutes each. Consequently, I only met half of my students today. The other half, I’ll meet tomorrow! But I do have some repeat students who are in an English class with me and in the Information Technology class or the Yearbook class.

 I just want to say a huge thank you to my friends, family, and supporters. It has been an amazing experience so far. I’m loving working with the other Sahel staff members, getting to know them, figuring out what it’s really like being a teacher, and basically doing my own personal case study on being a missionary. And today was just so cool actually meeting the students. There are so many different cultures and backgrounds represented in this student body. It’s a beautiful picture of the diversity and complexity that God creates and that He will have in Heaven.

Not all of the students at Sahel are Christians, though. In fact, only a certain percentage of them come from missionary families. This puts me in the amazing position of being allowed and required to share my faith and God’s truth with a class that is not necessarily full of already-believers. Such a humbling privilege.

A quick summary so far

Reasons to praise God:

  • He is so good and faithful.
  • The Sahel staff- everyone has been so welcoming and helpful and willing to collaborate, which is really cool.
  • I just finished my first day of student teaching!?!?
  • I’ve been able to have some great conversations (via Skype, Viber, and good ole email) with Stephen, my mom, and my sister.

Points for Prayer:

  • For continued wisdom and discipline as I work on lesson plans.
  • For connections with the students. I want to be a good teacher and a good model for them this semester.
  • That I will grow in my personal devotions and prayer time.

Also, as I was filling out a journal entry for my student teaching assignments, I realized that one of the topics would be great for the blog. So, although this is a tad off-topic, here you are:

 What I know now that I didn’t know before:

  • The two s’s in “Aussie” are pronounced like a zed (the letter z). (Thank you, Susan)
  • You can’t take pictures of Nigerien policemen, military personnel, government buildings, or the airport.
  • The Nigerien franc compares to the US dollar at about 500 to 1.
  • The British exams are called IGCSE and occur at the ends of 9th and 10th
  • I should be really grateful for speedy internet in the States. It can be really slow or spotty here. 🙂
  • Cows and goats really do just wander around in some places.
  • African rains are the best kind of rains. Ever.
  • You can freeze almost any food. (Thank you, Kathy 🙂 )
  • I like teaching at a Christian school. I thought that I would feel trapped and stifled at a Christian school. But I love this. I love the staff and the community and the theme this year at Sahel: Kneeling we shine. It’s all about prayer.
  • Peanut butter is only hard to find in Europe. It’s everywhere here. Get with the program, Europe.

I’m sure that there’s more that I’ve learned, but these are the highlights so far. 🙂 Also, here’s at least one picture:

We saw this masterpiece at one of the four restaurants, at Hotel Sahel.

We saw this masterpiece at one of the four restaurants, at Hotel Sahel.

What if…?

My Irrational Fears in Writing

What if I get lost in the Charles de Gaulle airport? Wait, what if I get lost in the JFK airport?

What if I have completely forgotten all the French that I ever knew?

What if I destroy my EdTPA project? Because then I won’t officially graduate from Cedarville. I won’t even be a legitimate teacher. Naturally, I’ll also be irrationally frustrated with myself.

What if I’ve completely forgotten how to teach English? I might get into the classroom and completely choke. What’s a participle? I don’t understand what you’re saying: what is this characterization and plot development that you speak of?

What if I’m a wimp when it comes to the heat? I might end up complaining more than my colleagues care to tolerate. I mean, Niamey is hotter than Freeland, MI, but I’m not even going to be there for the hot season.

What if I’m completely awkward and ignorant when I try to interact with my students and the various backgrounds and experiences that they bring to my classroom?

What if I get lonely and overwhelmed and frustrated and all I want to do is hide in my apartment? What if this “adventure” that I thought God was calling me to ends up shutting me down instead of opening me up?

What if I really did mis-hear God? Maybe I put words in His mouth, pushing my own agenda of traveling and adventuring and attempting to be brave. Maybe.

But what if I actually trusted God? He has been so faithful to me directly, to my friends and family, and repeatedly through Scripture. If I truly trusted Him the way that I say I do, the way that I so want to, then would I really be sitting here iterating the misfortunes that might, maybe, possibly occur in the next four months? I do want to trust Him. I’ve recently been reading through Isaiah, and God has overwhelmed me with His promises, His faithfulness, and His redemption. This verse in particular has comforted and quieted me in my more rebellious, fear-filled moments:

Isaiah 42:16 (ESV)

16 And I will lead the blind
in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them.

Yes, I’m the blind one in this situation. And God knows that, yet He still chooses to use me. Even though I possess a potential to fail. Miserably. God still wants to use me as a tool to make His name great. Because He is a God who uses the weak to shame the strong.

When I get overwhelmed with my ridiculous “What ifs…?”, I have found three main ways to find peace.

  1. Dwelling in God’s promises, like Isaiah 42:16.
  2. Listening to truth that God gives me via my close friends and family.
  3. Praying for other people.

So these last few days (yes, days) before I board a plane for Niamey, I have been praying more for my future students, colleagues, roommate, and friends at Sahel. Besides humbling me, my fear has done at least one beneficial thing: it reminds me to pray.

Also: I leave in three days.

Disclaimers: Mme. Grandouiller, I’m sure that I’ll remember more French than I think. And to my future colleagues, I’m certain that you are more patient and gracious than my fears are telling me. To my education professors at Cedarville, you have adequately prepared me for the EdTPA. To Mrs. Messer, I assure you that I do still remember how to teach English.

July and Beginnings


While at the amazing Columbus Zoo with my roommate Amanda, we found a giant map of Africa. How perfect! Photo credit: Amanda Marie

While at the amazing Columbus Zoo with my roommate Amanda, we found a giant map of Africa. How perfect! Photo credit: Amanda Marie

July. This is the month. The month that I’ve been waiting for. I no longer have to say, “I leave for Niger on July 30th.” I can just say, “I leave on the 30th.” How crazy!!

Since the date of my departure is quickly approaching, I’m [finally] sitting down to start my blog. My family and boyfriend will be quite happy because now I can stop complaining about my inability to sit down and start the blog. Finally.

So, here are the quick facts as to why I am posting my thoughts on the internet for the world to see:

  • I’m leaving on July 30th for a four-month trip to Niamey, Niger!!
  • This “trip” is actually my student teaching internship. I will be teaching at Sahel Academy, a spectacular Christian international school located in Niger’s capital city.
  • Many of my friends and family members have passionately supported the blog endeavor so that they can track the adventures God gives me.
  • I would love to have you praying with me. I know that God is already working in amazing ways, and I really want to be a part of that. I also want to encourage as much prayer as possible.

And that’s what inspired the title of the blog: To Intercede. Recently, God has really been impressing on me the importance of prayer. Interceding, though, even more than just praying, focuses me on praying for the needs of other people, the people whom God has brought into my path. I also love the way that the Bible talks about interceding.

“…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

As Christ intercedes for me, so I want to intercede for those around me. As you read my posts (thanks, by the way 🙂 ), hopefully you’ll be encouraged to pray with me for the people in my life. Of course, prayers for me are helpful, too.

So, thanks for joining the adventure! I’ll try to post again before leaving, and I’ll definitely keep posting once I’m in Africa.


Prayer points as of the Beginning of July

  • For my future students and colleagues — that they have a marvelous summer and that God prepares them for the next school year
  • For my final preparations– that packing and shopping and organizing and planning and not-freaking-out continues to go well. 🙂