Thursday, November 28, 2013

Being Thankful

Today, in the states, is Thanksgiving day. As I am scrolling through all the Facebook posts seeing everyone's comments about Thanksgiving, I want to cry. My heart is sad because I am not in my American kitchen slaving over the stove cooking everyone's favorite dishes. I want to hug my daughter and pet my cats. When I get "down" like this, I want to curl up in a ball by myself and block everyone out. But not this time. Not today.  I've been trying to teach my students the importance of being thankful, even when you don't feel like it. So, today, I will practice what I teach. :-)

Things I am thankful for: (in no particular order)

  • First and most importantly, I am thankful for God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. For reasons I can not explain, I have always sensed His presence in my life since I was a small child. He is the reason I choose to get up every morning and not give up on life.  I thank Him for loving me, for not giving up on me and for teaching me how to love and serve Him with an undivided heart. 
  • I am thankful for a special family in Valdosta. There is a Scripture that says, "God sets the lonely in families..." and that is just what he did with me. He placed me in this family and they loved me and my daughter without reservation. I saw the love of the Father in them. Because of them, I am a different person than what I was before I met them. They are precious and I love them and do thank God for them. 
  • Shelby Ruth Thompson. This girl is most precious to me. Life with her is NEVER boring. I miss her more than I thought possible. Hopefully I will get to see her in June. This is the longest she and I have ever been separated. But it has been good for her. She is learning to live on her own and has done a lot of growing up the last several months. Love you baby-bear to the moon and back. :-)
  • My two baby brothers. Bless their hearts. They had a rough time of it growing up. Part of that was my fault. I wasn't the nicest big sister. They have grown into fine men and I love them both very much.
  • My parents.  Was life perfect? No, but then what family is? They did the best they could. I thank them for loving me and giving me life.
  • Highland Christian Academy. I was at this school for 14 years. Shelby practically grew up there. It was like an extended family. I miss all the teachers and staff. We were a close group and I miss that.
  • Mary Lisse. My sweet team teacher. How I miss you! I am so thankful God sent you to HCA. I will never forget the first time I met you. I walk into your room and you are all smiling and bubbly and I try to match it, but well, you know me... hahaha. But one thing I did know when I walked away from your room that first time, I knew we would get along just fine. And we did. Probably too well! LOL You kept me sane and on level ground. Whenever I was about to go off the deep end, or think to much of myself, you were quick to pull me back down with your sensible, practical way of looking at things. I LOVED that about you! I miss having you next door to me, poking your head in my room, commenting on my latest organizational anal-ness. Miss and love you bunches!
  • International Academy of Suriname. Without a doubt, I know God has placed me here. I love my precious students and the staff here. 
  • Books.  Yes, I am thankful for books. I love to read. Lately, I have done a lot of reading. It is a safe way to escape the loneliness that sometimes assaults me in the evenings. 
  • Hardships. Yes, you read that right. I am thankful for the hard times, the lonely times, the sad times. For it is through these times that I am forged into the person God wants me to be. It is through these times that I hopefully shed some of my fleshy ugliness and am clothed in His righteousness. It is in these times that I more clearly see the hand of God moving. The hard times make the good times even sweeter.
  • Family. I have family in different states. I am thankful for all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, niece and nephews. I think of you often.  Granny, I love you and miss you so very much. You are on my mind quite often. You will be one of the first people on my list to go see as soon as my feet hit American soil in June. 
  • Friends. I am thankful for the friends the Lord has put in my life. I miss the ones stateside. But he is forming new friendships here in Suriname, and for those, I am very grateful. :)
  • My students. I love these sweet little lambs. I have 15 precious first graders. I enjoy teaching them. They are a bright spot in my life. 
Praying you all have a great day. Eat a lot of yummy food, and hug your loved ones tight.  And don't forget to thank the One who makes it all possible.
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations."  Psalms 100:4-5

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ants, driving, beauty and the Kingdom

November is almost over. How in the world did that happen? I know people say this all the time, but there is truth in this statement: time is passing way to quickly. In just 3 weeks, it will be time for our Christmas break.  I will not be able to go home for Christmas and it was nearly my undoing only because I've been a bit homesick lately. However, as sad as I am over this, it will be fine. I will survive. There must be a reason, so I will take comfort in that. Silver lining: it will be very quiet in the house and I will have a lot of time to read.

Just a few things to mull over since my last update.  First, Ants. Yes ants. If I never ever see another ant in my life, I will be a happy girl. There seem to be an overabundance of ants here in Suriname. They are everywhere and in everything. BUT, with that said, I'd MUCH rather have an ant problem than a roach or spider problem. They say things grow bigger in the tropics, and I think I may agree. I have seen some pretty big roaches and spiders. Thankfully, not in my house. Just ants in the house. So, I think I can live with that. Although, I will still reserve the right to be highly annoyed at them. ;-)

Next, driving. They drive on the opposite side of the road here. It has taken some getting use to. I really don't like driving. But sometimes I just have to. When turning, I still have to remind my self, "stay left, stay left."  I was out and about on Saturday and almost turned the wrong way into on coming traffic. Oi Vey. Even when walking, I forget about the opposite lane thing and sometimes look in the wrong direction before stepping out. I almost got hit a few weeks ago because I was looking the wrong way first and almost stepped in front of an oncoming car.

It is the little things in life. Like the beautiful Suriname sunrises.  Captured this beauty one morning as I walked to school. 

Walked out my back door one evening, and saw the beautiful full moon beginning its rise in the sky. 

Suriname sunset. This is just one of many beautiful sunsets I have witnessed since living here. 

Saturday night, the International Academy staff had an American Thanksgiving. 
There was a lot of GOOD food, fellowship and laughs. I don't know about the others, but I know I ate way too much food. I was miserable once I got home and tried to sleep. Heartburn is not fun. But it was worth it! 

And last, the Kingdom.  I am still in awe that I am in another country.  Sometimes, when I am out and about and see the different people and hear the different languages, I just start grinning like an idiot. I just LOVE it. I love watching people and listening to them, even though I don't understand what they are saying. Which in some cases, is probably a good thing!   Sunday night, I went with a friend to an Assembly of God church here in Paramaribo. They had a praise and worship service that was led by a team from Trinidad. It was really a neat experience. At one point in the service, I started looking around at the congregation. Most were praising, some were swaying. I thought, this is what it will be like in heaven. It won't just be white people, or black people or just in English. It will be people from ALL nations and ALL languages together praising God.  I think that is why I love teaching at IAS so much. I have children from 8 different countries in my class. I literally have the nations in my room. Some days it makes me weep. I love them so much and am so very thankful that God is allowing me to minister to these precious ones. The Kingdom of God is here. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Update and Random Thoughts

It is hard to believe that I have been living on another continent for almost 3 1/2 months!  Sometimes, when I am walking down the street, I shake my head in amazement to think I am walking on non USA ground. Things are going well and I am adjusting to life in a foreign land. Here are some random thoughts for you about my time here so far.

  • ketchup & mayo:  when you order french fries here, they give you both ketchup & mayo to dip your fries in. At first I was grossed out. Then one day, I was like, "what the heck". I am now a fan of the dynamic duo. When in Rome... and all. 
  • rain, rain go away.  We are in the small rainy season now. It rains almost daily. I don't mean a light drizzle. But what my granny use to call a "frog strangler".  The only good thing about the rain is the temperature is a wee bit cooler. Still in the 80's, but not nearly as hot as the previous months. 
  • men peeing.  Yes, you read that right. It is quite common to see a man urinating on the side of road, next to a building, in a ditch, etc. I have learned that when I see a man standing still with his hands in front of him to NOT look. Oi Vey. 
  • time change.  In the states, time fell back one hour. Not so here. So now, there I am 2 hours ahead of my Georgia & Florida people and 3 hours ahead of my Alabama people. Makes talking to my baby-bear more of a challenge.
  • stores. On nearly every street corner, well, it seems that way, is a Chinese store. It is a small store, much like a convenience store in the states, owned (usually) by Chinese people. Everyone around here calls them Chinese stores or China shop. They sell everything from milk to shower curtains. There is a smaller one around the corner from my house. I had my first harassment incident there a few days ago. A man that I passed on the road turned around and followed me in to the store. I did not realize it until he was right next to me. He started saying how he liked white skinned women, I was pretty, etc, etc, I am just trying to figure out how to get away from him. He starts saying some ugly things and making an ugly gesture. I am praying for a way out. And I say the only thing that comes to mind, "I follow Jesus, I don't do those things."  hahaha. yup. That was all I could come up with. He finally turned around and left. 
  • Typical school day.  My day usually starts at 5:15 am. I try to be out the door and on my way to school by 6:05.  Teachers have to be there by 7 and school starts at 7:30.  Children leave at 2:00 and teachers stay until 2:30. However, you know teachers, we never leave on time. Most of us hang around longer. Most days I do try to leave at 3:00. But Wednesdays I stay later because I help with the after school Bible club.  When I get home, I usually just rest by either reading a book, or watching something on Netflix. Most nights I am asleep by 9pm.  What a boring life I lead. But I like it. It suits this introvert just fine. 
  • Restaurants.  Not a lot of variety. I don't eat out very often. I have eaten at a few Chinese places. Of course I found McDonald's and Popeye's. Funny because I rarely eat at McD's in the states. But here in Suriname, they have spicy fried chicken. And it is very good. That is my go to place. :) I finally ate at Popeye's a few weeks ago. It was really good. They also have a Pizza Hut here.
  • Doctor's offices.  Going to the doctor here is definitely different then the states. First, there are no appointments. You just show up, take a number and wait. Their hours are typically 7 or 8 am until 11, then from 5 to 7pm.  When it is your turn, you go in to the doctor's office. NOT an exam room. They do not take your temperature, blood pressure or weight. Nothing. They do not take a medical history. You tell them what is wrong and then they write a prescription or lab orders. In my case, it was lab orders to have my thyroid levels checked. She did not touch me. Did not exam my neck for a goiter, did not listen to my heart beat or my breathing. So very different.  On the upside, because of the insurance I have, I did not have to pay anything out of pocket at the doctor's or the lab. :) Silver lining. 
  • HEAT. Have I mentioned the heat yet? Oh. My. Word. I just thought south Georgia was hot. I have never sweated so much in my life! It doesn't take much to break a sweat here. Just walking across the room will cause a massive down pour. I have got to find me heavy duty deodorant when I come state side. (yes, I went there.)
Well, there you have it. My random thoughts on Suriname.  Please keep me in your prayers. I have the nations right in my classroom. And it is my desire these precious little ones and their parents see the love of Christ in me.   Also, I would love to be able to come home for Christmas break. However, funds are a bit tight and the round trip flight a little more than I had anticipated. Please be in prayer that IF it is God's will I come home for a break, that He will provide.  Miss you all very much!  Enjoy those cooler temperatures you are now getting. :-)