Friday, July 11, 2008

The wrong continent...

The title summarizes what I have been feeling for the past two weeks. I think I am just on the wrong heart, my soul, my passions, my mind is in Africa...however, my body is in America. How is it that you can be so immensely split over two very different places? How is it that I feel like I need to be in America right now and that is where God has me, yet my heart and every yearning in my body wants to be back in Africa?

I was talking to my friend Sarah tonight, who is still in Sierra Leone. She was asking me how I was coping with being back in the states...and I really struggled to answer that question. In all reality, I am fine. I am not in cultural shock, I don't dislike America, I can handle all the modern conveniences...but I don't really want to be here. Through my discussion with Sarah, I repeatedly said I want to be okay with being in Denver. I want to be content with where I am at right now...I know it is just a season before I pursue my dream of being somewhere overseas. I ask that as I begin this next year of teaching, that you would pray alongside me...for contentment. I want to be impact the place I live...the people I come across...the students I teach. I don't want to constantly live my life wishing I were living somewhere else. Please join me in praying for that process! :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

How can you miss so much?

I have officially been back in the US for one week. It is amazing how quickly time flies and how quickly I have adapted back into American culture. Though that is true, I find myself daily missing the beloved nation of Sierra Leone. It is not that I am necessarily missing the place, but rather the people that are in that place. I was in Sierra Leone for three weeks and formed such amazing relationships over those three weeks. It is overwhelming to think of how much you can miss something that you know so little about. I keep trying to attempt to put into words all my experiences, emotions, and stories...however, this is much more difficult that I ever imagined it would be. I knew it would be hard to share stories even with pictures, share experiences even with video, and share the passions...but the reality of how hard it has been has stirred me to be an emotional roller coaster. I know that it will get easier, but the initial transition has been quite hard.
I had the blessing of calling Sarah today (my dear friend and team leader who is still in Sierra Leone). It was good to catch up with her and see how things are progressing in Banta. I am seriously considering taking a year off and going back to Sierra Leone to live for some time. As I was talking to her on skype, I received a text on my cell phone. It was from Emmanuel (my "teacher" of African culture while I was there). He was telling me he wanted me to call him, so as soon as I got off with Sarah, I got to chat with him for a while. It has been such a blessing to connect with people that I developed such deep relationships with. I am praising God for these moments, which are really making the transition a bit easier.
These thoughts are slightly random, but that is the story of my brain right now. Bear with me as I am trying to vocalize all that is going on inside this brain of mine.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The world is getting smaller....

So, this evening I was sitting at dinner with my family here in Florida when all of a sudden my phone rings. I look at the caller ID and realize it is "unknown," which usually is what comes up when it is an international call. I hesitated answering it, but decided to go ahead anyways. On the other line, I find Albert (one of my friends from Sierra Leone). He had asked for my phone number before I left Sierra Leone and I gave it to him, assuming I would never hear from him. It is really expensive to call from Sierra Leone, and he is a JSS student. He just called to chat. He wanted to make sure I had made it home safely, and was alright in America. We talked for a couple minutes before I got cut off, luckily though, I was able to get his number before we got disconnected. I called him back and we talked for a while...what a true blessing. He told me all about his birthday party on Wednesday, about his church service today, and about his lettuce garden (that I helped him plant). I have been missing Sierra Leone and my friends I made there. Albert was definitely one of those people I think about often and miss seeing everyday. He was one of the first people I saw in the morning, and he always had a smile on his face. His love for Jesus is evident, and he served us with all his energy. He taught me how to wash dishes the right way, even after laughing at me a lot! I know that it is very expensive to call from Sierra Leone, and his effort brightened my day. This is a little tribute to dear friend, who right now is on the other side of the world. I find myself thinking about Sierra Leone daily, and asking God for grace as I attempt to live in America while most of my heart is still over there!

This is Albert and me the last night is Banta:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How do you express?

I am back from my trip. I am back from Sierra Leone. I am back on American soil. Making those statements seems so standard, but this trip was everything but that. As I look back on all the things I experienced, the people I met, the stories I heard, and the relationships I built over the past three weeks, I am overwhelmed with emotions. I am overtaken by feelings of joy, sadness, bitterness, frustration, love, hope, injustice, knowledge, power, excitement, passion, and heartache! It is amazing how many feelings and emotions can run through your blood all at the same time, and how you can feel so inadequate to fully express them in words. Over the next couple weeks, I am sure I will be blogging quite frequently as I try to figure out all that I learned while in Sierra Leone. This is the first of many posts relating to my trip. I hope you enjoy reading them and processing along with me.

As all those emotions run through my soul, I feel them all for specific reasons. I feel joy over the way that God has renewed my life and perspective. I feel sadness over having to say good-bye to good friends that I made on another continent without knowing if I will ever see them again. I feel bitterness over having to experience the materialism in American culture after seeing that people live on so little. I feel frustration of the lack on resources and money that is available to people in Sierra Leone. I feel love because of the love given to me from the people in Sierra Leone and knowing the Jesus loves us all no matter what! I feel injustice over seeing how people are treated, discriminated against due to certain circumstances. I feel hope because of seeing Christian disciples working to serve God even after the war that has plagued their country. I have knowledge because of hearing people's stories, seeing their lives, and listening to them speak about God's mercies and his will for their lives. I feel power because I know that God is working in tremendous ways in Sierra Leone and has a great plan for the people of that nation who are working to transform the new generation of leaders. I am excited to see how God will use the nationals under COTN to change the nation of Sierra Leone. I feel passion because I have found a place that I love and am passionate about. I feel heartache because of the tragic stories I heard during my time in Sierra Leone.

This is a small, small attempt to express what is going on in my brain and head right now.
I leave you with a picture that I have come to love and adore. This is Kadiatu Jongo, a girl I came to love very quickly. She is from a family of 17 kids, she lives in the village of Banta Mokelleh, she is six years. She loves Jesus and knows that he loves her:)