Wednesday, January 23, 2013
On Your Mark:
These past five days were spent saying many goodbyes. On my last day of classroom observation in Chicago Ridge, I received "advice" and many cards from the fourth graders in the class I have been observing since September. They decided to surprise me at the end of my last day and lined up to read their cards out loud and smother me with hugs. What a blessing those children are. My desire to become a teacher has never been so affirmed before. The next day, my family threw me a little going away party. Talk about delicious food! So blessed with going away gifts from my students, family, and friends.
Packing. What an experience. It is so hard to pack for the unknown. I packed my life (for about 3 months) in two 50 lbs suitcases, one carry-on, and a back-pack.
Thus begins the journey of a lifetime. I am nervous. I am excited. I am frightened to leave. I am ready to go.
"I know Who goes before me, I know Who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side."- Chris Tomlin
The beautiful thing about studying abroad is that I have no clue what to expect! The sights, the smells, the people, the food, the culture--everything will be new to me. Yet, I know that I can fully expect that this experience will challenge me and make me grow--and that is what I want. Studying abroad is one of the coolest experiences I have ever had the privilege to take advantage of, and I haven't even stepped outside of the country yet! It has already began changing me for the better and I hope you all look forward to meeting the new and improved 'Jess' in May, because I cannot guarantee I will be the same one you sent to Africa when I get back.
The next 104 days will be spent with friends (new and old), families, professors, and the occasional giraffe. It will be filled with much laughter, many tears (joyful and sorrowful), beautiful smiles, the occasional sunburn (OK probably more than occasional for me), stomach issues (hopefully not), shouts of joy, praises to God, and some deep self-reflection.
I want to look back on this trip and know that I made myself step outside of my comfort zone and followed God's will for my life. I most nervous about the culture shock and the things that will be out of my control-like the elections in March. I am most excited for the wildlife, the theology courses, making new friends, and church!
Please be praying for our group as we head out into the unknown on this amazing journey!!
Thursday, January 17, 2013
One Week Left
Today marks one week left in the States! I have been spending lots of quality time with my family, church family, and friends. I am so blessed to live close enough to Trinity so that I could continue to complete student observation hours in Chicago Ridge over break. I have also been able to visit my friends at Trinity and participate in and attend Outcry (weekly worship service led by Trinity students).
Tomorrow is my last day student observing, and it is going to be hard saying goodbye to all my fourth grade friends. They have been a great first class to observe and have made me smile every day I am with them. I can only imagine how hard it will be to say goodbye to everyone else. At least I have the comfort that it is a "see ya later" and that I will be reunited with you all in 3-ish months.
As I prepare my heart for this journey, I have been trying to soak up every moment with my loved ones and have had the most encouraging advice given to me from many amazing people. After hearing their stories about how God has moved in their lives and how they hope he moves in mine, I am more than thrilled to embark on this journey. In fact, like I have alluded to in my first post, I believe it has already begun!