Monday, August 30, 2010

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

On Friday Gil got word that baby turtles were hatching. Which happens to be one of his favorite things to photograph. So he spread the word around, and by the end of the school day, we had about 25 people caravanning out with us on the two hour drive out of town!

So of course, he got some great pictures. As you can see.

But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

At dinner that evening, I sat across from one of our new staff members, who has been in the country all of two weeks. All the usual “get to know you” questions ensued, when we came to a common one, “How did God lead you here?”

I love these stories. And I especially loved this one.

This man and his wife have lived their entire lives (maybe about 50 years?) in their home country as good citizens, involved Christians, excellent teachers and school administrators. Then, a couple years ago, they were at a big revival type conference and God separately got a hold of each of their lives. “God wanted all of me,” he said. It changed their lives.

Not long after that, his wife saw a small magazine ad which was recruiting for HOPAC. She brought it to her husband, and they sent an inquiry to the school, not really thinking anything would come from it. The school immediately said they were interested, and invited them to apply.

So they applied, again thinking nothing would come from it. Then they were invited to visit the school last February. Both felt the call of God on their lives to serve at HOPAC, but at the same time realizing for the first time that this was not a paid position—they would have to raise support.

Their call from God was strong. But both understood the huge implications on their lives and those around them. Both had very successful careers—and they knew they would be giving that all up. They told their three adult daughters (the youngest who is 18), that if they did this, they would have nothing to contribute to the girls’ weddings one day. And helping the youngest with university would be tough, especially since her financial aid was based on their previous salary.

The girls said they should go anyway.

Their small church had never before sent out missionaries. This couple was very involved and would leave a lot of holes. It would be a stretch of faith for the entire congregation.

Despite it all, they said yes—to God and to HOPAC. And now they are here. Still not knowing where all their support will come from, still not having a renter for their house, still not knowing exactly how they will adjust after spending their entire lives in one place.

I love all the stories, but that one made me cry.

What faith! What obedience! And these are the people we get to work with! These are the people who will be leading us—propelling our school into the next era. What a blessing, what a privilege for us to be a part of such an amazing team of people—each with their different story of how God brought them to this place.

Some international missionary schools have started paying their teachers a salary (by making students’ tuition quite significantly higher). HOPAC has played around with that idea since every year we have such a hard time recruiting. But that’s one thing about HOPAC that I hope never changes, and not only because it would make it much harder for missionaries and pastors to send their kids here. Having to raise support is probably one of the hardest things a person has to do. But what it means is that the entire staff is tangibly living by faith to be here. And it means that every year the existing staff has to live by faith that God will provide for our staff needs.

I know that you certainly don’t have to work overseas to work with such extraordinary people. But I feel blessed every day that I can call them my friends.

Haven of Peace Academy Teachers and Staff, 2010-2011

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some Things I Bet You Didn't Know

Grace:  Mommy, when we see Bibi and Babu again, can they take us to South America?  But it's far away.  We could go on a blimp.  But only if there are no dogs.  And catfish.

Grace:  Mommy, all of the princesses are vanilla.  Except for Jasmine and Tiana.  They are chocolate.

Mommy:  Josiah, don't bite your fingernails.
Josiah:  But I am chocolate.

Grace:  When you die, you go to heaven.  Except if you want to go up to the sky, you can also use pixie dust.

Grace:  When Josiah turns three, he will be OUT of football and INto dolls.

Grace to Josiah:  Let's pretend that I am your big sister and you are my little brother.

Grace to Mommy:  When we get a new little brother, let's name him Spartacus.

Grace to Daddy after our beach trip:  When you get sunburned, you will look like us [Grace and Josiah]!

Josiah to our very pregnant friend:  Your tummy looks like mine!

Grace to Mommy:  Look!  Shirley Temple has tattoos just like Annie!!!  [that would be...tap shoes]

Mommy:  Josiah, why are you so cute?
Josiah:  Because I am a pokey thing.
Mommy:  What?  You are cute because you are a pokey thing?  What does that mean?
Grace:  I know!  It means he is a cactus.  Right, Josiah?
Josiah:  Yeah!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

When the World's All That It Should Be

I worry, sometimes, about what's to come in this life.  You know?  I may be in Africa, but I'm connected to the internet.  I read the headlines.  I know how it is.  I know you do too. 

But I don't want that worry to make me forget that God has just really, really been blessing us these days. 

We had an awesome July.  Amazing, unforgettable conversations with students--especially those ones that returned from their freshman year of college.  Sweet times of fellowship with new friends...friends that have pre-schoolers, just like us!  Something we've hardly had before.  Inspired times of planning with Gil for this new school year.  Time to get done those projects that never seem to get done.  Time to get things done for the school year that usually happen at the last minute and stress me out.  A month that was full but not stressful, productive but not overwhelming. 

HOPAC has awesome new administrators.  Of course, the previous ones were great too, and it was hard to say good-bye to them, but how exciting that the new ones are so full of commitment and vision and passion!  A great staff this year.  Anticipation crackles in the air when we all get together.  Renovation projects going on around the school, making it more beautiful, more community oriented. 

Gil and I are taking over Student Council this year.  It's been there before, but not had the opportunity to be fully developed.  I'm dropping my sixth grade Bible class to pour into Student Council.  I'm so excited!  Working with an elite group of older students, helping them develop into strong leaders.  So much possibility and opportunity. 

I get to do what I love.  My husband gets to do what he loves.  I don't want to ever forget what an enormous blessing it is, the huge privilege for us to be here. 

School starts on Monday.  Lots to do!  And my house has been full the last two weeks with people who needed a place to stay:  new teachers just arriving and needing orientation; my friend Emily and her kids just getting back from their home assignment.  Which is why you haven't seen many posts here lately! 

I praise God for this mountaintop time, knowing that times like this don't come often and the valley can appear out of nowhere, in an instant.  Life is uncertain, especially in times such as these.  And of course, even in times like this, there is the pain that comes from knowing others that we love are suffering.  Perfection will not come on this side of heaven.  God is in control and God is good, when life is rough, when life is really rough, but also when life is good.  All praise goes to you, my Lord and Savior, from whom all blessings flow. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Marvelous God

The beauty of our trip last weekend, captured by my amazingly talented husband.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Simply Marvelous

Our favorite place in Dar.  This time we took two families who have been here less than a year.  Both have kids our age, which is such a blessing.  Up until recently there just weren't many families in our community with pre-schoolers, especially in the HOPAC staff community.  Such a joy to have the kids play and play and play together all weekend!

Amazing views, ocean breeze, fabulous food, luxurious house, and the most incredible beach we've ever seen equals a marvelous time!