Wednesday, October 28, 2009

God is good

Hey Everyone! :)
I haven't written in a while! and for that I appologize! I'm not sure where the last few weeks have gone. I've kept pretty busy. The past couple days (today and yesterday), I've had off, so I have had the opportunity to go out with the dental clinic. This is an offship ministry. They drive out every week Mon. through Fri. and set up in a village. There was a brand new building that no one was using so that became their clinic. It is such a blessing!
I found out that their sterilizer position is opening up next outreach in Togo. I thought it would be something I might enjoy, so I decided to go out with them and see what it was like. So the past two days from 8:30am to 3pm I have been a dental sterilizer! Rosean, the current sterilizer, has been teaching me the ropes. And Simon, one of the Dentists was very kind and asked if I would stay around and watch him work today so I could see the instruments in use and get to know them better. So I was able to watch everything from pulling teeth, to fillings, drillings, the whole bit! I Absolutely Loved all of it! I'm really praying that God will work it out that I can change to Dental Sterilizer in Togo. There are just a few things that would have to fall into place; my job would have to be covered by someone else, and the switch would have to be approved by the right people. I will be moving up to the position of team leader of reception for a few months while we are in the Canaries. The dentist sterilizing position would start around Jan. or Feb.
Besides that,
I've been enjoying our weekly sports, (volleyball, ultimate frizbee, and soccar--which I like more and more as I get better! I really LOVE my sports:D). We had a shipwide costume dance party this past Sat. night which was hillarious and loads of fun. Me and my friend Becca were part of the "revenge of the Nerds." Yes. I know what your thinking. But you would never imagine how much fun being a nerd could be!!! We could do whatever we want, dance as badly as we wanted and it was perfect! Everyone just thought it was funny :) I'll never tell them thats how I really dance....Just kidding! ;-p

Also I've been quite involved in the worship teams here onboard.
So I've been helping to sing in some of the bands for Thur. night community meetings and Sun. night church. I've really enjoyed it :) On Nov. 10th we will be having a night just for music and prayer. Some of my friends are organizing it and I'll be participating in the band. We had one of these nights a couple weeks ago and it turned out to be a really powerful time. I think God really just used it for people to be able to finally slow down enough to realize his presence in a new and fresh way and deal with stuff that may have been pressed below the surface by the responsibilities and rutines of daily life and ministry. God is awesome and I love how he reminds us how much he loves us and how much he cares about every part of us and all that affects us and how much a part of our lives he is; and how much he wants us to share it freely and willingly with him and recognize him with us in it. We are SO precious to him!
On a little more difficult note. Though I've been experiencing all these amazing things and it seems I've been so busy and would have had no time for thinking about people back home, It's actually been a rather rough time for me on and off throughout the past couple weeks. I've actually been quite homesick at times, really missing the special love and bond that is only there with those special few. Your family just cannot be replaced. And for me, neither can a very special man in my life ;). There are just those special moments I miss...randomly deciding to take a late night drive to find food to satisfy a common craving with my sisters. Late night movies, or rare mornings when all three of us end up talking in one bed. Sitting on the couch with Mom, or taking walks and just talking. Dad's hugs, that only he can give just that way, and going out with him, talking about life. My brothers coming to find me, excited to show me a new song they've written or how well they are doing practicing. Playing ball out in the driveway, trying to pretend that I am still bigger than Justin and "If I really tried, I could beat him every time, no sweat! ;)." And Micah, I hope you still have the dot game, because were definately finishing it! :) Family nights, watching movies or just hanging out after supper on the patio...and Joey, I just miss hanging out and spending time with my best friend, and the love of my life. I will never fit more perfectly in anyones arms.
I have no doubt or wonder that I am to be here--I am sure of this and thank God that he's put me here; I know this is where he wants me now, so I am content to be here and would not want to be anywhere else. Of all this, I am firmly sure. Even so, as one would naturally expect at times homesickness still finds a way into it all, so I've just done a bit of crying to God here and there, and it really is amazing what a wonderful, loving Father he is. When I'm feeling like a little girl who is so small and far away from all the familiar comforts of home, He will choose just the right moments to show me in some bigger than normal way, just how close he is to me. He's bigger than everything and he's got me. I may be sad for a bit or need to cry a little and thats ok, he's there and everything will be ok.
It happened after a band practice the other night.
As we were finishing up, Christina got everyones attention, "Look at the sunset everyone!" It was breathtaking. It was one of the most beautiful skies I've ever seen. So we all ran up to decks 7 and 8 to take it in. As I soaked in the beauty, I just felt inside me that God painted this sunset for me. Such a magnificent masterpiece just to take my breath away and bring me joy at the marvel. And it was so simple for him, and there was no other reason for it than my enjoyment and that of all his other precious children. That's how much he loves me I thought. He's so big, and the colors and brilliance of a sunset weren't necessary, but he cares about us, me... He wants to see our excitement and he cares about our joy. A God that big, and sensitive had me in his hands, and in that moment I just felt so strongly the love and comfort of my heavenly father. He was there; he did see me; nothing I felt was escaping him, and he wasn't intimidated or worried about it. He was strong enough to handle my emotions and hold me as long as I needed him to. That's the God I serve.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Agriculture school

One of the programs the ship does is an agriculture school. This program is run by an African man named Jean Claude. He is part of the crew and lives on the ship, but his job is off ship. He has set up a training program where people come and live for a couple months while they learn about agriculture and the best ways to farm. Jean Claude has a degree in Agriculture and it is his passion. He has trained men from Benin to take over teaching when the ship leaves. This way the school will continue after we are gone and the people will continue to learn!

The following pictures are of the training center that Mercy Ships helped build while the ship has been here. There is a picture of the courtyard inside with the dorm rooms all around the perimeter. Also there is one of the class room where the students have class every morning before going to the fields for hands on training.

This is out in the huge garden or field that the students have helped to start and care for. These are me and some of the students. They also harvested the corn behind me and the girl in the picture that day. The African men can be pretty forward with javo (white) women. So in the picture with four of us, the guy next to me grabbed my hand right as the picture was taken. I pulled away fast and everyone thought it was funny. As he walked back toward the workers I made a kicking motion at him from behind and everyone just roared. It was pretty funny.

This is the water hole where they get all the water they use for watering the entire garden...with watering cans!

Jean Claude caught me offguard in this picture ;-p heheIn the picture where I'm talking to one of the students as we carry watering cans, the student's name is Bien Venue ("Welcome" in English!). He knew a little english and we enjoyed trying to talk back and forth. I tried out the few french words I know.
Me and Jean Claude! He is amazing the passion he has for his ministry here in agriculture!
Me and 2 of the 3 girls in the group.
This was the main project of the day. Turning the compost pile. It was an all day job.
Here are some old pineapple skins that they chopped up and through in as we mixed the compost
Just a few days before, Jean Claude had shown the students how to plant cabbages. They had already started growing and the students were very excited. Jean Claude teaches as they go. Here they are all gathered as he teaches them while they look at what they have created. They start by planting the seeds in this shollow bed under this hut, and once they grow a little bigger and stronger they transplant them into the big garden.
They are also learning how to raise livestock: pigs, sheep, chickens etc.
This is the garden of a former student. He is now implimenting what he learned on his own with his family to help them make a living and provide food for themselves.
Here they are planting something. I can't remember what. But it was so interesting the whole process. The had holes all spaced out and dug. Then they would go get some more fertile dirt from a pile they had made from somewhere which they placed inside each hole. Then they would put a spoonful of ashes in each whole to lower the acidity level in the dirt because the dirt is very acid here.
Its amazing how everyone gets involved. It's really exciting. They loved it when I jumped in and started helping. They showed me what to do, it was a lot of fun :)
This is the fertil soil they would carry over. Everyone in the family helped.

Jean Claude, the father, and another neighbor that came over. They are just checking out the progress together.
Their youngest was absolutely adorable!

He wanted to help too!
So daddy showed him how and let him do it :)

Jean Claude is so proud of what they have learned and the success they are having!
The garden and a little shack at the top. I'm not sure if that is where they live or just a place for storage. My guess would be that is their home.

It was a great day. Such an awesome experience! I love seeing these people learning how to make better lives for themselves and being able to learn and work alongside them for a day. :)