Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Palms


I was driving to a nearby mall when I saw this. 


Its a corn field with palm trees in it. 


Phoenix is one of the strangest places I've ever lived.  And I love it. 


Youth Camp


Youth Camp was incredibly fun! And incredibly exhausting. We hauled 150 kids up to the mountains of California for a week of crazy fun and connecting with God. This was my first time as a youth camp staffer. I thought that having 5 years of kids camp experience would make me a pro, but I was unprepared for the amount of energy middle and highschoolers have. 


My favorite part of camp was getting to hang out with some awesome kids. I loved getting to know them and watch them encounter Christ. 


The team I worked with to put on the camp was the best. They had so much enthusiasm and grace for the kids. I was honored to work with them!





Sunday, June 8, 2014

Keep Going

Four weeks ago my school semester ended. I honestly don't know how I got through it with my sanity still mostly in tact. Not going to lie, coming straight back into a university setting after spending 5 months in rural Africa was difficult. University has a was of sucking people's lives into a scholastic vortex where nothing else exists except classes, papers, tests, projects. With the occasional late night Jimmy Johns run. I desperately did not want my life sucked back into this bubble.
 I shouldn't have worried, because for at least the first month all I did was wander around saying to myself "what just happened?". Then I moved on to the stage where I would sit in class with a look of unbelief on my face thinking, "Last month I was riding a motorcycle through millet fields to a village where I would pound peanuts while people would dance. Today I am sitting in a Math Appreciation class." Finally, I moved on to the crying stage where I would show up at my dear friend's apartment sobbing about how much i missed West Africa, and she would feed me cookie dough and listen.

Me and the dear friend

But as much as I didn't want to get caught up in the "American College Kid" bubble, there was another bubble I wanted to resist even more. It was the "Returning Expat who can't move on with life" bubble. Maybe you've met these people before. I know I have. All they talk about is the country they were in and they never seem to continue on with life after returning home. Everything is always related back to what life was like overseas. I don't want to act like those 5 months were not hugely life altering for me and that I grew in so many ways, but I also don't want to get stuck in a time I can't relive.

As I had been thinking through all of this, I couldn't think of a better way to get out of myself than to invest in others. That has really been the key to not getting stuck. I knew that I wanted to be involved in some type of ministry this summer to help me keep going and growing. I considered several different opportunities from working at a summer camp to working at a inner city womens' shelter to engaging West Africans in New York City. But none of these options just screamed "yes" to me. I had filled out an application to do summer missions in Louisiana when I heard about another opportunity in Arizona. I ignored it at first, but God just kept bringing it back into my mind.


So, long story short, I'm in Phoenix for the summer. And I love it. Yes, its hot, but I keep reminding myself that I lived in hotter last year with no air conditioning or pools. I'm working with a church plant that started in February. It has been amazing to watch a church get started. I personally know nothing about planting churches, and I have learned a lot already. I am going to try to post more about Wellspring and the work going on here, since many have been praying for me.







Thursday, May 8, 2014

I'm basically a Hobbit


I really have no coherent words right now to keep talking about my transition home. I've been wanting to 
post some more about everything, but I just can't. So go read this post by my friend Hayley. It perfectly describes many things I've been thinking and going through. I met Hayley in Botswana during my orientation. While I was in West Africa, she was in South Africa. 



For now, here are some things I never thought I would miss.

Gas station signs in French
My mosquito net

Sheep on top of buses



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Being back

Several times I have sat down to write something only to find myself at a loss for what to say. I have experienced so many emotions since being back but I can not figure out how to put them into words. Someday I hope to be able to coherently express what it was like leaving my West African home and arriving in my American home, but for now I'll just share a few things. 



 Reverse culture shock is real. And it stinks. It just might be harder than the initial culture shock of a foreign country because at some level you expect the foreign country to be foreign, but you don't expect to feel so out of place in the culture you grew up in. I have experienced it before so I thought I would be more prepared, but I wasn't. 


I hadn't been gone long enough to really forget about anything in America, but there were definitely some things I was out of practice with.
I found myself trying to speak French to every white person. Awkward. 
Menu's and signs in English freaked me out. 
I had to force myself to drink tap water. 
I still find myself sifting through flour and sugar for bugs. 


The first time I went to a store I made my sister checkout for me. I just couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do. Do I greet the checker? Ask about his family? No, probably not. But then do we not speak at all? Are we allowed to make eye contact? It was so awkward. 


Its hard to remember that no one will understand me when I speak Wolof. 
Waaw.  Jerejeff waye. Jox ma. Ban heure. Ma xol. Jamm rekk. 
I say these things without thinking. People look at me strange. I never realized how 
weird it would be to only speak one language. 



But every day is better. Every day I adjust a little more.