Conversations this week:
“Miss, I had one of those God moments yesterday!” – From a non- Christian student after a devotional talking about looking for God in the little things, not just the big decisions.
“I just wanted to say I am really enjoying HOPAC”- WhatsApp message from a new student
“God did it again Miss!”- Alum waiting for Uni admission acceptance upon receiving acceptance email
“Miss, what clothes will I need to bring to uni?”- Student packing for uni in the US
“I’m assuming you are busy at school, but it’s one of those moments I want to pop by your office, sit on your floor just to say hi.” – 2015 grad in South Korea. (I do have chairs, they sometime just crowd in and sit on the floor to decompress)
“Miss, I am sorry I was so mad at you yesterday.” Senior working through the realistic options for university.
“[opposition party] really knows how to stop us from getting free pizza.” “#pizzanightmayberuined 😦 ” – A couple boys responses to the possibility school would be closed due to a scheduled protest. Thankfully it didn’t happen so first pizza night was a success!
“You are not the right person. You are the PERFECT person to be teaching us English”- In response to me saying I am the wrong person to be teaching them English writing (after they corrected something I wrote or said).
“It’s God’s plan. [the devotional we had today] That really touched me.” – Student response to a tough family situation they are dealing with that might mean a major life change. The devotional had been our plans versus God’s plans. His plans are always greater than we could ever imagine.
“You were totally right about everything. I’m finding it super hard to make friends and not fall into a huge depression… I just feel super hopeless and I didn’t know who else to talk to.” – Alum adjusting to new school.
“Miss, programs like this exist?!” – showing a student an internship program with Hillsong.
“This is why you need to stay. You need to keep helping students like this!”- A teacher after asking her what she thought of the Hillsong program for this student.
“Miss, I am thinking about working with a local elementary school teaching Likeskills. Especially building self-esteem. Will you help me?”- student planning his Service Learning project for the year.
This at this time four years ago, I didn’t even have a desire to ever even visit Africa much less have a vision or calling to work oversees. Seven months later I found myself opening the door to international work and 6 months later arriving in Tanzania to start this wonderful adventure. It was meant to be two years. Before the first year even finished, I had changed from saying, “I am here two years” to ” I am staying until God says it is time to leave.” Each year the HOPAC staff are given a small piece of paper and we just tick a box for staying or leaving. Until this year, it has been an easy decision. This year, is the first year I am struggling to decide if this is my last year at HOPAC. Permits are getting harder to get, financial support isn’t strong (didn’t raise enough to buy new camera or fulfill my monthly support need this summer. I am still short about $1500 for the year), some of my closest friends that started the same year as me are leaving after this school year… I just miss home, family, friends, living in a culture I know and understand. I will never be fully Tanzanian. I will always be a foreigner in this country… so many reasons to leave… so many reasons to stay.
Dar es Salaam has become home, my community. My students joke at how “Tanzanian” I have become and I just laugh at the complement but know I am still very far from being fully integrated into the community. Just when I think all signs are pointing to it being my last year, I have a week like this past one that shows over and over again there is still a need for me here. Yes, others can do my job. I am replaceable. But the voices around me say, “Please stay!” Please pray with me as I seek to follow the only voice that matters in this decision, the Lord’s. I shared with my students yesterday a devotional and a bit of my life story. We plan, God laughs. I have learned to hold plans, dreams, and goals loosely because ultimately they are His plans, dreams and goals and when I trust Him with mine, the result is always greater than I could have ever designed for myself.