Thursday, December 7, 2017

Learning from Winnie the Pooh

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Christmas has had a feeling of being bittersweet this year. 

I love Christmas.

It's the holiday where I celebrate the birth of Jesus.

There's no greater holiday.

I love being with ones I love.

I love teaching my students all about Christmas.

It's a sweet time of year for sure.

And again, it's the birth of Jesus! That's huge y'all! It is!

But at the same time...

This will be the first Christmas ever spent away from family.

And that makes me feel sad.

...very sad.

...and lonely.

And I'm not going to lie. That part of Christmas this year is tough.

But I was reminded of that Winnie the Pooh quote the other day, where he says, 

"How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." 

And you know, that's true.

How lucky (or rather, blessed) am I to have a family who makes saying goodbye or I miss you so hard...

How blessed am I to have a group of people to miss like I do.

I fully realize not everyone is as blessed as me.

And that is what I try to remember when homesickness creeps its way in.

That is what I try to remember when sadness over missing Christmas with family creeps in.

And I do feel I need to end by once again giving a bit of an FYI to anyone reading who may think otherwise, assuring them that... 

I so very much love what I do here. I love that I am here in Senegal, teaching at my school, following the call of God on my life. I know I'm doing what I need to do - what God wants me to do. So don't confuse my sadness over missing family with negativity toward the calling God has placed on my life because I promise that's not the case :)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

CURRENTLY

Happy 1st Wednesday of December Y'all!

Want to know what I'm currently lighting, spending, choosing, sending, and singing?


I'm currently LIGHTING this beauty every morning when I get to school. I love seeing the excitement on my students' faces when they see the lights twinkling. This is their new favorite spot to read and do work during the day. I love it! :)


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I'm currently SPENDING more time in my classroom than at home. It's true I work a lot outside of normal/typical school hours. But that's not it. Even if I'm not working, I'll be watching movies or tv, reading, whatever... It's something about those Christmas lights, I think. And since I've yet to decorate at home and may not do so at all, (probably because I'm at school more than home - ha!), I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.

I'm currently CHOOSING to write a lot. It's therapeutic. It's such a fun way to get my thoughts out and share my heart. And whether that means writing in a journal, writing on my blog, or writing on a secret writing project I've undertaken, I'm still writing... And I'm definitely enjoying it.

I'd like to say that I'll be SENDING Christmas cards to family and friends and missions supporters, but that isn't going to happen. Plus, I just sent out a newsletter this past month. So my new plan is to wait and send out something towards the end of January or beginning of February. 

I'm currently SINGING Christmas carols, of course :)

And since this is my blog and I can do what I want... :)

Here are just 3 of the reasons I'm CURRENTLY in a happy mood.

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Today I'm joining Anne and Catherine for their December Currently link-up. Want to join? Click one of their names above and join the fun :)



Monday, December 4, 2017

My Grown Up Christmas List

Happy Monday Y'all!

Today I'm joining Victoria, Emily, and Sarah for their The Most Wonderful Time of the Year link-up, where we're sharing our Christmas Wish List.

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So, what's on my Christmas Wish List?

~ one ~

The #1 item on my Christmas Wish List is to raise my missions budget. I still need $390 in monthly commitments and $3890 in cash donations to be fully funded. I love that God has called me to Senegal and has blessed me with the privilege to teach such an incredibly amazing group of kids. 

Want to know more info on how you can financially partner with me to raise my budget and get the #1 item on my Christmas Wish List? Click HERE.

~ two ~ 

Past that, I'd probably say books would be fairly high on my list. The 4 (5, if you count the study guide that goes along with one of them) are at the top of my list at the moment...


Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush

Mustard Seed by Laila Ibrahim

The Silver Music Box by Mina Baites

Uninvited (book and study guide) by Lysa Terkeurst

~ three ~

Since I'm in Senegal and don't have access to all the yummy comforts of home, I'd probably also add a few food items to my Christmas Wish List. Things like...

* ranch seasoning * taco seasoning * dill weed * peanut butter * yellow mustard * white chocolate Reeses * candy canes * flavored water mixes (not grape though) * pepperoni * spam packets * tuna packets * chicken packets * canned turnip greens * dessert mixes * strawberry cake & strawberry frosting * muffin mixes * hershey's kisses with almonds * almonds * pistachios * peppermints * twizzlers * hot chocolate mixes * 

And yes, to anyone local reading this... You can purchase some of these items at the American Food Stores here. But oh my word are they expensive and not something I can justify splurging on due to their high costs and other things being far more important.

~ four ~

And if I'm being 100% honest, I would love nothing more than a free flight home to Alabama for Christmas. I'd have about 10 days to be at home from the time school gets out here 'til I have to leave for our AG Conference in South Africa. But I just could not afford a trip this year. Oh what I'd give to be able to see my family... 

And yes, I'm grateful to be going to that conference. I'm grateful to be here doing what God has called me to do. I'm even grateful for time to catch up on sleep and work. But y'all... I can't explain how much it hurts to know I won't be with family for Christmas this year. I honestly feel sometimes as if my heart's breaking from the sadness of this. I can't lie. This is tough. So very tough...

Friday, December 1, 2017

30 Days of Giving Thanks Outside the Box

Usually in November, you'll see an influx of Giving Thanks types of posts on Facebook. People spend the entire month, daily posting things for which they are thankful.

I'm no different.

But I did tweak mine a bit this year.

But, instead of doing the usual list I always seem to repeat year after year...

I decided to try and think outside the box a bit this year. 

So what made my list?

Days 1-6



1. I'm thankful for Education Professors who taught me that being flexible is sometimes the key to running a successful classroom. 

2. I'm thankful for laughter.

3. I'm thankful for a school that values "play time" as much as educational learning time.

4. I'm thankful for wifi at home.

5. I'm thankful for the person who invented ceiling fans, especially since I live in such a hot place and the electricity to run an A/C is ridiculously expensive.

6. I'm thankful for a borrowed desk when I can't work at my own.

Days 7-12 



7. I'm thankful that I work in a Christian school, especially on days when I can teach a kid from a Musl*m home the meaning of grace and the love of Jesus.

8. I'm thankful for random acts of kindness.

9. I'm thankful for a good teacher bag.

10. I'm thankful for mail. Shameless Plug - Want to send me a card or letter? It only costs about 3 stamps from the US. And it's such a bright spot in my days :)

11. I'm thankful for friends (and friends that share their delicious food).

12. I'm thankful for technology, especially when it keeps me connected to my family and supporters too back in the States.

Days 13-18





13. I'm thankful for surprises.

14. I'm thankful for the help of others.

15. I'm thankful for grace - even if that means giving myself a bit of grace on those hard days.

16. I'm thankful I live on campus, especially on nights when I have to work so late that it's dark when I leave school.

17. I'm thankful for the end of Hot Season in Dakar.

18. I'm thankful for my life here in Senegal. I'm thankful that God saw fit to call me here to do this incredible work.

Days 19-24



19. I'm thankful for educational resources online. Having no set curriculum requires me to put in a lot of extra work. But I seriously Praise the Lord over the wealth of resources online.

20. I'm thankful for weekly dinners with our AG MK's.

21. I'm thankful for relationship building, especially with our non-Christian families. I love being able to share the love of Jesus in this way :)

22. I'm thankful for school breaks and long weekends, because as much as I love my students, it's still nice to have a break every now and then :)

23. I'm thankful for my AG family here in Dakar

24. I'm thankful for rest. 

Days 25-30 Collage



25. I'm thankful for neighbors.

26. I'm thankful for missionaries and the work they (we) do around the world.

27. I'm thankful for the fresh fruits/veggies we can get here in Dakar.

28. I'm thankful for memories. I miss my dad a lot. But I'm thankful for all the memories I have of him. I was blessed to have him for just shy of 30 years. 

29. I'm thankful for my students. 

30. I'm thankful for my family.

And since I'm talking about giving thanks, I must share a big thank you to those who read my #givingtuesday post earlier in the week, those who shared it with others, those who have sacrificially given, and those who are continuing to sacrificially give, all to partner with me to help further God's Kingdom through education. I still have quite a bit of money to raise. But we serve a big, big God, and I know He's still got big plans for me here. So I will continue to be thankful in advance for how He'll help me raise these funds.

Not sure what I'm talking about? Want to read the post I referred to? Click HERE

Want to give to support my ministry here in Senegal? Click HERE

Want more info about my ministry? Send me an email at enichols85@gmail.com.

Now, what about you? 

Think outside the box. 

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

#givingtuesday

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

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 Did you know that today is known as Giving Tuesday in many parts of the world?

It's a day when people can give to help charities and organizations.

So today, on this #givingtuesday, I write with an idea of how you can partner with me by giving of your finances. By doing so, you'd be helping me fulfill the call God's placed on my life to further His Kingdom through the education of incredible children.

A couple weeks ago, I sent out my usual missions newsletter and I also added in a prayer request with a rather urgent financial need.

 Since then I've received quite a few questions. And while I've answered them, I thought I'd share a bit here about what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and how you can help.

What do you do?

I'm a Missionary Associate with the Assemblies of God. I am blessed enough to do a job I'm passionate about. I have the privilege and honor of being a missionary AND a teacher. I teach Special Education at Dakar Academy, an international Christian school in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa.

Why do you do it?

Simple answer... God called me here. And I so love what I do!

How does your support raising work?

I have a specific amount of money I must raise for the A/G to approve me staying on the field. So I must raise the required amount of monthly commitments and one-time cash donations before they give me that approval. Because I'm a teacher, it makes it a bit difficult to do a normal year-long itineration (fundraising) time in the States. Therefore, I spend my summer breaks traveling, connecting with supporters, speaking at churches, and raising my support in that way. I also do a lot of connecting via email, Facebook, and phone calls while I'm here in Senegal. 

You're already in Senegal, though. Why do you need to raise more funds?

Due to a few different reasons, I need to build up my missions cash account. Some pledged/promised support has not been coming in each month, so to cover my salary, they're having to pull from my "cash account." Also, furnishing my classroom completely from scratch cost far more than I originally thought it would. And so on... 

At any rate, my cash account is starting to dwindle. And I've received an email from our AGWM office that said I need to build it back up and I need to do so quickly.

How much do you need to raise?

I need to raise $430 in monthly commitments and $4000 in one-time cash donations.

How long do you have to raise these funds?

The sooner the better... If I don't show significant increases in my account by June, I could run into issues though. So ideally, it'll happen more on the sooner side :)

What do you use the monthly commitments for?

This amount pays my salary, my insurance, taxes, and living expenses.

What do you use the cash donations for?

This is the money I use to purchase various items for my ministry here in Dakar. It also is the money that I use to pay for my attendance at various conferences required by AGWM. Also, as in my current situation, if my promised monthly support doesn't come in, they pull from my cash account to cover, so I can receive my full paycheck each month.

What happens if you don't raise your full support?

If my account depletes, I have to go back to the US for a longer itineration (fundraising) time than the upcoming summer trip I have planned. 

But y'all... This canNOT happen.

Why? 

I teach. I can't be gone for more than a summer at this point.

And selfishly... I worked my tail off to get this class up and running. There is no way I'm leaving. Nope. They're stuck with me for a long time :) Kidding.

Honestly... These kids have no other schooling option here. If I leave, what happens to them? And I fully, 100% know God has called me here and that God is not finished with the job He has called me here to do. Therefore, I cannot leave. So I really, really need to raise these funds. It's as simple as that.

What are your plans for the summer?

I haven't purchased my ticket yet. Since this expense comes out of pocket, I have to wait until I can save up that amount to get the ticket. But as of now, I'm looking at arriving around the 9th of June and then leaving around the 4th of August. The exact dates will depend on when I am able to purchase my ticket and seeing what's available.

The plan for this summer is... I will travel and speak at as many churches and visit with as many families and individuals as possible. All the while, I'll be sharing my heart and raising funds and awareness for this incredible group of kids God has placed in my care and the ones He'll send my way next school year and in the years to come, as well. 

Will you speak to/share with our church, small group, school group, etc.? What about meeting for dinner or coffee while here and sharing about your work?

I would love to say yes to all. Send me an email at enichols85@gmail.com with what you have in mind and when. If we can make it happen while I'm back, I would love this! 

What about Skype, Facetime, or another video-conference type call?

This is a great option! I'm available (even now, while overseas) via Skype. Many churches now will do a video call with a missionary while they're serving overseas. If you'd like to do that, send me an email at enichols85@gmail.com and we'll set something up.

If we want to donate, how can we?

If you feel led to donate to my ministry and to help keep me in Senegal, doing what God's called me to do, there are a few different options....

You may click HERE and follow the steps to set up a recurring (monthly) commitment OR to make a one-time cash donation. By doing it online, it's quick and easy. It's tax-deductible too, by the way.

 You may send me an email at enichols85@gmail.com and I can send you a form to help you donate via a check through the mail. By doing it this way, you don't have to make a payment online. But it's still tax-deductible, by the way.

Want to donate specific supplies, etc., for my class? You may send me an email at enichols85@gmail.com and I'll give you information on how to do that. 

And as always, prayer is HUGE. You can help a ton by praying for my ministry, for my finances, for my students, and for just me in general. 

I'll take all of the prayers I can get :)

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Week in Black and White

A while back there was a fun "challenge" of sorts floating around on Facebook, where you were supposed to share 1 black and white photo a day for 7 days. It gave people a glimpse into your life, in a slightly different format/style than usual. 

It was fun and it got me thinking...

Why don't I do that here?

But sharing only 7 pictures probably wouldn't too interesting. So I decided to share a full week of black and white photos. A week in the life of yours truly...

I knew my week last week would NOT be a normal one anyway, due to it including a shorter week of school, some fun activities with my class, a fun event at school, Thanksgiving, a big meal with my fellow AG-ers, an escape from work/home, and a lot of down time too. 

Here's how my week went.

Monday was a fairly normal, run of the mill kind of day, I led our Staff devotions before school. Then the school day included your typical lessons and a couple fun Thanksgiving-themed activities. It also included a can of Dr. Pepper to give me that needed caffeine boost at lunch time. I made dinner for a couple of our AG MKs that evening. And then once they'd left, heading to their evening plans, I headed downstairs to my Bible Study where our hostess for the evening treated us to a delicious meal.




Tuesday was a good day. We had fun in class doing some typical and not as typical lessons/activities. I had to cover for our secretary at lunch time while she had a meeting. We made Thanksgiving Books in Friendship Club after school. I had to make a veggie run after school to the local fruit/veggie vendor. And then a bunch of our staff was invited to a fancy-schmancy event to celebrate a major holiday for the country of Oman. Perks of having a dignitary's child as a student... :) Anywho, Since it ended quite late, I crashed once I got home. It was definitely a long, full, and rewarding day.

 



On Wednesday, we got out of school early, but not before enjoying a bit of M&M math. Then we all "picnic'd" and watched our staff, students, and parents play some good ol' American football for our school's Turkey Bowl.  After a while, I worked in my room and then headed to friends' house for a couple nights. We had a tasty dinner and I made my dessert for the next day. And my friend shared her candy and Netflix for a bit of Brooklyn 99 (funny, funny show!). 




Thursday started with a cup of tea and breakfast with friends. Later in the morning, I made/prepped my contributions to the Thanksgiving meal and I helped my friends a bit with their dishes. And then it was time to head over to our AG Thanksgiving get-together. Lunch was delicious and even included turkey (a rare treat here in Dakar). And the fellowship together afterwards was nice too. After that, I headed back to my friends' house where we all kind of sat around and later played games and had a PB&J for supper.




On Friday, I had a bowl full of tasty, fresh fruit and a cup of peach tea for breakfast. Then I did a couple hours of work on the computer. Throughout the day, I prayed for our kids/staff on Outreach out in a nearby village, and loved getting reports of how God was moving out there. That evening, I went out for Korean deliciousness, followed by a tasty ice cream dessert on the way home.



On Saturday, I was as lazy as possible. Around lunch time, my neighbor and I pooled our resources to make a tasty lunch. And she let me be the taste tester for some cookies she'd just made. Then I went home and continued my goal of laziness and I read most of the afternoon/evening. By dinner time, I was starving. So I made dinner and ate it, while doing a bit of Christmas shopping for my family, while periodically checking the score of the Alabama/Auburn game, since my wifi was out and data was too expensive to stream the game. 




Then yesterday, I made some peanut butter cookies to have on hand for the week, put up a few Christmas decorations, and then spent the day reading. I took advantage of my last free day to do a whole lot of nothing. Then last night, I headed over to church to hear the testimonies of our Outreach team back from their weekend in the village.



And that was my week. How was your week last week?

Friday, November 24, 2017

What's Up November

Happy Friday Y'all.

Today I'm joining  MelShay, and Sheaffer for their What's Up Wednesday link-up. Only since I forgot to post this on Wednesday, I'm posting it on Friday instead :) 

 

Every month we answer the same few questions based on how things are currently going in our lives. 

The questions are...

 

What am I eating this week?

Yesterday was Thanksgiving :)





What am I reminiscing about? 

November 2014 - I took my dad to the South Alabama vs. Navy game. He was pretty sick/weak at that point, but seemed to perk up on that day and we had such a nice time together that day. I will always cherish the memories from that time together


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What am I loving?

I'm loving the opportunities I have as a result of this calling God's placed on my life. Ones like a fancy party for a sultan, where I got to dress up and hang out with this cutie :)

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What have I been up to?

Lots of Thanksgiving themed activities :)

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What am I dreading? 


Not seeing my family for Christmas... Yes, I'm happy I'll be attending our All Africa conference/retreat with fellow "global workers." And yes, I'll enjoy having a lot of down time and time to catch up on sleep, and maybe even work too... But it's still sad knowing I won't see my family at Christmas. 


Of course, on the flip side... Seeing them in June is going to be oh so SWEET!

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* our last Christmas together before my dad passed away *

What am I working on?

Reading Comprehension. Oh my word is this hard for my crew...



What am I excited about?

Y'all, this weekend is awesome! I love thought of having a long weekend full of days with NO alarm waking me up! It will be heavenly... And I may wake up at 5:30 like normal, because my brain feels the need to do so. But I don't mind because I'll be able to take a nap (or two) during the day if I wanted. Simply heavenly :)

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What am I watching?

I've been on a Boy Meets World kick lately. 

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What am I reading?

Since my last What's Up Wednesday post, I've read a lot of books. In fact, I've read more than normal. So I thought I'd do a whole separate post recapping what I've read. My goal is to have it up on Monday. We'll see though...



What am I listening to?

I just bought the Pentatonix Christmas Deluxe album on Facebook as my one new Christmas CD for this holiday season. And yes, I've totally been "jamming" out to Christmas music already even though it's not even Thanksgiving yet :)

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What am I wearing?


I've worn my hair down a few times recently. 


Why? 


Y'all Cool Season in Dakar has FINALLY arrived! Praise the Lord! :)


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What am I doing this weekend?

It's Thanksgiving Break, so I'm spending a few nights with some friends and ignoring the sound of the construction work in my building as much as possible. Ha! :) My main goals for this weekend were to catch up on sleep, hang out with friends, read, and map out the rest of this semester. So far, I've succeeded. And y'all... Here's hoping the rest of the weekend goes the same way :)




What am I looking forward to next month?

Christmas activities with my class!

Christmas party with my class!
AG Christmas party!
catching up on sleep!
no school for a few weeks!
No alarm clock for a couple weeks!
Christmas!
AG All Africa Conference/Retreat!



What else is new?

Not much. Same ol' same ol' :)




So what are YOU up to this month?