Monday, June 30, 2014

Our Team

My team of teachers this year was all new to Teach ONE, except Tia, our leader.  When I signed up for for the trip this year, I was more anxious about not knowing any of the girls than I was last year, even though I had been before.  We became close last year, so it just seemed weird to be going with a different group. (Missed you Allison and Amy!!!)

My God knows I am such a people person, though, and he heard my prayers.  One of my very favorite ways God demonstrates his faithfulness to me is through new friendships.  I absolutely love to see how he crosses paths and lives, connects people, and develops relationships in his perfect timing.  Over the 2 and a half weeks together, I grew to love and respect these girls so much, and I am thankful God chose each one of us to serve together.  

Tia was our leader.  She is on staff with Family Legacy stateside and works with education.  She used to be a 1st grade teacher, and her gift for teaching reading shined brightly this trip!  Though we gave her a hard time for hitting the bumps and pot holes with speed, she was really great at getting us everywhere we needed to be, all the while driving on the "wrong" side of the road!  We also would not have known what to do without her bag full of essential oils to keep us healthy and her constant "I have an oil for that!"  :) 
Her heart for Jesus is evident, and I am thankful God chose to use her leadership for Teach ONE.
Diana and I met at the meeting for our trip in May.  After a few text messages back and forth, I could tell we would become quick friends.  Diana LOVES life. She is so full of  the JOY of the Lord, and her passion for children just radiates from her.  She is a 1st grade teacher at home, and her gifts and talents were used mightily by God on our trip.  We bonded over our ability to cry at the drop of a hat.  She reminded me of me last overcome with emotion. By the end of the trip, we had all picked up on her many "Diana-isms".  "Sister!!  Oh my stars!  and Winner, winner, chicken dinner!"  What a blessing it is to call her friend!

Diana and me 
 Amanda and I recognized each other from Baylor and decided that we probably had some education classes together.  This is what I love about God!  Our paths had crossed before, but it was in God's timing that we would meet again and get to serve together.  Amanda is a high school history teacher, so teaching reading at the elementary/middle school level was far outside of her comfort zone.  I am proud of the way she still allowed herself to be used by God!  It didn't take her long before she was reading children's books to us at night and using a puppet! :)    She tells the best stories, and she definitely kept us all laughing for 2 weeks.  
God has given her a gift for working with young people, and her Grade 7 students were so lucky to have her at Kamanga.
Roomies:  me, Amanda, Mariah

Patty is a librarian in Austin.  To sum it up, Patty was our mom for 2 weeks.  She took care of us, prayed for us, did our laundry, and cleaned up after us in the kitchen....all because she was given such a servant's heart. In return, we taught her how to take selfies and post pics on Instagram. ;) What I love about Patty is her strong faith in Jesus and how she turns to Him so quickly.  As soon as anything was mentioned, Patty would already be praying for us aloud.  You would never know that she hasn't taught in a classroom before! I know she was such a blessing to her Zambian teacher and students.
Patty and me
Mariah has been going to Zambia for several years, but this was her first time with Teach ONE.  She recently graduated, so she hasn't had a classroom of her own just yet, but she is a natural teacher!  She truly radiates Jesus around those children!  Mariah was our DJ on the trip, and our resident Nyanja expert.  We got each other's stupid jokes, and I loved her constant interjection of song lyrics! :)  I loved getting to share a room with her and getting to know her heart for the orphan and vulnerable children.  God is going to use her in big ways (maybe even moving to Zambia!), and I cannot wait to see his plans unfold for her.
me with Mariah overlooking the beautiful view at the Legacy Lodge
Kenley, Alicia, and Kathryn all live in Zambia year-round and work in education for Family Legacy.  Kenley was on my trip last year and moved to Zambia shortly after.  She is now the principal at Faith Christian Academy, Family Legacy's private school for the kids in full-time care.  Getting to see the school again this year was amazing . God has used her to transform it, and so much change has happened in a short time.  There is more structure, more training for the teachers, and more opportunities for the students.  I am so proud of her, her heart, and her willingness to move halfway around the world and serve our God. 
me and Kenley

Alicia moved to Zambia at the same time as Kenley.  She had also done the Teach ONE trip, but a different one than I did last year.  She is the deputy for several schools in the compounds.  It was great to see her again and to see how she is being used, as well!  The next group is going to be at one of her schools, Mtendere, and I can't wait to see pictures and to hear how it is going.  

Katryn has been in Zambia for awhile as the Superintendent of Schools.  She has the HUGE job of running and overseeing 17 schools in the compounds.  I am always amazed her her humbleness, her patience, and her leadership.  Pray with me that God will send her amazing Zambian teachers who love those children, as well as American teachers/leaders who can help in the education realm.  

All three girls took us in while we were there.  We stayed at a house beside theirs in the American community, and they welcomed us with open arms.  They came over to hang out several times, went to dinner with us, and were just a great source of encouragement.  I loved spending time with them and learning more about what they do day in and day out. 

The whole group on our safari:
Amanda, Diana, Mariah, Tia, Kathryn, me, Kenley, Patty, Alicia 

God bonded our team together quickly!  We never complained about having to stuff 4 people in the backseat of the car every day because we loved the togetherness!  :)  Telling the girls bye at the airport was hard, and I already can't wait for a reunion!
All in all, I could not have asked for a better group of women with which to share this experience.  Thank you, Jesus, for new friends.      

These are those "had to be there" moments, but with my infamous terrible memory, I want to have a place to go back to read them and smile.  :)
-Diana telling the flight attendant her "partner" wanted a pear
-trying so hard to stay awake in Dubai and fight jet lag, trying to play the charades game, and checking our watches every 2 minutes to see if we could go to bed yet
packing in our car "Zambian style", deciding who was going to be the "up" person so 4 people could fit in the back seat :)
-Catholic church speed bump where we went airborne and hit our heads on the ceiling 
-trying to take the power outage selfie in the kitchen and the funny shadows that were a result
-Diana's constant "Where's Amanda?!" despite her being the tallest one
-discovering that there is an oil for everything and laughing so hard as Diana gargled one of them
-Amanda re-telling her basal reader story "A Bed Full of Cats"
-Tia's "Superstar" move and having all the children at Kamanga do it on the last day
-Mariah trying to fit through the window at the Family Legacy office when Kathryn forgot the key
-the extremely bumpy road on the way to Chaminuka safari and the bump where we literally paused and sat silently for 5 seconds afterwards, thanking Jesus we were still alive
-naming ourselves the Cheetah Girls after our cheetah walk, and Patty deeming herself Captain, "I'm the Captain, you know!"
-Mariah leading Camp Life songs out the window on the last day with the kids
-putting George in our car on the way to school (a whole blog post on this later!) making it now 5 of us in the back seat, then trying to take a selfie while George just laughed at us 
-Diana's constant "Sister!!!" and how she has a story for literally everything
-Chewe playing Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" in class as his example of a modern song
-Mariah's teacher: "No, no not crap.  Clap!!"  (They get their l and r sounds backwards.)  :)
-passing by a corner where someone was selling brooms and Diana saying, "Is this art??"
-Mariah's note from her teacher on the last day:  "I wish you could stay longer so I could suck more knowledge."


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