Puzzle Pieces

The razor is dull.

I knew it was before I packed it. But I packed it anyways.

The water is rushing beside me as I rub the conditioner on my legs. I can hear her outside in the living room, as we all rush around to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner. My brother is shaving in the sink behind me, and I hear my sister ruffling through her makeup bag in the hallway. The smell of turkey is wafting through the house.

As I slide the dull razor up my leg, it hits me.

That familiar punch of sorrow.

“It shouldn’t be her out there,” I whisper to God in the midst of the running water. I hear my dad’s girlfriend again, and I swallow the lump in my throat. “It should be my Mom.”

He gently responds, “I know.”

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Continue reading “Puzzle Pieces”

With a Thankful Heart

The other day I asked all of my clients to say something they were thankful for. Even with dementia, they all answered honestly – whether it was what was in front of them, the person next to them, or simply for that day. I was blessed to hear parts of their heart.

I was carrying this moment with me when I shared a struggle with my mentor. My depression has gotten so much better – my medication is simply, to me, a sign of God’s beautiful grace. But it’s still there. And I wrestle with that because I long to go back to feeling normal. And I wrestle with the why, and the how, and I fight the urge to figure it all out. And even more so, to fix it by myself. Continue reading “With a Thankful Heart”

Thankful Lists

This past Saturday, Belinda and I left Kylie and Lauren at the front of the Kotoka Airport in Accra. A few tears were shed, many hugs were exchanged, and we headed home to an eerily quiet house. I spent the day reflecting yesterday; cleaning (as it seems I tend to do when I feel like I am mentally cluttered), and reading the Word and praying.

My beautiful African sisters.

It’s funny how we always begin something knowing that it will some day end, knowing that with every hello there will inevitably be a goodbye. I came here knowing someday I would leave, and the girls arrived and I knew that I would eventually be leaving them at the airport. Yet, even in the saying of goodbyes, the memories that led up to that point make every goodbye worth it. So even though I miss my lovely African sisters, I am choosing instead to be thankful, even in a quiet and empty house! So here are a few things I am thankful for today:

1) Christmas music. It makes writing report cards a little more bearable.

2) Cockroaches. At first glance, I know they are atrocious and disgusting, but Friday night we had the most hilarious half an hour trying to kill the monstrocity on my bedroom wall. It involved a shoe, a ‘back up’ book, and Celtic music … someday you’ll need to see the video. I will probably laugh for years to come at the memory!

3) Language barriers. Today, a few kids I met on a walk came by to hang out. We can’t speak to each other very well, and that’s really hard. But it makes you be creative … it makes you tickle them more. It makes you make funny faces some more. It makes you realize that even if you can’t speak, presence is so much more important.

4) Tears. Because you know what? They are precious to Him. He catches every one in a bottle. He is near to the brokenhearted. He calls those who mourn blessed for they will be comforted! And yet we push away tears, and we tell kids to stop crying when maybe we should be telling them to see those tears as precious.

5) Mangoes. Seriously, there’s no better fruit. Honestly. I will write about mangoes and my love for them until the day I die, probably.

6) Sore knees. I’m not good at being disciplined and working out, but Kylie and Lauren were the best encouragers and I worked out with them for the past few weeks. And then I hurt my knees doing one too many squats – but you know what? I’m proud of those sore knees. I’m proud that I was trying my hardest! And I will take my sore knees as a reminder to work hard, but know my limits, too.

7) Clingy students. Even though there have literally been moments when I’ve run away from kids who won’t let me go – I know that I will miss those moments. Clingy kids remind me to love just a little bit more, to hold onto them just a little bit longer, to kiss away their tears, because maybe there’s a reason they are clinging to you so tightly.

8) The ability to write. I don’t think I ever really thought about how blessed I am to be able to read and write. But being here in Africa has made me realize just how much I love writing, and I think the thing I love about writing is that it lets me see beauty in brokenness. It lets me work through things. It let’s me make the most ordinary, mundane experience become beautiful. And it lets me take my story and wrestle with it, and see that even in the broken cracks His redemptive fingerprints are still there.

Those are just a few of the things I am thankful for today. What are you thankful for?

Much love,

Angie

Happy Thanksgiving & Other News!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

In some ways it is so hard to believe it is Thanksgiving, and we are creeping slowly towards the middle of October! It was a tough weekend to be away from home, and I’ve felt a bit homesick for the past few days, but we managed to celebrate all the way here in Ghana. Saturday we spent the afternoon visiting the largest tree in western Africa, and although it might seem like a silly thing to visit, it was quite spectacular! It was about a 40 minute drive from here, and so we hired a taxi to take us there. The tree was huge! We spent probably about an hour wandering around it, visiting with other tourists and Ghanaians who had stopped to see the sight. At the foot of the tree was a giant shrine where people left things and made a wish; Kylie left a pesua, Lauren left a euro, and I left a Canadian quarter 🙂 I can’t tell you what I wished for though, just in case it doesn’t come true! 🙂

And then, Kylie being the adventurous one, convinced Lauren and I to go walk through a trail with our taxi driver in the woods/jungle/whatever you call places filled with trees here in Ghana. It was a short walk but it was really amazing, because the forest was incredibly different than home – different trees, vines, plants, unidentifiable fruit. We had a fun adventure. And then the adventure continued when I went home, collapsed into bed for a nap, and woke up to a lizard crawling across my chest. To say I was scarred is an understatement and I may still check under the beds to make sure he’s gone before I slip into bed at night … maybe 🙂

Sunday marked our actual Thanksgiving celebration. Mary’s mom was amazingly gracious and sent us a Thanksgiving meal from Accra! We had turkey, mincemeat patties, veggies, and a sweet rice for our meal. I decorated the table with construction paper leaves and we went around the table and did our thankful lists. Auntie Jo and Belinda joined us, which was wonderful to celebrate a Canadian holiday with them!

Things are busy here with school, as the two kids we suspended are back in the class. Parent teacher interviews are next week Friday, so I am busy figuring out marking and report cards.

And this leads me to my biggest announcement: although my original plans were to stay here for the full school year, after a lot of prayer and discussion with everyone in charge of my internship I will be coming home in December after the first semester is finished. I love being here in Ghana; but I am not prepared to be a teacher without any formal training. Being a kindergarten teacher, to a class of 33 students, who speak very little English, is incredibly hard. I’m doing my best but I know that a teacher with experience and training is what this class needs, and so I am learning that there is strength in knowing our limitations and understanding that Plan B’s are not always a bad thing.

Anyways, I am looking forward to what these next two months bring and I am excited for whatever adventures I may find myself in. I am learning so much and blessed to be here, whatever the timeframe that may be.

Love to you all! Happy thanksgiving!

Angie