Monday, April 20, 2015

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

One of my biggest blog fans is celebrating her eighty-third birthday today and oh, how I wish I could be with her in person, but I love that I know that she is reading this right now. It makes me smile, Grandma knowing that you can read this because you are so techy with your computer! Thanks for getting a computer to keep in touch with me as I am an ocean away from you! Thank you for always sending an encouragement email after I have posted a blog. I always look forward to it!

I love this lady so much!!!
Grandma- today you are eight-three and I am praying for at least twenty more years of celebrating you! J You are my hero, Grandma. You have shown me what it means to follow after your dreams and to be an independent woman. You are an amazing example of woman who seeks after God’s heart and believes in the power of prayer. Thank you so much for investing into my life with prayer! When I think of you grandma I think of a lady, who loves deeply, has a deep desire to bless others, full of laughter and joy, and always keeping up with the times! I love to show you off and say “well my grandma…. rides in speed boat still” “my grandma loves to drink Starbucks Frappuccino’s” “my grandma is super adventurous”!!!  

Adventurous Grandma!  

You have taught me so much and I am so thankful for your wisdom. Thank you for teaching me to take care of yourself so you can pour into others. That there is always an excuse to buy a new dress! J That taking a Sabbath day is much important (still learning this, but you are a great example of this)!

Our little tradition every time we are together
I cherish all the memories we have together. Getting our green tea frappes, shopping for dresses, riding a speed boat, picking raspberries, laughing at every chance we have and so many more!!! I am so thankful for the summers at your home and the Christmases we have had together. Thank you for always loving me deeply and welcoming me into your home. You are so fun, caring and so generous!

You are on my favorite people on this Earth! I hope your eight-third birthday was filled with love and joy! You deserve a day all about you!

One of my favorite days from this past summer... fish tacos and the beach with Grandma!
My prayer for you this year that you will be free in who Christ has called you to be as a woman of God. That you would rely on Him alone for strength, wisdom and through that you would be able to pour more freely into others. You have been amazing support and care-giver to grandpa. I know that you have had to slow down and get rid of some extra activities in your life, but remember the most important thing is to do all you do for the glory of God.  Keep seeking after God’s heart, my dear Grandma!

And I am expecting to write at least twenty more of these blogs over the next twenty years! J Happy Birthday, Grandma! I love you SO much!!!

Love, Daniella

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kenya captured my {heart} Part 6

Tune my heart to sing thy grace. This song Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing comes to my mind when I think back to Shangilia Orphanage. Shangilia Orphanage is a private orphanage and school that is located just outside of Kangemi slum. The children live and attend school at the center.

The minute we walked into their center which is shaped exactly like an “O” you could hear the joy of the children and then we got to see the joy of the children on their faces. They were anxiously waiting for us to arrive! J They couldn’t wait to teach us things, talk with us and play with us. Every afternoon they break into different clubs and we had the privilege of being a part of the clubs! There was an art club, environmental club, skateboarding club, girl’s and boy’s scout club, and music club! And I was placed in the music club. So my college class Music for Teachers exactly came in handy and was used. Emmy and I were asked to teach the children a worship song with motions. Was I ever thankful that Emmy was there!? She quickly thought of a song and motions. We taught “Here I am to Worship”. It was a joy to see these children worship God. We then asked them to teach us a song in Swahili! They laughed and laughed with us as we learned the dance and motions. We sang and danced for an hour worshiping God. His presence was so felt. After about an hour all the clubs gathered together and each club had one person tell what they did in the clubs. Little did we know that we would have to perform our song in front of everyone! Oh, dear! The performance was “beautiful” and then we had the opportunity to teach all kids the song.
I think what stood out to me the most while being at Shangilia was the joy that these children had. No matter what their circumstances were/are they were filled with JOY! They count every blessing they have and walk in thy grace of God.
Oh, how easy my heart is prone to wander in hard circumstances. Oh, how easy I try to take charge instead of binding my heart to my Savior who lifts my eyes heavenly ward instead of self-ward.  These children have experienced more pain, grief, hardship then I have, but they still choose to express JOY. These children were far more of blessing to me than I am sure I was to them. God used them to minister to my heart and remind me that my JOY can only be found in Him. Yes, my heart is prone to wander, but I pray that it will be sealed for thy courts above! That my eyes will turned heavenly ward and my heart will overflow with JOY no matter what circumstance comes my way.
Let’s seek JOY this week in all that we do. No matter what comes our way. Ask God to overflow you with a deep JOY that can conqueror anything!!!! Seek JOY!
Love, Daniella
P.S My mama coming to Korea this week so everything is going to just be great and it is soccer tournament on Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And here is the whole song if you want to sing it or just read it:
Robert Robinson, 1735-1790
Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kenya captured my {heart} Part 5

It is amazing to think that it has been over a month since I travelled to Kenya and got my heart captured by it. Times just keeps ticking, but the memories are staying- the good ones and bad ones. They are continuing to teach me, grow me, overwhelm, stretch me and bring healing to my heart.

Kenya wreaked my life in a good way and bad way. There is still so much to think through and figure out how to move on with all that I saw, experience and felt. Some days I am doing great and other days I ready to cry or scream or just be angry. To be honest I am having more angry days then good days lately. My heart just feels so unsettled with where I am. I just want to be anywhere, but where I am. I keep trying to find ways to leave or change my circumstances, but I was challenged this week that our circumstances don’t matter to God. He just wants me to be completely focused on Him. He wants me to completely trust Him with where He has me. He wants me to rest in Him and in Him alone! He wants me to susurrate my soul in His word and cling to the truth that He has given me, but my heart and mind are fighting it. Ah!
Now that I allowed you to see what’s going on in my heart I want to share with you the moments I had at the New Life Home Trust. This place is a wonderful and peaceful baby orphanage located in Nairobi. Well, there we were able to play with babies and hold them tight whispering to them how much they are loved. How beautiful they are and speaking truth into their little ears. I started out with a cute little girl who just nestled right into my arms. She was about 7 months old. She loved to stand up on my legs and dance except that her stomached couldn’t really take because she kept spitting up every time we did.   Poor little sweetie. She has a hard time keeping her milk down one of the workers told me. Eventually they took her away from me because she kept spitting up. She was such a peacefully baby and I pray that she will know/experience the deep love of her heavenly father as she continues to grow. I ended my time there holding a little boy who was very sleepy, but couldn’t go to sleep because they are all on a strict schedule. I had the challenged of keeping his eyes open! Oh, what a cute little smile he had. I pray that he will grow up to be a man of God and light to those all around him.
 I also had the opportunity to talk to another lady who was volunteering there. She volunteers about twice a month. She was about my age and she works for a news station. She shared her story with me and I was amazed and touched how God open up a door of hearing a beautiful story of His grace with a stranger I had never met. It felt like we had known each other before. What a beautiful thing it is to be in communion with other believers. They truly are your brothers and sisters in Christ. This was something that placed upon my heart as fellowship with this lady.
We were not allowed to take pictures at this orphanage, but I can still see the smiles of the babies. The sweet care of the care ladies. The cleanliness of the rooms. The peace that overflowed and the joy that was heard.
My heart is burdened for the millions of orphans around the world.  There are so many beautiful lives longing to be loved and in a forever family. Will you join me in taking one day out of your week and praying for orphans around the world? Here are 7 seven ways that you can pray for them:

Don't just pray in the month of November, but pray year around!!!
My soul is reminded that I was once an orphan strained in sin, but my Savior adopted me and pulled me close with His never-ending, always forgiving, full of grace love and promises to come. (John 14:18) Let’s be a voice and love for these loves that have experienced way too much for their little age. Please join me in prayer!

I ran a 10k this weekend to raise funds for adoption!!
                                                                                                                        Love, Daniella

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Kenya captured my {heart} Part 4

New Hope School in Kibera Slum
Desires.  A wish. Long for. Crave. Want. Yes, God has placed desires on my heart and I believe that He places specific desires on each of our hearts to draw us closer to Him and bring His kingdom to Earth. There are a few desires that God placed on my heart at an early age like the passion for education and teaching and as I have gotten older He has continue to put desires on my heart. And on this trip to Kenya God clearly showed me some tangible ways to live out a desire He has been growing in my heart for a few years now…

An awesome school in Kibera Slum
We had the privilege of attending New Hope Initiative (New Hope Academy) which is an elementary-middle school in Kibera slum (this slum is one of the largest slums in Africa!!!!) that accepts boys and girls from the neighboring communities. The school feeds the students twice a day and also has a high school and college scholarship program. They also provide a source of income for the students’ moms through Project Biashara which is amazing jewelry co-op.  You should check out their products and buy yourself something beautiful… hey maybe what you get was made by me … continue to read to find out how! J And we had the awesome opportunity of working with these moms! Oh, how I love it!  

This is how they take attendance each day! :)
Another thing I love about this place is that the school is run by a Kenyan director and all the teachers are Kenyans. They are supported by a church in Houston and have an on-site overseer who helps the teacher with professional develop, helps the school with their goals and just serves as guide with wisdom and knowledge overall (the lady working there now is super sweet and great!) And this is something that God has been placing on my heart to do some day! I would LOVE love love to empower teachers in remote places. I would love love love looovvveee to support, encourage and train them to be the best they can be. I love that this place is empowering Kenyans to change their nation through education. It just makes my heart sing! La la la! (And I think my dad would be proud because they are living out community development to the T!!)

An amazing Kenyan teacher with a heart of gold!
We had the opportunity to visit the different classes and be put out of our comfort zones by impromptu teaching “lessons” for a few minutes in each class. We just kind of said whatever came out of our mouths. I remember in one classroom I taught the difference between saying “hi” “hello” and “hey” and pointing out that “hey” is homophone because you also have “hay” that animals eat… oh, my! Now thinking back about it I am embarrassed! J

It was a joy though to walk into these classrooms and see that these beautiful students were learning so much. Their teachers showed deep dedication and excellence in teaching. It sadden my heart to see that they don’t have awesome supplies… they have a chalkboard and a few of the lower elementary classes had some posters that were homemade. Oh, how I wish these classrooms could be full of color, but to these kids they were just so thankful to be getting an education. My heart wrestles with thinking about these differences?! How can one place have so much… technology, poster, ect and other places so thankful for something so simple like a chalkboard.

Their classroom posters
God really blessed our time at New Hope. We ended up visiting the school on the perfect day to hang out with the mom’s and their jewelry making business. They meet about 6 times a month at their co-op. They start every gathering together with a time of worship in Swahili. Wow! How awesome is it to hear believers worshiping God in another language. It felt like I was in heaven for a few minutes. I can’t wait until the day that every tongue and every nation will bow down and worship God with their native tongues! We got to dance and clap and try to sing along with them. My heart felt so full and overflowing!!

Beautiful time of worship
 After worship time we sat down with the moms and helped them make wooden salad spoons and bead beads. It’s a joke on our team that someone in the US is going to order salad spoons thinking that they are made by a Kenyan woman when they actually were made by an American teacher teaching in Korea. Haha! Anyways, right after worship one lady called me over and was so excited to sit, show me how to make a wooden spoon and talk to me! She had oh, so many questions!!!  One question she asked me was first “was I married?” and when I said “no” she said “would you be willing to marry any man of any race?” Oh, did I laugh and then response with “if he is a godly Christian man who loves God with His whole heart and loves me deeply His race doesn’t matter to me”.  She smiled at that answer. We are pretty sure that she had some Kenyan man for me! Oh, dear! Another question she asked me that strike me and was hard to answer was “how much money do I make being a teacher?” I really didn’t know what to say because even though according to worldly standards I don’t make a whole lot, but I sure do make a lot compare to the people of Kenya! It is really something to think about and put into perspective!  It was a joyful morning working with these beautiful mamas who are trying their best to provide for their families and get them out of the cycle of poverty!

This mama was SO great!!!
What we "helped" make!!!
Speaking of poverty- I have never seen such a poor place as Kibera slum. One it is absolutely huge!!!! I was blow away with how many shacks upon shacks there were. The minute we stepped out of the car you could smell the smells. There were no roads- just small dirt paths to walk along. We had to cross a filthy stream by stepping on stones then crossing a bridge that had many big holes in in it. The water was steadily running down the stream filled with mud, pigs, potty water and who knows what else. There is no running water or bathrooms in the slums. Everyone lives super close to each other, but New Hope is a bright spot in this slum. A bright spot of hope for the future generation to break the cycle of poverty! It really is hard to put into words what we saw at the slums, but I think the pictures can give you a pretty good idea of what we saw. Please pray for the millions of people living here that they were find a way to break the cycle!

Something I crave now is to go back to school and get whatever masters’ degree I need to be able to continue my pursuit in teaching teachers in improvised places how to be the best teachers they possibly can be! And now my favorite college ever, Taylor University is exploring the possibility of offering training curriculum for orphan and vulnerable children “workers”. This screams my heart! Right now I just feel like I can’t get started fast enough on pursuing these desires, but at the sometime I don’t even know where to begin! Ah!! I just have to continue to trust that it is all in God’s timing! J

God will guide your steps....
Oh, Kenya has impacted my heart and future for the good! And I am oh, so thankful! Don’t worry there will be more blog posts coming soon about the other ministries we visited… 4 actually!!

Love you all!

Love, Daniella

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Kenya captured my {heart} Part 3

“You have brains in your head; you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know; you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” –Dr. Seuss
West Nairobi School

In Kenya we had the awesome opportunity of visiting our sister school, West Nairobi School. They are in the same network of international schools that my school Pyeongtaek International School is in. It was so fun because I actually knew a few of the teachers from our pre-field orientation. I loved being able to catch up with them, share some stories and hear how teaching in Nairobi is.  We enjoyed a yummy Kenyan meal from the school cafeteria (which was outside under some huts- SO AWESOME!!).  And our students had a fun time playing soccer with some of the middle schoolers during recess then we went around to different classes helping out with reading week and answering questions about our life/school in Korea.
The best school lunch ever!

Something that I think is so amazing and why I started out this blog post with a Dr. Seuss quote is that no matter if you are in a school in Kenya or a school in Korea you can share some similarities… like celebrating reading week with Dr. Seuss. This is totally an elementary teacher thing to get excited about, but I loved it! I loved seeing second graders in Kenya learning which made me think about my second graders in Korea. I loved that the second grade teacher in Kenya had the same theme as me for our classrooms which is travel (I got some awesome new ideas to add for next year! J) I love that I got to talk to kindergarteners all about their favorite day to dress up that week which the most excitement was about wacky hair day! YES!
First Grader Fun
Kindergarteners are just TOO cute!

It was just great to see that students no matter where you are eager to learn, excited about life, have troubles, talk without raising their hand, and have so many questions! Teaching is more than the physical place you are at- it is about reaching the children in your class where they are at.  I loved being able to spend the afternoon observing and learning at West Nairobi School.  It was also super fun to hear stories about monkeys stealing snacks from the students’ backpacks and having lock-downs for baboons! J It was an awesome school! And maybe just maybe someday I will teach there- you never know- it definitely wouldn’t be a bad place to teach!
Great opportunities for monkeys to get a little snack...

Love, Daniella