Friday, October 29, 2010

A few photos from my time so far in Nashville... there is a great lack since I have no camera of my own, but I plan on finding time to capture the leaves before they are all gone :)

Mom and Dad came through Nashville right before Bethany and I moved into our apartment together. We all went to Belle Meade plantation together, walked through the yards and had a tour through the main house-- educational and fun! Of course Bethany and I took photos with the random cut out boards set up :D

One of my favorite things about living here so far is.... Les trois filles, Bethany, Jacque and I, are reunited and every thursday morning we have breakfast together :) Lately, we've been skyping with the missionaries in Togo after we eat! So incredible that we are blessed with the ability to skype them from here!

Well, that is all I have time to share for now... I have to get back to my studying!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

First Day of School!

Backpack on, new pencils sitting neatly in the small pocket next to my calculator, and a big textbook and binder neatly arranged in my bag, while I drive to a school I have never before laid eyes on in my life (not counting google maps images- thanks google, you helped me not get lost).

Entering the campus, I realized the big responsibility of what I have just done. After graduating, completing all the college courses I thought I'd ever take, I signed up for a class.. not just any class, but one that will take me on a journey to a big test-- err, an enormous exam (hehe yay alliteration!)-- which will determine whether or not I can pursue a career that would utilize my mathematics background. I am excited, nervous, and a bit intimidated by this decision, but ready for the challenge. The career? Actuary. The test? Exam P/1. Yeah. What's that? Well, an actuary is someone who works for companies, often insurance companies, and calculates risk. That's the short of it. Why am I going through all of this just to do something that "sounds boring" (as I've heard it said from those I've told)? Well, I don't think it's boring at all... I actually am looking forward to taking the math I have learned and finding new ways to apply it and expanding upon all the building blocks to contribute to society. I also am very interested in finding new ways to use skills as an actuary in unorthodox contexts (we'll see what I discover).

What if I fail? If I fail, I know that through that God will be teaching me more about myself, humbling me and shaping me through the entire experience. Until the test though, I shall not think of that, but instead work through all of the materials I have at hand to study and attempt to succeed :) So far, I have attended my first class and I am in the midst of reviewing through the 5 sections of the text that I need to have done for next Tuesday...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Life in Nashville

I have been in Nashville for a week this Friday (which excludes the weekend I visited Cecelia). I have had so much to think about and grow through especially in these first days here. First of all, most of my time is spent searching... for jobs, apartments, friends, churches...

The exciting news is when I find things :) Including myself whenever I get lost in the city! Haha! Thanks to Paul I have a GPS that helps that not to happen (or when it does I hear a friendly voice saying "recalculating"). Bethany and I found an apartment quickly and we will be moving in on the 11th of September! Which I am very excited about-- however, I still need to find a job. So I have been diligently working at that and praying that God places me in the right place so I can grow through the experience and be able to contribute well to my job and coworkers. Finding friends hasn't been too difficult when I allow myself to have a break :) Although I still haven't seen all my friends who live in Nashville, I know I will get to see them soon enough and I will make a few new ones as well-- Which is an exciting and fun part of meeting new people :) A very important part of adjusting to life here will be finding a church family to connect with. So many decisions and "growing experiences" surround me here, but I am happy with all of them because they force me to learn and grow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Thought I'd share some fun photos from my trip to Chicago with the Colliers :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

These last few weeks have been filled with a lot of activity! Including a birthday party for Samuel :) The kids, with some help from Mom and their aunt, made this mural of blue and green. Rebecca put the letters together and I traced and cut out the triceratops. Then we enjoyed a fun dinosaur party with a few of Sam's friends and cousins over!

I found this Jar filled with paper on the counter after the family left for the weekend, apparently Samuel is into canning :) This weekend I stayed here in Kansas City while Rebecca and Jonathan and kids drove down to Arkansas. It has been a fun weekend and I've been quasi-adopted by the Collier family :) Friday Mrs Collier called and offered to drive me to the church ice cream social. So I went with them and was able to explore one of the coolest backyards in America. The social was at the Mancers where they have the neatest tree ship with several different ladders, ropes, and walls to climb up to get to the main deck of the ship. Of course I enjoyed climbing up and taking a turn at the helm :)

Tonight I'll be going to a pre-fireworks concert and fireworks show with the Colliers! I'm excited to enjoy a night in celebration of our freedom :) Happy Fourth everyone!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fun in Missouri

Quotes by Genesis:

Wednesday Morning:
Aunt Sarah Where you live?
You can make apartment! Us have wood :)
G: You could make brick one.
me: You have brick too?
G: No, you don't make a brick one. That not work :(

Thursday at Breakfast:
You could get job at Red Robin. Them have quesdillas and macroni and... (After listing the whole kids menu selections...) What else them have mom?

After finding a snail in the backyard:
You eat snail in french? (This conversation was prompted by her mom who told her to ask me if I'd eaten escargot in France.)

Wish I'd recorded each of these conversations just to capture the adorableness of how she speaks and the serious faces she makes throughout.

The Beautiful Northwest

My last three weeks were spent in the lovely Northwest, soon after flying into PDX I went with my parents to Eastern Oregon to see my grandparents.

After a nice dinner with my great Uncle Ed and Aunt Martha, I shared some photos and stories of Africa with them.

Here I am with my Hug grandparents :) I loved spending time with both of them-- listening to a few stories my grandfather told me about his childhood homes and enjoying lovely meals my grandmother prepared.

Before our drive back home we dropped by to see my Grampa and Grandma Bailey! It was good to see them and to get to hug them both :)

On the way home I snapped a shot of this sign... and sadly it was the "last shot" taken by my camera-- The photo below was taken at Wahkeena falls in Oregon. After I saw that my screen had been broken I decided to test out taking pictures without it. By the blurriness of this and a bunch of others I determined its death.

While in the Northwest I was happy to go to a few places I had missed while away including the beautiful waterfalls, Seattle, and the Oregon Zoo :) Another great trip was a train ride to Klamath Falls to see my Grandma Hodges!! It was such a blessing to get to see her and spend some time sharing with her about my recent travels. She's currently at Marquis Care at Plum Ridge rehabilitating after having a few falls recently.

Seattle was beautiful with coffee and cousins :) Anna and I drove up to visit our cousins Rachel and Ruth and see Seattle with them. I stole Ruth's camera and snapped a picture of us climbing the stairs up to "the pig" where we met up with Rachel at lunchtime.

After walking around Pikes Place and strolling along the waterfront, we drove to the Locks and watched some of the boats go by.

Rachel and I spent a lot of time laughing and lounging after we'd done a lot of walking all day :)

Right before leaving for Missouri, my mom took me to the zoo and we walked around all morning seeing all the changes that had been made. I used her camera of course to snap some photos of my favorite animals :)

The Polar Bears were actually quite active... probably only due to the fact we were visiting them while they were being tossed their lunch :)

My favorite is of course the giraffe :)

I had a lovely time chatting with my mom as we walked around and saw a few animals I hadn't seen while in Africa :) I love my mom!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Welcome to the USA

So my welcome back to the states has been full of friends and family, loving on me and supporting me as I make the transition to living stateside :)

I had an amazing time visiting friends at Harding, seeing graduation and getting to spend time with my brother Paul and his wife Amber! Paul took me to see his work and I was able to see the new robots they have moving the hot steel through the press. I also enjoyed seeing his work area and looking at his collection of tools!

At his house I enjoyed seeing new fish in his salt water tank and seeing all the new coral.

After spending time at Harding, I drove up to Missouri with Jacque and Natalie and we met up with Niki for some Starbucks!

Then I was happy to meet my new nephew and spend time with my sisters Cecelia and Rebecca and Rebecca's family for a few weeks.

We went to a Royals vs White Sox game, my first major league baseball game. Lots of fun!

We enjoyed going to downtown Independence and looking at the courthouse and the old prison.

I'm looking forward to seeing them again after these 3 weeks in the NW :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Back in the states and safe and sound... but definitely overwhelmed. Glad to be back though :) I enjoyed visiting Harding and seeing friends who were graduating, friends who were in town for graduation and friends and family who just live in the area!

I'm back in Jefferson City with Jacque after saying "see you later!" to Bethany at Covenant this morning :( It's so hard to know I won't be seeing her within the next week!

I think my most memorable moment this week was when Chancellor Ganus gave the same quote during graduation as what was on my fortune cookie from my first chinese food here with Paul and Amber :)

"If you believe you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito."

Definitely true. At least the part about the mosquito being effective.. I need to grow into the truth of the other half.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Arriving in London did seem as if we had entered some sort of magic portal into the future. All of a sudden there were lighted signs posted everywhere and we were out of the airport and into the cold! It was 40 degrees Fahrenheit... and drizzling-- Brr! We all layered all the clothes we had to keep warm, but none of us had long pants or jeans to wear so our capris had to do for the trip in town.

We had so much fun visiting a Starbucks, seeing Tower Bridge, walking around Big Ben and Westminster, finding a red telephone booth, and we finished our trip in town with a visit to the Buckingham Palace where we found a pillar marked West Africa :)

It was such a whirlwind of visits around town... and then we arrived at security seconds late-- which I think we all regret not having rushed more towards the end, but when trying to enjoy a place it seems odd not to savor your last moments there. So we were rewarded with being able to savor the airport overnight :) British Airways was kind to us and allowed us to reschedule our tickets for the next day without a fee, but each of us had connecting flights to make which had to be rescheduled. Through Delta my ticket change only cost the difference in seat price which was $0 so I am extremely thankful to only have had food costs for the night-- which ended up being covered by Bethany's sister, thank you Andrea! I feel extremely blessed to have the support I have and to know that I have many people praying for my travels! It also is quite calming to think of the fact we were stuck in London overnight and not Accra... since we ended up having difficulties with our check in there as well and I believe that went through all our minds at the time ("Are we going to be stuck here in Accra?"). For the most part, it is our impatience to be back in the states that has us nervous and anxious to be on our next flight already, but we have another 9 hours to wait for our flight. We are all ready to take turns taking naps and watching bags throughout the day as we wait and try to catch up on all the sleep we've already lost in our travels.

Can't wait to see all of you!!! I hope everyone has enjoyed a beautiful weekend :)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Farewell Togo

Today is my last day in Togo. I don't know if having been here before as an intern makes it more difficult to leave or if I am just reluctant to experience change again. I see now why commitments are such amazing things because although it takes a lot to say you commit yourself to a place or to a person, there is a reassurance that you know those people and places will remain with you throughout your commitment, and the person or place may change and grow, but so will you. I admire that and I don't see commitment as such a scary thing as much after spending my time here, rather it's a desirable assurance that there is continuity in life rather than constant change.

I know little about where I am going now and what I will be doing, but I do know my travel plans for the next few months. Perhaps that is why I have a secret longing to attach myself to someplace and just stay there... My travels seem never ending at this point and I'm ready to settle down someplace for a while, without looking forward to goodbyes.

I'll be returning to Searcy with Jacque for finals week and staying in Newport with my brother Paul and his wife Amber. So excited to see both of you :) and looking forward to seeing everyone in Searcy as well! After Arkansas, I'll be driving up to Jefferson City and staying with Jacque for a couple days and getting to see Natalie Metz who is driving up to see us! Then... I'll be in Independence with the Dandys!!! I'm so excited to meet my new baby nephew and see my niece and nephews :) It'll be so crazy to see how much they have grown during my time here-- although I am so thankful to have been able to skype with them here and see glimpses into their lives on occasion!

Next, I'll be flying to Portland to see Mom and Dad and Annie! I'll also be able to see my brother John's family, his wife Tanya and my niece and nephew!!! So so excited to get to hug them :) I also will be able to get together with various friends while I'm in town, although I'll be traveling around to make sure and see all the family in the area.

After all this traveling I'll be returning to Independence for the summer to teach my nieces and nephews to embroider cushions and play their instruments very ill ;) At the end of the summer I have been looking into moving to Nashville with Bethany, but all of that will be determined by us getting jobs and a place to live there-- So really we'll be heading where God leads, but we're both leaning in that direction :)

I'm looking forward to all my stateside travels and will continue to update this blog throughout these ventures.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Open House

A beautiful morning beginning at the Kennell's porch to watch the sixth grade girls perform their tap recital which was choreographed and taught by our own Miss Jacque Breuer! Next we went to the schoolhouse for Open House, and toured the classrooms, heard class presentations including a reading from PD Eastman's Go Dog Go by Asher and from Dr. Suess' Green Eggs and Ham by Gabriel.

After the presentations we enjoyed watching a splendid slideshow which Jacque had put together with pictures of the students, teachers and families throughout the year. Last on the agenda, but very important.. graduation! Each student received a diploma from their teacher and the kindergarten class even wore adorable white graduation hats thanks to Andrea's creative imput :)
It was a marvelous morning and I was pleasantly surprised to receive a few teacher treats from the families and students! I loved my presents of an african bag, a Faure rice bag hat, a framed photo of our school and several notes and cards telling me how much I'd be missed. Thank you! I'm going to miss all of you too and I feel so blessed to have been able to have had this year in Togo with each and every one of the people here :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Last Days

I feel as if I can't write anything worth writing. Perhaps it is because I am filled with so many emotions. We are packing up and out of the schoolhouse, school is done for the year, and we are finishing up our time in Africa. I look forward to being back in the states, but I know I will miss so much about the community here.. so it is extremely hard to put words to my emotional state currently.

As I sit here, I have been making sure I have souvenirs I need for gifts and watching Jacque figure out the sorting of items to pack. I am thankful that I am packed for the most part-- I only need to reorganize a bit of my items so I will be able to add a couple items from Accra without my baggage going overweight.

It is so fascinating to me how different people react to the stressors of transition and packing for travel. I think it's funny how stressed I usually am about packing and getting everything I need into my bags and procrastinating about it, but here I've finished packing away everything I'm bringing back to the states... and I have a week to reorganize and repack and figure out exactly which bags I'll need in London, and perhaps even organize well enough to not have to repack for Searcy..

Well, I'm gonna go see if I can organize my baggage so it's practically perfect in every way :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Field Trip

Thursday morning we had an all school field trip to the well digging project that David Reeves and Matt Hangen have been working on in Lassa Tchou. My two kindergardeners, Gabriel Reeves and Asher Miller, began the day excited and energized at even the idea of observing the well digging.

They were both so happy to be able to help out with the digging as well. Each student had an opportunity to help with the drilling and to help with the pulling as well.

This is a great shot of Gabe helping out-- you can even see the sediment coming up out of the drill pipe.

This is Asher drilling-- I think he preferred this part since when he tried at the rowing he fell

Even the teachers were able to try it out and see what difficult work it truly is. Here is Jacque rowing to help lift the drill up each time the drillers strike down into the ground.

In this photo I'm taking a turn drilling-- hard work!

You can see it's a pretty muddy job...

As we observed the current drilling site and learned about the process of this technique of well digging, an audience of children from a local school gathered.

After helping at the current drilling site we walked with Dave over to wells that they have already dug in the area. It was neat to see what the finished product would look like and what goes inside the pump.

After walking back to the car, I took a photo of Gabe and Asher revealing their exhaustion from the draining day in the sun and the long walk. Getting back to school for snack time and read aloud, I was surprised at how much we accomplished in school after all we had been able to experience and observe out of school.. and with fatigued students!

Some more fun photos from the day:

Looking at a local well with only a puddle of water in it, unfortunately it wasn't dug deep enough into the ground, so it dries out quickly in the dry season.

Another amazing discovery of the day were these great colorful grasshoppers. This was one Aidan caught within minutes of arriving at the well-site.

For more information on the well digging project check out the facebook group Lim We - Clean Water for Togo.