Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thanksgiving Devotional

Today was my day to do the devotional in our staff meeting this morning.  I chose to share something very personal with my colleagues here in Namibia.  I told them about Thanksgiving being just a few days ago in the US and told them that I usually share what I am thankful for with my friends and family and so I wanted to share a personal 'thank you' devotional with them.  To my surprise, after sharing my piece (below) they all started chiming in with their own thank-yous to each other for specific things they appreciated one another for.  It was truly a great moment in my Peace Corps experience and so I thought maybe my Thanksgiving letter to my colleagues was worth sharing on my blog as well.

Thanksgiving letter to my colleagues here in Namibia:
On this Thanksgiving, 2012 I am thankful for....
  • being given the opportunity to be here in Namibia
  • being able to meet and work with all of you
  • being challenged by the people and issues here and for the personal growth this has provided
  • having an exemplary, motivated supervisor like Mr. Ya Otto (principal) to guide and help me but also to collaborate with on his journey to improve the standard of education in Namibia
  • for making such great new friends and colleagues to laugh with and for some who are so amazing and devoted new friends that they comfort me even when I am violently ill in the local clinic and who share their family and culture with me by inviting me to weddings and events
  • for working with people who love the learners unconditionally and devote their lives to educating and inspiring the next generation and giving up countless hours to work on their science fair projects or help them study for a spelling bee
  • for learners who, though they get on my nerves sometimes, give me their hearts and minds for 40 minutes a day so I can do my best to teach and motivate them, and so I can once again see the world through the eyes of a child
  • for the combi (minibus) that takes me to and from work everyday (and I hope it survives until the end of the term)
  • being able to share my passion and talents with everyone here and for being received with open arms
  • for being humbled by all that I do not know
  • for being challenged and confronted with problems and arguments, but for coming out on the other side a better person for working through difficult issues and learning from them
  • for you all (my colleagues) accepting and forgiving my sometimes harsh or aggressive American ways
  • for all my family and friends supporting me back home
  • for all my opportunities in life
  • for being given a year here in Namibia that has provided me with countless hurdles, but also love, laughs and smiles
But mostly I am thankful for being given another year here, because although at first two years sounded like a long time, now, with only one year left, it feels too short.

Thanksgiving Mcdonald Update

Seasons Greetings! :)

As we move into the holiday season Rudi and I have become a bit nostalgic for American culture. Because of this, I sat down the other day and wrote a list about all that I was thankful for in this past year in Namibia. Mostly my list had to do with the people back home who have supported me, the people I have met here, and also one specific person that has touched my life...... Mcdonald. I am thankful to share his life-changing experience and see him moving forward.

This past weekend, the community had all of the confirmations in town for the young adults in the churches. Mcdonald was one of them. Thanks to all the generous contributions by family, friends and acquaintances (many of you!), Mcdonald was able to buy a suit to wear for his confirmation. When you look at the photos, there is a look of humbled confidence in his eyes and his mother looks very proud of all he has and is accomplishing. His mother is wearing a traditional Herero cultural dress which they often wear for special occasions such as this.

Then, on Monday I saw something else that made me smile. As I rode in the teacher combi (minibus) towards our school in the location, I saw Mcdonald. When he was in the wheelchair he had to pay a taxi every day to pick him up. On Monday, I saw him walking to school, with all his friends and schoolmates, using crutches for just basic stabilization. At the beginning of the year, the teachers used to have to let Mcdonald leave class early so he could slowly navigate his way to the next class. This too is no more, he now moves with ease from one class to another on his new legs, just like all the other students. When you ask him how he is doing, it's always, “I'm fine Miss/Sir” always polite and always humbled and shy, still not quite understanding why or how so many people have taken an interest in him. He is still working very hard at school and is growing into an amazing young man. He has now officially graduated from 8th grade and in January will start as a 9th grader. 
His life is completely different than it was just a year ago. He has many challenges ahead of him as he grows up, but he is facing them head-on and overcoming them with youthful vigor. He is a strong, motivated young man and we should all feel very proud of supporting him and his family through this challenging time. His fund is doing well and will see him through junior secondary school and hopefully help him get into a good senior secondary school and college one day. There is clearly a lot we can all be thankful for this holiday season.

So, my main update is this: Mcdonald is happy, humble and mobile! 

Happy (late) Thanksgiving!