Friday, April 22, 2011

New Eyes...

I want to share some pictures with you as I write, from one of the experiences I most treasure from college. These are my friends from a ministry called COPE - "Community Outreach Program through English." I had the privilege of teaching and sharing with them every week for two years during college, and THEY taught ME so much! 

On this evening we were having a party to celebrate Fall and Halloween. We all wore costumes and shared the October traditions celebrated in America.

Recently I've been praying for God to give me new eyes in seeing what my dreams to serve and love internationals might look like. I've been asking Him to affirm the desires I have and to lead me in HIS ways. In HIS timing. And to give my heart patience...

These two beautiful friends were just getting started on their creative pumpkin!

I have prayed a lot since I found out in February I wouldn't be going overseas this year. I have also felt disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness, hope. I am so thankful for a God who calls us to be honest and share our hearts. I am so glad that when I want to throw my arms up and have a temper tantrum inside...He waits patiently.

These are two of my favorite people in the world! This couple moved to Arkansas during my second year of college. I saw them grow in their English skills, adjust to American culture, finish school, get jobs, and now they are even starting a family there with a precious baby boy born in the Fall. They are a blessing to many! And you have to love their costumes! haha :) 

While it is still hard for me to understand just why God delayed my call to go overseas, it IS becoming clear that He has a purpose for me here. I have to admit, I have had one of the hardest years ever in teaching, and...well, while I do only have two others to compare it to, I still say this one has been many times harder than my very first year! I have been praying about whether or not I can stick with the same position again and have a better upcoming school year or not. I want to love teaching music, but it is hard leaving each day and feeling dissatisfied in the work I've done. I love teaching - I love being with my kids every day. I love calling all 540 kids mine and knowing I can be an example for them every day. But I've been trying to give myself some options. So far either none of the options I look at jump out at me as something I should officially pursue, or I have taken all the steps I can to consider the option, and the door has closed. I know if God wants me here for one more year, He will give me the strength to continue and a newfound desire to be here.

This is part of our COPE teaching team...I missed out on the chance to dress up, but someone lent me some pumpkin ears! haha

Recently over my Spring Break I had the chance to visit with a wonderful woman who was coordinator of the COPE program I mentioned earlier. She also coordinates the ESL program for international students at my college and served as a reference for my Journeyman application process. I shared with her about how my overseas opportunity was being delayed, yet my heart was still longing to serve God and to truly share His love with internationals. And with a few simple words, she encouraged me. "Alicia, I feel that maybe God is going to bring the world TO YOU for a time..." She spoke of how she had seen me care deeply for the international friends I served and taught in college, and of my gentle manner with their children. She shared the story of her family and their similar experience in feeling called to the mission field, then experiencing a change in plans. Then she told me about a project she had just received the day before from a former student - a compilation of ESL masters programs available through online studies...something she had been waiting to receive for six months, and I happened to visit the day after she received it. Yes I happened to visit. God is good. And God knows. And I believe God uses other people to lead and affirm His will sometimes...

There were college and graduate students, adults, and children...from all over the world!

This was one of our precious families.

So, I share all of that to say - God is giving me new eyes. Slowly but surely, my vision is clearing, and He is reigniting passions I have had for a long time in new ways. I am excited to say that last week I officially applied to an online graduate program in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages") through SEMO (Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau!) I have no idea yet if I will even be accepted or how it will work out financially. I only know that it is a desire I have had for a long time, but have not allowed myself to explore or to trust Him to provide for. And I know He will provide perfectly if this is something I am really to pursue! I am excited about the fact that, with this degree, I can spend time HERE (or eventually overseas) providing love and support to children who are struggling to find a place in this new and unfamiliar culture. I can't wait to teach them and watch them grow and learn from them and share cultural connections and help them share the pride of their culture while learning to adjust to ours.

See any resemblance? :)

I also have another "option" I've taken the chance to apply for, and now I'm praying about, because it is fully in God's hands. If it works out, He will truly have His hands in the situation! I will share more about that as I can. It is something that is hard not to get my hopes up for, but please pray with me that if God has it in store, He will make a way!! :)

Sometimes God takes our dreams, shows us they were really His all along, and transforms them into something bigger than we could ever imagine or plan on our own. We just need to ask for "new eyes" to see them...

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