Thursday, June 28, 2007

the close of a chapter.

Here are some of my ESL students. Aren't they precious?... They aren't actually angry. They just don't really smile for pictures.

Today was my last day to teach my ESL class to the Somali Bantu refugees here in Fort Worth, TX. It's been a pretty rough week. I got an email from my supervisor last Wednesday telling me that my class would close at the end of June. There are many new arrivals who have come to Fort Worth already this summer and more will continue to come throughout the summer. Basically, my class had the lowest, most sporadic attendance and so for that reason as well as a crunch in money and a higher priority placed on new arrivals, my class was the class that had to close.

I began teaching this particular class August 1, 2005. So, I'm just one month shy of 2 full years as their teacher. I think I've asked for a substitute to come to one class in my 2 years. In February of 2006 I began tutoring these students' high schoolers. If you've read previous blogs, you know that my heart is super attached to these people - not simply as my students, but as the people God has placed in my life to love and share His love with. So, in the past week, I've had so many emotions go through my head, my heart.

Today was bittersweet. It was so good to hear my students, through an interpreter, list off a number of things that I have taught them over the past 2 years - like to write their names, to dial phone numbers, to memorize their phone number, to know how to have really simple "conversation" when they are at the supermarket or food stamp office, etc. They also talked about how I've invested in their community - not just their lives, but their families' lives. God is good, and He has let them see how big of a heart He has given me for them. For that, I am incredibly grateful. We had a party at the end of class today with cake, cookies, watermelon, and soda. And we ended the class with a song I had taught them to learn the days of the week.

Though this is not the end of the time I will spend in this community, it seemed like I closed a pretty big chapter in my life today. I will continue tutoring their children. I will be in and out of their homes for the remainder of the summer as I tutor there. When the fall comes, I will return to the school systems to tutor and will not be in the community as much. I'm praying for God to open doors for other believing families to really get involved in their lives. I'm praying for a revelation of Truth and Love for these precious Bantu. I love them dearly!

Monday, June 25, 2007

weekend with mom and dad.

Mom and Dad came to Fort Worth this weekend. We had a great visit with them! They drove in around 10 p.m. Friday night and Daniel and I were just starting a 1000+ piece puzzle. They put their things down and joined in the fun. We got most of the edges finished Friday night and parts of the inside. We woke up Saturday morning and got started early - 8:30 a.m. We took a bit of an intermission for breakfast, then kept on working until it was time to start getting ready for the Rangers v. Astros game. The puzzle wasn't ever left completely alone - we were all pretty determined by this point, so while someone was showering, the others were meticulously searching for pieces! We got away from it for most of the rest of the day. We watched the Rangers beat the Astros Saturday afternoon! Then we went to visit some Somali Bantu that had asked to meet the folks. We were hungry for dinner by then, so we went downtown. We ate at 8.0. Our thoughts of this place? Well, we really liked the atmosphere outside. A couple of guys sat on stools and played the guitar and sang as we enjoyed the cool breeze of the evening and good conversation. We walked around a bit, and headed back to 4016 Stanley Avenue, where we found ourselves mesmerized again by the puzzle - so mes- merized that we finished the puzzle Saturday night!!! - and obviously super proud of ourselves! Sunday morning we woke up for church and I think it was my dad that made the comment that it was sad not to have the puzzle to work on again!! ;-) Went to church, then to Hoffbrau Steakhouse for lunch and we saw the folks off!

Monday, June 18, 2007

influenced by godliness.

Have you ever been around someone who exudes godliness? - he/she is not legalistic. not a "goody, goody". not judgmental. not condemning...godly - love flows from that person. grace. gentleness. self-control. wisdom. discernment. And you are drawn to that person.

Six years ago I was an intern at Germantown Baptist Church and a man named Tommy Spencer was one of the youth ministers. I was so influenced by his wife that summer. Her love for the Lord was so radiant, so attractive. I wanted to be like her - totally fun and "in" but gentle and loving, full of scripture, full of wisdom. A great listener, a great advice giver. And so very real. A dictionary definition for godly is "having great reverence for God." Lana has great reverence for God for sure and she is definitely a precious example of what godliness can look like. Well, I realized just this morning as I was journaling that his wife was only a year older than me when I first met her 6 years ago. I'm no where near where she was then, but I'm pursuing that. I'm convinced that genuine godliness draws others to the Lord. I'm far from it, but I want to be there.

Lana and her incredibly-spiritually-mature-for-her-age-of-14 daughter, Paige, spent Friday and Saturday with us this past weekend. Listening to them talk about life, about God was great and my spirit was so refreshed!'s so nice to be with ones who point you to Jesus, isn't it?!?!?

Sunday, June 10, 2007


"Aa-ros" (the "aa" is pronounced like "a" in "all", "ros" is like the name "Ross" except with a long "o") means wedding in Mai Mai and Mushungulu, the tribal languages of the Somali Bantu that I tutor/teach English to.

We've gone to 2 weddings in the past 3 weeks. They were the weddings of two of my (Kim's) Somali Bantu girls that I tutor. They are 18 years old. Boy are Somali Bantu weddings different from our traditional American weddings! It was an honor to be there, to support these girls and their families, and to observe and take in what a wedding looks like in another culture.

Here are some things we've learned about Somali Bantu weddings:

1. The "wedding" is actually a big party that lasts 5-6 hours and consists mostly of dancing. It is held in a gym or in a "great room". Often times the families will cover the walls with African material. The guests sit in chairs that line the walls.

2. The actual "ceremony" takes place the day before but only the groom and men in the bride's family are a part of it. They go to the mosque, exchange some words with a sheikh, and sign a marriage license. The families also enjoy meals together with friends and extended family on that day.

3. It is customary for the bride and groom to look sad as they enter the wedding arty. The groom will smile later on throughout the party, but not at the entrance. The bride does not smile at all throughout the entire party. This is to demon- strate their saddness at leaving their family and leaving their singlehood to move into adulthood. This is Habiba and Mohamed with Daniel and me.

4. The bride and groom have a wedding party. They each have 4 people as their wedding party. The girls all wear the same thing, including the bride...and the color scheme is bright! This is Musekwa and Hassan and Musekwa's bridesmaids. We were told that the wedding party are close friends of the bride and groom, but I have my doubts. In both weddings we went to, the girls that were chosen to be "brides- maids" were girls I have rarely seen the brides hang out with (and I've been a part of this community for 2 years!)

5. At the party, there is a lot of dancing. Sometimes there is a line of guys and a line of girls facing each other. The guys and girls take turns shuffling/ dancing toward one another.

6. Another part of the dancing involves money. We're not sure of the details of that, but at both of the weddings we saw different guests give money to the people dancing which we assume will be given to the bride and groom. Like we said, we're a bit cloudy on those details.

7. Dancing also involves another realm where they dance in a circle. Sometimes the circle is a mixture of women and the bride and groom. Other times it's only women. In either case, the bride and sometimes her bridal party get in the middle of the circle and older women in the community come up to the bride and offer her advice, trying to "cheer her up" about this step into womanhood. The other guests sit around the edge of the room and watch.

Friday, June 08, 2007

honey and shea.

It's been an incredibly long week and I'm so thankful for today. It's Friday and I don't have to work!!

I graciously agreed to substitute for a girl's 2 ESL classes for 3 weeks while she is in Indonesia. I thought I sat down and looked at the times, etc. before I agreed. It didn't look that bad on paper....

Here's a quick run-down of my past week.
8-9:30 make copies at the office
10-12 sub for ESL class
1-5:15 tutoring
6-8 teacher's meeting
8:00-9:30 make copies at the office
10:00-12:00 ESL
1:00-4:00 tutoring
6:30-8:30 sub for ESL class (in Arlington)
8-9:30 make copies at the office
10-12 sub for ESL class
1-5:15 tutoring

date night at Chili's with Daniel!!! ahh.....breathe!!!

10:00-12:00 ESL
1:00-4:00 tutoring
6:30-8:30 sub for ESL class

Next week looks about the same. You can pray for us that we have good time together in the little time that we will have together. It will all be much better after the 14th!!!

So, last night after the ESL class Daniel told me he had a surprise for me. I waited patiently, and he came, put an eye mask on my face to blindfold me, led me into our guest room, sat me down on the bed, told me to lie down and wait a minute. Ocean waves sounded on the CD player. When he returned, he brought me a glass of ice water and put cucumbers on my eyes. He then began applying a honey and shea butter masque to my face. So relaxing!!!

I love that he was so thoughtful. He took a 30 minute lunch yesterday so he could leave early and go to Bath and Body Works to buy the masque and come home at the normal time so I wouldn't be suspicious! I love that he knew how incredibly exhausting this past week has been and how I would really enjoy being pampered (I mean, I guess I'd enjoy being pampered any time, but because of a long week, I enjoyed it and appreciated it all the more!) Can't help but brag on him...don't I have a FANTASTIC husband!!??!!?!


When Daniel moved to TX, he lived with Andy out in Mansfield. That's how they became friends. Andy now lives in Oklahoma City and Daniel lives in Fort Worth, with me! :-)

Andy came to Fort Worth last weekend and stayed with us Saturday night. He and Daniel enjoyed some time catching up and sharing about dreams for the future. We ate dinner together and then watched Blood Diamond until after midnight. If you haven't seen Blood Diamond yet, I highly recommend it!