Sunday Morning Ramblings - Reflecting and Update!

After waking up at 4 am this morning (Sunday), and trying to fall back asleep for an hour, I gave in, and got up! Just made myself a pot of coffee, putting on some Elevation Worship, and thought I'd share with you!

I cannot believe how fast time has flown by this summer. I say this every year, and you would think I would be used to it by now, but I'm not. I know it's time to go back to Tanzania, and I am EXCITED! But, that doesn't mean it is sad to leave family, friends, and home! Before I get into my reflection and update, here's a short video showing you snippets of life in Tanzania:

This summer has been refreshing and life-giving. It has stretched me to step outside my comfort zone in different ways, and I'm so glad I did! After quite a long year, (this was the first year I didn't leave East Africa for the full 10 months) I was more than ready to come home and see my family!!

We had some great times together, and I am so thankful for them! I could not be more excited for my brother Collin, and sister-in-LOVE Keirstyn, as they will be welcoming their first baby into the world in November! I get to be an Auntie! It's been fun to talk to them as they look forward and prepare for this new adventure. And of course, feeling that sweet babe kicking is so fun too! That being said, it will be so hard not being here for the birth. I am so thankful I will have the opportunity to fly back to the US for a quick 2 weeks over Christmas, to spend the holidays with my family, and get some quality time with the baby! I am so blessed to be able to do this! Thank you Jesus!

I had the opportunity to go down to Grand Lake in Oklahoma with the fam again this summer for a week. It was BEAUTIFUL and RESTFUL, as always! I think my favorite part was hanging out in the boat or on the dock- either chatting or sitting with each other reading!

Another super exciting event that is happening this week, is one of my best friends (we were classmates in fifth grade, and friends since!) is getting married! She specifically scheduled her wedding so I can be there!! I'm so happy to be able to be one of her bridesmaids, and stand with her on this momentous day!

I've also been busy raising funds for this next year of teaching and missions in Tanzania! God is so faithful! He unlocked several doors that I stretched myself to open, and He has provided in so many ways! From a friend who gave me her old iPhone 6 with a cracked screen, so I only had to pay $100 for a new phone instead of $350+, to new monthly supporters, and opportunities to speak at the Womens Bible Study and Kids Church at my church, hold an open house, and much more. He is my Provider! I am trusting that He will continue to take care of all my needs!!

I've been reflecting on my word for the year- IMMERSE - and how I can continue to grow myself in ways of immersing. Being "all there", wherever I am. Immersing myself in the presence of the Lord. Immersing myself deeper in my relationships. Immersing myself in Him so He will be glorified!

Looking forward to this new year, I am excited! I get to teach and live another year with my friend Alyssa. And we have two more teachers joining us in Tanzania. I can't wait to see all my friends in Tanzania, and continue to do life with them and deepen my relationships. I look forward to learning more Swahili. And I'm thrilled to be teaching!

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my summers off! I love not having to be in charge of 15 littles every day, and having time to myself. But, I was born a teacher! And as I start looking at how I want to run my classroom, how I can set it up to be most beneficial to my little learners, and how I get to love and nurture these sweet kids from around the world, I can't help but be excited and happy! I am actually teaching a new grade, or grades, this year! As soon as I know for sure what that will look like, I'll happily share with you. But I so look forward to what this year will bring!

If you've made it to this part of my blog post, you're awesome! I am thankful for YOU - for your love and support. It means the world to me, and I couldn't do what I do without you! As I prepare for my fourth season and year in Tanzania, I would be so grateful for your support!! Here's what that may look like:

PRAYER - Our prayers are POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE! I would love your prayers - over the school, for divine appointments to share the Gospel with those around me, for health and safety, and for God's continued guidance as a teacher and missionary in Tanzania. Also, I'm taking a page out of a teacher friend's book - I would LOVE for you to pray for my students!! Like I said, I don't know exactly what grade I'll be teaching, but as soon as I have my class list, I would love to send you one student to pray for this year! I would love for each of my students to be covered in prayer. If you would be willing to pray for one of my students this year, please comment below with your email address, and I will send you the name of one of my students in a couple weeks! I would love it!!

GIVING - I am so thankful for God's provision, that I get to do what I'm doing, and be His hands and feet in Tanzania. I would so appreciate your support, if you feel led to give to my mission. Your support will go towards my living expenses, classroom supplies, health insurance, and giving to the churches and people in Tanzania. Every dollar counts, and helps me reach my goal of $10,000 for the year! If you feel called to support me financially, here's how (click the image to go to the link):

Thank you so much for your support, in all areas. I cannot do what I'm doing without you! I pray God blesses you abundantly for the blessing you are to me and others! I will continue to share with you throughout this year here on my blog, but if you would like a special email newsletter, I'll be sending it out quarterly! You can sign up here:
(credit: Amanda Batterson)
I can't wait for what God has in store for this year!!
Serving Him,

Top Ten Travel Tips!

If you know me, or have been following me for the past few years, you know that I travel quite a bit. I have made 4 treks over across the world to Tanzania, and 4 back. I've spent a long layover in Amsterdam, traveled to Colombia and Togo on missions trips, spent a couple weeks in Latvia with my brother, and have taken countless road trips with the fam. I absolutely LOVE to travel, and can't wait to share some tips I've learned to help your travels go smoothly!! Here are my TOP TEN:

Bring an EMPTY water bottle with you on the plane! I know you can't have more than 3 oz of liquid through security, but empty it out before you go, and fill it up either in the airport, or on the airplane! Most flight attendants will happily fill it up for you during their drink service! Don't forget to bring one with a wide mouth to get on your attendant's good side!! (#NOSPILLSPLEASE!)
I HATE being thirsty on long flights, and only getting those little cups of water every few hours. This will ensure you stay hydrated and happy!

Use packing cubes and pouches to organize!! I use the larger packing cubes for my clothes in my checked baggage, and any random pouches or makeup bags for to organize all the loose-ends in my carry-ons! One pouch for technology, one for gum/mints, one for cosmetics/meds, one for makeup, etc.! Everything is easy to access and not just floating around in your bags!

This tip is ESPECIALLY for the long-haul flights. I've been on some flights for up to 15 hours (NOT FUN!), and by the last hours, all I want to do is GET-THE-HECK-OFF-THIS-PLANE! To help me not go crazy, I pack a few things for those last hours. After I've watched ALL the movies, read my book, slept, etc. Sometimes it's a yummy treat (love these Larabars!), or a coloring book and new flair pens, or even a new music album to listen to. Whatever makes you happy and keeps you content for a while. This also works GREAT for kids, because, let's face it: we're all little kids inside! 

Download your airline's app (Delta, American Airlines, etc.) to track your flights, have a mobile boarding pass, and access airport maps and more! 
Story Time: last August when I was going back to Tanzania, I was supposed to fly out on the day when all of Delta's computer systems were down. Thankfully, I found out right away because I had the app downloaded on my phone and my info in it. I was able to quickly change my flights and make sure I was where I needed to be, before I had the hassle of going to the airport. WIN!

You NEVER know when you'll need that extra outfit in your carry-on! Your flight may get delayed, they may lose your luggage, or many more scenarios could take place during your travels. Why not be prepared?! Pack a full extra outfit (don't forget those unmentionables! ;) in your carry-on, and be ready for anything!

When traveling somewhere new, or especially outside the U.S., download an offline map on your phone for where you're going. That way you don't have to worry about having internet to find your way! You can download regions of offline maps in Google Maps, or use a different app. I love! It's super easy to use, and FREE!

Extra battery packs are always advised! You never know when you're phone or tablet will run out of power! I snagged this one on Amazon Prime Day, and it's currently not available. But here's one that looks similar, if you're in need of a new one! I personally like the ones that can hold multiple charges!

Ziploc Baggies are your FRIEND! If you are moving somewhere internationally, bringing things for a friend, or just freshening up your travel stash, lose the packaging on your new items and put your items in plastic baggies! The Ziplocs are very useful, and customs won't be as excited to go through all the stuff. Things still in packages give the NEW vibes! 
ALSO: I found out the hard way that some countries don't have GOOD plastic baggies!! The ones in Tanzania are pretty much like cling wrap. So I stock up when I'm in the U.S.! I also wash and reuse the ones I bring! Ziplocs are GOLD! (Especially the zipper ones!)

Airplane air seems to suck all the moisture and life out of your skin!! To keep your skin hydrated, I recommend putting on an overnight mask while you fly! You may look a little odd at first, but when you walk off that plane with your skin glowing, everyone will want to know your secret! ;D 
I love the Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask from Origins, but you can also head to your nearest Target and find some great options too!

This might be the MOST important tip of all!! DO YOUR RESEARCH on where you're going. Not just where to go, what to do, where to eat, etc. Research what is appropriate to wear, some key phrases in the language, and what you have access to! It makes the WORLD of difference. It gives you a peek into the culture you're stepping into, instead of pushing your way in and not paying attention to their culture and customs. If you know someone who lives where you're going, ask them questions! They have good insight and will help you immensely! Use your resources and do your research.

I hope you enjoyed reading my Top 10 Travel Tips! Do you have more to add to the list? Leave me a comment! I'd love to talk travel with you!! And, don't forget to pin this post to your Pinterest so you can come back to it when you travel next!

*Some links in this post are Amazon Affiliate Links. All ideas and opinions are my own!!*