Tuesday, December 31, 2013

5 things I learned

I learned so much not only from being in Chad, but being in Chad with an extraordinary family. God couldn't have picked a better family for me to stay with than the Broten's.

I met the Brotens when my family was missionaries in the same country as the Brotens were missionaries in. That was over six years ago, and to be honest, I really don't remember them much. We've kept up over the years and visited several times. They even stayed with us for awhile while we were in Egypt. When the Brotens announced that they were heading back overseas, this time to Chad, they invited me to come along. I've never been to a different country without my family, but since I've always wanted to be a missionary and since I figured they could use a little help with their five kids, I decided to go. At first I thought I wouldn't go to Chad for longer than a month. After actually praying about it, I decided it was more realistic to get the real "Chadian" experience and go for six months.

And so I went and now I'm back, but the Brotens are still over there. They're still getting sick, they're still sweating, they're still in the place where they know God wants them to be. People think that I did a lot for going to Chad for six months, but please. The Brotens have five children, the oldest not even ten years old. I watched as the youngest baby got sick, over and over. We could only try to give her the adult pills for amoebas or pray. Though isn't the most powerful thing we can do is to pray?

Anyways, I learned a lot by being with the Brotens. Here are five of the main things.

Pray all the time // My family prays at mealtimes and sometimes at night. We might say a prayer at a random time here and there. But I never were around people who prayed as much as the Brotens. They would pray at mealtimes and most of the time everyone would pray for something. They would pray at night. They would pray for the neighborhood as we went on a visit, they would pray as soon as something came up that was out of their control. We prayed all the time. I learned that not only does prayer get God's attention, it refocuses ours. I still need to work on prayer, but I'm so thankful for what the Brotens taught me about it during those six months.

Live in your community // This doesn't just mean in a physical sense. Don't just be in your community, but be involved in the people's lives around you. Live in it. Visit your neighbors, catch up on their lives. This especially applies to living on the mission field. There are cultural differences in that circumstance, too.

People are more important // This kind of goes with the above statement. The Brotens taught me that people, especially ones that don't know Jesus, need our attention most. The house can be a little dirty, the schedule can be changed, dinner can wait -- but the souls of the lost won't always be with us.

Laugh // Life can get pretty tough, especially overseas. The Brotens taught me that listening to music, watching a movie, or just telling jokes can really get your spirits lifted. Full House was my lifesaver some days.

Get the better thing // In my family you always buy the cheapest thing. Mr. Broten told me his family was the same way growing up. But I learned from watching the Brotens that if you buy something a little nicer (especially in Chad), it'll last a lot longer and will be more worth it in the end.

Art is everywhere // Mrs. Broten mostly taught me this one. I learned that everywhere, even in a place as barren as Chad, you can find art. You can be creative, too. In Chad, you kind of have to.

Oops. That was six things. Broten family, if you're reading this, I love you guys and miss you!

The pictures above were taken using their iPhone. The one below is taken the morning before I left. We had stayed up late the night before . . . as you can tell from the photo.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Well, I'm home now. I've been home for a total of two weeks and four days. Oh and Merry Christmas, by the way. I kinda forgot about Christmas. When I arrived in the airport in Washington D.C. I thought to myself, "Why are there Christmas trees? Ohhhh. That's right. Christmas is here."

Christmas is busy, we're busy, everything is busy. It's a bit of adjustment after living in Africa where there were only a couple of days a week that we had something "big" going on. Normally that something big was church or a trip to the hills or a team meeting.

But don't get me wrong. I love being home. I love seeing Petra's face explode into surprise and gratitude when she opens a present, I love making Christmas cookies sweetened with honey with Heidi, I love talking to my mom at nights. I love hugging loved ones that I haven't seen for so long and have missed so much. (That also includes jumping out at people and scaring them).

It's good to be home, though I miss Chad and everyone back there. I guess part of me is still there. I don't miss it too bad, but it's enough to make me want to go back one day. One day. Because right now, I feel like I'm supposed to be home, doing things normal teenagers do. Okay, maybe not. I'm not sure if I'll ever be classified as "normal". But I'll be doing things like school and working at a coffee shop and listening to music.

 I'm using a new Mac right now, since my other one had it's last days in Chad. Which is why I haven't posted until now. Thank the Lord I was able to get all my pictures I took off of that computer! Well, I'm not sure how thankful you guys are but I am, because I want to be able to relive memories of Africa. I'll post some more pictures later, but for now I'm going to celebrate Christmas by eating some cinnamon rolls with my family.