What Am I Going To Do Here?


I would like to you all that I have been doing really well adjusting to my new life in Africa, that everyday I am blissfully happy, that I have not struggled in the slightest, but than I would be lying. It has been hard. It was not easy packing up my life and I was not under the illusion that once I reached Rwanda it would be any easier. I have been struggling with something’s since arriving, some things to be expected, while others were a bit of surprise; most recently I have been struggling with what my role will be here in Africa. I packed up my life, said goodbye to family and friends, headed to a place I had been for only two days prior, with absolutely no idea what I was going to do once I got there. So when I finally arrived after months of anticipation the question still remained, what am I going to do here?

Tara has started this awesome business called No.41 and immediately Alison jumped in on it ready to help in anyway (and she has!). They are doing something big, something wonderful that will not only help others, but also glorifies God. Watching these girls use their passions, gifts, and skills to make No.41 a reality has been amazing while all at the same time I found myself feeling a bit jealous and thinking, well what about me? I am not crafty and don’t feel that No.41 is my place, so where does that leave me? What could I possible do that is big, that could help others and glorify God? Everyday these questions pop into my mind and everyday I must remind myself, that I am no one. That I am merely a “mist that appears for a little while and than vanishes”, but God wants and can use me. I don't need to be able, I don’t need to hold some special or unique skill, I just need to be wiling. Luke 35 “Then Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you without purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’ ‘Nothing,’ they answered.” Christ always provided for His disciples with what they needed, with what necessary for them to complete the tasks appointed to them by God, and like the disciples, He will also always provide for me. Not just tangible things, but with thought, ideas, all the necessities, to carry out whatever He desires me to do.

The orphanage is where I feel I fit, but I don’t know how to make an impact. Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Psalms 78:4-6 “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he had done. He decreed status for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. They would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”  Luke 22:26, 27 “The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves….I am among you who serves.” That is what Christ did when He was on the earth, He served, He taught, He loved. 

Every single verse I did not seek out to read, I opened my bible and read my morning chapters, and these were the verses God presented to me. God provided His answers to the questions I have been having, “Who am I? What could I possibly do? How am I going to know what to do? I don’t have a business mind, I rarely think ahead. All of this worrying, wondering and for what? The verses that I read today, these are things that I can do right now. This is what I am to do. I don’t need to worry about what my time in Africa will hold. Just as God knew He would lead me to Rwanda He knows what my time here will hold. He will present the opportunities with open doors and lead me through each one. It has nothing to do with what I can or can not do, it has nothing to do with whether or not I am creative or business minded, it has to do with the fact that I serve a powerful, all knowing God who knows me, who knows the desires of my heart and who has plans for me, plans to use me, plans to prosper me, plans for my future. That is comfort, that is reassurance. 

Let Me Tell You

There are so many things that have happened recently that I could tell you all about;


  • There was that one time when I had no water, it was late, and since the kitchen is outside I decided to just do without and swallow my malaria pill all on its own. The next day I felt like that silly little pill was lodged between my shoulder blades. I drank water, I ate, and still the pill remained, or so I thought. My mother, nurse extraordinaire, informed me in an email that I had suffered a chemical burn in my esophagus and would just have to endure. Note to all future pill swallowers: Take with water! 
  • Over the last couple of month, in preparation for Africa, I have grown accustom to eating some form of dessert after dinner every night. Well, that has only worked against me since arriving. It’s honestly quite sad how many cravings I have had and it has not even been two weeks. No joke, I have already made three lists. The first list contains foods that I can have my mom send me. The second list contains restaurants that I wish to visit when I return. The third list is food that I can have at home when I return. This is what I have spent my free time doing. Making lists of foods that I wish to consume. One work comes to mind. Pathetic. 
  • “You are going to die." These five lovely words were uttered to me by Amelie. We were in the kitchen getting ready to eat when she dropped the bomb on me. For the past two days I hadn't been feeling good so when I first heard those words without any sort of explanation I thought she was prophesying. But than she continued. She claims I will die because I don't eat. Amelie, see the above paragraph. 
  • Because I hadn't been feeling so good the last couple days I have had hot chocolate delivered to my room morning and night by the sweetest girl, Ange. The first night I made it and it tasted alright but than Ange made it and it was the best hot chocolate I had ever had the pleasure in drinking. Tonight I decided to go to the kitchen with Ange and see what she does differently. You want to know her secrete? Two gigantic spoonfuls of sugar thats what. Did that stop me from downing another cup? Two paragraphs up my friend. 
  • Since I'm on this food rant I might as well share that Rwanda has the best chocolate, and when I say the best I mean it. Cadbury chocolate. Yes, I know America also supplies Cadbury chocolate, but trust me it's not the same. I did an experiment, I'm kind of an expert, so you can trust me. 
  • Waking up at 5 am is never easy, especially when you spend the majority of your night waking up every 5 seconds to flail around because a mosquito has taken an interest in your ear. But knowing that you will be surprising two friends in just a few hours makes it all a little easier. A few days ago I got to see Bosco and Terry. There I was sitting in an office listening to Clever and another man discuss money when I looked over to my left only to see Bosco. I had to use all my self control to stop me from running out of the room to hug him. So instead, while restraining myself, I made a sly face (and when I say sly, I mean stupid and completely obvious face that gave away I wasn't at all engaged in the conversation going on in front of me) and did a low, under the table wave. His response? Smiling, place his hands over his face, saying my name, and pacing back in forth. As soon as the meeting was over I rushed out, to see Terry and Bosco. I only got to spend a couple of minutes with them before I had to leave but it was worth the 5 am wake up call and 4+ hour bus ride. 
  • I have never been one for hugs, mainly because I'm incredibly awkward, but somehow, despite my awkwardness, Benoit's hugs have become my favorite part of the day. 
Just to name a few. And that was me cutting and condensing. I promise a real post will be coming within the week! 

Mommy


I did not think that word would be used so quickly
I did not think that word would be necessarily used at all
I am only 21, but still look like I’m 14
I thought friend, and sister would be the names given to me
But today, today, I received a new name
Today I became “mommy” to my sweet Benoit
When I heard that word, and saw the smirk 
My heart grew, making room for all the love
That a mother has for her child
I have only known Benoit for a short time
I know very little about him
He knows very little about me
We cannot communicate very well due to the language barrier
But all of that does not matter
God has placed me at Noel for a purpose  
I am sure there are many things He will call me to do while I am here
But for now I believe he has given me this role
I am now a mommy to Rwandan boy
And my heart could not be any more full 
Photo by Alison 

My Peeps

So I have been struggling with where to even begin


I don’t want to bore you, I don’t want to over share
On the other hand I want to be real and not stingy on what I share
With that being said bare with me as I find a balance

I have been to the orphanage twice now
(Beside’s the first day where we did a quick walk through)
And have seen all of my kids expect for one
(Not counting the boys that are at boarding school.
I have two there, Bosco and Terry.)

Angel (who I called Angie in my previous Noel post…I’m really bad with names. Hopefully that will change) is the first one that I saw. I was actually leaving to go eat lunch when I heard my name being shouted and saw Angel running up to me. She remembered me. I would be lying if I said that wasn’t something that I worried about. Even after I cut my hair I had the delayed reaction of, “What if they don’t recognize me?!” But Angel remembered me. Not only did she remember me but she was excited to see me. We only had time for a quick hug but that was enough for my heart to do a little leap and in a way, remind me, that this is who I came for. This girl, and 600 other children, are who I came to love on. God’s perfect design is still overwhelming to think about, to experience, but I have a feeling that never goes away.

Kevin. I was dragged walking into the library when I saw her. She actually pulled out the chair beside her for me to sit. When I smiled she gave me a small smile. She was incredibly shy last time so I’m not really sure if she was just being shy, or if she didn't recognize me. I’ll have to ask her. I’ve been a little slow the last couple of days and things haven't been fully processing until several hours later, well after the fact. I hope that this is just a side effect of jetlag and will also go away.

Benoit (who I called Emmanuel in my Noel post. Yeah, I don't even know). But oh boy do I love this kid. I’m not really sure why I’m so drawn to him. Maybe because he’s a tough crowd? Maybe because I feel like he doesn’t receive a whole lot of lovin? Maybe because he’s quiet and reserved? Maybe because he’s just so dang cute? (For real, he has the best smirk) I may never really be able to answer that question but oh do I love him. Today when I went to orphanage my eyes were peeled searching for my kids. I ran into a boy I met last time, his name is John, and he began to tell me that Benoit was excited to hear I was at Noel and wanted to see me. My heart did a little leap right there. We were leaving for lunch again when I noticed some kids coming back from school. We decided to wait a bit and see if we recognized anyone. There were a group of kids already surrounding me when they all started pointing to the gate and saying “Benoit” I immediately jumped up and saw him walking in. He gave me the smirk right before I reached him. Angel was running up behind him shouting my name so I got a double hug. Remember how I said he’s a tough crowd? Right after our hug he walked away. Who is he foolin? I know he wanted to see me so he might as well stay and hang out a bit. He had better believe I am finding him next time and forcing him to stay by my side the rest of the day. I missed that kid too much not to.

So those are my peps. Like I said I’m still missing one but I plan on bringing a photo and asking anyone and everyone where he is.

Besides being at the orphanage I have been to Gisenyi to get a few things (money, a modom, blah blah) and a furniture store. That’s right folk, I got me some furniture. I have a room with furniture. I am no longer living out of suitcases because I’m gona be here for a year. Pretty awesome feeling.


Other: 

Is it weird that I associate this song with Africa?
Just the last bit really. "Just smell the grass! The dirt! Just like I dreamed they'd be...."
Embarrassing confession: I planned in advance to listen to this as soon as I landed in Rwanda. 



And just a few pictures. I really haven’t taken many, but maybe I’ll get better at that once this slow brain syndrome goes away. 






Alison with her sweet girl

Oh and can I just say that I love that for the last two days I've watched Christmas movies. Yeah, life's pretty good. 

I Live Here


I’m not even sure where to begin
Today as I was riding on a moto,
 I started looking around
And I just couldn’t believe that I live here
You guys I live here
Already there have been some frustrations
(tip to future travelers of Rwanda,
bring a VISA, not any other card, 
unless you're feeling in the mood
to be rejected by 100 different banks and ATM's)
but as soon as I make eye contact with a child,
whether their on the street,
in the market,
or at the orphanage,
their simple, beautiful smiles bring me back
Those silly frustrations are suddenly meaningless
And all that matters is seeing that smile again
 I am so blessed to be here
So blessed to live here
So blessed that this is my story
 So blessed that God wrote this adventure all for me

It's Time

So, in just a mere 7 hours 
Alison and I will be in a plane 
Flying to Africa.

I can't believe today is finally here
I have been counting down
Thinking about it everyday
Talking about it everyday
At today it's here
I leave today

No more imagining
No more wondering 
Because in a couple hours I will be there

I'm ready.
My heart is ready. 
And it's time. 


As soon as I can I will give you all an update! 

Bucket List Update

So I have been able to cross a few things of my Bucket List recently

1. Sleeping in the bed of a truck 
Christina and I did this a few weeks ago. 
It was roughly 50 degrees outside but with the amount of blankets and layers we had on
 it was incredibly comfortable and warm. 

2. Play a real game of golf

I borrowed my Mom's polo (because I don't own one and wanted to look "golfy") and clubs
My Grandpa and Dad taught me how to hold the club and hit the ball
and in the end I actually really enjoyed playing. 
Watching it however is still incredibly boring. 

3. Get pied in the face
Some friends were kind enough to surprise me with this Thursday night


4. Go Skydiving









It was awesome!


 And finally.....drum roll please
bddddddddddddddddaaaaaaaaaaa
(I don't know how to type a drum roll)

5. Donate my hair



I actually really like it but it does feel incredibly weird

 And in TWO DAYS I will be living in Africa!



What Time Is It?

The video says it all...
*A long exaggerated sigh*

I am done ya'll! 
Also, 3 more days.
Wha?!
Pretty sure it doesn't get better than this!!!!!!!

(An over use of exclamation points are allowed at a time like this, don't worry I checked)

4 More Days

Believe it or not I am looking forward to the 20+ hour plane ride
During that time I will be able to relax
I wont have school to think about
I wont have to worry about running around last minute picking up things
Everything will be packed 
I will have said my goodbyes
I am looking forward to this plane ride because today I feel like how I look...


Not a pretty picture is it?
But despite feeling like the mess pictured above my heart is light
My heart is ready
I am ready not just for the plane ride
But to go back to the place that captured my heart
Just four more days. 

5 More Days

"Believe in the dreams and desires
God has placed in your heart. 
Do not apologize for them.
Do everything you can to make them a reality"



"Refuse to accept the limitations 
and labels that have been place upon you.
Be grateful for who you are, 
and do not be faint of heart. 
Be daring and wise.
Dreams come to pass when you step out
and take on the possibilities that lie before you." 

Sx More Days

This morning the very first thought that ran through my mind; six more days.
That's it. 
In six days I'll be gone. 

It still hasn't hit me that in six day days I will be in Africa. 
That means I only have six more days with my family and friends. 
Six more days to pack (yikes). 
Six more nights of being restless thinking/stressing/anticipating everything that I still have to do.
Six more days of imagining what this new life will hold. 
 In six days I am leaving.

I know this to be true but it still doesn't seem real
I still can't wrap my mind around that all of this is real. 
That this is apart of my journey, my adventure. 
I never imagined that I would get to live out an adventure quite this big. 
But this is my reality. 
I have to keep telling myself that,
 Pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. 
But I'm not, I'm not dreaming. 
I could have never dreamt something like this would be happening to me. 
This is God. 
This is apart of His perfect plan for my life. 

I serve a God that is big, strong and powerful. 
I serve a God that is loving, merciful and full of grace. 
I serve a God who personally designed me, who created plans for my life.
Plans to prosper me, plans for a future, my future.
Part of His glorious plan for my life is this; 
To travel to Africa and love on His beautiful children. 
What a blessing, a gift in which I am so undeserving but so grateful I have been entrusted with. 

On Sunday I had the opportunity to talk to 4th and 5th grade boys and girls 
about what I will be doing in just a mere six days.
One girl asked me how I felt about leaving. 
I told her that I will miss my friends and family. 
That I will miss my bed, hot showers, and certain foods.
I told her that I did not expect life in Africa to be easy, 
 but Christ doesn't call His followers to a life of ease. 
He calls us to make disciples in all nations. 
He tells us we will be hated by men, and persecuted for what we profess as truth. 
For letting the world know that there is only one true God
and the only way to Him is through His son Jesus Christ
who was sent to this earth to die for mine, for yours, for everything living persons transgressions.
For we are all sinners, we have all fallen short of the glory of God 
But we have received a glorious gift of grace, we have been saved because of Christ sacrifice. 
So if you confess with your mouth and believe with your heart you will be saved, 
You will receive eternal life, a promise of living forever worshiping this perfect God. 
It is such an unfathomable gift, and yet is so easily attainable. 

This is the truth that we are meant to tell others. 
This is the gift that we are meant to share. 
God doesn't need me, He doesn't need you, He doesn't need us to make Him known
and yet He has chosen us to do just that. 
This is the responsibility that God has entrusted to me, to you, to all His followers. 
I am honored to be called to make disciples in all nations. 
I am honored to be hated and persecuted, 
because that means I am doing what Christ has commanded me to do. 
That means I'm doing something right. 
I can not wait to began making disciples in Africa 
all of which is only possible with God, who lives in me.

Six more days.

One of the many face I can not wait to see again. 

21 Random Acts Of Kindness

Monday I turn 21.
but I decided to celebrate a little early and do something a little different. 
Today I completed a random acts of kindness for every year I was born. 

1. Delivered donuts to the fire house
2. Put grocery carts back for people
3. Gave a couple a gift card to help pay for their groceries
They stared at my like I was crazy until I explained
4. Gave a gift card to an older gentlemen to help pay for his prescription
His response, "It's about time my luck turned around"
5. Walked up to a couple at Olive Garden and handed them a gift card to help pay for their meal
6. Paid for 3 people to see Avenger
This was easily my favorite. 
They could not believe that someone would want to pay for them without anything in return. 
It took several minutes to convince them. 
7. Gave a Subway gift card to a homeless man
8. Handed out cupcakes to some younger boys playing basketball
9. Gave donuts to the rescue mission
10. Gave balloons to three little girls 
When I handed the youngest little girl her ballon she lit up and hugged that thing so tight.  
11. Gave flowers to a woman at the laundromat
12. Delivered coloring books and crayons to the pediatric unit at the hospital 
13. Handed out chocolate to nurses at the hospital 
14. Tapped change to a vending machine 
15. Left quarters at the laundromat
16. Handed out water bottles at the park 
17. Payed for the person behind me in the drive thru line
18. Left a note with a Kit Kat bar on someone's car
19. Left a note and some M&M's for the mailman
20. Sent a letter to a solider overseas
21. Delivered handmade cards to the nursing home 
And yes, I am aware that I have the artistic abilities of a 5 year old

I loved ever minute of today. 
Today I got to showing Christ love in practical and unexpected way
That made this birthday the best yet. 

Now here's where you guys come in; 
 I am asking that you to join me and perform one random act of kindness, 
whether it is someone you know or a complete stranger. 
whether it’s something big or something small. 
It all counts! 
As an added birthday bonus you can email me or post a comment on my blog 
telling me what you did to pass it along.
I am really excited to hear back from you guys. 
And thank you so much in advance for being a part of my birthday celebration!

Email: ecooper57@gmail.com
Where I got the idea: http://www.thebdayproject.com/


New York City In A Day


New York City in a day,
now that’s some work right there.

My mom (Myra), sister (Erin) and myself hoped on a bus at 6 am to travel to NYC on Wednesday.

I didn’t sleep a wink the night before so luckily I was able to sleep for most of the ride there
There was the occasional moment when I would wake up and have to move 
because my arm, leg, butt etc. had gone numb.

Here’s the thing,
buses give the allusion of being comfortable,
but the reality,
they’re not.
They’re actually incredibly uncomfortable.

We arrived in New York around noon
We hopped off the bus with the intention of heading to F.A.O Schwarz
(Erin’s never been there, crazay, I know)
We tried the subway,
but were rejected
twice,
 and ended up just walking 15 or so blocks.

We had 45 minutes to peruse the store.
After which we made our way to the show, Jersey Boys.

I guess because the first show I ever saw was The Lion King
(followed by Wicked)
I was under the illusion that all shows on Broadway are “family friend.”
Well that’s not the case
Movie rating wise it was probably P-13,
but the audience, 
well they were on a whole nother level. 
Apparently there were a group of women, drunk, and still drinking, in the audience, making a ruckus. 

If you had asked me a few years ago to see a musical I would have laughed, and than said heck no.
What changed my mind?
Well first there was High School Musical,
(mock me all you want, I still love those movies)
than Hairspray.
That's when I realized not all musicals were like Sound of Music
Thank goodness. 

After the show we had the pleasure of eating dinner at the Stardust Dinner.
Having entertainment while I eat, what could be better?

Last but not least we booked it to Forever21
4 floors of pure clothing/shopping bliss
Twas lovely
And I managed to see it all in 45 minutes.
Fastest shopping I’ve ever done.
Probably a world record of some sorts.

The bus ride back was equally as uncomfortable
But this time we got to watch a movie, Just Go With It
So, that made it a little more tolerable.

We made it home by 12:30
And let me tell you, my bed has never felt more comfortable.

And that my friends, was New York City in a day. 

Some notable things said through out the day...
"I love hiccups. I think they make me sound cute." -Elise

"How can I make my nose look smaller?" -Elise

"Wait if youre going to post this I won't wear my hipster hat." -Elise 
"Yeah, good idea, you don't want to seem too cool" -Erin
 (All three of the above were said at 6 am, so that allows me a free pass to sound like an idiot)

"If they weren't so beautiful I wouldn't have noticed you."
-Man trying to sell my Mom tickets thought this "compliment" would work

"You're my mommy crush"
-Same man
Some notable things that happened through out the day...

Getting a stereotypical response from a construction crew

Mom almost being hit by a bus...more than once. 
Yeah, she would not survive living in a city. 

Me falling on the floor trying to get out of the booth at the dinner. 

We towered over ever person on that piano by at least 3 feet
Yeah,I kind of failed at taking pictures this trip
video
Entertainment from the dinner

Are Y'all Ready For This?

So school is kind of killing me right now
Rendering me unable to write my New York Post today
So I'll leave you with these...







Excuse the lack of editing  

Happy Friday everyone!
I hope your day is little more exciting than mine. 

Geese

Geese are scary. 
There, I said it. 

Story:
Today was a beautiful day, 
so Gigi, Nat and I decided to take a walk by the pond
and as a special treat we brought bread to feed the ducks. 

When we got to the pond there were no ducks in sight but there were a couple of geese. 
We started throwing pieces of bread into the water.
Only two geese were interested at first. 
But than...
they all came

They began to fight with one another over the bread
One kept hissing at us because we were throwing to slowly
And than they got brave
They started getting closer and closer

Well, after we ran out of bread thats when things began to take a turn for the worse. 
First a group of geese ascended from the water and began walking towards our left. 
Before we knew it there was another group to our right. 
Than two geese started come straight at us. 
We were soon surrounded by these horrid creatures. 
And these weren't just any geese, 
they were mama geese. 

Not matter which way we turned we were met with hissing, mean, angry mama geese. 
But we had to go somewhere because the two other geese kept getting closer,
pushing us against the fence. 

At this point I was scared. 
Than Gigi was scared. 
Natalie kept trying to get closer. 
And than she was scared. 

So what did I do?
The only thing I could do. 
Save the day of course. 

I scooped up both Gigi and Nat, 
got as close as I could to the fence,
(aka as far away from these geese as possible)
And walked/jogged right on by to safety. 

What an adventure.

 On our way to the pond...
 blissfully unaware...
 of the dangers...
 that lay ahead. 
 Feeding the two geese. 
So safe, so happy.
 We were having a great time.
 And that's when they struck. 
Attacking us at our weakest.
Clever birds. 
 They began to barricade us in on both sides. 
 Frightening, I know. 
But those geese didn't realize who they were messing with...    

 A dog, 
a princess,
and a "super big girl",
who loves the dog and princess more than she fears geese. 

And thus concludes the tale of how we escaped the psychotic geese.

*Tun in tomorrow for antidotes on my New York City In A Day trip*