Danielle in the South Pacific

As I sit writing this, I find myself very pensive and reflective as I think about 2013 and particularly the past 5 months. I find I have a lot of questions: Has it been 5 months already? What am I going to do about next year? What does God have for me in the years to come? This time last year I had no idea I would be here, and it makes me curious and excited about what next year will hold that I have no idea about now.

2013 has been one of the most eventful years for me so far I think. This year I wrote a dissertation, something that still surprises me because I can’t believe I actually sat down and wrote it! I watched my good friend get married. I graduated from University, making me a qualified teacher. I finally learnt the difference between ‘its’ and ‘it’s’. I did something I always swore I would never do and dyed my hair blonde. I visited Italy with my sister, cousin and friend which, despite having issues like broken suitcases and more than one incident with trains, it was the holiday of a lifetime. Then I moved across the world to a country where I don’t speak the language to start my first ever teaching job and I’ve been here in the South Pacific ever since trying to figure out life here. This process has been one of the most challenging and most hilarious experiences and is still ongoing. I’ve grown to love my class of little boys, managed to keep a hamster alive, accidentally enrolled at Bible College, begun a youth group, somehow ended up in the local newspaper, helped organise a Christmas production for the first time, learnt how to ride on the back of a motorbike without holding on, spent my first Christmas away from my family, and most surprisingly, am now able to have a (basic) conversation in a language I didn’t even know existed a year ago.

There have been sad things as well – missing people and events back home, but serving overseas does involve a sacrifice. When I chose to come overseas I’m not sure I completely understood what that sacrifice would entail, but this time if I choose to stay another year, I have a much better idea of what I’m giving up and what I’m gaining.

December was very busy and a little stressful but as I sit here now enjoying the sun and feeling very relaxed, all that seems like a very long time ago. We had our Christmas production which went very well, 2nd grade made very cute little bunnies (which would make sense if you’d seen the production) and they spoke their lines very clearly for all to hear.

The high school dancers did a great job, as did the upper elementary dancers, both groups making me very proud. The final day of school was all banter in 2nd grade as we played games and had a Christmas party. That evening I went to the staff Christmas evening, performed a monologue as Mary (which I was dreading) and loved meeting all the families of the people I work with. I had a wave of sadness as I watched all the families having their photos taken in groups and suddenly remembered that my family were in America. I think the idea of a Christmas away from them, and all the familiar things of home, was far worse than the reality of it.

I surprised myself by how much I still felt ‘Christmassy’ and how much I enjoyed having Christmas in a house full of children, and loved spending time with the team out here, not to mention how happy I was to see roast potatoes, chicken and gravy – that alone was actually enough to make my day! I was also very excited to be opening Christmas cards and presents sent all the way from home.

I  really enjoyed the Christmas Eve English Service, partly because I love candlelight, but also because it was comforting to see all the other people serving here who are also spending Christmas away from their home country. It was such a blessing to be able to get together to sing carols by candlelight and remember the reason for Christmas is the reason we’re all here.

Thank you for your continued prayers and all the best for 2014! I would just like to leave you with this quote which I love at the moment:

“When the wrappings and ribbons are in the trash and the manger scene is back in the attic, the friends and family have said goodbye and the house feels empty and so do you–there is One who waits to fill your heart and renew your hope.”

Love and prayers, Danielle
You can follow Danielle on her blog at http://www.dfcinsouthpacific.blogspot.co.uk

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