Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New College & Unconscious Influence

It has been a whole new experience for me to attend a secular, public college. My initial impression of the school on the first day classes was that of a busy airport... everyone seemed to be going about their own business, hauling their luggage (school backpacks in this case), trying to locate their correct "gate" (classroom) before the "plane embarked" (lecture commenced).  It was rare that I would gain eye contact with someone, much less exchange a smile...

This is different for me. You see, walking around on the Ouachita Hills College (which I still call my school) campus is an almost polar opposite experience. Wherever you are, either on the sidewalk or in the hallway, you almost never pass someone without exchanging some kind of greeting and a warm smile.  Friendly conversations are often heard echoing through the hallways between students or students and teachers. Everyone knows everyone at this school. It's like a big family. I'm truly blessed to be able to pursue my dream in health evangelism (Nursing), while still living in the midst of this warm, Christian campus. (Disclaimer: Even though the above is true, OHC is not a perfect campus and there are occasionally times when student's interactions are not so warm.)

So back to my new school, National Park College. There is such a kaleidoscope of different styles, cultures, clothing, & attitudes there. There are the timid youngsters fresh out of high-school, stressed-out parents who came back to school because they want to have a better paying job, artsy students that dress in astonishing outfits and some even topped off with bright blue hair.

Then there's the few overconfident body builders and the prissy, fancy girls that look like they spent two hours getting ready that morning. And there are a few bold homeschoolers that don't quite yet have their social skills refined - like the one guy that strides through the middle of campus with earbuds in his ears, enthusiastically singing along with his music. You just can't miss him.

Interestingly enough there are even a few girls that wear skirts like me. (Most of the girls that wear skirts have super long hair like the lady in my Algebra class that has hair so long it brushes her calves.)

Overall, I have enjoyed the classes so far... The teachers seem nice enough and I like how organized they are (probably because I'm a very organized person). The variety of new faces are becoming more familiar and I'm making friends with a few of them. I am realizing again that people are people wherever I go. All humans have their own triumphs and difficulties, their own joys and sorrows. And all of us need a Savior.

Another thing that's different in the NPC classes is that there's no mention of a loving Creator in heaven, who cares about us - even in A&P class that simply oozes with evidence for a wise, intelligent design. There are no prayers offered at the beginning of classes, like was the practice at OHC. I miss that.

I am so thankful that I had went to OHC first... where the Bible classes were more like a mini GYC (Generation of Youth for Christ) seminar session than a college lecture and where the teachers truly care about their students as if they were their own children. The principles I learned there have helped to create a strong foundation for my life and future.

~     ~     ~
Now for the story...
One morning early in the semester during a break between classes, I found a nice quiet picnic table up on a little rise by some office buildings. As I dusted it off, I noticed a guy from my college Algebra class seemed to be observing me from his picnic table across the way. I didn’t think much of it and sat down to study for the quiz in my next A&P class.

About 30 minutes later, I heard footsteps behind me. “Who could that be? Does that girl from A&P class want to study with me or something??”

I turned around and saw that it was that curly-haired guy from my Algebra class. He offered his hand for a handshake. 

“Hi, my name is Andrew. What’s yours?”

“Hannah.” I replied. Trying to quickly sift through my memory, I wondered, "Am I supposed to remember him from somewhere??"

He shyly continued. “Uh, well. I just wanted to let you know... that uh, well... I really appreciate it when girls dress modestly. Keep it up!”

“Oh... well, praise God!” I responded.

As he walked away, I realized anew that we Christians are being watched and may have more of an influence than we realize. It was also an encouragement to continue dressing modestly even if most everyone else wears mini shorts and tank tops. I think we girls don't realize how much of a breath of fresh air it is for the guys to be able to be around a young woman without being tempted by seeing too much form or skin. 

It probably took a lot of courage for him to come all the way over to my picnic table, which was not right along the path... especially at a community college where everyone is going about his/her merry way and sometimes don’t even seem to notice that you’re even there. 

This experience reminded of these words of inspiration:

"Our words, our acts, our dress, our deportment, even the expression of the countenance, has an influence... by our unconscious influence thousands may be blessed." God's Amazing Grace p. 231 

"The unstudied, unconscious influence of a holy life is the most convincing sermon that can be given in favor of Christianity. Argument, even when unanswerable, may provoke only opposition; but a godly example has a power that it is impossible wholly to resist."  Gospel Workers p. 59

It is my prayer that my life will reflect the lovely character of my Savior. May it be a light that shines brightly for Him in this world of sin & darkness.

May our lives be a witness for God wherever we go...

Remember you do have a powerful influence on those around you... Be a light for God.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Genuine Humility

The topic of self-forgetfulness & humility keeps popping up in my devotions. Genuine humility is such an integral part of true Christianity... yet so often self shows its ugly face in our everyday interactions. 

As I was reading in a book called Dare to Ask for More by Melody Mason (an inspiring must-read), I came across this quote by Andrew Murray:
It is easy to think we humble ourselves before God: [but] humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real...
The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to hear others praised and himself forgotten, because in God's presence he has learnt to say with Paul, "I am nothing." He has received the spirit of Jesus, who pleased not himself, and sought not his own honor, as the spirit of his life. (Humility and Absolute Surrender, pg. 25, 27)
Hmm. What a high standard! This quote really made me think. Am I truly a humble person? 

How would I feel if all my canvassing students were praised for their hard work, but not one word of praise was spoken in my direction for the many hours I had put in? 

Can I honestly give Jesus ALL the credit for my hard work and sacrifice? Or do I soak up the praise as a reward for my faithful service? 

Do I say to others, "It was Him! He deserves all the credit!" and then quietly think in my heart, "But I did do a lot of work. God couldn't have done all that without me!"?

I cannot be seeking honor for myself, while at the same time cherishing humility in my heart. I've come to the realization that I cannot be something and God be everything. 

True humility is rare, even in the Christian world. It's a gift that only God can give. It is this Christ-centered humility that I desperately need in my life... This is what Jesus had and I want to be like Him. 

How can this humility of such high caliber become a reality in our lives? 

It takes heart searching and self-examination. It takes time. It takes earnestness of purpose. It takes much prayer. It takes willingness on our part to receive and accept the God-given gift. 

Self must be completely extinguished.  

May we be willing to serve even if we never receive praise or reward... May we daily behold the Great Standard of humility and let Him remove our deeply imbedded pride. May there be less of us and more of Him. 

Are you willing to let self die? 
Deep-down genuine humility is what I desire. How about you? 
~    ~    ~ 
Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right. - Ezra Taft Benson
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less. - C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Day of Rejoicing

Note: I am back in the US now. Praise the Lord for safe travels over the many miles! I'm sorry my posts have been a little sparse lately. The last few weeks before I left were filled to the brim with many different activities. 

Let me tell you about Moo Koh Paw. She's one of the 10th graders who had attached herself to me. She has become dear to me over the past few months. 

She had been struggling with somethings in her life for the past few weeks...   Something just wasn't quite right, even though she tried to cover it up with laughing and joking. I could tell that she was troubled about something and deep in thought. I think part of it was her unwillingness to surrender (at least not yet). 

The two of us usually would joke, laugh, and play with each other. She has a lot of spunk and she always kept me laughing. (We have so many inside jokes with each other now.) There were times though that I tried to turn the conversation to more weighty things. 

One evening my room-mates and I had prayed--really prayed--for our dear friend, Moo Koh Paw. We prayed that she would not be at rest until she had surrendered her life fully into the hands of her heavenly Father. 

The next afternoon I looked over at her swinging in my hammock. I really wanted her to have inner, lasting peace. I decided to try to bring up spiritual matters. 

"Moo Koh Paw, I have been praying for you. Is there anything in specific that you want me to pray for you about?" I wondered if she understood everything since I wasn't speaking in her native tongue. 

She cocked her head. "Huh, say that again, teacher." 

I reworded the question."What do you want me to pray about for you?" I wondered how she'd reply to that type of question. I didn't have to wonder long.  

After thinking for a moment, she spoke solemnly in her broken English, "Teacher, pray for my heart. I have a bad heart. I have a big problem in my heart."

I nodded and assured her, "Yes, yes, Moo Koh Paw, I will pray for your heart. I want you to be truly happy in your heart, not just smiling on the outside. Jesus is the only one who can fix your heart."

Days went by and it was getting closer to the time of the baptism. We wondered if MKP would make the decision. She did want to get baptized - but she still wasn't sure. She said she had some questions that needed to be answered. 

Then one afternoon when we were all up in the Stecks house after lunch, I heard some all too familiar footsteps behind me and the usual burst of energy that came along with them. She knew where to find me if I wasn't down at my hut. She had a ball in her hands and I knew what that meant. She most likely wanted us to come play volleyball with her. But, I was entering grades into the computer which was a very important, time-sensitive project because graduation was coming up very soon. So I told her I probably wouldn't be available to play that afternoon. 

She skipped around the room for a little bit and then disappeared all of a sudden. "Well, that's not unusual," I thought. 

But then a few moments later I did hear an unusual outburst from Hannah Steck, "I knew it! I knew it was her that Thara Ehganyaw said wanted to get baptized! She's the 20th person so far!"  

Haley and I both looked up with excitement. "What, really?! Who is it?!!" 

"Just maybe..." I thought. 
"Is it Moo Koh Paw?!" I blurted. 

Hannah nodded with a grin. "She just told Thara Joko (Mr. Steck) to add her name to the list!" 

Haley and I looked at each other... we both had a little extra water in our eyes. 

Hearing of her decision made our hearts sing.  Our specific prayer was answered right before our eyes. I don't think we were the only ones that were singing inside...

"... Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth..." 
Luke 15:7

Haley and I felt like skipping on our walk instead of strolling that day. 

My friends, God does answer prayers. 

On the bright and sunny morning of the baptism, there were 23 precious souls who were buried in the water. Praise the Lord! 

As Moo Koh paw walked confidently into the river when it was her turn to be baptized - we all joined in singing a song. It was a special song to her because of the words. It talks about how we can be whiter than snow and her name is in the song (part of her name means "snow"). 

"Wah nay moo koh paw, wah nay moo koh paw..." 

It was a special, touching scene to behold. 

And just for your information- all the rest of that special day, Moo Koh Paw, was grinning from ear to ear. She could confidently say that she was happy in her heart now. I hope and pray that it will stay that way.

Please join me in especially praying for Moo Koh Paw and the other 22 people who were just baptized. They will be special targets of the enemy and they will need special strength from Jesus to overcome each and every day.  

Here are a few pictures from the special day:

Walking down to the riverside

The line-up of baptismal candidates

The newly baptized students with a few teachers

The five students of mine who got baptized 

I miss these sweet girls!

Don't they look so happy?

Me & Tharamu Supweh 
(She is a teacher now who graduated last year.)

All the baptized students from this year and previous years

"... Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth..." 
Luke 15:7

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Two Hearts United

About this time last week, a few of my fellow teachers and I were hurrying around trying to finish up last minute details... You see, there was to be a wedding early the next morning. 

It was the wedding of two volunteer teachers here at the school. They decided to have their wedding here so the students would be able to attend and since they will continue their ministry here together. It was a first for this school to have a wedding here.

It was a busy time - decorating the archway and aisle with bamboo, ribbon, bows, palm branches & flowers, taping letters to the purple curtain, blowing up balloons, ironing tablecloths & dresses, practicing music, typing out the wedding program and other such wedding preparations. 

The wedding morning was brought in with Hannah Steck's (the wedding coordinator :-) cheery voice, "Ladies, we probably better get over to the wedding site to finish things up."

"Ok," Haley and I drowsily responded from underneath our mosquito net. It was 4:45 am. We had to start early because the wedding was to start at 8:00. (Karen weddings are usually in the morning.)

In the darkness we did the finishing touches to our work the evening before. We arranged the fresh flowers on the green arch & the swinging bench to add bursts of purple, pink & white. 

The time passed quickly and before we knew it--it was time for the wedding to begin. 

At the beginning of the ceremony, the student choir sang as they brought the wedding party across the open field to where the wedding ceremony would take place. The students crowded around taking as many pictures and videos as they could of this special event. 

The wedding was short and sweet. After the pronouncement of the new couple and the recessional, everyone was invited to enjoy the good food that was prepared. 

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy...

Jonalyn (a Filipino) & Erick (an American) 

The guestbook table

The front - Karen style

Decorated bamboo sections lining the aisle

The archway with palm branches & flowers

Pictures after the wedding

The wedding party 

 The couple with Erick's parents

 It's very interesting that the groomsman and bridesmaid wear 
exactly the same clothes that the bride & groom wear in Karen weddings. 

 The little people - they did a very good job. :)

 The four decorators with the new couple

We pray that the Lord will richly bless your new marriage & ministry, Erick & Jonalyn. 

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Day Picnics

January has been the month for picnics. All the grades have gone on day picnics as well as other groups (like the dorm staff or afternoon work groups). There is always a lot of excitement and anticipation in the air as the time gets closer to leave on a picnic. For the grade 9 & 10 picnic we left early in the morning and arrived at the riverside before breakfast. After breakfast and worship, we spent the rest of the day playing games and just having fun with each other. We ended the day with a nice campfire worship that everyone participated in. 

I will always treasure those moments... the moments of laughing together, chasing each other on the sand, enjoying special food together, laughing some more, taking a refreshing dip in the river, reading the Bible, singing together, and much more. 

These are two of my 10 graders - they love to have their picture taken. 

Saw Eh Shee has quite the look, don't you think? :)
Myint Htay is making a funny face in the background, 
which is not out of character for him at all. 

The beach was such a nice sandy place for our games. 

This game especially had us laughing. Mrs. Steck was right in the middle of the fun. 
I love their facial expressions in this one. 

Thara Di Yay enjoyed the games too! 
He helped a lot to translate my explanations of the games. 

A Karen Bible
I'm thankful the Karen characters don't just look like random lines and circles to me now. 
I can read most of the letters now (although I still don't know what it all means).

I think we were playing "Monkey in the Middle" here. 

Striped jackets seem to be popular here. :) 
I like it when they actually smile for pictures. 

Paw Wah Wah & Ma Shwe Win - two of my sweet 9th graders. 

I told you they like to take pictures. 

Than Than Aye & I
Please pray for her - She has a pretty bad family situation. 

The scenery was splendid! 

This was taken at the dorm monitor picnic. 

All the dorm staff - a lot of them are my students. 
Don't they look nice in purple? 

By the end of the day, we were all sweaty, sandy, & worn-out... but nonetheless happy. 

Please pray for the precious students here at Sunshine Orchards. Many of them have had really hard backgrounds. I want them to experience Jesus as a true Friend. They need to find comfort, security & peace in a saving relationship with Jesus. Even though friends may leave them and family may reject them, Jesus will always be by their side. Please pray that they will surrender their lives fully to Him - no matter what rejection they may face from their families. 

And for those of us, who come from supportive Christian homes (even though they are not perfect)
--we have so, so much to be thankful for!  Don't take your family for granted. 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

136 Days in Counting

Happy New Year, everyone! It's hard to believe we've already passed the threshold of a brand new year. 

It's also hard to believe that I've been here in Thailand for 136 days already. These past few days have been wonderful, growth-filled days. I am truly an abundantly blessed girl.  

I've had great intentions to share more on this blog about my time here. But due to the busyness of my schedule here, I haven't had an abundance of time to write updates. Teaching four classes everyday, practicing songs for upcoming events, trying to work on finishing a college class, playing games with the students, being entertained by the four girls who come to our hut whenever they have free time (which is quite often), preparing to give worship or chapel talks, or teach the 9th & 10th grade Sabbath school class, going on runs with some of my fellow teachers and more... keeps me pretty busy. (Christmas was a busy time too. I'll have to write a post about that sometime soon.)

I'm thankful to have a purpose in life, like so many people don't have. I'm thankful to be a missionary working with such sweet people. 

Even though I don't have the time to put a lot of thought into writing a blog post, I thought I could share some pictures of my students and others with you. Pictures speak a thousand words, right? There's so much more to share, but this is a start. 

My 10th grade class - they all have very unique personalities. I wish you could meet them all!

 The 9th graders - They are all wearing their class shirts that I helped design for them (except for the two day students who didn't realize they were supposed to wear their class shirts that day).

 Some of my sweet 9th grade girls - One of them had to leave this term. :(

Teacher Raquel with some of her students before she left. 

 These students love to take pictures with us! 

 Moo Koh Paw is one of my 10th graders on the left.
She's one of the ones who is always visiting my hut. She keeps me laughing. 

 We went on a nice outing a few weeks ago - the views were breathtaking!

 Here's a cute little munchkin. He's almost like the school "mascot." 
His mom is the girl's dean here at the school. 

 These girls were happy to be moving into their new dorm. 
We had the dorm dedication & ribbon cutting at the beginning of this term. It has been a long time in coming - we're so thankful that the girls and boys have a nice new place to stay now. 

This is one of the two new girl's dorm buildings. 

 Mr. Adams (Papa Doh) with little Timothy cutting the ribbon at the dorm dedication.

Girls carrying their few belongings to their new dorm.

This little guy gets this contagious smile on his face when I come to visit him. 
Please pray for him though - he recently broke his leg again. His bones are so weak and brittle. 

Important note: If you are email subscribed to this blog and you've been seeing some weird posts - Don't worry, it's not me... Those email subscriptions were still connected with my old blog address - which I don't have anymore. My old blog hannahmariepowell.blogspot.com has a new owner now. So you should just unsubscribe to the old blog and then then try to subscribe to my new blog.
Sorry about that.