A dream is a wish your heart makes….

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A dream is a wish your heart makes….

Hello everyone, Its been a little quiet here on my Blog lately. I have been so busy looking for jobs and doing work trials that I almost forgot my Blog existed. For that I apologize, I used to have such a passion for writing but lately I just haven’t been feeling it. From experience I know its best just to wait for the what I call “writing urge” to come back, forcing it can end in disaster (for me at least). There is something rather free about blogging, there are no restriction and I can ramble on without worrying too much.

Although there was supposed to be a point to this entry. If any of you have seen Cinderella (If not, where have you been and what have you been doing with your life?!), you will know the iconic message we get from it. A dream is a wish your heart makes. Now I used to love this phrase but recently I have not been loving it so much. What if you don’t know what your heart wants. Do I even know what my dreams are anymore? Unfortunately the answer to that is no. I had so many dreams which turned out to not be dreams at all. For example I had always dreamed of working with animals, but after a degree in Zoology I realized that it wasn’t for me at all. I did a course with ex race horses and loved it but when I attempted to be an apprentice groom I felt as if something wasn’t right. It was wrong for me. I am discovering that my so-called dreams aren’t my dreams at all, they are diluted versions of things I thought I wanted. If they were real dreams, real ambitions they would be solid foundations I would want to build on.

Finding out that my dreams and ambitions weren’t actually what I wanted left me feeling like a failure and an idiot. I always thought I knew my heart but it turns out I have a lot more soul-searching to do before I really know it. I guess I was so desperate to have dreams and have that sense of achievement that I chased every dream that came along, even when it wasn’t right. Don’t get me wrong, my life so far has taught me more than I could have dreamed it would (unintended pun) and it hasn’t been a waste of time. It just took me a long time to realize that I have changed so much that I don’t know myself anymore. This is terrifying.

Thankfully I have an amazing God who loves me and will guide me whether I am being an idiot or not. He doesn’t care, he just wants the best for me and has amazing plans. I used to think of myself as a grown up, I was wrong. I am more like a Cygnet, Grey and fluffy and a little rough around the edges. I am not a hatchling but I am not yet a full-grown swan. I see swans and want to be beautiful and elegant and just like them, but I don’t want the inconvenience of going through life to get to that point. Unfortunately the only way to be a swan is to work hard, to make mistakes and to experience things I never thought I would. It might be painful, strange, unfamiliar and overwhelming at times but in the end it will be worth it. Swan analogies, you don’t see any of those around 😉 .

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A lovely Cygnet I saw in town

I think we all feel like this at some point and it is tempting to beat yourself up about it but next time you feel that way look around you. Everyone you know has felt or may still be feeling like a scruffy, ugly Cygnet, bumbling their way through life and trying to figure it all out. You are not a scruffy, ugly Cygnet, you are a child of God. You is kind, you is smart, you is important! You are also a human being and God loves you just the way you are, flaws and all. I am going to leave you with my favorite psalm, I promise not to make a sheep analogy.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    for ever.

Love and blessings

Sarah

 P.S For a fun game count how many times I wrote “dreams”…

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Life after Africa

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Life after Africa

Its been far too long since I last wrote! I would love to say its because I’ve been so busy…but that would be a lie. Unless busy means obsessively playing Dragon Age. Over the past 2 months I have been trying to find a job, although by that I mean only applying for the ones I want, which in my case was just one! It was a library job if you were curious, and I didn’t even get shortlisted, but maybe it wasn’t meant to be. So I decided it was time for some help, and I signed on to job seekers. I am not going to pretend to be proud of myself. I am now a typical graduate, I live with my parents, I rely on the government to give me money and hopefully to help me get a job. I know, aren’t you jealous of how successful I am ;).

I am learning to swallow my pride, its a process. One that I am not going through gracefully. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so useless and confused about my life. What do I want to do? I don’t know, actually I do, I want to go back to Africa where, despite the difficulties, I had a purpose. My purpose now is to find my purpose. With Gods help I will get through this season in life without going crazy. I have discovered that to “be still and know I am God” is very difficult. When being prayed for last Sunday a friend said she saw me on Rollerblades, raring to go but I had no padding on, no protection. God wants me to wait so he can get all my protective gear on, elbow pads and the like. He is preparing me for something big, but I can’t see it. So many people are going through this feeling. All I want to do is go, but maybe I need to learn to enjoy just sitting in the presence of God.

When I move out of this place I will probably long to sit still and be back at the waiting season. I will endeavor to enjoy this place, because it is truly pathetic to complain about it. When I compare my situation to others less fortunate, I find I can see I have been so blessed. I have a loving family, a warm bed, a full stomach and endless possibilities, if only I choose to see them. Its all about perception, its a shame I forget about it until its too late. So I will continue to pray and grow, because God’s got my future in his hands, I just need to believe he does.

Lots of love and God bless you!

Sarah

xxx

Approaching the end, or is it the beginning?

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Approaching the end, or is it the beginning?

We are in week six now! Where has all the time gone? It is the sort of time where I am constantly trying to enjoy every moment and desperately holding onto the little time we have left. I can’t say I always enjoy every moment. Take today for example. A migraine came out of nowhere and was my first obstacle in enjoying every moment. Its pretty hard to enjoy the feeling of repeatedly being stabbed in the head with limited vision…I suppose we must be realistic in how we enjoy our experiences. Just because you go somewhere totally different does not mean you will instantly be positive all the time, you don’t just become a different person. It is a process, and there are plenty of challenges along the way.

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David, Helena and Roger teaching basic English conversation.

But I think this experience has been better because of the challenges. It feels like I have had a year of personal growth in the last 6 weeks. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22, and I have seen and done things I never thought I would do. No matter where you are in life, challenges will always be there. I have found that the way you react to those challenges reveals a lot about your character. I tend to hesitate and doubt myself. Sometimes I am terrified to even take a step. But then I pull myself together, give myself a little pep talk and take that step anyway. I might be trembling as I do it but the most important thing is that I challenge myself. I might also complain a lot, but we all need to change.

The truth is life is too short to waste our opportunities, even though I find myself doing this frequently! Its like we can see the sand running low but we just go about our everyday business anyway. Even if its not what we want to do, I find that we tend to get a bit too comfortable if we have a bog standard job that we don’t actually like. Its easier to stay in that place because moving would mean change, pain and difficulties! Most of all it means..God forbid…taking a risk! I’m glad I took this risk. Its been no picnic but I have so many memories I will treasure forever. Perhaps we need to find the gold among the dirt. I suppose that’s what makes the gold so valuable.

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We got to meet Davids sister (one of his many siblings) which was lovely 🙂

Last week we ran a lot of holiday camps, it was truly wonderful, if a bit challenging. I do not like public speaking in any way but I felt that I needed to face my fear. We all taught different lessons, like sexual health, HIV/AIDS and sanitation and hygiene. I led a session on setting personal and future goals. It was weirdly not as bad as I thought it would be. I did have a bit of a cry/panic afterwards but it was only small. The next time I did it I found it easier. I suppose practice really does help. I am not going to say that I am amazing at public speaking now, but I have something to build on which is a miracle for me. I thank God for giving me the strength, without him I would not have been able to do it.

Today we went to Peters school to teach English. Despite the migraine I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a fantastic moment where it started to rain heavily and we were unable to teach anymore. So the students got a drum and started to dance. It was amazing, I felt so much joy in that moment. Weirdly it was one of my biggest highlights! I suppose its good appreciate everything, even if it seems small to other people. It reminded me of this quote: “Until God opens the next door praise him in the hallway”. Its easy to get caught up in your issues, but to praise God regardless of your situation, that is conquering life. That is truly embracing life’s ups and downs, I am not there yet but I will get there.

The most wonderful moment!

The most wonderful moment!

Murakose ( thank you) for reading!

Much Love and Gods blessings

Sarah

xxx

Life in Kigali: Week four!

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Life in Kigali: Week four!

Firstly I wanted to apologize for not updating my blog for so long! It has been quite busy here so I have found it hard to update my personal blog. I have however been updating the team blog ( http://aeekigaliautumn2014.wordpress.com/) so go and check that out if you want a little more detail on the work we are doing in Kigali.

So I am going to be brutally honest. A lot of people will try to sugarcoat volunteering, telling you only the good things that have been happening and conveniently missing out the issues and struggles. I am so guilty of this! The problem is there are issues and you will get frustrated. We are in a new country, a new environment and we have to deal with lots of different problems. Such as culture shock, the heat, the food, being ill and sometimes a feeling of uselessness. For the first week I felt so useless, lazy, unable to do the work and weak. We were doing a lot of field work such as irrigation (a fancy way of saying watering), planting banana trees, visiting beneficiaries of AEE (African Evangelistic Enterprise) and being asked advice when quite frankly I just didn’t know what to say (or that I was qualified to say anything).

Planting banana trees in Gicaca, it was wonderful but hard work!

Planting banana trees in Gicaca, it was wonderful but hard work!

It was really hard to get used to, these were things I had never done and I just felt like such a failure. To top it all off getting work for us to do was very difficult, we couldn’t teach English to the children until November as they had exams, the staff never seemed to have office work for us to do (through no fault of their own) and it was all very slow. That meant I had that much more time to over think everything, I wondered what I was doing here, why did I think I could help anyone, I should just go home.

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All the wonderful people who work at Gicaca banana plantation

Luckily I had a supportive team to help me through it all. In fact we were probably feeling similar so it was almost easier, to know that I wasn’t suffering alone. That sounds awful but there really is nothing worse than feeling like no-one can understand what you are going through. These feelings would be like a fleeting wind, there one minute and gone the next. It was certainly an emotional roller coaster. However as I became busier and more used to the work we were doing I started to feel much better about the experience. I felt like we were really helping, even if it was in a small way. The understanding that we were building on the previous teams work was helpful.

I think that the impact we make cannot always be seen. We may never see that banana tree we planted fully grown, we may not even be able to taste its bananas. But that doesn’t matter, we put into motion something tangible and real. Just because you do not see the effect doesn’t mean its not there. The advice we gave to those beneficiaries could have been invaluable to them. They might put our words into actions and this could benefit their lives abundantly. The point is that we must believe our actions and words are important, they have an effect on the people around us and they shape our world, which in turn will shape the wider world. This is why we need to think carefully about what we say and do, and be thankful for every opportunity we get to change the worlds around us. Not everyone is lucky enough to do this and not everyone has a say in their own world.

So do not worry if you feel discouraged, I believe it is just a part of the process. We might not change the world immediately but we can all put into motion something that will. All you need is a drop to create a ripple.

I feel like this bible verse is appropriate: 1 Corinthians 15:58- Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Murakose (Thank-you) for reading and God bless you

Sarah

xxx

Just one of the many beautiful places in Kigali!

Just one of the many beautiful places in Kigali!

Living in Kigali: The start of our placement

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Muraho (or hello in English). I am currently in Kigali, in the Havugimana Israel guest Centre. This is where my placement officially starts and the adventure really begins. It honestly feels like weeks since I first stepped out of that plane and into Kigali. I remember the rush of heat and the darkness of the night. I especially remember the odd mixture of excitement and fear knotting up in my stomach. I had made it, after being on a plane for the first time. The lack of sleep and comfort outweighed by the excitement of being in a completely new atmosphere. It feels like a month since that night but in reality it has only been five days. I suppose that is what its like, getting used to a new culture and easing yourself in slowly.

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A view from my first plane ride

My first impression of Kigali was that it was much bigger than I expected it to be. The beauty of it hit me in the morning when I walked out of the Moucecore guest house and was struck by the most amazing view. Many buildings seemed to slant in the most organised way, the colours were all so rich and the sun already hot in the azure sky. I felt so blessed to be in such a beautiful place. From Monday (when our plane arrived) we had in country orientation with all the other teams which would be spread throughout Rwanda. It was wonderful, we were well informed about the culture, met our in country volunteers and even had language lessons from them too. They were so much fun, I thoroughly enjoyed embarrassing myself and over-pronouncing the words! It was so useful to get at least a basic grasp of the language. We also learned about the do’s and don’ts of both Rwandan and our own culture. For example in Rwanda you greet everyone whereas in the UK you barely look people in the eye when passing them in the street!

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Me and my well deserved ice cream!

On Wednesday we went to one of the genocide memorials in Kigali. It was probably one of the most humbling experiences in my life. I think you would need to go there yourself to understand that. All I can say is that I understand why people here don’t like to talk about it. The next day after some more orientation about the signs of culture shock we went out in Kigali with our team to learn more Kinyarwanda (the language here). It was such a blessed time, where we as a team really started to gel. I learned so much about my in country team members and even had an ice cream which cost….get ready for this…70p! I love ice cream here.

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Team Kigali (well minus Priscilla)

All too soon Friday was upon us and all the teams departed to their placements. It was a sad time but I felt I was ready to start our own placement. It took about 20 minutes in the car to get to Havugimana Israel guest Centre. We are staying in such a beautiful place, we have a kitchen area, a living room and the most lovely bedrooms. I even have an en suite bathroom. It probably sounds like I am living the life of luxury and I feel like I am but I know its only a matter of time until the hard work starts and I get to do what I’ve come here for. Saturday was spent with our team, getting to know each other and generally laughing a lot! We played games like Jenga and snap (well I watched) which seemed to be a favorite among In Country Volunteers. We had devotion in the evening which was lovely, I enjoyed reading the bible, praying and praising God with my team.

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The view from our placement guest centre

Today has been a little harder. I woke up feeling ill and emotional. In fact I cried quite a lot. But thankfully I had dioralyte (Sorry too much information), the support of my fellow team members and God. Its much later now and I feel fine, I am looking forward to going out into Kigali later with my team and further enjoying every minute of this placement, even the hard times.

Murakose (thank you) and God bless!

Sarah

God bless

xxx

The reality of going to Rwanda

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So its time to be honest with you all. Mixed in with the excitement of going to Rwanda (in 3 weeks!) there is also fear. I guess its easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to be realistic about things. I am well aware that this may be extremely difficult and I might not find it easy. But I don’t want that to put me off, sometimes the best things in life are the hardest. I am so grateful for this opportunity, I know God would not let me do this if he didn’t think I was capable of doing it (with his help of course). Sometimes in life we must all take a leap of faith. I feel like this is mine. I am going somewhere in the knowledge that when I come back I will not be the same. I am so excited about growing in Christ and in myself, its going to be life changing.

I only hope I can be of some help. As someone who is well aware of my faults I have some doubt that I will be able to help in the way I really want to. I know I shouldn’t dwell on the negative but it does get hard to completely ignore it. I guess sometimes I forget to look how far I have come. I am no longer the shy, insecure, sad girl I used to be. In fact I think I am quite strong now, as close to God as I have ever been and much more confident. It is a miracle which is all thanks to God. The fact is that within this self doubt I know in my heart that I am truly ready for this. I have to do Gods will, even if it means I might be scared of doing it. 

I am sure lots of people face the same situation (probably worse) every day and I want you to know a few things.You are an amazing individual, you are kind, you are smart, you are important (I love “The Help”). Yes you may have many faults but they are not your identity. You are capable of more things than you know and are braver than you think. Step out of the boat, it is scary but it is so worth it. 

 

Lots of love and God bless

Sarah Gale

xxx

Isaiah 41: 8-10

“But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    you descendants of Abraham my friend,
I took you from the ends of the earth,
    from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Bag packing, Gratitude and the best news!

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Me clearly not posing at all while bag packing 😉

Hello again. I have been busy bag packing for the past two days and the results have been incredible. I made £163.71 on the first day, £102.90 on the second and £266.61 overall. This means that I have surpassed my fundraising target of £800 and I have raised £872.60 overall with one event still left. I apologize for attacking you with figures 😛

I honestly don’t know how to feel, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that I am going to Rwanda and I have raised all the money. It feels surreal, like I am in a dream. This could be because I am tired from bag packing. I just feel so grateful to everyone who has donated and helped me out, it makes me feel so happy and amazed at the generosity shown by all. It blows me away and gives me hope that we can make a difference.

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A wonderful staff member from Waitrose

All that change and those odd pound coins didn’t look like much at first until I came to count it all up and realize that every single penny helped. You see its not always about how much that coin is worth but the feeling it was given with. All that money was given willingly (at least I hope so) with a good heart and a smile and that is almost as good as reaching my target. 

I have so many people to thank, the staff at Waitrose for letting me bag pack. If I hadn’t done that I would never have reached my target so fast. The staff were all so friendly and made me feel at ease immediately. The customers were all so lovely and polite, I even met one who went to school with Mary Berry (I was very excited at finding this out). I also need to thank my mum for being such a big help, without her and my family’s support I doubt I would have been able to fund raise so quickly and so well.

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Another wonderful staff member at Wetherspoons

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My wonderful mum who has been such a big help ❤

I want to thank Wetherspoons for letting me sell my cards and bookmarks in there, it was so nice to be able to leave a money jar and be able to do other things without worrying. Candy Jax have been amazing for hosting my “guess the sweets in the jar” event. It means so much to me that she would be so generous with her time. Also the Melksham Independent news (http://melkshamnews.com/) have been great, they were kind enough to interview me and write an article about me and Tearfund. Hopefully it will inspire other people to volunteer and make a difference. Also a huge thanks to Tearfund for giving me this opportunity and the tools to fundraise. It really means the world to me. 

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My bag packing station, it was so fun but much harder than it looks 😛

And last but not least I want to say a huge thank you to God, yes I know this is cheesy. But without God none of this would have been possible. I am just a big happy, thankful, overwhelmed bundle of emotions right now, which is extremely hard to put into words!

I hope you enjoyed this post, this is the end of my fundraising journey but the start of another to Kigali, where I believe the real journey begins ( I am so deep 😉 )

Love

Sarah

xxx