Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Thanks to everyone who asked questions. I'll get back to you on the next post. As it usually happens, as soon as I say I don't have anything to share, something comes to me. So.... here are some trade-offs that I have learned from my recent move:

1. Getting rid of an obsene amount of "stuff". The trade off? - Having a better understanding of not only how I view material possessions but what could have been a better use for that money. Lesson learned.

2. Going through each photo and document in my home page by page and picture by picture. Took LOTS of time. The trade off? - Remebering the good and purging the things that weren't so important after all. That and being thankful my bro-in-law has an awesome shredder at work because I burned mine out. Note to everyone reading - shred your stuff immediately!

3. Watching everything I own that wasn't sold, donated, or trashed go into tubs. The trade-off? Simplicity. Enough said.

4. No longer having my own place to live. The trade off? - Getting the best "roommates" ever for a whole month. And already missing them after 36 hours away.

5. Sharing a room with a toddler for a month. The trade off? - Greeting each day hearing, "Aunt D! Want out - Hold you!" Translation? The cutest little boy ever wanting to be scooped up and played with. Yes, please!

6. Being surrounded by toys everywhere you go. The trade off? Watching my niece's imagination come alive. She's so pretty! Don't believe me? Click here.

7. Finishing the biggest physical part of this transition. The trade off? Enjoying time with everyone you love the most instead of spending hours in the warehouse of an apartment. Freedom!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Taking Requests

As is most likely expected, my mind is pretty occupied with Egypt. There are other things going on but Egypt is all consuming. Since that is going on, I am having a hard time thinking of things to blog about. So...

I'm taking requests. Is there anything you want to hear about - Egypt or another topic? Do you have any questions about Egypt I haven't addressed? Your wish is my command. Let me know and I'll see what I can do....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Road to Egypt - And We're Off!

Since accepting the position in Cairo, it has been a whirlwind. Having never left the US means that this has all been not only busy but also new. Aspects of it have been overwhelming but never anything less than exciting. Especially when other people hear about it. I think the word that I have read/heard more than any other has been WOW! It makes me laugh every time. I've also been pretty surprised by how little people know about the world. One person asked me if they eat cows in Egypt since they worship them there. They then quickly followed it up by saying how lucky I was going to be because if anything goes wrong with my computer, that is where all tech support is outsourced to. Really!?!?! My other favorite response has been, "Oh! I've always wanted to go to Europe and now you'll live there!" Ummm....Not quite.

More seriously though..... It has been an adventure already. It's been quite fun. Along the way, I've had scattered moments of wondering what I've gotten myself into. I've had things come up that make me wonder about God's timing. I don't understand it but I trust it fully. In His faithfulness, God has provided answers all along the way. I just wanted to share some moments that I personally want to preserve so that when I look back, I remember them all.

Other than telling my boss about my resignation, the other big task before me was getting my passport. After a few hits and misses, I decided to make sure it happened. I was told to be at the post office e.a.r.l.y to be sure I got in line. So that morning, I got up e.a.r.l.y and was at the post office at 5:45. In the morning. Alone. I definitely had my appointment that day! As I waited, I was working on one of my lessons for bible study. Eventually, another lady came in and sat by me to wait. We started talking about why we were getting passports. She was trying to take her family on a cruise. She was also very sweet and encouraging about Cairo. At 7:30, the sign up list went out and we were appointments one and two - at 10:00 a.m. So I left to take care of some things and came back at about 9:30. She was already there and we starting chatting again. At one point, she said the following to me, "I brought something for you. I hope it is OK. I saw you doing your bible study this morning and thought you might like this." She reached into her purse and pulled out a three page prayer. Her aunt had gone through cancer several years ago and this prayer was something she prayed throughout her treatment. The prayer was all about praying against the enemy and his plans. A prayer of spiritual warfare. She said that since I'll be living in a foreign country for the first time, she thought I could use it. I didn't know what to say. It was so thoughtful and seemingly random. Only God. We were called in for our appointments at the same time. I went first. When I got up to go, she came over and gave me a hug. She told me that whenever she gets her passport, she'll pray for me. Whenever she uses her passport, she'll pray for me. Even though she knows I'll have people praying for me, she wants me to know I have strangers praying for me too. God, You leave me speechless....

There have been some days where getting ready to go have been downright overwhelming. I remember one day I got my list of things needed for my work visa, professional file, insurance, retirement contributions, and housing. I started crying. The night before I had finally sat down and made a list of things I needed to do to shut things down here. Now I had multiple "to-do" lists and an apartment to pack. Overwhelmed! That week I was supposed to go to a meeting for Houston Project, drive a cat to Flatonia, empty my classroom, drive to San Marcos to get a service record, and get another load ready for the parents to take back. Within a matter of hours, three of the five things were cancelled. God gave me time. It was a much needed, greatly appreciated gift!

I have been doing a month long sort of my belongings. Do I trash/recycle/sale/donate/store with the Johnsons/store with the folks/take to Egypt? It has taught me a lot about treasuring material possessions. I told someone the other day that all I could think about was the amount of money I spent on things that I don't need. It has totally changed the way I view shopping - for anything. Last night, I started feeling a bit panic-y. I was looking around my apartment at the stacks of boxes and the growing empty spaces. I found myself thinking that my life was in tubs. God gently told me that it isn't my life that's in tubs, just some stuff. I'm going to live my life, not store it.

I have been praying over the past few months about finding a way to serve my city. When Houston Project was announced, I learned that my Sunday Bible Study would be in the 5th Ward, not the place I had been previously. I was SO excited! It would be closer and it was in a better location for follow up and involvement. I was psyched! Then I got a new job. :) This week, I really was thankful to be a floater/administration team member. It was amazing! I found myself asking God why would He give me a place to serve and fall in love with so close to leaving. He reminded me that He isn't leaving that place. He's there. I can go back again when I'm here but until then, I could pray His Presence not only into the apartment complex but into the people as well. After all, He doesn't just need my hands to do His work. He needs my heart to be willing to do as He asks. For this area, He asks me to pray. I can do that from Cairo.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Road to Egypt - The Rubber Meets the Road

As summer break began, I was anticipating many things about the first two weeks of summer. I usually set those two weeks aside for selfishness, laziness, and getting caught up on sleep/rest. Then I get productive with everything I don't have time to do during the year. I was having a hard time relaxing and letting go of my anxiety about the school year I had just finished and the pressure of the one to come. To help with, I decided to have lunch with a girl I know. She has been blessed with a job but she too struggles with not being in the right place for her.

As we sat in a very crowded Panera Bread, I remember talking to her about how she manages to keep working in a position that didn't seem to fit. We didn't talk about it too long but listened patiently as I shared my concerns and was encouraging when I shared my goal of applying to work overseas in a year or two.

The next day, my grandmother fell and broke her hip. We spent the next few days in the hospital with her and had a spontaneous weekend with the parents. Week one was gone without the selfishness, laziness, and getting caught up on sleep/rest.

During that week, I was listening to a bible study about believing that God has been with us all along. There was a point that rooted itself in my mind and I couldn't shake it off. It said that sometimes we are wisest to hurry over when God calls us. We should be prayerful but pray as we take steps, not just sit and pray. Move and act on it. I was really thinking about Thailand and wondering if I had made the right decision. The decision to stay put never totally settled for me but I knew Thailand was wrong. I wasn't sure what was going on.

Week two of summer began and things started off the way I was hoping it would. I knew I was moving from my bee-infested apartment and was so excited to find a place that was amazing! The week was going great.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up and got starting with my morning. At about 10:30, my phone beeped that I had an email. I hoped up the laptop and the following facebook message was sitting in my inbox from my friend, Jen Cates:

"So... we have to open another KG class for next year. I'm think he hasn't hired anyone yet, but before I said anything to the director, I thought I'd ask if you were interested...? It could be 1st if a 1st gd teacher moves down instead."

I sat and stared at the screen on and off all morning. That quote from the bible study immediately came to mind when I read it. I know why it took me hours to get back to her. I had a knowing. I knew that if I put it out there, I would get this job. I don't know how I knew but I did. So I prayed and did something that is very difficult for me. I took the first step without thinking eight steps down the road.

That afternoon, I went over to Erin's house to "use her computer". Once the kids were taking naps, we sat down and I told her what happened. She listened and was very encouraging. When Gregg came home and the kids went to bed, I let him in on the news. I wrote my resume and off it went. My Johnson family were so encouraging and prayerful for me. My sister praying for my heart (thankful for a female heart) and my brother-in-law praying for adventure (thankful for a male heart). It was/is the best of both worlds. I swore them to secrecy until my mind was made up.

Over the next week, Jen was amazing to answer my questions that I sent her daily. I have never been overseas but here I was thinking about a HUGE move. She was patient and never made me feel like I had a silly question. As the answers came, so did an unexplainable peace. By the time I talked to the director, I had made a decision. He offered me the job and gave me until the end of the week to get back to him. It was time to tell the folks.

Erin and the kids went with me to surprise them in Pleasanton. I was nervous and to ease my jitters, Erin and I made up silly excuses for just showing up. We went with the ice cream dinner after church. They played along when we got there for as long as we did. After dinner, the kids were content and happily playing in the living room. The four original LaMores sat at our breakfast table where we had eaten nearly every dinner together growing up. I shared my news with the folks and over the next 30 minutes they listened, not one interruption or question. When I was finished, my dad stood up and said, "That sounds cool, Dana." Mom just shook her head yes.

I was shocked. No, I was S.H.O.C.K.E.D. Not one protest or question. The Lord had provided the words that they needed to hear. That night there were some tears but more from distance and love than anything else. Vacation plans immediately began because we all knew a vacation was a must.

The next morning we loaded up and drove back to Houston. Mom and Dad would follow the next day for a belated Father's Day celebration. We got back around lunch time and I went up to visit the grandparents. I told them what was happening and Grandma was so excited - clear as a bell as she shared about how much she loved traveling and learning new cultures. Grandpa was shocked but very sweet about it.

That night, I got to Metro extremely late due to dinner with Grandpa. Thankfully, that meant I didn't have to wait log to tell my closest friends. They knew of the possibility but they didn't know my final decision.

The next day was Friday. I officially accepted the position to teach Kindergarten in Cairo, Egypt for the next two years. I felt better that the decision was made and the director knew. God had overwhelmed me with peace, excitement, and more support than I knew what to do with.

But He wasn't done yet......

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Road to Egypt - The Rearview Mirror

Just as in every time God does a mighty work in my life, I can alway look back and see how He has been preparing me for quite some time. The way to Cairo is no different.

This past year at school was a difficult one. From the beginning of the school year, it held its frustrations and trials. By the time I went to Colorado the first weekend in October, I was already burnt out. Throughout the year, I became increasingly bothered by the way that public education was turning. As we began looking towards next year, I did not have the same anticipation of a fresh start that I usually had. I felt dread, especially with all of the changes due to budget cuts.

In the midst of the ever growing frustration and discouragement, a few things began to happen. While I was in Colorado (Sept 30 - Oct 2), one of the sessions really hit close to my heart. The last session focused on the need to be a part of the larger story. We spent time talking about the fact that wherever we go, the Kingdom of God goes with us and He lives His life through us. One of my favorite quotes from that morning was to the effect that even the smallest person can change the course of the future. At that moment, I knew that there was a big change coming in my future. I didn't know what or when. I started asking my small group to pray that whenever that time came, I would be prepared to follow God without fear or hesitation, no matter what it looked like.

Fast forward to the spring. I was growing increasingly discouraged and frustrated with the state of education. I didn't understand it because my school was/is the best I have ever worked in: amazing adminstrators, wonderful coworkers, sweet children, and an overall campus of diversity and respect. However, some policies and expectations are a lot to handle. I felt the urging to do the bible study "Believing God". It was a bible study that pushed me to look at my level of faith and the realities of God's character and activity. Each lesson addressed very specific things going on in my life almost day by day. I've never had a study that pushed application like this one did.

Another study that I was involved in was my Sunday Bible Study, Roots. We were spending time in the book of Ezra talking about how we learn from history and how we react to the world around us. How would God have us relate to our world in a way that reflects Him?

In the middle of the study, the first hint of what was in store came my way. I was blocked into a parking spot when a woman I hadn't spoken to in quite a while called me. Her brother is a director of a school in Thailand and he was in the States recruiting teachers for the next session. I wasn't really feeling it but I thought I would see what happened. We kept missing each other and never touched base. Even though it wasn't to be, it really got my mind going. I had some reservations in working there. I decided that if I were to ever work overseas, I wanted to work with native students - not Americans living overseas. I decided that I didn't want to be responsible for raising my own support (another post for another day).

As the spring semester went on, things at work got more and more tense as budget cuts were being made. As stressful as it was, I was blessed with favor by my principal. I ended up requesting a position change and he granted it. I felt incredibly blessed. The next year was going to be everything I was asking for.

Even through there was favor there, I still didn't have peace. I was feeling the need to teach something more than just towards a standardized test. I was tired of being stretched too thin to be more than I was physically and mentally able to be. I was exhausted every single day. I couldn't shake Thailand. I didn't regret not going. I was thinking about the need in other countries for more than just academics. There was a need for learning that would bring about change. Just a couple of weeks before school let out, I had dinner with some of my favorite friends. As we waited for our dinner to arrive, I let the girls know that I felt that I was being called to teach overseas in a year or two. They were amazingly supportive.

Three days later, my mom randomly asked me if I have ever considered teaching internationally. Completely out of the blue. I almost swerved into another lane.

The last week of the school year came. It was sweet with the kids but crazy in every other way. On our work day, I attended a meeting about the next year's schedule, the lack of support teachers, and the highest standards I've ever worked under. I was so overwhelmed, all I wanted to do was cry. It was only by the grace of God that I left that meeting without quitting.

I walked out that day so excited about a summer of no plans. There would be time to relax, step away, and not think about anything important for at least two months. That was June 3.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Announcement Time

Yes, it has been very quiet here on the blog-front. Yes, I have been very busy (and secretive). Time to let the cat out of the bag.....

I have accepted a kindergarten position in Cairo, Egypt. It is a two year contract and I'll head that way in about seven weeks. It all happened very quickly and I'll tell the full story in more detail over the next week. It really is a God story. It is incredibly exciting and very overwhelming at the same time. I'm busy with tons of preparations while trying to squeeze in as much time with people as possible. There are so many things I'm looking forward to.

So prayer request time. I know there are the general ones for culture shock, safety, relationships, etc . Right now I'm going to focus on the next seven weeks.

- Pray for energy and motivation to get the packing done. I've had so many people offer to help which I greatly appreciate! However, its something I really have to be involved in myself. I get overwhelmed by the huge sort: sale, trash, store with the parents, store with the Johnsons, or take to Cairo. Thankfully, only three more weeks of this part of it!
- Wisdom with my time as I'm trying to balance packing, appointments, people, and responsibilities.
- Balancing the excitement of going and the reality of temporary good-byes.
- Sleep - being able to shut my brain off as well as just getting enough.
- To set aside time with God each day. He's making this happen and making His presences know all over the place. He is my stablizing peace right now. I just don't want to get so overwhelmed by the process that I don't spend time with Him.
- If you've moved overseas and know of something in the preparation time that I'll need prayers for, pray as you feel led! You know better than I do what the next few weeks physically and emotionally look like!

Thanks to everyone in advance for your prayers! More of the story to come soon!