A Bit of Vulnerability – Pt. I

Hey, everyone. These next set of posts are going to be very different from what I usually bring to the table. I began writing yesterday night and I kept going, and going, and going… until three hours later I finally reached a stopping point. The half-way point. But fret not, I am breaking up the stream of consciousness ramblings into bite size pieces, that will, hopefully, speak to you on some level. If not… at least it’s out of my head now. So, without further ado, I bring to the table…

A Bit of Vulnerability… Pt. I

The Lord has decided it’s time to wreck my view of Him. He is correcting lies I have believed about Him so He can get into the depths of my soul, a place I have knowingly and unknowingly denied Him access since I became a Christian at age thirteen.

First, He broke me. He put me in the position where He, and only He, could comfort and bring light into the dark places of my life. Second, He revealed the ‘why’ behind my ACCESS DENIED feelings toward Him. Third, the now, He is lovingly correcting me. Many times, God has ‘slapped me across the face.’ It’s a brief WAKE-UP moment, a jolt to the system.

This is not one of those times.

This is the careful molding of a potter. The steady hand of an artist applying intricate detail to their creation. This is the second half of a process He began in me long ago. The first half was to strengthen me. To get me ready to receive this correction, now, without completely breaking down. Let me explain…

I was the kid who would cry if my parents looked at me with disappointment or anger. When I was six, I told a lie to my mom. After a couple of hours, the guilt was CRUSHING me, so I went to her room and confessed, a puddle of tears. My mom comforted me, told me she loved me, and calmed me down. Then, she grounded me. Twice. Once, for what I originally did and, twice, for lying about it. In order to receive my punishment (to be corrected) and for it to have the desired effect that parents want it to have, I first had to be comforted, calmed, and assured (strengthened) that my mom loved me and that she was glad I came to her and confessed. If she had merely grounded me and sent me away, it would have crushed the core of me. I wouldn’t have learned to own up to my mistakes. I would have learned “don’t get caught, ‘cause getting caught is painful.”

So, for the past few years, I have been in the “strengthening” stage. He has been affirming the gifts He has given me, bringing to light new strengths, and growing my confidence in Him. He has brought me out of “the crush zone.” And now, it’s time to enter into the Refiner’s fire…

First, He broke me…

These past three months – October to December 2015 – to use an un-kosher missionary term, SUCKED. I would love to describe that word with other, stronger, language, but for the sake of the readership, I will refrain.

It was bad.

And not just in one area of my life or in one certain situation. It permeated my entire identity and world. While teaching in the states, I went through some rough times, but it never impacted my teaching. I never took my anger out on my kids. I never slacked off to the detriment of my classes. Now, five years later, this was not the case. If any students in my 8th Grade English class are reading this, I apologize. Y’all were the last class of the day and y’all got the worst of me.

So at this point, you’re probably asking, “What the heck happened?” And the answer is this:

God stripped bare the three areas of my life that were standing in the way of my relationship with Him:

1) My Superhero Complex (my ability to work hard, do things well, and usually succeed)

2) My “Understanding” of Myself (“I’ve been through counseling, I’ve totally got a grip on this!”)

3) My Solitude Complex (I’ll ask my friends, they’ll know what to do…)

 

You are not a superhero, nor were you created to be…

The beginning of the school term started with a meeting between the vice-principal, my department head, and myself. At the end of the meeting, they had removed one of the five classes I was teaching and I agreed to NOT coach a girl’s basketball team.

I walked to my friend’s house and cried.

I’m supposed to be able to do everything. I’m supposed to be serving in every capacity I can. I’m here to serve the Lord, right? I have these capabilities. I should be doing any and everything in my repertoire to serve this community. Right? Because if I do enough, I can pay God back. I can make it worth His while to have saved me…

The truth is, they were right. I was going to crash and burn if I continued with the workload I had, to the point where I may not have been able to return to PNG after my next scheduled furlough. And I hated that they could see that. I hated that no matter how hard I tried, I was incapable of doing it all. I hated my inability, my ineptitude. God had begun felling my wall of grandeur…

 

Click here for Part II…

 

 

 

 

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A Recap of Sorts!

What’s up y’all?! It’s two-and-a-half weeks until school starts again. This break has been packed full of all the things! Here’s a list:

  • preparing to teach middle school English

Yeah… that’s the whole list. That’s right! I, Leah Rigsby, owner of a degree in Mathematics Education will be teaching Middle School English. I’m so “excited!” No, but for real, I am, indeed, excited, but also quite nervous. If any of you English teachers out there are looking for an adventure, join Wycliffe, come on down to Papua New Guinea, and teach at Ukarumpa International School! I digress…

So, yet again, this next school year holds uncharted territories:

  • In 2012, it was teaching Geometry and Pre-Calculus (I had only ever taught Algebra I in the States)
  • In 2013, it was teaching Spanish
  • In 2014, it was my first furlough ever
  • and now, in 2015, I’ll be teaching Middle School English. Woot.

As I said in the previous blog post, I want to give you a look at what it’s like at the end of the school year in Ukraumpa, so let’s get to it:

Tournament!

Last term is girls volleyball – my favorite – and boys rugby – everyone’s favorite. We all wake up at 5:45am and are on the road by 6:15am to travel to Goroka (about 2 hours away when you’re traveling in a caravan of vehicles) to play in a tournament against schools located in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. We don’t have “district” competition here like we do in the states, so tournament is the “district” championship that everyone competes for.

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Some seniors and I watching rugby. Yes. I'm drinking water from a peanut butter jar.

Sports Day!

The entire secondary campus is divided into two teams: Alpha (red) and Beta (blue) to compete in a 2-Day track meet extravaganza! My friend Alan and I organize all the participants for the running events, make sure we have a list of who is running in each race, and record the results which go to the score table. I also yell at children to not crowd around the finish line as close races are ending so that the timers can get accurate times.

And then I lose my voice.

And then I have to recruit a high schooler to sing for me in church the next day because I am leading worship. Well that was a rabbit trail…

Anywho! The past three sports days I have been here have been dominated by Beta. But this year… in an epic battle too close to count… Alpha WON!!! By five points. It was insane.

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Celebrating the end of Sports Day with some of the senior girls!

Banquet!

This is the equivalent of the junior-senior prom. The Teen Center is transformed through the hard work, construction skills, and artistic ability of parents and members of the community to give the kids a special time to celebrate with one another and have a good ol’ time.

This year, I had the opportunity to act in the Banquet Entertainment – a play written by the parents for the kids, about the kids, with the parents themselves starring as their kids. I played myself, my friend Alan played Dr. Who, and together, we had to search for the children throughout different times and places in London to save them from the dreaded clutches of the Pink Refrigerator.

We would’ve definitely gotten a Tony for this epic performance.

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Me, dramatically showing the "children" the Pink Fridge responsible for their impending doom.

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The Halferys and I getting photo-bombed by a senior in the Banquet Photo Booth.

Band and Choir Concerts!

I love the fact that I get to live out my high school dreams of being in Symphonic Band (my school didn’t have one). It is enhancing my music skills and is also just another opportunity to bond with the kids.

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Pre-Band Concert selfie!

The culmination of musicalness this term, however, was not in band. It was with the Ladies Ensemble I had the privilege to direct (and perform with!). These girls STEPPED IT UP and not only learned the music, but also learned the percussion parts for the performance of the song. So, please without further ado –

Click the picture below to enjoy the musical stylings of the UISSC Ladies Ensemble:

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Graduation! – see the previous post

Saying Goodbye…

The last two weeks of June were ROUGH. Twice a day, family and friends journied to the airstrip to say goodbye, some for furlough, but for the graduated seniors, for good. Some will return to Ukarumpa to visit family or to see younger siblings graduate. Some will not have that opportunity. But for all of them, this place that has been their home – some for a few years, some for their entire lives – is no longer “home.” Please keep these graduates in your prayers as they return to their home countries for university, work, or to join other ministries before applying to school.

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My first goodbye (to the girl in the front row wearing the hat) at the airstrip. We were smiling
on the outside... not so much on the inside.

And  now, we have returned to school break. Wasn’t that a great recap?! Stay tuned for more adventures – the next post will tell you all about school break (yes, I did more than prepare for teaching English) including 4th of July celebrations, a conference I’m attending here put on by the Melanesian Institute, and a cake decorating contest!

Thanks for your prayers and support, everyone! I wouldn’t be here without them!

Leah

It’s School Break, Y’all!

Ladies and gentledudes… the 2014-2015 school year is over. Yesterday was graduation and today began the first of many drives to the airstrip to say goodbye to the seniors as they fly back to their home/university countries. My eyes are puffy from the tears, but I am so proud of these graduates. Please pray for them as they make their way back to these strange countries that will now be their homes, some for the next four years, and some for the rest of their lives.

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Graduation selfie. Don't worry, the asst. principal told them they could.

I’ll be updating you guys on all the happenings of this school term, but for this post we’ll just stick with graduation. For the ceremony I got to:

  • Run the sound board
  • Edit the processional music so it lasted for four minutes instead of two
  • Lead worship for the ceremony
  • Read scripture

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Leading worship.

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Reading part of Psalm 139 for the ceremony.

I and my friends – the Halfertys (http://gountilgodsaysno.com) and the Halbrooks (https://ahalbrooks.wordpress.com) – also had a BRILLIANT idea for a funny video to give the seniors as a last present. Unfortunately, we had the idea on Sunday night at 11pm and graduation was on Tuesday. So, Monday was filled with me frantically editing and us shooting some scenes that night to have the video ready by Tuesday evening.

The video would make absolutely no sense to anyone except the kids, but here’s a screen cap to give you an idea of the ridiculousness we presented to them:

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This is why we’re all friends.

Now, that school break is in session, I will be able to update you on all that has happened since I have returned. I am so happy to be back here teaching and working with the kids. Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Leah

**Friend me on facebook to see oodles of pictures or visit my YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/leahrigsby) to see videos of my adventures here in Papua New Guinea!

It’s Been a While…

Don’t worry. I’m not gonna bust into that song by “Staind.” (If you got that reference…then you were just as angsty in high school as I was.)

Sorry guys. I’ve taken a long blog hiatus. Things have been INSANE over here! But, rather than bore you with paragraphs regaling my activities, I’m going to share a thought I had a couple of weeks ago.

A Thought…

Sometimes, when you are a missionary in a supporting role (i.e. “Supporting Bible translation through teaching missionary kids), you can get ‘missionary envy.’ What is missionary envy you may ask? Exactly what it sounds like. I’m envious of the calling of others. The ones who are in the villages teaching Papua New Guineans and translating. The ones who are training pastors on how to preach in their own language. The ones who go into a village after a Bible dedication to teach them HOW to use their new Bibles. They’re so important! They’re so holy! Does what I’m doing even matter in comparison?

And that’s where Satan sinks in his claws and continues to feed you lies. Cause guess what? There is no “Christian hierarchy of awesomeness.” Living our lives, wherever God has positioned us, in a manner that glorifies Him and brings about deep relationships centered on Him is what is important. Some of this happens in the village and is focused on Papua New Guineans. Some of this happens on center in Ukarumpa and is focused on the teens here. Some of this happens in America and is focused on your co-workers. And on, and on, I could go.

I was asked by friend on center to write a brief summary of what my role is here and why I do what I do. It’s for a calendar or something. Anyways, God knew I needed to process some of these insecurities and gave me this thought, which, I think, is pretty neat:

“…if while we (as a Bible translation organization) are working to transform Papua New Guinean lives through Bible translation, but don’t also work to transform the lives of missionary children, then we’re taking two steps forward and one step back. My role in working with these students helps us as an organization to speak into the lives of all who are involved in Bible translation.”

Bam! I do matter! Just kidding. What I do doesn’t make me matter. The fact that God created me and loves me makes me matter. But that’s a completely different blog topic.

Thank you so much for your prayers! Without them I wouldn’t be able to do life here and glorify God by working with the teens here.

If you have any questions or just want to say “hey!” e-mail me at l.rigsby@sil.org.pg

If you want to mail me a USB full of YouTube videos like my mom did (!!!!!!!!), you can send me a letter at:

Leah Rigsby
P.O. Box 1 (42)
Ukarumpa, EHP, 444
Papua New Guinea

Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Leah

Fortnight Friday! “Episode” 3!

What’s up ladies and gentledudes?! For this installment of Fortnight Friday, I thought I’d update my blog rather than upload a video because:

1) I haven’t updated the blog since I’ve been back.
2) It’s costs me about $20 of internet to upload ONE video.
3) I was lazy and didn’t film these past two weeks. 🙂

Here’s what’s been going on the past couple of weeks!

I Teach Children:

Our math classes here are split into two tracks: Advanced and Regular.

The advanced track allows kids to be able to take Calculus in 12th Grade and get AP credit for college, while the Regular track just need through Algebra II or Pre-Calculus. This means our math classes are smaller, since usually each grade has half advanced and half regular track students.

My Classes:

  • 7th Grade Pre-Algebra: 8 kids – 7 boys and 1 girl. They are hilarious. Talkative, but hilarious.
  • 10th Grade Geometry: 12 kids. I taught them Algebra I last year and I’m gonna try to finagle my schedule to teach them Algebra II next year. They’re great, super hard working kids.
  • 11th/12th Grade Pre-Calculus Honors: 13 kids. I love Pre-Calculus. Trigonometry makes me happy. I love teaching the older kids, too. They understand sarcasm. It’s great fun.
  • 8th/9th Grade Algebra I: 20 kids. These guys keep me on my toes. A common command I have to give: “Don’t shout out the answer! You’ll ruin the movie for everyone!” They get very excited when they solve problems. Go math!

Extra-curricular Goodness:

  • I’m in band! And by “in band” I mean… In band. Not an adult sponsor. I’m just a member of the percussion section. I love being able to do this because 1) My high school didn’t have band and 2) I get the chance to bond with the students in a different way than just being their teacher.
  • I’m a Small Choir Ensemble Sponsor! I get to direct eight students as they perform two basically acapella pieces (one features the cello). We meet once a week after school to rehearse and they will perform the pieces at the choir concert. Woot!
  • Light Crew Manager! This term, the high school puts on a play. And a play needs to be lit. With lights. That are, like, 25 years old. And blow fuses. The main “light guy” is graduating this year, so I’m going to train some 9th graders to become our new lighting experts. Go technical behind the scenes things!

Youth Ministry:

  • I spoke at the Youth Service on Feb 8 about finding our satisfaction in God! Yay speaking!
  • I got to play (twice!) with the two youth bands during the Sunday evening youth service!
  • I and my friends Evan and Sarah got to lead worship for the kids at a youth band retreat. We played stripped down, acoustic versions of songs and it was super fun. The Holy Spirit moved and we had a great time of unabashed worship of our Lord.

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Packing up the instruments after helping out with the worship band!

Community Things:

  • Playing drums for the Sunday morning service!
  • Community volleyball game with ex-pat and Papua New Guinean ladies

See guys, I did stuff. I just didn’t bring my camera with me. 🙂  I’ll do better for the next fortnight Friday, promise!

Here are links to videos from the past month or so:

Visit the updated prayer page to see what you can be praying for!

Thanks everyone!

– Leah

Monday, Monday…

Ba dah, ba dah dah dah. Fun fact: “The Mama’s and the Papas – Greatest Hits” was, like, the third CD I ever owned. And by “owned” I mean, stole from my parents and never gave back. Sorry, parents. I was in fourth grade. I digress.

Hey everyone! I’m currently in the town of Lincolnton, North Carolina, hanging out with my friend Brandy and her family before I leave for Papua New Guinea on… you guessed it…Monday! (Now the singing rabbit trail makes sense. I’m a teacher, I always bring it back full circle. Sometimes. Maybe.)

Brandy and I are housemates in PNG, so while she is on furlough now, I will go back (on Monday!), watch over the house, try to not break anything, await her return, and try not to break anything. Is there an echo in here?

Brandy and I doing American things together! Like taking pictures in front of a Christmas-y 
decorated court house and seeing movies... at a theater!

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I still cannot believe I am returning to PNG in time for the start of the second semester of school. I am SO READY to teach again. What will I be teaching, you ask? Bullet points!

  • 7th Grade: Pre-Algebra
  • 8th/9th Grade: Algebra I
  • 10th Grade: Geometry
  • 11th/12th Grade: Pre-Calculus

These past few months have been the first EVER August through December that I have not been in school. Like…ever. Since I was four. And I’m twenty-eight. So the sentence, “This is the first August in twenty-four years I haven’t been in school,” sounds pretty impressive. Also sad. I’m almost thirty. Let’s move on.

To say I’m excited about my impending 37 hour journey (on Monday!) would be a bit of an over-statement. The biggest fear I have is not being able to sleep. Back in 2012, when I first went to PNG, my flights were impeccable. I chilled out on my layovers and slept on my flights. It was perfect. This past June, when I came back to the US…not so much. I think in the span of my 54 hours or travel I got, maybe, four hours of sleep. Not a good time. So, prayer for sleep on the planes (I’ll be on four of them) would be greatly appreciated.

Links to cool things!

Remember the Leedahl family? Jon was in an accident in PNG back in October and lost his right leg. He was in critical condition in our clinic through the night in Ukarumpa, was immediately flown to Australia the next morning, has been through multiple surgeries over the past two months, and finally… Jon has been discharged as an outpatient! Thank you so much to all who have been praying for them! If you haven’t checked out their story, please visit their website (click on their photo below) to see the amazing work of God in their lives.

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My friends the Halbrooks were featured in a video about Wycliffe! They are also teachers at Ukraumpa International School and how they feel about supporting Bible translation through teaching is the same way I do! Click the picture below to see the short video!

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Thanks so much everyone!

– Leah

So Long, Farewell, Auf wiedersehen, Goodbye…

I was inspired by my recent viewing of “Sound of Music – Live!” And, yes. I definitely Googled, copied and pasted “auf wiedersehen.”

Ladies and gentledudes, my time in America is drawing to a close. Here is a time line:

  • Dec 24: Christmas Eve with the extended family
  • Dec 25: Christmas Day with my mom, dad, and brother
  • Dec 27: Fly to Atlanta
  • Dec 27 – Jan 4: Hang out with Brandy and other friends who are on furlough from PNG
  • Jan 5: Begin the flight to Papua New Guinea

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I know. I’m freaking out, too. Here’s a loose look at my flight schedule:

  • Jan 5: Charlotte – Houston – LAX
  • Jan 5 to Jan 7: LAX – Fiji (international date line! I don’t get a Jan 6…)
  • Jan 7: Fiji – Solomon Islands – Papua New Guinea

These flights are pretty tight. Please be in prayer for no delays and smooth transitions. Especially my luggage. 🙂

Another thing to be in prayer for is me and my family. Leaving and saying good bye is rough, even when you know you’re supposed to be going.

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My Family! – Me. My brother, Zeb. My dad, Mike. And my mom, Becky. I think it’s pretty self explanatory who’s who. I mean, I know Zeb and I look like twins, but come on, y’all. He’s blonde. Get it together.

Welp, that’s all I’ve got. My brain is on over-load mode. I’m even making lists. And doing what they say. Who am I?

Merry Christmas!

– Leah