Phew. This prompt from Andrea for Show and Tell Tuesday is a doozy! Who I was in high school? How can I sum that up into one blog post? I was a missionary kid. I was a third culture kid. I was a friend. I was an athlete(ish). I was bilingual. I had a lot of fun.
But I guess since it’s Show and Tell, I will show you all who I was in high school.
So first and foremost, I was a missionary kid. I grew up in the small village of Tera, Niger. When I was younger, almost all my friends were nationals, and I loved being immersed into that culture. However, by the time I turned 14, most of my national friends were getting married and having kids. We remained friends, but I went off to school while they started their families. It’s pretty crazy, huh?
But let’s back up a little bit.
It’s important to know where I was when I was in high school.
I spent my freshman year of high school in Pennsylvania at a public high school. I made some friends and was in cross country, but the thing that got me through that year was my youth group.
My sophmore year I was at boarding school in Niger, West Africa. My sophomore year was one of the best years of my life thus far.
Here is the dorm my sophmore year of high school. I’m the blonde, third girl in, and my brother is directly above me in the jean shorts.
In high school, I built relationships with my friends. Deep relationships that still last to this day. Sure, we had cat fights and we didn’t always get along. We got along with some girls better than others, but when the population of our high school was not over 30 people, we kind of all had to make it work and get along. Because of the high school I went to, I had so much diversity in my friendships and chose to become close friends with people who I might not have otherwise been friends with. I haven’t talked to some of these people in years, and others I text almost daily. It’s crazy where life can bring us, but I know that I was to run into any of these people, we would pick right back up where we left off.
My junior year I was at the same boarding school, and a lot of my junior year I spent growing and maturing. It wasn’t the easiest year, but it was necessary for me to go through to become who I am today.
All through high school I liked boys. Of course, what girl doesn’t?? It occasionally went as far as finding out if he liked me too (usually through a middle man/woman of course!). Usually, he didn’t like me back, but confessed his undying love for my best friend. Oh, yes….I was that girl. There were one or two instances were the boy happened to like me back, but we very maturely resolved that we would rather stay friends than date. And I’m so glad for that little slice of wisdom that I had at that age. I wasn’t always the smartest with boys, but I am glad that when I met and married Theo (at the tender age of 4-months-past-high-school) I didn’t have past baggage or regrets.
And I just decided to make my point here with a lovely photo of almost all the boys in my entire high school. With my best friend. (P.S. Tam, I really wish we were together right now because I’d love to hear your laugh as you look at this picture. I’m not really sure why we took the picture. But I find it hilarious. I hope you do, too.)
I was so blessed by the incredibly rich friendships that I had. Like Joy, who was my roomate for two years. After leaving Africa, we stayed close and were both in each others weddings, and we have both had babies within a few months of each other…
Or Tam, who has also stayed by my side through mannnyyyy changes and life’s ups and downs.
Also, I was really skinny in high school.
In high school, I said more than my fair share of goodbyes. Being a missionary kid and going to a missionary school overseas meant that the turnover rate each year was HUGE. I said goodbye to friends, I said goodbye to my brother, I even said goodbye to teachers that had poured a lot into my life. Saying goodbye is NOT easy and it never gets easier, no matter how often I did it.
In high school, I was involved in ministry. Sahel Academy did an excellent job of requiring every student to get community service hours every semester. I was on a team that went to an orphanage once a week. I was also very involved in the outreach team, which planned outreach trips to different villages in the country (and even several outside of the country!).
My senior year I still went to the same school in Niger, West Africa…but this time I lived with my parents instead of being a boarding student. That was a year of transition, and of holding close to those I loved dear, then learning to let them go when our worlds went in all kinds of different directions.
My lovely parents. I love them dearly and I wish I hadn’t focused so much on spending time with all my friends instead of with them. It was a tough balance, but now I’d do almost anything to have them close again (they still live in Niger).
We worked hard that year as a class to raise money for a senior trip. One event we did was a spa day for the missionary ladies! Phew, scrubbing the feet of those who bring good news? Now that is a job!
….I didn’t know how good I had it in high school. The adventures….
like our class camping trip when we went canoeing a couple feet away from wild hippos.
or our senior trip when we traveled three countries away to the nearest beach… (yes, that is my entire senior class plus a chaperone and a driver).
Now lest you think that I was a perfect teenage, I wasn’t. I had a flair for the dramatic.
This picture was taken on a weekend that I completely ruined simply for being dramatic and easily offended. Sheesh. I cried many a tear and thought many a thought that were simply just overly dramatic. I made big deals out of little things and spent waaaaaay too much time thinking over my friendships and relationships and being a people pleaser.
In high school, I was pretty darn blessed. I had amazing opportunities, beautiful friendships, and lots and lots of fun!
Here is my entire graduating class. All 10 of us. I’m third in from the right.
P.S. Perhaps you read this post and thought, “wow! what an amazing experience high school was for this girl!” Indeed, it was. It was something that I now realize most people will never experience in their lifetime. And I know that there are many kids today who are experiencing the same experiences at Sahel Academy. But Sahel Academy is a missionary school, which means that all staff are missionaries living off support. Not a single one gets paid a single penny. But they do it for the kids. Well, here is my shameless plug that Sahel Academy is severely understaffed this year. They need teachers. Bad. So if you or someone you know could fulfill a need a Sahel Academy (trust me, you can), please send me an email ASAP.