July 23, 2012

i went to africa

It's been a while since I posted. I've had a lot of words, but none came together cohesively when I sat down to write. A lot has happened! I turned 22 on May 4. I graduated from Harding University. I left for Rwanda on May 11. I came back from Rwanda on June 3. I started grad school on June 11. Life has been busy! I wanted to share some pictures from my incredible trip. We spent 3 weeks in Rwanda teaching English to 3rd graders in a school with no resources. Most of the teachers didn't speak English at all, but they are required to teach their students English. It was an incredible blessing to all of us to be able to work with those students for three weeks! We taught close to 200 students a day (4 classes of around 50 students). 

 Some of our vocabulary words were numbers. I was teaching the number 5.
 The number 1 rule for teaching in an African classroom is to be as silly as possible. We taught the words "sing" and "dance", so we would have one student come up and sing into the "microphone" (broom) and another dance. They were hesitant to volunteer, so we demonstrated :)
 My sweet Sunday sat at the back of the room and sometimes thought the directions didn't apply to him. Teacha Katie was always happy to remind him that they, in fact, did!
 Singing our favorite song! "I LOVE MY SCHOOL!"
 Recess was always a fun experience. They LOVE having their picture taken!
 This is my sweet Nick. After our last day, we stayed in Rwanda for a few more days. He was one of the students that climbed the brick wall surrounding the convent where we stayed to call for us. We would be playing cards and would hear them calling our names. So precious.
 We saw so many rainbows in Rwanda. It was incredible.
 This is our school! I was standing by the P3 (third grade) classes and looking across the courtyard at the P4 classrooms.
 Recess was mayhem. Every time.
 Beth, Teacher Domatia, me, Teacher Felicity, and Maria. Bethany and I taught all of the classes together and Maria was with us for half of our classes. These are the teachers that we were blessed to work with!
Bethany and I by the sign for the school after my last day. Bethy stayed for another 6 weeks after we left!

I have to tell a really sweet story about Teacher Felicity. The way that the school system works in Rwanda is that the teachers come early and write out all of the days lessons on the blackboards at the front and back of the classroom. The students spend their school day copying the work off of the boards. The teachers often leave the room for meetings or just to visit with other teachers. We were told that the teachers were supposed to stay in the room while we taught, but Teacher Felicity would often leave. When she was in the room, she just sat in the back and graded. We didn't think she was very happy to have us there. We always talked about how we didn't think she liked us because she never interacted with us the way Teacher Domatia did. 

One day, we had asked the students to volunteer to sing. We called on different students to sing and most of them sang "Baby" by Justin Beiber (embarrassing, I know). And then Teacher Felicity raised her hand. We were so excited! We called on her, and that precious woman sang "read your Bible and pray every day". We both teared up. It was incredible. She is such an amazing woman! We got to know her better throughout the rest of our time at the school. We also realized that when we thought she was grading, she was actually taking notes on what we were saying and doing in her notebook. She would ask us to write down the words to the songs that we taught so that she could remember. The first time that happened, we all cried. To see a woman who loves her students so much and is doing the best she can with what she has (nothing) was so moving. She so desires to help her students learn English, but it's impossible if you don't know the language. We were so blessed by both of our teachers and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to work with them for three weeks!

Overall, the trip was absolutely incredible. I'm already looking forward to returning next summer and loving on those little ones again!

December 4, 2011

Harding Place Update

I realized this weekend that I have not ever written out any of the things that I have experienced while living at Harding Place this semester! I've been holding out on you. I'm so sorry! Here are some highlights:
  • Each morning when I walk down the stairs to leave for school, the sweet ladies are lined up outside the dining room with their walkers waiting to go in for breakfast. I have to leave a few minutes early so that I can chat with them before I go. They sure do love to chat with us!
  • Obviously, I love everyone that lives here, but I've gotten to know some of the ladies better than others. My friends are Nellie, Jean, Betty, Becha, Katherine, another Betty, Nancy, and Annette. They are SO FUNNY! Every time I walk in the door, Jean looks at me and says something along the lines of, "well, look who's here!". They get so excited to see me every time. It is so precious.
  • Last Wednesday was the November birthday party. I went, of course, because it was Betty and Nellie's birthday month. We had cake and chatted with them for a while. I got pictures with the birthday girls :) Jean and Nellie told us that in one of their resident's meetings, they told them that boys weren't allowed to come upstairs to our rooms. We explained that boys aren't allowed up in the dorms either. Sometimes, Jean just says the absolute funniest things. She started talking about how "we don't want no hanky panky goin on up there! I don't want to hear no bed springs creakin when I walk down the hall!!" I was ROLLING. She's hilarious!!!
  • I try to eat lunch with them every Sunday. One Sunday, I was sitting at a table with some of the ladies and another resident came up to sit with them. I offered to move so that she could sit in my seat because it would be easier for her to get to. After we all got situated, she thanked me for giving her that seat back. Apparently she sits in it every day and has for a lot of years. Bahaha I apologized, of course, but you just never know what they're going to say.
  • I've ridden the Harding Place Shuttle to school several times. They get the biggest kick out of it when I ride the shuttle with them!
  • Last Thursday night, I spent several hours working on puzzles with them and playing Skip Bo. They take their card games very seriously and they don't really have a whole lot of patience for people who don't know how to play (you know, like me). I picked it up pretty quickly and everyone was happy, but they really are so intense about their cards!
  • This afternoon, I stopped by the cake and conversation social in the dining room. I told Ms. Betty that I was in Memphis yesterday for a half marathon. She said, "Oh my! Half a mile?" Uhhh no, Ms. Betty. 13, actually. And I'm feeling every one of them today!
  • Before I left for Memphis, two of them told me several times that they hoped "that you win your race!" Thanks, Ms. Nellie and Ms. Jean, but that is definitely not going to happen.
I am so obsessed with living here. Unfortunately, I won't be for much longer. In January when i come back to student teach, I'll be living in an apartment off campus. I'm excited to live off campus, but I literally want to cry when I think about not seeing all my friends every day. This has been such an incredible opportunity and I am so blessed to know all of these precious ladies!

August 24, 2011

Holden's First Birthday and the Run For Water

Saturday, August 28 marks one year from the day that Holden Newell Erwin met Jesus face to face. I get chills just writing that because this perfect, precious boy has spent all of his days in Glory. Holden's mama, Sarah, was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant when sweet baby's heart stopped beating. Such a blessing for Holden to go straight from his mother's womb to Jesus' arms. So much pain for a mommy and daddy left on earth with empty arms and broken hearts.

In December 2010, Sarah and Chet founded Holden Uganda, a non-profit organization to spread the love of Christ through the gift of clean water. The original goal of HUF was to build 9 wells, one for each month that Holden's heart beat on this earth. By January 8 of this year, the Lord provided funds for the 9 wells, and many more have been funded since then.

This Saturday, on the one year birthday of sweet Holden and the anniversary of his one year in Heaven, there will be several 5K's around the country. One of the 5K's will be run in Searcy. In honor of Holden's first birthday, Sarah and Chet wanted to fund as many more wells as possible.

Will you consider joining us for the Holden Uganda 5K Fun Run for Water? We will meet at Spring Park at 7:00 Saturday morning (cry about it all you want. that's when it's happening. it's a saturday. you can take a nap). Official registration for the race is $25, but I know that that can be a lot of money for a college student. Rather than having everyone officially register, I'm asking that everyone who decides to run makes a donation of however much money they are comfortable with giving. We will send a check to HUF, and our total will be added to the totals of all of the other runs. I'll be sure to post the final amount of money raised after the run :) If you can't run or don't want to run and would be willing to help out with the run anyway (I mainly just need someone to sit at the finish line with a cooler of water bottles), PLEASE let me know. You will be such a blessing to us! Also, several of us will be getting together on Friday afternoon to decorate t-shirts to run in on Saturday morning. If that is something that you would be interested in doing/helping with, let me know. I am looking forward to the run on Saturday morning.

Sweet Holden, you are cherished and loved. We will never forget that you were here, that you had weight in this world. You are so loved, precious boy! I would give anything to know you on this side of Heaven, but I know that eternity will be so much sweeter because I get to snuggle you there :)

July 24, 2011


I would like to introduce you to two of the biggest blessings in my life. I have never met them in person. We have only corresponded through letters. But these two precious children of God are incredible blessings to me. Every day that I'm not home when the mail comes, I text my mom to ask if I've gotten a letter. And if I have, I drop everything to go get it. I look forward to those letters so much!

Over the past year, I have learned to pick out the off-white color of the envelope immediately when the mailbox is opened. I tear the envelopes open and read the letters as quickly as I can. Laeticia always draws me pictures of a flower. She draws beautiful flowers :) And Taweesak always draws a scene on the back of his letters. I press the paper to my face and cry, just knowing that their precious hands have touched it. Before I send my responses off, I kiss the letter and the envelope. They are such treasures, these letters that I receive.

My two Compassion kids live on the opposite side of the world. I really cannot even tell you how much I love them. I want to share their faces with you :)
Meet Taweesak. He is 8 years old. He live in Ban Sobme-roum, Thailand. He lives with his mother and father, who are both sometimes employed as farmers. Taweesak likes to draw. He likes to play cars and group games. I love him.

Meet Laeticia. She is 6 years old. She lives in Burkina Faso, Africa with her mother, who is sometimes employed selling sand. Laeticia loves to play jump rope, play with dolls and play group games. I love her.

I've given up Starbucks. It requires sacrifice to be able to pay for these sponsorships every month. $38 each month is not a huge amount for me. It definitely feels like it sometimes, but I can afford to sacrifice that money for these kids. But for them, my sponsorship means everything. It means that they are loved and treasured by someone who lives on the opposite side of the globe. It means that they are prayed for every day. They go to Bible classes and learn about Jesus and know that I know the same Jesus that they do.

Sometimes, I have to give up things that I want in order to pay the sponsorship fees for my kids, but I know how much it means to them. And because of that, I would give up just about anything for those two.

If it is an option for you financially, would you consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International? If you would like me to help you choose a child to sponsor, I would be more than happy to. I am so blessed to be involved with this organization!!

finding my feet

well, i'm running again. i hesitate to even start this post because every time i say that i'm doing something, i generally stop. but i've already registered and paid for the st. jude half marathon, so i think i'm really going to do it this time. let's make it official...

I, Katie Vick, will be running in the St. Jude Half Marathon on December 3, 2011.

and what the heck am i thinking?! i struggled through my four-mile run last week (the longest run to date). what makes me think that i can run 13.1 miles?!?!?!

i keep accidentally taking days off from training...like yesterday. i think i should be running 5-6 days a week. but i don't. and after i take a day off, my run is much more difficult. you would think that i would have learned by now. but i have not.

running is killing me. most days after my run, i ice my knees, put heat on my calves, slather my poor chaffed legs in vasoline and peel the (unfortunate, poorly working) bandaids off my aching feet. and hobble around for the rest of the day. but i feel SO GOOD. seriously. i didn't believe it could be true until i experienced it myself. running makes me feel great! and in the 3 (or maybe 4) weeks that i've been running, my calves have transformed from flabby annoyances at the bottom of my leg to muscular powerhouses. it's amazing.

i have been hungrier since i started running than i have ever been in my life. it's pathetic, really, because i'm not even running very far/fast/long/well, but i want to eat every second.

and i really feel like a real runner, too. i have a basket in the hall closet with my shoes, headphones, arm band, water bottle, body glide and various tapes/moleskins for my feet. i bought compression shorts and new shoes. i'm buying running socks. WHO AM I TURNING INTO?!?!

i decided to run this half after a blogger that I have followed for a while, Raechel, blogged about her decision to participate. she even invited readers to join her! so i thought to myself, self, you've been wanting to run. you've even been wanting to run a half marathon. if you're ever going to do it, you may as well do it now. you have friends that participate in this race. it will be fun. just do it. and so i did. i did it. i registered. and i've been running. and i'm about to go for a run right now. i have lots of really fun pictures for you, but those will have to wait....

because i have a half marathon to train for.

July 22, 2011

my newest home

if i gave you a TRILLION guesses, you still probably would not guess where i am going to be living this coming school year. before i share, let me remind you of a few things...

1) I am 21 years old.
2) I am in college.
3) I attend a university that requires students to live on campus until they are 23 years old or have completed approximately 19,000 credit hours (that might be a slight exaggeration).

this coming year, there will be more students enrolled than they have room for in the on campus living options. so they sent us an e-mail stating that for a limited time only, you could apply/request/beg/bribe to live off campus if you were at least 21 years old. HELLO?! so the entire student body was in a frenzy. it was a frantic day and a half (or so) before they send another e-mail. the offer is no longer on the table. no one was surprised.


they had another option. they needed approximately 24 girls to be willing to move into....

wait for it..........

wait for it..........


now, for those of you not familiar with the harding community, you may be slightly confused. allow me to explain. just off of harding's campus sits a lovely assisted living community. like...retirement home. like...for the elderly.

I LOVE OLD PEOPLE! when i was little and my mom would lose track of me somewhere (before losing sight of a child for .3 seconds warranted a 911 call), she would always find me chatting up an old man (always called Poppy).

listen, you may be judging me right now, and i probably don't blame you for that, but i am SO EXCITED about this. i seriously cannot wait. i'll be living in a one bedroom apartment with one of my sweet friends. and right next door to harding place sits harding village (apartments). many of my married friends LIVE RIGHT THERE! so close to me. so great!!

so there you have it. one month from now, i will be settling into my new home at the assisted living community.

(my mom is getting tired of this already. every time we see an older person ANYWHERE i tell her that they are going to be my neighbor. she loves it...or at least she did the first 500 times it happened. now? not so much)

(p.s. this is not a joke. i really am going to live in an assisted living community. forreal. i promise)