saffroninthewild

Changes

It goes without saying that I have been missing in action for a little over two months now, so before I begin I apologize for seemingly lacking interest in my blog. I assure you that is not the case. With school, pioneering, ASL, and working it seems I have no time at all! Late at night before I drift to sleep, however, I do read you guys posts and they always inspire me. So along with my apology I want to say thank you, for continuing to post regardless of how busy you are and how crazy life may be; I sincerely enjoy reading your posts. That being said, I will make more of an effort to post despite my circumstances.

This New Year has brought a lot of changes. Lately I have been thinking about our recent branch visit in which brother Herd, a member of the Governing Body, gave the talk entitled How the Time Does Fly. In his talk he described how quickly time passes for God’s people because we have plenty to do in his work. Now more than ever I am finding that to be true. I cannot believe it is already February – next thing you know it will be December and then 2015 will be over! Not that I’m in any hurry…

Speaking of changes that have taken place, here are the biggest ones that have occurred for me:

  • I got a second job
  • I started attending the ASL congregation in an effort to learn the language

Having a second job was not something I ever thought about doing or really had any interest in. I figured I was busy enough as it was. Prior to my second job I was only working at a Writing Center in the university I attend. That is a laid back job since I am only waiting for people to make appointments and come see me. Though we also take walk-ins, it am generally hardly busy. I consider that job as my down time, pretty much getting paid to study my Watchtower, do homework, or my Bible reading. That was very convenient for me as a student. However, that kind of job has its drawbacks, namely, when school is out for break (e.g. winter, summer, spring break) I am out of work which equals no pay. Those of you who have a car and other responsibilities can understand the effect two weeks of no work can have. I am pretty good about managing my money, but it still was not an idea I could stomach. In addition, my school is about 20 minutes from home, and though I save time by not having to travel a further distance to an off-campus job, it was still quite a drive having to commute there every day. The daily commute I was making my first semester was because I didn’t have the chance to plan my own schedule, so I had classes every day and figured I’d work at the school on the days I was up there. This semester, however, I decided to plan my schedule myself and focus it around my pioneer schedule. As a result, I am only going to school two, sometimes three, days a week. It no longer made sense to be making such a commute to go to work daily. I vividly remember last semester having to rush to school at 8 a.m., rush back home to conduct a study, and rush back to school for work. Let’s just say my gas tank and wallet did not like that very much. To make a long story short, I learned about an opportunity to work at a preschool that is literally ten minutes from home, not to mention that I am an Education major so it will definitely give me the experience I need. I prayerfully considered it and talked about it with my parents. We decided that on the days I would be in school I would work at the Writing Center, and on the days I wouldn’t be in school (my field service days) Wednesday – Friday I would work at the preschool. I am completely satisfied with my new schedule and absolutely in love with my preschool job! I wish I could work there every day, but I know that it is wise to keep my “down time” job so that I can actually get other things done. I can still go in service in the morning and work in the afternoon, without having to come home too late. All in all I work about 25 hours a week, which works out fine.

Here are some shots of the preschool:

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My next and possibly biggest change I have made this year is learning American Sign Language (ASL). It all began when I and some friends took a trip to Oklahoma to do seldom worked territory back in December 2014. I have been meaning to write about this trip but it is a little late now. It was one of the highlights of 2014 and gave me a completely different outlook on my ministry. Prior to this I had only worked unassigned territory once in Corsicana, Texas, but that was many years ago. This trip was so encouraging because everyone that went were pioneers, some of whom were 14 and 15 years old who were in their third and fourth year pioneering. Many of them were too young to even attend pioneer school and by the time they would be old enough to attend without needing a parent in full-time service to accompany them they would be eligible to go for their second time. As a new pioneer it was a very humbling experience to see such young ones using their youth to serve Jehovah. I was impressed beyond belief and grateful to Jehovah for allowing me to have such an opportunity to accompany such a great group of His servants. We were there for three days, but I learned a lot in that one weekend. The congregation that hosted us was filled with elderly witnesses. Words cannot describe how thankful they were to have us join them in the ministry. On Saturday, when we went out in field service, it snowed! Being from Texas, where we get clear, icy, wanna-be snow, we were excited to see huge globs of fluffy snow! It was the most beautiful sight. The brothers and sisters there were not nearly as impressed as we were; they were actually dreading going out into the snow – until they saw our reaction that is. They remarked that when they saw how enthusiastic we were about it their moods brightened; they were glad to see that we didn’t let the snow dampen our day. The territory was nice and responsive. (I guess I am writing about this trip after all.)

To get to the point, while on the trip I was impressed by a particular pair of siblings. The brother and sister, teenagers though they were, have been regular pioneering for several years and the brother was a ministerial servant. At such a young age, and coming from such a rough parental background, their stand for Jehovah almost moved me to tears. They joined the ASL group and had been learning the language, even moving homes to a new town to help the nearby ASL congregation when their circuit overseer asked them to help out an English congregation 40 minutes away. Of course they willingly made the sacrifice though it was inconvenient for them. I and the young sister talked a lot and I got to know her well; I wonder if she knew how impressed I was by her faith. Anyway, their experience and willingness to learn another language got me thinking: I have an ASL congregation that meets right in my local Kingdom Hall which I do not have to move houses or make a long commute to attend. I have been wanting to learn a new language, and I used to attend their meetings in the past. Their meeting times on Monday and Saturday allow me to still make it to my meetings and family worship night – what is stopping me from doing it now?

When I got back to Dallas I made it a goal to attend the meetings for one month, January to February, and see if I could make it work. Needless to say, I fell in love with it. My trial month is over, but I have decided that I am staying. It has not been an easy commitment, but nothing good comes easy. Studying and preparing for two meeting while trying to pioneer and work and go to school has been hard. But every time I attend their meeting I am so encouraged by the friends and moved to tears that I know that there is no way I can stop now. It has truly helped me to see firsthand that Jehovah cares for all his servants, and makes sure that the good news can reach them no matter their language, culture, and limitation. The friends have stressed the importance of remaining humble and relying on Jehovah, which I feel are things that I can always work on. The hall is very small, which means there is room to grow and reach out. Many of those who have joined the congregation are relatively new, having been there for only a year or two and some as few as a couple of months. There are also many who are trying to learn like I am. The friends who have been there for a long time have been more than willing to help. I am repeatedly reminded to make friends with the deaf, ask them for help, and not compare my progress to others. I try to keep these things in mind and hope to continue making progress until I can one day officially join the congregation.

Sometimes I feel like I bite off more than I can chew, over-committing myself to different things. But as my sister so kindly reminded me, if I am always looking for a convenient time to do something then I will never have the time. I know as an imperfect person, nothing is possible on my own initiative, but all things are possible with Jehovah. I know that for me personally, I am much better off when I am busy, “always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58), than when I am idle. I pray for His continued support as I strive to do give Him my best.

In conclusion, here are some snaps from my amazing trip to Oklahoma:

My car group on our way there

My car group on our way there

The beautiful scenery

The beautiful scenery

A vintage piece at the Kingdom Hall

A vintage piece at the Kingdom Hall

Service car group

Service car group

Snow!

Snow!

A Pygmy goat with a sheep-like attitude. He jumped in our van!

A Pygmy goat with a sheep-like attitude. He jumped in our van!

Hospitality at the Kingdom Hall

Hospitality at the Kingdom Hall

My sister and I

My sister and I

The 3 Zachary's

The 3 Zachary’s

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All the ladies at Sunday's meeting

All the ladies at Sunday’s meeting

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Sunset on a sad ride back home

Sunset on a sad ride back home

Eternally grateful,

O.K.

Naija Party

This past week was very rough. I was sick with the flu and strep throat – I still do not know how I got either illness but I guess I should not be too surprised since this is flu season. I was in bed all week, missing school and work. All the while, however, I knew I had something to look forward to. About every two years, all the African Jehovah’s Witnesses get together for a huge party we like to call a “family reunion” (because when you are African everyone is pretty much somehow your aunt, uncle, or cousin). When I say African I am referring to Nigeria in particular, but I generalize since there are a few people in attendance who are from countries outside of Nigeria, such as Ghana and South Africa. This gathering is usually an interstate affair, meaning people whose circumstances allow, come from different states to party together and enjoy each other’s company. The brother who organizes the whole thing is a very good friend of my family. Two years ago, he brought the party to Dallas for the first time because of my parents of course, and the turnout was great! Unfortunately, as this year’s party preparations were underway, the brother passed away. Everyone was looking forward to the party, which was going to be held in Chicago but when he died all plans were called off, understandably.

A few months ago my father, along with the help of some of the local Nigerian brothers, took it upon himself to plan a party very similar to the one that was supposed to take place. This, however, was going to be on a smaller scale, since this was his first time doing something of this nature. It was for the Africans only in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. So even though I was sick all week, I knew that I had to pull myself together for this one night of spiritual encouragement and fun. As I watched all my fathers hard work come to fruition, Saturday finally came. Below are some pictures that capture the night:

The program which included prayer, food, entertainment, and of course dancing

The program which included prayer, food, entertainment, and of course dancing

The hotel decor

The hotel decor

Prints and patters of our outfits

Prints and patters from our outfits

From left to right: my dad, a sister from England, my mom, and my aunt

From left to right: my dad, a sister from England, my mom, and my aunt

From left to right: Brother Wilson, my uncle, my aunt, and Sister Gift

From left to right: Brother Wilson, my uncle, my aunt, and Sister Gift

Check out their head-dresses!

Check out their head-dresses!

Cousin Mac and his beautiful wife

Cousin Mac and his beautiful wife

Cousin David and I

Cousin David and I

From left to right: Cousin Sandra, my younger sister, my older sister, me, Cousin Linda, and Rachael

From left to right: Cousin Sandra, my younger sister, my older sister, me, Cousin Linda, and Rachael

I had to get a picture by myself

I had to get a picture by myself

My mother on the right, with a friend

My mother on the right, with a friend

The food, music and entertainment was impeccable and upheld the high standard of the God we all serve.Though my recordings of the dances and jokes could not be uploaded onto this post, believe me when I say I had a good time. This gathering impressed upon me of the fact that I need to learn how to speak my mother tongue Igbo. I know many people view it as a shame that I was not taught to speak it from childhood, but that does not really bother me. I personally feel that my parents raised me as best as they could, and I do not blame them for not teaching me though they themselves speak it fluently. I want to learn the language for my own personal benefit. I do not think it is too late to learn. I understand Igbo perfectly, and I do know how to respond to some things in the language. But I am not fluent and therein lies my personal problem. It is a work in progress though. Even among what some may refer to as my own kind of people, there still was really only one thing that brought us together. It was not the fact that we are all either Igbo’s or Yoruba’s; it was not that we all had outfits with intricate prints. It was the fact that we are all Jehovah’s Witnesses – that was the one outstanding commonality we all shared.

Needless to say, by Saturday morning I was feeling much better. After a week of sickness, this party was exactly what I needed! I truly do thank Jehovah for having family and friends in the truth!

Sincerely,

O.K.

Ranting

It seems that life gets more complicated the older I get. This may not seem like a very shocking revelation, but it is really something that is taking me by surprise. I’ve always been a person that thinks and plans ahead for the future. That being said, I’ve been at it again – thinking about and planning for my future. However, there have been some weightier issues on my mind like: what I am doing with my life,  what my short and long term goals are, and when and if I should move out of my parents house.

Granted, these are questions I’m always thinking about with the exception of the last one. My answers are constantly changing to the point where I feel as though I have no real answer to any of them. My goals are all blurring together which doesn’t make it easy to pursue any one of them. So I thought it’d be better for me of I really went through and tried to figure these things out.

The issue of what I am doing with my life has always been of concern to me. It’s something I had to really start thinking about very early on. I went to an early college high school where I graduated with my Associates degree at 17 so I had to decide what I wanted to pursue in terms of a university education. All things concidered, I decided to major in general and special education with hopes of becoming a speech pathologist. As my goals have changed, and as graduation is only a few semesters away, I am starting to question whether I really need to pursue that extra step of becoming a speech pathologist. That would mean about one to two more years in grad school and I’m just not that excited about more schooling. I know that graduate school is not a priority and is something I do not have to do immediately. My foremost concern is how I will be able to support my pioneering with my degree in Education. A few people have told me about online teaching which is really flexible and certainly doesn’t confine you to a 9-5 schedule (which would make it nearly impossible to fulfill my 70 hour requirement as a pioneer). Online teaching sounds like a great plan but it’s difficult to break into that field so I pray that Jehovah helps me find something that allows me to carry out my vow to him.

That brings me to the topic of my short and long term goals. I think it would be helpful for me to take my time and actual write – or should I say type them out. My short term goals are to: attend pioneer school, finish reading my bible in its entirety, and to have one progressive bible study (Jah has blessed me with two). Where the confusion occurs is regarding my long term goals. I want to learn a foreign language and move to a foreign language group, serve at Bethel, get married and attend the School for Kingdom Evangelizers (is it wrong that I know I don’t want to attend while single? ), go to Gilead, become a special pioneer, and ultimately go into circuit work with my husband. I’m confused because I feel like I’m asking for a lot. I definitely don’t expect for things to play out as I’ve listed them,  but my primary struggle is in deciding whether or not I should pursue Bethel service.

Granted, there is no guarantee that I will be accepted there, or into Gilead, SKE, or as a special pioneer or into circuit work for that matter! But it’s a goal so I will work toward it and let Jehovah guide me where he needs me. Back to my dilemma. I will be of age to apply for Bethel next summer; however, I will not be finished with school. That being said, I don’t know if I should just apply, or finish school and then apply. But what would be the essence of going to school if I will be in bethel? But how do I know I will be accepted? I know that it can take a while to hear whether you are accepted or not,  but one thing is certain: when they accept you they expect you to be there by a certain date. I have a friend who was accepted while he was still in college and he just left school and went. My parents wouldn’t be happy if I did that. But then again it’s my life. But then again would it be irresponsible of me to know that I haven’t finish school but still put in an application – shouldn’t I finish one thing before moving on to the next? I just don’t know how I feel about it,  but I need some clarity on the matter. It seems as though the right thing to do would be to finish school, since I’m almost finished. I will pray about it and see where Jehovah directs me.

Lastly, lately I have been considering moving out of my parents house when I am done with university. (Do you now see how complicated I make my life?) My parents don’t make life at home just miserable, but there are some things I just don’t agree with. My parents are ex bethelites and my dad is the coordinator of the body of elders, and they are great. But I can’t help but feel that certain things would be easier if I lived away from home. Getting an apartment when I finish school is a long term commitment – one that could possibly tie me down from pursuing my goal of going to bethel. Since my spirituality is the most important thing to me,  I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that part of my life is in order before anything else…even if that means living at home.

That was my little rant for the day. Clearly all these things should be made a matter of prayer, and I’d appreciate it if you guys pray for me as well! Hopefully I can gain some insight as to what decisions I need to make.

Thanks,

O.K.

Who really has the power.

An intimate Journey

I have read a lot about the narcissists, sociopaths, sex addicts, etc. I look at it and I see a lot of power given to them. Maybe too much power. There is a lot of truth to what I read, but I just feel like too much power and authority has been given to them.
The truth is this,they are not okay, their minds are messed up, but they do NOT have power. There is no power in manipulating and lying to keep control. There is no power in feeding on the insecurities of another to keep them around. That is not power, that is a weakness. It is an illusion of power.
It is a weakness that says “I have no real control, I have no power, I have to manufacture it and I will prey on your weakness to do so.” Honestly, I don’t know that it is…

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A New Goal

Cooking is a very big part of Nigerian culture. Nigerian women value cooking, and their men appreciate the home-cooked meals. That being said, it is only right that my mother expects me to follow her footsteps in the kitchen. She is an amazing cook. Her food is easily one of my favorites if not my absolute favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I think I am a descent cook myself. I like being creative in the kitchen. I’d like to think I’m self-sufficient, in that if I lived alone I definitely would not starve or burn the house down.

Lately, however, I noticed that I haven’t been spending as much time in the kitchen with my mother as I should be. I also noticed an even bigger issue: I don’t know how to make a lot of the foods that are native to my culture. Yes, I know that is pretty sad. But you have to understand that I came to America when I was very young, and though I still have memories from my beloved Nigeria, I pretty much grew up in the U.S. A lot of the food I know how to cook is either American, Italian, or Mexican. I don’t know which is worse: not knowing how to cook Nigerian food, or knowing how to cook food from other cultures except my own. All I know is that when I want Nigerian food my mother always makes it. As sad as it is, the honest truth is that I just have not spent the time necessary to learn how to make those native foods. But whatever the case, I am now taking steps to correct that which should count for something since it’s really never too late to learn.

Lately, the topic of marriage has been a constant one with my sisters, friends and I. Everyone I know is either getting married or at the age where they should be dating and at least thinking about marriage (at least from the American standpoint). Though I am not particular adamant about marrying a fellow Nigerian, it has crossed my mind that if I did I would not even know the fundamental things to cooking a traditional Nigerian meal. Not that that is the only reason to learn how to prepare Nigerian good because Lord knows I can’t call my mother every time I am in the mood for Eba, with Egusi, Okra, or Ogbono soupAnd what about when I am craving my mothers famous Jollof rice? How will I entertain Nigerian guests and relatives if I can not make those seemingly basic meals? Those are the things that have been going through my mind, forcing me to resolve to spend more time in the kitchen with my mother.

I must say, it has been quite enjoyable…not that I thought it would be anything less than that. I love seeing the joy in her eyes as she explains to me her cooking tricks and tips, not to mention the fact that it is definitely a bonding experience for us. On Saturday we made rice with stew (or what other people might consider “sauce”) and fried chicken. It was an easy meal but it is something I want to keep making until it tastes perfect. I mean, I know how to make rice because it is literally the easiest thing ever, but the challenge is making the stew and frying the chicken for optimum taste the way my mother does it. It may sound like an easy task, but for someone who doesn’t exactly know the ingredients let alone the first step to making it perfectly it can be a very challenging thing. Learning to make these foods feels like a project for me because they take a lot of time, thought, and preparation, but I am so excited about it!

Here are a few pictures I managed to snap as we were cooking:

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Some of the ingredients blended to make the stew

Some of the ingredients blended to make the stew

I wish I got a picture of my actual plate once all the food was done, but it escaped my mind.

I have a nice little black book I plan on putting the recipes I learn in, and hopefully it is something I can keep and refer back to and even share with others in the future.

Sincerely,

O.K.

Dear Thirteen Year Old Me

Hey you,

Thirteen is going to be a terrible year, but that’s ok because there will be so many more amazing years to make up for it. You and mom will never see eye to eye this year, but she is your greatest advocate and loves you more than you know. Kids at school are mean so be careful who you befriend. Fitting in doesn’t matter, because those who value you will love you for who you are, not who you want to be like. Wanna know a secret? In just a few short years, those girls you’re dying to be like will really be dying to be like you…but it won’t even matter because you will all end up going separate ways anyhow. So the point is don’t stress about them!

Also, just because guys don’t really talk to you doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Boys are stupid at thirteen and just want to be liked by their friends just as much as you do. Some of them actually do like you but won’t tell you until years later; isn’t that something to look forward to! But boys don’t matter at this age anyway, at least not the ones at school.

Also, you really are as ugly as you think you are. But it will be funny years later because of how beautifully you will have blossomed! More importantly than anything you are a smart girl, and smart girls always succeed.

You will only be thirteen ONCE, so use it wisely. Focus on the positives, like all the great teachers you have. Pay more attention in math class, even though it makes you want to rip your brain out. Believe it or not some of those concepts will resurface later and you don’t want to be that person who is constantly lost.

And by the way, that bad attitude you developed the day you turned thirteen? FIX IT! Thirteen will suck! But fourteen will be great. Believe it or not, you’ll get passed it and it will make you stronger than ever.

All in all, learn to love yourself. You really are a great girl, and you will be reassured of that several times in the coming years. The world is pretty bad, but it isn’t all bad. Laugh at your mistakes and move past them.  If only you could see how amazing your future will be…

With love,

Self