Friday, August 26, 2011


hey all,

please have patience with me as i transition everything from this blog over to my NEW one:

i'll be sharing photos, stories, thoughts, poems--and everything about my life stateside and in Liberia on the new site from now on.

thank you for your understanding.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

remind me.

"statistics have faces and faces have stories, and [i] just heard his. we were connected in a fractured world. we had to do something. words were not enough. dogma was not enough. the feeling of being close to Jesus was not enough. this was not right." (Tobin Wilson, Areté Again)


"now that i have seen, i am responsible--faith without deeds is dead."

(Brooke Fraser)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

into the deep end

it's Thursday night, and i've been in Seattle for about fifty-one hours now.

it's been fifty-one hours of unpacking, sleep, reunions, prayer, sunshine, coffee, family dinners. but it's also been more than that. so much more.

it's been fifty-one hours of excitement and anticipation and joy. i'm eager to start living life here, looking forward to whatever lies ahead.

it's been fifty-one hours of missing home while being at home, of wondering--for the millionth time--where home even is anymore and if i'll ever find my way back there. it's been fifty-one hours of momentary panic attacks, of shaking my head in disbelief: is this really happening? what am i doing? it's been fifty-one hours of having to admit that i'm scared of starting over (again) and a little bit sad that i have to.

it's been fifty-one hours of questions answered with peace, doubts erased by hope, fears swallowed up by trust, an ache soothed by His presence.

because in the end, all that matters is He is with me. in these fifty-one hours. in all the changes and my inability at times to effectively deal with them. in the emotional whirlwind swirling within me. in the promise of tomorrow that can only come after yesterday.

so what have i learned in these last fifty-one hours? well, i've realized that i'm more determined than ever to let nothing stop me from living fully in the moments i've been given. i may hold my breath, i may squeeze my eyes shut--but i'm still gonna jump. i may be crazy. i may be reckless. i may have no idea what i'm doing.

but i do know Someone who does.

so. ready or not. here i go...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

a turn of events

In my last post, just a few short weeks ago, I filled you all in on the latest news from my crazy-busy life. In it, I mentioned that I was working two jobs and thinking about a possible move to Virginia.

Three weeks from now, I will be working one job and living in Seattle.

Crazy, right? But that's just how God works sometimes. Not long after I last blogged, I received a phone call, giving me the opportunity to move out to Washington and work in the Orphan Relief and Rescue stateside office before my return to Liberia (which will likely be next year). Honestly, at first, I had no idea what to say. I was shocked and completely caught off-guard. But the more I mulled it over, the more peace I felt. And I started thinking that this actually could be a really great thing. It may not have been what I thought I wanted at the time, but I'm okay with that.

The prophet Jeremiah once prayed, "I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his [own] steps" (10:23). As I ready for this next chapter, next phase, next adventure and next season, I can only hope to honestly echo his words with acceptance and trust.

Friday, July 1, 2011

an overdue update

I realize it's been a while since I last posted, and I do sincerely apologize for that. Life has been so hectic, and time kind of just got away from me. I've been home from Liberia for four months now, and there's a lot going on. Like:

i) work, work, and more work! Not too long after I got home, I got a job at the Olivet Boys and Girls Club as the Mentoring and the Arts Program Coordinator. Basically, I run a program for inner-city teens that focuses on one-on-one mentoring and the teaching of various artistic components. I love the job, I love the kids, I love the people I work with. The only downside is that it's a part-time position. So I took a second PT job at a YMCA Early Learning Center, working as a teacher. So now, I work anywhere from 50-55 hours a week, which is great for my bank account--but not so great for my social life and sleep schedule. Prayers for energy, strength, and grace to make it through this chaotic and busy season of life are so appreciated. Thank you!

ii) getting in shape! I had forgotten how much I actually enjoy going to the gym. Since I've been home, I was able to get back into my routine. I've lost sixteen pounds so far, and I feel great!

iii) road trips! Since I've been home, I've spent a lot of time in my trusty Saturn, visiting places and faces I missed like crazy while I was gone. I spent an amazing day in Philly for the John Mark McMillan concert, and I'm headed out to Pittsburgh next weekend to visit a friend I haven't seen in way too long. And of course, I've made a couple trips down south to visit my new-found love, Virginia. And speaking of Virginia...

iv) thinking about a move! Yup, I'm letting the cat out of the bag. I am seriously considering relocating to Virginia (specifically the Newport News area). It's a long story, and I'll gladly tell you all about it sometime. But the short version is that I feel an undeniable pull that just keeps drawing me back there. After much prayer and conversations with God, I strongly feel like a move may be in my future. Prayer for wisdom, guidance, and clear direction is needed and appreciated. I'll keep you posted. Moving right along...

v) missing Liberia! Though I am fully confident that I made the right choice by leaving Liberia when I did, there are definite moments (and days...and weeks) that I miss it terribly. Plans for a return are still very much up in the air; I still am not sure when I'll go back, nor for how long. I am learning, however, that I don't need to have things all figured out before their time (no matter how much I would like that). I trust God, and I trust His leading. He'll make the way straight and the path clear when He wants me to go back to Liberia. (In the meantime, though, I can't help but long to hug my kiddos and see their beautiful, smiling faces. Sigh....)

vi) a health scare. Yuck. I've been battling an eye infection (actually, two each eye!) since I've been home, and it hasn't been fun. At one point, a doctor even told me that I was going blind--possibly irreversibly! I thank Jesus that things cleared up after a month or so of antibiotics and some eye drops. As of now, the infection is gone, but I have decided to still wear my glasses most of the time. My eyes are very dry and sensitive, and my contact lenses only irritate them even more. I definitely miss being able to wear contacts but, right now, they're simply not an option for me.

vii) getting the creative juices flowing! For whatever reason, I have been extremely inspired since I've been home, and art has become a really big part of my life. I'm still drawing and painting when I can, and I'm writing more than ever. I've long said that it's a goal of mine to publish a book someday, and I'm starting to seriously think about what that might look like. Whether it's in a journal, on a blog, or on a scrap of paper I pulled out of my purse, I'm constantly scribbling down ideas, verses, poems, even songs. (By the way, if you have any ideas or tips about publishing, I'm all ears. Seriously. Please let me know.)

So there you have it, folks. (I told you there was a lot going on!) I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you who has prayed for me, encouraged me, and loved me through what was truly an extremely tough transition. Your kindness means the world to me; thank you a million times over.

Finally, thanks for reading--and don't be shy! Feel free to send me an update of your own if you have the chance. I always want to know how you're doing and where life has you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Two months

Only two months ago, I was in Liberia, saying goodbye to the kids, to the team, and to my Liberian family. Two months. That's it. Yet somehow, it feels like that was a lifetime ago. It feels like a different time, a different world, a different Elena. I suppose that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just shows how our lives are in this state of constant flux. There's no stopping it. The best you can do is just hang on tight and go along for the ride.

These two months at home have been a roller coaster, that's for sure. I've been able to travel a bit. I got to see John Mark McMillan live. I've spent sweet times with sweet friends. I've had Starbucks and Target and Mexican food. I've experienced a spiritual revival of sorts, a time of God bringing spring to my cold and hurting heart.
But I've also experienced the loss of my beloved Papa. I've struggled financially to keep my head above water in a country where the cost of living is so much more than I am used to. I've worried. I've doubted that I made the wrong choice by coming home. I've found myself falling into some not-so-healthy places, emotionally and mentally, and have pleaded with God to get me out of them.

Not the prettiest picture, I know. But I share that to let you know two things. One: life isn't always easy. And two: but God is good.

I'm curious to see where I'll be in another two months. Until then, I want to thank you for all your prayers, for all the love and encouragement you've shown me. It means so much more to me than I could ever say.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

greetings from Liberia

a few weeks ago A.B., my Liberian best friend, called me "to say 'ello". our two-minute conversation went something like this:

A.B.: "i really missing you!"
me: "myself, i'm missing you too!"
A.B.: "ehh, Elena. i can miss you plenty! every day, i pray for you small-small."
(cue lots of laughing--from both of us)
A.B.: "okay, Elena. bye bye."

then, just a few days ago, the infamous Momo decided he wanted to say 'ello too!

Momo: "Leena! how everything?"
me: "everything all right, Momo."
Momo: "how your family, your ma?
me: "everyone's doing well. what about you? how the Passawe family? how's Liberia?"
(short pause)
Momo: "ehh, man. we still here. Liberia still here. it not easy but tank God."
me: "sorry, yeah? i'm missing you all, and i'm praying for you, all right?"
Momo: "yeah, man. alright-o. tell America 'ello! later on."

is it any wonder i miss the crazy ridiculousness of Liberian life?!