•October 7, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Margins bring order and cleanliness

But I’d prefer to run insane, my life all a mess

The white space on the page brings focus to the text

The notes and scribbles scrawled filling space, erasing rest 

Jambo moja’s the theme: only one thing

But I’ve misplaced the bold in all my running

When the page is all filled, eyes wander and are lost

And when time runs out, it’s always at a cost

That first draft’s a mess and needs some white out

I’m torn–what good thing must I cut out?

Filled space is worthless when nothing’s said

And so’s my effort if it leaves me dead

So on this page, I’ll make some space

And on this weekend, I’ll slow my pace.

Spend a day on the beach just watching waves

Thanking God for his precedent that rest is ok. 

Psalm 16:8-9

•October 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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The Struggle is Real

•October 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Yesterday morning, I impulsively typed up a Facebook status update as a means of venting my frustrations about my struggle to choose joy. Twelve hours later, the status had over 100 likes, fifteen comments, and had been shared multiple times. Apparently, I’m not the only one struggling to choose joy.

I woke up angry this morning.
Angry at my alarm for going off (at the usual time).
Angry at my dog for digging up the herbs I just planted.
Angry at my gardener for flooding the same herbs.
Angry at myself for being tired (normal).
Angry at the daladala for smelling (nothing abnormal there).
Angry at my feet for hurting (like always).
Angry at my coffee mug for being dented (because I dropped it).

Yo, choosing joy was a STRUGGLE this morning.
But I fought for it today on my walk to work in some kind of verbal battle with my own soul. And so I’m thanking God for today and putting gratefulness on the frontlines to wage war against my anger and self-focus.

Thanking Him for the clouds and rain.
Thanking Him for the chance to teach middle school history today (maybe this should be my next subject area? Its kind of fun!).
Thanking Him for coffee.
Thanking Him for working internet and power.
Thanking Him for the opportunity to teach P.E. (and wear basketball shorts every day) this year.
Thanking Him for headbands (because this hair is INSANE).
Thanking Him for Pilot G-2 pens and Expo markers and Sharpies.
Thanking Him that tomorrow is Friday.
Thanking Him for the struggle of choosing joy.

‪#‎gratefulness‬ ‪#‎choosejoy‬ ‪#‎notalwayseasy‬

Teaching Like its Summer Camp

•September 15, 2015 • 1 Comment

It occurred to me earlier this week that perhaps the reason I’ve been so tired this school year is not my class load, but the fact that I am teaching like its summer camp. Those of you who have ever been summer camp counselors know what I mean: the enthusiasm, energy, creativity, passion, and giving 110% from dawn to dusk…The brilliant thing about this is that I LOVE summer camp. I spent summer after summer working at Miracle Mountain Ranch as a teen, and even now can’t seem to stay away (I went back for a week as a wilderness camp counselor this past summer). So the fact that I’ve been able to bring that energy and enthusiasm into my classes this year excites me. I am loving teaching more than ever. (Don’t worry, I still hate grading). But I’m exhausted.

Over my many years as summer staff at Miracle Mountain Ranch, I have had the privilege of being discipled by and learning from a plethora of godly men and women. Many of the lessons taught during staff training each year by Dr. Dale Linebaugh, Ralph Magill, Matt Cox, and others still echo through my mind…the “Pinky” stories; the challenges to be bold in sharing the Gospel; the tears, testimonies, and transparency; the “quotable phrases;” and the passion for seeing young people mature in their love for Christ. Of these, one of the recurring messages was the contrast between tiredness and weariness. Tiredness, they reminded us each year (usually about halfway through the summer when everyone was exhausted), was merely physical. Sleep fixes tiredness. But sleep doesn’t fix weariness. Weariness is spiritual.

These past three weeks have been draining. But I am confident that it is mere tiredness. Spiritually, God has truly carried me on wings as eagles. Perhaps more than ever before, I have set aside time to invest into my personal relationship with and growth in Christ. I’ve been benefiting from The Prayers of Walter Bruggemann, the ScriptureTyper app, and online sermon archives from John MacArthur and Wallen Baptist Church in addition to time in the Word and prayer each day. But perhaps as important as all this are the people surrounding me and covering me in prayer. I am so grateful for the friends here, at home, and everywhere in between who encourage me to prayer, pray with me, and pray for me. Thank you.

So I’m going to keep on teaching like its summer camp. I love it. I hope my students love it. And when I drop from exhaustion on Friday afternoon, I’ll sleep through an entire weekend to combat the tiredness, spend some time in worship and prayer with other believers to sustain myself spiritually, then get up and go full speed again next week.

The Fifth First Week of School

•August 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Today's class: HOPAC AS Literature students preparing their impromptu dramatic interpretations of sections from Act 1 of Midsummer Night's Dream.

Today’s class: HOPAC AS Literature students preparing their impromptu dramatic interpretations of sections from Act 1 of Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Confused yet?

I think I might be.

Its a good thing this is my fifth year teaching. My schedule this year is 100% insane. Of course, I often enjoy what others deem insane, but this is crazy even for me.

At HOPAC, primary (elementary), middle, and senior (high) school is all on one campus, but running on three different schedules. I have the grand privilege of teaching all three sets of students, therefore working within all three schedules. As a result, I don’t ever get a proper “lunch break,” because I am inevitably teaching a class during all three scheduled lunch breaks. In fact, my longest break (with the exception of three one-hour blocks of prep, split into two days), is 15 minutes. Admittedly, when I saw the schedule less than 24 hours after landing back in Tanzania, I was a bit overwhelmed.

To fly in to the country less than two full days before school starts, pick up a brand-new subject, and have a crazy schedule like this would have been impossible my first year teaching. I thought it might still be impossible for year five. Apparently not.

I still can’t figure out what classes I’m teaching on what day or on what schedule.

But that’s ok.

Because I’m having fun.

Despite jet lag, having a new puppy (read: up every 2-3 hours during the night to let puppy outside), and missing all but one day of staff training/prep, this has been the best first week of school ever.

I feel like I am finally teaching how I want to be teaching–with energy, passion, and creativity!

Sure, there are things that I know I could improve on–like time management (ending class right on the “bell” is still hard (I am inevitably finished a few minutes early or rushing to cram stuff in), being prepared (like knowing what I’m teaching in a class more than 15 minutes before it starts), and encouraging better student discussions (though it is only week one, and we have had some pretty fantastic class conversations already). But it has been a great week.

With one day left in the fifth first week of school, I’m excited about the year to come!


•August 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Summer has always been my favorite time of the year…. even way back when Mom was still making us do school during the summer so we wouldn’t forget everything by the next school year. This year has been no different. Even though I live in the land of eternal summer (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), coming home for summer in Fort Wayne, Indiana has been a much-needed break. Some highlights…

Counseling for Girls’ Wilderness Camp at Miracle Mountain Ranch11058000_10155762553425577_9144633273169344894_n

I spent a week of my summer volunteering as a counselor at Miracle Mountain Ranch, where I spent about 11 summers either as a camper or staff previously. Along with several other staff/counselors, we took thirteen middle school girls into the woods, where they built their own shelters, went hiking, cooked food over the fire, and enjoyed campfire sessions discussing what it is to be molded by the Master Potter. Because discipleship is my passion, I absolutely loved getting to hang out with these girls and share life and Jesus with them.

Surprising Hannah in Mississippi


My parents and I arrived in Chicago on a Thursday evening, drove home to Fort Wayne, and then loaded up the car the very next morning to drive down to French Camp, Mississippi, where my sister Hannah was working at Camp of the Rising Son for the summer. Hannah had no idea we were coming, so surprising her was absolutely fantastic!

Reunions with dear friends


From Mississippi to Pennsylvania to Fort Wayne, I’ve been able to see and catch up with dear friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in over five years. Perhaps the most beautiful moment of the summer though was dinner with my two best friends, Andrew and Josh. Josh had just arrived in Fort Wayne from a year in Ecuador, and being back together as a crazy trio made everything seem right in the world for a quick minute….or at least made me feel like I was really home. Its been incredible to be able to sit down and share life with so many incredible people this summer.

Riding bicycles with friends and family


I love riding bicycles, and I’ve gotten to do so much riding this summer. I’ve ridden with Mom and Dad alongside their tandem, I’ve mountain biked with friends, I’ve taken a night ride through downtown Fort Wayne in a cocktail dress with Andrew in his tux after a friend’s wedding, I’ve commuted to and from work…. its been fantastic.

Random races with my brother Josh


Hannah and Nathan are both gone this summer, leaving just Josh and I at home with Mom and Dad, so we’ve had some fun adventures riding in an Alley Cat race, as well as Fort Wayne’s first Fort Wayne Adventure Games. Both times, we raced on full-suspension mountain bikes, which, though probably not the most appropriate bicycles for the races, made it incredibly fun. I love my brother(s).

In just two weeks, I leave for another year teaching in Tanzania. I am excited, but know that I will miss my friends and family here in Fort Wayne. As I prepare to leave again, I would appreciate your prayers:

  • Prayer that the final two weeks of my summer would be beautiful in every sense of the word, and that I would be able to love and be loved by friends and family here in Fort Wayne.
  • Prayer that God’s will would be done as regards my work permit (its renewal has been delayed, and as of this point, I don’t have a work permit for my return to TZ).
  • Prayer that God would provide (To support my ministry in Dar es Salaam, please follow these instructions: Checks should be payable to Young Life, designated for X466/Snyder and mailed to Young Life, PO Box 2920, Colorado Springs, CO 80901. You also have the option of setting up automatic payments or giving a one-time gift from a bank account or credit card account through the Young Life Giving website: On this site, you will need to search for me by my last name (Snyder) or Area Account Number (X466).)
  • Prayer for a year teaching at HOPAC where God’s name is proclaimed, where youth get excited about loving Jesus, and He is glorified by my presence there.

Home Again: The First Week

•July 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

At about this time last week, I arrived in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. After passing through immigration and passport control with impressive speed, stopping at the Mishawaka Apple Store for a fix, and making a weekend trip to Mississippi to surprise my little sister, I am home in Indiana. I feel like I have to clarify that because, really, I have two homes. Now that I’ve been back at my Indiana home for about a week, here are some things I’ve noticed, perhaps more flagrantly than on any previous visits home:

  1. I am a foreigner in my own city.
    More than ever before, Fort Wayne seems somehow different. Its not that Fort Wayne has changed–its pretty much the same, but the little things just feel strange–as if I am walking into a city that is not my own. I don’t feel like a complete stranger, but I have to consciously think about how to get certain places (and I’ve made the wrong turns!), and it just doesn’t feel totally natural being here.
  2. Which side of the road is actually right?
    Maybe this is just because I’ve driven a lot more cars in Dar es Salaam over the last six months, but getting into the correct side of the vehicle as a driver or passenger, and then, more importantly, pulling into the correct lane, is a deliberate decision. That’s new. And fun to joke about (until it actually happens and I find myself on the wrong side of the road).
  3. Wait, you don’t understand Swahili? At all?
    I’ve discovered that there are a number of words that, even when talking with my expatriate, English-speaking, friends in Tanzania, I say in Swahili. The reason I’ve noticed this is that I keep wanting to say them here, and no one has any idea what I’m talking about. “Pole,” for instance, means “I’m sorry you’re experiencing that (but its not my fault)” and is quite the fantastic word for all kinds of situations where I don’t know exactly what to say in English. Or, a random one, “Saa ngapi?” meaning, “What time is it?” somehow comes out quicker than its English equivalent. But nobody here has any idea what I’m saying…
  4. A life divided.
    This is probably the thing that stands out the most. I have two lives that have very little crossover. And I love them both. I love being in Tanzania, teaching at HOPAC, working with YoungLife, going to Kurasini, and hanging out with my friends in Tanzania. But I also love working at Summit City Bicycles, breathing in the open spaces of farmland, being with family, and cycling or playing volleyball with friends in Indiana. And when I am in either place, I feel like it would be terrible to ever leave that place. In some ways, it even feels a bit like I am two different people with lifestyles to fit my environment in each of my two worlds. I am living a life divided that I see no way of reconciling…and I don’t even know what to think about that.

All that to say, being home is different, interesting, thought-provoking, and, above all, VERY GOOD. I’m not sure that I will be updating much during my short/long (it depends on which “person” you’re asking–my TZ self, or my IN self) stay here in the U.S. I will be flying back to Dar mid-August and will resume regular updates then. :)


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