Monday, March 30, 2009

Marvelous Malaysia

Mt. Kinabalu-- SE Asia's tallest mtn.

I spent the last week in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. There was a teacher's conference there that I attended Thursday-Saturday, so Maria and I headed out on the previous Saturday-- ready to explore and enjoy Malaysia. It was a great trip! We started off by heading up to the mountain area, where we stayed at a peaceful resort (where we could even see stars- imagine that!) and hiked around in the national park one day. It was so beautiful, and we just had a great time checking out the rivers, taking pictures, and even making a "commercial" under one of the pavilions when it rained. Everyone needs to keep a little kid in them, right? haha...
Next it was time to hit the beach! We went to some surrounding islands for the next two days. We hiked around, saw monitor lizards (huge lizards in the wild that are like 6-8 feet long!), enjoyed the beaches, and did some amazing snorkeling. I have never seen such beautiful coral or such colorful fish was incredible! I'm pretty sure I found both Nemo and the Rainbow fish! :) Side note...the first Survivor (Borneo) was filmed just about 30 miles down the beach!

Maria & I at the Farewell Dinner

Alas, it was time for the teacher's conference. Although I have to admit I wasn't thrilled about spending my vacation in workshops, I have to admit, it was well worth it. There were so many great workshops that I learned a lot from. The theme was based around sustainability and the interesting to learn how poverty is so closely linked with taking care of the environment. Anyways, I learned so much and came back very inspired. It didn't hurt that the conference was held on the ocean front, with pools right up to the water. :) We definitely took advantage of those as well!

Well, it was back to work and back to reality for me today, and I had a great day. It's great to have a job that makes coming back from break easy. I can't say I was anxious to roll out of bed at 5:45 this morning when my alarm went off, but I can say that I started crying when we started talking about how close the end of the year is during our faculty meeting today. I am so blessed to have a job that's so hard to let go of...and for that I'm very thankful. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Break!

Well, not much news to report, except for the fact that it's SPRING BREAK and I'm pretty excited about that! :) Today we had color day at school. Each facegroup (homeroom) had a color to wear and was supposed to accessorize as much as possible. Then we assembled together for a catwalk and judging...the kids loved it. It was a fun day to walk through the hallways and witness lots of energy and extra personality flowing from the colors...a break from the boring ol' uniforms!

Here I am with my wonderful face group...I love these kids!

Well, tomorrow I'm off to Malaysia. I'm heading there with my friend, Maria. I've never been so unprepared for a trip in my life. :) The duties of teaching took over my life, and we just figured out where we're staying yesterday! Nothing like good ol' last minute planning. So, we really have nothing planning...just going to go with the flow. We're hoping to explore some islands, soak in some culture, do some hiking, and then head to an international teacher's conference toward the end of the week...should be a good trip! bring the grading along or not...that IS the question! :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Hard Reality

Today I had a meeting after school for "departing expats"...people leaving our school. While it was overwhelming to learn of all the things I need to do before I leave--involving taxes, insurance, my retirement fund, banking, and more--the more difficult part was the realization that I am in fact leaving. That hit me pretty hard this afternoon. I couldn't stop the tears.

I've learned to love it here. It's amazing how the right choice can sometimes feel so wrong. However, I know that God has something new for me, and I need to cling to the promises that He has a plan for me and that He's numbered all of my days. He knows what He's doing, but sometimes the surrender is difficult. I don't see things clearly; I can't see the full picture.

I'm sure this is just the beginning of many emotional days to come as I prepare to leave this "home" full of students, friends, colleagues, places, and memories that I love, but I trust that God will bless the rest of my time here and lead me the exact place I need to be next year. Please pray for me and keep me updated on how I can do the same for you. I hope to have exciting news to share regarding the next adventure very soon. :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fire Drills & Softball

Excluding 2 fire drills within like 2 hours, today was a pretty normal school day. It never ceases to amaze me how I can have all day to work on lessons or grading and come out of the day feeling more buried than at the beginning of the day. Oh well...there's always tomorrow! I'm learning to deal with unfinished to-do lists. :)

After school I was able to play a scrimmage softball game against the high school team. It was supposed to be teachers vs. students, but since there were only 5 teachers, we didn't want to hurt their self-esteem by whoopin' them even though we only had half as many players ;) so we had some students on our team as well. Just kidding! It was a lot of fun...definitely felt like a summer day with the sun out! Made me long for those lazy days of summer and sunshine. Yet, I'm definitely not counting down the days yet...too much to enjoy here before I leave. If anything, I want to enlongate (is that even a word?) my time here!
No...unfortunately my college friends didn't come to play the scrimmage today, but the picture goes along with the theme and brings back happy memories of intramural softball at NW!
Well, my supper is just about done...sweet and sour chicken, so I'm gonna wrap it up. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Remember Me?

Wow! It's been awhile. I'm a pretty terrible blogger. I keep thinking I should write and then remember how long it's been since I last did it, and then that gives me all the more reason to NOT write...because I don't know where to start. So...I've decided I'll just start small. I won't attempt a life update right away, because well, that could take awhile! I'll save that for tomorrow! ;)
Leah, Karen, and I up at the Peak on a very clear night...thanks to the monsoon that blew all the clouds away!

Hiking in Sai Kung with Leah & Karen

I've had friends visiting from Alaska the last week and a half. Leah (a college friend and roommate) and her sister, Karen, came to Hong Kong! It was so great to have familar faces around and to have a full house. We've already gotten quite a bit of use out of our pull-out couch. :) We had a great time exploring the city, hiking around Cheung Chau island, making a late-night Peak run to see the amazing city view, going to a BBQ, hiking by the sea, eating lots of yummy ethnic food, taking the cable cars up to the big Buddha statue, frequenting the markets and just enjoying each other's company.

On top of all that, yesterday we had the opportunity to head up into C hina to visit an orphanage. Wow! I'm not often speechless, but the situation of these kids leaves me heavy hearted and at a loss for words. The orphanage is run by the government and takes care of about 250 kids. There is a group from HK that visits the kids and loves them every Saturday. What a neat ministry they have! We got to play with kids, rub backs, hold fingers, lead around blind children, let them feel water, feed them, etc....and had the joy of watching their faces light up with simple human touch that is not often received. In fact, we were told that many of the children with disabilities only are let out of their cribs on Saturdays when this group comes to visit... that breaks my heart.

The kids had fun playing with me through the plastic bubble!

It's experiences like this that leave me unsatisfied. I can't sit back. I must act. I must love. I received such an amazing picture of God's love yesterday. When the group first arrives, they usually gather the children with disabilities and sing songs with them-- the two favorites were "Old McDonald had a Farm" and "Puff the Magic Dragon". One of the volunteer men brings his guitar and leads this time. The kids cannot speak English, but let me tell ya, they know the words to these songs and boy do they sing!!! There were two little boys in particular who were literally belting out the words by literally screaming at the top of their lungs! There was another little boy who was trying to touch the guitar strings and later was nudging himself up against the guitarist. I kept wondering what the guy would do...thinking he would possibly help the boy to sit down or ask him not to distract him. Unfortunately, that probably reflects what I would do. However, instead, he moved his arm and drew this boy gently into himself and allowed the boy to rest between himself and the guitar as he continued to play. What an awesome picture of God's love and care for us. He just wants to be in relationship with us...He doesn't want us to wait until we're perfect and have it all together to come to Him...He wants to draw us in and hold us close right now.

Tears filled my eyes. Life is not fair. The stories of these children make my heart ache. I will never forget those kids, and my heart will continue to seek after justice. I'm praying for wisdom to know what to do and the love and courage to do it. There is hope.