What a season! Always...
Thank goodness that life can be ever-changing. This season since sharing my news of staying longer in Chiang Mai has been one busy, scary, and exciting one! I'm 4 weeks out from ending my time as a teacher at Grace International School. It is a bittersweet time for sure. I just recently had a spring break and I'm back to the teaching norm again, this time with additional responsibilities of closing one chapter and preparing for the next.
I've been officially accepted to Fuller Seminary online and will start the 2 yr. MAICS program in September. I've also been officially accepted to serve with Partners Relief and Development as a teacher at their SEED (education) center. TeachBeyond has agreed to continue to be my primary financial institution through which I receive support.
Now that things are becoming official, I am trying to figure out things like financial aid, VISA and re-entry requirements and making the switch from my current teaching situation to a different one. Additionally, trying to think forward through transition while presently wrapping up this season is not easy. I made a list recently of all the facets of life I'm juggling: Partners, Fuller, TeachBeyond, Grace International, preparing for my visit home this summer, living situation, Thai language, community and connection, the list goes on...
As you can imagine, finding margin and balance has been my greatest struggle lately. Hence why it has been difficult to find time to write this update :)
Some recent highlights:
2. Cultural Seminar/Training
3. Book Character Day
5. April Break-Visitors from the States, Songkran Water Festival
I've been running more often, which is quite against my norm here in Thailand. It's often too hot and miserable for me to run. I miss the green ways and paths in Colorado and I miss not being chased by street dogs. I trained for and ran a 5k and then have continued to spend more time going for walks and runs.
In mid-March, I attended a seminar on multicultural interpersonal relationships. It was helpful for me to see where I am in relation to others especially in my workplace. Over the past few months I've had more confirmation and clarity about leaving GIS and pursuing Partners. Everything about leaving GIS stirs mixed feelings. There is much I continue to process through.
My former roommate from my 2nd year, Sue, came to visit in March. It was so fun to have a few days with her and catch up on life over the past few years. It is sweet to have a friend like her from a previous walk of life here in Chiang Mai visit a few years later and encourage and speak wisdom to my current situation.
Book Character Day was so much fun this year! I dressed up as baby bear from Goldilocks and the Three Bears and my colleagues were the other characters. Dressing up each year has been memorable and definitely something I'll miss in the next season.
GIS officially passed Accreditation! Lots of hard work, time, meetings etc. went into the task of identifying areas of strength, weakness, and growth at the school. All the staff were relieved when it was finished and we were deemed healthy.
Highlight of April Break: Having my friends Summer and Diana visit from home! It was so good to have them here in CM to see my life and meet my Thailand people! We had a great time-trekking through various hill tribes of Northern Thailand, bamboo rafting, exploring markets and my side of town, going to a Thai dance and dinner show, taking a cooking class, and eating a lot of really delicious food. It was so difficult to drop them off at the airport. It meant so much to me to have them step into my world. What an encouragement! When worlds collide, it is a bittersweet thing.
We are now at the start of monsoon season, earlier this year than before. Everyday it's been a combination of pollution, intense heat and thunderstorms. We had one of the worst storms in years, last week. The school and surrounding villages sustained some damage and my side of town lost power for a while. Ceilings collapsed, trees were uprooted, roofs damaged and blown off, flooding in many buildings ...it was quite a mess, but we were thankful no one was hurt. One day of school was canceled to help with cleanup efforts.
With all these afternoon thunderstorms, it's beginning to become more difficult for me to get around town on my motorbike. Fortunately, I've been able to use Uber and Grab to get around if need be. It's presented some good opportunities to practice my conversational Thai and meet some pretty cool people and hear their stories. The only downside is convenience and cost.
I am beginning to see what needs I will need to fund-raise for...
1. Visa expenses-to change my VISA over to Partners, it will cost a few thousand dollars
2. Car (I'm still going to have to drive 30 min. each way a few times a week on the superhighway during monsoon rain that lasts until December). It would be much safer to have a car of my own instead of just a motorbike to travel these distances.
3. Seminary classes
4. Furniture for my new living situation...again things like a bed are going to be needed
5. Thai classes-I will be taking additional Thai since I'll be using it more frequently.
If you would like to contribute financially to help me with any of these one-time costs or if you would like to consider giving a monthly donation, the link to my giving site is here. It is simple and tax-deductible. I appreciate any way you can give!
I am planning some larger get-togethers and sharing times. If you would like to meet me for a meal, coffee or hike email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to connect with as many of you as possible before I leave yet again! This new endeavor is one you don't want to miss hearing about!
Please keep me in your prayers as I end my 4 year term with GIS and prepare for my new role. There are so many details to work out and I am overwhelmed. Praying that instead of becoming overwhelmed with all the unknowns, that I would be overwhelmed with provision and continued peace about I'm being led to do.
1. Pray for these last few weeks with my students to end meaningfully and as their teacher I would leave well and with a full heart.
2. Pray I that I will be able to successfully obtain a new visa and details would continue to fall in place as I transition.
3. All necessary expenses would be met through generous donation.
4. Health and safety as monsoon begins.
5. For great conversations, connections, and time with so many of you.
Resources you can browse to find out more of what I'll be doing with Partners Relief & Development: Here.
I have a new prayer card, giving letter and other informational, educational resources in the works...be on the lookout for more soon! I'm excited to share more with you all!
Once again, I am so thankful to you. Whether you just stumbled across this post, are a financial supporter of mine, prayer partner, friend, family, or just made it through reading another update....I am humbled. Wishing you all the best! Looking forward to seeing many of you in the coming month.
Sara Gurule c/o