An Intentional International...that's who I want to be, whether or not I'm overseas. Someone who opens her arms to embrace those around her regardless of the expectations that others may have. I believe that Jesus was an Intentional International and loved deeply those he came into contact with, no matter the road he was on or the journey they were on. He met with them right where they were at. He still meets us right where we are at. This year, I hope I can be even more intentional.
I've been back in Chiang Mai for over 6 weeks already. I can't believe how different things are a second time around. I didn't realize how beneficial my timing to return to Thailand was until I kicked jet-lag and was well into my intense Thai language lessons. Those 2 1/2 weeks to be on my own before many of our families and co-workers arrived was much needed time that I planned to prepare for the start of school. Unfortunately, I soon found I was in the, "it takes so much longer to do things here" mentality. In my western ways I had planned to accomplish a lot each day as to be fully ready before school began. Much to my disappointment, I could only accomplish one or two things on my list which in my busy mind translated to "I'm behind and today feels like a waste". Somehow, I have to be flexible with my plans as they constantly change...but in the end, it all seems to work out :)
When people started arriving to CM, I took time to get to know some of our new teachers. Airport pick-ups, phone set-ups, running errands and eating with them. When staff orientation began, I felt comfortable already meeting many of the new staff (including a larger representation from Colorado :)).
As usual, the week leading up to school is a blur, making sure everything is ready for the students to step through the doors on day 1 of a new school-year. This year my classroom feels more like "my room". AND I have nice new, termite free walls and new white boards.
One thing I love about GIS is that they have an annual staff retreat to allow the staff to mingle and get to know each other across grade and content levels. This year we were all assigned a country and flag and told to go out into the city in the songthaew on a scavenger hunt. I was on "Team Scotland" and we had a blast meeting many of the challenges on the hunt as well as getting to know one another better. Many pictures in the slideshow above are from that day.
On August 10, 17 4th graders walked through my door (33 total in our grade). I will have a place in my heart for all the kids I have ever known and taught and this new group of kids are already filling my heart. My kids from last year still see me each day and run to me giving me hugs and saying hello...I'm so blessed by them all.
The first 3 weeks have gone really fast. These kids are so deep. Right from the beginning, I've observed how concerned they are for others and the world. They are even concerned for themselves when they begin to doubt and question, whatever faith they might be. It is fascinating to see them grapple with truth and morality at such a young age...I don't remember if I even thought that way when I was their age.
I have about 20 % Thai origin, 25% Korean origin, 45 %American/European descent and 10% from other parts of the world. Again, the student body is vastly diverse and just because some are of American descent does not mean that they have ever lived in America or consider themselves as a true American.
The end of the second week of school, I was a middle school and high school chaperone for the Chapel retreat. This retreat was a time for the middle school and high chapel teams to meet up, connect and bond since they'll be leading worship for Secondary chapel each week. It was a good time for me to become familiar with the older GIS students, experience their vulnerability/stories and their musical talent. So many of the students were not only crazy talented musicians, but also strong spiritual leaders and mentors. Even down time was filled with music (except for messy games :)) I'm often reminded how much I love spending time with kids of ALL ages...even the older ones. Camp counseling again in my future...?!?
I haven't had too much time to get out and about lately, since schools back in session. Living here for over a year, I don't have the constant urge to explore as I did when I arrived for the first time, but I still love to experience natural beauty of where I live as much as possible. Today spending most of the day at a lake and getting caught in a sudden warm, monsoon-rain was exhilarating.
Routines are kicking in and I'm keeping busy. Day-to-day life is always an adventure when teaching and living in a foreign place. There's the good and the bad (I'll tell, if you ask), but life on this side of the rice paddy is pretty sabi-sabi (okay) right now :)
Praise: 1. All my roommates and our new staff made it in time for school to start! 2. I've kicked jet-lag, survived intensive Thai and made it through the first few weeks of school! 3. Wonderful 4th grade class! Excited for what this year will bring.
Pray: 1. This is a fresh start to the school year, with positive changes being made...pray the school, staff and in my own personal life these positive changes would continue. 2. Health. Lots of sickness going around and I caught a stomach bug earlier this week...don't have the time/energy to struggle with that right now/ever! 3. Balancing life. Got a lot on my plate...some things I do need, some things I need but don't want (ACSI-Christian International School requirements...honestly, weighing me down). Need focus and energy to INTENTIONALLY invest in what I've been called to do. 4. Preparations for the continuation of Diakonia children's ministry and the amazing partnerships we have. May this year be even more effective!
Thanks everyone for taking time to read this! I'd love to hear from you. Please let me know how I can encourage and pray for you. Sending love. -Sara