How has it been another 2 months already?!? Here I am 5 weeks from the end of this school year and just like all teachers, this time of year is overwhelming and everything feels like survival mode just to make it across another finish line. So many tasks at hand, yet as always-I hate to let go of these kids. THIS group. My first class in Thailand as 4th graders and my first class as 6th graders and now they must move on to bigger, better things like middle school. I've poured into them all that I could and hope that will be enough. I keep telling them I'll probably cry as I give them their continuation certificates on the last day. They just tell me, "please, don't...that's so embarrassing". Haha. We've been through a lot over these years!
1. Women's Retreat. This was the best women's retreat I've ever been on. I usually don't like going because they typically feel more like conferences than retreats. I don't enjoy sitting for hours inside when I can be outside (more on conferences later...). So this was ACTUALLY a retreat and they allowed us so. much. time to do our own thing. I appreciated the freedom to come and go from the only 3 sessions available throughout the weekend. Walking around the gardens, reading a book for once and processing through some stuff. When at the sessions, I enjoyed just sitting in silence or listening to the spontaneous music and resting in the Spirit. I came back refueled.
2. 5K Burma walk/run. I must confess, I've been unmotivated to run this year. So I did a jog/walk combo for this year's 5K. Always a great cause! Raising money for the assistance of the many hill tribe refugees that are fleeing by foot over the nearby mountains to escape genocide and oppression in Burma. Something so close to my heart. Link for more info-here.
3. Book Character Day. I dressed as a WHO from WHOville from the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears A Who. Always fun to dress silly for the day. The things I do as an Elementary teacher...!
1. EARCOS (East Asia Regional Conference Of Schools) Educators Conference
I took off to Sabah, Malaysia, Northern Borneo (Rainforest) for this INCREDIBLE Educators Conference a few days before spring break, along with 2 other colleagues. One of the challenges of living overseas is not getting adequate professional development that propels you as a educator. Often we have to search out opportunities to learn and grow in our profession. This was a fantastic opportunity. 2 full days of travel on either end to get to this remote, exotic location was worth it! The conference was a very full 3 days from 8 am-5 pm each day. Our hotel/conference center was located right on a harbor looking out to the South China Sea. There were some swimming pools that looked out onto the sea. Unfortunately, since we were in sessions during all of daylight, we could only enjoy the pools late at night. I don't think they should have conferences like this in tempting locations because then you are forced to choose between going to sessions or the pool...don't worry...I followed rules and went to all 10 sessions. :) I enjoyed learning a lot of new teaching strategies especially for math and science engagement and inquiry for middle schoolers. Also, heard from some famous, inspiring speakers. I left excited to get back to Thailand and begin implementing all this new information! Such a gift to learn more!
2. Upon arriving home, I spent a few days trying to survive the over 100 degrees F temps along with the burning season smog and smoke. One day I went to an office supply store to escape the heat and get free air con and find some new grading pens. The electricity went out and they told me to come back the next day to pay for my items. Let's say I was not too happy. Then I went to a cafe. Again, to escape the heat and use free air con. Then the electricity went out. I just gave up and went home after that. :-) Oh the life. The best part of that week was having a good friend's sister come visit. I love showing people around this place I've called 'home' for almost 3 years...***hint, hint***
3. The following week I spent up in the Thai-Burma mountains at Doi Angkhang along with many other families from school (pretty much everyone who didn't leave town for our 2 week break). It was a nice week away from the smog and heat in the city, spending time with some other fellow Colorado connections and going on some hikes to the Thai-Burma border. I got my nature fix. So many flowers and rolling hills. Looked over the barbed wire fence into the DMZ of Burma and across to the soldiers outpost there. The second to last day I became suddenly ill- my burmese samosa lunch all over in the picturesque bonsai tree garden (TMI?) so I ended up staying another day to recover. All an adventure.
What am I up to now?
Two weeks ago was Easter. I went to a huge house church gathering. We ate lunch together, worshipped together and there were 7 kids that were baptized...awesome!
Last weekend was an overnight bonding getaway with the women in my house church. It was good to get to know other ladies who are living life on the mission field and have so much life experience and wisdom. I was inspired and touched by their stories and hearts.
Well...this week has been school spirit week. I have dressed up each day for the occasion. Photos below. The preteens are moody as ever...but I still love them and empathize with their puberty phase of life. "The struggle is real" they tell me each day. Bless them all.
This weekend I will head to another town a few hours away called Pai (pronounced, 'bye') for a short visit with friends which I'm praying will be an encouragement to us all. It's been 2 years since I've been there and the road is rather windy and steep...hoping to survive all the twists and turns.
-Last day of school is June 2.
-June 2 I will return to Vietnam for a week to trek through hill tribe villages in the north with the teacher friends from my organization.
-June 9 Return to Chiang Mai and start a lengthy, complicated process of getting a new passport, work visa, permit, re-entry and check-in transfer all before the end of June. All this means lots of trips to the consulate and immigration.
-I will be traveling from June 26-July 7 meeting one of my oldest and dearest friends for our once in a lifetime Skye sister trip...guesses where that might be?
-I will return to Colorado for a month (4 weeks) on July 7.
-One week counseling High school students at QRC camp again this summer July 10-15.
A calendar and schedule link will be posted soon. I won't be home long this summer, but 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 heading back for one FINAL year. Who knows what's on the horizon?!?
1. All the moments of rest, reflection and rejuvenation over the past month. It's making this time of year more bearable.
2. For good conversations with students, co-workers, and housemates that are showing me that God is clearly at work here. There are still many shortcomings, but there is so much hope for change and transformation.
3. This year in 6th grade has been such a good fit for me. I'm looking forward to another year (hopefully a more consistent one than previously).
1. End of School Year-Pray that I could end well with my kids. That they would be ready for the transition...and I would be too.
2. Anxious for the legalities of getting a new passport, visa, and other documents (not to mention blood tests...). Pray that I would get them in time and the process would go smoothly.
3. Thai Language study. The past few months have been really challenging and I don't want to lose motivation. Pray for a renewed fervor and excitement for language study. I so desperately want to be able to communicate better.
As always, THANK YOU for reading this and for your continued prayers and support! =S
Sara Gurule c/o