October was quite the month!
Here's a quick recap of some of the excitement!
Grading, grading, grading, report cards and parent teacher conferences
As a teacher, some things never change no matter where in the world you are. The first few weeks of October, I lost all ability to have a social life. This typically happens frequently in teaching, even in a foreign county, where you have to put all other things on the "back burner" and throw yourself completely into the multi-tasks at hand. This lasts for about two weeks and then after a break...hit restart and resume jumping back into prepping, planning, teaching, grading...and so the cycle continues...eating my chicken and rice/noodles between intervals :)
I was issued my work permit and 90-day VISA renewal the week before fall break. Right smack in the middle of three full days of conferences, I found that in order to leave the country and re-enter again, I needed to pay a trip to immigration to get a re-entry permit (I opted for multi-entry since I am planning on leaving the country and returning multiple times in the next year). Well, finding this information out came at a less-than-convenient time, considering I was traveling to Korea the day after going to immigration. So thankful, my administrators and team teacher allowed me to take the "lighter conference-load" morning off to take care of this business. I got to the immigration office at 6 am, waited in line outside until they opened the doors at 7:30 to come in and sit, and then waited some more until the workers arrived around 8am. Then after the King's anthem and more puttering around, they finally opened up around 8:40 am (40 min. after they should have opened). Fortunately it didn't take long after for me to get called and then was issued my re-entry within 20 minutes, record time. I only missed one conference!
See the previous post!
If you've seen the Disney Pixar movie Tangled you know what I'm talking about! The floating sky lanterns (Khom Loi) that you see in the heading photo of this blog and small banana-leaf baskets with incense, candles and flowers (float in water and are called, Krathong), are used in the annual lantern festival. This festival is celebrated from the end of October to mid-November with the peak of the festival around the full-moon. This traditionally is a festival where Thais pay respect to the water spirits by launching the Krathong (banana-leaf baskets) into a pond, river or the canal. Thai Buddhists often launch the Kratong as a way to let go of past transgressions, sins and negative thoughts. Fortunately for me, I know who can truly forgive and take away my sin and transgressions. Therefore, the Krathong and Khom Loi lanterns that were launched by my friends and I, were just for appreciation of beauty and in thankful praise of the one true God who brought light and hope into this world of darkness, through His one and only Son.
The festival was full of foreigners, since Chiang Mai is world-renown for the Khom Loi lanterns and on Friday night some friends and I took a songthaew to the moat, watched a parade with traditional floats, dress, and dancing. Afterward we walked around watching the streets fill with people lighting both the Krathong and the Khom Loi, setting off fireworks and lighting sparklers off of the moat into the canal. This is where I bought and released my first Khom Loi. It is truly a "magical" experience. The lanterns fill up with hot air from the "fuel cell" or the candle that is lit below it, and float up into the sky. To see the sky covered in these glowing lanterns is an unforgettable experience.
Although beautiful, I am glad this festival is over for the year. The pollution is often pretty terrible during this time due to the fireworks and millions of lanterns everyday for 3 weeks. It will be nice to not fear running over sparklers, paper lanterns and hopefully get some sleep now that there are not fireworks going off next door.
As the 4th grade science teacher, I spent an evening as a "mad scientist" teaching children and parents about borax and making slime. This fun, simple experiment was a success and a ton of fun until we ran out of glycerine borax and used powder borax instead. Take note: if you are to use powder borax to make slime, you might as well be making a rubber bouncy ball. Borax is apparently illegal to sell and difficult to acquire in Thailand since it can be used as a poison and could potentially be added to food. Regardless, I hope the kids had fun-even if they ended up with a bouncy ball instead of slime! Next year I have decided I will not be making slime...I have something else in mind :)
Diakonia Children's Ministry
One of the highlights of any week has definitely been piloting Diakonia Children's Ministry that I lead with another teacher. It has been an incredible experience to see our GIS students interact with and learn the in's and out's of serving others and developing relationships with Thai and Hilltribe kids.
The Mango House (neighborhood children's home) kids are so precious and now our original thought of only teaching them English, has become more of a Thai/English language exchange which has been a new challenge, but a great one in that we are learning to understand each other better. This is also giving the other teacher and I insight to find ways we can further help our students to serve more efficiently and how to teach them ways to grow these relationships with non-English speakers.
This past week, we were able to take our Diakonia students to visit a group of preschool to 1st grade Thai children, from another nearby children's home, called Hope House. During our time with them, our kids read stories and created art with them. The faces of these young Thai children were priceless. They were so joyful to have more one-on-one attention and seemed to enjoy the experiences working along-side our kids. It was a blessing to see both of the groups interact with each other. It is exciting to think of the many service opportunities ahead with this group!
AND now it is NOVEMBER!
Here it is, already mid-November and I must say I am going to miss my favorite American holiday, Thanksgiving this year. It is strange not experiencing seasons that I'm used to. The weather has cooled some but it's still in the 80's, low 90's with 75-85% Humidity and it's been raining a lot lately.
My students are working hard in the second quarter of school. We are continually learning to persevere through academic and social challenges that arise. I'm most excited to teach about the classification of plants and animals...Thailand specific. I love being a teacher, especially when I get to learn and discover right along with my students. They also find it so exciting when I play cajon for Elementary chapel and we rap the water cycle in science.
Pottery class is going well. I am finishing up some projects...windchimes and fruit bowls. What a great creative outlet it has been!
There are some weekend trips and experiences I'm anticipating and looking forward to. Getting out of the city and experiencing nature is the best...nothing compares to fresh air and vistas! Stay tuned for more trails and tales!
-Safe, Refreshing Korea travels and for the opportunity to experience another Asian culture.
-Recognizing the need for Christ in this community among both the Thai and foreigners
-Children's ministry opportunities
-Personal lessons I'm learning
-Continue to find ways to get involved in ministry apart from teaching...specifically with Thai/Karen people
-Seeking more intentional, deeper fellowship and spiritual growth support
-Coping with culture shock challenges and frustrations. I often struggle with contentment with what God is doing.
-Daily safety on the motorbike and from mosquitoes!!!!!
As always, thank you for the love, support and prayers.
Praying that all will have peace and abundance in this season of Thanksgiving. So much to be thankful for!
I'll leave you with this song that I love and has been a good reminder lately. :)
Good to Me.
Sara Gurule c/o