January-March 2016 update.
Preface: I definitely let this one sit for a while before posting....a lot has happened and been decided on within the past week. Read my "Doors" post to learn more after this.
In January it was pretty cold according to Thai standards. The temperatures dropped from 85 F to the 50's! Now, that might not be super cold compared to Colorado, but without heating and living in a concrete house with lukewarm water, that's frigid. I'm thankful for that concrete though...I can't even imagine freezing in an open air, bamboo hut up in the hills.
Now, it's mid-March. Burning season is here....although not quite as bad as last year and this week the temperatures spiked to 102 F. So now it's too hot for my liking.
January was a good start to the year. Nothing SUPER exciting...just day-to-day living:
Sunday: House church with a few families from the school. It's been good to fellowship and grow in this faith journey together.
Monday: Greet my students with "Good Morning" high-fives and they file in through my classroom door with bed-head and sleepy smiles (secretly I believe they love Monday mornings..ha)! At the end of the school day, I rush out of the classroom to get to my Thai lesson. I finished conversation book 1 and have moved on to book 2! Slow progress....
If I have the energy after 2 hours of tones and speaking, I go focus my mind on unimportant detail and throw down some clay at the pottery studio before going home to catch some zzz's.
Tuesday: Every other week we have chapel as an elementary. Think VBS at 8 am. Loud, singing and dancing kids. Love seeing their energy and passion, but then settling them down afterwards to focus on the school day ahead is always a challenge.
Wednesday: Mid-week the kids all hyped up and my energy level is plummeting...
All staff meetings and PD after school. A few weeks ago I attended a seminar on TCKs (Third-Culture Kids-military, missionary, business, basically all kids growing up overseas) by guest speaker Michele Phoenix. Many insightful reminders of the unique situation and lives of the international student population I teach.
Thursday: The day we spend the most time in science! 50 min. of uninterrupted experimenting and exploration. In January, we dissected owl pellets (quote, "ewww, it looks like poo!"), created food chains and now we are studying rocks and minerals. My favorite part of the day is Diakonia ministry club after school. Such an amazing group of kids and sharing their deep desire for service and outreach with others. We're off to a great start this semester! Already seeing all the newbies jumping in with both feet and meeting the challenges that cross-culture and language, interaction brings.
Finally Friday: After I send my crazy's to Art and Library, my longest plan time and prep for the following week begins (if I don't have meetings, or presenting at teacher professional development, that is...)! Friday night is hang out with friends and go to bed early because my brain is done.
Saturday: Botanical garden walk (my nature fix for the week) or going to a children's home with the ministry club...loading those open bed trucks (songthaews) up! Later, I take my papers and "homework" to local coffee shops and then whatever time is left (if there even is...) for exploring the town.
That's a wrap. Another week over.
Although...that sounds like a pretty normal week, which is SO not true. No week is normal. There's always something e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y...
ALWAYS lots of grading, prepping, planning, reports, super cold showers (if the shower is not broken for weeks at a time), dunk tanks at the school carnival, getting rained on while running, mosquitoes, motorbikes that don't start, a car stuck at the Big C (mini-mall) parking lot in the middle of the night that needs a jump, traffic, phone not working, trips to immigration and visa runs to other countries, the DMV-renewing drivers' licenses and vehicle registrations, loads of paperwork and staying legal...not to mention the "wildlife" all around...that lethal wasp in my room and creepy crawlers, life is NEVER, the least bit boring.
Sports Leadership Trip to Mae Sot:
After the first week back to school in January, I took the opportunity to chaperone and support the sports leadership team (high school leadership in sports team that put on VBS type activities for hilltribe and migrant kids around Thailand) to a village on the border of Burma, south of the Mae Sot refugee camps. It was awesome to see these high school kids lead games and activities for the Karen children in the village. I enjoyed not having to lead and spent time talking with English-speaking Karen high school/college age students about their desires and education. I toured their village school. Definitely puts everything into perspective. I've been blessed to have classrooms just FULL of resources and supplies...this Karen school did not have much, but the students seem to be learning so much, regardless. An added moment of excitement on the trip was being able to swim across the river into Burma...just to stand on the shore on the border for a moment...remember my life-changing and impactful experience almost a year ago. Can't believe all I've been blessed to see and know this year and currently! Beyond what I could've ever expected just by saying "yes" to this opportunity to teach and follow whatever it is God has for me here and now.
A successful visa-run trip to Cambodia! Read in my previous blog post "doors".
I've decided to return for the 2016-2017 school year! I'm excited because that means I'll have a bit more time to make decisions about my next step while continuing teaching the students at GIS who have enriched my life and renewed in me a love for teaching!
As in my last blog, I eluded to many changes and challenges this next year...
About change.., it's been very recently decided that I will be teaching 6th grade next school year! Also, I have housing (although I will need to buy furniture...since I've just been subletting this year)! Proof again that the Lord continues to provide for me!
1. God's faithfulness and provision. I never know when the pieces come together but they always do and not in the way I expect.
2. Incredible children's ministry club this semester and I'm already amazed by the ways they are impacting the community for Christ.
3. The opportunities I have to interact with people from many cultures and backgrounds and learn more about languages, culture and people....helps me better understand where they're coming from. Also, travel brings me refreshment and renewed vision.
1. Finalizing decisions for next year. Also, our school is trying to figure out where to meet next year since our court case was appealed and we can be evicted at any time.
2. The premature goodbyes of friends, housemates, families and students. Praying for God to continue to provide a great community for me here.
3. Pray I will continue to have the energy to serve and not be discouraged when I don't know where the next step is...trusting AND for my health. I've been having a lot of skin and allergy issues lately and don't have answers yet. This hot, polluted season could be a big contributor.
Please send me a message! I enjoy hearing from people and updates with your life and any ways I can pray and encourage you!
Sending my love,
Sara Gurule c/o