Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It's Time For Class!

Disclaimer: Part of the reason I haven't blogged in a while is because my computer is out of commission at the moment. I've had to borrow other people's computers for things like this. (Many thanks to Raquel for sharing.) I would appreciate your prayers that it would be able to be fixed very soon. It also seems like the longer I'm here the more I have to do and less time I have to do it in. I never have a lack of things to do for sure.

Here's a little glimpse of my teaching experiences here. I will try to give you a word picture of what a typical day of teaching is like. (Pictures of classes will be coming soon).

It seems like every morning I have at least a little measure of teacher's anxiety. I have many thoughts and questions running through my head… What should I teach today - phonics, grammar, vocabulary or reading? How can I teach this in a way that they can understand? How can I keep the lesson interesting to a room full of teenagers? How can I make sure that each individual student is really grasping the new concepts? What's the best way to keep order in the classroom and keep the students from chattering with and distracting each other?

Amazingly, my God helps me pull something together to present to the class time and time again. Praise be to Him! Of course some days run a lot smoother than others… Thankfully, I can learn from my mistakes and trust the Greatest Teacher of all to give me the strength and wisdom I desperately need everyday.

I'm the first teacher of the day to teach the 9th grade class, which gives me the title of the "Grade 9 class teacher." This means I take attendance every morning, help to organize the class special musics up front, plan the class campouts/picnics later in the year, and teach their Sabbath School class...

Just recently, most of us class teachers ordered uniform shirts for our classes. It was a challenge trying to pick a style and color that pleased the most students in my 9th grade class. I'm thankful that the shirts are in their hands now.

After chapel finishes, my students and I meander down the path and across the road to the Grade 9 & 10 building. Sometimes one my sweet 9th grader girls carries my Karen bag for me. The students don't seem to be in a hurry to get to their classroom. I've noticed that in general the Karen people are not as rushed about life.

I never know what to expect when I walk into the classroom. Somedays the students are hyper and happy, other times they are more sleepy and solemn. It's hard to tell what's on their minds a lot of the time. There are some days when I too am tired and don't really want to face all those students again.

Nevertheless, I try to begin the class with a cheery, "Good morning, students!" to which they echo back, "Good morning, teacher!" Once all the students have filtered into the classroom they stand to sing a song. Sometimes I teach them a new song or we just sing one they already know.

"Alright students, let's do our attendance." The students number themselves off and sit down when they call out their number. Then I usually nod to one of the students to have opening prayer.

Classes are full of different activities - phonics practice, vocabulary lessons, learning games, grammar lessons, and reading practice.

"Ok students -- please say after me - Think - t-h-i-n-k - think, thump - t-h-u-m-p - thump…"

"What is the superlative of big?  Yes, that's right - biggest. Good job!"

Sometimes I feel like I don't have enough to fill the 45-minute time period, but some days the ending bell rings much earlier than I expect.

After 9th grade class I walk back down the path to my hut to prepare for my next class - 10th grade.

10th grade is a much smaller class than my other two classes. It only has 11 students… they can be fun and challenging at the same time. Some of them aren't much younger than me--I even have a 20 year old in that class. Many times they act like they are much younger than they really are. It's nice to be able to do more interactive activities with 10th graders though, because of the fewer number or students to keep in line.

I have another 45 minute break between my 10th and 8th grade classes. It's nice to have some time to get a breather and finish up my lessons plans for the next class.

My 8th grade class can be very exciting at times. You see, it's the last class period of the day, so the students are a little more antsy to be finished with school for the morning. I have a lot of active, silly boys in that class. I've had to rearrange the seating a few times to separate some of the more talkative ones. I really like the 8th grade class though - there are a few more spiritually strong students in that class too.

At the end of class the teachers always say, "Thank you, class!" And the students heartily reply, "Thank you, teacher! See you tomorrow!" as they shuffle out of the classroom.

After my last class of the morning, I walk back to my hut with a grateful heart to God for helping me through yet another morning of teaching.

You know, even though I don't always enjoy teaching classes every single day…
Even though I feel very tired and worn out some days…
Even though there are situations that come up that I don't know how to handle…

I'm glad I'm here.
I'm glad for these opportunities to be stretched and challenged.
And I'm so thankful that God has not called me to do this alone.

He is always there to hold my hand, if I will only grasp it. I can be at peace.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Birthday Reflections

(I started writing this post on my birthday last week.)

This morning I was reading and pondering in my hammock...

I was reflecting over my 20th year of life that has now passed... It was a beautiful year filled with many blessings and abundant opportunities for growth.

I look back with happiness to the victories I've had. I also think back to the moments I've wasted. Oh that I could go back and re-live those moments. Such as the times when social media or other distractions replaced the time I could have spent in memorizing the Bible, whole-hearted service, or communion with my Savior. 

I have been struck with the thought that I must redeem the time now. We never know if we will have tomorrow. 

I read these inspiring words from the pen of Ellen White:

The new year has commenced, and with the commencement of this new year, you should dedicate yourselves to God. Now give yourself to him, soul, body, and spirit, to do his will. Let all selfishness...., all your faults, and besetting sins die with the old year. Begin this new year to the glory of God. Pray to him, morning, noon, and night, to give you a meek and humble spirit, a mild temper, an affectionate disposition. Live as you never lived before. Begin this new year with new feelings, fresh desires, and a strong determination to glorify God.  {YI, January 1, 1856 par. 2} 

This is my prayer--to live as never before. I pray that in this new year I will fully surrender my heart anew to my Savior - each and every moment of the day.

I want to live a life with no regrets...
 ~      ~      ~    
Here are a few of the highlights from my birthday:
  • A few my students started to sing snippets of "Happy Birthday" during class
  • Getting to talk with my dear family back in America between two of my classes
  • Handing out many different flavors of small ice cream popsicles to the eager 300+ students at lunch time. (Sometimes the teachers here buy or make something special for all the other staff and students on their birthday. I liked that idea and decided to buy the ice cream popsicles for them.)
  • Being surprised by fellow missionaries who sang to me and presented me with a cake covered with peanut butter frosting (You have to be pretty creative here in the mission field. We've come up with some pretty interesting and delicious concoctions.) 
  • Receiving many birthday messages from dear friends like you
  • And to top it all off - seeing the eclipse of the moon after evening worship
I have so much to be thankful for.

Our Recent Escapades

Here are a few random pictures from our recent escapades.

A few Sabbaths ago we enjoyed visiting some beautiful waterfalls near the school. 
The next day a group of us went on a strenuous 1-hour-long hike up to a pagoda at the top of a mountain. I think it was the steepest trail I've been on - the Karen boys we went with led us straight up the side of the mountain. It was very enjoyable even though we were covered in sweat, mud, and rain water by the end. Needless to say, we slept very well that night. (To read more about our adventures you can read Raquel's blog -

The spectacular view after our very strenuous hike up to a pagoda. It was worth the effort.

Me watching the girls slide down the rushing water slide

The kids love to have their picture taken.
K' Nyaw Paw enjoyed splashing us in this picture.

More posing girls

Here's two of my sweet eighth grader girls

Some of the girls and I went right underneath the base of the second waterfall we went to. 
It was amazing to watch the water cascading over the edge from below. The water coming down on us felt almost like a powerful massage. 

My mission partner and I in the mist of the waterfall 

The four happy water fighters. 
 Teachers can have fun too! :)

This was very refreshing!

Priceless expression 

Wet & dry at the same time

Another view at the top of the mountain
I loved the many different shades of green. 

I'm thankful for these girls!