Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dependency and Strength

I like to be independent. Being single, living overseas, and carrying responsibility all mean that I have to be self-sufficient and willing to do things on my own. There's a strength that I experience when I set out to accomplish a task on my own.

As a teacher, I feel effective when I'm helping others - recognizing their problems and finding a solution so that they can be successful. That's a large part of my job. A good teacher helps their students.

But this video reminds me that  I can rob my students of the same strength that I feel when I do something on my own. Living in this paradox of serving but not stealing independence from my students is a balancing act. It requires me to be dependent on God's direction and draw strength from Him.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

OE Feb 2016 Cagayan de Oro

Outdoor Education: our (mostly) annual high school trip where we organize opportunities for the students to serve others, hear from God's Word, stretch beyond their comfort zones, and learn outside of the classroom walls. During OE, we require our students to journal and I require it of myself; its something that I don't generally do. My OE journals over the years great snapshots that pack a lot of memories and meaning. Here's some excerpts from my journal this year:

All of my OE Journals

Day 1 - K and I came up 2 days early to  get all (well almost all) of the plans finalized. Lots changed in our schedule in the past 2 days of planning but we were able to connect with 2 important contacts....It was cool to stop and take a picture with K in Sinuda on the drive up here - that's where K and I first did an OE together, her as a student and me as a teacher planning OE with her dad. What's even neater (is that a word?) is that this is our 2nd OE planned in CDO together. It's so cool to connect with people that we served 4 years ago and see the fruits of our small efforts then. It helps me to see God's faithfulness.

K and I worked on this fence back in 2006

Day 2 - During our tour of the Habitat for Humanity sites, we got pulled over by the LTO (the DMV as its known here). Apparently our hired jeepney was not allowed to go into that area of the city because it wasn't on his route. I didn't know that was a thing because in my thoughts, a hired vehicle can travel anywhere. I guess that's not true in CDO.

The joy of a jeepney

Day 3 - Some days there's a lonely feeling that just hangs around times I feel like there's no one who knows me and gets all of the aspects of my life. Evening talks have been about the koininia connection that we can have with God, if we just ask and I'm trying to draw on that, but there are just days that it feels empty.

The singing on OE is one of my favorite things

Day 4 - Today was a great day! My group of students rocked! They were attentive, responsive to directions, and they worked together well...Its funny how today I'm totally loving OE but the months beforehand planning it are a BEAST and dragging the kids to it is draining. I always love it when I'm here (and so do the kids--usually), but getting here takes so much work that I don't have a good attitude about it. However, I do have to say that my experience is biased because I have a great group! They aren't the smartest or most organized, but they have heart.

You never know who you will get to serve - this time  a kid named Stephon Corey

Day 5 - I really can't believe that this is my 16th OE - 13 as an adult and 3 as a high school student in Indonesia. When did it get to be so many? How did I get to be that lucky? They are so much work to plan though! And I'm ready for some down time...Man, when I came back from Habitat today, everyone was overflowing with stories. I had some great conversations with kids, where I wasn't their teacher, but just a person, and they weren't my students but people who could relate to me.

We got to hear this couple's typhoon story...and love story

Day 6 - And now comes the end of OE slump--the tiredness, the pride in the kids' growth, the weariness, the joy of connectedness and community, the knowledge that I will soon be all alone in my house again, the drudgery of a return to routine, the gratitude for a great experience, the elation of completing the large task that is OE. How am I supposed to make sense of all of these emotions? How do I reconcile the good and the ugly, the joy and the sorrow that are truly intermingled, entangled, and wedded together?

The beach at sunset: the perfect way to end a great day

Today - As I look back on the school year, I'm grateful for the opportunity that I've had to go on OE. It was my favorite activity as a kid and I looked forward to it ALL year long. As an adult, its easy to take OE for granted, easy to be overwhelmed by the task of leading it. But really, its one of the perks of teaching here and I really wouldn't want to stay behind while there's fun to be had and important life lessons to be learned.

OE my senior year...20 years ago

Friday, May 23, 2014

The beginning of summer break

walkways are a labyrinth of faces and book bags
books and papers abound
projects in various stages of completion
groaning about the tasks to do and the limited time and energy
when will it end? are we done yet?
the pressure is high

halls are a highway in Nebraska, wide and few travelers
silence and loneliness surround
transitions ahead and goodbyes mostly said
time and days stretch into eternity
what will those left behind do? what now?
the emptiness is papable