Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Another Chapter Complete

Sovannthyda made a Bible. 

One of the last days of schools I let the students create objects out of clay and then they wrote about the object they created.  

 KL made a pencil.

 Hyewon made a cup of coffee.

 David made a slice of pizza.

We celebrated the end of 2 wonderful years together by traveling to the airport to eat at Burger King.  They loved it!

 After Burger King we had to have dessert at Dairy Queen.

 We finished our list of 1,000 gifts!  This was such an accomplishment for my class.  I am so grateful for their thankful hearts.

Last Day of School

I have now been back in America for a week and have had time to rest, relax, and reflect.  I am definitely still processing everything and probably will be for a while.  My time in Cambodia left quite an impact on my life.  It was truly an incredible experience filled with unforgettable memories.  There were definitely moments of frustration, exhaustion, and homesickness along the way, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything!  I watched my students grow, learn, discover, and mature.  Their desire to know more and motivation to work hard never ceased to amaze me.  At the end of 2 years with them I was still shocked when they would say "thank you" for their worksheets and tests!  My last few days with them were very bittersweet.  I was showered with sweet notes and heart felt gifts that would remind me of Cambodia.  I am really terrible at saying goodbye, but I tried to do my very best to wrap up the last day well.  We watched a slideshow of pictures that highlighted lots of memories we made together, shared yummy snacks, and played games.  After class awards had been given and gifts were passed out, I was so thankful I had one last time to pray with my class.  My 18 "kids" are in His hands and though thousands of miles now separate us, I know He is going to take care of each one of them.  Many of my students asked if I would come back and visit them.  I couldn't really say an official "goodbye" to Cambodia because deep down inside I do hope I have the opportunity to go back and see my "kids".  Until then...I am thankful for technology that helps us remain in contact with one another!        

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." ~Dr. Seuss

Before I made the decision to move to Cambodia about two and half years ago, I remember seeking advice from my oldest brother.  He told me..."You may love it or you may hate it.  Anyone can do something for two years, and if you really don't like it you can always come home.  However, if you stay here and don't go, your always going to wonder what you are missing out on there."  I am so happy I went!  I loved it, and would have missed out on a whole lot!  

So now that I am back I have been asked numerous times..."What are you going to do now?"  That question is a difficult one.  I know my chapter in Cambodia is complete, but it is very hard to just switch back into "America mode".  Life in a third world country (as you can imagine) is quite different.  I can't just hop on my bicycle and ride to school or the market to buy some mangoes or call a tuk tuk to take me somewhere that is too far for my bicycle.   (By the way...that is something I really grew to love and will really miss.)  And I don't quite know that I am ready to switch back into "America mode".  While I have missed many things here, I must somehow figure out a way to use what I learned during my past two years and apply it to the next chapter in this journey. So my response has find a teaching position in NC.  :)  Although the "wait" period can sometimes be a tough one, I know God will reveal His plans in His timing.      

In the meantime...

I think I will give these two suitcases a rest for a while. :)

I want to wrap up this post by saying a sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I have been so blessed by family and friends who have supported me along this journey.  

"Wherever you are - be all there." ~Jim Elliot


Friday, April 26, 2013

Blessings Beyond Measure

Color Poems

 Stephen and Isaac

I had the wonderful privilege of having a delicious Khmer meal prepared by Isaac's sweet mother.  Silly me thought it would just be me enjoying a meal with the immediate family around the dinner table. was a pleasant surprise to share the extravagant meal with other school staff and lots of neighbors.  Isaac has never volunteered to pray in class, but he prayed before we ate and he prayed the sweetest prayer before his parents drove me home.  I was so blessed by this experience.  The visit with his family and neighbors was so encouraging.  

 KL and Sothun eating dirt cups

 In front of the Independence Monument with my dear friend Jennifer

Jennifer's visit was such a blessing to me.  It meant so much to me for her to travel halfway around the world to see me, my school, and Cambodia.  She also brought two suitcases that were filled to the brim with tons of school supplies.  Thank you again for all those from who contributed!  I think our school will have enough stickers to last quite a while. ;)
The above picture may be a little difficult to read.  It is part of the "1,000 Gifts" my students have been working on this year.  We just reached over 900 this week!  I love starting each school day by asking my class what they are thankful for.  It has been such a special time to share each day, and it has made my class more aware of the gifts God has given them. 

The days seem to be disappearing they are going so quickly now.  I guess that is how the end of the year is for most teachers with all the testing, "to do" lists, and special activities that seem to all run together during this time of the year.  As most of you know, I am finishing up my last 5 weeks of school and then I will be moving back to N.C.  I vividly remember the day I left N.C. and everything that was so familiar to me.  I arrived in Cambodia and remember thinking..."I don't know if I am cut out for this.  I don't have any training in ESL."  I felt so inadequate.  And actually as I type this, I still have some of those feelings.  Thankfully, I know I am not doing any of this on my own.  God has shown me over and over again that He designed us uniquely to fulfill His purpose and plan.  It doesn't matter what I can do.  What matters is that I allow Him to take me as I am with all my weaknesses, strengths, failures, and triumphs.  After all, He is the One doing the work through me.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that I could never travel this journey on my own.  I find He often calls us to do things we don't feel "qualified" or "adequate" for, but I am always reminded that He will enable us to do those very things He calls us to do. 

"It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights."  Psalm 18:32-33

Thursday, March 7, 2013

His Handiwork

 The hands of my 18 students.  I am daily amazed at the talents and gifts each one of my students possess.  
 It most certainly does not feel like winter here in Cambodia with most days reaching the upper 90's, but my kids certainly used their imaginations as they pretended to live in a snow globe.  

 My favorite line of this one..."I also feel a little nervous because there are some polar bears I've never met."

The pictures below are of my students performing their projects from Drama class at our weekly assembly.

 I am so proud of Hyewon.  Her drawing was one of two chosen to be printed on our school t-shirts.  

My class finally finished their research about animals and presented their creative posters to the class.
 Komodo Dragon

 Panda Bear


 Black Mamba



I have had the opportunity to know most of my students for over a year and half now.  I remember so clearly the first few weeks of school in August 2011 wondering if I would ever hear some of my students speak.  So many of my students knew very little English and lacked the confidence to speak what little English they did know.  Now my students are reciting poems they have memorized, making presentations, and in some cases talking my ear off! :)  They have made so much progress, and I am so proud of them.  

"I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  Psalm 139:14 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

More Memories

Wow!  I am not sure where the past 4 months have gone.  This year is flying!  Below you will find some snapshots of some of the memories that have been made in my classroom since my last entry.  I hope it won't take me another 4 months to give an update!  

 My students created some interesting giants to write stories about.

 Merry Christmas
It feels a bit like July when Christmas is celebrated here...wait a minute it kind of always feels like July temperature-wise anyhow.

This past week my class went on a field trip to the Phnom Tamao Zoo.  My class really enjoyed the trip.  Many of them saw animals they had never seen before.

 Monkeys like the one above roamed around freely.  While they may be cute...unfortunately one of my boys had his snack stolen right out of his hand...hence the big smiles and shocked face in the picture below.

 Isaac found the exoskeleton of a rather large python.

 Worn out bunch from all the walking in the heat...made for a welcomed quiet trip back to many fell asleep!

As I reflect on the past year and half, I am so grateful for so many things.  I am grateful for this opportunity God has given me to teach some incredible students.  It has been a joy to share His love with them.  I am also grateful for the daily guidance and wisdom He has given me with access to limited resources.  There may be no textbooks, technology, or sometimes even power...but He has helped me every step of the way.  I am looking forward to seeing what He has planned for the next four months with my amazing class!  

Monday, September 17, 2012

First 30 days in Fourth Grade

I cannot believe I have already finished 6 weeks of teaching in this new school year.  The time is flying!  It has been a great 6 weeks so far.  I looped up to fourth grade with my class so I have 11 of the same students and 7 new students.  

 My Fourth Grade Class

 Getting ready to plant green bean seeds

 Looks like I have some green thumbs in my class!

 Our plants were thriving until the birds found them.  David felt that they needed a scarecrow...hence the snowman. : )

 I recently read One Thousand Gifts (excellent book by the way if you haven't read it) by Ann Voskamp and decided to apply what I learned with my class this year.  I have challenged my class to collectively make a list of 1,000 Gifts (what they are thankful for) throughout the school year.  We already have 200 on our list so far.  Below are some of the gifts mentioned.

3.  Food that we eat.
20.  God gives us wisdom.
34.  The joy in our hearts.
67.  The sun gives us light.
87.  Books to read
128.  We have a Bible to read.  

I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing what my students are thankful for each day.  It is really an amazing way to start each day!