Sunday, April 12, 2009 A at the front, though it might work...

I think teaching English has done something to my sudden fascination with letters...."a" and "e" blogs being too close together.....

It's strange to think that after two years of Palau being home, it will soon be in my log of time passed and places visited. "Ed" being such small letters, but having so much meaning. I am going to be picking up life in the States not where I left off, but something akin to that, and it's strange. Hahahaha, and I have to finish htis later because we are off to get lunch!! Such strangely truncated blogs I am having lately!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Canoeing.....Does it really have an "e"?

This computer sucks. This was not the original start to this blog. But after I wrote it all out and tried to publish, the computer bounced to some other page, NOT the one it should have, and as a result, erased my blog. I don't have enough time to write all I had on the last one (hey, this way I can pretend it was really witty and fully of clever humor; you will never know!), but I'll tell you a bit.

Yes, thanks to Jenny--my co-worker--and her amazingly gifted ability to plan (a gene I failed to receive), with a little tiny bit of help from me, Bethania High School now has a canoe team! We have 6 girls who we are conditioning (don't worry, we're doing it with them) and dieting (same), and 2-3 times a week driving to practice in the city of Koror. A man named Peter who is skilled in outrigger canoeing has volunteered to coach our girls free of charge on his days off. Let's just say he is our new favorite person. Our month will be busy, but we are having fun so far. We are even making breakfast for them during the week, and get to enjoy the company of young people every morning! They are fun girls, and we look forward to watching them bond as a team.

One more exciting thing: my Mom arrives tomorrow night! My Dad, being the sweetheart he is, insisted that she come for a visit using their flight miles. So, for 5 whole days I get to share Palau with her! I really can't wait!

Ok, I will try to write again.....unless the computer remains as evil as ever. Peace.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Catching Up with the Times

SO, i cheated.......this is actually taken from an email I sent. But hey, internet time here has been seriously limited! We'll call the recipient (ahem, mom) by a false name.....just because it sounds so much more literary and mysterious that way.

Dear Erminrude,

Get this: yesterday i went for a nice long walk, and on the way back i went to move to the side of the road so a car could get through, and i totally slipped in the mud and fell on my right time for the people in the car to see! i was fine, i got up and brushed off some of the dirt, laughed a little, and the people in the car pulled over and were all worried. the lady asked "are you alright??" so i kind of laughed and said yeah, i was fine, but it was slippery back there! they drove off and i walked the rest of the way back with a bloody knee, feeling like an elementary school kid, and laughing at myself for always "getting into scrapes" right when someone comes along to see me look stupid!! but hey, i got a laugh out of jenny who always says she knows "a true softball player by when they get injured and they rub dirt in it so they can still play;" well, i got to inform her that the first thing i did was rub some dirt in it and leave it until i got back to shower. go team.

you asked about worship team; they are doing well! i feel as incompetant as ever, especially since they all know exactly what should be going on (and they do it well), but i don't. they are very gracious about informing me and being patient, though, so i am very thankful. we are going to have a meeting this week to talk about how we want to do sunday morning service (schedule), ministry possibilities, new songs, etc. pray for me that i would have some ideas of how to add some things to it, and that i would learn the structure of how things already work. mrs. petallar had a good system, very structured, and you know how bad i am at coming up with solid structure. i suck. so i want to work within that structure to a good degree, but be willing to branch out and try new things; experiment and explore, of you will, but not just for my own sake. i think it would be good for the girls to have some change, and new ideas; i just don't have any idea what that looks like yet. yikes.

classes are ok; students still doing pretty well, though i trip over words and fumble with ideas; it's like my brain fills with some undefinable murky swamp muck and the thoughts have to wade through slowly so by the time they get to my mouth they're so unidentifiable that i can't spit them out correctly. make sense? or is that more muck? :)

tomorrow jenny and i are going to try our hands at building a fire by ourselves on the beach and cooking over it; that way if taylor and leia (fellow americans who are working in koror) can come up this weekend (and hopefully rob) we can take them out to this great beach location (only good at lowtide) for a cookout and snorkeling! we might even camp out on the beach if we feel like braving the mosquitos (and the dengue fever risk). don't worry, we'll be fine.

did i tell you we built a bamboo raft? it wasn't long enough, but it still floats and is just right for kids! uncle maury (a palauan man who can build or fix pretty much anything; he is a miracle worker) saw it and laughed, saying it should be 16 feet long......... ours was about 5. but hey, it holds one of us at a time, even if it does go slightly under the water when we sit on it. we were still excited, and now we know how to build one when we get long enough bamboo. thus, we are the palauan tom sawyers. pretty spiffy, eh?

great dicovery: frozen berries!!! blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries! we got all but the raspberries and have felt like queens; we even had the students try the blackberries and were surprised at how much they were grossed out by them!! i guess it's like me with durian; i didn't grow up with it so i hate it. but wow, biting into the blackberries was having memories of childhood come rushing back; all those summers of berry picking down the road and at the river, then making ice cream, pie, and just eating them plain. talk about a huge blessing in a small ziploc package!

And thus concludes the email to dearest "Erminrude" (and fellow readers). It really is the simple things that keep us going in life; when i try to make it more complicated i flip. And then life is lame. Island life really has a way of telling you to slow down and stop being so worried all the time; God is in control and He takes us one footprint in the sand at a time (hey, we go barefoot here). I miss you all; give yourself a hug from me. Peace!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer in the City

Yes. I admit it. And that is the first step. it goes.......I am officially a blog shirker. I feel better now! Actually, to be completely honest, I didn't have internet this summer other than brief moments, so I did a more-than-poor job of keeping updates posted. My deepest apologies are administered here. But now to write a real blog, not just a sorry! This summer was a wonderful time of being back with family and friends; I can't be more thankful! I was able to spend time with many people, though I did not get to see everyone I had hoped (another sorry!). Let me update from where the last blog left off: My parents and I flew from Guam to Hawaii and spent time with my Auntie and Uncle Mark on the Big Island. We visited Kona, drank amazing coffee, and had a great visit. After Hawaii we flew to Southern CA and visited my Mimi (grandma) and relatives from my dad's side of the family. My oldest sis, Trina, drove down from Folsom to pick us up, and we got to surprise her two kids by taking a trip to Disneyland! Talk about a fun day, and a fun 2 weeks stay down south. We drove back up to Folsom, and a few days later I drove up to Anderson, Redding, and then Eureka. I was able to stay with Christine, go camping with her and Cyndi, and then drive with my friend Alison to be in my friend Christiana's wedding. It was far too short of a trip, but a great one at that. I returned to Folsom and spent time with my sis, niece and nephew, and visit many wonderful friends. (Ok, I know this is seriously the nutshell/little golden book version of my summer, but it was a lot of great traveling!) Thank you to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to hang out (and those who had to forgive me if we weren't able to spend as much time together as I would have liked); this was a great break. Now I am back on Guam planning school stuff and getting ready to return for one more year at Bethania. I am adding some new classes, so it should be exciting, and I will try to keep you as updated as possible!!

*Disclaimer: due to limited internet time and extremely slow connection, I may not be able to write often or to everyone as I want. Please forgive me, but I really can't do anything to change the limits! But know that I love you all!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Island Home #2

Here I sit in a house with aircon and couches, two luxuries I only get to experience (house-wise) when I visit the city of Koror on Palau........but now I am in my parent's house on Guam enjoying a break from teaching. It's relaxing, but different. I am still enjoying it of course, but it's weird that the year is already done. There were times when it felt endless, and here it is at the end! Strange feeling. We will be leaving in a few days to spend some time with my uncle and aunt on Hawaii, and then flying to Southern CA for 2 weeks to be with my Mimi and relatives, finally arriving in Northern CA around the middle of June.

I miss everyone! I think more than anything, I missed people this year. I missed fellowship and familiarity, and the closeness of people I have known and loved for so long. Of course, I am also excited about the funny little details, too, like hanging out at Starbucks, enjoying the beauty of Northern CA landscape (oak trees, mountains, pines, rivers) which is so homey and comforting, and even wandering around old Placerville. As weird as it sounds to P-villians (not the same as villAINs), as much as everyone wants to get away, it's still been my home for so long. So I have missed it all this time. At the same time, I wouldn't trade this year with it's struggles for anything; it has taught me a great deal, and challenged me as well. God is good and faithful in the complications as well as the comforts of life. And he definitely shows up as our comforter through complications and trials.

Right now I'm a little tired, and not quite ready to start planning for my classes next that lazy or normal? So I think I'm going to just relax a bit and enjoy just being right here. ;)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Freedom Writers

Today Jenny and I showed "Freedom Writers" to our freshmen during our classes, and if you have never seen the movie, it's pretty good. It shows a new teacher working in the inner city, and how she creates a family within a class that is--at first-- completely controlled by gang-related hatred and racism. Although we have not had to deal with the same intensity of issues and hardships that the kids in the film were facing (true story, too), there have been problems related to the class system that is in play in Micronesia. In brief: there are some islands considered higher up in the system and others that are at the bottom, resulting in tension at times between students from the higher class islands and those from the perceived lower class islands.

I have one girl who comes from the island of Pelilieu, a Palauan island, who has shared her aggravation over being looked down upon by some of the Palauan students because she is from this separate island. They apply stereotypes to her that they hear their parents and peers talking about, and I can tell it hurts her a great deal. She is only one of the reasons we wanted to show the film; there have been other issues in the class of students from other islands feeling unwelcome by their peers because they are not from here. It broke my heart to hear one of my students finally confess to me that she wished the other girls would understand that she and her friends came here to get an education, not to step on anybody else's territory.

As a newcomer myself, I sometimes have a hard time knowing what I can do to help in this; how can I make a difference or help the girls see that we are all people: we need each other; we don't need to rip each other apart or degrade one another.

On a cool note: I did have an amazing breakthrough that I cannot take credit for, though it was so encouraging to hear. One of my students whom I had caught copying the back of a book and trying to pass it off as her free reading summary came to me today after the movie and said that because of the free reading journals I make them do (it's a 200 point project for the semester), she has actually realized that she loves to read!! You can imagine my jaw dropping off my face; she fought me last semester on my free reading requirements, and now she is shocking her mom (and me) by calling her up and saying "Hey! Can you bring me some books from our house? I really like to read now!" Her mom didn't believe her until the girl told her that she had finished an entire book! I was so happy and proud of her; and I have been thankful to not be having as many attitude issues with her this semester.

I really love this group of girls, and want to see them really grasping that they have the potential (as much as I hate that word) to do so much in this world.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Find a Happy Place!

I can remember my family always joking about this phrase whenever something awkward came up. Someone would yell "Find a happy place!" while another might shout "Run away! Run away!" as all good Monty Python fans should recognize. But really, sometimes we do need a place or space to be our "happy place;" somewhere to recenter and find tranquility in the midst of a pressing world.

This weekend I was able to go kayaaking in Koror with a woman about my age who is from Russia. Her name is Rayla, and she is working at the elementary school in Koror at the edge of the Emmaus campus. We took out a double kayaak, and in just a few minutes--without tipping over the kayaak, I might add!--we were paddling through dazzling turquoise water, slowly circling enormous rock islands. Although we could still hear the faint noise of the speed boats, it was incredible to find so much calm after the bustle and traffic of Koror. I know if I were to live in Koror I would need to have a kayaaking membership to get away!

At one point we paddled through a narrow opening between two rock islands to discover it wasn't a passage, but an alcove. All of a sudden it was like everything stopped: the noise was shut out, the air was calm, and we were drifting slowly, surrounded on all sides by towering rock islands like peace-keeping sentinels. The first impression that came to mind was "Be still and know that I am God." I know that whenever I need a moment to "find a happy place," my mind will retreat to the instant calm of that alcove. In this way, our souls need to find a place of rest in our Creator; in trusting Him to shoulder our heavy burdens.

So often I try to find peace in the wrong ways. I hide away and avoid, which creates feelings of guilt and greater frustration with myself, and does not bring peace. I think God is trying to teach me that I can rest in Him; I don't need to focus on my failures and frustrations, but let Him carry my burdens. He sees me not as good and holy because of anything I have done, but views me with spotless lenses and sees His Son: more specifically, what His Son has done for me--for all of us. I don't stand alone anymore, but have someone who two thousand years ago said He would stand for me. I have so much to learn about what this grace really means; but for now, I am learning to rest in Him.

The Answer is Always "Bethania."

This blog is to chronicle the days in the life of a teacher at Bethania boarding school in the Palauan Islands. Although the area is remote, and life goes on almost entirely unnoticed by the rest of the world, I want to share with you some of the interesting experiences--and lessons from the One who makes life and Hope possible-- that may happen in this tropical pin-dot on earth. I hope it adds some flavor to your day.