Thursday, October 10, 2013

The kiddos #2

Nak's vocabulary paper.

The most recent escapades of Moses:

This afternoon I had one English class. I haven't felt up to par today (cough, headache, etc.) so as I walked to the school, I prayed that God would give me strength and wisdom. My kids are fun, but they're definitely a handful! And I only had some vague ideas of what I was going to cover in this particular class.

I got to class, and greeted the students. It's a warm day today, so they begged me to let them go outside. I knew that wouldn't help learning any, so I told them that we were going to stay inside, much to their chagrin. They kept wiggling around and talking, and I finally told them that just for today, they could sit wherever they wanted to. On the floor (the tile is cooler), in the windowsill, on the desk, wherever. Anything to keep them quieter! They moved to their respective locations and I proceeded to teach them about how to write the story I'd told them to, using their vocabulary words for the week.

Moses, as usual, was chattering away, so I asked him to be quiet. Somehow in the ensuing conversation, he told me that he didn't know how to write the story. He asked, " 'Cher, can you just give me your mind? I have a bad memory!" I laughed and told him that he was smart too. The only reason I might be smarter is because I am older, and have had more years of experience!

"But how did you get your mind, 'Cher?" Some of the other students agreed with him. I decided that now was a good time to set aside anything I'd planned before, and sail with this wind.

I asked the students, "How many of you want me to tell you how to have a good mind?" A bunch of hands raised. I proceeded to give them a list of things I have done to help my mind to grow:

  1. Pray (as proved in James 1:5)
  2. Read a lot (they came up with this one on their own)
  3. Talk with your teachers (and if you don't understand something in English, ask!)
  4. Memorize the Bible (it will help you to have a good memory for everything else!)
  5. Listen in class (they definitely have aways to go on this one, hehe)

A funny thing that happened during our discussion... Moses and Nak were talking about how it was hard for them to understand English because it was their second language. I told them that I was sure that was true, and that I admired them for doing so well with it. Someone asked me, " 'Cher, how many languages do you know?" I grinned and asked them how many they thought.

"Three!" "Five!" "TEN!"

I couldn't help but laugh. "Actually, I only know one - English."

You should have seen them, they were so surprised. Our teacher who knows everything, only knows one language? (note: sarcasm)

Moses (as usual) was the first to speak. "I know three! Khmer, English, and Thai!"

My point exactly. "You're smart!" I told him. "I might know more than you in other things, but you know more languages than I do. I didn't know any Khmer before I came here."

He jumped up. " 'Cher, I'll teach you a lot! Many new words and how to say things!"

I thanked him and reciprocated the offer (listen in class, please... lol).

Not all of the students paid close attention, but enough did that I was glad for this teachable moment. What a lesson for all of us to learn! I definitely don't have a perfect mind, but there are ways that I can grow.

Now, I'm going to tell you about a few more of my students...

Number Eight: Leang
When I first started to teach grade 6, I lumped Leang in with all the other troublemaker boys. He is about the same age and size, and so I assumed he was one of them. However, I was wrong. This boy is quiet but smart, and pays attention in class. He rarely misbehaves. I've asked him to do things before, and he's done the tasks faithfully and well. I'm glad to have him in my class!

Number Nine: Lis (pronounced Lee)
She's one of those that I stuck up front so I could keep an eye on her. :) Lis is smart, but she is easily distracted. She doesn't always listen and therefore doesn't understand some things, but when I take the time to explain to her, she often will have a lightbulb moment and say, "Yull!" (Khmer for "I understand!"). She's part of the handful, but she is a sweet girl and I know God has a big work He wants to do in her life.

Number Ten: Rothana
Rothana is half troublemaker and half not. :) He's very smart! Yes, he's quick to throw paper and punch other students, but when it comes to studying, he is quick and accurate. Today I decided I trusted him enough to go and do an errand for me (get colored pencils from the staff room), and he did it well.

Number Eleven: Sun
I adore little Asian boys with hair that sticks straight up. No gel or anything; it just can't be pasted down. Sun has hair like that. :D He's a little guy, and is so cute!! Yesterday I had one of my first opportunities to talk with him one-on-one, and I realized that he has a very high little-boy voice. He was excited about finishing his math test, and we talked together as we walked to the library for the next class. Awwwwww!!!

Number Twelve: Navy (Hun)
She's a really tiny girl, with the sweetest personality. I get her and Leakena mixed up sometimes because they look similar. This week, however, we had a Bible test, and she and two other students participated in cheating (someone let the others look at their paper, I'm not sure who). As promised, I gave them all a zero on their paper, and explained to them today when I gave their papers back. They all took it very well, I was thankful. I think Navy will be careful in the future not to do something like that (I hope anyway!).

Number Thirteen: Navy (Doung)
We've got two Sophalls and two Navys in grade 6. This Navy is quiet, and sits right up front. She is a little slower to understand, but she is well-behaved and usually listens carefully in class.

Number Fourteen: Ro
Same category as Rothana: I'd just have to describe him as half and half. Yes, he's a troublemaker, but he's too sweet and smart to be totally that. He's become more attentive since I moved his seat from the back to the middle of the classroom. Still talks a bunch and throws paper balls, but he does do fairly well with his studies.

OK, that's all for today! Now I'm off to grade math test papers...

Monday, September 30, 2013

A taste of Cambodia

Sarah and I watched this short film tonight. It's presented by a secular organization, but is a touching story just the same. And better yet, I was surprised at how clear a picture of Cambodian culture it gives. If you want to know the land and people I'm working with, take just a half hour and watch this. It's worth your time!

Born Sweet - Entire Film from Cynthia Wade on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The kiddos (#1)

The girl on the right is Savy, and she's in grade 6 with me.

So. I just have to tell y'all about my awesome kids. Because they really are super special! However, I do have 35, so I'm going to have to split this up into several different blog posts. But that's OK, because I have plenty of time, and I'm still getting to know them all!

I wish I had pictures of them, but that will have to come another day. All I have is my iPod as far as taking pictures, and it's not that amazing, but Sarah says I can use her camera and so I'm going to take that to class one day and get a picture of all of us. I have to plan that strategically so as not to disrupt class (we'd never get any study done during that period). We'll see. But for now, I'll have to paint word pictures for you. :-)

Number One: Patary
Oh, this kid is interesting! He's definitely the one who stands out most in my mind as being a troublemaker in class. Definitely not the only one, but he's the only one of his kind, to be sure. He's the kind of kid that likes to try boundaries and make me laugh while actually needing to be in trouble. Crazy boy! He is from outside (not the orphanage or the dorm), so my suspicion is that he's not actually a Christian. I should find out from someone about that. He didn't seem to know how to pray… anyway, he is the cutest thing, and I'm sure I'll miss him a lot when I leave.

Number Two: Nak
Nak is the complete opposite of Patary. At 16 years old, he's the most mature boy in my class, and is completely trustworthy, other than that I suspect he lets other students cheat off his papers. But he understands English the most, and he really tries to understand the other subjects and perform them well. I can rely on him to lead a small group if needed, and sometimes even translate to the class a subject that they're not quite grasping. He understands spiritual things fairly well, too. He's actually in the Pathfinder Master Guide class with me, so on Sundays we're classmates together, instead of teacher and student. :-) He's a great guy and I really love him!

Number Three: Moses
This guy is SO CUTE. However, the cuteness comes from his naughtiness - his utter inability to keep his mouth shut!!! It's hilarious sometimes, but it is frustrating other times. I'm constantly having to remind him to stop talking! Lol. But he is really sweet.

Number Four: Rathom
Rathom is my trustworthy girl. I don't remember if she's the oldest or not, but she's definitely the most mature in our class. She's on an equal level with Nak on the girls' side. She doesn't understand English quite as well as he does, but she does the most of any of the girls, I think. And she really tries hard in her classes. When I gave the first science test, she labored over it, and actually got the right answers, while other students didn't quite understand and didn't put everything into it, that I could tell. She's super sweet. Kind of on the quiet side, but she'll do things up front that I ask her to do. She lives in the dorm, so I see her often, at meals and worships and such.

Number Five: Sophall (Ra)
This guy is another special one (but they all are, so maybe that's not the best first statement!). He's from the orphanage, and in just these last few weeks he's become one of my right-hand helpers. He's sure to greet me with a "Hello 'cher!" at any time we might meet, and he usually has a big grin on his face. He's short - very short - but has a big enough personality to make up for it. My first Sunday afternoon before Pathfinders, I went early and sat on one of the steps at the school. Sophall came too, and we had a lovely conversation together. We chatted about family and Pathfinders (crazy that he's nearly the same rank as me, lol), as well as school and other random things. Last night his "brother" Yeremiah - the newest baby of his house parents - had a birthday, so I got to see where he lives (along with Moses and two other girls in my class). He was thrilled to have me there!

Number Six: Leakena
She's pretty quiet, but oh! her giggle! It makes me laugh so much. :-D She sits next to Moses in class, and between him chatting on about random things, and her giggling about what he says, it's hard for me to keep a straight face. I should record her laughing so I can enjoy it even when I'm gone. I think she is from the orphanage, but I can't remember for sure. Anyway, she's a sweet girl, and bright in class.

Number Seven: Ling
Ling used to sit in the back of the classroom with the rest of the bigger boys and laze around. I'd have to constantly ask him to pay attention to what I was saying... so last week when I rearranged the whole classroom, I stuck him right up front. I can keep an eye on him now! He's not really one to make much trouble (other than stealing the occasional notebook to annoy a fellow classmate); he's just quiet and more methodical at what he does. He's a great artist: I've had them draw various things and he's done amazing stuff. His most recent piece of work was a waterlily pen drawing. Pretty fantastic, if you ask me!

Today in English class, we were studying our various vocabulary words, and some of the kids were saying, "Ling, Ling, Ling!" while I wrote something on the board. I misheard them at first and thought of a joke my family says sometimes (Kenny and Hannah, this is for you!). It is simple English, so I decided to teach it to them:

The phone says, "Green green green!" so I pink it up and say, "Yellow, how are blue?"

Needless to say, they loved it, and we had a good laugh together. :-)

Yes, I love my kids. I'm still trying to decide if I actually like teaching (it's definitely a challenge!), but these kids make every day fun. They're the best class!! ;-)

Monday, September 16, 2013

The value of challenges

Here I sit. 

My windows are open and the breeze is blowing the curtains just a little. It's sunny out, and it's peaceful here inside the house. The shiny white tile floor is (currently) tidy, other than stacks of books and papers here and there that prove I have plenty to do. It would be quiet, but there is a funeral or something going on down the road, so monks are chanting/singing rather loudly over loudspeakers. It only adds to the Asian atmosphere, though...

It's Monday again, and classes are over. I'm thinking back on last week, and how things have changed. My students may have learned a few things (hopefully), but I'm pretty sure that I'm the one who learned the most.

I had absolutely no idea how last Monday would go. How much English did my grade 6 class really speak? Would they behave? Would they be too loud? Would I be able to handle all of them? Questions, and worries… but confident or no, I had to go to school. I had somewhat of a lesson plan, but it was pretty flexible since I didn't know what would happen.

All of us teachers began the school day with staff worship at 7am. We're studying through the book Education, led out by Tim Maddocks. It's been great so far. Still, I had jitters...

Soon enough the worship ended and it was time for flag raising. As the students congregated out in the courtyard, I meandered around the walkway and found my classroom. The door was open, so I slipped inside and wrote a few things on the board for our first class. Then I went back outside and watched the flag raising and announcements. And then… it ended and the straight rows of kids began to disintegrate. Deep breath… I met my students outside and greeted each of them, handing them an index card as they came into the classroom. When they were all situated, I told them a little about myself and then asked them to write a few details about themselves on their card.

As the day progressed, I tried things in each class. Some worked and some didn’t. Again, I wasn't sure how much English they knew, so I tried super-easy things with them and they flew through that in a cinch. OK… on to the next thing. This next thing was a little too complicated though, so I had to improvise and make it easier for them to understand. In math class, we had a similar problem. I assumed they knew some things, so went ahead and gave them a worksheet to do, but several of them didn't actually know how to do it. Back to the drawing board on that… and so the day progressed.

By the end of the day (my Monday schedule is pretty full), I was tired. I definitely had a better idea of where the kids were academically, but now I had to plan new things that I wasn't expecting! Sigh. OK… so I planned. On Tuesday, I taught the basics in some classes, and more advanced things in others. I still didn't feel very productive though, and was having a hard time actually keeping my collection of 35 kids quiet and working and understanding… not to mention that I couldn't remember all of their names. That night I planned some, and then finally went to bed.

Wednesday morning during my quiet time, I cried out to God. What am I even doing here? I'm not a teacher! I just sat on my mattress, only several minutes before I had to leave for school, and knew the only thing to do was pray. I needed God's help, and His energy, love, and wisdom...

I ate a little breakfast, and then turned my computer on for a minute to check my e-mail. Turns out, my mom was online. And she asked me how things were going. She encouraged me and told me she was praying for me. That was definitely a help! 

I went to staff worship, and it was an encouraging thought as well - to teach the young people the value of eternity, rather than the here-and-now success in life. We had Assembly that morning for the grade 4-6 classes, and heard a similar thought, on the value of eternity. (As I sat on the tile of the church, I couldn't help but notice a loooooonnng line of boys. Then I realized they're all mine - I have a LOT of boys in my class!!) Then we went to the next class, and it went so well! And the next did, too, and the next - and I had a short day so it was really nice. God really was helping me! It was only through His power that things went the way they did. The next day was a little bit better, and the next was too, and by Friday I was feeling like I had a better grasp on teaching. Only a little, yes, but I'm hoping that as I get to know students more and understand my curriculum more (please pray for English class, I'm still struggling with how to teach that), things will be even better. Praise the Lord - every bit of credit truly goes to Him. I'm so thankful…

My biggest lesson learned these last few months: I am ever so grateful for challenges and even feelings of despair. Why? Because God can work so marvelously through them, and He draws me closer to Himself when I feel my absolute need of Him. Every morning I woke up this last week, I knew that I had to spend at least a few minutes in the Word to have His power in my life. I wish it could have been more, but I did what I could. This week I'm hoping to make my devotional time longer.

Today I had an experience that really made me think. Some of you may have seen my update on Facebook, but I'll share it here...

After all, that's what I'm here for, right? May I trust my Jesus, continue falling in love with Him, and let His light and love shine out of my heart to the precious children around me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How I am doing

Lotus blossom: one of life's simple pleasures.

In short: I’m doing great and having a wonderful time here in Cambodia!

If you’d like the longer version, keep reading…

I apologize for not writing something sooner. My computer’s internet capability did something really weird right before I left to come here, so I was without that, other than using my iPod. A bit difficult to write a whole blog post from there! God is good, though, and I was able to get my computer running properly again, with the help of a friend. Typing like this will be much easier, although I do have a lot to catch up on. I’ll try to be somewhat descriptive, but not ramble on and on.

The morning after I arrived in Cambodia, Sarah and I went to the dorm kitchen for breakfast. Usually during break they don’t serve meals there, but there was a group from a closed country holding meetings there, and so we ate with the students who were cooking for them. It was neat to get to know a few faces – David, Yan, Lynn, Sarai, and a few others.

Later on in the day, Pisei dropped by because he had heard that Sarah was back. He is a fun character. :) He told us that we should say hello to our neighbors, the King family, because they would be gone visiting another village for the rest of the week. So we went over to see them. They are Indian, but from England, and are so friendly! I am glad that we are so close by – I am sure we will be spending quite a bit of time together as time goes on. We talked for quite a while, and then noticed out the window that we had other visitors – Andrew Sharon and Khen, his fiancĂ©! We went over and spent some time with them, which was really nice. I hadn’t seen him since probably 2006 at family camp! They invited us to their wedding, which is actually tomorrow. Khen invited us over to her family’s house for lunch. My first day here, and I already got to spend time at a traditional Cambodian house. :) I met her mother, who doesn’t speak much English at all, her sister Khon, and some other family members. When we were done eating and talking, they drove us on their motorbikes back to WPY.

Sarah and I worked on cleaning the house, toured the campus, and eventually took our evening bath out at the pump, then headed to bed. A full and successful day! :)

Wednesday and Thursday I don’t remember much, other than that we kept busy cleaning the house. Sarah organized a lot of her stuff that was left here when she had to leave quickly last year, and I worked on unpacking and settling myself in. Actually, one of those days I think we went to Tob’s sister’s house, who is a seamstress. I’m having her make two new skirts for me, that I can wear to school. She does a really good job, as far as I’ve seen.

Friday morning, we caught the truck into town to Psar Kroum, one of the main markets here. It was rather fascinating! I will save the description of the market for another blog post, so you’ll have to wait on that. :)

More cleaning and tidying for Sabbath, then in the evening we went to the vespers service at the church here on the WPY campus. It was nearly all in Khmer, but it was nice to see a lot of people together, mostly orphanage kids and a small portion of the staff. Because I couldn’t understand much of it, it was a little hard to focus, but I practiced recognizing the Khmer number characters on the screen as the speaker made different points and used Bible references. It was definitely beneficial!

On Sabbath morning, we went to church. It was also all in Khmer. After church, we all split up into different groups and had Sabbath School. It was nice to have an English-speaking class with the other teachers, we had a good discussion. Afterwards, Sarah and I fried some vegetables and went over to Tim & Wendy’s backyard for a potluck with just us “foreigners.” That was neat, too! A fairly quiet afternoon followed…

The next morning, we got up early again and went to the morning market since we needed some food, and had a couple other things on our list. We met up with Chantha and Sophar, two Cambodian guys (Chantha was one of Sarah’s students when she was here before), and decided to eat some of our meals together. They did the shopping and we came back home and made nyoum, a really yummy noodle dish, which we eat over rice. We also invited Francis, one of the new volunteers, to join us. What a fun meal! We ate, and then our discussions turned into a Khmer learning session. :) Chantha helped Sarah review what she knew, and Sophar taught Francis and I some new phrases and words (I had just bought a grade 1 Khmer book so we used that to start learning the Khmer consonants). Francis also taught us some Tagalog, since he is from the Philippines. Then he gave us a whole bunch of riddles and we all played some mind games together. Great times. :)

That evening, we went to the dormitory and finished the leftovers of our nyoum, along with Kat, one of the other volunteers, and a few other people.

On Monday morning, a bunch of the other teachers arrived: Donna and Jive from the Philippines, and Gemma, the Kings’ daughter. They had been out on holiday during break. It was great to meet them! Several of us had breakfast at their house, and they all enjoyed recounting experiences from where they had been. We also found out that the teacher’s timetables were ready, and so someone ran off to get those. I found out that I will be teaching mostly grade 6 (Bible, English, science, and math), and we’ve now sorted out the music classes, so I’m teaching grade 7 and 8 piano and violin. I think the coming school year will be very lively – I’ll definitely be on my toes!!

It’s sad, but I don’t remember the rest of Monday a whole lot… I guess I have just been enjoying the experiences as they come along. I take photos here and there, and meet people, but they just sink into my brain as part of the whole picture of Cambodia, and kind of get jumbled up in my mind. Sorry. ;) A couple of things I do remember: Mrs. Sharon arrived, and she and Sarah picked out all the music for Andrew and Khen's wedding. We had a nice time talking. Also, Thomas, another volunteer, arrived that evening. He’s from Germany.

Tuesday was another market day. The truck actually came on time for once, so we got to the market rather early. Sarah and I bought our needed fruits, veggies, herbs, etc. and then we had plenty of spare time. So we did a little more walking around. The first time I went to the market I tried the green soymilk, but this time I got regular white soymilk (and I bought it myself, without Sarah’s help in translating!). It was good, too. We got a few other things to eat, then we all hung out in the truck with the others who were done early.

When we got back, we worked on some things… I got my computer working again, and enjoyed having that available again. I also did some brainstorming for my class.

Later on that day, Chantha and Sophar came over again, and asked us if we wanted to have a meal together again. We said sure! They came over later and brought two of their friends, Sophall and another guy whose name I can’t remember at the moment. We made fried veggies this time, of course over rice. Conversation was interesting – I found out that Sophall and the other unnamed friend are church planters out in the other province that Chantha and Sophar teach in. All these Cambodian guys (except Chantha) are my same age, so it is inspiring to see their enthusiasm for doing just what God wants them to do.

That evening, Kat came by on her bike at around 7pm after the guys left, and she and Sarah and I ended up talking until about 10:30, just sitting out on our porch. :)

Today was another full day – we had our first staff meeting. I learned more about how the school is run, and some questions were answered. I also got most of the textbooks I will be teaching from, so that is quite helpful. :)

There was also quite a bit of bustle going on, in preparation for Andrew and Khen’s wedding tomorrow. Khen and her bridesmaids will actually be sleeping here at our house tonight, so although it is quiet now, I am sure there will be lots going on once they get back from their preparations down at the dorm and church.

My friend Laura (will be a fellow teacher, was once my AFCOE outreach partner) arrives back at the school tonight too, after time at home. Looking forward to seeing her!!

And that is how I have been doing.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Finally here!

I'm typing this on my iPod, and am not really sure how to format text on here, so excuse any discrepancies...

From my journal my first night here in Cambodia:

Tuesday, 12:36 a.m.
I'm here. Really here. The moment I stepped off the plane, I knew I was in the right place. :D The air is just as muggy and sulfur-ey as the Philippines, and the people seem to have a similar sense of humor. It's only nighttime (which is beautiful in itself), but the many sounds are so fascinating. Frogs croaking, crickets singing, raindrops on the roof, dogs barking, something making a noise (not sure what?), people talking (at midnight? who knows)... I love it. I'm home for the next year. :)

God worked marvelously tonight. Actually, all day. From reminding me in Seattle that I had forgotten my visa picture (who knows when I would have remembered), to reminding me on the flight from Seoul to Siem Reap that I DO have an extra picture of myself - the copy of my passport I'd stuck in my carryon... He is just amazing. The whole experience just brought me to a much closer trust in Him. When you're worrying so much that you feel you can't take it anymore, all you can do is trust in Him. He will carry you through, and truly, "The Lord is on thy side." Amen. My beautiful Jesus... may I forever trust Him.

Now I'm launched. Three other friends have launched to their projects. The rest of the AFM bunch will be launching soon, and we'll be in our fields of service. I pray that I will be faithful where I am, and that I will grow to love this place a lot.

I got to take a shower at the pump tonight with a couple of sarongs that Sarah let me borrow. :D First truly Cambodian experience!

And now, I must sleep till 5 or 6 tomorrow. :) Hopefully I don't experience much jetlag...

Good night from Siem Reap, Cambodia!!

Hanging out on the porch of my new home
Down the road toward home, from the school & orphanage
In the middle of unpacking...

My home - the "Banana House" :)
From inside the house
At market on Friday
Green soy milk in a bag!
Waiting in the truck at the market for others to return
Cambodian sky, my view while doing dishes at the pump. :)
My house from the back
At church this morning - this was special music.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Meeting new people

It's been a theme for the last month.

My first day in Michigan, I met two new people. The next day at church, several more. On Sunday, all of us SM-trainees met each other. And since then, I've met several others through church, shopping, Crucible...

Fast forward to today.*

I wasn't feeling the most amazing today, but sometime this afternoon I found out that a trip to the mall was in the making. Our assignment? Simply to meet new people. I wasn't thrilled at first since I wasn't feeling great, and considered just staying back, but I decided I'd give it a go (and everyone else was going anyway).

For whatever reason, I wasn't really that worried about it. I found myself actually kind of looking forward to spying out people I could talk to. We got to the mall, and I headed in my own direction.

First, I headed to a necessary stop - the bathroom. I prayed that God would give me someone to talk to. I went in, and there was a lady changing her little girl's diaper. I chatted with her just a little - asked how old the little girl was (14 months) and the little girl's name (London - I love it!). Conversation ended; she didn't seem interested to continue.

Next, I headed down that wing of the mall and tried to see if I could spark a conversation with anyone somehow. I stopped in at Claire's and talked to the clerk about some hair clips, but that didn't go anywhere. I noticed a kiosk that had all sorts of wedding trinkets (since I have so many friends getting married these days), and tried to look interested in the objects there, but the salesman was busy with someone else so he didn't pay any attention to me. OK, well that's not working... on down the tile pathway.

As I neared another kiosk, a man popped out at me. It rather surprised me, but he was happy and obviously wanted my attention. His was the RC helicopters stand. My brother Kenny loves RC stuff, so I agreed for him to show me how his stuff worked - I figured that could be a conversation-starter as well. He showed me how the controls worked, and let me have a try (it was fun! but I crashed a few times, oops). I tried to get him talking about the other types of stuff he flew, etc. but he was mostly interested in me buying something he had, so that didn't go too far. I debated whether I should try and weasel my way out of the conversation or just let him talk and see if I could make any more personal contact. About that time, another guy came up and started talking with the salesman. He was just browsing too, but he seemed quite interested in the RC stuff. I mentioned to him that my brother likes the stuff and what he's done, and the conversation went from there. Somehow I found out that he's from Colorado, so I told him I'm from Washington. Of course we wondered why the other person was in Indiana (where the mall was) and so we each shared. I told him I was in Michigan getting training to go overseas and teach in a school. Through that, I found out that he is from Pakistan - moved here when he was 11. Anyway, we continued talking and his mother and cousins came up a little later and he introduced me to them. I ended up leaving soon after, but it was wonderful to make a new friend. (the salesman was kind too, so I added him to my list of people I'd met)

The last person I met was Mindy. She was in a store with all sorts of neat gadgets, and she was on her break, sitting in the massage chair, obviously enjoying herself. I didn't have a whole lot of time to chat with her, but I found out a few things about her as well. She told me she carried most of her stress in her shoulders, which was why the massage chair was so amazing. Her boyfriend gave her massages but the chair was definitely a competition with that. I told her that I have shoulder-aches often too, and about how one of my friends had given me an amazing massage just this morning. (thanks Keirsta!!) Just a little bit of small talk, but she seemed like a neat person. Friendly, and even though she was a clerk, she wasn't trying to sell me anything. :-)

I loved this chance I had to just meet people. How different my trips to the mall would be if this were my goal every time! (Isn't that what we're supposed to do anyway?) So many people really don't actually want to talk, but there are some who will - and some who are extremely open (as demonstrated in another girl that some of my friends were able to meet). I don't have to go as deep as a spiritual conversation if that doesn't come up right away - I'm simply making a friend.

I'm making it my goal to keep an eye open constantly for conversation opportunities - to make friends. How about you?

*I wrote this last night.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

SM training

Two weeks, twenty students. And we're already halfway done...

I hardly have words to describe the amazingness that is AFM's student missionary training. I'm not sure that this blogpost will accurately portray it, but I'll try, since I know many of you want to hear - and I'm eager to share!

First of all, I did arrive in Michigan! I had a nice time over my first weekend here with some old friends. It was great to see them again and catch up. I was also able to stay with Sarah and her aunt and uncle, who are the caretakers of the AFM campus.

The first evening I was here (Sunday), we met the other SMs. Everyone was so friendly and not shy! There are some quieter ones of us, but there was nothing awkward about our first meeting, which was really neat, considering other groups of people I've met in the past. Right from the start, we all hit it off really well, and became instant buddies. We've only known each other for two weeks, but because of the challenges and intense learning we've gone through together, we are already really close. I knew four of the other SMs before I came, so it's been neat to spend some extra time with them, and get to know them better.

Our first week was wonderful, we learned SO much. My mind felt like it was going to explode, I was learning so many new things! We learned about worldviews, the reasons that cultures are different, and many other things. I was glad to be able to talk to my parents and to Sarah's aunt and uncle, to debrief several things and process them. I now have such a different perspective on missions than I had before... so many things are much clearer in my mind. I don't know that I could explain it all, but I will be working on processing that information as well, as time goes on. :-)

And then... we went on the Crucible. For those of you who are curious, it'll have to stay that way, because, well, it's top secret. Anyone who goes through the Crucible is sworn to secrecy, so as to not destroy the element of surprise for future missionaries. ;-) But I will just say, that the challenges encountered there were definitely challenges, but the end result was absolutely worth it. The lessons we learned together as a team were amazing.

Last week was great. On Monday, we had a recuperation/recreation day after the Crucible, at a hospitable doctor's home. We played in their pool and enjoyed relaxing! Tuesday began an intensive course on language learning. In the mornings we learned the whys and how-tos of learning a language, and in the afternoon we put it all to practice. We split up into four different language groups, and I got in with the Arabic bunch! Through the methods presented, we learned a large amount of vocabulary in just five days. We did a lot of listening and playing with toys and having fun. :-) It's a fascinating language, I only wish I could continue learning it. Maybe someday I will have the opportunity!

On Thursday we received a couple of new instructions. 1) A distance of three to five feet is to be kept at all times from the opposite gender for the remainder of training, and 2) break a social norm of some sort. For rule 1, it's been amusing to see how girls and guys steer clear of each other, especially if they catch themselves at the last second. :-) It's a valuable rule, really. Good practice for other cultures where it is the way things are, and it's also good to keep distance in general. Maybe all early adults should give it a try... hehe. Rule 2 was fun to do: On Sabbath, a bunch of us girls took our shoes off before entering the sanctuary. One of the guys sat on the floor during church (he got a bunch of stares for that!). It was interesting to do something that made you stand out and look different. We'll be the gazingstock in our new countries; we might as well practice now!

Sabbath afternoon was spent on some trails behind Andrews University. Really special people, really fun times. :-)

And now a new week has begun. After finishing language studies, we switched to medical types of things. Just today has given me a lot to think about...

And that's two weeks (plus a couple days). We're nearing the end and will soon be launching out into the great unknown. Thankfully, though unknown, it will be more expected because of the training behind us. We will also be equipped with a newfound trust in God. He's our only strength!

Flying over Chicago

Enjoyed time with Josh!

We buried our friend Laura - and then created a fish on top. :)

Spending time with the AFM bunch at Lake Michigan

Volleyball together!

Sunset at Lake Michigan

Language learning techniques. "The man is under the chair."

Sabbath afternoon hike

One of the other Emilys (there's three of us!)

A beautiful end to a beautiful day...

We sang hymns on the dock.

Cause for contemplation...

Monday, July 8, 2013

I wasn't counting on...

When I left Inchy, I had hopes and dreams of new things ahead. I still do (I leave Friday for AFM's summer mission training)! However, I've already been surprised with several unexpected things:

Dusting off my violin. I've really enjoyed playing it again this summer, thanks to a friend who inspired me to get practiced up so we could play duets. Although, this may be the last week that I'll actually have time to practice for a while! Even though I still have a long way to go, two months of practice has done a lot of good.

Missing a second church family. Leaving Inchy-town was a sad event, and I miss a lot of people there. However, what I didn't expect was having to say goodbye to another group of special people here in WW! From earning new little-kid hugs, to playing violin/cello duets, to sharing Sunday breakfasts with friends, to playing many active games of Cones... I've had lots of special times with lots of wonderful people who are becoming fast friends. I'll miss them just as much as my Inchy family.

Not reading any books through. Seriously? What happened to all of the time I thought I'd have? Somehow my bookshelf is untouched... I've pulled one or two volumes off every now and then, but nothing's gotten read all the way through. Oops! That's one thing I need to make sure I figure out how to do.

Learning how to take care of chickens. I should have known! My brother is an animal-lover, and he has his own crew of chickens in the back yard. I've been duly taught how to take care of them in the mornings and evenings for when he's not around. Lessons learned, mistakes made... I'm well on my way to becoming a chicken farmer. Sort of.

Time flying so fast. It seems like I just arrived here with my Tahoe-load of earthly possessions. Two months, gone already?? I have a feeling that the coming year will speed right by...

Many other things... I've learned a lot that wasn't in the plan. Isn't that true of all paths of life? This all reminds me of a quote that has spoken to me many times:

A life of monotony is not the most conducive to spiritual growth. Some can reach the highest standard of spirituality only through the breaking up of the regular order of things.... God desires human beings to be more closely associated with Him. Therefore He takes them away from their friends and acquaintances. When God was preparing Elijah for translation, He moved him from place to place, that he might leave behind the methods and customs he had previously followed, that he might not settle down on his lees, and thus fail of obtaining moral greatness and spiritual soundness.*

I want the stuff I can't count on to shape me into the flexible and yet grounded person God wants me to be!

*The Upward Look, page 170. Emphasis provided by me.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

No keys

Friday I cleaned out my purse and switched to a different one for the summer. Sometimes it's nice to have a change and downsize a bit...

As I went through the collection of random objects in my regular purse and placed the actually-needed items into the other one, I realized that my key ring was kind of bulky and could be smaller to fit better into the purse. So I took off a couple of ornaments and unneeded keys. Then it hit me - the only key left on my key ring was to my car!

I never had the biggest key collection ever, but I had a bunch. A couple to the front door, one to the back door (which didn't actually work), one to the church, one for my office (plus the blue plastic thingy to turn off the alarm there), one to my parents' old house...

When I left YD, I returned most of my keys to their respective owners. House keys to Jessica, church key to Kezzia (since she needs it), office key to Tony. This diminished my supply, but I still had a couple left. The extra unneeded ones were taken care of later, and that's how I ended up with only my car key.

However, the plan is to sell my car, too, before I leave for Cambodia. When that happens I'll have no keys, except those I borrow on occasion to unlock the house or use the family cars.

It's an odd feeling; a bit unnerving. I never realized just how much keys are a security to me. They guarantee transportation, a roof to live under, a church family, a steady job. When you take those away, well, one realizes that no place is home, the world is a journey, God is their trust. There's not much room to just settle down. Life like this isn't average... it's quite an adventure!

Enjoying the journey...

Friday, May 24, 2013

The journey begins

And... I'm on my way. It's already been nearly three weeks since I left home and returned to Walla Walla. Home is here, too, but I left a part of my heart behind me. I'm loving the new experiences and spending so much time with my family, but I will never ever forget the family I have in Inchy. Leaving home is easier said than done!

Forever family (Photo: Schane Johnson)
Love these people! (Photo: Schane Johnson)

My first week at home, I got to live with a bunch of guys. My mom wasn't home yet from a trip to Colorado, so I got to relieve the bachelors of KP duty and cleaning the house. They constructed a room for me in the family room out of bookcases and my dresser and bed, and after I got around to putting all of my unneeded earthly possessions in another corner, it turned out to be quite cozy. I have the best view in the house, too!

My mom finally returned, and so we all enjoy having our family back together again. She and I have been spending some time outside in the garden, planting and weeding and setting up hoses and sprinklers. The garden out back is actually made up of eight large plots, and four we share with other families. It's neat to get to know more people just through having them in our back yard on occasion!

I've already been quite involved with the youth group here. There are so many youth here (it's a multi-college town, after all!) and it is special to spend more time getting to know each of them rather than just the general hi-and-bye that happened when I used to come for a weekend visit. Since my family lives in town, people drop by quite often and so life is never boring!

Last weekend was the Pathfinder Fair - which was basically in my backyard. Very cool! I was gone all day Sabbath but on Sunday I headed over to the academy and got to see several of the old-timer directors and district coordinators. The kids are all different, but it's so special to me to see those dedicated leaders still all about kids. It's their life, and they aren't stopping anytime soon. They have such a huge influence and impact in those kids' lives. It made me remember just how much I love Pathfinders! My main goal of visiting was to watch the drill teams do their performance, so I joined the crowd. Drilling and marching is one of my very favorite parts of Pathfinders and I used to call commands for a few teams way back when. And... certain people in this conference know that, hehe. So, when they turned up short on judges, they spotted me and asked me to judge. Yay! I got to have an eagle eye on those kids' performance, and I really enjoyed it. Many teams did quite well!

As for mission plans, those are coming together well. Last week I got my ticket to Cambodia! It definitely seems more final now. I will be leaving on Sunday, August 25. This week, I was also officially accepted into AFM's missionary training program, and so I'm looking forward to that! That will begin July 15 and go until August 10. Things are happening and I am excited to see what God has in store!

Day-to-day life is different for sure. I've gone running in the mornings with Joey several times and have walked 4-5 miles a couple times now in the evenings. The road by our house is so beautiful out towards the wheat fields! I've also worked in the garden, helped my grandpa prepare his family history book for publishing, practiced my violin, and done some long-distance proofreading for YD. Life is simple and yet there's still plenty that goes on!

Here are a few pictures of recent happenings:

Balloon stampede - the balloons took off behind our house!

Kenny headed out to the Pathfinder Fair on Sabbath morning

Little onions, part of a bigger onion plant!

Sunshine on an evening walk

Kenny's babies (my charges while he's gone camping)!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

When dreams come true

It's always been my dream...

I remember singing about the missionary plane in kindergarten, reading Norma Youngberg books at night by flashlight as an eight-year-old, and going on two life-changing mission trips to the Philippines when I was seventeen and nineteen. Watching mission videos, hearing missionaries speak, seeing the need of people around the world...

And now, my dream has nearly come true. I get to be a foreign missionary.

To which country? That in itself has been a journey. I had plans; God's differed. But He has led, closed and opened doors, given advice through the voices of friends and family, and now I'm making plans to go teach at a school in Cambodia at the end of August.

My friends Sarah and Laura went to teach at Wat Preah Yesu, a children's orphanage and school, a couple of years ago. I kept up with them a little as they went over and wrote of their experiences teaching there at school. Little did I know that I would get to live similar adventures later down the road!

Another wonderful opportunity has been placed across my path as well - a month-long summer missionary training program with AFM (even though I won't be a missionary with them). And so (pending my acceptance there, at this point) I plan to travel to Michigan in July to learn from experts in the field before I begin my overseas journey. I am really looking forward to it!

It is a sad thing to leave my station at Young Disciple, but I believe that the challenges and opportunities ahead are God-led. The past six years have been amazing and full of lessons, miracles, and forever friends, and I am excited to see what God has in store for this new chapter of life.

I will share more later about Cambodia and other details of life. Stay posted!

P.S. I currently sponsor a young girl at an orphanage in Myanmar, but due to the expenses of my upcoming trip, I will no longer be able to support her. Would you consider "adopting" her as your own? If God places this on your heart, please let me know and I can give you more information. :-)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The last appeal

Stephen’s last appeal to the hard hearts of the Pharisees…

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 

“Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 

“Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” *


Circumcision was one of the Pharisees' most important laws and ceremonies, so to call them uncircumcised was a huge disgrace. And in their heart and ears?

They also took great pride in the prophets, but they killed each of them that foretold of the Messiah, and then they ended up killing Him too.

The law was their pride and joy, but as Stephen pointed out, in reality, they had not kept it, even though their whole point of being Pharisees was that they were strictly law-keepers.

How easily we can profess to be and do something (and be proud of it!), but actually not be faithful in those very things...

*Acts 7:51-53

Thursday, March 7, 2013


A touching story...

that requires action.

Watch, and see if you don't shed a few tears yourself...

Timothy from Reel Mission Productions on Vimeo.

(thanks, Schane.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The little stuff

It's the little things that really brighten life. I keep a list of simple things that cheer me and remind me of God's ever-present love. Here's a condensed version:

  • Adobe InDesign.
  • Music alarms on my iPod.
  • Scripture Typer.
  • An organized to do list.
  • Encouraging blogposts (especially missions or practical and applicable spiritual truths).
  • Old songbooks (ever heard of Literature Evangelists Sing?).
  • Sleeping in.
  • Special nuggets from studying God's Word.
  • Expecting packages in the mail.
  • Listening to owls hooting in the woods.
  • Productive Sundays.
  • Being the last house on a country road (in other words, the middle of nowhere).
  • Starting memorization on a new chapter in Acts.
  • Friends who know just how to cheer me up.
  • Summer.
  • A pile of books to read.
  • The mail-order library (where the above books come from.)
  • Full moon brightness.
  • My cozy little bedroom.
  • Hot dogs over the fire.
  • Having plenty of time to simply READ (rare, indeed).
  • Homemade laundry soap.
  • Christmas peacefulness.
  • Missionary friends to pray for.
  • Church Christmas programs (especially cute kiddos who steal the show).
  • Busy work days.
  • Sitting next to a wiggly 4-year-old (and then he flings arms round you and proclaims, "I love you!").
  • Design assistants.
  • Reading back through my journal and seeing how God has led.
  • A warm kitty girl sleeping by my feet all night.
  • Diminishing my list of memorization review left to do.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mission in the moment

The big picture is important, but individual moments are what counts:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thinking back on yesterday

Funny how a month and day can seem completely normal and mundane to one person, and yet hold year-to-year meaning for another...

It's amazing just how much can occur in the time frame of just one revolution around the sun. And yet, if today is in the context of just yesterday, or the day before, I don't see much change. I have to flip the pages of my journal all the way back to February 24 of last year and see just what has been recorded since then.

The question is posed again: Am I any different than I was last year? My journal reminds me that the answer is yes. Absolutely yes. Lessons learned, challenges embarked on, new burdens placed on my heart, all morph to change the very core of this body and mind that is me.

God has changed me. It's not the end of the journey by any means, but I am encouraged to see His working so clearly.

This year's goal: surrender. To know Him more, so fully that nothing can separate. To be able to read my journal a year from now and see once again that God has molded me to be an even closer resemblance to His beautiful character of love.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Are you watching?

What will it profit us to cherish pride of spirit... 
and pray for humility? 

What will it profit to seek eagerly the friendship and applause of the world...

and pray for heavenly affections?

What will it profit to indulge in passionate temper and un-Christlike words...

and then ask for the meekness of Christ? 

This is not watching unto prayer.

In the lack of that faith that works by love and purifies the soul 

lies the secret of unanswered prayer.

If the church will arise in the strength of God to meet her responsibilities, 

consecrating to God every power,
the Spirit of the Lord will be poured out in rich abundance.

—from Manuscript 35, January 8, 1893, "Publishing Work."

Oh, to know Him... to know His grace.