In chapel this past week, each teacher spent a couple of minutes talking to the high school students about a verse or thought that has been important to them. Many of you can probably guess, but the verses I shared were from Proverbs 3:5-6. I mentioned a few times in my life where these verses in particular made an impact on my life - times where I really had to trust that God was in control and that he was directing my life. I don't know if my words or the words of any other teacher sank in or made the students think, but I certainly hope so.
What I didn't mention to the students was that each day here is a day where I have to trust. Sure, I feel like a lot of things are in my own hands (making lesson plans, for example!), but there are so many things I would like to change that I simply have no power over. For example, having devotions in homeroom is actually really tough for me. I can say what I believe, explain the Bible and various things about Christianity, but will it ever make a difference in the lives of these students? I don't know. I am so used to talking about Christianity with people who are Christians - I know how to challenge those who already believe. What I don't know is how to teach about God and Christianity to a group of mostly Buddhist students. I know God can use even the most broken people for his greatest purposes (see the Bible for examples). But it's tough to trust that God is in control of everything when I see so many of my students trusting in their own strength, in their own ability to judge what is right and wrong. It breaks my heart to see them dealing with some really tough issues in this way.
I am a teacher - I cannot force them to believe what I believe; I can only tell them about it and testify to its truth each and every day. To those of you at home in the States (or elsewhere!), please keep them in your prayers. I know some of my students are quite strongly Buddhist, some are just so in name, and there are a few who are searching. There are also those who are Christians. Pray for all of them - that those who believe will be strong witnesses to their friends, that those who are seeking will find, and that those who are lost will be found. It seems a little silly to me to write it in that way. To you, these are unnamed faces and people you will most likely never meet; to me, they are individuals with distinct personalities and stories. They are people whom I know and see on a regular basis. Still, I ask you: please pray.
On a different note, things here have been going fairly smoothly. Michael and I have been attending CCC - a community church whose real name I will never be able to spell correctly. :) We enjoy it quite a bit - there are a number of GES teachers who go there, and we have felt quite at home ever since our first Sunday there. We are joining one of the small groups at the church; it meets on Tuesday nights each week. We're both quite excited about this - it will be good for us to get out and be a part of a group that is away from the school. Hopefully we'll be able to build some solid friendships with people at church through this group!
School is...well, typical. Rather unpredictable (I never know what's going to happen), but super fun anyways. I was mean to the students last week and gave a bunch of tests - funny how all the units seem to end in the same week. I need to plan that out a little better! I have a stack of approximately 35 papers to grade - give or take a few. I spread them out so each class had papers due in a different week. However, spreading them out didn't really work like I thought it would; I didn't start grading the first set of papers until after I already had the second, and I wasn't able to finish the first set before the third set came in. As it stands, I should get the first set done this week, hopefully the second within a week after that. I'm going to have to work my tail off to get it all done on that kind of a schedule, so we'll see how it goes!
Michael got to sub for the P.E. teacher a couple of weeks ago. It was really funny to see him directing kids around the soccer field and such. He continues to work the after-school program with some of the kids who struggle the most. It is oftentimes really frustrating; putting four or five kids who don't understand a lot of English in a room with a teacher who only speaks English is kind of a disaster waiting to happen. However, the younger kids seem to love him, because they will still run up to him and give him a high-five whenever they see him.
Last weekend we went downtown with a couple of other teachers. Our intent was to take the water taxi to Chinatown and wander around down there for a while, but it didn't turn out quite like we'd planned. People asked us where we were going, and when we told them they kept telling us that Chinatown was closed until evening. We wandered around and found a giant market in an area that had signs in Chinese, so I think we sort of made it! We had fun, in any case, and it was a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
On the way back, I bought some shoes at the market that's close to school. I was super excited about them because they fit perfectly (it's hard to find shoes that fit just right here - they're either too small or too thin). When we got home, I was lazy and just set them on the counter without taking them out of the bag. That turned out to be a mistake.
Monday morning came around, and I was ready for school, but I couldn't find my shoes. I asked Michael and we both searched, but neither of us could find them. They disappeared. What happened, you may ask?
Michael took out the garbage.
Saturday night, I had asked Michael to take the garbage out, and he, being the wonderful husband he is, did as I asked. :) However, he set the bags of garbage on the counter where my shoes were so that he could put his shoes on, and on his way out he accidentally grabbed the bag with my shoes in it along with the bags of garbage. Oops. There goes 400 Baht down the drain! We were both pretty angry at this discovery and attempted to blame each other for a bit before realizing that it was both our faults. Talk about a terrible way to start a week. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to laugh or cry about it for the rest of the morning.
Now, a week later, I think it's hilarious. What else can I do? It's life!
So, today, after coming back from church, we walked down to the same market and bought another pair of shoes, just like the first. I took them out of the bag right when we got home. Hopefully they'll still be on the shoe rack in the morning when I'm getting ready for school. :)
This week is a short week again - we have Friday off as a teacher work day. It's our last short week until the end of the semester! Yikes! That's coming up fast. We're start our 13th week on Monday (take that, those of you who like to compare how many weeks of school you have in before Labor Day!), and the semester ends midway through October. Then we have a two week break!
That's about all from our end - have a wonderful Labor Day and enjoy the beginning of your school year (those of you in the States)!