Michael and I took a Christmas break trip to Koh Samet - an island in the Gulf of Thailand. We got to do some hiking, snorkeling, swimming, sitting on the beach, etc. while we were there. The most interesting part of the trip definitely had to do with the people we met along the way, though. We met and had conversations with all sorts of people: Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, English, Irish, Italian...what fun!
We spent Christmas Eve on a boat with about 12 other people, taking a tour to some of the surrounding islands. That was where we got to go snorkeling (...and fishing, but the fishing part was super boring). At the end of the trip, I figured that was the last time I'd see any of those people - we got dropped off at our beach, everyone else was dropped off at their respective beaches, and that was that.
On Christmas Day, we went out for breakfast - definitely the best breakfast I had on the island! We spent most of the day chilling on the beach, alternating between sitting in the sun with a book and swimming (in the BEAUTIFUL blue/green water!). That night, we decided to hike over to see the sunset (which was slightly disappointing due to clouds), and then find some dinner on a different beach. We randomly met up with some people from our boat trip, and sat with them for several hours, just talking. We had an especially good conversation with Mickey, an Irishman in his early 50's, and his wife, Pim (who is Thai).
Now, let me pause here for a minute. Most of you who are reading this will probably agree with me that God brings people into our lives for a specific purpose. Our family members and close friends, especially, play unique but equally important roles in our lives. But have you ever thought about how God can cause us to cross paths with someone else only for a moment, or a day? How important are those moments? How important is that relationship that you build with that one person for a single day?
For some reason, God chose to make our paths cross with Mickey and Pim this week. As we sat on the beach on Christmas night, talking to them, I started to wonder why. Why did we just happen to meet up with them again? Mickey is a guy whose goal in life is to make people happy. He wants to be a "nice guy" to everyone he meets. He does not believe in God (and is actually quite opposed to the idea), but when we explained how we got to Thailand, by following God's leading in our lives, he listened with some interest (and skepticism, of course).
Always be prepared to give an answer when someone asks you about the hope that you have...Mickey didn't specifically ask us about where we get our hope, but we were able to answer that question anyway. I don't know if we'll ever see him and Pim again, but I hope that if we do, we'll have another opportunity to be witnesses of God's love.
Now, to backtrack a little bit, life has been good for the last several weeks. The couple of weeks leading up to break were a little intense due to the Christmas program preparation that had to go on. The Christmas program here is a little more intense than what I'm used to. There are actually FOUR programs: lower elementary (Nursery-3rd grade) and upper grades (4-12), and each of those groups has an indoor AND an outdoor program. The indoor program is a little more of the "religious" Christmas program - the lower grades, for example, sang a bunch of Christmas carols and such that we would normally sing in church. The upper grades put on a play and also sang some of the same songs. The outdoor program is much different. The stage is set up outside on the soccer field, and all the guests (parents/families) sit around tables, eat dinner, and watch the program. Each class has to do some sort of performance - a song or skit, usually. Some of these were pretty well Christmas-themed, but some of them were more just for fun. The 11th grade, for example, put on a skit called "Snow Black and the Seven Dwarfs" - essentially the story of Snow White with some extra cool dance moves involved. :) These programs take place over two nights - lower grades on one night and the upper grades on the second night. Both nights were pretty fun - the foreign teachers have to dress up (pretty formal...even though many of the Thai family members come in jeans) and do a performance as well. We did the "Silent Hallelujah Chorus" this year - if you've seen the Youtube video of the nuns "singing" the Hallelujah Chorus with the signs, then you know what our performance was like! Overall, both nights were a lot of fun, but I'm quite glad that it's all over now and we don't have to spend class/homeroom time to prepare for it anymore!
So, now we are on break until January 4. The rest of break will include some work, I think (I know I've got some unit plans to come up with for my classes!), but also probably some jungle ball. Our new big gym is currently up and in use - jungle ball takes on a whole new twist when we play up there! We took a video of it recently, so maybe I can get Michael to post it somewhere for you all to see. :)
Well, Merry Christmas to you all! We'd like to shout out a huge THANKS to those of you who sent us Christmas cards in the mail - we came back from our trip to a mailbox full of them! Thanks so much for thinking of and praying for us!