It's been a little while since I last updated...but I haven't had a whole lot to update about! Our two week break turned into a five week break, but I'm FINALLY able to announce that we're officially starting school again tomorrow! I'm so excited, I hardly know what to do with myself. We have about four weeks and then two weeks of Christmas break. It seems a little strange - we'll just barely get back into the schedule and then have another break all over again...but that four weeks of schedule will be incredibly busy, and I'm definitely looking forward to it!
To update on the flood - the waters are receding. Our school and general surrounding area never flooded - hallelujah! A school about a kilometer down the street from us was flooded for a little while, but it's dry now, and I haven't seen any standing water where it isn't supposed to be, so that's good.
Much of Thailand is still dealing with the flooding. Our school is able to open, but we had to get special permission from the government in order to do so; many other schools in our province are closed until the beginning of December or longer, depending on how flooded they are. Please continue to pray for Thailand; we are blessed and fortunate, but many are not. We still see pictures of the flooding on the news every time we enter a restaurant with a TV or newspaper available.
The last couple of weeks have quietly slipped by for us as we waited for news of school starting. I've been able to work ahead on a few different projects, and Michael, likewise, has been working on lessons at his own leisurely pace. That's the nice thing about being at home for a spontaneously longer break...we got to work on things at our own pace, rather than the frantic "I've got to get this done NOW" pace that we work at during the semesters!
Now that school is starting again, I'm doing some reflecting on last semester. More specifically, I've been reflecting on my own attitudes and witness to my students. It's really incredible how much one's attitude can change over time or in the midst of different situations. When I originally came to Thailand, I felt like I had an essential purpose; I felt that God was sending us here to do a particular work for Him. Being a witness of Christ's love in my life was my top priority. Well, I came, and over time, my focus has changed more to what I really need to teach rather than what the students maybe need to hear.
Don't get me wrong - I don't think I'm always so focused on teaching that I've completely forgotten Christ in my life. It just doesn't seem to take top priority in my lessons as much as I wanted it to when I initially began teaching. I think about that, and I ask myself, "Is this okay?" and "What IS my top priority?" The students DO need to learn. They DO need to practice writing essays and reading books. I can't get rid of those things, but maybe I should start incorporating some other things along with the reading/writing/grammar tasks in class.
Michael asked me to listen to a song with him a couple of nights ago. I honestly don't remember the song or all of the lyrics to the song. One of the main ideas that I took away from it, though, was that the name of Jesus is powerful. We see that in scripture where it says, "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:9-11)
As I sat thinking about this, I wondered why I am so afraid to mention the name of Jesus. In chapel or devotions, sometimes I skirt around the name by vaguely referencing it, or I choose to talk about a topic in which I don't have to mention Jesus in order to challenge the students' thinking. Why do I do that? I'm not going to get arrested for saying Jesus' name. I won't be beaten or turned in to the government, or anything of the sort.
I don't say Jesus' name very often in front of my students because I'm afraid they will stop listening. They turn off so quickly, and saying "Jesus" in a sentence of any sort seems to hit the stop button in their minds faster than any other single word.
But why does that matter so much to me? Am I not called to preach the Gospel, to share the good news? Is it my job to open my students' hearts to Jesus' name?
NO. It's not.
It's God's job. "He who has ears, let him hear." ...maybe not everyone is meant to hear everything.
We heard an incredible sermon in church this morning. We did not have a pastor preaching to us, but watched someone speak on a video. This sermon came from an address made at an evangelism conference in Cape Town sometime last year, and the speaker was from Sri Lanka, I think. He went through Ephesians 1, and boy, there is a whole lot of good stuff going on in Ephesians 1!
One thing that stood out to me in this sermon came at the very end. The speaker was talking about why people are afraid to evangelize, or why the Church as a whole isn't always so effective. He said that sometimes we lose the wonder of the Gospel. We know what it says, but what does it really mean to us in our everyday lives? Do we live every single day in the wonder of God's love? Do we live in complete awe of what God has done in order to bring us to himself? If I really truly lived with that wonder and awe, I think I would be much more enthusiastic about evangelism. I would spend a lot more energy and time thinking of how I can show my students God's love, God's sacrifice, God's forgiveness and grace each day.
Maybe my actions do say something. But maybe it's time my words started saying something, too.
Are you in wonder of the Gospel?