Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Transitional Places

Tonight I don't have a whole lot to say, but there are a couple of thoughts that have been running through my head.  What if some places and times are just meant as transitional to get you into the next big phase of your life.  I know some people only believe in moments of time...and aren't big picture people...but it has occurred to me that Kuwait to the Philippines just might have been a transitional time for me.  A year to just step back and go into the next big phase.  It might just be me being hopeful...but for some reason I feel like I am right about this.  College was a transitional time.  It is the normal transitional time.  As I think about it, I feel like Egypt was probably another transitional time.  I don't think that college really brought me into adulthood.  I think that living thousands of miles away in a country that had a different culture and background...well that helped me grow up real fast.  

I feel like forever I have thought that each step that we take has to be the next step in a chapter.  That it has to be this great chapter, and that there can't be anything straying and no reading between the lines.  But maybe there isn't one huge chapter after another.  Maybe there are quotes in between the chapters.  Maybe being here is like my quote.  The preface to what is to come.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Born a Native English Speaker

Many days I forget what it means to be born a native English speaker.  Sometimes I think that I even forget that I had to learn English myself.  I wasn't just speaking it the minute that I opened my eyes.  English takes time, concentration, and desire.  But what I sometimes just can't let go of is the fact that I was born into a world where I would be a Native English Speaker.  I didn't earn it, I didn't do anything to get the title of American.  I was just born...in a little town in Missouri...and that sealed my destiny.  

I have been able to see so many things in my adult life.  I have been able to live out dreams that other people will only just dream about.  I have been able to examine cultures from inside the walls of the country.  But what I still just can't seem to grasp is the idea of sending your child away to a foreign country in order to learn English.  I am not talking about adult children.  I am talking about Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th and 5th graders.  I sort of understand middle school parents being willing to send their kids away.  Although I am sort of joking there is a part of me that taught  6th grade, and having been in junior high once...well I might even consider it myself when I get to that point.  But really my point is that I don't know the desperation that it takes to want to send my child to another place, to not see their face everyday...so that they will speak English.  

I am not in any way saying that parents that do this are horrible.  I know that most of the time it is because they honestly believe this is what is best for the child.  But as I listened to a boy literally sobbing today...a 2nd grader because he missed his parents so much I had to wonder.  Is it really worth it?  

Another thing I wonder about is just plopping your Non-English speaking child into a classroom where the ONLY language that is spoken is English.  I had an experience the other day.  I was with mostly Koreans.  The primary language that was being spoken was Korean.  We stopped and something was said in Korean then all the Koreans started getting up and leaving the bus.  Well....the non-Korean speaking people on the bus just sat there wondering what the heck was going on.  One of the other people stated...guess this is what our students feel like when we give directions and they don't understand a word that we say.  Yep...must be.  I wonder how effective is it to throw a child into a classroom and expect them to excel?  More than that how effective is it to ask a teacher to differentiate for 20-30 kids in a classroom when each level is completely different Native speaker or Non-native it doesn't matter.  

I just don't know that I understand how we can just say it is okay.  Despite the fact that they have no idea what is being taught or said.  

It just makes me sad...and hurt because English isn't really that great.  America really isn't that great.  But we have been set apart as the people to be like and the place to go.  What are we doing with that fame?  What are we doing with that popularity?  I am not sure that much good is coming out of it.  But we sure do know how to boast about ourselves, don't we.  

If you weren't a native English speaker, what would you be willing to sacrifice just so your kids could speak English and do something with their lives?  

Would you be willing to do whatever it takes?  

We throw education away....we take it for granted...and yet millions of children around the world are busting their butts just to be able to go and study in the place that we live our day to day....

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Just some culture

Yesterday I went on a trip with some Koreans, another American, and a Nigerian.  The funny thing to me is that you could tell we were in an Asian country because of this picture...see the umbrella.  It's not being used for rain :)  Only people that have lived in Asia will understand what I mean by that.  

It was a super fun day.  Not fun in the amount of conversation that I had, but fun in the amount of culture that I was able to experience.  Most beaches in America you will find towels and people laying out to bask in the sun.  Our first island hopping stop was to an island that only had a 103 step climb to the top.  There was nothing else...no sand to lay out on...just some hiking.  So....I put on the ballet flats I just happened to bring, because flip flops, just aren't for climbing steep steps.  And I climbed....even though I was huffing and puffing!  I climbed and was able to stand at the top of a beautiful tropical paradise that hasn't been built on, it hasn't been littered with trash...and it hasn't really been made into a tourist trap.  

After we hung out on that island for about 30 minutes we hopped back into the boat...ha ha literally and we went to another island.  It was here that I was struck once again with the fact that American beaches are so different than Asian ones.  As I put my blanket down in the sun to lay out, I looked around.  There was not one other person laying out in the sun.  Sure some were playing in the water (mostly kids).  But most were in the shade.  It struck me...and I was just in awe once again at the differences.  We want to be tan...they want to be pale.  

Our third island we went took a couple of pictures....

When we got back to the shore...we got in the bus, started backing up and then heard a loud POP.  So......the gasket had broken on the bus.  We sat on the bus for FOUR hours while it got fixed.  I am not totally for sure how that would have changed had we been in America, and it probably wouldn't have, but I can tell you that it was crazy!  Four hours.....on a bus....

Then we drove four hours to get back to the dorm.  

Except right before we arrived back....at 10:00pm....we stopped for dinner.  

All I wanted to do was go home and sleep....all I wanted to do was sleep.  However eating Korean food, talking and spending time was part of the experience.  I am thankful that I got off of that bus and ate food for a couple of hours...drank a little bit and just had fun.  

When I think of good experiences, this will be one of the best.  I am thankful for the opportunity to go and see another part of creation. 

One more boat ride...

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to Hundred Islands.  It was amazing....super fun, and super exhausting.  I went with the Chairman of our school, and the Korean group he has visiting here.  It was amazing to see the aqua blue water.  To hear the waves splashing along the shore, and to just be away from everything.  While I was sitting on the beach I thought about the different boats and islands I have visited in all the places I have lived.  I thought about the very first time that I road in a boat in another country.  Cairo....riding down the Nile.  How long ago that feels.  No motor, just oars...pushing against the bottom of the river.  I'm amazed at just how different life seems now.  My first job, my first foreign country.  If you had asked me then if I would be feeling the way I am now, I would have definitely thought that you were crazy.  I never thought that I would be in the place I am right now.  I never thought that I would be ready to settle in Missouri.  I never thought I would be at a place where I was ready to just be part of the American dream.  

My next boat ride....Thailand.  I rode many different types of boats in Thailand.  Boats up and down the river, boats down small riverways....boats among many different people groups.  It was a very joyous time in my life.  A time when I was defined by my job and by those around me.  A time when I thought that I was living the dream.  Doing what I could to share my faith of God.  I will never forget seeing blue, sky blue water for the first time.  It was amazing!  I was in awe of the beauty.  All I had seen before was California grey.  Although very beautiful, it doesn't seem to compare.  So much beauty...

Other boat rides have included Vietnam...and more recently the Philippines.  

Yesterday as we came back from the island I had this overwhelming sense that this might be my very last boat road overseas.  It wasn't a sad realization....it was more of a knowledge that was peaceful.  It was a feeling that I needed to acknowledge.  For the first time in my life, I was completely okay with not going on another boat trip.  I was and am completely okay if I don't make it to Bali, or Italy.  I have been able to see places and meet people that I would not otherwise have seen or met.  I have been able to experience culture right in the midst of it.  I have been able to ride boats in 5 different countries, and be allow the gentle movement of the waves to show me who I am now, and what I have to look forward to. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

The BEACH!!!!!

For the first time since leaving Cali this summer I am going to the BEACH!  Hundred Islands, which is supposed to be amazingly beautiful.  We leave at 5:30 AM.  I wish it was the excitement that was keeping me awake, but I think it is more like the 5 hour nap I took from 5:00pm-10:00pm tonight.  Whoops!  Oh well.  I am just super excited to be going to a beach!  It is one of my favorite places to be...listening too the waves, and not having anything to do other than just be.  I will be taking my kindle for some light reading, but hoping to take lots of pictures, and just enjoy creation! 

Late night thoughts about the future....

I'm super excited that I am going to be back in Missouri in April.  I am not even sure if I can hold back my enthusiasm for a place that I never thought I would be this excited to be going to.  

I have thought about the last time I was going back to MO, and how I knew that it would just be a temporary time.  I don't know how but my heart and my thoughts have completely changed.  I no longer care to see the world.  I no longer feel that I am being called to a life in another country.  I long to just be back in Missouri.  I long to find a job where I can be for the next 15-20 years or more.  A place to settle down, have a family and get to experience life, being able to just live without the day to day feeling of not understanding the culture that I live in.  

I am not saying that there won't be days when I just want to leave it all and head back overseas.  I also do not think that I will always understand my life in America.  But I want it.  I want to live within driving distance of my family.  I want to be able to just be me, and not live up to the expectation of perfection that I have been trying to live up to for the past 10 years or so.  

So...I am coming back....first for a visit in April and then for good in June.  

I'm excited and nervous...and hopeful.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Life isn't about the days or weeks that pass you by...it's about the moments that you live

The second day of 2014....I wish I could say that I did something amazing.  I wish I could say that I had the time of my life, but I didn't.  I did start out my day sleeping in and reading a book.  I spent today thinking about all the things that I have done during my life, and what I still want to accomplish.  I was thinking about patience.  That's my word for the day.  Patience is needed to figure out what my purpose in life is, what is life anyways?  We each have our own moments, we each of our own thoughts.  I wonder if I were to go back to my 9 year old self and ask questions about my life.  I wonder if my dreams really have come true?  Have I lived up to my name?  Do I take risks?  

I hope and pray that in the moments ahead I can take them one at a time.  I hope that every moment I am able to be patient and not hope for the next.  I want to live, and breathe.  To be healthy and know at the end of my days that I did the best that I could.  That I loved the best that I could, that I lived to change the world around me.  

Is that teaching?  I am not sure....but I will continue on, until I figure it out.  

Today's  moments were spent reading, writing, thinking, praying, and communicating.  What will tomorrow's moments bring?  Not sure yet, but I will live each one to its fullest!  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 begins...and so I leave behind the past and look to the future...

I'm not really sure why it has taken me this long to realize that I have been a prisoner to my past.  I have allowed my past to rule my heart, my head and my decisions.  I started 2013 off in a very sad state.  Mostly a result of decisions that I had made that affected someone else.  But in the past few days I have had a chance to look at all the decisions that I made this year, to look at the person that I have become and decide that I don't want to be this person anymore.  

For reasons that I won't got into, I have turned into a person that doesn't trust others.  I mean I have always had a hard time with trust, but I think the past 5 years especially I have really just allowed those feelings to dictate every part of who I am and the things I do and say.  I have always been a glass half empty kind of person, but not as much as I feel like I have been in the past 5 years.  What happened to make me see the world in this light?  What happened to allow me to not be true to the voice of reason that told me, yes people will hurt you, but you still must love?

I am not sure.  Well actually I am quite sure, but once again I don't think it is something that needs to be addressed on a public blog.  

What I do have to say is this.  No more...I am not going to allow my past to dictate who I am today.  I will allow it to shape me and mold me and allow me to see from other's viewpoints.  I will not allow it to tear me down and allow me to be the insecure person that I am right at this moment.  

So this year is for me.  This year is a chance to step back and say, who do I want to be.  How do I want to get back the parts of me that were stolen by people that I trusted.  How do I want to make myself a better person so that I am someone that can be a good wife and mother one day.  I want that.  I don't want to be so emotionally messed up that I miss the opportunity, or that I am too blinded by my own insecurities that I allow someone to pass me by.  

I am doing a word, a quote and a verse each day.  I am going to be writing like crazy.  I am going to be blogging everyday, in hopes that I can understand what this life holds for me.  What is the purpose for me?  I want to understand where I should be in this world, and who I should be with.  Not just a mate, but friends, and community.  Where do I fit in?  How do I settle down and make my life count for something?  I can't continue to hop from one place to the next forever.  

These thoughts have never occurred to me.  In fact until now I have been content with jumping from one place to the next.  I have been content with the thought of living in a new country every few years.  But I can say for the first time in my life...I want a place to settle.  I want a place to truly belong, and I want people around me that will be there through the good and the bad.  I want to have a home.  

So for 2014...I have big ambitions.  But I also know in my heart that there is a place for me.  I know that there is a place that needs me, and I know there is a place where I can use my strengths and weaknesses to change my corner of the world.