Friday, August 26, 2011


The weeks seem to be rushing by faster and faster every week.  Days are getting filled with extra events and my head is getting filled with extra ideas and responsibilities. J They are good things, but I have realized the importance of being still here—last weekend I felt like I had been at school the whole week so I planned to go out a few times over the weekend to check out some markets and a new church and buy some guitar strings for school.  It was all fun, but when it got to Monday I felt like I hadn’t had a weekend because it takes so much energy to get around here.  So tonight I am going to a wedding reception for a couple who work at school, but otherwise I am staying in for the most part. J
This week was filled with some new experiences…on Sunday I went to an Anglican church for the first time (and got so lost on the way there! hehe), I went to check out an international choir that meets on Tuesdays, I successfully got to the US embassy to get visa pages in my passport, I spent some hours recruiting students I didn’t even know to join our extra-curricular music clubs, and tonight I am going to a Khmer wedding reception. Oh, and last week I bought hand drums for my classroom!!! I’ve had the chance to do some things that were comfortable too like play a board-game with my principle’s kids at their house, and go out to a nice dinner with a friend last night.  As I mentioned earlier, life has been full.
I think that I am coming out of my “autopilot” stage of transition, and I am starting to see reality.  I am deeply missing people for the first time.  I am falling in love with my students and realizing that I will be following through with them until they leave.  Relationships that have started here are now in the “in-between” phase where small talk is not enough but real conversation may still be awkward.  And as always when I transition, I am fighting the urge to turn off, fighting the urge to become bitter and to do it myself.  I know so well that this is where God has led me to serve, and I am so excited to face the challenge, but I have to allow Him to get me through the transition phase and take me to the things He has called me to. 
The major prayer request for this week would be the extra-curricular clubs that we are starting up.  Because there has been no music program, there is no band or choir program built into the schedule, so we are doing them after school or during lunch as clubs.  They are going to be eclectic groups with different skill and experience levels, and a strange mix of instruments as well. J Please pray that figuring out the details would not come in the way of the students enjoying the experience of music, and that we would be wise in the way that we approach the groups and the things that we ask of the students.  They are adorable and enthusiastic, and I am so excited to see them learn and succeed! J  Hopefully next week I will have some pictures of them for you~
But for today I will leave you with the picture of my lizard that I found on my bedroom wall this morning. Isn’t he cute? J

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Transitioning to a new place is such a strange thing that happens in my brain.  At this point I don't think that I understand that I am living in Cambodia, yet it feels so normal, like I have been here for a lot longer than a week and a half.  The reality will hit me a little later I suppose.  For now though, I have finished my first week of teaching, I have met all my kids, and am now working on composing a curriculum for the rest of the year. :)

This week was a whirlwind, but it was a really good and challenging one.  Every new place that we work and new group of people that we work with comes with a process of understanding how things are run, learning all the terms, and getting into a routine.  Hope School is run differently than other schools I have seen, but I am learning how to fit into the structure.  More important than the structure though, the students that I get to teach are just beautiful and they are what make teaching worth it.  They are from all over the world and have lived in Cambodia for different amounts of time.  Most of them I get to see once a week, so learning names is something I will be investing in.  I am spending a lot of time with a group of 8th graders in the mornings throughout the week for devotions.  Though they are still classic 8th graders, they have a different world view whether they know it or not.  I have seen creativity and crazy potential from so many of my kids already, I am excited to encourage them to think, to explore, to learn and to express.  Please pray for wisdom as I make decisions about what and how to teach these students. 

So what is Cambodia like?  I haven't experienced Cambodia too much outside of school, though I did ride on the back of a moto for the first time (public transportation where you get on the back of someone's motorcycle and they take you where you need to go) when I went out to coffee with a new friend from India.  We were the only people at the coffee place and were watched the whole time. :) The city is an interesting place to be--there is no space.  There are shops of everywhere, and swarms of motos and tuk-tuks on the streets.  I think the most frustrating thing for me so far though has been the inability to communicate.  I have not been in a culture for a long time where I couldn't communicate, and I forgot what it feels like.  Waving and smiling doesn't quite satisfy.  However, within the next couple of weeks I will start my Khmer lessons. :)

This morning I was reading Psalm 103.  As I have been going through this week and the past few weeks, I have made many mistakes in the ways I am teaching, in the ways I am interacting with people, and in the ways I am thinking.  And I know that those mistakes will continue to happen.  I have gotten frustrated with myself and though my emotions are mostly numb right now in my transition, my feelings of guilt have been active.  As a rational person, I have been able to tell myself to stop being overwhelmed by guilt, but this morning reading Psalms 103 confirmed what I had been thinking.  In verses 9-10 he says,
"He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities." 
Then later in verse 13-14:
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust." 
My "need" to not make mistakes is not how God looks at me.  He remembers that I am dust and has compassion. :) So there is my thought for the day. 

I haven't been able to take too many pictures, but here are some of my music room.  It is one of the best classrooms in the school, so I am very thankful.  The last 2 pictures are taken from the roof of my house showing the contrast between people's living situations here in Phnom Penh.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Things I have learned already...

  • How to cross the street.  It's a lot harder than you'd think!  Traffic rules don't exist, so walking across a street full of motor bikes and tuk-tuks can be a challenge.  My housemate's sister already got a "Cambodian tattoo" from the motorbike exhaust. :)
  • I will be teaching barefoot!  So many of us have dreamed of a job like this, and I get to do it.  We take our shoes off at the entrance of the school.  At my first staff meeting it made me laugh when I looked around at a room full of barefoot teachers. :)
  • Never agree to the price they ask for at the market.  I have observed lots of haggling, and am trying to get up the courage to do it myself.
  • On hot nights if you take a nice cold shower before bed, it helps you to cool off enough to fall asleep.
And so many more things, but those are a few I can point out right now.  My time here so far has been full of learning both the culture and about how the school works.  It has been pretty much insane, but so good. :) The people I have met have been lovely, kind and helpful as I am figuring out everything.  It is a blessing to be a part of an international staff whose hearts are ready to submit to and serve the Lord, I have already been so encouraged by these people and their testimonies. 

Tomorrow morning I start school!  My first day as a REAL LIVE TEACHER!  I am teaching year 5 (grade 4) and up for general music, doing after school extra-curriculars yet to be determined, leading a class of 8th graders for devotions and Christian Perspectives, and anything else that may come up.  Emotions consist of nervousness, excitement, fear, anticipation, and mostly I really just don't know what to think.  I am trusting that God will be working through me and will be my strength this week as I head into something where I have no idea what I am doing...but that's the way it should be anyways, eh? :)
I will know more after tomorrow, and will also try to post some pictures of my new home/life.