Saturday, November 26, 2011


I’m thankful for my ceiling fan,
And for the coffee 50 cents can buy.
I’m thankful for my friends afar,
And for the kids that make me cry.

Yes, a very poor attempt at poetry. J It’s been so good for me though this week, thinking about all the things that God blesses us with and remembering to acknowledge that—not just breeze through not taking notice of anything.  Especially now with the craziness of getting ready for the Christmas concert, it takes effort to stop and reflect, but it is so important for me to do it. 
At the beginning of my time here in Cambodia, I was frustrated by the lack of resources we had for music, and by the broken piano that was being used for everything.  When I was telling my mom (who is a music teacher in Hungary where I went to high school) about all of this, she decided to have her middle school musical be a fundraiser for our music program here.  The students and administration agreed, so that is what happened!  Two weeks ago they did their production of “The Princess and the Pea”, which I’m sure was wonderful, and raised money for us by selling tickets and collecting donations.  They are sending us around $1500 to put towards our music program here at Hope!  We are get to use this lovely piano that you see as a result of this, which both myself and my students are enjoying, and we will be purchasing some music for our choir and band that we wouldn’t have had the funds to get.  I am so thankful, and just wanted to share with you about this beautiful blessing and support we are experiencing all the way from Hungary! J
It is getting down to the last few weeks of school.  Two weeks for me, three for the students… I am learning so much about how to do things as a music teacher and how to do things as a music teacher in this country through getting ready for this Christmas production.  How to be efficient, how to be clear about what I want, where to buy paint and wood, what paint not to get, how to organize rehearsal schedules, how to order pizza… I could go on.  I do love the process though, I love the challenge, I love the way that my students get excited, I love seeing the pieces come together and the kids succeed in an amazing way. 
Besides all of this, my highlight of the week was my Year 7/8 classes this week.  We are finishing up a music history unit, and started the Romantic Period this past week.  They were supposed to be “music critics”, analyzing what they heard.  We finished the class period with Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, and they loved it!  It is so fun to hear them get excited about classical music and see and hear things they have never heard before. 
Please continue to pray as we get close to the end of the semester, for good time management, organization and team work in the last 2 weeks before the concert, and also for my coming trip to the States, that God would prepare my heart for that- Thank you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


It’s hard to believe that it is nearly the middle of November.  My housemates and I have been wondering where the months have gone, it seems like this semester has flown by.  It also doesn’t feel like winter here, where we are still sweating every time we walk outside—that may be part of it. J  I am continually amazed by God’s patience with me and His provision of energy, conversations, emails from friends, ideas and words to speak right when they are needed as the time is going by and the newness of this life is wearing off. 
Since my last update, I have gotten to see a little more of Cambodia.  A few weeks ago, one of the year 13 students at school decided to work together with a radio show that was taking supplies out to the flooded provinces.  He asked students and parents at school to donate food, toiletries and clothes to collect, and in the end we had 350 bags of food and a good sized pile of clothes to take to Prey Veng.  I had the opportunity to go with a group of people from Hope to deliver the supplies.  For the past couple of months, the flooding in Cambodia has been very bad.  After a long bus ride, we loaded the packages onto a boat and rode for an hour over rice patties and homes that were covered in around 3 meters of water to an island where the poorest people from the 10 surrounding villages were waiting for us.  It was good for me to see the reality of village life outside of the city, but it also broke my heart.  As we were handing out food and antibiotics, I understood more of the poverty and hopelessness that is present in this country.  These people had lost the little that they had and were stuck sitting on small islands just waiting for the water to go down before they could try to start their lives again.  I’m still struggling with understanding how we, in the community I am living in, can continue living the lives that we are when all of this is going on.  So knowing how to respond and also how to think about it is a challenge.       
On a different note, our new choir and band at school had the opportunity to perform for the first time this past weekend!  It started to rain right before we started, so everything was moved to a covered area.  The kids handled it all so well, and people seemed to really enjoy the performances which is encouraging. J I am very proud of them!
Besides that, we are moving towards finishing up the semester and towards the Christmas concert.  Today I went out to start buying material for making costumes, we have started rehearsals for both the primary and the middle school plays, and are working on building props and sets.  It’s amazing how many details there are to take care of and keep track of when putting together something like this! Please keep myself and You Jin (my fellow music teacher) in your prayers during this next month—this is the first time for both of us to be doing something like this on our own.  Thank you! 
I will be in the States for Christmas this year!  I am flying into Chicago on December 14th and driving to a wedding in Iowa, then to Ohio to be with my family, then to Indiana for Jon’s wedding and I would love to see as many of you as possible! J