I want to take a break from the recent Vietnam series to talk about something a bit more normal in my life, but even more wonderful.
I know many of you think that I simply spend the year hiding from America and galavanting around Southeast Asia without a care in the world. And about once a quarter, I definitely do 🙂
The rest of the year, though, is spent teaching in a classroom just outside of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.
Let’s enter into the Honesty Room here and be real: it was really hard for me to come back this year. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to come back as it was that I didn’t want to leave home. I’ve been blessed with a pretty incredible life in the States, and it made no sense to me that I had chosen to live as far away from it as possible.
The first few weeks back, I didn’t especially want to be here. It was good to see friends and fun to tour Vietnam, but my heart wasn’t in it.
This past week, though, as my kids returned, God reminded me time and again why I am here. My heart is full and overflowing with assurance that this is where I’m supposed to be and with a crazy love for my students.
Granted, we get to go on some pretty cool adventures here. And you definitely won’t here me complaining about the cheap massages or pedicures. But what is the most encouraging is seeing the little glimpses of joy and growth and love in these awesome kids we teach.
Here are a few stories that made my week wonderful (and challenged me in the way that I interact with people, like my kids so often do!):
This is the first time that I’ve been a second year teacher at the same school, and I absolutely love it. I love having some of the same students for English again. I love seeing how students have matured over the past year. Most of all, I love having former students come back and visit.
(A quick flashback to my wonderful homeroom last year! :))
After school on the first Friday of the year, two students from my homeroom last year came and sat on the desks with me and chatted. As we talked, they commented that they missed our homeroom. I agreed, and they continued, “We loved that homeroom because no one judged us there. We could be ourselves.”
I was so pumped. That’s why I love working with kids this age. I love being a part of the process as they figure out who they are and how they fit into the world. Hearing that that was how they perceived our homeroom was the most encouraging thing I’ve heard in a long time! At the same time, it makes me ask myself whether this is how people feel while they’re around me?
Eagerness and Passion
I have been so encouraged by the way that our 7th graders this year embrace life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I learn so much from these kids! As the youngest ones in the school, it’s easy to be intimidated into the corners or a safe silence – I experienced this fear as the young teacher last year! Our new 7th graders, though, have been all in, all the time.
(This is my new homeroom … they’re the best!)
Whether it be a grade-level competition, traditional games in their house teams, or participating in class, they’ve been so eager to contribute. They are intentional about getting involved, and just as great about cheering on the others when they are not the competitor!
It’s been such a lesson to me to see the way that they live life to the fullest!
(A big thank you to Bekah for capturing this precious picture of my English class! I seriously teach the easiest students in the entire world… they legitimately respond like this every time I ask a question!)
This has been such a simple gesture but such a sweet (pun not intended :)) blessing to me! There is a new 7th grader that I don’t even teach. Somehow, though, he found out that I like Reese’s peanut butter cups (which cannot be found in Indonesia) and has stopped by my classroom at the beginning of lunch every day to give me one.
What a reminder that the little things can mean so much!
A specific group of students that has especially impressed me are the ones that are new to SPH this year. They come into a group of students that is very tight knit, and have shown incredible courage in the way that they have reached out into this community.
On Friday, we invited the new students to bring a buddy and join us for dessert and games during lunch. We played a game of backwards charades, in which the entire team works together to get one member to guess the words. It’s a game designed to make you look ridiculous, and ridiculous we did look! We had such a great afternoon laughing and working together, and even the quietest of the students participated in the hilarity.
It was so neat to see them move outside of their comfort zone simply to expand it.
I love my job. I actually anticipate Monday mornings.
How many people can say that!?
Over and over again this week, God has gently pushed me out of my self-instated cloud of negativity to show me so clearly the incredible plans that He has indeed laid out for me here. I am so thankful!