As I told people about my year here, I often included the phrase “God is definitely going to challenge and stretch me,” though mostly because I knew it was what I was supposed to say in regard to short-term missions. I consider myself a pretty adaptable person (it’s my top “Strength”), so I did not truly anticipate too many hardships. So when person after person told me they would be praying for me, I took it as sweet, but not necessarily needed.
However, when I had my first of many freak-outs, as evidenced in my previous blog posts, I did not initially find strength in these prayers, but simply in the knowledge that many at home were anticipating me to succeed here. This quickly turned into a feeling of being trapped here, of not wanting to disappoint people who had sent me here. It was only when I realized, by the grace of God, that these people were anticipating Him, and not me to succeed here. And many of them knew firsthand the hardships of missions and culture shock, and this is why they were so adamant about praying for me, something I am only just beginning to realize the true power of.
After jumping these initial hurdles of finding my purpose and strength, I truly began to enjoy my days here. Many conversations, with their language-induced misunderstandings and mismatched cultural-norms, are still exhausting, but I am gradually building friendships with the teachers here (and the older women in the kitchen!). They love to laugh, and without TVs or laptops easily accessible, spend their evenings in the cool of the Jacaranda’s shade, soaking in one another’s companionship. With two girls from America, Melody and Katie, still here, I don’t spend every night outside with them, but whenever I do, I leave with a smile.
One special treat has been to substitute for a few teachers who are sick or at the government mandated training (don’t ask why they make us start school before they have implemented their changes for the year – believe me, I’ve tried asking). Without a lesson plan, it can be a little stressful to step into a new classroom, but I really love the chance to torture the kids with questions about things they learned last year, whether it’s ratios or maps or the components of a cell. I always let them play a game afterwords (they LOVE heads-up 7-up), but I do enjoy getting to know some of the students in a classroom setting. Who knows – maybe teaching is in my future!
My basic schedule for the day is:
6:30 Management team meeting (thank God for fresh Chai tea)
9:00 Teachers’ Devotions
9:15 Student Assembly
10:00 Help someone design something on the computer (brochures, maps, etc.)
11:00 Sub for a class
12:30 Lunch (rice and curry – not as spicy as I feared!)
1:30: Walk around the hospital to make sure everyone’s on task, then the same for the teachers
3:00 Work on the yearbook/website
4:00 Check in with Principal Joice for additional tasks
7:30 Dinner and fellowship (with mangos off our tree for dessert!)
It’s fairly different from the schedule I grew accustomed to at college (did you see that 6:30 wakeup call?!), but it’s a good one, and flexible one, and I am finding so much joy in it.
Thank you, once again, for your prayers and iMessages and love from across the world. You all understand, more than I did, the power and importance of these things.