Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Relief for the faint of heart

I have been off and on stressing about teaching AP Spanish. I stress because I don't feel equipped as a teacher, and the thought of having my students take an exam to test out of college Spanish classes based on what I have taught them just freaks me out. I guess it scares me because I am actually held accountable to teaching them...not that I wouldn't, but it's hard proof and obviously reflects upon me as a teacher. It's kind of too much responsibility for my little heart to handle at times. But God is always good and calms my fears.

Today God showed me in a very specific and evident way how gracious and giving he is. God brought to mind Matthew 6:25-34, which talks about not worrying because he has thought of every little detail and knows my needs. It is so easy to succumb to worrying and feeling anxious, yet God calls us to cast all our anxieties upon him, because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Every day I see more and more things that make it even more evident that yes, indeed, Thailand is the place he has called us.

So this morning, after recently worrying about teaching AP Spanish, I received an e-mail from Rebel, the high school principal. Yes, that is his first name... can you tell he is from Alabama? :) He has been so good to me and I am really looking forward to working with/for him. He said that there will be 10 students taking AP Spanish (my heart flip-flopped in excitement and terror with the news), and that the school is going to pay for AP Spanish training and transportation/mileage reimbursement. He even found a program for me at the end of June at Carlton College in Northfield, MN! So I get free training! What's even better is that I get continuing-ed credits for taking this class so when I have to re-new my teaching license in 2013, it will be a piece of cake.

I think I had known at one point in time that there was AP training, but during the course of looking at all these different schools, applying, interviewing, studying up on the countries, and trying to figure out the difference between AP and IB, I forgot and decided to stress out about it all instead.

I am thrilled at the chance to get trained in teaching AP Spanish, as I believe it will be a great way to grow professionally and have more challenging career opportunities. I am so thankful that I will not be "thrown" into the classroom to just figure it all out on my own. I know that I will make plenty of mistakes, but how much less fearful I am about the whole situation! Praise God for his gentle reminders of his consistent love and grace for his disobedient and faint hearted children.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Expecting the unexpected

Mike's Grandpa Ben just passed away on Saturday evening. While it is a time of rejoicing for the life that he lived and knowing that he is now in heaven, it is also a time of mourning. The funeral is this Friday, so we will be heading down to Iowa on Thursday night to be with family during this time.

Grandpa Ben's death kind of hit us in more of an emotional way than expected. It occurred to us how many family things we will miss when we are overseas. It's not the easiest to just drop $4,000, jump on a plane, and have the both of us come home. So we will miss many birthday parties, family traditions and celebrations, and maybe even funerals and new babies.

When I asked the headmaster of the school what one of the most difficult aspects of living overseas was, his response related to not being able to go home for all of those family functions. We feel that his point has now been driven home.

Friday, February 20, 2009


On a more serious note than my last post-not that finding Joey a wife isn't serious business of sorts...
We are so thankful that my dad has been so gracious enough to allow us to store our belongings at his house. What a blessing this is to us! Thanks Papi! This alleviates some stress-- both financially and emotionally. Not only do we not have to worry about finding a place to store our stuff (or even selling the majority of it, if we don't want...), but we don't need to worry about paying hundreds of dollars each month for a storage unit. God is good.

Finding a wife for Joey...

One day when Joey and I were talking about Thailand, he said, "Wouldn't it be sweet if I could do my student teaching over in Thailand?" (Mind you, Mike did his student teaching in the Philippines, so the idea really isn't too out of this world...) My answer was something like, "Yeah, then we can find you a Thai wife, Joey." Since Joey's prophetic words back in 2004, "You should marry my brother Mike," it is now semi-assumed that it is our duty to return the favor and find a wife for Joey. Come on over to Thailand, little brother! Just a warning though: you may student teach there and then never come home...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Muslims think of Christians

At the WMPL meeting and dinner, we also learned about what Muslims think of Christians. This was interesting to me and something to keep in mind. I don't know what Buddhists think of Muslims, but I am sure it may be something similar...
-Christians worship 3 Gods: Father, Son and Mary
-Women behave poorly (this stems from watching televisions shows)
-They are so addicted to alcohol that they drink it during their service
-Christians have come to oppress Muslims
The man talking that evening never said that he was a Christian, he always said that he is a follower of Jesus.

7 principles on how to share the Gospel

On Monday evening we went to the WMPL annual meeting and dinner. The speaker that evening talked about the difficulties in sharing the Gospel and gave us 7 principles on how to share.
1. God's love people should drive us to share the gospel.
2. Sharing the Gospel requires you to humble yourself and come alongside the people. (Many people see Christians as being hypocritical, insensitive and judgemental. They also see them as anti-people... anti-abortion, anti-gay/lesbian. But they do not see them as Jesus lovers).
3. Once you know the barriers, be willing to break through them to share the good news.
4. If you want to communicate the Gospel, you must speak the language of the people. (Not only their language, but in their terms so that they understand)
5. Sharing the Gospel at times means confronting people (Not speaking is not Biblical).
6. Sharing the Gospel must help others to see Jesus.
7. Be available for follow-up, but do not overstay your welcome and impose yourself upon the others.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Breaking through the 10-40 window

Most of the people groups still unreached by the gospel live in places stretching across the maps of northern Africa and Asia. This band is known as "the 10/40 window" because it lies across Africa and Asia from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator.

Missions statistics from the places of the 10/40 Window:

Center of population: Two-thirds of the world's population -- more than 3.2 billion people -- live in the 10/40 Window.

Unreached and unevangelized: 95% of the people living in the 10/40 Window are unevangelized. Many have never heard the Gospel message even once. There are either no Christians or not enough of a Christian movement in many cultures of the 10/40 Window to carry out vibrant near-neighbor evangelism. If those groups are to be evangelized, believers will need to leave their own culture to enter another where they will seek to plant the gospel.

Poverty: Eighty-five percent of those living in the 10/40 window are the poorest of the world's poor.

World religions: Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism are centered within the 10/40 Window.

Least evangelized cities: Half of the world's least evangelized cities are in this window.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Can you eat Thai food?

Can you eat Thai food? = Can you handle eating spicy food?
Here we give you a glimpse of Thai cuisine:

-For breakfast you can have jok (rice porridge), or khao tom ( rice soup with meat)
-Khao pad is fried rice, and you need to specify which kind you want you want: chicken? fish? shrimps? pork? beef? Vegetarians can get khao pad, or vegetable fried rice, as the main course.
-Pad thai is rice noodles in dried form, while rad na is rice noodles in gravy form.
-Khao pad gai, gai pad, grapao and gai pad med mamong himaphan are chicken dishes in different forms, like fried with rice, garlic with basil and with cashew nuts.
-Tom yam is spicy clear broth, best taken hot, not for the fainthearted, but is a Thai food must-try.
-Tom kha gai is chicken in coconut milk, with some spice, similar to Kerala food, but with a distinct Thai flavor.
-Red curry, green curry and sate are hot and spicy beef, chicken, or pork. Red curry takes its spice from the red chili and green curry is made from green pepper – either way, it is guaranteed to make your taste buds sting and your face red. Sate is Thai-style beefsteak.
So the question is: Can you eat Thai food? If so, come on over and visit us!

Walk like a Thai...

A little insight into cultural norms and other little tid-bits of information:

-It is rude to show the bottom of your foot, as feet are the lowest part of the body.

-Never touch a Thai on the head, as the head is regarded as the highest part of the body

-"Sanuk" means "fun"... everything in Thailand, no matter what you do, should have an element of "sanuk" otherwise it become drudgery.

-Thais believe strongly in the concept of "saving face," which means avoiding confrontation and embarrassment of themselves and other people. A Thai may laugh at you if you trip and fall, but it's actually an attempt to save face for you so that you don't feel bad about tripping.

-Teachers are positions of honor in Thailand

-Sleeveless shirts are considered improper dress (essentially it is rude to show your underarm), as well as shorts that are any shorter than the knee. Women should really wear skirts that cover the knee when sitting. Capris are welcome in public, but the school requires that women wear skirts. (It actually wasn't until recently that it was considered "acceptable" for women to wear pants. I think I'll stick with skirts and capris considering the heat...)

-Accept things with your right hand, with your left hand under the right as a support.

-Sandals are okay for almost anything but formal ocassions. Fortunately, I think it's okay to wear my birks and my chacos at school. (EXCITING!!!)

Definitely not me...

So I sent an e-mail to Wisconsin to request a degree and attendance verification letter. I specified all of the requirements (on university letterhead, signed in blue ink, and with the stamp/seal of the school). I gave them my name, my maiden name (and let them know that I attended the university as a Schmidt), the year in which I graduated and the degree that I received. I also indicated that one letter had to be sent to me, and a second letter had to be sent to the school in Thailand.

Just a few days later, I received that letter in the mail. I was happy that they had been so prompt and anxiously opened the letter to make sure that it was right. I opened it up and it said that it was a degree and attendance verification letter for Karin W. Aust, who graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science. Woah... definitely not me! I graduated high school in 2001, but the university in 2004. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, not a Bachelor of Science. I think they must have simply entered "Aust, K" into their computer. It was not signed in blue ink either, which was another problem.

Anyway, I obviously had to e-mail the university and request a new letter. The registrar was extremely apologetic, especially since they had already sent the same letter to Thailand. They sent an e-mail to Thailand explaining the problem and extended their apologies to the school as well. Thankfully, ICS personnel were understanding and the document had not been submitted to the Thai government yet. I wonder what would have happened if it had been submitted? Hopefully the second time is the charm...

Hoop, after hoop, after hoop...

As I mentioned before, Thailand is an extremely fraudulent country so we need to get our documents verified, stamped, sealed, signed, notarized, etc. Our "TO DO" list keeps getting longer, and longer, and longer. 5.5 months almost doesn't seem that far away anymore as we have so many hoops to jump through to simply be able to work in Thailand.

TO DO list (which is slowly being checked off):

-Transcripts from 3 universities scanned and e-mailed to the school (check)

-Diplomas from our 3 universities scanned and e-mailed to the school (half check, still waiting on Karly's graduate degree diploma)

-Marriage license and a notarized letter verifying that it is a legitimate document (check)

-Notarized name verification letter verifying that Karlene Schmidt and Karlene Aust are truly the same person. (As if my uncommon Korean middle names wouldn't be enough to verify this?! HA!) (check)

-Teaching certificates scanned and e-mailed to the school (check)

-Letters from previous and current employers verifying employment (but on school letterhead). I think they need this to make certain that we are being paid correctly according to the school's pay scale. (Check for the most part, still waiting on one more letter).

-Letters from our 3 universities verifying our attendance and degree. Mind you, on school letterhead, signed in blue ink, and modeling the seal/stamp of the university.

-2 copies of: diplomas, transcripts, and teaching licenses, each page individually signed in blue ink and mailed to the school.

-2 copies of each page in our passport that has been stamped, as well as the front page. Each of these pages need to be signed in blue ink and mailed to the school

-Criminal background check

-New passport for Mike (his expires in 2010 and it is much easier to renew it in the states than at the US Embassy in Thailand)

-Mike needs to renew his teaching license, which expires in June. He has to take one more class before he can submit his request to the department of education in Virginia. Unfortunately, the school wants his new license by April, which means that there isn't much time for him to start and finish a class, and submit his paperwork to Virginia. If he is unable to renew by April, he needs to get a temporary ACSI certificate. Fortunately, this shouldn't be too difficult and will buy him some time to get his regular license renewed. Who knew that it would sneak up on us so fast? I guess we didn't really think that our dream would become a reality so fast and that we would have to hurry to get all of this done to meet their requirements.

-Meet with an attorney to write a will with a healthcare directive and declare a power of attorney in our absence.

-Figure out how to deal with the problem of our driver's licenses expiring when we are overseas... we really don't want to have to re-take the entire road/written test again.

I am thankful that since I just recently graduated, my license is good until 2012, and since we only got married a few years ago, my passport is good until 2017. I have had a few extra hoops to jump through because of my name change and attending 2 different universities, but Mike has harder hoops to get through. I am confident that he will be able to get these things done on time, but it is still a little stressful in that he is so busy coaching and teaching! Pray that he would find the time to get all the necessary things accomplished on time!

Cost of living and other interesting facts

We have slowly been learning about what we can buy and for how much. The currency in Thailand is called the baht (pronounced like "bought"). The exchange rate is obviously always in flux, but it is approximately 35 baht to the dollar.

Some things that we know:

-The campus apartments cost a little less than what non-campus apartment cost. Our first year we will be living on campus though. A studio apartment is $125/month, while a two bedroom apartment is $251/month. The school gives us $228/month for rent. So we either spend an extra $23/month out of pocket, or save an extra $103/month. It's a toss up for space or money. An extra room also means more money paid towards air conditioning the place. Either way, it's pretty inexpensive compared to the US.

-Haircuts cost between $4-5. We go to some of the least expensive places here in MN and it still costs $13!

-A gym membership costs: $257/year (compared to the YMCA which is $600/year), but we don't plan on getting a gym membership because the school has work out equipment, free weights and an Olympic size pool that we can use whenever we want.

-Water bill costs $5-6/month

-It costs $20/month to have a cell phone

-The main electrical cost is for air conditioning. But it all depends on how you use the air conditioning and the size of the place you live in. The electrical bill for an average size two bedroom apartment costs between $57-114/month

-Since most apartments in Thailand to not have the best of "cooking facilities," most people eat out at restaurants or "food stalls" (little carts on the side of the road). Food stalls are very cheap and a meal such as rice with spicy chicken or pork costs about $1. That's right folks, $1. Speaking of food, the picture above is of a floating market... I can't wait to experience the craziness of buying things there! They have everything from food to clothing to flowers to household items.

-At a restaurant, an average bill for four people (without drinks) would be between $8-14.

-A can of coke: $0.42

-A bottle of beer $1-1.85

-Movie ticket: $2.85

-6 rolls of toilet paper: $0.57

-Pair of shoes: $9

-Non air conditioned bus to practically anywhere in the city: $0.10
-Going to Thailand for the amazing experience: priceless

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Things that make us laugh...

In the process of learning about ICS before our interview, we found a youtube video that the ICS teachers and students made to promote a students vs. teachers basketball game that would be taking place. Apparently this is an annual event now, so Mike is already excited to participate. The video gave us a good laugh and in a sense, calmed our fears. It showed us that the teachers could be silly and had a great sense of humor. You can check it out too at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CylrMZ5R6s

Another thing that made us laugh was the high school principal. He is from Alabama and has a thick accent, so imagine him saying the following with that southern accent. During our phone interview, I had asked him about discipline policies and parental involvement with these policies because many in Asian countries, parents are not very involved due to their busy schedules and what the culture dictates. He said that the parents were very involved and because many of the families are from Asia, a lot of parents might just say to you (referring to their children), "just shpank 'em." (Just spank 'em.) He said "just shpank 'em" 3 times. I was laughing so hard on the phone... needless to say, it wasn't as formal of an interview as I expected.

My 7th grade students took a Spanish quiz before I told them that we were leaving. As they turned in their quizzes to me, I glanced at each one just to see if they were on the right track or needed a little extra help. After all the quizzes had been turned in, I grabbed my Bible and paused for a minute to just collect my thoughts. I then read them a Bible verse and we talked about how God's plan for us is so much better than anything else that we could imagine, even when it is difficult. Then I broke the news to them. One of my students started laughing afterwards because she had thought that I pulled out my Bible because the class had done such a terrible job on their quiz, that I wanted to find a verse to encourage them to study and try their best. Silly students.

Are you excited?

That's the main question that people ask us. The answer is yes, of course. However, we may not necessarily "act" excited right now for two main reasons. First, I don't know how much the idea of going to Thailand for at least 2 years has sunk in yet. Despite having done more research on the country and the culture, it still kind of feels surreal. The great thing is that we have 5+ months before departure to process it and learn more. Secondly, we have 3.5 more months of the '08-'09 school year left with our students. We are dedicated to our students and we want to finish the year well with them. We don't want them to feel "jipped out" of anything because we were too focused on the future. I don't think that it all will sink in until the end of the school year when we have to pack up our classrooms and our apartment, sell our cars and any furniture, and decide which books and articles of clothing are worthy of being brought to Thailand in the few suitcases that we bring. The thought of packing up everything is actually kind of overwhelming, let's just get through the rest of the school year first...

Support, excitement and tears...

Yesterday we told our students that we would not be returning to the school next year. There were some tears, some shock, and some excitement for us too. What has been amazing is the parents encouragement and support of our new ministry.

We had one parent, that has traveled all over the world for her job, tell us that Bangkok, Thailand was her favorite place ever. She also told us that the food was amazing... much better than the Thai food in America because of the fresh vegetables. And here I was thinking that Sawatdee was good! She also said that Thailand has the most amazing mangoes... I think Mike was in heaven when he heard that. He was definitely spoiled in the Philippines! Another parent has already started talking about doing a mission trip to Thailand and visit us.

From both family and friends, it truly has been an outpouring of love and support. We appreciate your encouragement and excitement for us!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just checkin' the weather

One day last week when there was indoor recess due to a below zero windchill, Mike decided to check the weather in Bangkok. According to weather.com, it was 79. Not too shabby, huh? He forgot about the 13 hour difference though and it was actually one o'clock in the morning. The high for that day was 96. Lovely.

Bangkok is in Monsoon Asia. The temperatures vary around 86-97 degrees. The hottest months are February, March and April, while the cooler months are November, December and January. The rainy season is from June – September. The humidity is high and the rains can be very heavy resulting in flooding. Minnesota has snow days/cold days or at least late starts. ICS has rain days/late starts due to flooding... hope the school is not at the bottom of a hill. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sky train

I just had to post this picture of the sky train in Bangkok at sunset!

International Community School

A little information about the school where we will be working:

1. Mission Statement: Based on the Bible, in partnership with parents, we teach the whole student to know and apply wisdom for the good of our world and the glory of God.

2. ICS students come from 22 countries. The top four nationalities represented are:
Thai 51%
American 15%
Korean 15%
Indian 7%

3. ICS is a Christian school (see #1)... it will indeed be a wonderful ministry in Thailand as the religious breakdown of the student population is the following:

Christian 18%
Buddhist 40%
Hindu 7%
Sikh 5%
Muslim 3%
Undecided 7%
Other 12%

4. Currently the K-8 school has approximately 808 students.

5. The school year starts mid-August and ends the beginning of June. We will get a month off for Christmas.

6. The High School runs on block scheduling... something that Karly will have to get used to!

7. Mike will have the opportunity to teach a swimming unit in PE class... something that will definitely be a new challenge.

8. Karly will have the opportunity to teach AP Spanish... something that will definitely be a new challenge.

9. Based on the school's grading system, a 91% is a B+... yikes!

10. There is an orphanage nearby that is run by a former ICS teacher... a dream come true for Karly!! :)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hot Plate

I just found out that there is not an oven in the campus apartments that we will be living in our first year in Thailand. In fact, most places do not have ovens. It never occurred to me that a place would not have an oven...goodbye homemade meatballs. It is a hot country though and using an oven would certainly make the small apartment that we will be living in ridiculously warm. It certainly will be an adventure to learn how to cook just using a single hot plate! Either that or we'll be eating out a lot...hello yummy Asian food!


Apparently Thailand is an extremely fraudulent country. We didn't know this until after we had accepted the positions... though it wouldn't have impacted our decision. The Ministry of Education and the government have very specific requirements for documents. In the next month or so we have a lot to do in order to be able to work over there.
To do list:

1. Receive a typed document from the universities from which we received our degrees that specifies the dates that we attended. It needs to be on the university letterhead, be signed in blue ink and have the university seal.
2. Get our marriage certificate notarized

3. Send copies of our transcripts, diplomas, and teaching licenses... as if #1 isn't enough?!

4. Receive letters from our former and current school principals that indicate the dates in which we worked at the school. It needs to be on the school's letterhead and signed in blue ink. (What's with the blue ink?!)

5. Send copies of our passports

6. Sign a doctrinal statement

I guess you just can't trust anybody, especially us crazy Americans...

4 AM Phone Calls

On Superbowl Sunday evening, we called the school in Thailand to let them know we had made our decision. The headmaster of the school was not in, as he was chaperoning a field trip that his daughter was on. Mike left a message with his adminstrative assistant. She asked if it would be okay for him to call him at 5 or 6 pm that night. Mike calculated the time difference backwards... it is a 13 hour time difference, and so he thought it would be 6 or 7 AM Minnesotan time. Sure! He would be awake at 6 or 7! It was actually going to be 4 or 5 AM though. So at 4:20 on Monday morning we received a phone call, and in his sleepy state of being, Mike accepted our job offers. It's official now.

7 Clues

We gave some friends and family members 7 clues as to where we were going:

1. It's a country in the world

2. It's in the eastern hemisphere

3. The letter "i" is in the country's name

4. The letter "a" is in the country's name

5. It borders Cambodia

6. We love Sawatdee

7. It's a piece of land

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Recruitment Fair and Answered Prayers

On January 29th, we headed down to Iowa for the recruitment fair. All along we had been praying for wisdom, clarity, unity in the decision, and a complete peace/contentment about wherever we ended up. Yes, this did include staying here in Minnesota as an option. I also prayed for only one job offer so that the decision wouldn't be difficult.

On the way down to Iowa, I kind of felt that God was calling us to Thailand. I ignored/resisted this thought because I was terrified of going to Thailand. Going to Thailand was completely out of my comfort zone in that I would have to learn how to teach AP Spanish. I knew I wanted to grow professionally, but I also knew that I loved being comfortable.

On Friday morning, we were up at 5 to start getting ready for the day. The day started out by checking in and seeing if any schools had contacted us to set up an interview. We went in thinking that we would have a couple of requests because we had heard back from a few schools via e-mail prior to the fair. We only received 1 request; it was very humbling as we saw others walk around with many yellow slips that indicated interview requests. We weren't as stressed out about the situation though since we knew that we had an offer, but it was still kind of hard to swallow. We also learned that of the 6 schools that we were hoping to interview with, one of them didn't even come to the fair. It was disappointing in that we knew that the number of schools interested in us were dwindling.

Then we attended a general information session about teaching overseas. Afterwards was the "Round Robin." Each school had a table set up in the convention center and essentially all 650+ educators race from table to table to set up interview times. We only had 5 schools to speak with, so we knew it wouldn't take too long and that we would probably be able to fit all of the interviews in that day. We made a plan of action of the order in which we would talk to schools and schedule interviews: Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, UAE (Dubai), Korea, China. We raced in and quickly found Vietnam. We were able to schedule an interview for early afternoon and were very excited at the possibility of going to Vietnam. Afterall, our hearts were kind of set on that country and school. Saudi Arabia, who had already given us an interview slip, gladly scheduled an interview with us for that afternoon as well. We were feeling pretty good about having two interviews scheduled. We approached the next three schools only to be quickly turned down by the schools. These three schools either wanted femal PE teachers or an experienced IB Spanish teacher... things we obviously could not change. We knew that God was already "weeding out" some of the schools to make the decision process easier for us, and we felt content despite only acquiring two interviews.

That afternoon we interviewed first with the school in Vietnam. The interview went well for me, but it was a little more difficult for Mike. The headmaster of the school was kind of grilling him. We walked away from the interview not really knowing what to think and unsure of whether or not we would get a second interview. Shortly after, we interviewed with the school in Saudi Arabia. The interview went great, the representative of the school expressed great interest in us, and we walked away certain that we would get a second interview. Mike was particularly happy as Saudi Arabia had been on his mind a lot.

That evening we went out to dinner and talked about the different schools and where we were feeling we were supposed to go. We both said that we felt that God was really calling us to Thailand... praise God for answering our prayer for unity in the decision. Then we talked about the two other schools and how the school in Vietnam was going to be undergoing some major changes in the next two years that we didn't know if we really wanted to be a part of, and the headmaster didn't seem like the most content person to us either so we didn't know if we would enjoy working for him. Although we had essentially made our decision to go to Thailand, we were still kind of on the fence with the school in Saudi Arabia. We decided that we would wait to hear back from them in the morning, just in case God changed our minds. That night, I slept the best that I had in months... I was so at peace with our decision to go to Thailand despite still feeling terrified of teaching AP Spanish. Praise God for answering our prayer for contentment.

The next morning we heard back from Saudi Arabia. We expected to receive an invitation to a second interview, but were surprised to find a letter that said that they liked us but that they didn't think they had any positions for us. Praise God for anwering our prayer for clarity and wisdom. We left Iowa and headed back home before even hearing from Vietnam because we knew that we wouldn't accept the position even if it was offered to us. Praise God for answering my prayer of only having one job offer!

So Thailand it is.

China gets the ball rolling

Last March we went to and teacher's conference and had the opportunity to talk to an international school in Shanghai, China about possibly teaching at their school. The representatives told us to take a look at their website in August and they would post new employment opportunties for the 2009-2010 school year.

In August, Mike saw that the school had a few teaching opportunities for him, but there were not any positions available for me. It did not hinder us from applying though, as I am an part-time ESL teacher and considered finding opportunities to teach English in China.

We waited... and waited... and waited. All of our family and friends asked us over and over again, "When will you find out?" We said, "November!" November came and went and then started saying, "December!" During that time, we continued looking at other international schools and applied to a school in Cambodia. Then we heard about an overseas recruitment fair for teachers in Cedar Falls, Iowa that took place at the end of January. At the recruitment fair, 160+ schools come to Iowa to interview 650+ teacher candidates. It is a convenient fiasco that is completely stressful and totally wild. We signed up for the fair, which gave us access to over the schools websites and their vacancies. The trick was finding a school that wanted both a Spanish teacher and a PE teacher! We found several schools that had both positions... Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), Kuwait, Korea, and Vietnam. We sent our resumes and letters of interest to the schools in the hope that they would want an interview with us. Then we played the waiting game while we researched the different countries and schools.

In the meantime, Mike continued looking at other international schools websites. In the beginning of January, he came across a Christian school in Bangkok, Thailand that had positions for both of us (a school that was not attending the recruitment fair). We applied on a Wednesday and by Thursday morning, I had already received an e-mail from the high school principal wanting to set up an interview! A week later, I had a 1.5 hour long phone interview with him. The following week, Mike had a 1.5 hour long interview with the elementary principal. We interviewed with different people because the position Mike was interviewing for was the elementary PE teacher and I was interviewing for the high school Spanish position. A week later, we had a two hour long interview with the head master of the school. At the end of the interview, he offered us the positions. Well aware of the fact that we were attending the recruitment fair the next weekend, he graciously awaited our answer upon our return from the fair.

After our interview, Mike and I both felt very neutral about going to Thailand. We had heard that it was a beautiful place and that the people were amazing, but Thailand is also known for its prostitution and night life. It is also an extremely fraudulant country. The school itself sounded great, but we knew that we also get paid less than what we are getting paid now. That was kind of difficult to wrap our mind around as a few of our goals were to pay off my student loan as quickly as possible, and as save up for the future. We also kind of had our hearts set on going to Vietnam.
So off we went to the fair the next weekend, knowing that we already had a job offer...

A heart for Asia

Before we were even married, God gave each of us a heart for Asia. It was a dream of mine to serve at an orphanage somewhere in Asia and love the orphans and street children of that country. After Mike did his student teaching in the Philippines, he knew that he wanted to go back to Asia and be an international teacher. Once we were married and I went back to school to get my Masters in Education, we knew that one day we would end up overseas as a teaching couple.

However, going back to school "held us back" from going overseas as soon as we had wanted, or as soon as we had planned due to time and financial constraints. God indeed had other plans for us though. During the time that we have been here, God has continued to faithfully grow, challenge, test and love us. It has been during this time that we found a church home that is Biblically-based and has sound theology, that has amazingly gifted pastors that challenge us and preach truth to us, and that has a loving church body with supportive brothers and sisters in Christ that spur us on in this journey of sanctification. Despite having wanted to go overseas as soon as possible, we are so grateful for the time that we have been in Minnesota.

We both still have a heart for Asia, which will be the focus of this blog for at least the next two years as we document our journey throughout Asia...

Why a blog?

We decided to start a blog to document the different journeys that life takes us on. Many of our journeys may take us far from a place that we have called home for so long, as well as far from our family and friends. It is our hope that this blog will help us keep in contact with those that we love dearly, as our new adventures pull us in different directions and even half-way across the world.