Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pumpkin bread haiku

Homemade pumpkin bread
Baked in my micro-gri-ven
A sweet taste of home

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

City on a hill

I admit, I broke down yesterday... and today. I've been hyper emotional since yesterday's post about my two students. Hyper emotional since learning this morning that a teacher here at ICS who had a tumor removed from her brain, received the news that it was cancerous. And hyper emotional since hearing the news that some friends we've made here will be returning to the states very shortly for family reasons.

This snowball effect resulted in me suddenly realizing how overwhelmed I am. Who knew that it would be so much work and stress to change countries, change schools, change friends, change foods, change languages, change students, change age group of students, change curriculum, change churches, change apartments, change lifestyles, etc. And I had the fleeting thought of, "Wow, this is soooo hard. I feel like a sinking ship!" So I broke down at school and started crying when one of the principals asked the loaded question: "How are you?"

His response to my crocodile tears was simply, "Can I pray for you?" And seriously, who says no to prayer? So he prayed for me and I felt so much better after. God reminded me that while yes, my environment and circumstances have changed, God is still God. God is still faithful. God is still loving. God is still holy. God is still gracious and merciful. God is still just. God is still everything that He was in the states. And my purpose here on earth is still the same despite being half way across the world from everything that was familiar. This lesson seems all too familiar... something that God taught me when I was in Spain 10 years ago when I committed my life to Him. But as I said before in my last post, this heart of mine is a wandering, sinful heart that easily forgets His faithful promises.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden" Matthew 5:13. I pray that my life would set apart from worldly things and be a light that reflects Christ at ICS unto my students... because that's my purpose as I live half way around the world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A glimpse into a sinful, ugly, wandering heart

I am literally in tears as I write this, for my heart grieves at its own sinfulness. Instead of showing compassion towards two students that annoy me, I simply have feel irritated and angered by them. I am angry that they aren't responsible enough to tell me that were going to miss class (a pre-scheduled absence). I am angry that they didn't come ask me what their homework is after having arrived late to school and missing my class... especially when they have a test tomorrow. I am angry thinking about them coming to class tomorrow saying, "Well, I didn't remember there was a test, I can't take the test! That's not fair!" I am angry that their culture/religion does not respect women and sees them merely as objects. I am angry that they are in my class because they are lazy and disrespectful, and they negatively affect the rest of the class.

My anger has blinded me to such a degree that when God has laid it on my heart to pray specifically for them, my heart becomes hard. And thoughts like: "Why should I pray for them? They will never change. Serves them right if they fail the test! Who are they to treat women like that? Who are they to "waste" my time and energy?" Isn't that gross? It brings me to tears to think that I have such ugly thoughts and intentions. It brings me to tears that I have been so good at pointing the finger back at them, when it has really a heart issue for me.

Why do I underestimate you God? Why do I doubt your ability to change people... including myself? I know that you are able to do far greater than anything that I could ever think or imagine! So, Lord, I pray that you would RIP OUT this unfaithful, sinful, ugly, wandering heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh. I pray that you would burn away the dross and radically refine me. Give me a heart that seeks after you, that loves you, that loves LIKE you. Manifest within me a heart that joyfully prays, that feels a burden for the lost (specifically these two students), and that desires to teach ALL students no matter their background. God, grant me a spirit of gentleness, of self-control, and of patience. Magnify the fruits of the spirit within me. Point me back to the gospel. Point me back to the cross, and help me to keep my eyes fixed only on you, Lord! Thank you for my students, thank you for the diverse population at ICS, and for the opportunity that I have to minister to these students and to be your light in a dark, dark place.

"Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for they courts above..."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flooded ship

Well, we didn't see a flooded ship... but we did see a ship and then a flood.

We visited the Doulos ship the other day, which navigates its way throughout Asia and brings knowledge, help and hope to others. There are over 350 volunteers (over 50 nationalities) that raise support to be on the ship for anywhere between 2 weeks and 2 years. The ship is an amazing ministry with a huge "floating library" that brings knowledge and the gospel (hope) to the lost. Volunteers from the boat also help out in the cities/communities at each port, whether it's painting a church, building a house, playing with the children, etc.

GBA=Great Books for All

I actually had two awesome women from the ship come to my Spanish class on Wednesday to talk about the ministry in Spanish! What a great opportunity it was for the kids to hear about the ministry, hear the gospel, and hear two native Spanish speakers! It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for them, as the ship only comes to Bangkok every other summer (and most students only take foreign language for two years). [Pictures to come]. Due to this connection, we were able to get an inside tour of the Doulos ship, which was fun!

Here's a sweet picture of Holly and me under the Korean flag that was on the ship to represent one of the many nationalities. We've been embracing our "Asian-ness" more than ever since arriving in Thailand.

Saturday evening we met up with a friend of mine that I've known since elementary school. We go all the way back to Brownie girl scouts in 2nd grade. Crazy, huh? Anyone, she is currently on a tour of Asia with her best friend. They were in Bkk the other day, so we met up with them at the Suam Lum Night Bizarre, had some dinner and did a little shopping. It starting POURING when we were eating dinner and it continued to rain even past when we left the bizarre 3 hours later! The streets were flooded beyond ankle deep, which makes it kind of nasty gross... Bkk is already pretty dirty, so then to see dirty water and miscellaneous things floating in it, along with some funky smell doesn't make you want to walk through it, but we did anyway since life just seems to go on. When in Rome...

And lastly, here is a picture of Holly and me with our awesome Thai phrase books/dictionaries. Mike and I bought ours in the states and Holly liked it so much that she wanted to get one too... I could hardly believe that we were able to find the exact same book in a Thai bookstore a few weeks ago! It certainly has come in handy on more than one occasion. I really need to hire a language tutor though...especially since everyone thinks I'm Thai.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things that make me laugh...

Situation 1:
Mike and I walk into a Thai food restaurant. The waiter gives Mike the translated English menu and gives me the Thai menu.

Situation 2:
New Korean Student in my class (but has already had me for 3 days): So I hear there’s a new Korean Spanish teacher this year... is that you?

Me: [pausing...wondering if he's serious or not] Well, it certainly isn’t Mr. Bob!

(Mr. Bob taught Spanish full time at ICS for several years, but switched positions and is currently the Bible teacher. However, he does still teach one Spanish class.) Click here to see pictures of the staff and you can look for him (and me... though don't mind the terrible non-smiling, white-shirt pictures that we had to submit to the Ministry of Education, and that the school decided to put up on their website until yearbook pictures are taken. They're so terrible that they're almost funny.) Click here to see Mike. Oh, and check out how blue his eyes look in the picture; we think they photoshopped them to be super blue like that. Weird.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I don't think I've ever been so excited to get (stick) deodorant and cereal before! Check out what Julie, our awesome, non-morning person, Russia lover, former co-worker sent us! Thanks for sending us some Minnesota lovin'!

Just as an FYI... As nice, generous and kind Thai people are... theft is pretty common here. A co-worker of mine said that you have to be careful about what you send in the mail because sometimes it'll get stolen (if you don't send priority). Needless to say, some packages don't even arrive (again, if you don't send priority). So if you send something, please let us know so that we can be on the look out!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wild goose chase

The weekend before last we were determined to check out a different church in Bangkok called, "Greater Grace." The church was listed on a 2009 edition map that we had of the city, we found a website about the church (albeit last updated Nov. 2008), and wrote down the address as well as the very specific location of the church "150 meters from the entrance of the sports stadium."

So off we went, allowing 35 minutes to get to a church that was about 20 minutes away by taxi. The taxi driver had no clue where we were trying to go and dropped us off near the stadium, but on the wrong side of the street. We asked for directions and the kind Thai woman wrote down the name of the church and address for us in Thai, pointed us in the right direction, and sent us on our way. By this time, there were about 5 minutes left before the church service was supposed to begin. We headed out, stopping to ask for directions every now and again to make sure we were on the right track. However, everyone pointed us in a slightly different direction, so we really had no clue where to go.

We finally stopped at this Indian man's store, and he and his two Thai friends from the neighboring stores tried to help us. The Thai woman spoke NO English, but was willing to take us on her mo-ped to the area where she thought the church was. So the three of us piled onto her moto and drove across town, but were still unable to find the church. She stopped every couple of blocks to ask people in the neighborhood if they knew where the church was located, but nobody had any idea. About an hour after the church service began, we finally ended up in a residential dead-end, where we found a family of 4 + the grandmother, who were visiting a friend's house that morning, talking outside. The nice moto-Thai lady asked them for help. The husband said that he thought they lived around the area where the church was located. So we jumped off the Thai lady's moto, piled into the car with husband, wife, grandma, 2 little children, who fortunately all spoke English very well, and started driving to the church. This time we came across a restaurant... turns out that the church used to be where the restaurant is, and that the church closed three years ago. [SIGH]

They offered to take us to another English speaking church that they knew of, which turned out to really be a Thai church where you could rent headsets to get the English translation. The only problem was that they only had 1 headset available for the two of us, and only one earpiece worked. So we spent the entire service trading the earpiece back and forth. What an adventure.

Now while I can confidently say that riding somebody's moto or car would not be something that we would do in the states, we felt comfortable doing it here. Not to be too idealistic/ignorant/trustworthy... but the Thai people are unbelievably giving, gentle, and kind. It's amazing to me that people who most likely were not Christian (only 1/2 of a percent of people living in Thailand are Christian) were so willing to give of their time (and gas) to help us find a church. And what did they want in the end? Nothing; they simply wanted to help us!

So while we were on a wild goose chase for Greater Grace Church, I think we may have found something better yet... examples of how to give so freely, and be the hands and feet of Christ.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Don't bug me!

2 posts in one day... unbelievable! I'm posting again though because these bugs were hard to see on the slideshow, so I thought I'd give y'all a better glimpse of the culinary delectable delights of Thailand...

Mr. Buggy had scorpions, crickets, worms, and maybe some walking sticks? Who knows! We are on sensory overload over here!

Sweet freedom

We survived our first week of school. Mike didn't get too frustrated with the rambunctious K4 class and I didn't get eaten alive by the OC-rowdy 9th graders. Thankfully, and I say thankfully because we really didn't feel ready for our wonderful summer (and freedom) to be over the school year to start, we only had a 4-day week. Wednesday was the Queen's birthday...AKA: Mother's Day in Thailand. It was nice to sleep in past 6 AM and have a relaxing day.

We ventured off campus with some friends and went to Khaosan Road. This area is full of backpackers traveling through... it was a bit shocking to actually be around soooo many "farangs," after having spent 2 days teaching at a school where practically all you see is black hair and dark brown eyes. (I think I have about 5 students out of 80 that are Caucasian).

Anyway, it was a great day. We traveled by taxi, sky-train and water taxi all in one day! We ate at a great Indian restaurant, went to a place for some great tea/smoothies while playing a few mad games of Jenga (with our own rules), walked along Khaosan Rd., got slightly lost, and wandered around the most amazing hotel that I have ever seen.

Here are some pictures from our day: ** If for some reason the slide show is a little screwy, refresh your computer page, and that should do the trick...

Oh, and Cathy... if you're wondering, that Oriental Ferry picture of Holly and me... that was taken just for you. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dragon fruit haiku

It looks so pretty
Has practically no flavor
How disappointing

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eye candy

On our last weekend of freedom, we decided to be touristy. We gathered up some friends and headed to the infamous Chatuchak Weekend Market... one of the world's largest weekend markets that spans 28 acres. Let me tell you, it was a sight to behold. Cramped stalls and aisles galore (over 10,000) holding precious pictures, tantalizing smells and colors, inviting people, and practically anything that you would ever want to buy within an arm's reach. It was an adventure navigating our way around from housewares, to clothing, to art, to books, to pets, and to food.

We bought some beautiful pictures, some clothes, and some future Christmas gifts. We met a really nice Thai woman at a fabric shop and asked her "Tai roop kun dai mai?" in order to get a picture of her in her colorful shop. We drank some awesome mango smoothies, bartered, and came away with some great things.

Our group actually split up and spent the morning exploring, but planned on meeting back up again around lunch time. We all agreed to buy something interesting, yet edible to share with each other for lunch and have a picnic at the H.M. Queen Sirikit Park, which was just across the street. Holly, Mike and I contributed "Chicken Kabobs," though I think our definition of the word 'kabob' is different... we ended up getting sliced chicken wrapped in a tortilla with cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Heidi contributed tea, and Miriam contributed papaya salad with sticky rice and chicken butts. Yes, chicken butts... slightly meaty, more fatty than meaty, but marinated in some yummy sauce. It looked more like a kabob than our kabobs!

It was a great day and we had a lot of fun! Our Sunday adventures of finding a church that doesn't really exist all while not knowing a lick of Thai to come...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Goodbye summer...

Well, the school year has officially started! Eeeek! I feel so ill prepared this year with all these major changes-- changing countries, schools, levels, etc. Not to mention that school starts 3 weeks earlier here than in the states. Goodbye summer!

I can already tell that this year will be a challenging one for both of us. Mike has a very full schedule this year with hardly any preps. Granted, he won't have very many papers to correct, but it certainly is an adjustment teaching PE after teaching grade 4 and 5 for the past 5 years. He is also adjusting to teaching the rowdy K4 class. Sixteen little 4 year olds who can't stand in line, barely speak English, hardly know what a whistle is, can't tie their shoes, and are just full of energy... I can hardly imagine. Pray for patience and gentleness.

I have a less busy schedule than Mike, but none-the-less, am feeling slightly overwhelmed with the new curriculum and significantly unequipped to teach AP Spanish. Sometimes I doubt my abilities and whether I will be capable of guiding these students through the language and helping them to attain at least a 3 on the AP test, especially now that the AP Spanish test was changed last year and is now significantly harder. I know that I just have to be faithful in praying, faithful in planning, and faithful in studying. Pray that I would be faithful in these things, that I would trust and abide in God, and that I would know that God's grace and strength is sufficient for me.

Despite the craziness, I know that God is faithful, that we'll get into the swing of things, that the dust will settle one day (maybe not until June 4), that we will learn, grow, and be stretched, and that it will be one amazing year. I'm nervous, scared, yet ridiculously excited for what the Lord has in store for us. Praise God for bringing us all the way to Thailand to the ministry at ICS; we feel privileged to be a part of the ICS story.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Utter excitement

Guess what we purchased?! A 3 in 1 microwave, grill, aaaaand... oven! I caved quickly...I just can't even tell you how excited I am for homemade cookies, yummy meatballs with sauce, popcorn, and just being able to re-heat my food quickly.

We hit a brick wall last week with food... nothing sounded good except for comfort foods. All I wanted was spaghetti or a good old ham sandwich with lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, and cheese. Mike has been craving pizza and hamburgers with good french fries. We were actually quite surprised at how quickly we got burned out on Thai food. Fortunately, the school serves both American style and Thai food, so we have the choice throughout the week. We have tasted both the Thai and American style cafeteria food, and both are quite excellent; we're practically amazed that school food can taste so good!

Anyway, off to try my new micro-gri-ven. :)