30 May 2010

Moving on

Moving on is not easy! Since Thursday I have been trying to get my classroom packed up, and ready for the summer, as well as making sure everything was reasonably able to be found by the teacher coming in to 4th grade next year. I don't think I realised how difficult it would be. Yesterday, after I popped into the office and picked a couple of items out of my "mailbox" was the point when the finality of it really hit me. Today, I finally finished. All that is left to do is hand in my "inventory" and keys, and then I'm done. After 3 and a half years, it was really hard to leave. In a way I'm glad my kids were happy to just come in and get their report cards, play for a while and then head home on Friday. A few were a little sad, but most of them were pretty OK with it. I guess they have seen so many teachers come and go over the years that they have been at Logos that it's pretty normal for them. They'll have a new teacher for 5th grade next year, but will still have the same music, art, and PE teachers, and most of the Khmer staff will be the same as well. I think it's been harder for me than it is for them. I guess that in a way I'm fortunate, because I will still have some contact with some of them, through church or personal friendships, and I will still be in the same country, so bumping into them at the markets isn't an impossibility either. OK. I guess that the time has come to move on, and focus on the good things that are to come.

When August/September comes around I will have a whole new class of children to love and teach. I'm so glad that God has made it possible for me to teach 3rd grade next year. I'm looking forward to visiting my new school this week, and meeting some of the people who will be my new colleagues.

The other challenge for today was saying farewell to people in my church family at the ICF who are going on home assignment for the coming year. Some I knew about, but some I didn't realise were leaving. That's one of the ongoing challenges of being part of an expat community. People are always moving in and out. In a way, you are almost always in some stage of transition in one relationship or another. When you are an introvert, and take a while to get to know people anyway, it's always a challenge when those you are comfortable with leave and new folk move in. At the same time, I have to praise God for the blessing that some of these people have been to me. Yes, I will miss them, but I know that there is one person who will never leave me to go on home assignment. Yes, I can be sure that God will never leave me, and that He will always provide for all I need, and that includes friends I can trust and feel comfortable with, and whom I respect enough to accept correction from. Not only that, but at the same time as He is with me, He will be with them too, as they go through the transitions that face them in the days and weeks to come. How do people ever survive without a relationship with the living God? He's the only one who never changes, is always with us, and accepts us just as we are (because of Jesus' sacrifice). I'm so glad I know Him, and I look forward to getting to know Him even better this "summer".

28 May 2010

School's Out - Looking back

Finished! Done! Good-bye! Farewell!

Yes, school is officially finished for the 2009-2010 School Year for Logos International School students. The school was a hive of activity this morning, as students came in to pick up their report cards and Scholastic Book Club orders. Praise God that those arrived late yesterday afternoon, and I was able to have them ready for the students to collect today. It was tight, but it happened! God is good.

This morning was an early start as I dashed in to school to laminate the student's "memory cards", along with a class photograph for them all. Each year I have the students fill in a page toward the end of the school year, telling some of their favourite things and the things they will remember about this year. I then type them up, and add a personal message for each student. Each year it is slightly different. In the past I've added individual photos. This year I stitched together some group photos and everyone got a class photo. It gives me something special to look back on in the future as well. I managed to get them all done, and tucked inside the student's folders, along with their report cards, and a couple of other treats ready for when the door was opened at 8.30am.

Most of the students arrived early, and they had all collected their goodies by about 10.30am, and by 11.15am the school was mostly deserted. As I sit in my classroom writing this post, and think back over 3 and a half years of teaching at Logos there are many happy memories. I've learned a lot in my first years of teaching, and I know that I've made many mistakes, but praise God there have been lots of positives as well. I know that I still have so much to learn, both as a teacher and as a child of my heavenly Father, and I'm glad that God has given me the opportunity to continue this learning here in Cambodia.

God is good, ALL the time! I thank Him for the many good times I've had a Logos, for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many children, and for the things that I have learned during my time here. I thank Him most of all for the freedom I have had for the past 3 1/2 years to share His love in a very open way with the children, and to share with them the good news of His love for them in a meaningful way that they can understand. I can but continue to pray that the seeds that I have planted on His behalf will be nurtured and will bear much fruit in the long term. Thank you Lord for all the children who have been in my classes. I know that I can trust their futures to you. Draw them closer to you each day of their lives.

I also thank God for the colleagues that I have had. We haven't always agreed on everything, but I know that God has been working in me through my relationships with my colleagues, and I thank Him for every one of them. I know that we were all united in wanting the best for our students. God is good, ALL the time.

21 May 2010

On the downhill run

With just 3 days of classes to go, life is feeling somewhat hectic. This week has been a good one in many ways. It's been a busy week, with staff meeting on Monday, to tell us all the tings we have to do before we can leave! Now that is somewhat daunting. Pray that God will help me do what is required without becoming overwhelmed and without being a pain to others. Tuesday was a long, hot day, with no electricity for 3 hours in the morning and another couple of hours in the afternoon. Wednesday was a better day electricity wise, at least until 1.30pm when we lost power just minutes before my students came back from PE. That day I spent time talking with a special lady about what I've been going through, and how God is challenging me, without ending up in tears. God is teaching me many things, but most of all He's teaching me that His love is way beyond anything I have ever known, and He wants me to experience it more deeply.

Thursday and Friday were more long hot days. Just because we have a transformer that provides enough power to run our facility doesn't mean we don't lose power. Now we just lose it because the state electricity doesn't have enough power to meet all the needs and so they do rolling blackouts. Today I had the computer lab booked for the first 2 hours of the day, for students to work on their PowerPoint presentations, and the power went out promptly at 8.15am. It came back on around 10.45am, so I quickly organised my students into the computer lab and the library (not enough computers in the lab for all of them) and we took advantage of a half hour before 3rd grade was scheduled for their computer lesson. We had been back in the classroom about 2 minutes when the power went off again, and didn't return until about 1.45pm. As frustrating as this is for me and my students, I have even greater sympathy for our high school students who are writing their final exams this week and next.

On Tuesday my students were required to turn in their "History Pockets" and most students had them ready. I'd forgotten to remind them on Monday (although I had reminded them at the end of last week) and so there were a few students who had been so busy working on their research reports they'd forgotten to do their pockets. They've all been graded now (except for one student who has been sick), and I was generally pleased with their efforts. There's a lot to be said for making sure the rubric is written at the same time as the assignment is set.

Today all the Research Reports were handed in, so this weekend's priority task is to read and grade those. I also hope to get Math and Science grades finalised this weekend. It's going to be a busy one. Specialist grades are slowly coming in - got  the PE, Music & ESL grades. Still waiting for Art & Khmer. Bible will have one last Memory Verse quiz on Monday, and then I can finalise that one. Language Arts and Social Studies can't be finalised until after the Presentations on Tuesday afternoon.

Speaking of presentations, after this week's nightmare electricity supply (or lack there of) we have decided to relocate for our presentations to a place where hopefully we will have a reliable supply. Not mentioning where.

It's hard to believe that in just 7 days time I will officially be finished my employment with Logos International School. This chapter in my life is ending, and a new one will begin in August. Praise God that He has enabled me to get through these last three months, and that I will be able to finish without too many regrets. It's always easy to look back and say, "I could have done this better or that better", but that really isn't helpful. What is much more helpful is to look forward to the new experiences and know that God has brought me to this new chapter, and that He will provide all I need to serve Him as I continue to grow in my trust of Him and in the security of His love.

Time for bed. 12 sleeps to go before I'm leaving on a jet plane! Good night.

15 May 2010

Making Memories

This afternoon was about sharing fun time with a good friend. First we met at my place and found ourselves a tuk-tuk. Then we headed across town to do a couple of quick jobs. Part of the afternoon's fun was just spending time together, chatting and laughing. Tuk-tuk rides are a great time/place to do that. Then we headed to Psah Toul Tom Pong, where I was happy to find a wedding present to take back to Australia relatively quickly and for a fair price. IT was sooo hot in the markets that we relatively quickly made our way to a place called Tropical Oasis, where first task was to order a drink (and snack) and then head upstairs for some pampering. We tried to take pictures of the process, but they didn't come out so well, but here's the finished product. The neck and should massage was good too!

After pampering was over, we decided to head to our chosen dinner spot. Actually it was chosen for us by the Logos Parents' Association who in appreciation of all the teachers had done provided each of us with a gift voucher for a meal at Vietnamese Restaurant. When we arrived we were delighted by the garden setting downstairs, but opted to retreat to airconditioned comfort upstairs. For starters there were deep fried spring rolls. Yummy, and the presentation was excellent. Let me make your mouth water.

As we waited for these to arive we ordered the rest of our meal, which came an appropriate amount of time after the entree. As we perused the menu, I was fascinated to see Kangaroo appearing several times, inclucing Kangaroo Luk Lak. If you have a close look you'll notice you can also order crocodile or ostrich meat , or maybe eel takes your fancy, as well as the more usual pork, chicken, fish or squid.
I finally decided on grilled beef with garlic, and a side order of mixed vegetables to share, along with the essential steamed rice. It was definitely a good choice. My friend order a Tom Yam, and was sure that the meal she received would have satisfied both of us. Here is some of the deligthful array of food presented to us, pleasing to both the eyes and the palate.
It was a great to end a fun afternoon with a delicious meal and a time of good fellowship. Thanks to the LPA for the delicious meal, and thanks to my friend for inviting me to share this fun afternoon with her. After dinner it was time to find a tuk-tuk and head for home. An afternoon and evening to remember. Memories were definitely made. It's good to know that there will be more opportunities to make good memories with this friend as we both continue to serve our Lord in Cambodia.

And the exciting news of this week

is that I will be teaching 3rd grade next year at East-West International School, here in Phnom Penh.

As I talked about the last three month's journey with a friend this evening, she highlighted how God has brought me a full circle in that time. When I was first told I would not be offered a contract at Logos for next year, I was thinking that I would have to leave Logos, leave Phnom Penh, leave Cambodia, and teach Middle School. Well, if that was what God wanted then I was going to accept that, although it wasn't easy. After a challenging journey of 3 months, during which God has shown me again and again His love, care and faithfulness, He has brought me full circle, and is allowing me to remain in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and to teach primary school (my first love & passion). The journey to this point hasn't been easy, and the journey of change is not over yet, but I know that He will never leave me on my own, and He will provide all I need along the journey. Thanks Lord.

03 May 2010

Keeping the wheels on the road

OK, the answer is no! Most emphatically not! I have not been doing wheelies on my moto, and nor have I been having accidents! God has been very gracious in keeping me safe as I travel on the roads of Phnom Penh. However, yesterday as I was leaving church I flicked my indicator on to leave the property and nothing happened. I tried the other way, and still nothing. Hmmm. Now what's going on here. I managed to get safely home, and knowing the importance of being able to tell other drivers what you intend to do (even if they don't do the same for you) I decided that an early start to Monday morning was in order, with a visit to the local moto mechanic. Fortunately when I arrived there was no-one else there, but they were ready to go, so first the indicators where fixed. Then, since the front of the bike was off, I asked if they could replace the dash cover (supposedly clear, but after 4 years of exposure to the sun and weather it was pretty much opaque, so while I could just see if I have lights on, what gear I was in, and roughly what speed I was doing, I couldn't see much else). That bought the total bill to $5. Then, as he was putting the front back together, I contemplated yet another crack appearing in the seat. The weather had got to it too, and so when they said they could replace it, and the cost was just $3, I said, let's do it. So for $8, I can now read all the instruments (speedo, odometer, gears, indicators etc very clearly, the indicators are working properly again, and I have a "new" seat. And all this happened before 7.10am, so I was still at school on time!

By the way, we had electricity all day today, and fully air-conditioned classrooms. Our transformer was finally brought on line on Saturday, so life at school is much more comfortable. It is definitely easier to teach when you are not drippy with perspiration, and I'm sure it's easier for the children to learn. Praise God that this has happened at last. In His Time. There is no doubt that the time of doing without makes us appreciate what we have now.