21 November 2015

Reflecting on passing time.

This week it has been a privilege to see parents posting photos on Facebook of their children's high school graduations and formals. These are children that I once knew quite well, having watched them grow from babies, through toddlerhood, and into primary school, and taught them in Sunday School and Kids' Club. They are now young men and women, on the verge of exploring life beyond high school. It is delightful to see their growth and evidence of their growing maturity. In May 2016, I hope to have the privilege of seeing some of my first students (3rd & 4th graders) graduate from high school. It is exciting to know that many of those students I had in my first class have gone on to become young men and women of faith and integrity.

At the same time, it makes me increasingly aware of the passing of time. It's now nearly ten years since my first visit to Cambodia, and in January it will be nine years since I came to take up my first teaching post on a six month contract. While I was prepared for it to be longer than six months, I don't think I had any idea that it would be this long. I have grown so much over those nine years. I've learnt so much about teaching, and about working with people, and about living in a country that is not my passport country. It hasn't all been easy. In fact there have been times which were extremely difficult for me. Times of pain. Times of uncertainty. Times of anger. Times of grief. There have also been many great times. Times when I've seen the lights go on for a child - the "Ah, now I get it!" moments. Times when I've seen children discover the joy of reading. Times when I experienced God's grace and forgiveness. New friends. Fun times with old friends. I've learnt that it's not necessary to be totally in control of what's going on in my life. I've learnt that I'm not really a very adventurous person at all.

People sometimes ask me how long I will stay here in Cambodia. My answer to that is "As long as God leads me to stay."  How will I know when it's time to move on? I'm not sure. I just know that God will make it clear to me. Meanwhile, I have a desire to see continued growth in the education of Cambodian children, and to do all I can to help the young people of Cambodia grow, learn, and make a difference in the future.

This school year has already proven challenging, but it has mostly been good. I have been challenged to think about the ways that I teach my students, and how effective that might be. After four years teaching the same grade level, it is possible to be stuck in a rut, so that's a good thing. It doesn't mean it's easy, but it is good. I will be a better teacher because of the challenges I've experienced this year. I've also been challenged again in the way I interact with colleagues, and that's a good thing too. So thankful that God is slowly changing me. He is so patient.

It was good to take the break from study this semester. I wouldn't have chosen to do it, knowing that I'm proceeding slowly anyway, but it was necessary. Now I'm looking forward to getting back into the study routine again. Time passes. It's good to "stop and smell the roses".

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