Beginning of the End...

It is the final week of my fall semester at Calvin---my last fall semester at Calvin. That's right, I've managed to cram 5 years worth of study into 4 years + a summer. Let me tell you, I am more than happy about that. Anyway, this semester was spent teacher aiding, preluding assisting, studying, studying and more studying. It's nice that I've finally figured how to manage my time and schoolwork without getting too stressed. It's about time I learned how to do that.

I've learned a lot about myself this semester. I didn't know how passionate I was about education and students. I never realized how much I care about the educational system. I've been blessed in my Christian school systems. I've had amazing teachers who care deeply about their students. It's so discouraging that not all teachers are that way. I met teachers this fall who didn't "give a damn" about their students (and that's a quote). I have to wonder why these people become teachers in the first place. The job is demanding and draining. Why would someone choose a job like this one if they're not in love with it? I'm sure that's a question I will continue to grapple with as time goes on...

Thankfully, I was able to teach an entire unit to 10th graders while I was working at the high school this fall. It was an amazing experience. My teacher said my plans were well thought out. She was quite impressed with my work. Even though I questioned a lot of the day-to-day routines at the school, it was a good experience. I learned about managing a classroom and I was able to experience teaching. I now feel like I can move on to student teaching. I'm still quite nervous, but I know that I am ready. Calvin has prepared me. This is what I am supposed to be doing. Like that one important guy said, "Your vocation is where your deepest passion meets the world's greatest need." Teaching will be my vocation. I am excited to see how God will use me in the lives of my students. Let the journey continue.



Another Journey...

As I sit here trying to do homework I find myself distracted. I am thinking about graduation. I am thinking about teaching. I am thinking about SpringHill and Indonesia and SPH and all my students. I find myself longing to be back at SpringHill and I often wonder how my friends in Indonesia are doing. And then I find myself thanking God for the wonderful summer I had.

If I could summarize my summer in one word it would be: STRETCHED

Whether I was on the other side of the world or right at home at SpringHill, God continually kicked me out of my comfort zone. I'm pretty sure He did this to teach me a little more dependence on Him. Nonetheless, I'm glad He did.

I've already written about how God stretched me in Indonesia. Let me talk about camp a little bit. I had two days to recover between my world travels and my journey at SpringHill. The decision to go to camp that quickly probably wasn't the best, but God pulled me through. My first team was a struggle because I had to be the disciplinarian on my team. That was a huge struggle for me. I kept imagining that camp would be just like it was the year before. It was so weird to come back and be "that one girl that left training early to go do something I can't remember." That already threw me off. But on top of that, I had this role, the disciplinarian role, that I hated. I felt like God wasn't using me. I felt like I couldn't connect with my campers. But then God blessed me with an amazing work crew and beautiful small group. Those 8 people got me through the two weeks. He showed me that He can still use me even when I am struggling. I never cry when I say good-bye to campers. But with that team, I couldn't stop crying. It was amazing what God had done in their lives. He was truly glorified in that team.

I could go on forever about other ways God kicked me out of my comfort zone with following teams. But instead I want to talk about a new journey I'm embarking on....

I started teahcer aiding last week. That's right. I'm growing up and I'm gonna be a teacher. Last week was quite a challenge. I am in a public school which is a challenge in it of itself. (I'ven been in Christian schools since kindergarten.) Thankfully, this week is getting better. I am enjoying myself and I like gaining experience. I find myself looking at teacher teacher websites and getting excited about ideas I can implement in my classroom someday. I am looking forward to this journey of teaching. I'm already being stretched. I can't wait to see how God will continue you to stretch me outside my comfort zone.


P.S. Feel free to share ideas about teaching! I love "stealing" good ideas...


The Final Reflection (about Indonesia)

Hi Friends,

I have been back in the United States for about 5 days now. Last Wednesday I traveled about 29 hours and finally was picked up from the airport at midnight. I was exhausted but I could not sleep. Thanks, jet-lag. It was nice to spend a few days at home to catch up with family and take some pictures. I didn't get a whole lot of time to unwind, however. I left two days later for SpringHill Camps in Evart, MI. So now I am going to do my best to reflect on what I learned through this process.

First: God brought me outside of my comfort zone the past two summers. Last summer He brought me to SpringHill, where I was stretched and challenged more than I could ever believe. This summer He again got me out of my comfort zone and brought me to the other side of the world. I wanted so badly to spend my full summer working at camp. And at first I was really frustrated that I couldn't stay. But through this process, I have learned to rely on God. I have learned that His plan is bigger and greater than what I can comprehend.

Second: I got to experience another culture. I was able to live in a new Christian community. A Christian community that was surrounded by a strong Muslim community. A Christian community in which I was able to meet some friends from all over the world. Not only was I able to be a part of this community, but I also had the privilege of learning about their culture. I learned that people from the other side of the world aren't that different. But at the same time I was able to see the differences that make each of our homes special. I learned that Asia does not think of breakfast the same way Americans do. And now I appreciate breakfast more. :-) But that's just one small thing.

Finally: I saw how God can and might use me in a foreign country. I loved teaching my students and I want to go back to Asia someday. But now I am at camp. I am on my two hour break and it's time for me to focus on my campers. It's time for me to let God use me here. At Springhill. I have 40 campers this week. I felt extremely unprepared coming back to this place. I missed most of training because of Indonesia so I feel "out of the loop." But yesterday I realized that didn't matter. God can still use me even if I am "out of the loop." So now I ask for your prayers for me, my team and especially my campers. I want them to experience God these next two weeks. I want to be strong for them and I want to grow with them.

Please stay tuned if you want to hear camp stories.



When I grow up, I want to be a teacher!

This week has been going 1,000x better than last week. I am so thankful for all your prayers.

This week I am teaching creative writing to 7-9 graders in the early morning. Fine Arts (music) to 4-6 graders in the late morning and gymnastics/world games to little kids in the afternoon. I love my creative writing class. My students work so hard and are extremely creative. I've truly enjoyed listening to the their stories and poems and anything else I assign them. Today one student thanked me for such an enjoyable class. Then he asked how to expand his vocabulary and his creativity. I smiled and told him to keep reading.

On Monday we were invited to another church lady's house. Her name was Ibu (Bahasa for "Miss") Seemun (pronounced see-moon). She and her family were such a joy to spend time with. We had a wonderful Indonesian meal, and to top it off, her daughter made Oreo cheesecake for dessert! It felt like home! (No worries mom, yours is still my favorite.) We also met her husband and two sons. Her oldest son goes to school at UCLA so it was fun talking to him about the States. After dinner, Ibu Seemun shared her sketches from her recent trip Isreal. She is a very talented artist. She shared different Bible verses and she gave each of a cross made from Olive wood. (The same wood they used for Jesus' crown of thorns). After she was finished sharing her sketches she asked to pray for us. In her prayer she mentioned each of us by name. It was almost strange how she picked up on different parts of our personalities. I was amazed at how she prayed for my voice and asked that I use it for drawing people closer to God. She asked that people will feel safe around me and that I will continue to build communities by using my voice. Throughout the evening she had mentioned (a few times) how I have a voice that rings and how it should be used for leadership and building communities. It was interesting how she kept telling me to use my projective voice. I thought it was really neat how she picked up on the intricate details of our personalities. After she prayed with us, she showed us some of her paintings and shared the stories behind them. Her paintings are basically a manifestation of her faith. It was so cool to hear and see this woman of God painting for God's glory. I am really thankful for that experience.

Alright. I only have 6 days left in Asia. I am quite excited to come home but I will also miss the people here. Please pray that we have a good rest of this week and safe travels to Hong Kong on Saturday.



Indonesia June 7-19

Hello Everyone,

Here's a link to all my pictures from June 7-19. There are lots. Don't feel like you have to look at them all.




Little kids are houligans...

It's Wednesday evening and I am over half finished with this week of teaching (and over half way finished with my trip). Boy, am I exhausted. Monday & Tuesday were rather challening. I only have two students in my morning class so it makes it difficult to plan fun & exciting activities. I have two identical Rhythm & Games classes in the afternoons. The students in those classes are CRAZY. No joke. They're worse than wild houligans. On Monday, they couldn't even sit still for 1 minute to learn how to play a new game. I tried to start teaching the rules and one little girl would dart one way after 5 sec. Then another girl would dart the other way. Then ALL the students were running every which direction and I was left standing there...dumbfounded. I couldn't believe the energy that these crazy kids had. I was at a loss as to what to do with them. On Tuesday, I decided to take them outside and make them run around playing tag until they were too tired to stand. Much to my dismay, they still had TONS of energy after 30 minutes of running around in the hot & humid weather. Because I was sweating from just standing there, I brought them inside and had them play musical chairs. Today was much better. They seem to like the game "Simon Says" and I had them draw to different classical pieces of music. I told them to paint a "musical map." I wanted their paintings to show what the music made them see & feel. It went quite well.

Last night we were blessed to be invited over to a church lady's house for dinner. She hosted about 20 people...all of which were connected to the United States in some way. Either they were Indonesians attending school in the States, Americans living in Indonesia, or other Ex-Pats who have lived in the States at some point in their lives. We were served a traditional Indonesian meal. It was wonderful. I wish I could've enjoyed it more but I was incredibly tired. I couldn't stay awake. I was literally falling asleep in the middle of conversations. It was quite sad actually.

Alright, I miss you all!



"I want a Pelephant [Pet Elephant]..."

It is now Friday afternoon and I am sitting here in my apartment, listening to the 7th Harry Potter book and writing this post. It has been a wonderful, emotional, exciting week. On Tuesday morning we drove two hours to reach a Lenterra School in a remote village. The school only had about 40 students, but they were so excited to see us. They welcomed us with smiles and cameras. They had never seen bulais (pronounced boolays) before and so they were slightly "star struck" by our presence. (Bulai is the Bahasa Indonesian term for white people. It literally means "albino.") Throughout the course of the day, we were able to talk with the children, answer questions, play volleyball and teach a few classes. I taught an English class. This was an interesting challenge because I was using a translator. My students knew enough English to get by so we play some fun games so they could practice speaking and writing in English.

At the end of our day, we did an activity to demonstrate how each student has different and unique experiences that have formed and shaped their lives. We also used this activity to demonstrate the importance of education and staying in school. These students do not have a lot of hope for their futures. After they're finished with school (if they finish), most of them will go to work in the rice fields with their parents. It's incredibly heartbreaking because these students have large dreams with no financial support. Many of the students realize this and drop out of school early. That's why we came. To encourage the students to keep pursuing education.

After school, we visited the homes of two different students. These students have received a lot of financial support from the SLH to go to school. The first family was sending to girls to the Lenterra school. They lived in a house with dirt floors and a tin roof. They virtually had nothing. Yet, the mother was so faithful and considered herself so blessed by God. Her husband worked in the church and she worked in the fields. Both of her girls want to be pastors when they grow up. That visit was quite difficult for me. First I felt guilty for being there. There I was, wearing fairly nice clothing with a new camera in my bag and I was listening to this family tell me how blessed they were. After listening to the mother speak, I began to think about how much I take my blessings for granted. I thought about how I am so quick to forget to thank God for all the opportunities and blessings He has given me. Before we left the family, we prayed with them. We prayed for strength and patience. And also for blessings upon such a faithful family.

Wednesday was similar to Tuesday. More teaching.

Thursday was our day to go back to Jakarta. But not before we got to ride ELEPHANTS! This was quite possible the coolest thing I've ever done. The elephants were so kind and patient. They performed tricks and they let us pet them. We have lots of pictures that I will share at a later date. Thursday night we came home and did class prep all day today. I am excited to be back in Jakarta for a couple of reasons. First, they believe in toilet paper. Apparently the city of Lampung believes that toilet paper is a waste. I disagree. Finally, Jakarta has showers. I didn't shower for almost 5 full days. Instead I used baby wipes. I felt like an army woman.

Alright, that's enough for now.


Prayer Requests:
- We start teaching full time on Monday. Please pray for patience, creativity and hard work as we continue preparing this weekend.
- Part of our team has been feeling a little under the weather recently, probably because of all the strange food we've been eating. Please pray for full health by Monday.
- Please pray for the family I talked about in my post. They are so faithful and trusting. Just keep praying for strength.
- Thanks for traveling safety so far in the trip. Especially in light of the recent earthquake. (Which, by the way, you all probably heard about before I did :-)


Sumatra has good coffee...

...At least that's what I hear. This morning we got up early and took and car and a ferry from the island of Java to Sumatra. After about six hours of travel, we ended up in the city of Lampung. We're staying in a hotel here until Thursday. Tuesday and Wednesday we will be visiting Sekolah Lentera Harapan (SLH), which is the third (lowest) level school. These children do not speak any English and are from rural village areas. We will be leading some group games and teaching some classes. I will be teaching English, which shall be interesting considering I will be using a translator. On Thursday, we will be visiting a national park called Wakambas. Apparently we will be able to see wild tigers and even ride elephants! I am really excited about that.

Tonight we went to the beach and took a motor row boat over to an island. After the beach we went to an authentic Lampung snack shop and bought some coffee, dried mangos, and these really delicious dried bananas covered in mocha powder. After that we went for dinner and I ate Pempek. It's like fried whipped fish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pempek).

This trip has been amazing so far. Living in Lippo Village (outside Jakarta) is not much different than the United States. It's very modern and extremely safe. We actually have 8 apartment mates. Cockroaches. Yea. Not a fan. We killed them. At least we hope so. They have a tendency to come back to life. So aside from the roaches, we really like it here. Like I said before, they treat us like gold. We have a driver who takes us everywhere and SPH has taken care of our meals. We are especially thankful for the driver (Pak Naryo is his name) because he is very safe in a city in which people drive like maniacs. It's like mass chaos on the streets. I know I've mentioned this before, but it never ceases to amaze me. Lines are optional and horns are communication devices that people use all the time. Motorcycles swarm the cars. And while all this is going on, I am gripping my seat thinking, "I never would want to drive here. Thank you, God for Pak Naryo."

Alright, off to lesson planning. Thank you again for all your prayers and support.


P.S. Oh yea, I tried cow brain today. I didn't like it.


So much to say...so little time

Today is my second full day here in Lippo Village, Indonesia. I have so much to describe. We finally made it to Jakarta at 2pm on Wednesday afternoon after traveling for 36 hours. We were exhausted. Right away we were taken to SPH, where we will be working. The campus seriously makes Illiana look like a dump. :-) The architecture is just beautiful and there are all kinds of palm trees and flowered trees. I'll have to post pictures at a later date so you can see what I'm talking about. We met a few children yesterday and they were so cute. They all would run up to us and start shaking our hands. The younger ones gave us snacks and the older ones wanted pictures. It's strange because we're treated like royalty here. I definitely do not deserve this treatment. It's humbling to have these people treat us with such kindness. All the administration and fellow teachers are so welcoming and hospitable. We felt right at home immediately.

The food here is wonderful. We've been eating like kings and queens. I was hoping to lose a few pounds here and it looks like that's going to be more difficult than I originally imagined. We had a traditional Indonesian dinner on Wednesday night where we sat on the ground and ate fried duck, tempei, fried tofu, grilled lei lei (pronounced lay lay and it's a whole fish with the skin and bones!) and coconut milk. Delicious. I have learned it's better not to ask what I'm eating because then it's easier to be adventurous.

The Christian community here is amazing. They're so tight-knit and reliant on God. It's beautiful to see a Christian community this strong in the midst of a Muslim country. God truly does work in powerful ways here in Indonesia and I can't wait to experience more of His grace here at SPH.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support.


P.S. Prayer Request: My teaching schedule has already changed a lot and I need to adapt and change many things. Pray for patience and creativity. I am running a blank and how to develop more creative lesson plans about math, science and even rhythm and games.


I'm leaving on a jet plane...

That's true. I am leaving on a jet plane. I will be leaving to go to Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday June 7.

June 7.

That's closer than I'd like it to be. I am excited. I truly am. But I am also nervous. I keep playing the "what if" game with myself. What if my bags get lost? What if my passport gets lost? What if I get lost? I need to stop play that game. It's only detrimental to my excitement. Sometimes I wonder why I didn't just stick with SpringHill this summer. It's familiar. It's exciting. It's home. I guess that's why I couldn't stay there for the whole summer. God wanted me to step outside my comfort zone and experience another part of His world. I often wonder why. I wonder if I'm even cut out for traveling and teaching abroad. I guess I will never know unless I try. And that's exactly what I'm doing. I'm trying. I'm trying to follow God where He takes me. I'm trying to let Him be in control. But I just have so many questions. So many things I want answered. Still, I have to be ok with not having answers. God knows what he's doing with me. I just need to trust. Trust. Easier said than done.

So as I embark on this adventure, I'd like to take you, whoever you are, with me. I'd like to share my ups and downs. My excitements and my fears. Most of all, I'd like to share what God is teaching me about what it means to live in a new culture and practice humility.

Stay tuned. This summer shall be interesting.