getting ready for school

The rate I had been going with blog posting, some of you have probably expected another blog or two by now.
I’m sorry for the delay.  The last week has not only been busy preparing for school to start on Monday, but I have been sick.  Still not feeling 100%, but I know I will get there eventually:)

In preparing for the new school year to begin, and teach my own classes, I have had the opportunity to shadow the other foreign teachers to see their teaching styles and how they run different classes.  I think it was helpful to do that and to be able to ask them questions about how to handle different aspects of class.

My mornings and early afternoons will be filled with teaching various English subjects to two different 6 year old (Korean age) kindergarten classes.  The rest of my afternoon will be spread between two after school kindergarten classes, and three after school elementary classes.

This week we were preparing for all of those classes.
Making sure we know our schedules and what we’ll be teaching each class.
Do the foreign teachers understand the material?
Then there is preparing the classrooms for the morning kindergarten students – decorations!  After talking with one of my Korean co-teachers, she wanted me to handle much of the decorating because she has been busy, so I found things, printed, and laminated yesterday.

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pile of laminated decorations

 

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our class tree I made – we will place each students’ picture on it

 

There are still a couple more signs I want to make and preparations I need to make to feel ready for Monday; but I am feeling much more ready than I did when I stepped off of the plane a couple of weeks ago!

 

much love!

 

i made it

Before, I had mentioned that me getting this job and preparing to go to Korea was a whirlwind.  Well, leaving America was no different!

I had been waiting for my visa, in order for a ticket to be purchased so I could leave for Korea. Tuesday afternoon, my passport with my Korean visa was back in my possession.  That night, my ticket was purchased for Thursday afternoon.
Wednesday, I finished packing, while it kind of sunk-in that I was flying half way across the world the next day.
Thursday morning, one of my friends took me to the airport, then I spent the next 24 hours or so traveling to my new home in Daegu.

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waiting for my bus to Daegu at the Incheon airport Friday night

 

image3on the bus – yes, I need sleep!

 

image2and when you need sleep, sometimes the fisheye camera and funny faces come out:)

 

Saturday, we had orientation, all day.  I thought it was going to be orientation for the teachers, turns out it was orientation for the parents about this upcoming school year.  In the morning it was parents who have been with the school before; after lunch we had the same program all over again for parents new to the school.

I might still feel a little lost and like I have no idea what is going on, but slowly by slowly that feeling is dissipating.

It has been good to meet my fellow teachers and to get a little bit better understanding of what the school is like.  Also, to unpack and make this room feel a little bit like home.

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my room

 

image5the view from my room

 

much love!

 

so, what’s next?

So I’ve alluded to this over the past few days.  But I guess it’s finally time to fill you in on what’s coming up for me.
For quite some time I had been feeling like I should teach English.  Not something I’d ever really thought about doing.  I think education is important, and maybe there could be something from the experience for my future.

In less than one week, visa depending, I’m moving to Daegu, South Korea to teach English as a second language.
My students will mostly be kindergartners, with some older elementary students later in the day.

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next week, I should be on a plane to Korea:)

 

I wish I had more to share with you about what I’m doing and where I’m going, but I’m sure there will be a lot to tell once I get there and things get started.

What I can tell you for now is, the past couple of months have been a number of up and downs with jobs and preparations.
And this job, the process of getting it, and getting ready to go, has been quite the whirlwind.

As I mentioned before, being in America hasn’t been the easiest for me, but leaving is definitely full of many emotions.
There are feelings of being overwhelmed for what needs to be done here and sadness as I say my goodbyes; and excitement and nervousness for what is to come;

So soon.
So soon.
I can’t believe I leave in less than one week.

 

much love!

 

those non-plan plans

You know how sometimes you have a plan, even if you don’t have a plan?  Meaning, it’s not a really thought-through, worked out plan, but it’s just a rough idea in your mind of what “should happen.”
I think that’s where I was at when I returned to America from Uganda.

I felt like I was supposed to leave, but there was nothing lined up for me and I had no plans or ideas of what I was supposed to do once I got back to the land of America.
Somewhere in my mind though, even if I would never admit it, I thought I would only be in America for a short while, then leave again, perhaps even be moving back to Uganda.
But, that wasn’t happening.  Things weren’t going according to my “non-plan.”  And sometimes, that was really hard.  I would feel lost and like my life was in limbo.

All of this sounds pretty negative so far, but I don’t mean it to.  There were definitely some great parts about being back.
Being able to reconnect with friends and family in person; Skype is amazing but there is something to be said about interacting face-to-face.
I was able to take escape MI winter with one of my friends by taking a trip to CA for a couple of conferences, and while out there, see other friends.
Worked as a barista for a while, and I definitely enjoyed some of my conversations with the customers and my coworkers.

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with Lauren in CA

 

Then there are those unexpected parts of being back.  Those parts that are such a mix of emotions, where bittersweet is really the best way to describe it.
In October/November my parents sold their house and moved to Vermont, due to my dad getting a job transfer.  Despite at one point having had my own apartment, then traveling, and moving around the world, this had been my home, or “home base,” since I was in sixth grade.  In some ways it was really hard to be there for the moving process, and to have to go through so many memories and only save some.  But, at the same time I was really thankful for this opportunity for my parents and that I could be home for this change.

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last day with my pine tree, Alfred, I planted as a seed in a cup around 1993

 

Not only was this a change for my parents, but a change for me as well.  I had had been living with them since returning to America, but my friend and her husband graciously offered me a place to live with them.  There were so many questions and unknowns throughout.  Moving in and of itself was a change, but all that went with it was more of a change and more to process than I realized.

Last year at this time, if you would have told me I would still be in America in a year, I wouldn’t have been too thrilled about that.  That was not in my “non-plan.”
2014 may not have happened the way I thought it would, but I am thankful for all that happened and for where it took me.
2015 is shaping up to be an interesting year already – don’t you worry, I’ll fill you in soon on what some of that looks like:)

 

much love!

 

where to begin?

I’ve started and restarted this blog multiple times. It shouldn’t be this hard to type a blog.
There have been quite a few big changes in my life recently, so I have plenty to share.
So why has this blog taken me several days to write?

I think the delay might be from having so many things I want to talk about, but not having the adequate words to express it all.
Or maybe it has taken several days because I don’t know where to begin.

I haven’t consistently written here since living in Uganda.
Yes, it has been a little over one year since I returned to America, and much has happened since then; but every day I think about my family and friends in Mukono.
As I left in December 2013, I felt like I was leaving part of my heart there, and I truly did.

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at my going away celebration

 

While sitting in the airport, waiting for my plane to arrive that December night, I had no idea what I was going to do when I eventually got back to America; I also had no idea I would be back in this same airport in a little under five months for a short, but wonderful visit.

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Patience, Ivan, Benja, and Lytone when I went back in May

 

When I felt like God was telling me to leave, I didn’t understand why. And I still might not have all the answers, but that’s okay. I know that my time in America has been a part of His plan and I can see His hand in so many ways.

 

much love!

 

stay tuned for what’s been going on and one of the BIG changes just around the corner!

 

730 days

Two years ago today I walked onto a plane and started the journey to Mukono, Uganda.
It wasn’t my first time there, but this time it was going to be different; and really I had no idea what to expect.
I was nervous and excited all at the same time.
Moving to Uganda for at least a year.  What in the world?!

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Lytone, October 2012

 

To become a part of a community and family there in a way that I never even imagined.
And when I left, I truly left behind a part of my heart.

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with Lytone, August 2013

 

I don’t know if I have the words to share with you how thankful I am for my experiences there; or to relay to you how important the people who became my family and friends there are to me, and how they will always be a part of my life, even if I am thousands of miles away.

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Lytone, May 2014

 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me financially, emotionally, and through prayer along the way.  I cannot imagine my life without Uganda in it.
And thank you to all of those who have also helped to expand the school through the development of the library and additional classrooms!  It has been so amazing seeing the school grow and I know the building will be finished!*

 

much love!

 

*to help finish building more classrooms for the school in Mukono, Uganda, click here!

Agape Library

This blog is a long-time coming, and I apologize for how long it has been since I have written…

Both Pastor and Maama Frida prayed for a name for the library.
They both got the word agape.
In simple terms, agape means selfless, unconditional love.  They felt it was fitting because of the unconditional love both Chandler and I have for the school and for this project.  As soon as I heard the name I thought it was perfect also because of Pastor and Maama Frida’s love for the school and the children there.

A name was chosen and the books had arrived; the first floor of the Hallelujah Project was finally complete!
Towards the beginning of July a ceremony was given for the Agape library.  Pastor’s brother, Pastor Eddie, came over from Kenya, to dedicate and bless the library.  There was an officially opening and parents were allowed to be among the first to walk in and see all the books and what all was in the library.

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part of Agape Library

 

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another part of the library – mats and stools for reading on

 

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doorway between sections on the ground floor of the building

 

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the newly finished, three classrooms next to the library

 

With the first floor complete, not only was long-awaited library opened, but now the school has three more classrooms they are able to use!
There are still three more classrooms that need funding to finish being built on the second floor** – but it has been so amazing to see this progress so far!

 

much love!

 

**If you want to donate or help spread the word about the campaign to raise money for these classrooms click this link**