Last Christmas in Thailand

“Okay, so how much brown sugar do I add to the hot chocolate??”

I frantically ask my friend (and expert Peace Corps chef Chris) while hungry students are running around my kitchen waiting for the French fries to be finished and looking in every crook and cranny of my house (probably judging the cobwebs that have started to form in some places).

Switching between talking to my friend in English, and trying to answer students’ questions in Thai, while simultaneously making French fries (for the first time I might add) proved to be chaotic. Typically, a situation like this – me being responsible for hosting a party at my house with my 7th graders – would be extremely stressful for my type A personality. But somehow, in spite of myself, I was laughing and smiling through the chaos. (smiling through the chaos might just be the best description of my peace corps service thus far)

Over the course of our Christmas class party, my students and I figured out how to make French fries, popcorn, homemade hot chocolate, and santa strawberry men (complete with droopy whip cream that made the “Santas” look super creepy). The menu also included spicy papaya salad and grilled chicken…there was A LOT of food. I am pretty sure everyone was in a food coma when we were finished.

By the end of the party, my co teacher and the few straggling students that stayed behind all crashed on the couch and simply sat there in silence for a few minutes…processing the day we just had…listening to the fan and appreciating the stillness after the craziness that was our class Christmas party (that is, until we started playing a pretty competitive game of Uno). I should probably also mention that during the course of our Christmas party, half of the students got locked inside of my house and couldn’t open the door…which caused some of them to panic. Meanwhile, myself and another student were trying to yell through a solid wooden door of how they could try and get it unjammed. Also, I can now no longer get into my bathroom…students managed to lock the door from the inside…and I don’t have a key…which means I get to take cold showers until we can figure out how to get it unlocked….but even as I am typing this I am smiling and laughing at how ridiculous it all is. And I can’t help it, I just love them all so much.

Our morning consisted of a whole school Christmas assembly that involved free present give-a-ways and individual class performances. Our class also had the special responsibility of decorating the stage. My students and I got creative and together we designed a killer stage (with the help of pinterest)! Complete with a paper Christmas tree…that by the end of the assembly was barely staying together…but it was beautiful to begin with and that’s all that matters. 😉 And as soon as the assembly (that myself and co-teachers were responsible for hosting) was finished, my class and I packed up the car and drove to my house to get our party started! It was crazy. I can’t help but laugh when I recall what we must have looked like rushing from one big thing on to the next.

But even through the chaos of the day, I found myself stopping and thinking to myself: Wait, this is my last Christmas in Thailand. I won’t be here next year. This thought made me try to mentally capture everything about certain moments of the day….the feel of the burning sun in the santa suit, the timid smiles on the little kindergarteners’ faces when they came to take a present from me, my homeroom class and our special bond expressed with secret smiles and facial expressions during the assembly, having the responsibility of being an MC sprung on me and not necessarily knowing what I was doing but just saying whatever would come to my mind first, laughing a lot (mostly at myself), watching students smile bigger than I’ve ever seen or laugh harder than I’ve ever heard, getting caught up in the excitement of students while they participate in gift exchanges, singing karaoke off-key, and stumbling through trying to express my complicated feelings in another language. I wish I could freeze time so that I could soak up everything that is taking place around me…I don’t want to miss a thing. And when I look back and think upon this day, I want the mental image in my head to be as clear as the picture I have while I’m typing this post right now.

Also, my class has already started to plan a New Years Party at my house in just a few days…I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how that one turns out…hopefully we can avoid (a) getting locked out and (b) locking doors with no keys…wish us luck!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years everybody!!! ❤

 

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Our homemade christmas tree! 🙂

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Our stage – the finished project!

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The teachers getting ready for the assembly! 

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Students are ready!

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Let the give-a-ways begin!

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Lunch is served! 

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I received a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal! 🙂 

Thankfulness

My favorite holiday has always (and I am 98% positive will always be) Thanksgiving. Recently, I had the privilege of celebrating Thanksgiving with my fellow Peace Corps Thailand Volunteers by attending a dinner held by Ambassador Glyn Davies. We enjoyed a very delicious meal with all the traditional thanksgiving dishes. Even though I will have to miss thanksgiving with my family again this year, there was a comfort in celebrating this meaningful holiday with people I consider to be a part of my new family. My Peace Corps Thailand family.

Perhaps it is because I am still caught up in the spirit of Thanksgiving, or perhaps it is because the realization of having only a little more than three months at my site is starting to set in. Either way, I catch myself being overwhelmed with thankfulness. Constantly. So I thought it might be a good idea to write some of these things down. That way I could save them for a rainy day, or years from now remind myself how truly unique of a season I find myself in.

(Obvious Side Note – This list is in no way complete)

I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for how my definition of family has expanded to include new members. Their support and unconditional love is an anchor that gets me through some of my toughest moments. The way in which they believe in me and encourage me is more meaningful than I will ever have the words to convey. My host family here in Thailand is the most generous, selfless, and forgiving group of people I have had the pleasure to know. They continually go out of their way to show me they love me – their biggest concern always being that I am lonely and missing home. The other day it was my birthday, and I was away from site at a Peace Corps conference. My host mom calls me (REALLY) early so that she would be the first one to say “happy birthday.” (She said it both in English and Thai) Then proceeded to pass the phone around so that my grandma and sister had a chance to say a few birthday wishes. I couldn’t help but smile because it reminded me of how my own grandma and grandpa call every year to sing happy birthday over the phone.

I am thankful for my friends. The deep connections and relationships I have made here in Thailand will stay with me forever. I am lucky to have such a strong support system with friends and family back home. But I know without a doubt, the support system I have been blessed with here is what helps keep me going on a daily basis. It has been amazing to simply live life with the people in my village and the teachers at my school: to laugh with them during the good times and cry with them during the sad ones. To be a part of weddings, baby showers, and funerals. To swap crazy stories with other volunteers and realize that I am not alone. To learn that even with a different language and a different culture, friendships can be formed that are deeper and truer than I ever dreamed possible. And to all my friends back home: Thank you. I love you. I can’t wait to see you.

I am thankful for my students. Their smiles and up-for-anything attitudes are where I get my energy. They are like outlets that keep me charged and refocused on the reason I am here. I love them more than I thought my heart was capable of.

I am thankful for Ninecool – a coffee shop about 15km away from my village. It is here where I get to meet up with some of my closest friends and find out just how many cups of coffee a person can have in one day. Our back corner table, where we: collaborate on projects, offer a listening ear, plan our next training, or simply sit quietly enjoying each other’s company will be as much a part of my Peace Corps service as is my school.

I am thankful for the teachers in my district I have gotten to mentor and learn from. It has been an honor to work with interested and motivated teachers who work hard for the desire to see their students succeed.

I am thankful for the drives I get to take with my counterpart. I never knew running errands could be so fun. Translating Thai songs to English, jamming out to T Swift, or talking about random things will be something I miss…I am truly indebted to all the times Kru Chay has had to pick me up, drop me off, or taxi me around. It is like being back in middle school all over again – having to rely on someone else’s generosity to get around.

I am thankful for my bike rides. Biking home or around the village and hearing your name being called out with a smile and a friendly wave will never get old….nor will the game of trying to answer the question of: “where are you going? – bpai nai” in the second you ride by someone (I can never seem to answer fast enough). It will always amaze me how everyone (even the people I’ve never met) know my name and are genuinely happy to see me on my bike.

I am thankful for the way in which the “unroutine” has become routine to me. I don’t think it is possible to have a typical day in Peace Corps. Which is, surprisingly enough, something I am thankful for. When I go to school it is always a mystery as to which classes I will actually teach that day and which classes will be, for whatever reason, canceled. When I go to an English Camp or Teacher Training I never really know, in spite of having a pre-decided upon schedule, what is going to happen – but most likely it will involve singing and dancing in front of everyone at least once. It is impossible to gauge arrival times and departure times because of the mystery that is Thai time and Thai transportation. When I enter a bathroom I never know if it is going to be a squat toilet or a western toilet – or the even bigger issue: if there is toilet paper, a sprayer, or a bowl.

I am thankful for the undecided future I have in front of me. I find myself at an interesting crossroads towards the end of my Peace Corps service. For as long as I can remember, I have known what I wanted to do and I have always had a “next step.” After high school was Community College. After Community College was studying at the University – working towards my elementary education degree. After University was Peace Corps…. I don’t know yet what is after Peace Corps. I don’t know if teaching is what I want to go back to when I arrive home. Maybe I’ll study social work. Maybe I’ll open up a coffee shop. Maybe I’ll teach. I have no clue…and in the moments where I am not totally scared out of my mind about this fact, I find that I am thankful for this opportunity to explore my options. To dream…Dream big. At our last Peace Corps conference, our Country Director said that he never had a “career path” – all he had was choices; choices that put him on the path he is now. These words seemed to really settle with me. I realized that it all comes down to a choice. Therefore, I am choosing to trust in God’s wisdom. I am choosing to be at peace with the unknown. And I am choosing to work in figuring out my niche.

I am thankful for all the volunteers in group 126. I am blown away by you all. You guys are so tough, so passionate, and so unique. I love each and every one of you. You each challenge me to look at the world in a different way. Our COS conference was amazing because I got to share it with you all. ❤ My hope for you is that you finish strong and that your Peace Corps service continues to be meaningful.

I am thankful for Thai language. There is something so comforting in the way Thais talk and the various phrases they say. I love being able to communicate in a language that is not my native one. It allows me to see even deeper into the culture and the hearts of my community.

I am thankful for all the lessons I’ve learned. The past two years have had plenty of ups and downs, but I am thankful for them all. Funny isn’t it? How at the end everything seems to become all shiny and meaningful; all the lonely days, the sleepless nights, and self-doubt seem to take on a new significance. I know that the person I am today is not the same person that boarded a plane to Thailand (almost) two years ago. I am thankful for the all changes and for the process that has gotten me to where I am today. My time here is not over and I know there are still big lessons to be learned. And for this, I too am thankful.

 

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Dinner with Ambassador Glyn T. Davies and Madam Ambassador Jacqueline M. Davies!

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Translating for my School Director…or at least trying to.

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The teachers at my school. Love them all! ❤

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Visiting students’ houses!

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So happy I got to meet and work with Fortune!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

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BTF (Brighter Thailand Foundation) camps are my favorite camps!!!

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All our bikes outside Ninecool 🙂

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I think this sums up our friendship! 🙂

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Group 126 – Peace Corps Thailand! ❤

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The people in my TCCS program!

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So thankful for my students ❤

Blessings in Disguise

A lot of time has passed since my last post. My family has already come and gone. Three English camps have passed and four teacher trainings are completed. If only the passing of time could be so easily measured/captured by these descriptions…But days are filled with just too many moments and feelings to be summed up so neatly with a list. With only a little more than six months left, everything seems to be kicking into high gear. I find myself busier then usual and constantly reminding myself to remain in the moment. Time just hasn’t seemed to let up enough for me to blog and reflect about my most recent happenings. But as circumstances would have it, I am having one of those nights where things go from bad to worse…at least in the iphone department. What started as a backlight not going off has turned into an iphone not turning on….This means I am currently left with an open Sunday night, a non-working iphone, a slightly worried feeling of how I am going to wake up tomorrow for school without my alarm (yup, iphone), AND nothing to do….. But I think I can confidently say this is not the worst thing that has ever happened to a Peace Corps volunteer…

Anyways, If you know me, then you know I’m a “journaler.” I’ve lost count of how many journals I’ve accumulated over the years…another fun fact is that I never finish a journal. I get really, really close – with only a few pages left – and then I break down and buy the new, prettier journal I’ve been eyeing. However, coming back to my original point, whenever I have down time my first (okay, second) reaction (when there is no option to use my iphone/wifi) is to journal. Due to my blogging history, I am not sure you will believe me when I say, I am a pretty consistent journaler…Really! But I guess the fact that my last journal entry was from June doesn’t quite help my case either…Anyhow, when I looked at the last entry, I remembered that I had written it as the start of my next post…so I thought I would post it…keep in mind this is the scrambled thoughts of my 2 ½ months, less mature self…

Where Change Starts


Change happens everywhere. All the time. People are constantly changing: changing addresses, changing last names, changing occupations, changing hair color…

Sometimes it’s easier to focus on changing the outside/easy stuff rather than looking inside and changing the stuff that might make all the difference.

I am realizing that the internal changes are the most difficult…and the most rewarding.

Changes such as your reaction to things not going your way, following through on a decision or commitment you made, and doing things for others even when it’s not convenient for you.

I believe change starts where excuses stop. When you’re honest with yourself and you closely examine what you do in public verses what you do in private…What you say out loud and what you say in your head. When you are honest with yourself, you are able to examine the things you complain about but never act upon.

In my mind, I see change and growth oftentimes as interchangeable. Most times, when you make a change – or something changes – you grow. Like it or not.

Yet, I believe it is important, when talking about change, to also reflect on the aspects of you that might never change. In everyone there is a beauty waiting to be recognized. Too often we miss out on celebrating the things that make us “tick” because we are too worried about changing…trying to conform to the cultural norm that we find ourselves in…always working hard and worrying about how to make more socially admirable versions of ourselves.

Traveling has showed me that there is beauty in change and a beauty in recognizing what is constant. I believe there is a genuine beauty waiting to be discovered in the balance. That elusive balance that is always trying to be found in life…the right combination of too much and too little, when to give and when to take, the time for sacrifice and the time for self-care, saying yes and saying no, finding what needs to change and finding what needs to stay the same.


**update: I was in fact able to wake up for school (thank you chickens) and I am currently using the school’s wifi to restore my phone….fingers crossed!

Now some pictures…. 🙂

Family Dinner

Family Dinner

Hanging out with some Monks...turns out there is a buddhist retreat center right in our backyard!

Hanging out with some Monks…turns out there is a buddhist retreat center right in our backyard!

Full Circle English!

Full Circle English!

Yay for teacher trainings

Wouldn't be possible without the team!

Wouldn’t be possible without the team!

School Sports Day. Let’s go Blue!!

So blessed by the friendships I have made! At our "fall kickoff" dinner in Thailand! ;)

So blessed by the friendships I have made! At our “fall kickoff” dinner in Thailand! 😉

Just Do It

Lately I have been finding myself thinking a lot about “good intentions,” about how to take all of my good intentions and turn them into actions. I have come to the conclusion that there is no easy solution to do this. There are no “7 easy steps” to follow. It all comes down to me, to my excuses, and to choosing to do it anyway.

A lot easier said than done.

You see, I have good intentions when it comes to visiting my host family more often. I have good intentions when it comes to lesson planning. I have good intentions when it comes to updating my blog, and I have plenty of good intentions about running (and about a bazillion different training schedules). But at the end of the day, they are all meaningless if I do nothing about them.

I like to think of myself as an ambitious person, a person that is continually searching for new knowledge and ways to make my best even better; someone who thrives on positivity. But something funny started happening to me over bpit term (school break). I started getting lazy and I started getting negative. I lost the balance between work and relaxation. I traded my thankfulness with bitterness. I didn’t know how to stop what was happening. It surprised me how easily and quickly bad habits took over all the good ones I’d worked so hard to establish. I didn’t know how to get out of this cycle of procrastination, complaining, and laziness. I felt trapped.

At some point during this dark period for me, I made the somewhat comical (and extremely ironic) decision to complete my first marathon in December. Someone told me about the big race that takes place every Christmas in Chiang Mai and it seemed like a perfect opportunity. Where better to do my first marathon then Chiang Mai?!?! My initial excitement and anticipation for my first ever marathon pushed me to read books about running techniques, start training way in advance (like ten months…haha), and splurge on two nice nike running shirts. However, much to my dismay I kept hitting major walls after the “honeymoon” phase of this decision passed. Granted, it was like over 100 degrees here and all I wanted to do was sit in front of a fan and not melt. Running was the last thing I wanted to go out and do.

I found that I would get bursts of running inspiration…that lasted for about two weeks. During these weeks, I found that I was happier. That I was more equipped to handle (and appreciate) the craziness that everyday had in store. However, I continually found excuses to stop. Ones I don’t even remember now, but seemed completely valid to me at the time.

In order to try and get out of this depressing cycle I found myself in, I tried to remind myself that I have like nine months left in Thailand. I told myself that I had better start making things count – refusing to take for granted the incredible experience that is peace corps. Unfortunately, trying to dismiss my feelings with reason didn’t really work. Nothing seemed to.

I knew that at this crossroads I had a choice. I had a choice to allow myself be controlled by my feelings – hopefully expecting the emotional upswing soon, or I could choose to act. It was then that I was reminded of one of my favorite books: “The Traveller’s Gift” by Andy Andrews.

“The buck stops here. I am responsible for my success. When faced with the opportunity to make a decision, I will make one. I understand that God did not put in me the ability to always make right decisions. He did, however, put in me the ability to make a decision and then make it right. The rise and fall of my emotional tide will not deter me from my course. When I make a decision, I will stand behind it. My energy will go into making the decision. I will waste none on second thoughts. My life will not be an apology. It will be a statement.”

It was then that I decided to simply stop: to breathe, to accept where I am and where I would like to be, to pray, and to act. I chose to stop allowing bad moments to create bad days. For there are a lot of different types of moments all wrapped up into one day. Some can be hurtful, some can be scary, some can be beautiful, some can be amazing, some can be hilarious….its never just one. There are no “bad days” there are no “good days” – but there are all sorts of moments. I realized that it was in my power to choose the moment I was going to give my energy towards. Did I want to waste in on the negative moments or to celebrate the positive ones? This doesn’t mean ignoring the bad. Because without the bad, how would we identify the good? There is certainly a time for everything – a season for everything under the sun.

Which brings me to my final thoughts. Tonight I went on a run, probably one of the best runs I’ve ever had. Not because of time or mileage, but because it was a run born from discipline. I reminded myself that I made my choice to train for a marathon, and like it or not I was going to get out there and put in my mileage. You should know that it is the beginning of rainy season here in Thailand. Which means rain. Everyday. Up north, we seem to get rain everyday towards the end of school – around 3pm (I sort of like the predictability of it all). Today, because I didn’t do a morning run I knew I would have to do an evening run – rain or shine. J It was the end of school and the dark clouds and strong winds were making its way towards my village. I knew it was now or never. While I had quite the blustery bike ride home, I was determined to get out and run. To act on all the good intentions I had inside of me. When I started out, it was dark and thundering. I ending up taking a different route to avoid the worst of the storm and this strategy seemed to work in my favor – I only got sprinkled on. However, as I ran, listened to thunder, and watched the storm unfold something amazing started to happen. It was as if the dirt road I was running down was the dividing line between sunny skies over mountain peaks and dark thunderous clouds over swampy rice fields. I couldn’t help but see it as a metaphor for what I had been going through. For the past few months I had both this beautiful calm and blistery storm brewing inside of me. While I was running, I took a good look at both sides. I couldn’t help but see how each side was beautiful in it’s own way. It was impossible to truly appreciate the one without the other. I also found it funny, that there I was running right in between the two. So often I find myself balancing on the tight rope that is in my mind – balancing between giving over to my gloomy side and thriving in my sun-shiny side. I realized on that run, that sometimes you just have to let the two co-exist. To run between them so to speak. To continue forward.

By the end of my run, I was overcome with thankfulness for the both the new journey I find myself on, in regards to pairing my good intentions with actions, and also a thankfulness for the last couple months. Going through the dark can bring a whole new appreciation for the light.

I realized then that sometimes you have to just do it. Sometimes, even though it is thundering you have to go out anyway. The buck stops here, but everything that starts here is limitless.

The road I ran on. You can’t see the sun over the mountain ranges on the right, because the sun was too bright ❤

And sometimes it is all mixed into one glorious scenery

And sometimes it is all mixed into one: sunshine, thunder, clouds, endings, & beginnings 

Staying.

“When you stay with something instead of walking away, it builds something new inside of you, something solid and weighty, something durable. But you do have to wait for it. You have to earn it the hard way.”


Shauna Neiquist; Bittersweet

The other night I was having a particularly rough bout of homesickness. I was looking at pictures and imagining how wonderful it would be to sit in the same room with all these people that I love and be able to wrap my arms around their necks and tell them how very thankful I am to have them in my life and how I might possibly never let go of them again. After allowing myself to have a bit of a pity party, I decided a little distraction was in order and I picked up the book I am reading (Bittersweet) and I came across this quote not two minutes later.

It was one of those rare occasions where words literally seem to jump off of the page (or in this case, electronic device) and smack me in the face…in every best way possible. I had to sit there and let it mind marinate for a second. And like most things in life, I do not feel that this quote is black and white…or can be attached to every circumstance or person. Obviously, there are times when you must walk away. However, in my life, at this moment, I needed the reminder. I needed the reminder that there is a purpose to this homesickness and season I find myself in. New parts are being built inside me. Filled with new memories, new people, and new challenges.

I have seen hard moments, amazingly sweet, breath catching, once-in-a lifetime moments, scary moments, intimidating moments, funny/awkward/embarrassing moments…but the one thing that all these moments have in common is that they have passed me by. I have survived them. They didn’t kill me. And what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right? I like to think that in the hard moments, we are able to get a sense of what we are truly made of. I am learning that it is what I do in the hard moments that shape me and define me as a person. And thankfullly, there are plenty of hard moments…because I don’t always respond the way I wanted to the first time around. But I guess that is where grace comes in and second chances.

And I noticed that something funny happened as time went by. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months into years…or in my case a year. I look back and I realize that all of it – the good, the bad, the ugly (okay, and the embarrassing) have created relationships with the people here in my community. That is when I read this quote again and realized that my staying isn’t just creating new things in me, it is creating relationships between me and the people here in my little, northern, Thai village. All of the best relationships take time. They require the good, the bad, the ugly, the embarrassing (okay, and the awkward) in order to be deep, meaningful connections. Take for example, that cute married couple that has been together for 50 plus years, or the best friends that have known each other since kindergarten. That kind of connection isn’t built overnight. It takes time. It requires you to stay.

When it is all said and done, I don’t want my Peace Corps experience to be measured in the amount of English Camps I attend, Teacher Trainings I put on, or innovative teaching methods I use (or try to use). Instead, when my two years is over, I want to know that I have spent my two years building relationships with the people I am fortunate enough to have in my life for this very brief amount of time. Being apart of weddings, birthdays, holdiays, big moments, small moments, happy moments, sad moments, frustrating moments, exciting moments…because when it is all said and done life is really all about relationships. No man is an island. So when I am tempted to measure my success as a volunteer in numbers and in data, I stop and realize that it isn’t about success or failure. It is about living life alongside my community, learning from one another and growing in friendship. It is about pushing myself outside my comfort zone and watching all the beautiful and scary things that happen.

For me, right now, it is simply about staying.

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Class Picnic!

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Mattayom 1.1 trying to be artsy! 🙂

Love these girls!

Love these girls!

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Kindergarten Graduation!

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Mattayom 3 graduates!

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In the Details

There I was: tediously cutting my umpteenth wall decoration, coloring by hand all the pictures that could not be color printed, and fighting a losing battle with an old bottle of glue; thinking to myself…What is it that I am doing right now?? Shouldn’t I be teaching? Does this really even matter?? Is cutting out cutsie alphabet letters, coloring pictures, and glueing borders really worth my ENTIRE afternoon?…and probably the afternoon after that….

The conclusion that I came to was yes. Yes it does matter. I believe that actions speak louder than words, and hopefully my actions (although extremely miniscule) are sending the message that I care enough to worry about the details. I am not just concerned about how well my students can speak English, but I am concerned about everything else too. I want my students to have fun learning, I want them to have a space that they enjoy learning in, and I want them to feel cared for. Like most teachers, I want to give my students the best I have to offer. And if that means sometimes spending hours doing tedious (seemingly unimportant) busywork, then so be it. I will put in the hours.

But between all the cutting, coloring, and glueing something amazing started to happen….I noticed that I was not alone. My counterpart and students had joined in my crazy, time-consuming, tedious crafting whims…cutting, coloring, and glueing. Just like me.

That day I learned that details matter, that even the smallest actions have repercussions, and that Thai students are ridiculously good at coloring. 🙂

After that day, I became more aware of details. I started taking notice of the little things people do to show they care. Like how some of my students help clear off my desk at the end of every day. Or how my cup is never empty whenever I have a meal with my Thai friends (Note: this is only bad when I am drinking soda…who knows how many cups I end up drinking) And how my school sends home leftovers from school every day because they know I live alone…and am a terrible cook. The list could go on! However, it made me remind myself to stop and look for the little ways I can show my community, my counterparts, and my students that I care. Too often I get caught up in “making a difference” that I forget just how much of a difference my little, everyday actions can make.

So here I am to say that details matter. The little things you do for people count – more than you know. I believe that in order to truly appreciate the big picture, you must recognize all the little details taking place behind the scenes. It is like that one painting – made up of all the tiny dots. Without the dots, there would be no image.

For me, this is a perfect example of my relationship with Christ. In order to try and grasp the whole of His love for me, I must recognize the way He is in every detail of every day. You may not agree with me, and that is okay. But when the sun shines, the trees whistle in the breeze, and the shadows fall just right on the mountains I know that I serve a God who loves me and cares about the details of my life…even if that detail is as small as my need to see something beautiful that day.

So while I was crafting (who knew crafting could cause such introspective thinking), I challenged myself to recognize all the little parts of the day – the parts that would otherwise go unnoticed because I was just “going through the works” or concerned with checking another item off my to-do list.

I choose to appreciate the details – acknowledging the beauty that is in the simplest of actions…Constantly reminding myself to be grateful for the countless blessings that exist in every day…no matter how large or small. 🙂

 

Mattayom 1/1

Mattayom 1/1

Our almost finished door!

Our almost finished door!

Our favorite quotes. :)

Our favorite quotes. 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Our classroom wreath...made of outlines of students' hands!

Our classroom wreath…made of outlines of students’ hands!

The coloring/glueing factory line! :)

The coloring/glueing factory line! 🙂

The border...colored by hand.

The border…colored by hand.

Our classroom word wall! Our class made the border...turned out awesome!!

Our classroom word wall! Our class made the border…turned out awesome!!

Because sometimes this is what you find yourself doing as a volunteer....

Because sometimes this is what you find yourself doing as a volunteer….

One Year. One Word.

Every year, I like to pick a word that becomes my mantra. Two years ago I chose the word Fearless. During that year I moved into my first apartment, signed up for Peace Corps, and graduated college. It was a big year for me.

Last year, I chose the word Love. A word that I originally thought was elementary, but it turns out love is a pretty complicated thing. Since coming to Thailand, I have had to substantially add to my definition of love. My community has taught me sides to love that I didn’t even knew existed. I have seen the power of love and its ability to communicate without words. And for me, Love is the reason for it all….because if you think about it, love is how the whole world started.

But as 2014 came to a close, I was on the hunt for a new word. What would this new year bring? What will be my focus for the upcoming year? What is a word that can be applied to my journey here in Thailand?

I can’t really describe the way in which a word comes to me…but when it does, it reminds me of how it feels to complete the puzzle with the last piece. And just like that, I had my new word. Peace.

As I sat and reflected on the upcoming year, I noticed that there were a lot of unknowns. Which I guess kind of comes with the territory of living in a foreign country….and living in general. My head has this terrible habit of running a million miles a minute…it creates problems that don’t even exist and it worries about events that aren’t even likely to happen. For this reason, I desire Peace to become my new goal. I desire to be at peace with the time and place that the Lord has called me to. I desire to be at peace with my service…all that it is and all that it is not. I desire to be at peace with what I have…acknowledging the difference between what I need and what I want. And I desire to act intentionally…intentionally choosing my words, my thoughts, and my actions.

So with this new year I’ve been given, I desire to live simply, love fearlessly, and intentionally choose peace.

What will you do with your year?

 

Even though I wasn't home for christmas, it was still a day that I will always remember! <3

Even though I wasn’t home for christmas, it was still a day that I will always remember! ❤

 

We are all a bunch of goofballs in Mattayom 1!

We are all a bunch of goofballs in Mattayom 1!

Even without real snow, I still got to see a "snow man"...or maybe I should say "salt man"

Even without real snow, I still got to see a “snow man”…or maybe I should say “salt man”

I was so proud of Mattayom 1's christmas tree! We won 1st place! :)

I was so proud of Mattayom 1’s christmas tree! We won 1st place! 🙂

New Years in Chiang Mai...just a tad bit crowded!

New Years in Chiang Mai…just a tad bit crowded!

My New Year Lantern!!

My New Year Lantern!!

Somewhere on a bridge in Thailand I rang in the New Year!

Somewhere on a bridge in Thailand I rang in the New Year!

If you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai, you must go to "Butter is Better." They have the best coffee and food! In a classic American Diner theme...what more could you want?! :)

If you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai, you must go to “Butter is Better.” They have the best coffee and food! In a classic American Diner theme…what more could you want?! 🙂