Tuesday, September 22, 2015

No... I'm Not the Same... And I'm Not Alone.

    September 22, 2015. September 22, 2014. Yes, it has been a whole year since I first set foot in Sunshine Orchard. A whole year! It hardly seems possible... But at the same time, it seems like I've been here forever. It is also hard to imagine leaving in three weeks from today. But it is comforting to know I will be returning in December.
    Oh, this place! How dear it has become to me! It isn't the campus... It isn't the beauty... It isn't the freedom... Those are all pleasant things yes, but they just add the the real source of joy. It's the people. It's the atmosphere. It's the place where I really began to LIVE, not merely exist. It's where my life began to have a purpose.
    If you have read my other blogs, I'm sure you can see why this place is so special. You can't help but love it with your whole heart. The kid are so precious... Irreplaceable. There isn't a single day that goes by but that I can thank God full of gratitude for giving me these special people in my life.
    To think of leaving in only three weeks is a crazy thought. How could time have slipped by so quickly? I am so excited to see my family and friends!! I'm so happy I will be home for a whole 7 weeks too! But I also know I will miss my kids and everyone else here so very much... It will be good to be back again after a break.
    As I look back over the past year, there is so much that has happened. So much that has changed my life forever. There have been more trials and opportunities for growth than I could have ever imagined! Sadly, I have not taken advantage of all of them. There have also been way more blessings and precious memories than I could have imagined!

    This is not the same little girl that walked away alone from those she held dear in an huge airport with tears streaming down her face and a terrible ache in her heart.
    This isn't the same little girl who lay on her bed alone at night in a motel in Chiang Mai and silently wept.
    This isn't the same girl who walked alone into a crowded chapel as the sky darkened and sat and stared with wonder and fear.
    This isn't the same girl who lay on her mat that night alone, silently screaming in agony of heart such as she had never before known as tears fell like rain on her pillow... Who's head began to throb and wanted nothing but to just go home right then.
    This isn't the same girl who fearfully and timidly sat in the back of Tharamu Suh Pweh's English classes to "help," as little girls filled her hair and hands with flowers and her heart with rays of happiness.
    This isn't the same girl who was asked to teach Tharamu Raquel's English classes when she left after the second term and was so scared at the thought that she couldn't even say no!
    This isn't the same girl who walked to classes that first day of teaching so nervously and with a constant prayer in her heart, pleading for help from the Master Teacher.
    This isn't the same girl who stood by the Steck's house and watched in silence and tears as the car rolled down the road, carrying her second family far away to her homeland and leaving her "alone."
    This isn't the same girl who was too shy and scared to go down to the children's home and ask when they wanted her to move in, so she sat in her hut for three days.
    This isn't the same girl who followed her feelings and made one of the biggest mistakes of her life, agonized through guilt and wretchedness, then struggled to believe in forgiveness and acceptance from God again.
    This isn't the same girl who walked to classes the first day of the 2015-2016 school year with excitement and a little apprehension and nervousness at the thought of teaching three classes instead of two and all of them full of energetic teenagers to look up to her.

    No.... I'm not the same. Praise God!  And I'm not alone. I now realize that I never was. Even when it felt so lonely, so empty, so frightening, God was still showing me that He was there.
    Like the key chain I saw through tear blurred eyes that said, "Jesus loves you." 
    Like being able to sit by an experienced flyer who just happened to be a dear friend. How on earth did she end up with the same flight as me on the same day? How did she end up in the same row on the plane? How did she then end up switching with a kindhearted lady so we sat by each other the whole 11ish hours? I know how. God loves me. God has a plan for me. God is still working. That's how.
    Like not having to really teach when I first got here, but was able to ease into it.
    Perfection? Still so far from it... But I have come to understand more fully the Love of my Father who is the origin of all perfection. Not only that, but He promises to mold and shape me after His own perfect will until I can be perfect as He is. It almost sounds too good to be true. But it is. Because God has said it. And His word never fails. What He says, that He will do. If we will only just believe...
    Oh, to have more of that faith! To even have as much as half a mustard seed... But just imagine if we had as much as a whole seed! That faith can move mountains. Jesus said so. It is the prayer of my heart to have more of that faith... That is may grow day by day, stronger and deeper. May it be your prayer as well. 

An old picture from last year... :)

Friday, September 4, 2015

This Love is God...This God is Love.

    August 26. The last day of exams for this term. Then school break for a week and a half. It hardly seems real that the first term is already over! Less than a month until my anniversary of arrival here at Sunshine Orchard. Two and a half months until I go home. I’m having mixed emotions in regards to all this. :)                (I started writing this last week.)
    As I look back over this first term, I am in awe. I can hardly believe so much has happened in such a short time! SO many lessons, trials, growing times, happy times, sad times, confusing times, overwhelming times… It is truly amazing. No, I should rather say that GOD is truly amazing! There is no way on earth that I could be where I am if He hadn’t been so persistent in drawing me and calling me. I am so far from perfect, true. But the One that I have the privilege of calling “Father” has always been perfect, and I know He won’t give up on me.
    This Love…. I can’t really understand it. With all the times I’ve turned away, with all the times I’ve fallen, with all the times I’ve rejected it… How could that Love still be there? How could it still wrap its arms around me and pick me up again and again? How could it still call, plead, persist every moment, every day? Because this Love does not abide in a human heart. Because this Love has existed for all ages, before time began. Because this Love is God. Because God is Love. So, all I can do is fall on my knees one more time and praise the One who has reached down to this fallen, broken child and grasped her hand with a grip that will never let go.
    I hope you can make some sense out of my ramblings… :)  Sometimes I sit down to write, and what’s in my heart just tumbles out.
    So, over this term, I have had so much fun teaching my kids! Every day is new and different. It can be quite challenging to know what to do sometimes though. Some days they are all hyper and talk a lot. Other days they are grumpy and quiet. When they are talkative, class is really fun. When they aren’t, it can be difficult to keep them involved, and it makes class less enjoyable.
    Sometimes they talk too much. They never talk too much in English, but they seem to forget my classroom rule of no speaking in Karen. They also forget that the punishment for the first offense is 40 squats, the second 80, and so on. I really struggle enforcing it at times! Part of me says, “I don’t want them to not like me. I don’t want to deal with this.” But then the other part says, “No, I must. I love them too much to not do it.” By God’s grace, it is getting easier all the time.
      Oh, the memories that these kids have helped me to create! They have me laughing so much… Sometimes it’s difficult to regain concentration and continue class. Other times they nearly have me in tears with how sweet they are.
    Like when I walk into grade 10 class and the boys were all singing. Saw Ku Shee was laying down with his head in Saw Eh Shee’s lap. Saw Eh Shee was looking down at Saw Ku Shee and acting goofy. Suddenly he looked up and discovered Teacher had come into the room and was watching him. His grinning face instantly turned to stone and he looked down. Than Than Aye and I burst out laughing, and then he looked up at me and grinned again.
    Like when I was in grade 10 writing the vocabulary words on the board for them to copy, and Saw Eh Shee says, “Teacher, you have a beard?” (‘Beard’ was one of the vocab words.) I replied, “Does it look like I have one?” They all laughed and Saw Ku Shee said, “You are too far away. I can’t see. You need to come closer.”
    Later in the same class I asked Maung Soe Thein to pray to close class. He looked at me with his typical eyebrows-raised-eyes-wide look and stuck his tongue out a little bit between his teeth. Then he grinned at me and prayed.
    Again in grade 10 one day, I was reading them the story, “Elijah and the Time of No Rain,” and they were answering questions about it. I would read a page twice, then read the questions on their paper and they would tell me the answers and write them down. One of the questions was, “Did Baal hear them?” Htee Nay Htoo pipes up from the back, “No. Gone to toilet.”
    In grade 6 one day, I was reading the phonics words on the board and they were repeating after me. Suddenly I didn’t hear the boys anymore, only the girls. After one more word, I turned around and said, “I don’t hear the boys.” They all burst out laughing! I continued on, but what a change had taken place in the decibels of the sound coming from behind me! I think they must have hurt their throats producing such volume. At one point, one of the boys made a squeaky/scratchy sound for one of the words and we could hardly continue we were laughing so hard.
    Later in the same class, I was calling them up one by one to circle a word on the board. In the past, I have said something like, “Saw Ta Pet, come circle _______,” and insert one of the words there. This time I wasn’t saying the “come circle” part, but every time I would call someone’s name, Tun That Win (Too Tha Way) would say immediately after me, “Come circle,” and then I would say the word. Some boy has been listening to their teacher!   
    I walked up to teach grade 9 one morning, and Saw Nay Soe was outside the building. He asked me, “How are you?” I said I was tired, but OK. He asked, “Are you sick?” I said I have had a fever every day for a long time. He then said with such concern, “Oh… I very sad Teacher sick.” Oh, if only you knew him and could have seen him as he said it! It was enough to melt my heart. That boy is so sweet.
    There was another time when Saw Nay Soe walked by the house in the morning and called, “Teacher Haley!” (He is one of very few who actually use my name.)
I said, “Yes?”
He said, “Good morning!” with joy and enthusiasm.
“Good morning, Saw Nay Soe!”
“Did you sleep very well?”
“A little bit well.”
“Ah… A little bit? Why?!”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? Ah…” with a big grin on his face.    

    This is just a little taste of what I get to enjoy form my students every day. But it isn’t just my students that provide humor… My fellow gullowah teachers can be quite amusing at times.
    One time I called Sharon after worship to see where she was, as she wasn’t at the house. She answered the phone saying, “Hi, Dad.” I was a little taken aback, because last time I knew I was NOT her dad! I said, “Uh, I’m not your dad!” We both laughed for a long time. She had read her phone as saying “Harvey”, not “Haley.” Once we were able to talk again, we got around to the initial purpose for my call. It wasn’t too long before we were laughing just as hard though, as she had thought I was Hannah after discovering I wasn’t “Dad.”
    Last week Hannah and I went to Mae Sot for our visa run. When we got to border, a Thai official stopped us and asked where we were from. Now you see, for missionaries this is a difficult question to answer without thinking longer than usual. We have a hard time deciding if we should say “America” or the current place we are living. Of course, this man wanted to know where we came from originally, but still when we were asked the question, Hannah was having this conflict in her brain, and thus stood there looking a little blank for a moment. The man then asked very seriously, “Do you speak English?” Hannah regained her composure at this point and said “Yes, we are from America.” A moment or two later he asked, “How long will you stay in Burma.” Hannah immediately replied, “Three years. Uh, just today! We will go and come back today.” She had somehow accidentally interpreted his words as, “How long have you been in Thailand?” Never mind the fact that she’s been here for four years…
    During the school break, teachers can become quite amusing. One day Sharon was leaning up against Hannah, and Hannah said, “Sharon… I’m not a hitching post.”
    Later while laying the vinyl in the Steck’s new house, Mr. Steck said, “This stuff has shortening in it.” Hannah said, “Shortening??” Mr. Steck replied, “Yeah. It keeps shortening.”

    Here are a few pictures from life around here recently. I hope you enjoy them! :)

I've seen this happen at least twice since being here. I'm thankful for such beauty God gives us!

When the power goes out, what do we do? We use candles, of course! And then we take pictures of them. ;)

Occasionally we have a little "distraction" come to visit us. ;)  Ellen is Thara Eh K'nyaw's youngest daughter. She loves to "help" us with whatever we're doing.

"I want to play the violin too, Tharamu Hannah! Can't I just grab it from you?"

She is getting really good at walking.

And grinning too.

And both at the same time!

She loves my bed for some reason... She will walk over to it and plop herself down, climbing all over it.

Some weeks ago, each class had a picnic with their class teacher. We played games, had worship, and ate together. Because I am Grade 9's class teacher, I was in charge of making the picnic happen for that grade. It was lots of fun! It can be discouraging sometimes when they are all chattering away and I can't understand everything, but just being with them is fun anyways. I am learning too, so I hope one day I will be able to understand everything they say. :)

Playing volleyball.

The kids had my camera nearly the whole time. I only took a few pictures at the beginning, and they took the rest. This is when we had worship. K'nyaw Paw translated for me. I am so proud of her! I speak too quickly sometimes, so I have to repeat myself. She did very well!

Sah Paw Mwee and July Paw.

My funny boys who had the camera were very insistent on taking pictures and videos of me. And everyone else, for that matter. I was comforted that it was my camera at least.
Last Friday we put down some of the vinyl in the Steck's new house. It was kind of challenging to figure out how to cover the whole floor, but it was mostly fun. :)

Sharon isn't very thrilled with her neem leaf tea. It is to try help with this low grade fever/tiredness bug we have.

Staple gun fun...

I thought the floor looked cool... And getting Sharon in the picture wasn't too bad either. For a while we were all sacked out on the floor.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Smiles and Tears...Always Blessed

    July 19?! No, that can’t be right… Wasn’t it just January 19 not long ago? Yikes… I am more amazed every day at how quickly time is passing by! It encourages me to work even harder, for time is so short! :)
    So much has happened since I last wrote that I hardly know where to begin! Perhaps I will just begin relating various happenings one at a time…
June 18…
    I walked into grade 10 and sat down in my chair at the front of the class. The students all sat on the floor with benches for tables at that time, so I looked down at one of my front row girls, Tin Tin Aye (pronounced “Tay Tay Aye”), raised my eyebrows and smiled. She did the same and we both laughed. Then she said, “Teacher, today I think you very happy!” I said, “Yes!” She asked, “Why?” I was a little surprised with her question, but replied, “Because Jesus loves me and helps me with everything I do.” She smiled and nodded her head.
    I got to thinking about this a little later, and God brought to mind that when I choose to give Him my all, let go of my worries and stresses, and be happy in His love, others will see it! Also, when I am not choosing to do this, they can see that too. By God’s grace, I want to always choose peace and happiness in Jesus!
June 21…
    This was a hard day. Mo Mo Doh had asked me if I could move in with Hannah and Sharon, as they were really wanting to use the room in the children’s home where I was staying for more children to stay in. I had been thinking and praying for a while before that about my housing situation.
    I loved living in the children’s home… Rather, I loved the children and the time I got to interact with them… But at the same time I just didn’t have complete peace about staying there for some reason. I missed being with the Stecks too. So this request came as a relief as well as a source of sadness. Oh, how I would miss seeing these precious children every day!
    During supper that evening, Mo Mo Doh and I were talking more about my moving out, and Mu Wah Wah, one of the little girls who is maybe 7 years old, got very serious and said very sadly, “Mama, my no want Teacher Haley to move out.” Mo Mo Doh replied that she didn’t want it either, but they needed that room. Ah! My heart… My eyes didn’t stay very dry with that one. Of course, I couldn’t just start crying, but if I had been alone I’m sure I would have.
     So yes, a day or two later I moved all my things into the Stecks’ new house across the road where Hannah and Sharon are staying. Mr. and Mrs. Steck are still staying at their old house while the downstairs of the new house is being finished.
    It was a difficult but refreshing change. There have been times since then that I have been brought to tears remembering how much I miss my daily interaction with all those munchkins, small and big, but I know this is a better situation for me ultimately. God knows what He is doing.
June 23…
    Grade 10 had just finished their English exams, and since there was still class time left, I started to grade them while I sat there. Of course, many of them crowded around, waiting to see their exams and their classmates too. After I was finished, I was putting them in my folder when I heard Htee Nay Htoo, who had been watching through the window right behind me. He sounded shocked and horrified as he exclaimed, “Teacher!! Who?!” I held up the exam in my hand for him to get a better look. He then said with much relief and a hint of amusement, “Ah! Tharamu Haley!” I laughed!! You see, I had printed an extra exam, and had filled it out with my red pen while they were completing theirs. So, when Htee Nay Htoo saw an exam full of red ink, he wanted to know who in the world had done so poorly!
July 6…
    Sharon has been sick for more than a month now with this strange sickness that many of us are catching. It isn’t horrible for most of us-just stubborn! It lasts for a long time. Sharon got it very bad though. She wasn’t able to do much of anything for a couple weeks. While she was really sick, we moved her to the old house where food, medicine, and a bathroom were right there in the house, making it easier for her nurses to take care of her. Hannah and I also temporarily moved over with her.
    Anyways, this particular night we were getting ready for bed when Sharon commented while looking at her feet, “Boy, my feet are just really cracked up. I mean, they’re not laughing yet, but…”
July 7…
    Mr. Steck: “I just love when those vegi capsules do a handstand in my throat.” “It does a backflip and lands on my epiglottis.”
    Sharon: “Whoa! What’s going on?! Why is my computer acting normal??”
    I forgot to record the date on this one, but one day I walked into grade 10, and Htee Nay Htoo says with a big grin, “Teacher, this evening… Uh, last night! I dream you teach grade 10 new song.” Hint hint… hehe
     Some days after that, I again walked into grade 10, and Htee Nay Htoo says, “Teacher, last night I dream you play game with grade 10.” Right after that Saw Ku Shee says, “Teacher, last night I dream you read the story and I translate.” Ok, boys, I get your point. Htee Nay Htoo likes to learn new songs and play games, and Saw Ku Shee likes to translate stories for me.
July 11…
    This Sabbath… Never to be forgotten! My tenth graders with their class teacher, Tharamu Jonalyn, were in charge of AY that evening. I was asked to play the piano for one of the group songs, and play piano and sing with Saw Ku Shee for another one. As I sat there listening to the program, I couldn’t stop smiling and my heart was so full! You see, they were doing nearly the entire program in English! They recited memory verses in English, the Ten Commandments in English, songs in English, even the words of encouragement in English, with another student translating into Karen. Oh, I was so proud of them! There is nothing like listening to your English students speaking so much English… An unforgettable experience for certain.
    When it came time for Maung Soe Thein to recite the 23rd Psalm, he did so well for it being quite long! But when he said, “My cup runneth over me,” Hannah and I were covering our faces in an attempt to conceal our laughter!
July 17…
    (You may have seen this on Facebook already, but this is for those who haven’t read it yet.) :)
    I tell you.... I never realized before what teachers go through until being one myself. I can now understand more about what my teachers must have gone through... What other teachers continue to go through.... The joys, the heartbreaks, the smiles, the laughter, the tears....
    This day was beautiful.... As I sat in the hallway waiting for grade 10 to be finished with their Thai class, one of my ninth graders came over and started talking to me. He asked me how long I would stay and teach here. I explained how I would go back to America in November, then come back here in December for another 15 months and that I wanted to stay forever. He then asked what "Teacher Marie" (Hannah Powell) was doing and if she would come back. I told him she was going to school and I didn't know if she would be coming back. He then said, "She is very good teacher." I smiled and nodded and very soon he walked away. As I sat there thinking, the devil started putting thoughts into my mind and my eyes became wet. "Of course she's a good teacher-much better than you. Your students would much rather have her than you. She is way more qualified for this job than you. What are you doing here anyways? Why did God call you here? There is surely someone better for this job. You're failing. You can't do it." But then the thought also came, "There's no one else to take your place. You are needing. If you leave, who will do your work?"
    I walked into class feeling less than happy and confident, but I managed to smile and act mostly normal. Then, at almost the end of class, one of my boys, Htee Nay Htoo, asked me, "Teacher, you will go?" Me: "Go? Where?" He just asked again, "You will go?" I looked at him with a puzzled look and cocked my head to one side. I then asked out of curiosity, "You want me to go away?" His response warmed my heart to its very depths and sent a smile to my face. "NO, NO!! I just ask you...." He was so intent that I should know that was NOT what he meant at all!
    It wasn't until later that God brought the connection to my mind.... Right after I was feeling like a flat-out failure, like my students didn't really love me anyways, God gave me that little special moment to remind me.... I am loved. I can do some good, however little. If I left today, someone would miss me. Even if it was only one person, though I know that isn't the case. Maybe other people are better than me. Maybe they are more loved. More qualified. But that doesn't matter… Because God has called me, and I am only a failure when I give up striving to do the work God has given me. By His grace, I determine to keep going, to keep learning, to keeping loving. Even if I can't see the results. If I am faithful to the end, I will see the results in Heaven. And if I am called to live the rest of my life working here; if I am called to be faithful unto death here in this beautiful land serving these beautiful people.... I will count it one of the highest privileges I could ever receive. :')

    There are so many things that happen around here, I can hardly begin to tell you of all of them… I wish all of you could experience them for yourselves! I will most likely be writing another post soon, as there is just too much in my head to fit into one post without it being far too long and tiring. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I Am a Miracle


    It is so hard to believe more than one whole week of school is behind us already! Talk about time flying! I can only praise the Lord for bringing me through, and not just that, but also making one of the most fun weeks of my life! It was one miracle after another…
    Sunday, July 7, was a little (OK, more than a little!) stressful, but exciting as well. Not just for me, but for a lot of the staff here at S.O. (stressful especially Hannah Steck, who is like everyone’s personal assistant since she can speak Karen. No joke). With school starting on Monday, there was a lot of preparation that still needed to be done. People were running to and fro all day.
    I didn’t find out until I think it was that afternoon that on Monday there would be no classes, but rather we would be giving the students their notebooks, pens, and pencils, taking attendance, as well as getting their picture, height, and weight. Sounds simple, right? Perhaps so, but it isn’t at all!! Trying to accomplish this in one morning for about 265 students between the ages of 5 and 21 is…well, chaotic to say the least! That’s not mentioning going over all the school rules and other important information with the students.
     Monday morning I had butterflies in my stomach. Even though I wasn’t going to be teaching, I knew that I was going to be the class teacher for grade 9, so I had to give them their school supplies, take their attendance in their classroom, and make sure they all got back to the chapel for the height, weight, picture taking process.
    The way they work things here is whatever teacher teaches the first class period of the day will be that class’ “Class Teacher.” This is the one who takes class attendance each morning, organizes any class outings/activities, etc.
    So, yes, I was a little nervous--afraid of making a mistake and fearing what the students would think of me mostly. T’was silly of me, but I am slowly overcoming it by God’s grace.
    I wasn’t just nervous though. I was excited too. You see, I knew most of the students in my classes to some degree, and I loved each one very much. These kids are so funny and special! I was greatly looking forward to being with them every day.
    The chapel bell rang at 7:50, and we all hustled off to find our places on the wooden floor. When Thara Joko (Mr. Steck--this is the Karen term for ‘principal’) had finished his very short worship talk, he went over all the school rules. After this, he called all the teachers up front to introduce them and explain what classes they would be teaching. My heart was beating hard as I walked up there to stand in front of nearly 265 students, all with their eyes fixed in that direction. I awkwardly stood there, trying to not look too awkward, as Thara Joko introduced each of the teachers. When he got to me, I couldn’t help smiling, as I was just so happy to be teaching the grades I had.
    “And this is Tharamu Haley. She will be teaching English to grades 6, 9, and 10.” I happened to look at the boys’ side while he was speaking, and I saw two of my 6th grader boys, who I had taught last year in grade 5, trying not to smile too big. I smiled even more, but I was amazed too. They were happy I would be their teacher again? But why? I thought I had failed miserably as a teacher… I didn’t see what there was to be happy about. Oh, how my heart sang though! God was showing me once again… I am loved. I am useful. I am appreciated. Not just by students, but most importantly by God. He took my feeble, and what I thought were failing, attempts to teach and made some good come from it all. This gave me more courage and joy than anything else! Praise God!!
    After all this was finished, the classes were dismissed with their class teachers to go to their classrooms. As we walked to the grade 9 classroom, several of my 9th and 10th grade girls talked with me a little. “Good morning, my class teacher!” “Teacher Haley--my class teacher!” “Good morning, Teacher! How are you?” I couldn’t have been happier.
    Once in the classroom, I called out their names and marked the names on my paper as present or absent. This being finished, I asked two energetic boys to go and get the school supplies for all the students. While we waited, they all chattered away in Karen with me listening and trying to pick up a word or two here and there.
    School supplies being received, we all headed out the door, either to the dorm to “quickly” deposit said supplies before going to the chapel or straight to the chapel. On my way back, I heard, “Teacher Very Tall.” Now, there is only student who calls me that and also only one student with a voice like that, so I knew who it was before I turned around. As Saw Eh Soe came up alongside me, he asked something about whether or not we could continue violin lessons that week. Then he asked, “Teacher, this year you will be grade 9 class teacher?” I replied with a smile and a “yes.” His response? “Oh…” I couldn’t quite tell what that meant, but it sounded of at least a little pleasure. :)
    Back at the chapel, I was pulled into helping with measuring the students. How it worked at first was like this: students sat around on the floor until Sharon or Hannah called their name to get their picture taken. Then they moved over to me to have their height taken, then to Thara Joko to get their weight taken. Not much later we asked Thara Lar Bweh to do the weight, with Thara Joko writing down the height as I told him what it was. Then Hannah and Thara Joko swapped places because it was easier for Hannah to understand and find the names of the students as they came through.
    We wrote down the last height and weight around 12:00 p.m. That was one set of stressful 4 hours that we were thankful were over with! We collapsed onto the floor for a bit, and then departed to rest before lunch at 12:30.
    Tuesday morning I had butterflies in my stomach again. But I was too excited to care. Oh, how different this time of beginning teaching was compared with last time! Last school year, I walked to class my first day full of fear, nervousness, stress, and doubts. This year I walked to class my first day full of a little nervousness, but mostly unspeakable joy at the opportunity to teach such amazing students and at the mercy and grace of God! He has taken a shy, fearful, doubting, weak young girl and given her courage, confidence, hope, joy, and peace! I cannot praise Him enough!!
    That first day in class could not have been better, praise the Lord! The students were spunky and fun, and overall it was a wonderful experience. I loved their reaction when I told them my “rule” and the punishment if it is disobeyed! The rule is simple, but not easy for Karen to follow: you may not speak in Karen in class. The punishment? Forty squats for the first offense in one day, eighty for the next offense, etc. It adds up the more times you disobey. When I told them “40 squats” they all asked with some surprise, “40 squats?!” When I assured them that is what I had said I got many an, “Oh!” Saw Ku Hsee in grade 10 informed me, “Forty squats? Teacher, we will die!” Oh, you won’t die. You just won’t speak Karen in class, right? One can only hope… hehe
    Monday, June 15, was the first day I really enforced my “rule.” I told my students that last week I was giving them a break to get used to the rule, but this week I would be serious about obeying it. I was reminding them all the time last week about not talking in Karen. Monday before we began class in each classroom, I told them again that this week I am going to be serious with my rule. The result? Three boys in one class and one boy in another are a little healthier than their classmates due to exercise of their legs. Oh dear… Those precious boys! I asked each one if they would talk in Karen tomorrow in class. All except one replied they would not. That one other boy said, “Maybe.” I told him if he did, that means that he wants more squats. Lol
    God has given me special memories all week. Like the day that a sweet 10th grade girl carried my bag to class for me. Or the time that Saw Eh Soe kept trying to take two of everything when I told him to only take one. Or the time the row of boys just couldn’t start reading from the board all at the same time and had to start over who know how many times. Or the time that Saw Eh Shee drew a heart around the phonics word on the board instead of circling it. Or the time Htee Nay Htoo walked into class and said, “Teacher, this evening… Uh, last night! I dream you teach grade 10 new song.” (Was that a hint? Lol) Or the time Has Khu Htoo wrote for a sentence, “Tun That Win’s wife alone.” Or when Saw Ku Hsee wrote for a sentence, “If we cut our hair like Thai students our teacher admire very much.” (And also wrote his name as “JK2” on his paper, informing me that was his new name.) Or when Dee Aung Shwe wrote, “I don’t adopt anyone because I don’t have money.” Or when Eh Kaw Ku wrote, “Me fat man abdomen is very big.” Or when Saw Eh Shee wrote, “I am adult so I will help my teacher to work.” All little things that help so much to brighten my day even more… :)   
    Let me tell you something in case you didn’t know it already… I am not naturally a teacher. I have never been what I considered to be good “teacher material.” I have always been shy, awkward, and not nearly as friendly as I wanted to be. But I have always loved very deeply, even though I’ve had a difficult time accurately expressing my love.
    So, it is all a miracle. A miracle that I am teaching. A miracle that I’m not afraid anymore. A miracle that I am excited to teach. A miracle that I have courage, peace, and joy. A miracle that my students learn anything. A miracle that they love me. A miracle that I am doing any good at all.
    No one can say it is me…because none of it is. It is only God doing all this through me. I have so much to learn yet…but I will not give up because I know that God still loves me and will help me every step of the way. He has shown me this time and time again. Over and over I have seen evidence that there really is a God in Heaven. There really is a Love that will not let go. There really is a Power stronger than anything that has existed or ever will exist. GOD IS LOVE. This is the message that rings out clearly throughout all eternal ages and has found a place in this tiny human here. And it has turned a curse into a blessing. I am a miracle. Praise the Lord forever and ever!!