Monday, March 30, 2009

The Joys of Teaching at an International School :)

I love my job. I mean, I seriously love my job (at least this week). I just got back from a week of "work" in Malaysia. Basically, I went with 2 of my closest friends (and about 8 other teachers from my school) to a conference here:



During my 6 day trip I met many new friends, heard some interesting talks, learned many useful things, and spent every afternoon here:


And my work paid for most of the trip!! Malaysia was beautiful and it was very tough to come home. Alas, I was comforted by the fact that in just 5 days, I will be here playing with kids in the Beulah home orphanage in Bangalore, India:


If that isn't enough, I know that I will be here watching my soccer girls (who are presently in 2nd place!) play in Beijing the week after that:


Finally, as if life isn't already great, I just bought two tickets for trips at the end of the school year. First, I am heading to Thailand to meet people already working to fight human trafficking in the region. Then I fly back to the states (June 18)! Life is good :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A trio of blog posts: #1- introducing my new baby

I finally made the plunge and invested in a Canon 400d SLR camera! Here it is:


I haven't really had any time to play around yet, but here were my first few pictures taken in Seoul :) So excited to get to know my new baby and take pro shots of all the amazing places I get to see.


The view from my bedroom window

#2- soccer update

The girls continue to do well. This week we had 2 wins and a tie. Not bad :)
Season record thus far: Wins: 6 Losses: 1 Ties: 2


Another picture stolen from Ted (Tiece and I attempt to repeat our "goal just scored" pose from last year)

#3- Spring is here...

and I LOVE it. Welcome back skirts and flip flops :) One day till I leave for Malaysia to add that nice spring tan to the picture. This California girl is happy!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My how I love these girls!













Week 2 update- Wins: 4 Ties: 1 Losses:1; Current league ranking: 2

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Soccer Week 1

This week marked the start of the girls' soccer season. Monday and Tuesday of this week were filled with practices that attempted to undo the damage of a week of school vacation. Then Wednesday was our first away game. After a 2 hour bus ride to Seoul, our girls pulled off a win against SIS (which counted twice because of scheduling issues). Thursday we did some intense conditioning in the icy rain. Then Friday was our first home game against SAHS, last year's first place team. The girls tied 0-0 and had numerous opportunities to score winning goals. To conclude our week, we took a 7 am bus ride to Seoul yesterday morning and defeated KIS 4-0.

While the girls are not playing as pretty of soccer as they are capable of, I can't complain too much. Three games down, still undefeated. Not a bad start.

Two pics stolen from Ted's facebook:


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Promised Reflection- Philippines Habitat for Humanity

When I try to sum up my experiences in the Philippines last week, two prominent words encapsulate the trip: overwhelming hospitality.

I have never in my life experienced such an extreme overflow of genuine love from total strangers. Countless home cooked meals, multiple hand woven hats, endless smiles and hellos, dozens of thank yous, and about 15 musical/dance performances were offered to us throughout the week. We were in the Philippines to serve (and we did), but I am quite sure that the people there served and touched us as much, if not more, than we impacted them.

A few brief stories to illustrate the love I referred to above: one of the skilled workers on the house building site, Juanito, was a carpenter skilled in wood carving. He took the time and money to carve intricate designs into a bar of soap for each of us on the trip. In other words, Juanito took about 3 weeks worth of wages and about 15 hours of time to carve all 17 of us soap designs. He stayed up late the night before we left and rushed to our hotel early the morning of our departure to give us his generous gift.

Another brief example of the connections we built with the people: one of the most meaningful aspects of the trip was the constant interaction we had with the kids in San Luis (the small community we built the homes in). Most of the families in the community had 5 or more children and kids lined every scaffolding at the work site as we fumbled about with plaster. Each time we paused our labors, they shouted hello or asked if we were okay. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Hi M’am Sarah” or “Happy early/late birthday M’am Sarah” from tiny joyous faces. Every time a camera was pulled out, kids were leaping to smash their bodies into the frame. As the week continued, I began to trust certain kids with my camera and they ran around digitally capturing their lives—the animals, the houses, their friends. As we pulled out of the work site for the last time, the kids chased our van in a mass handing us flowers they had ripped from tiny gardens and shouting out their love for us. Their beautiful faces reflected their deep faith in God and their willingness to share everything they had with others. Their eyes and grins will forever be engraved in my heart.

One of the things that I really appreciated about the trip was the attention that our hostess, Pastor Adriana, paid to making sure we had a rounded experience. We really saw a wide range of aspects life in Aurora. We spent time on site, experienced many steps in the building process, got to be present for a house dedication, and had the opportunity to tour several completed (and lived in) homes. Apart from the work, we visited the local high school and technical college, spent time with the mayor and municipal council members, surfed the famous Baler beach waves, hiked up to the waterfall that powers the area, and stopped at a memorial for tsunami victims.

Overall, my trip to the Philippines was an amazing experience. I came back exhausted yet revitalized. As with all the other mission trips I have been on, I was struck by the way that people in poverty have their priorities straight. The Filipinos I met showed me what loving God and loving other really looks like.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Philippines

My trip to the Philippines was absolutely amazing. I have never met a more loving and hospitable group of people than the people of Aurora Province. I promise a comprehensive reflection will come. In the meantime, a few quick pics and videos:

We got an incredible welcoming:
video

More kid performances at our orientation ceremony:
Building:
Some of the beautiful children on site: (my favorite child-- she was cold faced until day 3 when I found her ticklish spot! Almost cried when she grabbed for my outstretched fingers as the bus pulled out the last night!)

Video of kids playing:
video

The beach we stayed across the stress from:
Links to my facebook albums with more pics:
Album 1
Album 2
Album 3