WELCOME TO 2018
BACK TO SCHOOL
We started up second semester on January 8TH. It’s hard to believe I’ve already taught an entire semester in Qingdao, but I absolutely adore my students. I teach Middle School, so all my classes and students stayed pretty much the same, which is a first time for me. When I taught high school in the States, I always had brand new students and classes with the arrival of the New Year. Instead, I was reunited with all my same students and am excited to start another great semester.
I did, however, add my Theatre class in the place of the Photography elective I was teaching. I had cast my show “The Jungle Book” shortly after auditions in December. I have a cast of 31 students and 17 students taking the sister course of Theatre Tech. Truthfully, I fluctuate back and forth between thinking putting this show together is the most impossible task anyone has ever asked me to do, and thinking this is going to be the coolest, most exciting experience of my entire year. We’ll find out which of these two thoughts are more accurate in the coming months. That being said, I really am striving to be intentional about giving this show the Father. I realize that I cannot hold onto every piece of this and expect success. Instead I will surrender it to the Father and p—y that my students take ownership and create something beyond what anyone could ever expect from a middle school theatre production. In the meantime, I will be crazy busy drawing set sketches, planning costumes, teaching things such as projection, memorization, and enunciation, along with a hundred other tasks. Yeah, we’re going to need all the p—y—rs we can get!
Other than the addition of theatre, my classes got off to a smooth start. We were even blessed to have some snow fall on our first day back to school (though I am informed that the snow we get never sticks in Qingdao). Course-wise, 2018 had a smooth and rather normal start.
Unfortunately, it was the rest of the start of this year has found my heart feeling like turtle crossing a busy street.
TRAGEDY IN LANDRUM, SC
I cannot find the words to explain my heartbreak at this news… especially after having lived through this once before during my time at Landrum High School. In the day following the news I found myself unable to think about much else. These young men are the fourth deaths Landrum has experienced in the past five years. From 2014-2018, every January has seen the death of a young Landrum man due to speeding and not wearing seat belts. That is so tragic. It is such a waste of young life. What makes it worse is that they are young men I know and loved. Tyler, Eli, and KK are three young men that I would never have forgotten. All three were big, memorable personalities and I have such cherished moments during my teaching career at Landrum with each of them. Tyler once told me – in the most serious voice ever after a lesson on “The Declaration of Independence” – that this VIDEO (which I showed at the end of the lesson) was the “best thing [he’d] ever seen.” I still laugh about that. On Thursday, I just wished so much to be back and Landrum to hug and p—y with all the loved ones these boys left behind.
My heart remains heavy and six thousand miles away in the halls of Landrum High School. As teacher, this is an experience, no matter how long it has been since a student has been in my class, that I will never get over. Once you’re ‘one of my kids’, you are always one of my kids.
If you think of it this week, will you lift up Tyler and Eli’s families? Please p—y for KK and the many battles (both physically and emotional) he faces in the coming days, as well as, my dear Landrum community.
A FAMILY SCARE
Still, when my mom told me about it I couldn’t help, but burst into tears. First of all, hearing about my brother in a car crash (especially days after learning about my students’ deaths in a similar accident) is terrifying. Also, it is a person who lives abroad’s worst nightmare for something horrible to happen to their loved ones while they are not there. I find myself wanting to be back with my family more than ever right now and recognize the enemy’s need for fear creeping into my soul.
Still, I recognize that this fear and these trials are from the enemy and I am not cowed. In our staff devotions on Monday our Head of School shared this verse,
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” * (2 Corinthians 4:7-12).
This is the verse I am bearing as the rallying cry of my heart. The Father has not left me and none of these scary situations have surprised Him or are out of His control. That being said, I am human and I feel a lot of fear and loneliness right now. Please praise the Father for preserving Nick’s life and ask for quick healing of his cuts and bruises.
DESTRUCTION IN QINGDAO
Now, not only does the village look like remains of a natural disaster, but most of the strays I’d come to love and care about have disappeared. The only one left, thankfully for me, is a large mutt I’ve named Oliver. I posted about him in that same blog. My relationship with these strays has been quite cathartic for me in my homesickness for my own dog and the familiarity he represents to my heart.
I decided to take my camera and walk through the destroyed village, realizing it had been one of the unique things about our neighborhood that kept us from being just another city ‘suburb’ so to speak. See if you can spot Oliver walking around with me, we’ve become great pals during the last few months. I remain thankful for the unexpected blessing of his friendship, but worry what the destruction of this village means for his future.