After several exhausting days and questions about how our students would be affected, the thought of going to school on Monday was a little overwhelming. It was a good day, the students are doing well, thinking about deep things, working through their theology, enjoying the present.
So, in my World History class yesterday, we were supposed to have a quiz. I honestly didn't feel like teaching and the students, like always, didn't feel like working. But I had a plan, we had a lot to do, I was prepared, there was no getting around it. We spent the first several minutes praying and talking and just taking some time to shift our minds into learning. Right as I'm getting ready to have them put their stuff away for the quiz....
Student: "Miss Brown, do we have to take the quiz?"
Me: "Yes, of course you do."
Student: "But...maybe...well...er...what about open note...mumbling..."
Me: "You have to take the quiz. You had five days to study for it."
Student: "But, um, well, and I hope it's okay to say this...you're SO BEAUTIFUL."
Those were not the words I was expecting to come out of his mouth. I laughed long and hard. And then I let them take an open-note quiz. He was high-fived and I was cheered for. A great moment all around.
I've been sitting here staring at this screen for a while now, trying to figure out what to write. I've started and restarted at least 3 times.
This weekend, I've watched grown men weep and mothers cry out in anguish. I've been in a room where literally all the air has been sucked out and grief has slammed itself on our shoulders. I've cried tears and held hands and begged God and loved on friends.
I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.
I weep for the parents who're making tough decisions. I weep for the brother and sisters who will probably never see him again. I weep for my friends who are so broken. I weep for the children who saw things no child should see. I weep for my community that's still reeling with a new reality, a family that will never be the same, mourning loved ones who are so far away.
Please pray for school tomorrow. We have so many that are directly and indirectly involved. The father is a teacher, the brother and sister are students, the mom is a leader with our parents. It's a staff member, a co-worker, a friend, a student, a loved one.
Pray for the family as things are being decided. Unimaginably hard decisions, ones that no parent should have to make.
Pray for His peace and comfort and wisdom and guidance on my community here.
(I wrote this around 12:30pm today but didn't post it immediately because we needed to wait before telling others)
Today is parent/teacher conference day. I was all ready to write a witty anecdote about an adventurous tri-lingual p/t meeting I had yesterday. It was going to be awesome.
But about an hour ago, one of our staff kids, a 5th grader, had an accident. He fell about 30 feet and hit his head. He was out playing with his friends.
We are asking...begging that he is healed. That his lungs work properly and he can breath on his own. That his brain and spinal cord are spared from any permanent damage. That his body is completely whole. That the family can get to a better medical facility.
And now we wait. We wait to see where they'll take him to get the best medical care. We wait to find out what, if any, damage there is. We wait to see what HE is going to do.
I beg you to lift this little boy up, his parents, his sisters and brother, the other kids that witnessed the accident, our community. The way we are all intertwined here, it's not like this is just happening to someone I know or work with. It's happening to me. To my family. Each of us feels that way. A part of us has been damaged. We covet your thoughts.
We started the 4th quarter this week. 4th quarter!!! I can't believe how quickly time passes.
I don't feel like blogging but I'm trying not to lose steam so I'm making myself do these bullet point things. Less wit required.
There's a salt scarcity in China right now. Apparently, it's a common belief that table salt can save you from radiation. And it can. If you can eat 80 tablespoons of it. Which in and of itself would kill you first. But regardless of that last little tid bit of information, all salt has been purchased off of every shelf in every store. Seriously. I'm just hoping that parents AREN'T stuffing their kids full of it. Seriously.
I've had three parties at school this week. Why? Um, well the official reason is because we're celebrating that we're done with all our traveling. The unofficial? There is no reason; we just wanted to have a party. Just don't tell my boss.
I scrambled 3 dozen eggs this morning for one of those parties.
Spring break is in a week or so, next next week actually. I have my first house guest coming. She's a friend from here in China. I'm super excited.
I've heard gas is supposed to be $5 a gallon in America this summer. How in the world am I supposed to travel all over the country with that kind of expense? Arg.
The "great firewall" has been super great these last few weeks. It's been extremely difficult to access the most popular western websites. News, fb, blogs, social media...all of it's been blocked off and on for days. We're assuming it's due to the stuff happening in the middle of the world.
I teach 9th grade World History at my school, only one of the three classes. It's the only other thing I teach besides MUN. This is mostly because I would lose my sanity if I taught more than that.
Back to the 9th graders...they. are. awesome. When they showed up on the first day of school, there was this look of wonder and fear on their faces. I'm not making this up, I can still remember it. I think the wonder was because I'm just so loud and expressive. And I think the fear was probably because...I'm just so loud and expressive. For weeks, I could actually watch them measure me...is she cool? Is she mean? Is she crazy? Is she scary? All of these emotions would play across their facial features. I could hear their assessment in how they responded to me, how they played my games, and answered my questions. I had to push them to get involved, to participate. To laugh, to talk, to tell stories.
And then sometime in October, maybe, the scale tipped. They had decided, as a class, that I was fun and funny and worth listening too. I could feel it in they way they greeted me each morning and acknowledged me in the hallway. How they asked about my weekend and came to hug me at fellowship. How they threw me a birthday party, the first class to ever do that for me on their own accord.
I love how they laugh with me, sometimes at me, and get my jokes. They play my silly games and take care of me. They listen to my stories and laugh at all the right places. They clap for me or cheer when I make them happy. They make me feel like a rock star sometimes.
We had a game night at my house tonight. I had so much fun. Not in a "I'm-a-teacher-you're-the-student-and-I'm-trying-to-make-you-happy" sort of way. It was more like "you-guys-are-so-funny-and-can-we-hang-out-again-soon?" sort of way.
Sigh. My job makes me happy. These kids make me happy.
When one of our own is returning to America for a visit, the question asked most often is, "What's the first thing you're going to eat when you get off the plane?" Usually, it's answered with things like Whataburger, Chipotle, mom's home-cooked meal of _________ or something like that. I usually dream of Diet Coke, Taco Bell, Chili's and real Mexican food (do you see a theme here?).
In Qingdao, we actually have a pretty nice selection of Western food. And when I say "pretty nice selection" I mean, we have a couple of pizza places, a couple of fast foods, a Starbucks and a couple of sit-down restaurants. I'm NOT complaining. I'm quite happy with our options. I rarely have to eat Chinese with all the choices we have here. Not that I mind eating Chinese food...it's just sometimes with all the sauces and oil and goopiness, it gets old (I know you're thinking, "what is she going to do when she moves out west and there's nothing but Chinese food?" My response is, "I'll worry about that when it comes. For right now, let me enjoy my American-ness).
Even with all the western food places and import stores (we have a couple of those too), there are many things we just can't get here. Things like seasonal candy. More specifically, Easter candy. Most specifically, Cadbury Eggs.
Oh what I would do for a little nugget of creme and chocolately goodness right now!!
My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Peeling back the red and green and blue and yellow tin foil...biting into the chocolate ever so carefully as to not spill one single drop of the sickeningly-sweet (is "sickeningly" a word? it has so many suffixes) white and yellow creme, reveling in the sugar high that is soon to follow.
Sigh. A girl can dream....
P.S. I just read about a Cadbury Egg McFlurry. Now that really IS the stuff dreams are made of.
So, after 7 months of silence, I've decided to give it another row at blogging. This is post #2 of the day. Maybe that means something, maybe it doesn't. Remember: low expectations, high happiness.
Most of you know I do a lot of traveling for my job, you just may not understand why. Well, I coach volleyball, volunteer with Vida (spiritual getaway), take students on fall and spring trips and teach a class called MUN (Model United Nations). All of those trips add up to a grand total of about 55 days of travel/staying in hotels each year. Crazy right? I know!
The biggest part of all that travel is for my MUN class. MUN in short, is a conference that allows students to come together and discuss/debate/solve world issues all while representing a specific country. For instance, a student maybe representing the country of Iran while discussing nuclear proliferation. The student, regardless of personal opinion, must discuss, debate and resolve as if they were an ambassador from Iran. Loyal and true to Iranian law and leadership. They spend 3-4 days, 8 hours a day discussing the issues assigned to them in their forum. They practice public speaking, debating, compromising, role-playing...there's a lot more to it than that but those are the very basics.
Dun-da-da-da!!!! Sunday finished up the last MUN trip of the school year for me. Wahoo! I love traveling but I'm so glad to be done for a couple of months. Anyway, we went to Seoul, Singapore, Boston, Beijing and hosted one here in Qingdao (MUNiSC) this year. The big daddy being the one we host. Not in size but in work load. I spent the last 6 months preparing for this conference. We created a new website (found here) and did a bunch of other stuff (that I won't bore you with) to get ready. It was three days long, consisted of about 210 students, 20 advisors, 9 schools and a 5+ star hotel.
Life is full of the tedious. Alarm clocks, bus rides, grading, grocery shopping,. The same ole, same ole. I get up, I get ready for school, I teach, I come home, I go to bed, I start again the next day. There's the occasional insert of dinner with friends, day at Fellowship, and shopping trips but mostly my life is the same every day. I think sometimes it gets tiring.
Then the world shakes and thousands of people are gone in an instance. People who were doing the same tedious things I do. In fact, they may have been in the middle of the monotonous when the walls came crumbling down around them.
And that's when those boring, every day things become...more. More important. More valued. I have electricity that sets the alarm off, roads to ride the bus on, a school to do my grading in, and food in the grocery store to buy. I get to worry about what to have for dinner and where I'm going this weekend.
There are millions not too far from me that were worrying about the same things just last week and now...now, they have nothing. They're just grateful to be alive.
my old blog and how I used to write every day? It's been 7 months since I've written here. Maybe some day I'll pick it back up again. Hm...if I could just write without worrying about being witty or interesting...I think that would make it easier.
Maybe I should change my blog title to "Low Expectations, High Happiness". That could set the mood for readers when/if they ever come here again.