Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Remember the CAT Tests? Maybe not. Perhaps you were a member of the CTBS Test generation, like me. Sorry, I don't know what came before CTBS Tests! I didn't mind the tests, though I was always curious about who was going to evaluate the results. Was there a fancy education hotshot in Ottawa looking for the bright and brilliant of Saskatchewan?

Anyway, my kids are writing their CAT tests this week. And they are thrilled. Riiight. As I wandered the room, enforcing the proper and accurate darkening of the precious circles, I started to pray for them. I was reminded of how prayer has the power to move us and change us as we go. As I thought about their family situations, their struggles, their strengths- my compassion and desire to serve them increased. I also felt assured of what I could do to breathe encouragement and love into them. I need to pray for my kids more often.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Turkey Sandwich Symptom

What I really have felt the past two weeks is just this: I miss my Mom, and I miss my Grandma. This has got me thinking about my roots, because these two women are so deeply a part of who I am. What tipped it all off was a longing for my mom's sandwiches. Seriously. White OK-Economy bread with turkey sandwich meat and cheese. And Mom usually added butter back in those days. Throw in a token piece of fruit, and a butterscotch pudding or an apple sauce. Of course there's a lot more to it than No Name sandwich meat. I just miss her all over! The everyday chats and fixings of encouragement and friendship from Mom. I wish that we were living in the same place. I'm glad we'll have one more day in HK, together with the rest of Team India- that would be June 18, and then summer is just around the corner!

And then there's Grandma. It's her 91st birthday, you know! I was telling my students about my Grandma. How she has a legacy, or perhaps a profession, in letter writing, makes a mean cinnamon bun and loves flowers and granddaughters (okay, and people in general). So we decided to write Grandma McMillan letters. A good ol' fashioned handwritten birthday letter, with a wealth of stamps of all kinds for home-made fancy letter writing paper. They did a fantastic job, and don't tell Grandma, but we're sending one a day. I hope it brings her cheer, and just a sampling of the encouragement that has been spread through her own letter writing. I am so looking forward to seeing both Grandma and Grandpa this summer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Brought to you by the white chocolate mocha at the coffee shop...

I'm getting no love from Apple these days. Before I went to Korea, my ipod died. I decided to buy a new nano. I left my nano on the bus in China on the weekend. Smooth move. It is being returned to me in the mail. This is good. My Macbook went into a deep sleep about a week ago, and I'm hoping the Apple fix it fellows are working wonders right now. She won't be back for another ten days. Sigh. So I'm at the coffee shop. I could blog at school, but I really don't feel much in the mood for it at the end of the day.

So if I were feeling like a more energetic blogger, I would catch you up on the latest. The latest stretches back to the Jeonju days, which demand at least one solid blog entry (the food earns a post of its own)! That will be coming soon. I might also tell you about this past weekend, when I went to China with my high school basketball guys. They enjoyed titling it the "China Tour". The China Tour ended up mostly rained out, or alternatively known as the China Ping Pong Tour (what do you in China when you can't play basketball outside?). However, the one game we managed against the government church team (similar to our "church hockey teams" at home), was a classic. Unfortunately, I was reffing...

Lately I'm spending time after schools working with the Grade 3 and 5 students on our spring musical- "Donkey Tales". Last night I watched the Hairspray special dvd features to inspire me in my role as drama director. The theme song goes something like this..."Donkey Tales are long. Donkey Tales are short....Hee haw, Hee haw". Sounds like the makings of something epic, hey?!

I can almost taste summer. Almost...but not quite yet. I have a ticket home so that makes it seem more real. June 29 is the day I return to big skies, clean air, Timmy's, real chocolate milk....and hopefully and most importantly, you!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

what I found under the bridge

The past week has had its fill of ups and downs. Looking back on the week, I'm going to try and ride with the highs, learn from the lows, and walk in freedom.

Yesterday I had the chance to help give out rice boxes to street sleepers. I couldn't speak with those we met, but I hope they sensed God's love in me nonetheless. I sensed that the rice box, although helpful, was not the primary need. As my Chinese friends chatted with a beautiful old man living under a bridge, I saw a greater hunger to be loved and wanted than to be fed. He was smart, and funny, too. When he learned that I was a teacher, he called me a "soul engineer". He seemed to soak up the attention and company. I thought of how Christ meets our hunger- the aches in the stomach, and the greater aches in our souls. As we walked away, I hoped that our friend felt less alone in the world.

I felt a similar hope in a number of conversations I shared with friends this week. Simple but powerful is reminding each other that we're not in this alone.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Grade 5 Surprise

I've been slightly suspicious but more amused at the antics of my students this week. Something was brewing. Little giggles. Whispers. Sneaking around with little white checklists. "Miss McMillan, what's your favorite color?"

Before lunch I could sense it was becoming more difficult for the excitement to stay hidden.
After lunch I returned to a streaming door of pink, covering our castle. Inside were 16 kids all singing "Happy Birthday" and a new rendition of "Joy to the World". Mango cake. Monster card. Noise. A Starbucks drink. Lots of balloons and streamers. Gifts. Teddy bears. Snacks. They had covered all the bases! I must say it was impressive display of organization and planning! Everyone had a part. What a sweet bunch, hey?! I felt the love!!

Here's a couple pictures they put in a card for me (click to enlarge). Pretty funny!! The last few at the bottom are of the big party.

"Happy Delayed Birthday" :)

"I will be your friend. Don't be sad. We are here!"

"Happy Belated Birthday, Miss McMillan!"

Friday, April 04, 2008

Ooolsan; Part 2

It's been a week since I returned from Korea. I am overdue to collect some highlights of the trip, because it was a fantastic time!

My time in "Ooolsan" was marked by interesting tours around the city and outside of it, delicious meals, beautiful accommodations and best of all, great visits with my friend Snowy and her family. One of the key themes was that Hyundai is taking over the world. Ulsan is home to the Hyundai Heavy Industries ship building factory. Snowy's Dad is one of the VP's of HHI. Snowy works as an English secretary for a company within HHI. And Snowy's husband is an engineer for the Korean Navy Destroyer ship, which is also within HHI. They drive Hyundais. They shop at the Hyundai Department Store. Snowy went to school at Ulsan University, which was funded by Hyundai. I stayed at the Hyundai Hotel. They call themselves "The Hyundai Family".

I really enjoyed the tour of the HHI ship building factory. It was incredible to see such massive vessels in their various stages of construction. The most fascinating vessel was the one designed for offshoring. It was crazy! The structure was incredibly intricate- it gave me a headache just looking at it. The price tag of that monster is over one billion.

I experienced a variety of Korean foods while in Ulsan. We had stone pots of tofu soup, delicious Korean hotpot (they call it "shabu shabu"...sounds fun, hey?), a bit of sushi (and not more, not such a fan of the raw stuff), and, my personal favorite, Korean bbq "bulgulgi". Oh, it's so tasty!!

It was so good for the heart to see Snowy again. It was even better to meet her family. We spent quite a bit of time reminiscing about her days with us in Canada. They were incredibly generous hosts and I felt so spoiled by their kindness! I'm hoping that I get the chance to play host to them while I am in Hong Kong.

Follow this link for pictures from my weekend in Ulsan.