Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When things don't go as you expected...

The last week has been hard. A week ago, the HK Education Bureau decided to shut down all the primary schools due to a couple of local cases of swine flu. The decision came quickly and within an hour of hearing the news, our year in grade five (and my three years teaching in HK) came to a teary close. We ended up having about half hour to share the news with the kids, somehow get their stuff (from a year!) all packed up, and give lots of hugs and last goodbyes. It was a blur. Being in a room with 19 weeping eleven year olds (and 1 twenty-seven year old) is a sad place to be! There were some very special moments that I'll hang onto from that day. Such a hard way to finish what has been a great year, and difficult for the kids to find good closure in such a sudden ending. Of course, this week was supposed to be one big party- Medieval feast, bowling, pizza, and apparently a surprise farewell for the teacher. I had such a colorful class this year- and quite an attached bunch.

Today has also been especially difficult as I found out that it would not be possible to get together with the kids outside of school, for one final party and farewell. The kids had directed their energy (and they have a lot of it!!) this week towards planning this party and it was supposed to happen today, but couldn't happen due to the restrictions from the government. I am so sad to let down the kids again. I know they'll be okay- it will be fine in awhile- but it doesn't feel good right now.

The school closure has left me with an extra week of cleaning up and organizing time in my classroom. I am glad for the extra time, though it has felt strangely quiet in Room 402. Last Friday everything came down in the classroom, and that was hard, too. I've loved creating a 'learning home' for kids, and I loved my classroom. I was glad to take some time to give thanks for all the great kids, and all of the fun memories created, all that I saw and learned in my time as a teacher here. This week I've spent most of my time working on a project for my kids. I think they will love it.

So I'm in mending, feeling a little drained, but working on making the most of my next month (and only two weeks in HK). Each day is now scheduled with some kind of supper, coffee date or party. Thank you, google calendar! Life-saver! I recall my post a week or so ago- and I'm still in that place tonight- so grateful for this season of life. I hope I can communicate that gratitude well in the next two weeks- I have many people to thank and bless as I go!


In a couple weeks, my friend Ashley and I will be heading off for a finale tour of Southeast Asia. I'm going to see two countries that have been on the checklist for the past three years- Laos and Cambodia. I won't see even close to what I'd like to in these spots, but I'm excited for what I will see! However, before we get there, we will be taking an overnight bus from Bangkok to the Thai/Burma border. We've connected with the group Global Neighbors, and we're going to join them in doing some teaching at a high school at the Mae La refugee camp. I received the email below from Global Neighbours today. The place he refers to is exactly where we are going, and the Farm Manager mentioned is our contact for our time in the camp. Read on...

I just got off the phone with our Farm Manager in Mae Sot, Thailand. He is also the founder of Htee Moo Draw School which is located in the Mae La Refugee Camp. This is one of the schools Global Neighbors is helping. There has been a major military operation about 80 kms North of Mae La Camp. There are a reported 4000 refugees that have crossed over into Thailand for safety in the last several weeks. This is the largest exodus in the past decade. Fifty orphaned children showed up at Htee Moo Draw school yesterday, with no more than the clothes on their backs. Henry has arranged for rice to feed them, but he also needs two shelters, blankets, protein and vegetables as well as mosquito nets. We have not talked about permenant care givers at this point, however we will need someone to look after them as well. They are bunked in with the other children who are staying in the dorm. Henry said, "There are literally wall to wall children in the dorm".
If any of you would like to help, you can send a cheque to:
Global Neighbors Canada
101-46-12th St East
Prince Albert, Sask.
S6V 1B2

We now have an online donation site available as well, please click on the following link:

A tax deduction will be sent from Canada Helps for all online donations.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009

2 weeks of kids...3 weeks of work...6 weeks in Hong Kong

June has hit, and with it, the feeling of finishing and letting go of this chapter and this place. Today I officially cleared myself for take-off by paying my taxes and claiming my MPF (retirement savings). I was amazed that my tax was under 500 CDN for the past year! Hong Kong is great. :) I have no idea how they figured that out, but I'm not questioning it! I'm in the midst of arranging for another teacher to move into my flat over the summer, which is excellent because it means I can leave a lot of my stuff behind. It should simplify the move and I'm grateful for that.

In the past couple of weeks I have been hoping for a call from Regina Public but nothing has come up yet. The best chance at getting a full-time position has passed, so that was somewhat disappointing. I'm (mostly) okay with it, though. Regina is where I want to be, and I'm confident that a job will happen eventually. In the meantime, we've got some fertile ground for patience to grow. :) I may end up subbing for a time, which in some ways (in the short-term) is quite attractive. It would be nice to have a little more freedom with my time than usual and I can think of a number of things I might do with that time! I'm excited about moving back to Canada! It will be so good to be with my family again, and I'm also really looking forward to being in the Regina community. I've already got things lined up to join my football team for the second half of the season. Yeees! And, I'm hoping on getting in on a couple tennis tournaments, too. (I'm definitely excited about playing sports at home again! Woohoo!)

Last night I was reflecting again on God's flow of kindness in my life. It has been a very rich (though not equating easy) three years! Stepping out of one season and into the next, I want to commit to living in thankfulness. He is so good! I have been enjoying Hillsong United's new album, A Cross _ the Earth. The Desert Song has been a joy to have ringing through the ears...this simple bridge:

All of my life, in every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing,
I have a reason to worship

A friend from Hillsong shared with me that one of the gals singing had lost her baby just days before. Brings new light and meaning into the song.

Well, it's that time...Roger time. Looking forward to watching this one on my Friday night at home! Good night from HK. By the way, if you have a car you would like to sell or give away (why not?!), or a lovely apartment to rent in Regina, let me know! These two things will be among the first on the list to take care of when I get home!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The getaway gals go to China...

I enjoyed my long weekend in Yangshuo, China with five of my good friends. We considered it as 'one last getaway'. (Yes, we're into the land of "lasts" these days!) I love Yangshuo. It is one of my favorite spots in China. It's only an hour flight from HK, so that made it an easy destination (the journey seemed almost too easy when I remembered my last trip to Yangshuo a few years ago- a 25 hour train journey!).

Anyway, it was a great time- beautiful scenery, good exercise, decent food, awesome accommodations, a fun chance to try out the Mandarin, good visits with friends. My favorite part about being in Yangshuo is going for bike rides into the countryside. This was a daily requirement, along with a daily dose of banana pancakes and a shake of some kind. Here are a few pictures from the weekend (the rest can be found here):

"West St."- Backpacker central.

Tammy, Ashley, Maureen, Mary, Wenny, and myself.


New friend.

Not bad, hey?