Thursday, November 20, 2008

Older AND maturing...Who knew it could happen?

Well, in just a few short days I will be celebrating aging. My birthday is just around the corner! And although I'm excited about all the plans I've arranged for myself, I can't help but remember that I'm approaching closer to 30...what an ominous number! :o)
But this is not the purpose of this post. I want to tell you about how God has been growing and maturing me in the last few weeks. It's been a painful process, but I can tell it's working.
There have been two main "fertilizers," if you will:

One has been a recent struggle with finances. Since my roommate moved out as I mentioned in an earlier post, life has been much more expensive. However, that has not been the most difficult part. What has taken a normal stress to the next level is the fact that there are now arguments about how to finalize the finances from when she did live her. There are a few outstanding bills and of course the deposit which is the main source of contention. Both girls are being stubborn and unreasonable in their own way, and I'm in the middle. I'm friends with them both and get along with them both--they do not get along that well. I'm trying to act wisely and find compromises, but it hasn't been easy. I've asked some friends I highly trust for help and advice, so I'm not completely alone, but I honestly feel that I'm in over my head at times. Normally in this situation I would remove myself and let my friends take care of their problem themselves after I realized that my help wasn't effective. However, I'm directly involved in this debacle because I pay too...It involves my money as much as anyone else. I'm praying for wisdom for me and reasonable-ness for them. We'll see where God takes this!

The other "fertilizer" has been a girl (or two) in my class who has severe attitude problems. She's very rebellious right now to pretty much all authority figures. (There are a couple of the young guy teachers she's ok with, but that's because they're more friends than authority.) So I'm forced to compensate and be strict with her. And she does not like it. She complains all the time, and I have to stop her. She has excuses for missing assignments, and I have to know when to punish her anyway. She's unhappy with me and the school in general, thinks we're unfair and unreasonable, and automatically assumes that we're out to make life more difficult for her and teenagers in general.
Basically with this behavior she's begging for me to be exactly what she thinks she hates: uber-strict! :o)
So in a way, it's been good for me. Handing out punishments and trying not to be too lenient has been one of my main weaknesses as a teacher. This girl is single-handedly helping me to fix that problem! God has given me a thorn in my side so I'll have tough skin, I suppose. :o) Pray that I can remain consistent with her and not let my anger and frustration get in the way. Pray that she sees that I love her and am actually acting in her best interest. Pray for her spiritual condition as well, as that's obviously the root of her problem. Ah, teenagers!

So, I suppose it's very fitting to call these growing processes "fertilizer." They're messy and stink everything up, but in the end they also accelerate growth!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Close Call

Have you ever locked yourself out of your home or your car and had your keys right in your hand? It takes a special kind of talent to be able to do that. Well, apparently I'm special because that's exactly what happened to me today!

Let me explain.
I came home from school and spent about 2 hours cleaning (something that was sorely needed!), and by the time I was done I was starving. I was about to go upstairs to make dinner (well, reheat dinner, really...I cooked pasta yesterday and I have enough leftovers to last until the rapture), but first I had to take out the trash from my cleaning frenzy. Our trash receptacle is a little closet halfway down our hall, so usually I don't even bother closing my door all the way. Well, my roommate was gone, so I felt it was safer to take a set of keys with me, just to be safe.....

(I suppose I should take a break here to explain my door. There are three deadbolt locks on it, each one with its own key. There is no real door knob--I have to use a key to get in, even if they're not deadbolted. Then from the inside there's a chain and one of those slidey lock things that are most commonly found in bathroom stalls...You know the ones I'm talking about.)

So, I pulled out the slidey lock thing all the way so it would keep the door from shutting all the way. Good thing, too, because as I pulled my door mostly closed a gust of wind from inside slammed the door against its frame. But upon seeing that my plan worked and the door didn't completely close, I congratulated myself on my ingenuity as I walked down the hall with an armful of trash.
Thirty seconds later I was back at my door, and as I pushed it open, to my horror, I found that it wouldn't budge. I guess the gust of wind and semi-slam had jiggled the slidey lock partially into place! I was locked out! And my keys were cheerfully jingling in my hand! So I tried pushing several times at varying levels of strength. I tried shaking the door to move the slidey lock back out. Nothing worked!
What was I going to do! I had no cell phone, money, or metro pass. My roommate wouldn't be home for another 4 hours. Well, I walked outside looking for the caretaker. I found a custodian, and she told me the guy had left and wondered what I was looking for. So I tried to explain my situation. I found this very difficult, particularly in translating "slidey lock" especially seeing as how I couldn't even remember the word for lock. :o)
I eventually gave up and walked back to my apartment, praying hard and swallowing hard to press down the tears that were threatening to make me look even more stranded than I already did. I decided to try the door one more time. So I walked up, pushed and jiggled a couple of times, and then slammed my shoulder against the door with as much strength as I figured wouldn't break the door. And it popped open!! Yay!
Upon entering I laughed, talked to myself since there was no one else to say anything to, and fervently thanked God for getting me back inside. Then I made dinner, and it was yummy.
So the moral of this story is: Don't try to cheat the system. Just take the keys with you, shut the door like a normal person, and endure the hassle of having to unlock it a mere 30 seconds later. Otherwise you may end up looking like an idiot to some stranger in a strange land.

I think I need more sleep! Perhaps...

It's getting to be that point in the semester where a weekend just isn't enough time to rest and recuperate from the week. I was talking with some of my teacher friends about it today. I said that very same sentence to them, and they both groaned in agreement. One told me she wakes up as tired as when she went to bed. I groaned in agreement. The other told me about the emotional breakdown she had in class with one of her students who had tried her patience to the enth degree. I groaned in sympathy.
I always feel this way about a month before the semester ends. Just ready for a nice long break. And unfortunately, the last month of the semester is always the busiest! Here's a quick list of all the things to do before the semester is out: prepare the choir for the Thanksgiving program, then prepare the choir for the Christmas program, write finals and review sheets for all of my classes, help the students write and then grade research papers ranging from 4 to 12 pages in length, throw myself a birthday party (first time hosting Chileans all on my own. Yikes!), prepare food for the Thanksgiving Program, prepare food for Thanksgiving, go to a ladies' retreat at church, figure out the quarter grades, grade the finals, figure out the semester grades, and finish my Christmas shopping...Not to mention all the normal weekly work that goes in to teaching. Whew, I'm tired just writing about it!

So please pray for me and the other teachers. Pray we'll have the stamina to get through, the time to do everything well, and the patience to handle the rambunctiousness of the kids. Not only is it nearing the end of the semester, and nearing Christmas, but it's also getting to be summer time! The kids are crazier than usual! I mean, how do you solve a problem like teenagers? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? ...Many a thing you know you'd like to tell them. Many a thing they ought to understand. But how do you make them stay and listen to all you say? How do you keep a wave upon the sand? Oh, how do you solve a problem like teenagers? How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?....

For those of you not familiar with musicals, I'm sorry about that. For the rest of you....I'm still sorry. :o)

I told you I need more sleep!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Who said changes were good?

I would seriously question the sanity of this person. :o)

Let me explain.
I've been happily living with my two Chilean roommates for several months. One I hardly ever see because she works many evenings, goes away for weekends, and spends time with her boyfriend on her few free nights. The other I see a lot around the apartment and we hang out together here. And we've become good friends in the process, obviously. Well, she told us Wednesday that she's going to be moving out. And through the course of conversation, as we discussed details, they decided that today would be a good day. Just 4 days later! That gave me no time to adjust emotionally!
Wednesday night she told us, and I went to bed shortly thereafter. Thursday I was busy teaching all day, then I went out with a friend for most of the afternoon/early evening. So I only had time to vaguely think about it throughout the day. But as I went home Thursday night, I had time to digest what was going on, and literally the second I walked inside my apartment I started crying! This is only the second time (that I can remember) that I have cried since I got here---not counting touching movies and sappy songs, of course!
I was able to squeeze some quality time in with her in the few days before she left, and I dropped her off at her new house today. It was sad to see her go. I felt like an overly attached mom leaving her only child at college! :o) I'm nervous that I'm going to be lonely now since my other roommate is rarely home. And as of now, we don't have anyone lined up to move in, so life will be more expensive for awhile. That's adding stress to sadness!

So, there are several obvious prayer requests that come from this post (and one hidden one)...
1. That I won't be lonely in my own home!
2. That we will be able to find someone (that we get along with) to move in soon!
3. That until then, we will be able to afford to live in our own home!

And now for the last and hidden prayer request....
I've been having a cockroach problem in my classroom (I told you it was hidden). Seriously, it's gross. They're about two inches long and look like they have a personal vendetta against me. The first one or two that I found, I thought, "Well, I'm serving God in a country where I can't just exterminate things at a whim--we don't have money growing on trees here. So I'll just grin and bear it and chalk it up to missionary work...." Well, when cockroach number four started scuttling towards me from the book I had just opened, I thought, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
And then I thought, "Something must be done. I can't work in these conditions!!"

So, that's my prayer request. That the cockroaches go away or DIE!