Saturday, August 15, 2009

Discipline, Patience, and Goals in General

Well, this semester is shaping up to be quite good! It started out very busy for me, with an extra class plus being in charge of two extra-curricular activities. I was feeling overwhelmed, so I asked one of the new teachers to take over the worship team, and I was feeling a lot better about that. Then I was told that one of the senior parents wanted to be in charge of fund raising for the class trip, so now I'm just helping out and am no longer in charge. Yay! Then just a few days ago we heard that yet another teacher is coming down (he taught here several years ago and has been back for many visits, so I know him), and he's going to take my extra class, along with the extra classes of the other teachers. I am a little sad about this, because I was kind of enjoying the math class, and the kids really liked me. I had gotten attached enough that I feel a little protective or territorial. :o) Plus I'm afraid they'll be disappointed. But it's a good chance for them to learn that change isn't necessarily bad. So what started out as a busy semester, has turned into quite an easy one, especially considering that I've already taught these classes, so half of the prep work is done. But this is good, because it gives me time to work on things outside of school. And this leads me to the main reason for this post.

I'm trying something new this semester. I'm setting very specific goals for myself. It started with wanting to set goals for myself as a teacher. How can I improve myself this semester? I feel like I have a handle on the prep work and all that, so I figured it was time to work on one of the skill sets that I've had to put on the backburner. And two things popped immediately into my head, and in a way they go hand in hand.
The first is that I want to try to maintain patience. I used to think I was a very patient person, and then I became a teacher of teenagers. And I'll be honest. Those kids drive me crazy sometimes. I don't know if it's because I have too high expectations or what, but I get so frustrated when they complain or slack off or talk incessantly, especially the older kids. I feel like they should know better, but they're the worst ones! So I'm going to work on not letting it get to me.
And this leads me to my second goal as a teacher. I'm going to try to be mean this month, and maybe longer if necessary. What do I mean? Let me tell you. I know these kids well enough now, and I've seen how the school runs, and I know what they are capable of and what they get away with. So first of all I'm not going to let them talk so much. This is difficult to control, but I have a few ideas. I need some more though. I'm also not letting them get away with late homework anymore. No more excuses. They should know better. So basically, I'm trying to teach them responsibility. They haven't really had to learn it all that much because the school is so small and the teachers have the capability to be understanding. It's a family environment. So these kids get away with a LOT. But not anymore. There have already been a few instances where I haven't been lenient when I usually would be. I view this as my last opportunity with these kids, so I really need to make it count. I know I still need to crank it up a few notches in some ways, but I'm working on it.

So my mind was already in goal-setting mode, and I was sitting in church my first week after being back from my vacation. I had been moving and traveling so much over my break, that I had very little time for devotions. Or should I say, I made very little time for devotions. I and could tell. I was getting upset much easier at things, and a small "trial" in my life was still eating at me. I was having a hard time dealing with it. So I decided to change all that by setting a very specific goal. Usually I say things like, "Ok, from now on I'm doing my devotions, that's it." And that's as good as it got. It was too vague, too hard to keep up with. If I missed a day, I kicked myself and grew discouraged and frustrated. I'm learning this about myself. I need more specific deadlines, but reasonable ones.
So here it is. I've set three very specific goals for myself in the three things I know I need to do and have a hard time staying consistent with.
1. Every Sunday, I should be able to sit in church and know that I did my devotions 5 times that week. (I told you I needed to set reasonable goals. If things go well, and they have been so far, I'll bump it up to 6, etc. We shall see.)
2. I need to work out 4-5 times a week. (My trainer had already set that goal for me, and since I have him as accountability, I usually get it done.)
3. I need to floss 3 times a week. (I know, it sounds silly, but I really need to take care of my gums!) :o)

So, I'm trying to learn discipline in my life, trying to teach discipline in the lives of my students, I'm doing it through very specific goals, and it's going to take a lot of patience on my part! We'll see how it goes. So far it's been going very well. It's been so nice to spend time with God pretty much every day, and it makes all the other difficulties much easier. I know it's an obvious lesson, but sometimes after so many years we forget.
So I'll let you know how it goes. It's good for me to have accountability. :o)
Until next time...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And so it begins....again

So I've been neglegent, again. My sincerest apologies. I guess I feel that since I've been here so long, my life is a little repetitive and I don't have as many new things to share. But I'll try!

The last semester ended in a storm of craziness, as usual. I think I could teach for 40 years and it would still be the same. :o) Several events made it crazier than usual, however.
First of all I was in charge of the class who was in charge of putting on the high school banquet. Which means that I was basically in charge of putting on the banquet. I did have 2 moms/teachers helping me, but I definitely felt the weight of responsibility most of the time. The last few days wasn't so bad. This is a good thing since the day of the banquet I started to feel under the weather. By the time the banquet had arrived I had a full-on headache, felt miserable, and was starting to get very warm. This was both a blessing and a curse. The curse is obvious--I felt horrible. The blessing is that I didn't have enough energy to care if everything went perfectly or not. So I pretty much gave up control (although the kids didn't realize it), and let the MC's take over (2 of our Juniors). They would come ask me questions, or I would sign directions to them from my seat, so I appeared to be in charge, but I really didn't care what happened at that point!
And no one could tell that I was wearing sweatpants and slippers underneath my fancy dress...except for the fact that I showed everyone because I thought it was funny (I told you I didn't feel well enough to care!).The banquet was a huge success...a few moments fell flat, but those were few and far between. The room was decorated beautifully, the food was pretty good, and the entertainment was hysterical. All in all, a fun time. Then we had to clean up, and I had to drive home. I think I got in bed around 2am.
The next day I felt even more miserable with achy joints and an obvious fever. Needless to say I stayed in bed several days. I was just starting to feel better when I passed out and felt even worse than I had before...although in a different way. And then just as I was truly getting better, the high school classes were canceled because 2 other teachers had gotten sick as well! So I had a few extra days to get completely well and not have to push myself too much. This made the class schedule interesting as the 2 days that were canceled were the last 2 days before review days for the finals! So it was quite interesting to figure out how to fit everything in...especially since I wasn't even at school to do it! I had to be flexible, of course, and some tests ended up being take-home-open-book tests. And then I had a LOT of grading to do when school started again. And since I wrote my finals while I had the flu (which may or may not have been the swine flu...Several kids in our school had it, although I never went to the doctor to check since my fever went away by the third day), I found several typos in them! Oops!

So anyway, finals were taken, grades were figured, and report cards were handed out. All with minimal stress for me. I'm not quite sure how that happened! Then I had to start saying goodbye to my friends. Remember how in the last post I said that there were several Americans that I spent a lot of time with? Well, they ALL left in July. I said goodbye to 3 of them just after school let out. Then my friend Amy and I went on a little tour of South America for 2 1/2 weeks. We went to Buenos Aires, Uruguay, Iguazu Falls, and San Pedro de Atacama (in the north of Chile, in the world's driest desert). It was a very fast and tiring trip as we could only stay a few days in each place and had to take a few VERY long bus rides (two 18 hour trips and two 24 hour trips). But it was so worth it. (Pictures are on my facebook page, if you have access to are pictures of the banquet.) And then we got home and I had to say goodbye to Amy. The friend situation was looking gloomy. I was left with my Chilean friend Lorena, my high school friend/little sister Melissa Rogers, and my roommates who I don't spend much time with although they're all very nice. Obviously I have other friends, but none that I spend a lot of time with. Then I found out that Melissa is going to the States for a semester to study there. And then there was one. :o(

So this semester is a semester of transition. I have to start all over again making friends. I've already met a few (some teachers and another exchange student who I met through Amy), and one more teacher is yet to come. So we'll see. But it's a completely different group dynamic this year as the new young missionaries are either married couples or guys. And I tend to be close friends with girls. So we shall see!

Another transition has to do with my teaching schedule. Not only is it still PACKED (I haven't dropped anything, although worship team was taken out of my schedule and now I'm teaching it after school on Mondays...yay)...BUT I'm ALSO taking on a new class. A class I'm a little nervous about. And that class is 8th grade math. What? you say. An English teacher giving a math class? Are you crazy? Well, I just might be. But I purposefully picked an easy math so I can reteach myself as I go (I liked math in high school, but I haven't HAD any math since high school!!), and since I've already taught the English classes my first year here, the prep work won't be so bad. And math prep work is pretty light, and the class has only 4 students. SO. Not to bad of a situation. It's just another challenge I wasn't expecting. And math isn't my forte like English is, so my instincts aren't kicking in as well on how to organize the lessons. So please pray for that!

So there you have it. My two main prayer requests. My potential lonliness as my social life has been upended, and my potential stress and I'm forced to use the other side of my brain now. :o)
Thanks for reading! I will try very hard to post more often!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Life is funny

Well, if the amount of blogs I've posted this year is any indication to you, I've been very busy! I feel as though my life has gone through some ups and downs in the past few months, and I'm not sure if it's at the point of stabilizing yet or not!

But before I get to all that, let me fill you in on what's been going on:

~School has been going very well. I still have a struggle with my oldest and biggest class. They really like to talk and there are a few people who try to push the envelope every day. It is difficult to keep them in check without feeling like I'm riding them every single moment. Although they may drive me crazy at times, I don't want them to feel that I'm against them or don't like them, because that is certainly not the case!
The most interesting thing that has happened recently is that we just had Spirit Week last week, which I coordinated again this year. It went very well, although there was some complaints about the fairness of the judging. Of course. :o) Each day was a different theme, and each day the teams had a competition. Monday was clash day, and each team had to come up with a team name and team poster. Tuesday was backwards day, and each team had to spell their name by standing in the form of the letters...but they had to do it backwards. Wednesday was PJ day, and the teams created lullabies. Thursday was Nerd/Jock day, and there were some very creative cheers performed. And Friday was Prom/Dress-up day and we had the final awards ceremony. It was quite a blast! To see pictures of the week, click here.

~In the church realm, things are also going well. About a month ago we moved to another venue that is a little bit bigger and a lot a bit nicer! :o) I think there are still a few kinks to work out, but all in all it's going well. I have joined the worship team this year, and my first week we sang one of the few songs that are difficult for me!! It's so fast and jams so many words in. But I practiced a lot and got it pretty well down...Although I've forgotten it since then! :o) The building project is moving along, although I'm not sure at what pace. They are going to start pouring the concrete for the third floor sometime in the next week, and the building should be roofed by the end of June, so they say. After that, if I understand correctly, the hired workers will be finished and work teams will come to finish it up. I believe they're hoping to have work teams that consist of some people who know how to do construction work (electricity, plumbing, etc), instead of JUST a pair of willing hands...although we need those too!

~In other areas of my life, I'm keeping quite busy. I have a good group of American friends here this semester, and we get together regularly. About half of them would be pretty homesick and a little sad if we didn't keep them busy, so in a way, I view it as a ministry. I mean, it's fun and they're friends, but it does take up a lot of my time to keep them entertained! :o) We all took a trip to Argentina together to renew some visas, and I tagged along for fun and to help translate. It was a quick little trip, but very fun and relaxing.
I'm also getting closer with a few Chileans, and there are one or two in particular that I'm quite close to. And talking with them certainly helps my Spanish!
I've also gotten a trainer with another friend of mine. He's the brother of a girl in my church, and he studied that kind of thing in college. So he comes over every Monday to see our progress, and my friend and I work out 2 other days a week without him. I'm actually enjoying it and can already see some results. So, yay!

~Ok, now to the part that I mentioned at the beginning, about all the confusion and uproar in my life. Well, as I mentioned in a previous post, I had decided that this was my last semester here. But I would stay until September to help out, work at the building project, and say my goodbyes. When I told all this to my "boss," he refused to accept it and told me I'd realize one day that God wants me to stay! :o) He's quite the guy. The rest of the field team and my friends and roommates all made frequent comments about wanting me to stay. It distressed me for awhile because I felt that I was doing what God wanted, and it would be hard enough to leave as it is, and that was just making it worse! So I smiled and rolled my eyes when people said anything and left it at that. Well, in the past month or so I've begun to see the desperate straits the school is in for teachers next year. We have many people leaving, and they're having a hard time replacing them all. And since I teach so many classes, I was leaving behind a big hole as well. So I started thinking, praying, and talking to my parents and a few other people. It started to become clear to me that I should probably stay...I already have my support raised for half the semester, so I figured it wouldn't be hard to just tack on an extra 2 and a half months. So I emailed some supporters, and it all worked out perfectly. I told my "boss" last weekend, and it felt relieving and peaceful to say it and admit it. This is how I feel when I've decided something that is God's will for me. It's always a great feeling. So, I've been somewhat of a hero this week, from field team and students and roommates alike. Although, many people are already joking about me staying a whole year!! They never let it go! :o)
So, I will still be coming home in early October for 2 weeks for a good friend's wedding (one of the conditions of me staying), and then I'll come home for good in December. This actually works out quite well, because now I can bring a lot of my clothes and things home in October which will make packing sooooo much easier in December!!

Ok, well that brings us up to date. I will try very hard to keep posting more regularly. I'm sorry about my negligence!
Thank you all for your support and prayers over the past 2 years. Keep it coming, please! :o)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I had no idea that it's been so long since I've blogged! I apologize profusely!
Well, apparently I have a lot to catch you up on, so let's see what I can do. :o)

~The school year started off really well. We had a retreat at school the first weekend for the students, and it was a great time of bonding, learning, and playing. I was staying in one of the apartments with the high school girls, and the other teacher was in another apartment with the junior high girls. I was really hoping that this would be a good time for me to connect with some of the girls, especially those who have had attitude problems in the past, knowing that overnighters tend to involve "girl talk." :o) Well, it worked to some extent. I tried not to push myself into the conversation, but the girls willingly involved me, to the point of suggesting I bring my bed into the room too so I could relax as we talked. At one point, the girl that I've mentioned before who had a spiritual revival at camp, apologized to me for something that had happened last semester. She said she understood now why I felt and acted the way I did. The next day, the retreat leader had all the kids say what they appreciated or learned during the retreat, and this girl mentioned it was nice to get to know people better, like me for example. She said she now understands why I do what I do, because if she were a teacher she'd probably act the same way. And one of the other students told me that girl said, "You know what I realized? Miss Kelly's actually kinda cool." Progress! It's still been a bit of a struggle in class since then, because although she has had an attitude adjustment, she still has some teenage things to grow out of. She has very strong opinions about everything and isn't afraid to voice them, and this often is done through complaining. She still talks almost nonstop during class, and that's a constant source of frustration for me. We're working on it though.

~The teaching staff is quite bare-bones this semester, so we're all really busy. It's been going really well though, and we all get along quite nicely. I'm kind of the veteran teacher in the high school now. There is one other teacher who has been here longer, but he only comes in 2 1/2 days a week. So, since I'm ALWAYS there, I'm kind of the pointman of the high school. For the most part I like this role, but it did frustrate me after being gone for a week and a half, coming back and being asked questions or being expected to do things I had no idea about because I wasn't here!

~That brings me to my next point. For those of you who don't know, I had an unexpected and very brief visit to the States last week. My uncle passed away very suddenly, and I felt that it was very necessary to go to be with my family. I was very close to him, and it's still difficult for me to think about him being gone, to realize that he won't be at family get-togethers anymore. I almost can't believe it. But going up for the funeral helped, and it was so nice to be with my family and reminisce about my uncle. I think we spent more time laughing at my uncle's antics and odd quirks than crying for our loss. We definitely did cry, and we all felt his departure keenly, but he was such a fun-loving jokster that it was hard not to have plenty of things to laugh about too. I will miss him so much, and I look forward to the day I will join him in praising our Lord in heaven!

~As I was on the plane on the way back to Chile, I got very sick. It started with a bad headache and nausea and then moved into light-headedness and general weakness. This is NOT something fun to deal with while traveling. Needless to say, it was the worst traveling experience of my life. And I was all alone. Luckily I had 3 seats on the plane and could lay down. I didn't eat anything and could only keep down tea or ginger ale. When we landed in Chile, I knew there was no way I'd be able to walk and wait in all the lines at customs, so I requested a wheelchair. I felt like SUCH an idiot being rolled around the airport, but at least I didn't have to wait in any lines! :o) I got home, literally collapsed into bed, and slept for another 6 hours. Needless to say, I was NOT going into work the next day. So I tried to send instructions for a substitute, and spent all day Tuesday in bed as well. By then I was able to keep down some bread and chicken soup, and of course, the ever-present hot tea. Wednesday I got up to get ready for work, and I was feeling WORSE than the day before. It took me a little while to realize what had happened, but I had caught a cold on top of the stomach bug. So even though I was no longer nauseous, when you haven't eaten in 3 days, a cold wipes you out pretty well! So I went back to bed, very frustrated that I STILL wasn't getting back to work. I knew things would be more difficult the longer I was gone--both for my sub and for me when I got back! So Thursday I dragged myself to school (in a taxi since there was NO way I could survive public transportation) and taught my classes sitting down with a mug of tea in my hands. When I got back to school I was inundated with hugs and comments about how skinny I looked. I explained to them that that's what happens when you don't eat for 4 days. As it is, my stomach is settled, but very small, so I can't eat very much without feeling full or even sick if I push it too much. So I'm still not eating very much, but at least I'm eating. I'm still a little low on the energy level and get tired easily, and I have a pesky cough that won't go away. Other than that, I'm fit as a fiddle. :o) However, I do have PILES of work on my desk. I have a friend helping me, but she can only do so much. So I'm just going to plug away at it and not be stressed. But I still have all of the regular work to do too, so I'm going to be very busy for awhile!

~Ok, I think that about brings us up to speed. I have some exciting things coming up in school, in travel plans, in my social calendar. And Easter is coming up, as you know, and so I'm hoping to be able to invite a new friend to church. Pray for me that I'll be able to find an opportunity to invite him and that he'll be open to coming. I'm making more and more friends here, some American and some Chilean, and I feel that I'm getting more and more ingrained in life here in Chile....which is not going to be helpful when it comes time to leave in September! I have so many people who want me to stay here, for various reasons, both social and work related. It's very difficult, and at times I'm very confused as to what God has for me. So there's another prayer request...Wisdom! Guidance! Clarity on His direction! And peace and strength to follow through. Whichever way I choose, I'll be leaving someone and something behind. I have two lives (Santiago and NJ), and I can't live both, but I don't want to give either of them up!!

Well, it's been a long post. I tried to give you the highlights. I will try to not neglect you all for so long in the future! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

And here we go again!

Well, the summer has flown by, as it tends to do I suppose. I spent a few whirlwind weeks at home for the Christmas holidays, had a few relaxing weeks when I returned, and then had several more whirlwind weeks as I went on several trips. I went down south (by myself! a first for me) and spent a few days at a beautiful little town on a lake, then took a "cruise" (and I use that term loosely...we traveled with cows!) down to the northern most glacier in Chile. It was so beautiful. Then I went to a beach town with a Chilean friend and stayed with a Chilean family. None of them spoke English, so it was 24/7 Spanish. I did pretty well! I can hold my own in Spanish now, but there are still soooo many words I don't know, and there are still plenty of times I don't know the best way grammatically to say something, and when a group of Chileans gets together, I still get lost amidst their rapid-fire conversation. But practice makes perfect, right? Then my parents came down for a visit. We spent a few days in Santiago (where my poor dad was pick pocketed!), a few days in Peru to visit Macchu Pichu (honestly one of the most beautiful areas, in my humble opinion), and a few days in a beach town in Chile. I had anywhere from half a day to a day and a half between all these trips. That's it!

My parents left, I had one day to recuperate, and then it was on to teacher inservice! It's been a busy week (and has felt oh-so-much longer than it actually was), but I'm FINALLY ready for classes to begin on Monday. I'm excited to see what God will bring. We have very few teachers this semester, so everyone is pretty busy. But I think it's going to be a fun and productive semester (what a combination!).

I guess now is as good a time to tell you as any... The last several months I've been feeling a shift within me, some unrest and uncertainty. And being at home for Christmas only helped to intensify those feelings. Then I came back to Chile, and my first week or two was very difficult for me as I faced some unexpected challenges. I actually went through something akin to depression, although it wasn't nearly so severe. Needless to say, all those factors put together led me to pray more fervently and specifically about my future in Chile and my future in general. I've spoken with a couple of people I trust as well, and I feel that God is leading me back home. So as of right now, the plan is to remain here until the end of September. I told Duane Cross, the school administrator, the other day, and he wasn't willing to accept my news. He's sure I should stay and has mentioned some ways he sees my changing my role in Chile, at least for another year or so! I promised him I'd pray about it though. So I will. :o)

What will I do when I get back? Well, I'm praying about that as well. I'm looking into getting my teaching certificate, although I'm still not 100% sure that's where God is leading me. It looks like it, but it's too soon to tell. I don't make these decisions quickly, that's for sure! So when I know, I'll let you know! :o)

So, here are a few prayer requests as my last semester in Chile begins.
1. Wisdom as I try to discern where God is leading me.
2. The wisdom (again!) and sensitivity to be able to connect with some of the students I haven't been able to so far.
3. We have one student, Kimmy, who has had some struggles spiritually in the past and has been quite a handful at times. She went to camp this summer and came back a changed person, as her mother informs me. So pray that she'll be able to stick with it, and that she'll be able to trust me enough to help her grow.

I guess that's it for now. I'll keep it kind-of-short and relatively-sweet. I could tell you so many stories of my summer adventures, but I'll just stick to the important, informational stuff (although hopefully not boring!) for now. Until next time...