Wow. Once again, it’s been WAY too long. I’ve been meaning to update for a few weeks now, but things have been crazy, and time is FLYING. Literally. Ok, not literally, but it’s gone by quickly.
Friday concluded our fifth week of school at Hawaii Baptist Academy (see what I mean about time flying?!?). We are now only 3 weeks away from Fall Break, which means 3 weeks until I get to see my family and friends back on the mainland. Don’t get me wrong–things in Hawaii have been awesome, but it’s definitely far from those I love and miss (but more on that later).
SO, what HAS been going on over the past 5 or so weeks since I last posted? Since some of it is just the routine of day-in-day-out school, I won’t give a full timeline, but I’ll go over a few highlights at least (chronologically, of course). The last week of July was teacher inservice, and it was then that I got a good feel for what I was getting myself into. I honestly didn’t know what to expect; would there be mostly older teachers? Mostly Hawaiians? Would I be the resident giant? Was I going to stick out like a Texan in Chicago winters? I arrived and saw that, on the contrary, I was not alone. Of the new high school faculty, there are actually two women taller than me, and there are 6 of us all together. Additionally, there is a good group of around 9 or 10 of us that are under 26, so that’s been really cool, too!
Inservice was a lot of learning rules and prcedures, and at the end of the week, my family flew back from Kauai to Dallas through Honolulu, so I got to quickly show my dad and sisters my apartment on their respective layovers. My mom stayed for the next week (the first week of school), and once again, she was SUCH a blessing. She ran errands for me, continued to get me situated in my apartment, helped fix up my classroom, and actually dropped me off each day of the first week, which was cute and made me feel nostalgic for my pre-driving high school days.
Once she left, it was pretty quiet; I had gone from being in Maui with my family, my girl cousins, and Madelyn’s volleyball team with LOTS of noise to living alone. It took a little adjusting, but it’s probably been good that I don’t have a roommate for now. They say that the first year of teaching is the hardest (and, now that I think about it, they say that about the first of everything), and it’s definitely been a TON of work–at least so far. BUT, I think that I’m aided by my lack of spouse, children, or roommate. I definitely leave school and still work anywhere from 2-5 hours a night at home (which is a lot when I came from having one class last semester and being a total bum), but I think the fact that there’s no one I’m ignoring while I do said “home”work probably makes my first year a little easier.
So, let’s talk about school: I have 3 Communication Skills classes, 2 9th grade English classes, and 1 middle school “Flex” class where I alternate monitoring a study hall and “Silent Sustained Reading” each day. I also have 1 planning period on the block, so all of that pans out to make for busy days. We have all 7 classes on Monday, Thursday, and Friday, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we have half of the classes in extended periods. Basically, in case that was confusing, I get through each day and think, “WOW! Another day gone by!” Maybe it’s because I have so much planning to do, but the days FLY by. I remember thinking that the days would never end when I was IN high school. Granted, I’m probably actively thinking and being involved at most points of the school day now, whereas in high school, I’m guessing it didn’t help that I sat and listened passively most of the time.
I really like my students–they’re all pretty different, and each class has its own feel. My freshmen classes definitely take more classroom management–I have to actually tell students to sit down in their seats multiple times per class (as if, by the age of 14, they don’t know they’re supposed to actually sit in the desks provided in orderly rows). My juniors and seniors in the Comm Skills classes know how to behave for the most part, so they take less maintenance, but at the same time, sometimes they tune me out as if they already know everything they should, while the freshmen drink in the times that I share. The freshmen are FULL of personality…and prying. They started guessing my age, and it went from 27 down to 20 (at which guess I pointed out that, if I was 20, I would still be in college). When I explained the “no-cell-phone” policy of our class and mentioned that we, too, had tried to be sneaky with phones in high school, one of my students expressed surprise and said, “you had a CELL PHONE in high school?!?” I was thinking, “um…cell phones have been around for a while. How OLD do you think I AM?!?”
So, it’s been good. I guess something that I’d love prayer for is the ministry side of teaching. It’s definitely cool that HBA is very legitimate spiritually and that the leadership is genuinely guiding the school in a godly direction. And it’s also neat that 1/2 of the students are not believers–so I have ALL the freedom to share my faith; in fact, they encourage that. But, at the same time, some of the students are not only not believers, but they have expressed that they want little or nothing to do with faith. So, prayers for wisdom and discernment with how to lead and minister to them would be great.
As for me, I’m definitely enjoying living here! Last weekend, I was walking around Waikiki and saw the UCLA women’s volleyball team eating lunch, then I watched some men qualify for the US Open in beach volleyball, and finally, I got to surf at Waikiki. Yes, I got up every time (but it wasn’t my first time trying). While Waikiki is a little touristy and probably cliche, it’s still really cool to say I surfed where so many famous people made it happen! This long weekend was also fun–I hung out with some friends of one of the guys I teach with, and then today (Labor Day), I walked to 24 hour fitness to workout, and from there, I walked down to Waikiki and shopped a little, got in the water, and then continued strolling along. Despite the business and non-excitement of the school week, I am trying to make the weekends count.
Living here has been good, but it definitely feels far away. There is currently a 5-hour time difference (we don’t do Daylight Savings, so in a month or so, it’ll only be a 4-hour time difference!) from home, and that makes people seem like they’re in a different world sometimes. For instance, school ends at 2:45; even if I leave by about 3:30, it’s already 8:30pm at home. By about 8pm here, I think it sets in each night that I’m far away because at that point, pretty much everyone I know–even my less time-conscious friends in college–are probably sleeping. So that’s weird, but it’s still been good here. It’s also different to just pick up and leave all of my friends and teammates at Wheaton and my family–who were SO instrumental in helping me over the past year–so that’s been different.
The last thing you are probably wondering about is how I am doing health-wise. I am doing well! I still don’t have all of my stamina back–I saw that last weekend when I surfed and almost cried when I had to swim back forever and had no more energy–but it’s definitely coming. I’m working out with another teacher (we are taking a Zumba class!), and I’m enjoying being able to be active. I still have to sleep a fair amount. Because I have to get up around 6 to 6:15am each morning, I’m able to get around 7 1/2 hours of sleep, and I get home each day fully exhausted. BUT, PTL that I’m able to do this and teach each day! That is seriously such a praise! My hair is growing back…still slowwwwly, but it’s coming. It’ll be a while until I go wig-less, and that’s actually been frustrating. I don’t know if I shared in my last blog, but that’s been something I didn’t foresee–how long things would take. I think after the fact, this has been a harder ordeal than when I was actually going through chemo, which sounds crazy.
My mom and I were talking about this before she left, but I think during everything, we were just so focused on getting through it that we DID get through it–PTL! For me, it’s been after-the-fact that I’ve had more thoughts of “what was the point of that?” and wondering what to DO with the past year in my life. For my mom, it’s been after-the-fact that all the events of the past year have really set in–and she said there was a moment where she just started remembering everything and started crying, exhausted over all that has happened.
I’ve told a few friends that it’s hard to figure out what to do with the past year in a sense of, how do I still remember all the things God DID while still moving on and living life? I don’t want to be that person who always sits back and says, “wellllll…when I had CANCER…,” but I also don’t want to just move on and forget what just happened; it’s been significant enough that I KNOW God had a purpose in that, and I know it’s impacted my life, but I just can’t tell you HOW necessarily. I’ll use the analogy of times I’ve gone on mission trips–yes, people talk about spiritual highs, and that probably sounds like old news–but more than a spiritual high, I think sometimes it’s so hard to come home because you’ve SEEN things and experienced the world, suffering, joy, and God in a way that it’s hard to come home and reconcile that with your everyday world–your perspective is changed. So, in line with that, for me, I feel like I’ve been somewhere and really seen all the ways God worked, and all of that was such a surreal experience that DEFINITELY has impacted my life. That has made it hard for me to just jump back in to a routine and move on as if life is right back to normal–because I guess it’s NOT back to normal to me. Like with the mission trips when I came home and it was hard to frame the world I had seen in with my own everyday world, I am happy to go back to normal, but at the same time, my perspective has been changed and so much has happened that it somehow won’t quite be normal.
And that’s probably confusing and just my musing, but that’s a little of where I’m at. What to do with the last year? I guess one thing that was a blessing was getting an email from a girl who was just diagnosed with Hodgkins and starting the same cycles, and she said she had read through my blogs. She said it was good to understand somewhat of what the next 7 or so months will hold, and that was a blessing to me as I felt like God was using me, still, despite the fact that life is back to “normal” (whatever that is?!?). You could be praying for her, actually–her name is Whitney King.
So, it’s getting time for me to turn in so that I can teach my little students effectively in the morning. Basically, I am doing well–trying to process. I know that God is good and has a purpose for everything. I think I’m struggling with trusting where He’ll lead me since I’m a little afraid that, if I’ve “been there done that” with cancer, I’m hoping He won’t lead me somewhere else like that again. I’d love prayers to rest in Him as I process and try to move on while still remembering all the awesome things God taught me and incredible people He blessed me with. I’d also cherish your prayers for wisdom in teaching these kids–that they wouldn’t learn just about speaking, but that they would really and genuinely see God.
Ok, I’m tired, and if you are still with me, you’ve GOT to be, too. 🙂 God bless each of you, and have an incredible (and shorter!) week! Thankyou thankyou thankyou for your continued support and prayers–I am STILL so blown away by people who ask and check up on me. That makes me remember that, though far away, I am definitely NOT lonely!
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,