Thursday, March 20, 2014

I've lived a clockful of years!

Today's blog music is the wedding song we will be singing for a friend's wedding this weekend. The lyrics are really beautiful, especially the second verse, I think. Please enjoy Give Yourself To Love by Kate Wolf.

My brother pointed out to me the other day that this birthday was special for me because I have lived as many years as there are hours on the clock. This is definitely cool, because somehow it makes me feel like this next year can be like "a new day." It's past midnight now, and I'm heading towards a new morning.

See what living in the land of cutesy has done to me? I am getting a little cheesey, I think. But I'm feeling more optimistic these days.

Turning a year older is a perfect time to reflect on the days of yore though. Today in the teacher's office we talked about saving up for stuff as kids and how some of us were better at it than others. My one success as a child for saving up for something big was an American Girl doll...which got Kate and talking about our favorite games to play with our dolls. Kate joins the group of us who played less house related games with our dolls and more "escape from the villians" or the myriad of "we are orphans in dire circumstances including perhaps all of our limbs are broken" type games.

What is it with children and pretending to be orphans? how morbid is that. We were so weird.

But then, my students remind me of the weirdness of children every day. Today in my 4:30 class, Susan and Eileen and Cindy discussed being sick and how the yellow dust in the air (thanks China!) was maybe a reason for why Susan was feeling a little sick. I told them that Anna was feeling a little sick too, in her nose, so maybe she had breathed too much dust too.

They then proceeded to draw a giant nose on the board with cavernous nostrils and tell me that "Teacher if Anna teacher's nose is this big then there will be a lot of dust inside and maybe a tree." Then they added a cute little pine tree inside the left nostril. So be careful Anna, you don't want to accidently grow a tree inside your nose. The ENT downstairs might be stumped by that one....

Other neat things in my classes has been a successful (so far) restorative discipline meeting with my troublesome 5:30 class. Jae and Yoonseo and all the interns came to my classroom, so the adults were outnumbering the kids by far. Pretty intimidating, but I think that was exactly what was needed. They just have had repeated behavior problems and just weren't taking the problem seriously. It ended up being really good and they were able to come with a list of promises that they wanted to help each other keep and we posted it on our classroom wall. I have seen some improvement, and I know they will need reminding, but it was so good to see that they were finally taking class seriously. Huge answer to prayer!

This weekend we are headed to Gangneung, Yoonseo's hometown for Sarah Jill's wedding. Sarah used to word with NARPI and did some substitute teaching for Connexus too. We have the great honor of singing her wedding song, which you can listen to in the link I posted at the top. We are also having a staff retreat, the first since the addition of three new KOPI interns. I'm excited to have some time to get to know everyone better.

Two of the interns, Minjung and Hyesun are doing a language exchange with Anna and I. We are meeting on Wednesday nights to have conversation in Korean and English and check each other's journals; Anna and I will write in Korean and Minjung and Hyesun will write in English. I am really excited to get the chance to practice Korean and become better friends with people we're working and living alongside. Minjung is actually in my cooking group on Mondays and also goes to Grace and Peace church with us.

I'm still collecting quotes, so instead enjoy some little updates from the community. Thanks for reading!

Community News:

* After spending many great months with us, Juhee decided it was time for a change, and so now we have a new grammar teacher, Jiyoung Park, who is just lovely and is great to have in the office! I'm looking forward to getting to know her better too as she is taking Juhee's place as one of my cooking partners as well.

* On March 17, I made omurice for lunch and let it be known to all that Omonim said that it was delicious and I did well. I wrote it on my calendar.

* One of my friends from Messiah is coming to Connexus to teach! Michaela, I am so pumped!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tonsillitis and a case of Inadequacy

Today's blog music is again some Sleeping at Last, a song I feel like I need to take to heart these days: You Are Enough by Sleeping At Last. Whoops, already feeling weepy....Sorry, this one is more of a personal blog rather than a news update.

I've been sick.
For almost two weeks now, first a weird fever-y stomach thing that then morphed into an ear-throat-nose deal that I found out today from the doctor is Tonsillitis. No, don't worry, not the kind that requires surgery, but the kind that can turn into strep pretty quick, and felt like it was well on its way there.

Anyway, the visit to the doctors brought into focus another kind of sickness I've been suffering: Inadeqaucy. 부적임.Big time megacity.

Not feeling well physically kind of puts a lot of things into perspective, but can also give you usually unhelpful mix of self-pity and lots of time to think.

So far I've reflected quite extensively on the fact that I can't go on double dates with my boyfriend with getting a fever halfway through, I can't play sports well (especially ping pong),  I can't understand or speak Korean as well as I feel like I should,  I can't go to a Korean wedding without being ultra awkward greeting people, and I can't visit the doctor and have him suck the pus out of my throat without bursting into tears.

Yep, that happened at the doctor's this morning. Reaaalll classy. I was instantly embarassed, but the truth was, I was scared. I couldn't understand what the doctor was saying to me, and they moved so quickly I didn't know what was going on until suddenly there was a suction in my throat, poking at my sore tonsils. It hurt, and I gagged and out came the waterworks.

Surprisingly, I missed the U.S. a lot in that moment. I missed good old Mont Alto Family Practice and the physician's assistant telling me what they were planning on doing to me before they did it, and telling me why they were giving me a shot, and giving said shot in the arm instead of the butt (why is that necessary? as if I needed another reason to feel uncomfortable).

I think the excessive reaction was mostly a result of other pent up feelings of not feeling good enough: not strong enough, not experienced enough, not capable enough to handle what is needed to live here as a "foreigner" and an English teacher. I know my skin should be thicker, that I should be braver, that I should eat more kimchi, that I should be more interesting girlfriend, that I should be and do a lot of things I'm not currently. But the truth is, I'm not there yet. I need to grow more. I know it.

But I also don't need to let the awareness that I need to grow consume me and make me feel like I need to hide away like a tulip bulb until I'm 'ready' to come out. Reality is that we need to be growing our entire lives. We're never 'done.' We're always growing with God, and we're never adaquate without him. There isn't really a timeline of how 'done' we ought to be at a certain point either. There is no official manual that has a chapter labeled "What You Should Be Able To Handle After Living In Korea For Almost 10 Months." No one is evaluating my progress and judging my worth as a person based on it. No one is writing me a report card circling the numbers in each category and deciding whether I'm behind or not.

Oh yeah, except for me.
And I need to quit it.

So it's ok that I suck at ping pong. It's ok that I think some kimchi is too sour and is gross. It's ok that I can never remember the name of my favorite sauce in Korean and can't understand the doctor. It's ok that I baked those jammy scones a little longer than I should have. It's ok that I am a little boring and talk too much about books to Yoonseo. It's ok. I'm enough. I'm still growing with Jesus, but with him-- I'm enough.

“you are enough.”
these little words, somehow they’re changing us.
“you are enough.”
so we let our shadows fall away like dust.

when we grew up,
our shadows grew up too.
but they’re just old ghosts
that we grow attached to.
the tragic flaw is that they hide the truth

that you’re enough.
I promise you’re enough.
I promise you’re enough, I promise you.