Thursday, November 17, 2011

United Nations Day

Here are some pictures from UN day. It was a pretty cool school program, if you ask me. They not only sang but danced too! And I got to teach the third grade a dance to "Party in the USA" : D  

K2 morning and afternoon classes

The school is too small, so we had the program in a different building. We all met at school and then had a parade and walked along the beach to get to the building.

Yeah, that's right. We ended the song with the splits.

At Agape School

 Okay, so I know I failed at writing in this regularly, but I will try and explain what has been happening here these past couple of months. I’ll start with school…

Teaching kindergarten has been interesting. The way they do things is a bit different here. Okay more than a bit. They are allowed to hit the kids with rulers for one thing, and the kids are allowed to get up and use the “comfort room” as many times as they want. There is a hygiene poster in the room, but they all drink out of the same water cup and do not wash their hands after using the bathroom.

 The school is supposed to be an English speaking school, and I’m there so that the kids will learn English. Each class has a Filipino teacher and an English-speaking one. The teacher I work with is Cecile. When I first met her she told me she is sometimes “lazy to teach,” but she’s really good at keeping the kids under control. So yeah, they have one or two lessons a day, along with playtime, naptime, snack time, and coloring time. I always start the day with a prayer, then we sing and I read them a story which they may or may not understand.

On our first day of teaching we were supposed to have a meeting with the principle, where I thought they would explain what we are supposed to be doing, but she was busy.. so we were just kind of thrown into it. I mostly observed the first day, and tried to understand their routine.

The first week was kind of crazy because Cecile would go on her breaks and I was left alone with the students, which was a little difficult at first. Just imagine for a moment being in charge of a class full of hyper students who know no English. They ask you questions you cannot answer and look at you with a really confused face when you try to explain things. And to make it even easier you have to try and teach them stuff like math. I eventually became more familiar with the students and the routine. I began to figure out the whole discipline thing. Time outs work pretty well, and if nothing else, I can just slam stuff on the desk or pick up a ruler or give them a warning.

 I’ve started to pick up on certain words and I find myself understanding more and more of what’s going on. The kids have really grown on me- even the naughty ones. It is humbling to work in a class that is so small, with kids that have so little. They get really excited over little gifts like stickers or erasers. Most of them don’t even have their own pencils. The classroom would be considered too dirty to use in the States. The kids don’t care though, they love it. They are always so happy and seem pretty content. I guess that goes to show you don’t need to have a lot to be happy! It is kind of crazy to think about how in Minnesota- where it’s only warm like 3 weeks of the school year- we have air conditioning. And they don’t have that here, where it’s super hot almost every school day.

So anyways, I love the kids in my class and teaching has been a great experience. I’ve learned a lot about the culture by watching the kids play and interact with each other. I’ve also started teaching quiet game time for the older grades, which has gone really well so far. I’m very thankful for this experience, even on days when I too, am “lazy to teach.” It’s great that all these kids can go to a Christian school and learn about the gospel, and I pray they will remember all they’ve seen and heard about Jesus.

Some of my students coloring :)

We had three special visitors- the one on the right used to teach at Agape

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sickness and Family

Recently I had been having bad headaches and dizziness. I didn’t think much of it until Sunday when the fever, migraine, and sore throat came. My entire ribcage felt like it was being crushed and it hurt to breathe. Monday morning I was feeling a bit better and spent a good part of the day with this cute little boy playing catch with paper airplanes. In the evening, however, the fever returned.
Tuesday I went to the Island Clinic…which was a very interesting experience. I got a ride on the back of someone’s motorbike and then met Isidro who was driving the van. The clinic was like a large room divided into sections by curtains. Not the overly clean and modern place I’m used to. I met with the doctor and told him the symptoms. A nurse took me through a back door that led into what looked like a garage. To my left I saw a family sitting around a table in some sort of kitchen area. We walked past them and went through a deteriorating door into the bathroom. I was shocked that such a dirty bathroom would be found in a clinic. Like home, there was no flushing option, and let’s just say it did not smell the greatest. Anyways, they got the sample and poured rubbing alcohol on my hands to wash them. My blood was also taken and luckily they found the vein right away. I was surprised that they were able to give me the results after about a half hour of waiting. Turns out I had an infection, and was given antibiotics.
 I felt pretty crappy for awhile and the medicine..or maybe the migraine..made me barf. But I’m staying positive and hoping to get better soon. Being sick here has been interesting. Aileen says she believes that when you’re sick it’s best to keep active. Even if it is a fever.  It gives you more strength and keeps your body energized. I suppose that’s part of the reason why they think I’m insane for sleeping in my room all alone. I’m not sure what they expected or if they understood I did not have the strength to even sit up, let alone go hang out. I feel bad for making them worry, but it’s just how sickness is dealt with in my culture. You are left alone so you do not contaminate anyone else. But here it is so important to them to always be around your friends and family, they don’t understand how anyone could bear to be alone. Even when sick.
On a more positive note, even though they were worried about my mental health, they have been very kind to me during this time. Arlene came up one night and gave me a massage and told me that we are family now. She said she will be excited to meet me in heaven where we will be family for eternity. Aileen too, was kind enough to bring me food and sit with me even though I know my lack of energy and emotion concerned her. I also made a new friend, Sheila. She told me to call her my big sister and threatened to kick me if I did not finish my food.
So the one thing I have learned is that I do have family here and they will be there for me when I need them. I am thankful for their love and acceptance of me- someone they don’t always understand. (at least not when I’m sick and sleeping all day) I’ve realized that maybe I’ve been taking some of their criticism the wrong way. Maybe I need to try and better understand where they’re coming from. Maybe they say these things because they care about me, not because I have disappointed them or failed. I knew adjusting to a foreign culture would not be why am I so hard on myself when I don’t understand? No matter how many socially awkward things happen here in the Jungle Barn at least I know that we will always be family in Christ. That is what unites us and that is why we are all here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My New Home

View from the Jungle Barn!

Boracay is even more beautiful than I expected. We had to walk down to the beach along the shore to get to our place!
I have to admit though, when we first arrived at the Jungle Barn (it used to be a bar, so they added the n) I was overtired and overwhelmed. I felt a little bit of culture shock the first night when I found out that we can’t flush our tp, and to flush the toilet you have to pour a bucket or two of water down it. Plus the shower only had super cold water. Like colder than the sea outside.  I don’t think I’ll ever complain about where I live anymore- even if I go back to Alpha. There are a lot of bugs and lizards here, but luckily the boys are across the hall and will try to kill them for us.

Where I'm staying
The next morning I was feeling a lot better. I woke up at the crack of dawn along with the roosters outside that pretty much crow all day long. My roommate, Becca is really nice. J And it’s pretty sweet eating your breakfast while watching the water. Our breakfast and lunch is given to us here in the barn, and we have a budget of about 200 pesos-which isn’t much- for dinners. There are plenty of places to eat at here. I have to say it will take a little while to get used to having the housekeepers. It just feels weird to me. I’m usually the one cooking.
We have a nice room set up downstairs where we can get internet and do our homework. We spent some time doing that and then explored the Island a little. It’s pretty small so we were able to walk along the entire beach. This is a tourist area so people are always coming up and trying to sell us stuff while we’re walking.

We visited the school where we will be helping at and I’m pretty excited to start. The kids here are so adorable! Yesterday we went to a feeding for the Ati tribe. We sang some songs and had a Bible lesson. Then they colored and ate their food. It was new for me to see those kind of living conditions. I’ve seen and fed homeless people, but nothing quite like this. Some of the kids don’t even have clothes. I wish I could just go buy everything I can and give it to them. I also wish I could speak their language and communicate better. I already made the mistake of saying ooh-ooh instead of oh-oh, which I guess means poo! Lol. We learned some Tagalog words from Irene (the housekeeper) so that’s a start. I still have so much to learn though about the culture as well. I know I’m still in the happy tourist phase, but I’m really looking forward to these next few months and excited to see all that the Lord is doing here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First few days in the Philippines

Okay, first of all, the title of this blog is not supposed to be cool or creative, I meant for it to sound dumb, and I may change it later.

So the trip to the Philippines went pretty well. We never lost any luggage or got lost ourselves. The 15 hour plane ride from Chicago to Hong Kong was long, of course. It was really funny when the cute old Asian man next to me got in trouble for smoking. By the time we got to Manila I was exhausted. It was around midnight there, so we found Ador- our driver, who was holding up a sign that said FOX and went to the Beaver's place where Dan met us and let us call home quick.
The next day we visited a church that had a dentist's office in it. We also saw Faith Academy and spent time at the WWII memorial, which was cool. My great-great-notsurehowmanygreats aunt Wilhelmina was a missionary in the Philippines during WWII. During the Japanese occupation, the missionary headquarters- which was in Bayombong- was broken through. She was able to hide for the first 8 months, but was eventually found and suffered from malnutrition. 

 After that we went to the Mall of Asia which was amazing! I need to go back there someday cause I didn't actually do any shopping really. We ate lunch there and then went to a different mall where we got our cell phones : D It's really helpful to have them, though I'm a little concerned because Lance is now addicted to this game on the phone called snake. I tried it once.. but it's not my favorite thing to do.

Anyways, the driving and traffic in Manila is as crazy as they said it was. Similar to Rome actually. It takes forever to get anywhere! The next day was Sunday so we went to a church called CCF. After that it was time to leave for Boracay. We flew to the Kalibo and then met Tori and took a long bus ride to the edge of the island. The scenery was beautiful and I recognized the plants and animals from some of my great aunt’s old photos, like the random cows. We took a boat to Boracay and from there a trycicle to Angol Road. I don’t remember when, but at some point we were on a trycicle (the little motorbikes with the sidecars) going up this steep hill and the bike kept going slower and slower, so Tori told the boys to jump off the back so we wouldn’t tip over and crash. It was pretty funny. Josh's new shoes fell apart which made it even more funny. 

 So the trip to Boracay was pretty long, but worth it. Overall I'd say the traveling went pretty well!

Monday, August 29, 2011