Friday, May 18, 2012


So I just finished Friday of week......let me calculate ....... 41/42!!!! Wow!! I snapped a bunch of cheesy class photos today much to the dismay of my students. I'm getting sentimental in my final days!! I already lost three students early who had to leave for various reasons. When one student, Brandon, took his final today I almost cried!

This weekend is the last "normal" weekend. Next week I have one normal day of teaching (review), then Tuesday-Thursday is finals. Most days are pretty short for the high school teachers (aha!) so I'm going to be busy grading, cleaning, and packing!!!! I just can't believe it's coming to a close. Sunday is the little Kindergartner's graduation (awwwwww) and Thursday is 8th grade and Sunday my seniors are all graduated!! Yikes. I don't really have anything else to say about leaving. I'm not really ready to process it. I feel like a huge tsunami is building in front of me and I'll just try and prepare as much as possible for it to strike! I'm guessing it will strike sometime next week. But maybe not until I'm actually saying goodbye and leaving my Island home for good. If there was a see-saw in my brain, one side would be the excitement of coming home, and the other would be the devastation of leaving. They go back and forth all the time. Today I was more sad about leaving. It was my last Friday teaching ever....too many "lasts" and I'm not happy about it...

I really have fallen in love here. My heart is torn in two. I hope someone perfects the "Transporter" from Star Trek so I can just beam back here next month. Pray for me as I say my goodbyes, get everything ready for the return, and go through sad tearful goodbyes with so many people I have grown to love.

:) I am very excited to go home though. It has been a long, long time since I've seen my beautiful Columbia River Gorge and that gorgeous PDX airport!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Monday, May 7, 2012


No matter how much sleep I get. No matter how much water I drink. No matter how big a breakfast I eat. Monday's always suck. I always go to bed on Sunday night and wake up Monday morning with the same prayer (more or less)

"Dear God, please help me sleep and be well rested for what tomorrow brings. Help me show these kids Your love. Help me be patient and kind and loving at all times. Give me an opportunity to witness to them. Give me the strength to get through the day without feeling exhausted. Be with me always. Amen"

Yet 7th period comes around and I get up to teach my THIRD world history class of the day and words start spewing out that aren't so nice and loving and kind. For example:

"I only ask for FORTY MINUTES of your DAY to be respectful and attentive in class. That is ALL. If you can't HANDLE that I'm fearful of your FUTURE" - Ms. Kellar, 5/7/12 2:30pm.

Whoops. I mean, I guess that's not totally cruel but it's not really loving....especially in front of the whole class. It didn't help the whole class either except got a few of the students nervous and quiet. 7th period always does me in. I don't know why but it's always the most hot on Monday. I've had a really headache since Thursday (after my team WON the state debate! More on that later....). I think it's just all the anxiety and stress of prepping for that debate sort of accumulating into a big giant headache. Today sucked. My lectures were boring even to me because I was just sick of it all. I was confused about what I was even SAYING! Mussolini made a pact with ...Hitler? Or did I say Stalin? Or Daladier?  Oh no. Sech. Nan sech. I'm falling asleep listening to myself.

Tomorrow will be better. God doesn't give us what we ask right away or maybe even at all. But He always answers. I know. I just really wish He would answer on Monday.

Only TWO more mondays to go. So I guess I'll survive. :-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just for fun: FOOD!

Alright! This has been coming for a long time. This is a post entirely about food. I haven't really missed food from home thaaat much this year. It hasn't been a big deal to me. Yeah, the food gets kind of boring here. Rice and broccoli for lunch. Granola for breakfast with powdered soy milk from home (EVERY MORNING FOR 9 MONTHS!) and the occasional orange or bean/salsa treat. That's about it except for our wonderful breakfast-dinners or apartment meals that add some variety to the blandness :) Carly is a pretty good cook and we have managed to have some good meals this year! Curry, eggplant dishes, vege meat dishes, etc. But most of the time, day to's the same food. Everything in Pohnpei besides bananas, taro, and cucumbers is shipped in from somewhere else. Evverything. They import basically everything in the grocery store. Most of the items come from the company "Western Family." I find that humorous because they are located in Portland of all places! Ridiculous. Food shipped from my home half way across the world. More expensive too because of all the taxes!

Most of the items on this list are things that I CANNOT get here! Here goes!! MY stomach is growling already!

1) Taco Salad
2) Soy Cappuccino at peets with my dad
3) Chipotle Burrito
4)  Olive Garden Salad
5) Vegetarian Meatballs from mom
6) Enchiladas without olives!
7) Cheesecake.....
8) Mizithra Cheese Pasta from Spaghetti Factory!
9) Panda Express spring roll
10) Blueberries (I miss these most so they are separate)
11) Pears, peaches, oranges, and strawberries! (in general: FRUIT)
12) Big tomatoes in a BIG sandwich!
13) Mt. Dew Baja. Sorry mom.
14) Belgium waffles with MAPLE syrup from dad
15) Silk Soy Milk!
16) Coconut Icecream
17) BIG FRANKS wrapped in foil with all the fixin's from dad!
18) Grandma's oatmeal cookies
19) gelato from The Patisserie walla walla!
20) Thai Ploy Iced Coffee!
21) Taco Wagon burrito!!
22) Worm Ranch burrito!
23) YOGI burger from DX!

I also realize much of this food isn't that healthy. It's not like I want to eat this all the time, okay!? Kindra don't judge me!

mannny mannny moreee but this is just one list to get me excited about coming home:) Haha!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ngatik, or Sapwuahfik

"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

Philippians 4:11-13 NLT

One Week

From about January 6th to March 29th school has been going straight with not even one break. First and second quarter flowed into another with feelings of dread for both teacher and student. Just a little too much school with not enough rest. The weekend were always relaxing, with two trips to Black Coral, a trip around the island, waterfalls, afternoons at the Sufficools, but...still...Monday always showed up! For 13 weeks!

Here's a list of what exhausts me most about teaching:

1. Chapel on Monday. Keeping them all quiet throughout that hour is emotionally exhausting. So much frustration and anger boils in me when those boys and sometimes the girls act like 5th graders squirming in their seats with barely an ounce of respect.

2. When my students "whine" about various things. When I start writing Bell Work, or when I write Homework assignments, or even just a simple activity on the board. I hate being treated like I'm supposed to be entertaining and not make them do anything hard.

3. When a student doesn't respect me. I ask them to do something and they refuse for some lame excuse filled reason. "I had my headphones in my EARS but they weren't actually on miss! You can't take them!."

4. The stress of wanting them to do well and get great grades balanced with my desire to challenge them and not enable their laziness.

The actual preparation for classes, reading in advance, waking up each day and teaching them....even GRADING doesn't exhaust me as much as those four points above do. It's draining.

SO. It's important to realize my "STATE OF MIND" before telling you about my choice.

Option 1: Spend a week with my SM friends, relaxing in my apartment. Reading, watching movies, traveling around the island. Eating out at nice island restaurants, camping at Ahnt, and just enjoying the peacefulness in the comfort of my home.

Option 2: Spending $200 and traveling in a tiny plane to the island of Sapwuahfik. 100 miles SW of Pohnpei. Less than a mile long, and less than a mile wide. No electricity, no internet, no comfy bed, no yummy food. The goal: spending the week helping the school, leading out VBS each day, and promoting the small SDA school on the island. Accommodations: floor. Bucket shower. Bucket toilet.

What would YOU choose!? This was so hard for me. Other SMs had to choose also. Many wanted to stay also because we really only have about 8 weeks (now it's 5!) left in Pohnpei. Also, the prospect of "roughing it" during our ONLY time off the entire 2nd semester was a little hard to accept. What did I choose? I decided I wanted to go. I just knew as soon as I heard about the opportunity that I needed to just make up my mind and stick to it. They asked for people who wanted to go to bring their money to the office and I just did. I decided not to really think about it. I had saved up that money from my monthly stipend for food and just gave it to the office. Done. What have I gotten myself into!? I was excited..but also afraid that I would completely exhaust myself and come back so tired and not prepared for 7 more weeks of teaching.

The final group that decided to go: Emily T, Katie L, Christina D, Nikki J, Joy N, Julie K and me! Kdub. It was hard saying good bye to my roommates. I knew they would have a lot of fun without me at home and I was kind of sad to miss out on it. But I was so glad to have Jules! She's one of my great friends here. Also Esther of course - this was her first plane ride! I think my first plane ride was to Canada.

The plane ride only lasted about an hour. Our pilot seemed...competent, not that I would have any way of knowing! My only evidence is that I survived.

All the island greeted us! Well, it felt like it. It was like arriving in Pohnpei back in August all over again. This time though we knew it was a big deal! It's incredibly rare to have "menwais" visit this tiny island. The plane only comes about once a week, and the boat maybe once a month? Can you imagine that kind of disconnect! It's one thing to be in an isolated town, far away. But to be actually separated by so much open water. Totally cut off! Completely dependent on boats and planes.

In the first photo of this blog you can see the main highway on this island. Wheelbarrows and bikes go on the left, pedestrians on the right. There are no strollers on Sapwuahfik. Babies get plopped into wheelbarrows or little carts!! We took the long walk to the school where we were planning on staying. It's a nice little school! Not what I was expecting. The previous PNI SDA Principal worked pretty hard on improving the school. There used to be an SM there two years ago, but not since then. The classrooms are very tiny. The school has....TWELVE students. But it's cute. The "swings" out front are just some kind of fishing rope tied up into a loop. It seemed to be quite fun for all of them!

The first night it was SO hot in that school. No electricity = no fan. I'm pretty spoiled at home with my big fan on my all night long. 85 degrees + intense humidity + no breeze + 7 girls all lined up in a row on mats = HOT! So I slept outside by the beach with Maureen (the principal's wife, who grew up on this island) and another SM, Emily. I loved sleeping by the ocean. The breeze, the crashing waves.

That next day we led out for Church! The church seemed to be once of the nicer buildings on the island! We sang, prayed, and took turns answering questions for the "sermon." Most likely only half of them understood us, but they were polite and interested none the less :) Pretty much everyone was just fascinated with us and the way we talked /sang. That afternoon was our first VBS. So many children came out! Most of them are not even SDA. They played around the church for a long time (playing jump rope with a rope made out of rubber bands!) anticipating our arrival. We told stories, played games, and gave them some things to color. We had 6 VBS events and each one gathered more and more kids. The last couple nights we had over 60 kids. It was quite the event :) We were told it was the first VBS/kids event they'd ever had.

The first night though requires a little bit of a story.

It wasn't as hot the second night so I decided to sleep with everyone in the school. The school has a bunch of tiny additions on the side so there's a lot of ways to get into the main room and lots of locks. We were told to be careful on the island, but that security isn't a big deal since there's no violence (whoever is violent is taken care of quite quickly in that SMALL of a community!). Well, that night we all went to bed. Just the 7 of us in the school's main room. Midnight came around, and about four of the girls all went out to use the bathroom (concrete room where you use a bucket to flush :). They had flashlights and probably chatted quite a bit. Well, they all came back and fell back asleep. Except one girl. She couldn't sleep. She had a feeling someone was outside...thought she heard something, etc. So she couldn't sleep and felt like she was the only one who was feeling this way. She was sleeping right next to the window with our coordinator by the window as well. Well then she was sure she saw someone. She woke up the coordinator, and asked if she heard it too. By then I was up listening to what was going on, and so were a few of the others. Then we heard him whisper. "Hey, is anyone in there?" which completely struck terror through my bones! Also something to understand: windows = not really existent here. More like slats, and these windows in the school were just open slats with no screen or bars. So he was right next to us. Then he walked around the school trying to open all the doors. I woke up Jules. So terrified. People asking me if I had brought my pepper spray (I didn't! Ugh!). We all grabbed our bug spray - haha. Then he had the audacity to SHINE his flashlight into our room. Well at this point, Joy banged her flashlight on the window to try and make him leave. But we didn't know it was her! So EVERYONE screamed bloody murder! (I screamed, but I thought it was more like we were trying to get the neighbors attention and Maureen's). He FREAKED and ran away and the neighbors and Maureen were there in seconds.

They told the "police" if they can be called that :) and we had body guards all night. But thanks to being so scared, and a few local cats, we got zero sleep last night. The next nights we slept in Maureen's parents house and felt much better with our body guards sleeping by the door. (Body guards = Beastly Sapwuahfik women!). Here's the BEST PART of the story though: I guess this is some kind of outdated local custom. Shine lights into woman's windows, and ask one out for a date. All the locals still acknowledge he was kind of a crazy creeper, but they also said they were 100% sure he had NO violent intents, that he was just curious and maybe a tiny bit drunk. The local guys kind of wanted to beat him up but they just threatened him. He actually came to APOLOGIZE to us the next day! He was very odd but we felt pretty safe the whole week. Oh culture differences. When he was explained how American's would view someone doing that as a violent act, he was shocked.

I don't want anyone to get the view that this island is dangerous. This was just such a odd thing to happen, partly because so many of us girls were there at one time which is such a rarity. They kind of know this guy to be sort of odd, goes to show there's "one in every group" even out in the middle of the pacific. But as far as a future SM going to the island, a girl going alone is probably not the best option. Definitely a guy, or a couple would be perfect :)

The days out on Sapwuahfik, by the beach, reading my book and resting in my hammock are some of the most peaceful moments in my entire life. One day we went out to visit the 9 outer islands. Small island > smaller island > even SMALLER island! Some of those outer islands were actually OCCUPIED by some locals living out there alone!! Insane. Eating coconuts, fish, taro, bananas, and probably some imported Sakau since nobody can live without that in Micronesia. Yuck.

Downsides: our second sleeping place was also home to rats, cockroaches, and huge spiders. Being kind of freaked from the second night "incident" we were all kind of antsy and woke up a lot. Rat walked on my legs one night, cockroach on my shirt, and a huge spider by my head the next night. I just said "SCREW IT IM TIRED" and ignored all of it. There just comes a point when you don't care anymore about bugs, roaches, or even creepy local stalkers. Just SLEEP. God will take care of you :) Haha!

Lesson Leaned

They have nothing. Only what is provided for them on the island. Water comes from the sky. Taro from the earth. Bananas and coconuts from the trees above. God provides. So many of the kids don't know a life other than this. They gave and gave to us who have so much, because that is just what you do. This is enough. We are given what we need. God looks after us no matter where we were born. Hardships surround every corner of the world, but God can give us peace no matter where we are. He can give us a small school, a small church, and a kind heart. We don't need as much as we think we do!

Lifetime Memory

The last night.
I felt like taking a shower to cool down for the long night ahead. So I got my bucket, went out to the rain catcher and got some water. Precious supply of water. What would they do without so much rain? Then I went to the concrete built shower. The moon was full and the stars were bright. I was in the middle of the jungle behind the house without a roof over my head and the moon shining down on me. I poured water over my head, feeling so cooled and refreshed. So much joy in that small moment with just me and the moon in the jungle. I'll miss Sapwuahfik so much. It's no the kind of place you can easily return to in a few years, or even twice in a lifetime.

If you are thinking about being an SM for the first time, or even going out and serving God. If you feel called to serve in a place that has an extreme need. Think of Sapwuahfik. Think of these children, so excited to soak up the bible stories, the love that we have to give them. Supporting the church, the school, which is so fragile without the support of someone from the states of the church. Sapwuahfik is simple, isolated, and I am sure it can be lonely. But the locals are open, loving, kind, and will never stop giving you coconuts to drink.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Tuesday

I figured it would be kind of entertaining (perhaps...well, probably not, but it's fun for me) if I were to talk you through an average day!

The Day: Tuesday. March 6th. 2012.

12:00AM: Fall asleep. Pretty fast too.

3:00AM: Power goes out. The heat immediately wakes me up. I can't find my flashlight! Also, I have to pee. So I stumble out the living room, find Kelsey's laptop and turn it on. It nicely illuminates the room, so I use the bathroom. As soon as I fall on my bed the power goes back on. Thank goodness. After sleeping 7 months with a fan, it's really hard to fall asleep without it's noise. Especially because my room faces the parking lot, and all the noises that come with that. (chickens, pigs, crickets, dogs, etc.)Even sometimes the high school bell which decides to go off in the middle of the night. Yeah. That happens.

7:00AM: Watch wakes me up. Staff worship is at 7:30. Decide to skip staff worship.

7:30AM: Wake up. Get dressed, wash face, brush teeth, and make some granola. Play some songs on the ukulele for fun. Wait for everyone to be finished with staff worship.

8:00AM: Walk across the school to my classroom. See Ms. Kyle walking into her classroom and wish her a good day. My student's don't want to walk into my classroom because it's FINALS! First class: World History 1st period. Subjects: comprehensive!! Late Middle Ages up to Scientific Revolution.

8:15AM: We sang a song. Prayed. Then I rolled the dice (literally!) to choose which essay question they would answer for the exam - they had a list of 6 essays before the exam. Everyone starts writing. I twiddle my fingers waiting for them to finish so I can start grading all those essays! (I have around 20 kids in that class. Eeek)

9:30AM: Last student finishes. Start reviewing with second period world history. Yell at Courtney across the campus to get to class. Begin final and roll the dice again! They aren't happy with the result.

11:30AM: Lunch time. Walk back to classroom. Make a yummy lunch of taco shell (completely stale) and some beans. Not bad for Pohnpei. Watched about 15 minutes of a TV show to relax my brain after grading so many essays. Bell rings. Head back to class!!

12:30PM: Next final - 4th Period American History. They walk in and start asking so many questions. (I've given them FOUR days of class time to ask questions). I make sure to remind them to write "full and complete sentences" like usual, and I have to define what that means four times to four different students. I made them memorize the Gettysburg address. Again, they aren't very happy about that. It's fun though to hear them say it!

1:30PM: Done! I love finals week. Each day is shorter. I decided to be extremely ambitious today. After relaxing for about an hour I got out the old' Anatomy textbook and started reviewing. Prepping for PT school which starts about 3 weeks after I get home. I finished skull bones tonight. I'm a pro. I skyped with my mother for about an hour. She is anxious for me to come home and I am anxious to see her.

7:30PM: Feeling SUPER ambitious and decide to work out with Kristina. Kristina is the new addition as of January. She took over for one of the teachers who had to leave for school. She lives in our apartment and I am so happy she's here! It's fun to have another high school teacher around who knows all the kids and can complain with me :) She is also a great work out buddy to replace my first workout buddy - Stacey! Who also had to leave in December. This apartment has shifted through a lot of people. It's not our fault we promise!

9:00PM: TIRED. and SWEATY! We work out with two fans on us for about 30 minutes. Crunches, squats, abs, etc. etc. It's exhausting but we feel so good afterward. But pretty disgusting. The floor has a bunch of gecko poop dropping on it too, so that's not so appealing. So I took a shower!! Then made myself a cup of chai tea. Then..started writing this blog.

I'm anticipating the rest of the night to go as follows:

10PM: Start reading.

11PM: Fall asleep.

But I can't be too sure...

"For wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Choose this day whom you will serve….

It’s week of worship here in Pohnpei. For this quarter, five teachers were asked to give a talk for each day. Our theme was “chosen” by Carl Dupper (a fellow SM from Colorado who teaches PE, Computers, and Government). The theme is: Choices. “God’s ways and the choices we make.”

It’s been really fun to see the teachers step up and try to speak to these kids about choosing God everyday, in every part of our lives. Chapel is not really my favorite part of the week. It’s usually only on Monday, and it lasts from 11-12pm. To be quite honest, it feels like torture. Chapel felt like torture every Tuesday when I went to Walla Walla, too. Why? Well, you’ve just had about four classes, and its right before lunch. All you want to do is grab a sandwich, relax your brain, chat casually with your friends – but NO, you have to sit quietly while your stomach growls and all your social instincts are clawing at you to chit-chat with everyone around you.

The boys here agree with me, apparently. The boys sit on the left, and the girls sit on the right. Let’s just say, the girls aren’t really the noise makers… the boys do the weirdest things in chapel!! One student (yes, his name is actually MacGyver), likes to occasionally jump around the pews and climb over people. Other students like to sprawl out their whole bodies and take a full-out nap. Others enjoy sneaking around on their phones, or reading various books. In general, it’s mayhem. It’s really hard, too! Especially for us lady teachers! Because you’re supposed to sit next to the girls, but the entire time you look over at all these crazy boys! My face is SORE after chapel after sending so many disapproving glares over to my left!

One of my new roommates, the lovely Ms. Kristina Kyle from Southern, gave the first talk on Monday. She did a wonderful job, lightheartedly introducing the kids to the idea that the choices you make, every day, affect who you become in the future. My “assignment” for Tuesday was to address some of the biggest, and more damaging, choices a lot of these kids deal with here in Pohnpei. All those…..(close your eyes professors!!)… ridiculously boring health promotion classes I took in college came in handy as I was preparing my medical statistics and visual aids! The big issues? Well, of course the addiction trinity: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Marijuana.

The FSM in general has a big problem with alcohol. Most of the violent crimes and suicides are all related to drinking alcohol. I’ve had a few kids come to class hungover (I’ve developed entertaining ways of punishing them – like making loud noises, applauding, and pounding on their desks for encouragement!! They just LOVE that). But the last thing I discussed is an issue common here around the pacific: betel nut. It’s this seed that they find around palm trees, pop into their mouths, and chew chew chew. You’ll see locals walking around with this big nut floating around their mouth. It has all kinds of acids and alkaloids which basically poison you. It stains their teeth and gums red, causes all kinds of mouth ulcers, and increases their risk of a whole mess of cancers. Many of the high school students have reddish stains on their teeth. About… 5-6 of my students have been suspended/expelled/disciplined for chewing betel nut so far this year. We don’t allow it on the campus. Another really disgusting thing about betel nut is that while they are chewing it, they spit out the juices. Those juices stain everything. All around the corners of the halls, classrooms, outside the windows – betel nut juice. Our principal says it’s not too bad this year as it has been in the past, but we still notice is around the school.

Sadly, I have smelled alcohol, marijuana, and cigarette smoke on some of my absolute favorite students (I have favorites!? Whoops...). It’s so frustrating, because most of them have so much potential! They are smart, funny kids who just don’t understand that they aren’t invincible. The choices they are making now can screw up their future, even their relationship to God. So I spoke to them about all of that, and told them how much God wants us to honor Him with our bodies. I asked them the questions, “whom will you serve? What will you devote yourself to? Where will invest your time, effort, and labor?” It went pretty well. But I’m sure some kids still fell asleep or lost themselves in their cell phones.

I realized today why I felt so passionate about talking to them about all of this stuff. This entire year I have devoted myself, invested my time, and put all my labor into helping these kids. I have chosen to serve God, and serve them. I want so much for them to learn, enrich their minds, and grow closer to God! But I can only do so much. They have to choose each day whether or not they will listen, respect, and value me. Many of them have, and it lifts me up so much to see them learning, understanding, and enjoying it!

But it’s okay that some of them haven’t yet, because I’m still here – working, waiting, and praying for them every single day.

(13 more weeks to go) Please pray for me so I can be an effective witness to these kids in the little time that I have left!



“ But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua 24:15 NIV

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Still here. 16 more weeks!

Yes, I'm still here. Out on my tiny island. Why haven't I written anything in such a long time you ask? Or maybe you don't ask, but I'll answer anyways. I've been so incredibly, overwhelmingly, and monstrously busy!!! This quarter started and BAM: Ms. Kellar was BACK and there was a stack of papers to grade taller than Sokehs rock.

Hawaii was indescribable. I fell in love with Kauai! What a beautiful island. I was spoiled beyond belief by being able to walk across the street to safeway, starbucks, and eat fresh swiss cheese!! I got to change dozens of diapers and kiss booboos and little foreheads. Auntie Kelsey mashed up veggies and pealed oranges with glee. I was able to talk to my brother. It's silly but even typing that brought tiny tears to my eyes. He's my best friend. You don't get to pick your siblings but I got one of the best. There's no one else in the world that has my same parents, grew up in the same home, with the same experiences. Hundreds of mornings spent eating breakfast, reading with mom, and watching star trek. I would bet a lot of money on the fact that there's no one else in the world who has made me cry more- haha! From whiny little girl tears all the way to big girl homesick tears. My brother also gave me the best gift ever - a beautiful, kind, loving sister in law who is a strong Godly women and mother to my two baby nephews. I am blessed. Blessed with two amazing parents who know how much I love my brother and his family, and gave me the opportunity to spend time with them this Christmas. I am giddy with anticipation of next Christmas - the entire clan all reunited!!

Leaving Kauai was immensely painful. But I never had any desires or thoughts about not returning to Pohnpei. I know that I'm supposed to be here. Just last night we had our Wednesday prayer meeting, and as I was praying I felt compelled to thank God for His gift of extra strength. Honestly, for the past 2-3 weeks I've felt like there was a strong wind behind my back pushing me along. Yes, I've been tired. But I have enjoyed each day, and keep trying to find new, creative ways of teaching my students. I dressed up like the Pope for World History (a funny story indeed!), I created a new gold-mining town in California with my US History students, and my Geography class engaged in peace negotiations between Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. I know I'm not the most amazing teacher, and there's still so much more I could be doing, but I feel this sudden responsibility. Not the kind of responsibility that makes you feel tired, heavy, or burdened. No! Responsibility that makes me feel kind of empowered, and excited. My students are learning SO much! Sometimes I forget how little they knew at the beginning of the year. Now they know about Muhammad, DaVinci, John Adams, Christopher Columbus, The geography of USA, Canada, South America, Europe, Russia and I could go on and on and on!

Our expectations are so funny. I never came here thinking what would get me most excited was to see my kids learn and start to understand the "USSR and how it affected the politics/geography of Eurasia" or other random things. But it does excite me!! To see them struggle, complain, procrastinate, but slowly (sometimes very slowly) figure things out and learn!! God put me here in Pohnpei for lots of reasons. I think one of them is that He knows my weird (others call is "lame, nerdy, etc.") excitement and joy about learning and teaching this stuff. I just keep praying each day that I'm not only teaching them but showing them love in how I teach. It' s a day-by-day adventure here on Pohnpei! It really is a constant roller coaster of emotions.

I love you family! I love you friends! :)