A Change of Pace

We’ve left Hong Kong, but it still feels like a holiday and that we’re going to return someday soon. I’m sure the reality of it won’t really sink in until Kristin and I rent a U-Haul and finally move all our stuff to a new flat in Princeton. For now, we’re relaxing and settling in to a new pace of life.

Hong Kong was extremely busy. Everyone even said so. All you have to do is ask, “How have you been lately?” and the default answer will most likely be, “I’m really busy!”

While enjoying some froyo with our friend Andrea Bremmer (another former Valpo student), Kristin mentioned that she’s going to miss the buzz of life that is always zooming in Hong Kong. I hadn’t really thought of that before. I knew that I would miss my friends, the ultimate scene, the food, and the church communities we were part of, but I didin’t realize how much I had adapted to the “big city” life.

Elkhart, Indiana, USA (‘Merica!) just isn’t the same. There’s family here, which is amazing, but life is just slower. Instead of waking up late and staying out late, we’re getting up early and going to bed early. Part of the problem is jet lag, but moreover the reason for our elderly-like sleeping schedule is that everyone just goes to bed early here. There’re no late night activities or late night socializing over drinks at a pub.

It’s weird. But that’s just the way it is. I guess this is one area I’ll have to continue to adapt my frame of mind. For any of my friends in HK reading this: Enjoy the crazy-busy pace while you can!

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A Slave to Sin or a Slave to Christ?

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey —whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death,or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teachingthat has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Romans 6:15-18

I am justified through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

I am being sanctified daily through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Yet I struggle to break free from slavery to sin.

And I long to lay my life down in full obedience to Christ.

I read this in a book today, and it scares me, “Sin is a serious matter. Though set free from it, we can in effect become its slaves again if we give ourselves to it.” (Douglas J. Moo, NIV Application Commentary, 210) I know the reality of this all too well, and I hope and pray that I can wholeheartedly pursue obedience and righteousness.

LORD, help me. Help me be more like you and less like my old nature. I must decrease and you must increase. Amen.

A Giant Sigh of Relief

Jumpphoto © 2011 Hamad AL-Mohannna | more info (via: Wylio)
Finally, after six months of searching, I now have a job for the upcoming school year.

Ironically, in spite of a dozen applications to schools in Hong Kong, I won’t actually be teaching. This was a situation where the job kind of fell into my lap.

Here’s a brief backstory for the new reader: In November of 2010, I decided there was something new in store for me after completing school year. Many thought this was strange because teaching at ICS is a stable job, the students are among the best, and my reputation is quite stellar. What more could a person ask for?

The reasons for leaving are a bit etherial, but here’s what I know: I feel like I’ve been a little stagnant. When you’re stuck, you just need to move. Also, I think it’s healthy for teachers to take a break from time to time. A person needs outside experiences to bring into the classroom. It keeps teachers fresh, relevant, and interesting.

smile!photo © 2006 Sean Jackson | more info (via: Wylio)
Furthermore, as a Christian, I’ve spent time in prayer. The answer (though not audible) I kept getting back was that there was something different from ICS and that I needed to take a step out in faith. I’ve done that, and now I know that it was right.

Next year, I’ll be the assistant youth director at Island ECC. I’ll be working alongside Marcus Kroese and Amanda Fung, and we’ll be building relationships with kids all over Hong Kong. More specifically, I get to work with the middle school age children. I’m really looking forward to a vibrant, high-energy profession and ministry.

As a final note, I want to thank all the people that have stood by me along the way. Thank you to those that prayed for me, encouraged me, and reminded me that something great would come along.

Just Give Up

Everywhere but here?photo © 2009 will ockenden | more info (via: Wylio)
Sometimes the best thing a person can do is to simply give up.
Sometimes we want something so bad that we miss the bigger picture.

I’m not depressed, and I’m not giving up on life or anything.
Rather, sometimes I simply need to let go and let God rule my life rather than myself.

But there’s a tricky balance to maintain too.
I need to be active and living life fully, but I also need to realize that, “The best laid plans of mice and men, oft go awry” (Robert Burns).

hopephoto © 2006 pol sifter | more info (via: Wylio)
2 quotes that are helping me through this shaky time in my life:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot)

Being a Teacher in a Christian School

[NOTE: small update below]

I’ve had a lot of thoughts lately on the pros and cons of being a Christian educator.

PROS

  • Kids are generally awesome and super well-behaved
  • I don’t have to tip-toe around my faith
  • I can learn about Jesus during school hours because it’s part of the job
  • Regular chapel with time to praise and worship
  • Many supportive parents that care about both education and a child’s morality and faith upbringing
  • Instant connections with other staff members because of a common foundation in Christ
  • I get to be a part of all the uniquely Christian things. If you don’t know what weird and funny stuff Chrsitians are into, learn by checking out Stuff Christians Likeimage taken from http://www.sparklingadventures.com/index.php?id=885

CONS

  • Though many staff members focus on the common bond or unity in Christ, some staff members make a big issue out of silly things like Harry Potter, going to a bar for a drink, or whether or not global warming is true
  • Sometimes your colleagues just hang out with one another – you lose sight of the rest of the world or where other people are coming from. We need to know non-Christians’ perspective. (READER: if you want to reconnect with non-believers, check to see where they might be coming from on the Friendly Atheist site.)
  • Reading the Bible and listening to messages sometimes become a chore rather than a joy
  • Related to the above, sometimes my time spent preparing for teaching Bible classes gets substituted for my personal quiet times with God. In other words, doing ministry can get in the way of being ministered to unless I specifically implement measures to avoid this pitfall
  • Teaching at a Christian school for a number of years can be a career killer if I were to ever become part of a non-Christian education system

Harry Potter photo © 2009 Danelle Bunker | more info (via: Wylio)
Still, I think I there are more and stronger pros than cons. I like being a Christian educator, and I really enjoy ministering to people. Regardless of where I end up in life, I know that I am called to live a life of integrity 100% of the time – whether in school, at church, while playing ultimate frisbee, at a bar, or even just walking the crowded streets of Hong Kong (I get too easily annoyed by people with poor walking skills. If you feel similarly, you will appreciate a post from the Phantom Future blog).

[UPDATE on 25 Feb 2012: I’ve learned how to deal with inconsiderate city walkers! You can learn how by watching this Japanese video]

image taken from http://phantomfuturedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/tourists1.png

I am a Christian and a Christian teacher. I’m cool with this. And I look forward to the many opportunities to shine brightly into people’s lives, wherever that might be.  🙂

Getting my students to blog…

Wow! I recently realized that not a single teacher has ever taught my 8th grade students (ages 13-14) how to blog. Not only have the students missed out on this, but I think I am the only teacher that is currently venturing down this awesome (and possibly labor-intensive) path.

Today my first group of students created a blog. We went over the details and how to’s, and now they need to start tweaking them to personalize the information and edit the privacy settings. Not only was it a difficult lesson fraught with technical difficulties, but there were so many questions! The difficulties came from using our portable laptop stations called COWS (computers on wheels). The laptops are outdated, slow, and the wifi connection is quite poor.  So sad!  However, it’s available, and that’s cool.

Anyway, if you (my readers) would like to check them out, you can view them on this site: http://frankeg.wordpress.com/ The first class to blog is called “preserved eggs,” and I’m sure their sites will be updated over the weekend and next week. Feel free to leave positive and constructive comments!  Thank you!