Sunday, July 29, 2012

Flying Light

I was going to originally name this post “Answered Prayers”, but I feel like there have been/are going to be MANY more posts that could have that same title, so I decided to go more specific. I’m writing this during my 14.5 hour flight from Atlanta to Seoul, South Korea (but will obviously post it once I land since I'm not rich enough to pay for internet on the flight!).

The Lord has MAJORLY been looking out for me today! It started in Baltimore. Tim and Katie took me to the airport and helped me check-in. The self-check-in machine was messing up, so we went to the lady for assistance. She looked at me, looked up my ticket, looked at my two HUGE pieces of luggage and said, “Usually you’re only supposed to be allowed one 50 pound bag, but on here there’s a note that says you get two for free.” Then she weighed them each and one was at 52 pounds (she accepted it!) and the other was at 55, so we pulled some stuff out real quick and got it down to 50. Considering that’s my life’s possessions (minus a few totes in storage), I’d say I did pretty well! But, things just kept getting better. I then went to my gate and while I was waiting heard them make an announcement about gate-checking to your final destination. I’ve gate-checked bags plenty of times, but had only ever done it domestically and thought an employee somewhere had once told me that was all we could do. I decided to pull the na├»ve card and give it a try. What was the worst that could happen? I’d have to carry my 30 pound backpack and roll my 40 pound suitcase around the Seoul Airport during my 12 hour layover? Well, that’s what the plan was anyway! Haha. The man at the desk very excitedly agreed to gate check it to Kuala Lumpur and just like that I was down to only a backpack! Hallelujah! (Hence the title, “flying light”. Although my backpack does still weigh an insane amount!) 

My flight to Atlanta was short and sweet. I slept about the first hour and then watched a GORGEOUS sunset while we landed. I love flying. I love sunsets. I love sunsets while flying SO much! :) During my 3-hour layover in ATL, I was charging up my electronics when I got called to the desk at my gate. I quickly packed everything up and went over to see what this was all about. The lady pulled up my information and said, “I see you signed up for a window seat?”
I said, “I did, but just in the car on the way over here, I was talking to my brother and sister-in-law about how I think I’d actually prefer an aisle because I like to get up and move around and don’t want to be a hassle to people.”
She breathed a huge sigh of relief and said, “You just made my day! Are you sure you don’t mind? I just accidentally switched you to an aisle seat, and it’s a full flight and before I could move you back to the old seat, someone got online and swooped it up!”

It was pretty ridiculous. I really had JUST been talking to Tim and Katie about it! So, here I sit, in my aisle seat, with 4 hours left to go. I’ve slept, ate 2 meals, slept, watched The Hunger Games, and edited some maternity pictures of Tim and Katie (coming soon!)! 

Thanks for all of your prayers and support! I know this trip wouldn’t be going NEARLY as smoothly without them!! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hit the Ground Running!

I arrive in Malaysia on July 30th around 9:30 pm. I'll stay at my new director's house that night. Then, the very next day, I'll be bombarded with my first visitors! My two sisters, two friends, and my parents are all coming over from Indonesia to explore Malaysia with me and help me celebrate my birthday at the beach! As if my last few weeks in the states haven't been busy enough, the partying is just going to continue until the first weekend in August! If you know anything about me you know that some of my favorite things in life are family time, beaches, my birthday, and new adventures. All of those things together makes me think my first week in my new home is going to be pretty spectacular!

The hotel/resort we're staying at looks AMAZING (see for yourself here... hopefully pictures don't lie too badly!) and was ridiculously cheap. I have a feeling I'm really going to like these Malaysian prices and beaches!

The countdown is on! So much to do! So many memories to make!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This Award Goes to...

I play in an adult kickball league. Or at least I have for the past 2+ years. I'm sure some of you probably think that sounds really lame, some probably think it's super childish, and others are probably super jealous. You should definitely be jealous. I was pretty naive and skeptical going in, but it has been incredible and addictive. It's wayyyyy too intense for a playground game, but so much fun all the same. My favorite part is actually not playing. Although I've improved IMMENSELY since my first season, I still always get a little bit nervous in the outfield and when I'm up to kick. (I hide it well, the opponents would have no idea!) But no, my favorite part is definitely the people. Without a doubt, I have THE best/most fun/closest team in the league. The core group of us have played together for 4 seasons and they really are like a second family! We've added on and lost teammates along the way and it's been amazing. We've been given the nickname "Supper Club" by certain members in the league because we've been known to hang out exclusively teammates at the sponsor bar over some yummy nachos while everyone else mingled over beers and flip cup. I'm totally cool with that. We hang out so often and are always planning new and crazy activities to keep us busy! We've done boating, Bingo, LaserTag, tubing, Rebounderz, and lots of game nights and dinners, to name a few. Our latest escapade happened Monday night and was the First Annual (or seasonal!) Sackies Awards Night/Going-Away Party/Wedding Shower. We're not sure the "Going Away Party" and "Wedding Shower" will necessarily be annual, but we wanted to implement an awards night and decided to model it after The Office's Dundie awards, and then it just happened to work out to bunch all 3 parties together!

The night was a HUGE success! We decided last minute (aka, a few days before... no excuses for those who didn't do it!) to make it a formal event. Phil, Peter, and I brainstormed awards for everyone and Phil put them together for us. Nicole and Mike cleaned their house and made a podium for the occasion! Everyone chipped in with the yummy, yummy food spread.

Nothing like a laundry rack and blanket to make a stellar podium!
So much yummy food!
Most of us got there around 7 and hung out at the food. After our bellies were full and the last people arrived, we moved to the living room for the presentation of awards. Peter and Phil were the MCs and kept everyone laughing, as always. The awards were well accepted, with a few speeches, even! Some of them were:
Most Improved... and Most Likely To Still Improve More Next Season
Most Likely To Walk Faster Than He Runs
Most Likely To Catch His First Pop Fly Next Season
Most Likely To Run Home Angrily In The Middle Of Practice
Most Likely To Dress Up As A Superhero Nobody Has Ever Heard Of
Fastest Teammate... To Reply To A Facebook Post Incoherently
The prized and treasured Sackies

Peter had a little bit of a reading problem while presenting!

Karen: Most Likely to Write a Blog Post That Nobody Reads -- All in good fun! I read it!!
Nicole: Most Likely to Have the F****** Dirtiest F****** Mouth on the Team
One of the awards up close and personal. They even have a star on them for Battlestar! This one was for a teammate who's currently in Italy and wasn't able to make it. His award: Most Likely to Kill a Teammate for Running the Bases Incorrectly.

And the list goes on. Clearly they're all based on inside jokes and characteristics we've seen in each player, but they went over well and thankfully no feelings were hurt (at least, not that I know of!).

My award was the Most Likely To Organize Team Events From Another Continent... In case it's not clear, I've sort of become the 'even planner' of the team. As I was driving home, I started to think about what event I could plan. Then I remembered some of us had started talking about getting a cabin for a weekend in December (when I come back for Christmas). That would definitely help me maintain my title. Time to start planning! :)

Phil ended up with more trophies than we had awards for, so he made up some extras. He made one for the cake (Best Cake Ever.. and it really was!), one for the team (Best Team Ever... and it really is!), and then surprised me with Best Team Mom Ever! (They're all concerned about who's going to bring Capri Suns and orange slices to games next season! Haha!) I'm going to miss these people sooo much!
It really was THE Best Cake EVER! Good job, Alison!
Proudly accepting it's award.

After the awards, we took a short commercial break and then moved on to the gift presentation. Alison and I took over as MCs. I gave Michael and Erin their wedding shower gift - a Golden Kickball and team picture. Then Alison gave me my Going Away gift, on the stipulation that I open it in front of everyone. It was a memory book she had made of the history of my time on the team. I read most of it aloud but had to stop near the end for fear of tearing up. It is SO amazing and I've already flipped through it multiple times again today.

When all of the presentations were done, we took team pictures, ate cake, and played a few rounds of Mafia. The night was a huge success and made me realize how beyond blessed I am to have these special people in my life. I can only hope that they have a kickball league in Malaysia so I can try to meet new friends who are half as amazing!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fun (yet abusive) Weekend!

My friends are the greatest. No contest. Ever since I officially announced I was leaving, they've done everything in their will power to make sure that I go out with a bang and it's working! Seriously, every day has been jammed full of activity and quality time (my #1 love language!). And not just your average, plain activity. These folks know how to live it up! This weekend was no exception. It was a little brutal, but every bruise/scratch/scar is just one more memory to add to the overflowing bucket!

I'd like to say that my weekend officially started Thursday evening (life of a teacher!). I met up with my former college roommate, her husband, and her daughter for dinner at Cheddars. Favorite people, favorite restaurant! It was a wonderful time of laughing and catching up and saying farewells!

From here, I went to meet up with some friends at our favorite little pub for Thursday night trivia. We used to do it almost weekly, so figured I'd squeeze it in one last time before I left. They called me on my way over, though, and said it was standing room only and we decided just to hang out at Buffalo Wild Wings instead. My evening wasn't finished there, however, because I had been suckered into going to the opening night of the new Batman movie (notice the shirt above!). It was my first ever midnight showing of a movie, and quite possibly my last. It was really cool/funny to see all of the people dressed up and hear the audience go buck-wild crazy whenever something good happened, but it was WAY too late for this old lady and totally jacked up my sleep schedule the next day!
He kept calling me a nerd for wearing this shirt. He's totally just jealous... and lucky that I didn't wear my matching cape.
Our kickball team had Superhero Night a month ago. We just happened to still have our Batman and Robin shirts from that!
After semi-recovering/sleeping in until 10:30, I got up on Friday and got ready for a picnic with some friends. We had a good time and topped off the afternoon with some Rita's Gelati. I came home and took a quick shower before heading out again! Story of my life these days! Another one of my favorite restaurants in the area is a local hole-in-the-wall seafood place (weird, because I don't really like seafood and didn't actually eat it until a few months ago!). So, we decided I had to eat there one last time before I left. They had an hour long wait, so we went to Plaza Azteca instead. After a scrumptious Chimichanga dinner, we loaded up the car and headed to Virginia Beach for some American Indoor Go-Karting!

We all bought a Groupon for this place a while back and finally got to use it up. We did two races. The first was excellent... all fun and games like it was supposed to be. The second race was brutal. There were 2 people on the track that didn't seem to have ever raced before, so they were constantly in the way. Then, there was a "professional" racer (or so he thought/acted) on the track who had no mercy. He spun out once right in front of me and I hit him head on getting major whiplash. This 'race' felt a lot more like bumper cars and I can't say I was too sad when it was over. I got 6th out of 10 and took a second off my personal best, too, which made it all the better! When I woke up the next morning, I couldn't hardly turn my neck to the left and had a huge bruise on my left side from my collision!

This is day 2 of the bruise! It's about 2 inches long and an inch tall. It's quite painful to the touch! Battle wounds!
I didn't have time to reflect on how sore I was, though, because bright and early Saturday morning I had to get up and pack coolers for our day on the river! My sister Molly lives in Richmond and is always telling me about she and her friends going tubing down the James River. She was able to get us the hook-up on cheap tubes from VCU Rec Department and so eleven of us headed up there to set sail. SIX hours later, we made it to our cars at the Take Out point. We were told it was a three hour journey, but apparently it's been a dry year and the water level is exceptionally low. We were pretty much walking/paddling/scooting/dodging rocks for about 75% of the trip. I had an absolute blast and loved the entire thing, but it definitely was quite an adventure! Oh, and did I mention that there was a thunderstorm warning the whole time we were out there? Thankfully we only heard one loud crash of thunder and had beautiful (cloudy) weather the rest of the day!

What a fun, good-lookin' bunch!
Somehow or another, Alison managed to lose both her left flip flop and my left flip flop!

I think this was about 5 hours in... Still having a blast!
 As if that wasn't enough for one day, as soon as we got off the water, we went and quickly changed clothes so that we could make it to the Charlie Daniels Band concert! It was a beautiful evening and I loved being able to squeeze in one last country concert (even if I do only know two of his songs!).

Sunday when I woke up, my body looked and felt like it had just been through a major battle. Everywhere I looked I found scratches, bruises, sore muscles, splinters, etc. Signs of a great time! And STILL there was no rest for the weary! After church I was ready to just relax with a nap or movie, but was told that would be a lame way to spend my last Sunday in town. So, instead, Phil, Peter, and I headed to the Jamestown Settlement for a little History101. Jamestown is the birthplace of America, only 20 minutes from where we live, and after living here 8 years and teaching about it for 3, I'd still never been. It's a really cool place and was fun to see real life examples of what life was like back then. Mark it off the bucket list!
Aboard the Susan Constant!

After we'd had our fill of history, we went to Sweet Frog to meet up with Danielle. We hadn't seen her in what felt like forever, so it was fun to have a little Spring Break 2011 Reunion! :) The weekend still wasn't over, though, because then we continued on to Alan's for some Settlers of Catan. I won the first game (and definitely wasn't overly obnoxious while doing so!) and Alan won the second.

By the time I finally made it home, even my half-filled air mattress looked appealing. This week's not looking like it's going to let up at all, either! It's a good thing I have a 16 hour flight coming up because I sure am going to need some sleep right around then!  Like I said, my friends are the greatest! I wouldn't trade any of these memories or activities for anything!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Things I'll Miss

While on my road trip to Canada, one of my friends asked me what I thought I'd miss the most (besides the people) after I moved. I had written this post about 2 months ago, pretty soon after I accepted this job, but was waiting for a good time to publish it. I guess now's that time! So, in case you're wondering, here are some things I'll miss....

I don't think the reality of again living in a foreign country has officially set in yet. Sure, I grew up overseas, so I know what it's like... but that was YEARS ago and I was in a VERY different stage of life (moved back to the States when I was 15... starting 9th grade). I had my family around me. I'd lived there since I was six, so it was really all I knew. Since then, I've traveled a lot, but it's never been for more than a month. Last summer I went with two of my cousins and my sister to visit my parents in Indonesia and by the time the month was up, I was definitely ready for some America. :) It's just not the same. I know I'll love it and learn to adjust, but I know there will be some things I definitely miss. Obviously family, friends, and students are top of the list, but those are givens, so I'm not going to spend time at this point... I'm sure I will at a later time... writing about how/what I'll miss about them, but instead am just going to write about some of the American comforts that I foresee myself missing greatly.

- Chick-fil-a - for those of you not from Virginia/the East Coast, you may not understand. Waffle fries, cookies-n-cream milk shakes, chicken sandwich, free wi-fi. My mouth is watering just typing this. Definitely going to be missed. (Also in this category are Cheddars, Plaza Azteca (local joints), and Panera.)
- Country Music Radio - I LOVE country music. While I plan on bringing a lot of it on my mp3 player, computer, and CDs, this won't allow me to stay current on the fabulous new music that's always coming out. Hopefully my Country-lovin' friends will keep me informed on all the new goodies that are played on repeat. (On a similar note, I wonder how many country concerts are played in Malaysia? I'll definitely have to squeeze in as many of those as I can this summer before I go!)
- Driving - As far as I know now, I will not have a car over there. This is not too mind-boggling for me, since that's how it was growing up, but that was before I knew the joys of joy-riding. :) I don't LOVE driving like some of my friends, but it is definitely a comfort that I think I'm going to miss. According to my ever-accurate Wikipedia research, Kuala Lumpur has a fairly extensive, successful public transportation system which is not over-crowded. That should be fun to learn!
- Freely, proudly flown American flags - While driving home yesterday and thinking about this list, I saw a truck in front of me with a full-sized American flag flying in the bed. I consider myself quite patriotic and am going to miss seeing all the American pride that is evident in this country (or maybe it's just our area because it's so heavily military? Either way. I love it.).
- Green - Maybe it's just because it's Spring, but Newport News  (my section, at least!) feels extra green and fresh right about now. I've been LOVING our 80 degree April days and can't seem to get enough time outside to enjoy it. If Malaysia is anything like Jakarta (which from pictures, it appears to be MUCH less polluted and congested, but pictures can lie!), I'm not going to have the beautiful parks and open fields that I drive walk past on my way home from work that I have here. Or the trees that are blooming everywhere and providing me with some nice clean oxygen. I'll DEFINITELY miss that!
- Wal-Mart - I'm not positive that they haven't made it over to Malaysia yet, but even if they have, I'm guessing it won't be the same. I love the convenience and completeness of Wal-Mart. If they don't have it, I probably don't need it. :)

Once I'm there, I'm sure this list will grow. When we were in Indonesia, some of the things we missed were Kraft Mac and Cheese, American cereals, and  American candies. I've heard that Malaysia is pretty modern, so not sure if those little delicacies will be present, but I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Whirlwind. I feel like that word sums up just about every part of my life right now. My past 3 weeks have been a whirlwind. The remaining 9 days I'm in America are scheduled to be a whirlwind. My emotions. My room. It's crazy. Let me give you a quick update of all that I've been up to. I'm exhausted from it all, but am running on adrenaline to get me through this last week and on to Malaysia! On July 6th I got back from my 2-week orientation in Mississippi. It was a great time, met a lot of people, learned a lot about transitions and teaching and what not, ate way too much good food, and got really excited about this newest adventure in my life. I posted during my time there, so you can get a little more detail, but here are a few pictures from my time there that never made it online!
During our tour of the home office, we decided to take our first team picture ever! Thankfully, there just happened to be a Malaysian flag handy!

One of the nights, we got to go to a Memphis Redbirds game!
When we got bored with the actual baseball part of the game, we decided to venture up a hill. We found some kids sledding down it on pieces of cardboard, so we ever so gently stole those from them and took a turn ourselves! 

The last night of PFO, there's a huge BBQ for all of the participants, hosts, staff, etc. It is encouraged for people to dress up in multi-cultural apparel. My suitcase wasn't big enough to fit mine. :)

I got back to Virginia Friday night and pretty much passed straight out. The next day, one of my teammates from my kickball team was hosting a Beach Party on a little island only accessible by boat. So, we got ferried over there on her family boat and had a good time! I was only able to stay for a little while because that evening I had to go to a Going Away Cook-Out with my Small Group (like I said, WHIRLWIND!). It was a VERY fun day, but all the sun and sand made me even more exhausted! The next day, I went to Church, hung out at the pool with some friends, packed my bags and drove up to Northern Virginia. I spent the night at my brother and sister-in-law's house and got up bright and early to see them off to work. Then, I got in my car and drove to the airport for major trip #2... Wisconsin!

Reppin' Battlestar at the Beach!
After a quick flight, I arrived safe and sound in Milwaukee and my grandma and Aunt Sherry were there to meet me. We made a quick lunch stop at Culver's (if you've ever been there, you'll understand!) and then headed on to Clinton. I was a little nervous about how these 4 days were going to go when asked grandma what she had planned for us for the week and all she said was, "I think we'll go out to supper with some people one night," but it turned out to be a very full and fun trip!

Highlights: Seeing a lot of relatives, visiting my aunt and uncle's new and improved house (including a shooting range!), eating LOTS of meals and all my favorite menu items at my aunt's restaurant, redecorating my grandma's dining room, girls' night out at a Mexican restaurant, and breaching Clinton Public Library security. I forgot to bring my camera on this trip, but here are a few shots from my phone:
Molly's favorite meal at the Clinton Kitchen is the Roast Beef Dinner. Naturally, I had to get one in her honor.
The view from my Aunt Rhonda's house. Not too shabby, I guess.
I flew out of Milwaukee on Thursday morning into Washington, D.C. and drove straight up to Maryland to visit some friends at Camp Bennett. I scheduled it just right so that I could partake in some of Chef Darrell's world famous chicken strips and macaroni and cheese. I hung around there for a little while catching up with the director, the few counselors I recognized, and watched the skit at chapel. Then, I snuck out for a little while to go visit with a friend who lives in a neighboring city. After some catching up with her, I went back to camp and chatted with some counselors and power napped before my fellow-world-travelers (Phil, Peter, and Alison) showed up at 2 am to begin our road trip to Canada!

We got to Canada around 10 am on Friday (July 13th) and headed straight to Niagara Falls. We sight-saw there for a little while and headed on to our hotel in Mississauga. Saturday we played tourist in Toronto. Sunday we drove down to Pittsburgh and spent the evening there. Monday swung back by camp to get Peter's car and then they went on home while I went to Fairfax for the night. I got to spend some good quality time with Tim and Katie and then came on home to Newport News.
There are a whole bunch more pictures of our adventures on Facebook, but just so you can get an idea of the fun we had!

So now my traveling is done until the big trip. But, my life surely isn't settling down. Since I've been back, I've moved all of the furniture out of my house (most of it to Molly's, some to Craigslist people, some to thrift store), packed up a majority of my stuff, made 3 trips to Richmond, and about 15 trips to the Goodwill! 
I may look into being a professional mover if this teaching thing doesn't work out!
In a few minutes, I'm meeting up with my college roommate for dinner, followed by Trivia Night at the Weekend Pub, followed by my first ever midnight/opening night, movie showing (The Dark Knight Rises!). Phew! As I said, "whirlwind" seems to be a fitting term for my life right about now. It's a little exhausting, but a LOT of fun! I sure am making lots of memories to take with me!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays. It's actually kind of strange if you think about it. According to my friends, I'm not really American (grew up in Indonesia) and looking back at it now, I've probably spent about as many July 4ths out of America as I have in it. Regardless, I love the patriotism, food, fireworks, and reflecting on our freedoms. I also love wearing red, white, and blue. Which works out well, because the Malaysian flag is also red, white, and blue (with a touch of gold!).

See any similarities?

Apparently, Independence day is celebrated differently in Mississippi from Virginia and Indonesia. Obviously, Indonesia doesn't celebrate American independence. But, last summer, that's where I happened to be on July 4th, so my sister, parents, cousins and I did all that we could to make it extremely patriotic and memorable. If you'd like to read about the shenanigans we got into, click here. In Virginia, we usually have a cook-out at someone's house, play corn-hole, and watch fireworks. Since I'm in Mississippi this year, I'll be experiencing their traditions. So far on the agenda is: Church Fish Fry Fundraiser, (Almost) Talent Show, and fireworks.
The church that is hosting us is raising money to send some members on a missions trip, so our organization made a large donation that allows us all to eat at the Fish Fry. Can't say that I've ever had a fish fry on the 4th of July, but, there's a first for everything! I also can't say that I've ever had fried (or any) catfish, which I hear is what's on the menu.
After dinner, some members of our group are putting on a talent show. It's looking to be pretty promising.. mostly because I decided not to be in it. :) Should be a good time. All in all, it's been a good holiday!

Happy Birthday, America!

Monday, July 2, 2012


One of the most helpful things I've learned during my time here in Mississippi is how to "leave" properly. The speaker commented that "If you don't leave well, you can't enter well," and I believe it! She gave us (borrowed from a book, but I don't know which one, so can't cite it!) a technique for "Leaving Right" called RAFT.

R: Reconciliation - "Don't take old drama with you to the new place. Just because you're moving, doesn't mean the situation will go away or be forgotten. Make every attempt to reconcile with anyone who you may have issues or bitterness with." Thankfully, I've been blessed with a terrific group of friends and family, so this step should be quite easy.

A: Affirmation - "Take time and make an effort to affirm the people who have meant a lot to you or made a difference in your life. You want to leave on a good note with people and to make sure they know how special they are to you." I feel like my list of people to 'affirm' is never-ending, which is amazing, and I plan to use the next three weeks before I leave to thank people for being a part of my life!

F: Farewells - "Who do I need to say good-bye to and how do I need to do it? Make a list of people, places, pets, and possessions to bid farewell. Remember, once you move, you no longer live in America. You live in your country and you visit America." (Holy cow! I don't know if that's quite sunk in yet!) Thankfully, before arriving here, I had already started thinking about this, so it wasn't too difficult. In addition to people to say good-bye to, I also have an ridiculously long list of restaurants to say good-bye to! (Luckily, Asians equate overweightness to lots of money... they're going to think I'm loaded!) On my list are: Chipotle, Chick-fil-a, Cheddars, Plaza, and Sopranos. On Friday, a group of us went out to Chipotle before the baseball game to say our farewells. How fitting that this sign was on the door:

Quite appropriate. It may have been an ad for July 4th, but still....
T: Think and Talk - "Think ahead about what life is going to be like. Try to have realistic expectations. Talk to family and friends about your move and what you are expecting. [Aka: Help them understand that you are moving to a city, not an undiscovered jungle.] Make it real so that when it happens, there are as few surprises as possible." I feel like I've been doing a pretty good job of this all along (although certain friends still think I'll be living in a treehouse and hunting cheetahs for dinner...)! Tonight my Malaysia team has a meeting with the President of the organization to talk about our new school, so hopefully after that I'll have LOTS of answers about what all my life will look like!

So, I'd say I'm doing a pretty good job at "leaving"... It's going to be hard, but I do think this will help. If you're on my farewell list, make sure you contact me asap so I can get you on my schedule! It's filling up quick and I want to make sure I have time to see you!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pre-Field Orientation (PFO)

On Monday, June 25th, I flew from Richmond, VA to Memphis, TN for training.. or as I told my friends in Newport News, my trial run. :)

The organization I'm going to teach for Network of International Christian Schools holds an annual two week orientation/training for all of their new teachers (missionaries). It's held in Southaven, Mississippi, so naturally one of the highlights has been the never-ending supply of good ole-fashioned southern cooking. We've had country fried chicken, chicken pot pie, grits, meatloaf, pork tenderloin, and so much more. A bunch of us have joked that they're fattening us up before sending us to all the ends of the Earth where they know we'll lose it all instantly! (I hope, at least!)

In addition to food, other highlights have been:
- learning all about Third Culture Kids and how to most effectively teach them.
- meeting 130 other people who have the same mission and calling as I do (and many of them have similar backgrounds, too!).
- getting to know the other 3 teachers who are headed to Malaysia with me. (They're AWESOME!)
- sleeping on cots in a camp/dorm style with 50 other young single girls (5 to a room) and showering in a locker room down the hall.
- going to a Memphis Redbirds minor league baseball game (and finding a grassy hill to go 'cardboard sledding' down... pictures to come later!).
- watching Annie Get Your Gun at the local community theater for free.

- learning about personal, home, and classroom safety and doing a simulation with 'terrorists' attacking our bus.
- and more!

It has really been a wonderful week. I have been missing "home" a lot, but it's been a good little practice for what's to come and helpful in letting me know how to make this transition as smoothly as possible. I have the rest of this week (it's jam-packed full of classes and fun activities!) and then fly back to Virginia on Friday!

My bedroom is literally a middle school classroom. They gave us a padlock so that we could store our valuables in the lockers right outside the door! (This is only half the room, there are 2 other beds on the other side!) I was the first to arrive, so I picked the bed closest to the window!

One of my roommates had a lot of trouble sleeping the first two nights because of rolling around and blood rushing to her head. The third night, she decided to put her mattress on the ground and sleep there. I don't understand what the problem was!!