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Quarter 3 is Cruising!

I absolutely cannot believe it's the second week of February already.  WOW -- we are 4 weeks into quarter 3 and it seems like I just got back from the States for Christmas.  There's quite a bit to catch you up on, so here are some highlights:

January 8: I arrived safely back in the Philippines after a hard 36 hours of travel and delays due to the polar vortex... Praise be to God that my bags made it on the same flights I did and greeted me once I finally arrived.  I had approximately 2 hours to get from the airport to my condo, shower, and repack a backpack for school.  I taught a full day on literally zero sleep and to-date I think my students are still joking about the nonsense that was coming out of my jet-lagged mouth.

January 9: After the first full night's sleep in almost a week, I came to school to get back into a routine, only to have my laptop crash during second period.  (Panic!)  I brought it to the ITS department here and was told the hard drive was totally shot, but they could get all my files saved. Phew!  I spent the next 3 weeks without a computer, which was a challenging experience, but showed me where I was using that computer as an escape and time-suck.  However -- a huge shout out to Mom and Dad for the iPad Mini, though.  It has been my best way to stay connected without a real computer.

Rest of January: a total blur. Haha!  We had the community-wide talent show one evening. We took an all-school picture for the first time since 2007!  High School had Spiritual Enrichment Week the last week of January which ended with an entire afternoon of celebrating. The middle school has been preparing for Outdoor Education 2014, which just finished this Friday.  That meant extra meetings, lots of extra planning, a sleepover with 10 highly caffeinated 13-yr-old girls.  Additionally, I have a new batch of Creative Worship students who are very different in skill sets from previous semesters, but very willing to engage and openly talk about everything I've put in front of them so far.  Already, the group dynamic is one that has massive potential for excellence to be pursued.  While it was INSANELY busy, I can't remember any "bad" days.  God is SO good.

Outdoor Education!  February 3-7:
We left the comfort of Victoria Valley for 5 days of rustic outdoor adventure which included trips to Taal City, an active volcano, the longest hike I've ever been on, a beach, a ministry site, and a snorkeling resort.  I had 8th grade girls and God was incredibly gracious to us.  He protected us (thanks to the elementary principal and the big brother of one of my girls!) during an altercation with a drunk sailor, during our crazy hike over live fumeroles (basically steam pockets of sulfur and volcanic ash), and in the hours we spent on the bus and in the ocean.  We dissected squids, bathed in a lake, slept on a boat, slept on crushed coral, killed and ate chickens for dinner, and rode banca boats that were anything but dry and/or quiet.  We had a few injuries, but of the 271 of us, only 1 ended up going to the hospital for stitches.  Most of all, it was obvious that God was working in each of my girls' hearts on some very tough things.  We laughed SO hard, cried together, swam together, ate together, and prayed together which was such a blessing to see.  The speakers we had were incredible and the Holy Spirit definitely showed up in the messages they had for us.  My girls made comments like, "I can't believe the speakers never talked to each other, but they were all saying like EXACTLY the same thing!"  Yes, indeed, we serve a God who knows everything and is in control.  I'll include a post of pictures to show you just a few glimpses of the insanity that IS Outdoor Ed once I get them uploaded, but for now, four pictures...
We're ready to board for Outdoor Ed!  Selfie time!

Playing Catch Phrase during our sleepover

My Grade 8 class this year.

Good ol' Faith Academy

And in the midst of it all, I find myself being pressured to think about "what's next."  I'm having a very difficult time comprehending that in less than 5 months, this place will no longer be my home, employment, purpose, career, or residence.  I'm beginning to relate to the Seniors this year moreso than last year's because I get it now -- leaving this place will be hard.  It brings tears to my eyes every time I seriously think about it.  Actually, to be really honest, the last week or two has had me asking, "Why AM I leaving this place?  I finally know people, I love the kids, I love my job... Why would I leave?"  And then I remember that there's such a thing as money and student loans and it all comes snapping back into focus...

And to the question, "What next?": I really don't know.  And actually, I'm giving myself six weeks to just not care so that I can be 100% present where I'm at right now.  These kids deserve every moment of my time and commitment and while that's going to get more difficult in 4th quarter, I'm reserving the rest of 3rd quarter just for them.  So, please, if you're reading this on the other side of the ocean, just know that my answer to that question isn't changing in the next 6 weeks, so check back in April! :)  It doesn't mean you can't pray for me, and it doesn't mean I don't want to Skype or talk through options -- certainly I need to be praying over what God has next.  It simply means that I'm refusing to get swallowed up by the panic, fear, anxiety, and (honestly) time commitment of figuring out what the next step is.  Two years has gone by so fast that I'm realizing I need to intentionally soak up every moment and every interaction with these kids.

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