2nd week of teaching…

I just finished up my second week of teaching, and though most of the fear that came with the first week is gone, now I am dealing with stress, which is largely due to confusion.

If you are a extreme planner (someone who likes planning weeks and months and years in advance), and you love your weekly planner like it is an extention of your body, then you would probably go crazy trying to live and work in South Korea. I am a planner, but most of my plans are in my head and not written down (so I would consider myself an amature planner). That said, I am going crazy with my inability to plan more than a week or two ahead in Korea. I’m a teacher, and half the time I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Even if I want to plan for my lesson plans, it does no good to plan too far ahead because your schedule WILL get changed.

Life in Korea is determined by the wind. It is a culture of procrastination… and yet things are somehow still accomplished, and life still finds meaning. God has taken me out of a culture where I had much control over my life, and put me into a culture where I have slim to no control over my life. I’ve already discovered here that if I want to stay sane, I’ll have to come to terms with the fact that I’ve never really had much control at all. The only thing that I do have control over, is how I respond to life.

In John 3:27, John the Baptist is answering a dispute that his disciples are having over Christ. They are jealous that more people are going to Jesus to be baptized than are going to John. John answers them: “No one can receive anything, except what is given them from heaven.” He later says in verse 30: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

So in all the confusion of my new life in Korea, here is what I am hearing: “my life is not my own. Everything I am given (whether peace or conflict), is given to me… from heaven. Whether peace or conflict, it is for my transformation. How will I respond? Will I respond by trying to grasp for more control (and thus actually go insane), or will I submit to what God gives me each day? Will I take on John’s mantel: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”? Will I let go of the control I’ve never actually had, and trust God to lead my life, one day at a time?”

The Serenity Prayer is a God-send:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

The only logical conclusion is to trust God. Even though this is the logical conclusion, trusting God requires that I die to myself…to what I think best for me….and this is extremely difficult to do.

This week has been challenging, but good. The challenging part is figuring out my class schedule. I teach each of my aproximately 385 2nd graders once a week. I teach each of my aproximately 520 3rd graders on a sporadic schedule. Sometimes I see them two weeks in a row, and then I won’t see them for two weeks. Other 3rd graders I’ll see every other week. This makes it extremely difficult to remember who I have taught what. It also makes it hard to keep everyone learning at the same pace.

The good part is that I actually enjoying teaching. My students are fun to teach; my co-teachers are kind and helpful; I’m getting better at teaching with each new week; and I am being transformed. So God is good.

I am re-reading “A Million Miles in A Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. I thought it had some prophetic things to say, so I am re-reading and journaling along with it on my second time around. One of the things Don Miller said after he tells the story of his uncle who died is this:

“The thing about death is it reminds you the story we are telling has finality.”

I try to remember this everyday. The question I live with is this: “what story will my life tell? Will it be a meaningful story?” I can’t control when I will die, nor much of what will happen to me…but I can choose to respond to each day that is given to me by trying to live for God’s mission on earth. His is a mission of love and life with all of humanity. I think that will make my life meaningful.


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