Sunday, February 23, 2014

So Thankful.

Have you noticed that my communication back home has increased exponentially this past week and a half?  Or that I have been posting a lot of things from BuzzFeed? I've had a lot of time on my hands recently.
Well, I didn't quit my sites here in Malaysia. As some of you know, I have been hanging out in KL following our retreat in Hong Kong due to a little infection that required a small stint in the hospital and eventually some minor surgery.  Those who know me well may not be too surprised.  I've had my fair share of strange medical situations.  Nevertheless, being hospitalized in a foreign country was not on my bucket list for this year/ever.  This post isn't really to tell you I was in the hospital, but to express how thankful I am for those who have accompanied me the past week and a half.
First of all, I am incredibly thankful for my sweet, sweet YAGM family. Really, these people are saints.  From lifting my spirits in the ER, to staying nights with me in the hospital with me, to ditching their waterfall day to literally just sit in a hospital room with me, I cannot even put into words how much their presence has meant to me.  Y'all are peaches, and that's an understatement.
As interesting as it was to experience cultural practices translated into the healthcare setting, I am thankful for the doctors and nurses who took lovely care of me.  One of the highs of Malaysian hospital stays: Milo delivered 3 times a day.  America, get it together.  Also, my surgeon looked strikingly similar to Bob Ross, so there's that visual for you. (You know, that painter man on PBS. Google it.)
The lovely couple of Chris and Becca Gamble, aka our country coordinator and his wife have opened up their house for me to recover.  Truly such a blessing to have a home to come into to recover and not have to check into a hotel.
My sweet family back home... bless them. I had regular phone calls to Aunt Ann getting her medical advice and phone calls to Jandy to update them on life.  I feel like there were times when they were maybe more stressed about the situation than I was :)
I am so thankful to have a family back in KK: supervisors, co-workers, friends, church peeps, Mrs. Soong and family to miss, check in with, have supporting me in prayer.  I have missed them dearly the past 2 weeks and am so excited to say that I'LL BE HOME TUESDAY!

I continue to be amazed at the ways in which God is present in the midst of the weird, uncomfortable, and unknown of this year.  Sometimes all you can have is faith.

So thankful. xoxo

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lessons on Lessons on Lessons

This year is full of learning, and this story involves lots of learning.
At Cheshire Home, we have an economic empowerment program, a piece of which is our bakery classes.  We take in new batches (get it? bakery... batches...) of individuals, either persons with disabilities or single mothers, each year and at the end of their training, they receive a pastry skills certificate and are able to enter the workforce.  This new batch of bakery students are all people who are deaf or have hearing impairments.  A piece of the YAGM's job each year has been to teach the bakery students english.  When I was told about this a few weeks ago, I felt pretty intimidated.  Teaching deaf, sign language students who know Malay, english sounded like a feat.  I've been on the lookout for resources since this assignment, with some luck.  I've been learning some sign language, trying to bridge the multiple language barriers as best as I can.
This week, we have had a volunteer at Cheshire Home from Girl's Brigade, where I also spend some of my time.  She has been awesome, and has jumped right in spending time with the residents and helping out where she is needed.  We both have been learning sign language together from one of the bakery srudents, Haifez.  Today, I needed to do an english assessment with Haifez to see what he knew already, to help me try to gauge where to begin.  Both his Malay and English written assessments had some challenges.  After I was finished, our volunteer asked for a piece of paper and said she was going to work on teaching Haifez English and Malay.  I gave it to her, skeptical of what could be done spur of the moment and in one afternoon.  I went into the office to continue my research on how to teach english to people who are deaf.  I researched without much luck, and emerged from the office to find Haifez spelling through sign language and on paper colors, shapes, and question words in english.  I was pretty impressed, as well as humbled.
A lesson I've learned about myself this year is how badly I want to know what I am doing before I begin.  New flash to myself and the rest of the world: I have absolutely no idea what I am doing this year.  I can research all I want, I can try to plan all I want, but until I actually go and try, I will never fail, succeed, or learn.  Which is far more easily said than done, but I am incredibly thankful for the teachers in my life this year, like high school volunteers, who remind me that the effort is what matters.  That just by trying, something will happen.  If you see a need, go for it.  Just researching doesn't change a thing, but acting does.