Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Holding Back Tears

It's almost over.  I can’t believe it's almost over.  

I admit at the end of last week I was ecstatic at the thought that I was almost done.  But, this week and especially today, it's really hitting me.  

I don't think I can do this... I'm never going to see my kids again.  I can't imagine saying goodbye to my Basic Reading students tomorrow, I had to say bye to one of them on Monday.  That was when it hit me, that was when I recognized the reality of it- that I am finishing the job I cam here to do.  

I’ve been holding back tears all day long!  Today we were doing a lot of cleaning up and writing student evaluations for the incoming teachers.  Writing about my kids and being reminded of tender memories with them touched my heart and I can’t stand the thought that I will most likely never see my students again.

I sat and pondered what I have been doing here as an English teacher for the last four months… the impact I have made on these children’s lives… the progress they have made… the impact they have made upon my life.  Being a teacher is the most satisfying job I have ever taken on, next to being a Nanny which when you think about it, I was a teacher there too.

Children have so much to offer us.  To see how much potential they have and watch it be reached for is an honor.  We as teachers get to help them recognize it, help them bring it out, help them feed it, help them learn….  It sounds like I was doing a lot as a teacher, but really they did so much more.  They are the ones succeeding in their improvement.  They are grasping onto their potential and flourishing in it.  I am a sole witness of their achievement and a beneficiary of what I have observed from their growth.  We can learn so much from children as they are trying so hard to become something better and soaking in so much information every day that furthers their knowledge.

I am so proud of my students.  I don’t want to leave them, I want to keep observing their struggles to learn and their successes well earned.  I want to watch them grow up and see who they will become.  There is so much personality in those small little bodies; I wonder what they will become?

I wish these kids the best of luck in their future.  I pray they will never forget what they have learned and most importantly that they will never forget who they are and what they have the potential to become; what they are working toward right now.  Success.  I know they will succeed if they will remember these things and keep working hard.

We all can.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Uh, Excuse me Miss

Let me begin by helping you understand something about waiting in lines:  Russians have no concept of them.  No concept of the line part and no concept of the waiting part.  But, that is OK; when I get home and people ask how I got so good at boxing out in basketball my reply will be, “Four months of keepin my place in line at McDonalds.”
Although my favorite “line” experience to date took place at the Post Office this week and is not likely to ever be topped :)

After finally getting the mail system here figured out it was time for Grandma and Grandpa to get their letter from Russia.  Now, the fastest way to get these letters to the U.S.A. is by airmail, 14 days.  I am sad to admit that I have not miraculously become a fluent Russian speaker over the last four months.  So, I had my coordinator, Natasha, write out a little note that said I needed an airmail envelope with enough stamps to get to the U.S.  I would show this to the Lady at the Post Office and everything would be hassle free right?  Wrong.
I walked through the door only to find a mass of people everywhere in the room- No sign of any line formation anywhere!  This was gonna be interesting…  So, I started motioning to people asking with my hands and facial expressions “Are you in line?”  Some pointed to places which didn’t make any sense and others said, “Huh?”  Which is always discouraging when you know they’ll be even more confused if I really try to say anything at all.  But, most of them said, “Niet” (No).  I was rather perplexed and confused.  How did this work?  Where do I go?  What do I do?  How do they all understand what is going on?  This makes no sense.  It felt like my first few days in Russia all over again.
Then, a purple haired angel came to my rescue.  You can always count on Babushkas to help you out!  She put her hand on my back and started spouting off in Russian to me.  Since, I always seem to conveniently forget the full phrase for, "I don’t understand Russian" when it is needed all I said was, “Niet Parooski… Pongliski”.  (No Russia…English)  Haha oh man, that sounds so desperate.  She looked at me confused and said something else.  I repeated my broken reply then she chuckled and started talking to the guy next to her. 
The next thing I know he’s talking to the guy next to him and they both laugh a bit and guy #2 says, “Niet”.  He starts walking around the whole room while pointing at me and saying somethin to each person where I could only make out the words, “Nipo daymyo Paruski… Pongliki.” And “Niet”.  Well, that right there is my favorite, having a bunch of Russians talking about me.  The room got pretty loud after that got started; everyone was talking to each other and looking at me.  I figured the guy was going around trying to find someone who spoke English.  No success.  If I had any chance at blending in during this visit, that chance had flown out the window- Now everyone knew there was an American in the room.

So, my new purple haired Grandma started gabbing at me again.  Noticing the note in my hand she took it, read it and… well, that was our first bit of success as she now at least knew why I was there.  She snatched my hand and started pulling me across the room and through all the people, heading straight for the counter where there were probably six people standing.  Oh, I guess I found the beginning of the line- the blob off shoving elbows. 
….Haha I still can’t believe what she did, she started talking really loudly at all of them and a few stepped to the side, she stuck her hand with my note in front of the Lady sitting behind the counter!  Can anyone say, “BUTTER!”  I guess Babushkas have access to 24/7 fast passes :)  And, this one was still holding my hand… kinda weird.

Haha the Lady put her hand up and kept busily to her work.  Guess butting is allowed but interrupting isn’t.  So, we waited.
One other Lady started talking to me.  I caught bits and pieced together that she was asking if I was from America, I said “Dah”. (Yes)  Then, I thought I heard her say something about… Colorado.  Was she asking if I am from Colorado?  What the random?  How would she know Colorado?  California I understand, but Colorado?  I said, “Niet, Colorado.  Utah”.  Now, it was her turn to put on the “What are you talking about?”  face.  Okay, maybe I didn’t know what she was saying. 
Then Purple Hair took my letter out of my hand and started looking at it.  She smiled when she saw the heart I had drawn on the back with my salutation.  I pointed at the recipient and said, “Babooshka y Dyadooshka”.  I figured she would be amused that the letter was to my Grandma and Grandpa in America.   She was :).
Well, Miss. Postal Lady finished and I was up next.  Gma Purple Hair did all the work for me:  she gave her my note and took my money to give her as well.  Lightly aggressive, yes.  But, I thought it was funny!  Next thing I knew what I went there to do was completed.  And, I’m pretty sure I jumped in front of a good 20 people to do it!
Thanks Grandma Purple Hair.  I appreciated you sharing your line jummpin skills with the Confused American Girl.  :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers Day Momma

Today I am thousands of miles from my dear mom on this Mother’s Day, so, I pray to do what I can to wish her the best day and to cancel out those miles between us.  Physical distance means nothing when two hearts are so tenderly sewn together.  Mom, this is for you.

Let me begin my simply saying, “Thank you and I love you”.  You are the most incredible Mother I could have ever had.  I thank the Lord for putting me in your tender, loving care.  I pray to be even half as great a Mom as you have been to me.  You are the strongest woman I know, and I have been so blessed to be your daughter. 

To grow while watching your example was a joy, it was simple and clear.  I would see you do something good and I could see in your radiance the honest happiness you received from your good deed.  This taught me, “Do Good- Be Happy”.

By striving to follow your footsteps I realize that God is in your life, that God is your life.  I know the only way I could one day become a woman or a mother like you is to have God in my life, leading me in Everything that I do.  I’ve seen you pray, I’ve seen you study.  I’ve heard your testimony so many times, I’ve seen your testimony innumerable times.  So many people say actions speak louder than words.  I believe this is very true, you’ve taught me many things from your actions.  But, one thing I love about you is you still don’t forget the words.  I’m not sure how many mothers literally bear their testimony to their children; how many sit in front of them and in actual words say, “I love my Father in Heaven…  I know he lives…   I believe that everything in life happens for a reason… I know that the Book of Mormon is a book written by God to man…  I am humbled to have been given the opportunity to raise such choice children of God…  My life is in His hands…  To worry is to doubt God… I am grateful for my trials….”  These are only a few of the words that I know you have spoken to me in true testimony.  A testimony that when you slow down and I feel the spirit bear witness of the truth of your testimony to me I feel you should say, “In the Name of Jesus Christ Amen”.  But, it usually ends in a hug and a few tears instead :).  I want to tell you thank you for never being afraid to bear your testimony to your children whenever you feel the instinct to so.  Your example is supported by your words, and your testimony is supported by your actions.

I’ve had some hard times in life, we’ve had some hard times in life together, I smile knowing that your hand is always close by and desiring to grasp hold of mine.  I know you will always be with me supporting me and helping me because you always have.  You are my Best Friend.  It’s amazing the comfort that comes from the loving hand of a mother.  Thank you for always reaching for my hand and for guiding me.

Pinkie squeezes.  I love that we have Pinkie Squeezes.  My favorite is when you reach to me behind everyone’s backs in sacrament meeting to squeeze my pinkie finger three loving times.

I LOVE your laugh.  I LOVE your smile.  It is contagious, simple as that.  Anyone who knows you thrives off your happiness.  Why do you think I can’t stop smiling when I talk to you on Skype? :)  You are a happy person.  Thank you for always being so joyful, for teaching me to be optimistic.   Life is good.  Thank you for teaching me that.

Hard work.  That’s my Momma.  Right on that list of things you taught me best is Hard Work.  I’m not afraid of breakin a sweat, I’m not afraid of getting some dirt under my nails, I know that when I do a job I better do it well, and I know to always finish what I start.  Hard work never hurt anyone, thanks for teaching me to stick to a job no matter how hard it may be.

Your dedication to Dad is incredible.  I love watching the two of you.  The way you respect him, the way you love him; another example you’ve set for me to follow is how to treat my future husband.  And when you tell me how much you love Daddy…. Thank you for telling me.  I know you do, but it’s fun to hear it and cute to see you get gitty about Him too :).

By listening to your words, and being the recipient of your prayers was the best way for any child to be raised.  The way you mother fathoms me more and more as I grow older.  You have done such a good job!
Thank you for all you do for me Mom.  Thank you for all that you are.

You’ll be getting a huge hug when I get home on June 5th.  Be ready for it!! :)