Today I am missing my Central Asian students. It's been over a year since our school closed, and it is only now that I have allowed myself to cry over that loss. Some people thought our school could come back. I knew that wouldn't happen in this climate and season. Still I waited to grieve-not because I thought the school would start again, I just didn't think that once I started grieving, I could stop. Those students wrapped themselves around my heart. One minute they were adorable, and the next they were exasperating. I was doing what I loved-teaching mathematics to teenagers. I was teaching brothers and sisters and even my own daughter. Sometimes I was teacher, and others times I was like a second mom. Students were being challenged and thriving. I found myself excited about the years to come as these students progressed.
Then while we were on winter break, the announcement came that the school would not reopen. It was a hard decision but the right one at the time. Yet there was no closure as we weren't able to say good bye to our students. Since I was still in country, I did see a few of my students and wish them well, but overall it felt like I had abandoned them. But there was no time to grieve, I had to figure out a way to school my two children for the second half of the school year. Now a year later, it is time to process before I move on.
As I was looking at others international schools, I found myself reluctant to apply or even be excited about teaching high school math again. I love teaching. I actually love teenagers. What was the problem? I didn't want a new set of students. I wanted my P who knocked before entering my classroom each day. I missed O who had to always sit in the front and tested my patience daily. We had something special and I am not sure I can get that back. Rationally I realize I would only have those students for a few years before they graduated, but I wanted those years and the chance to teach their brothers and sisters. Selfishly I wanted my classroom and things the way they were.
Going means forging a new path and seeking a new calling. This blog post from Alison at Courage for a Better Story helped me as we were going through leaving and thinking about new things. So today I am grieving my dream. I am grieving the city I knew. I am grieving the opportunity to teach my precious teenagers. I even miss the ones who made my hair even grayer. I grieve the hope that is disappearing each day, and how things are not getting better. I grieve not making more of a difference. I grieve the times I was selfish and didn't reach out. I grieve the what if's and the no mores.
As I bury this dream, I humbly ask for a new dream- a new calling. May God plant a seed inside of me of what's next and here's what we (God and I) can do together. For me, going is hard. Going means a new place, new people, new culture, and new challenges. Going means second guessing myself yet stepping out in faith. I am scared yet excited. I feel inadequate to the challenge but remember that in Him I am strong. He is the author of this story and I am just along for the ride.
So today I thank God for the opportunity I had to invest in the lives of these ones who can change the country where we served. I thank God for that season and all I learned from it. I pray for my students that they will finish their high school education some how and in some way. I thank God that some have found their way either in or out of the country. I pray for those who don't have hope that they will find hope.
I pray Philippians 3:13,14.
present not looking back. I will always pray for Central Asia-part of my heart is still there. I will always love my team and friends there. On the other hand, it is important for me to reach forward to what lies ahead whatever that may be. For me, it means letting go of my dream of what I wanted in Central Asia and trusting God to give me a new dream.