Wow. The blog has been kind of dry for awhile, so I'll try to get back to it. While this year has been going wonderfully, there is not the newness of last year and in some way it's felt like there is less to say since we've told most people about our adventure. That said, I will try to update you about our lives and get you up to speed on how the first half of the year has gone.....that's right. It's already half over.
First, in general, things are similar this year, but better. While the newness is gone, the freedom of familiarity has taken over. We seem to have less stress with discovering how to do things and this has allowed us to be a bit more adventurous in our explorations. We can find just about any place we need to in Kaohsiung just by looking at a map and are now quite adept at hopping on the MRT and heading into the city.
For me (Grant), my year is much less stressful in terms of preparation work (although I always want to try new things and this tends to suck up a lot of extra time). Having taught and basically organized it all last year, I'm really enjoying going through it again feeling I really know what I'm talking about, having already once investigated the questions that caught me off guard. This has given me more time to teach more effectively and to take on a few more things. I'm coaching more, leading a weekly chapel worship team, and probably most significantly, I'm putting together the yearbook for the school (along with a team of trusty students), which has forced me to finally spend a lot of time with photoshop, something I've wanted to do for a long time but never found the time. I'm also playing on a worship team at church and leading kids worship on the weeks I don't play in the main service. As well, I'm helping with an English club/bible study at the local university and am getting to know some students from around the world.
Janice is still working in the library but has branched out as well. She's leading a weekly English class and bible study with a group of women in town, tutors English with a college student and just recently, has started to write assessments for an English language proficiency organization. She also teaches Sunday school at our church. If that wasn't enough, she also heads to town occasionally to lead an English class for a group of students at a cram school. I'm not sure who is busier but we're both really enjoying the new adventures.
Isaac is really enjoying his year. Although he is in grade 10, he chose to stay and do class with the current grade 9 group, because he really felt close to the kids in that class and it didn't seem to make sense to make 3 transitions in 3 years (here, Taiching (boarding school) and then back home). He's taking classes with that group when there is new material to be learned, but is also doing online math from Canada, Planning 10 online and preparing for the English and Science finals when we get back in June. He's also turning into quite an athlete. He was MVP of his soccer team, is playing first string in basketball, will hopefully be my star hitter once volleyball season starts and is poised to set the alltime school record for the mile. He's also active in worship bands both at school and at youth and gets taller every day.
Makena is loving middle school. She's also on the worship team and also has a number of roles in our upcoming school play. She's hoping to take voice lessons in the near future (I've just been informed she starts next week) and is also doing a lot of babysitting. She's amazing with the little kids and does a great job taking care of them.
Probably the biggest new thing is that we're coming home for good at the end of the year. This was a tough decision for us. There are many things we like about Taiwan. The school is amazing and I'm really loving teaching science full time. Of course the weather is great....summer all year (although it seems freezing right now) but the trade off to that is the smog.....super bad pollution. Another thing we love about living here is that, despite the fact that we make missionary wages, there seems to be so much less financial pressure here. We seem to always have the money to buy stuff the kids need or go grab lunch. Maybe there's not the commercialism (or any we can understand) and of course, being a home owner is a money pit and we're not doing that (we sold our house by the way, in case you didn't hear....we'll buy again when we get home) and living on cash just seems to be an easier way to do things. Maybe we'll have to try to take some of that mentality home with us.
On the coming home side, we're all on board with the decision. Dad needs looking after (it's a really long drive for my sister Kelly to come out) and misses us (though I'm not sure how much he's remembering these days). Also, I'm on a leave but that would not be extended beyond 2 years so if we stayed, I would not have a job to come back to.....at this point, I'm not sure exactly what I'll be doing at MEI. Hopefully that will be sorted out in the next few months. We also felt it would be best for Isaac to graduate from MEI and really have to do it this year in order for that to happen. Finally, we do miss our country and our family and friends and hope they'll be excited to see us. I also feel a daily longing for clean air, mountains and my kayak.
Anyway, that's an update. I will post about Christmas and our awesome visit from the Chapmans soon.