Wednesday, August 16, 2017

BACK TO SCHOOL SEASON

I've always loved the fall. Now, yes, I love leaves changing colors and the brisk changes in temperature, but that is not what I am talking about here. I have always loved the fall as in the fall and the spring semesters, or more plainly, the back-to-school season.

Growing up in Texas, there was nothing about the month of August, when school started, that felt like autumn. It was often the hottest month of the year. Yet even though the high temperatures carried on just the same, there was a change in the air. We bought some new, back-to-school clothes, sharpened up our pencils and got a fresh start on a new grade. Even when I was going back for a new year at a school I had been at for years, with the same friends, it all felt new and exciting. After years of schooling, it was that rhythm of fresh starts and returning to familiar routines that I missed most when I was no longer a student.

We have been back in Phnom Penh for a little over a month know (hard to believe!), and as people on both sides of the ocean have been asking us what it feels like to be back, the thing that has come to mind the most is that it feels like going back to school after a busy summer.

My new "school supplies" lined up and ready to go!

It actually feels really good to be settled back into our lives here. Living in Phnom Penh feels both more like home and more like a fun adventure than before. We were away so long, and it felt good to return to this place.

Even though we were thoroughly worn out by our busy summer, we are now excited about returning to regular routines here. While the temperatures seem as hot as ever, the feeling that something new is starting up again has put an extra pep in my step. I've got new energy for studying. We are tackling some of the big tasks that we never had time for before we left (like buying a car). And, we are using some of this extra optimism and fresh perspective to come up with new routines and structures to help us work hard, enjoy life here and rest well.

It also feels like we aren't total newbies anymore. Whether it's kindergarten or your freshman year in college, the first year of anything is hard! Even though we've lived in Cambodia for a little over a year and a half already, it feels like we are back for a second "grade", or a second term. Somedays we still feel like we don't know much, but we do know some things. We aren't as wide-eyed and overwhelmed. Some of the things that first took our entire focus have become second nature, allowing us to put our energies elsewhere.

We've also got some new subjects to study this go around. While still doing a lot of review and work on the vocabulary and language skills we've learned over our year and a half here, I'm very excited to be moving into some more focused language study. We've found a really good new teacher that is working with us on religious language. It's a whole new world, but one that is quickly opening up before us. We also have a couple of conferences on the schedule for this "fall" that will hopefully open up even more areas for us and for Cambodian pastors.

Seeing so many back to school photos of (mostly) excited kids on social media this week has solidified this "back to school" feeling for me. New things are on the horizon. I hope that you get in on this feeling whether you are in school or not.