It’s difficult for me to say what I do, because my time here isn’t about what I do. It’s about being here with my family and friends and students and community, learning and living and growing together. So, the best way I know to share what I do is to share my schedule. I’ve never followed this schedule exactly and days are always up for change, but in general, this is what do in a week.
7:00 Wake-up: I’m not sure it is fair to say I wake up at 7 because I definitely wake up before 7 every day to either my family around the house, students in the yard, music from the pagoda, or the roosters outside the window. Seven is when I get out of bed and decide to start the day.
Breakfast: Breakfast is usually sometime between 7:30 and 8:15. Common breakfasts here include: rice with fried or dried fish, fried, omletted, or boiled eggs, or mango, porridge with fried or dried fish or fried, omletted, or boiled eggs, corn, and potatoes dipped in sugar.
8:30 Devotions: we gather as a staff to read a bible passage, discuss it, and pray together.
Morning Time: Morning time can vary greatly from day to day. Usually I busy myself with lesson plans and creating activities for my classes. Sometimes I will work on other projects, either for myself or with Sreyleak or Vibol. Sometimes I will go out for a walk or bike ride. Sometimes I will go with Vibol to visit families in the village. Sometimes I will go with Sreyleak to market or to visit students. Sometimes something completely different. This time is very flexible.
Lunch: Lunch is anytime between 11:30 and 2:00.
Rest Time: after lunch I spend quiet time in my room until I teach at 3:00. I read or write or cross-stitch, or sleep.
3:00 Class 1: I have 15 students in this class age 6-12. We are currently studying ABCs and ABC sounds as well as colors, numbers, and introduction phrases.
4:00 Class 2: I have 30 students in this class age 7-14. We are currently studying ABC sounds and prepositions as well as practicing using the vocabulary they know to create sentences.
5:00 Study Time: during my afternoon break I study Khmer. In April I was introduced to a book for English speakers learning Khmer and it has been very helpful. I create my own homework assignments from the book and then have my students or family check them for me.
6:00 Class 3: My third class has six students who study in grade 9. We are currently studying past tense and how to discuss something you have already done or experienced.
Dinner: Dinner is after class sometime between 7 and 8:30.
Bed: after dinner I have time in my room again. Before going to bed I often journal or read or cross-stitch to unwind from the day. I go to bed between 9 and 10 every night.
9:00 TaNel Bible Study: On Saturday mornings we take the tuktuk, motos, or our bicycles to a neighboring village for bible study. This began in February and has hardly looked the same two weeks in a row! Sometimes we just travel through the village and visit with families, sometimes we gather at yeay’s house and listen to a christian radio program together, usually we do some combination of these things—listening in different places, speaking with different people. Usually we are home around 10:30 or 11, but it just depends on the morning.
3:00 Preparation Time: Often on Saturday afternoons we will meet together to prepare for any events that are happening that Sunday or during the week. This does not happen every week, but when it does we always meet at three.
4:00 Computer Class: We have six computers so students come and are learning how to type and use the computer. This class runs itself but I often will go and sit with the students and study along side them.
5:00 Reading Class: Reading class is a small group of grade 8 students who come to just practice reading English. It started that Sreyleak taught this class, but the past few weeks I have been teaching it and I really enjoy it. Lately they make me practice reading the Khmer which is an incredible challenge but I am learning a lot!
6:00 Song Practice: This is one of my favorite parts of the week. A small group of students gather together to learn the songs that we will sing in church on Sunday. I love song practice because it means I get to hear the songs multiple times so I can start to actually learn them rather than just hum along. Plus after song practice there are often impromptu dance parties and those are always fun!
Morning Time: Sunday mornings are spent one of two ways. Some of us always go to a neighboring village, Baek Peang, and teach Sunday School and visit families. Occasionally I go with, but most of the time they just take a moto which will only hold 2-3 people so then I stay at home. When I stay at home, I spend my Sunday mornings doing laundry and cleaning my bedroom/bathroom. When I finish these tasks I take time to plan Sunday School for the afternoon and sometimes spend some time doing my own little worship or devotion. (I used to do this more in the beginning when I didn’t feel like I got anything out of the worship services, but now the worship services are pretty fulfilling for me.)
2:00 Sunday School: In March I was finally offered the opportunity to teach Sunday School each week! About 40 children ages 5-14 come each week for a 45min Sunday School lesson. We sing a song or two, hear a bible story, discuss the bible story, and do a short activity that goes with the story. We pray at the end and then share a snack together. Often I wish I had the Khmer to teach Sunday School on my own, but the way Pastor Vibol accompanies me in translating the stories and questions is so beautiful and I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with him in this way.
3:00 Worship: At 3pm the youth and occasionally an adult or two come for our worship service. Worship follows the Lutheran liturgy and includes all parts of a worship service excluding communion. My favorite part is the singing, but more recently I have been able to follow some of the sermons and that is really special as well.
After Worship Time: There is nothing that we always do after worship, but it seems that that time is always busy. Sometimes we are rushing to leave to go somewhere before it gets dark. Sometimes our soccer team has a game so I go to watch. Sometimes we have fellowship time or hangout and play games. It seems that there is always something happening after worship on Sundays and I love to just hang around with everyone.
I end the week with Monday because Monday is my day off. I don’t know how to say what I do on a Monday because it changes so much. If I am at home, I will wake up like usual and eat meals like usual and then hang around and do whatever I feel like. Mondays often consist of outings to lotus farms, other churches, or family’s homes. Weekend activities often get extended to Monday. If we are going to be gone on Sunday, we just don’t come back until Monday afternoon. I love Mondays because they are a chance to relax, but also often bring new and fun adventures.