Cold or Cozy
As people asked me about how work and life are going this week, I usually answered honestly that there have been several highs and lows. I still absolutely love my job, but there's some less than pleasant meetings and moments involved in being a high school teacher. Fortunately I have some pretty great coworkers, so one of the highlights was a birthday lunch celebrating Terrae. Another really cool moment was the chance to pray with a different coworker about how we can each be courageous Jesus representatives in our workplace. Plus I've secured an eternal invite to the Wycliffe holiday gatherings at the Welterlen's which is always a win (bonus upon bonus: Brandi makes bacon wrapped green beans for Thanksgiving).
Some of the lows weren't really out of a bad place but rather my desire to be the best possible educator. I had a really incredible quarter plan for my AP English class based on the request of two students to incorporate a debate somehow into the curriculum. It was scheduled for this Thursday in class, and I had a great lead up to it planned out before we moved into Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House in the last two weeks before Christmas break. On Monday I discovered one of the students for whom I'd planned this awesome debate would be gone on Thursday. I was shattered because while I had an idea of what I'd do to introduce the Ibsen play, I was planning to spend a couple hours on Friday prepping for it, but instead, I turned my week upside down to move the Monday lesson to Thursday and save the debate for tomorrow.
In the grand scheme of things, that lesson prep wasn't a huge upset, but I had planned my week differently. I'd also planned on sleeping at night which, thanks to an exacerbated bout of insomnia, was not happening this week. Instead I paid off some sleep debt this weekend sleeping in the past two mornings while trying to make up for the fog of fatigue that made the jostled lesson plans magnified in my mind.
I'm not a fan of whining, as many of my students can attest to, but I feel like it's an important inclusion this week to know that I choose joy and thanksgiving in the face of the frustrations and inconveniences. As the weather has been getting colder, my legs have been tightening up and stretching becomes more important. I've been missing the southern hemisphere weather while taking more time to get my braces positioned well against the straining calf muscles this December. I know the States are in winter now too, but my last visit is filled with memories of walking outside with friends, and I'm confined to staring at my wall while listening to podcasts on my treadmill.
But I still walked on my treadmill today. I even upped the speed a bit as I'm getting more comfortable. I have a full length mirror next to me as I walk so I can try to be sure my torso is held over my hips correctly. My proprioception is a mess, but my untrained eyes are noticing a small payoff in the effort. The workout warmed me up in my tiny apartment that's so difficult to heat, but I'm writing this post with a cup of Trader Joe's coffee from a care package and a piece of Whittaker's chocolate I saved from my move back. I'm so thankful for my granny (and mom and Joan) who regularly keep me stocked with TJ's coffee and treats and for my RCC family who sent me off with some of the best chocolate their tiny island nation can offer.
I moved to Germany on my own, but I have a global support system that keeps encouraging me through the cold winter season. Every time I step on my treadmill, I thank God for Jenn and her family who've been praying for me since sending me out seven years ago after our season as youth leaders together because she sent in an extra donation to make sure I had the funds for the important health care item my insurance surely wouldn't cover. Every time I sit on my wheelchair, I thank God for Sheri and Sergio who gave an extra donation the month an airline damaged my chair and lost my cushion which was never reimbursed by the culpable party or my insurance.
My life is a weird one where I have the incredible joy of teaching teenagers about theology which is my sweet spot, but I also am only capable of doing this job due to the incredible generosity of people who believe I'm qualified and want to partner with me in that work through financial gifts. I'm uniquely blessed among the missionary community because I'm not constantly needing to ask for support. I have the majority of my support come in through monthly commitments and the shortfall has been provided through year end donations in my annual Giving Tuesday ask (that's what this post is in prep for in case you missed it). There's always still room on my monthly support team - I'm definitely not at 100% of the goal, but if you're interested in just giving a one time gift, that also stretches across the next year to keep me on the field long term. And, to be clear, I'm committed to helping students grow closer to Jesus through education for the long term.
It's difficult to try to sell myself in this kind of a post, but I really do love the work I do, and I know I'm uniquely qualified to do it. I had a skype call with a student last night who is deciding about applying between two summer mission opportunities. "I'm not as good at leading Bible studies and small groups as the leaders when I was a kid in these kinds of camps, so I don't feel capable of doing that as well as other applicants, but the other option is to train kids about to move with their parents how to be successful as MKs, and I don't feel like I'm enough of an MK to do that because I don't really remember life as an American before we left, and I have dual citizenship with the country I moved to." I laughed to myself at the irony because I could easily assure this kid he's capable - he's one of the most capable young leaders I've ever encountered - and that both of those were unfounded insecurity in his leadership skills, but I've battled my own insecurity in my ability to positively influence him while I'm the one he asked to be his reference on the mission application.
Students do look to me for help, and I do my best to point them to Jesus and guide them in Jesus-oriented life choices. It's a sacred responsibility, and I'm humbled every time a student gives me the space to speak into their life. I was even more humbled this week when a student learned the details of my support raising and immediately offered to join my team at an amount within her university level budget. "It's the least I can do," she told me because I'd poured into her life. Not every student has that capacity to give financially, so I have to widen my ask to the public here and offer you, the reader, the chance to join my team and be part of supporting my ongoing work teaching and discipling young people.
If you have the ability to join my monthly support team or offer a year end donation, you can go to https://give.teachbeyond.org/support/lauras-journey/ to donate in US or Canadian dollars. If you'd like to donate in Euros, CHF, GBP, or NZD, you can email email@example.com to set up your donation.
I'm grateful for every dollar, pound, franc, or euro given, and I recognize that while I don't see every donor face to face as I work through this cold winter, my heart is warmed knowing my partners are praying for me and making my ministry possible.