So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. ~ Hebrews 12:11-13
Actually the time hasn’t exactly flown, but it has been very full. Apologies for not sending an update sooner; the heavy-duty workload I spoke about last fall has persisted, and even the Christmas holiday was terrifically busy, though fun and meaningful. Much has occurred over the past three months (!) since my last letter of course, and I’ll try to summarize life with some highlights and pictures. But first I want to cut to the chase and give you the present situation. As of a couple Mondays ago I have decided to renew my contract with GDQ for yet another year! I had to think and pray about this, especially since this “second first year” teaching new classes again has been very challenging, even more than last year. I don’t think I can afford a “third first year”. The plan going forward is for me to only teach repeat classes for 2018-2019, and I’ve received assurances that even alternate plans do not include my teaching new courses. I am relieved by this, and I look forward to a year in which the hairy red line between hard work and burnout is pushed back into the world of extra-curricular responsibilities and not a hazard of simply covering necessary curriculum. More than that: I look forward to having more time and energy to consciously grow in faith pursing and enjoying Christ in his world and in his work. Metaphorically speaking, a little less Martha, a little more Mary (Luke 10:38-42).
That’s the plan for next year. There’s still plenty to struggle through and hope for between now and summer. My AP classes have kept a steady pace, but I’m trying to press the gas even as I continue to parse through instructor resources and build unit plans. The students have been one of the biggest blessings this year, jumping into the subject material, asking engaging questions, and working hard at home to keep pace with the subject material. I’m glad that the external AP exams are not the sole prize here: the students are learning all sorts of lessons like study habits, technical writing skills, and more. One of my favorite complaints from my AP Physics students is how their view of reality has been transformed by their new knowledge of forces, acceleration, inertia, etc. They tell me they can’t open a door without thinking about torque and rotational mechanics. I tell them their exasperation warms my heart. Even though I am disappointed by how little I am able to interact with my students outside of class, I am grateful for the connections that I do have. Please pray for fortitude and perseverance as we all press on through second semester with our various tasks.
There is too much dust in the air and confusion in my own heart to consider clearly where life is headed in the coming months and years. Sometimes the narrow vision implied by “lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path” feels okay; sometimes it can be maddeningly painful. But as things progress I am grateful for the many blessings that are clearly in view (and I guess the ones that are unseen too—that’s the challenge!). My sense of companionship here has been at least as good as it was last year, and God has faithfully continued to provide much needed friendship. It’s an interesting time of year as letters of intent for next year are made public one after another. To my relief I get to keep a lot of my friends here, but we’ll be losing some to changing life seasons. We also get to watch God fill certain logistical and strategic holes that have appeared. Exciting times I suppose. Pray for GDQ as we continue to try to meet the needs here in this part of the world, and for us staff as we continue to offer ourselves for Christ’s service.
My health has remained mostly good, but somewhat iffy. The anomalous angioedema (fancy word for swelling) I suffered from in late October continued to hit me periodically through the holiday season. Now I can add tongue swelling in the middle of the night to the list, which is cause for some concern. So far I have not asphyxiated to death, and I have been provided a couple epi-pens. Additionally, my parents brought some heavy duty prescription antihistamine with them for their Christmas visit, which has proven effective. If I can keep the swelling down to once-a-month intervals until summer then maybe I can chase this problem more while on furlough in the States—I have little expectation for a sound diagnosis and am hoping for it to mostly just go away. Please pray for the removal of this mysterious health burden, and for me to not slip into the sarcastic grumpiness that has become characteristic of how I express frustration and fear.
Thank you for your faithful support of me as I adventure over here in Albania. It’s a debt that I won’t be able to personally pay back, but I hope that our King will use my words and experiences to bless you back richly in ways none of us can imagine. Let me know if there’s anything for which I can pray for you. I’ll be in touch as things begin to warm up.