Wednesday, June 12, 2013

10 of 10: And Here We Go...

Somewhere on the roaring streets of Jakarta as I was on my way back from Block M having purchased housewarming gifts from Indonesia, it hit me. I'm going to France.


I had a little cry (mostly because I'm suffering from a large amount of anxiety about getting all 7 of us ready for this long trip). But I also cried out of gratitude. Gratitude for once again getting to do something I never imagined I get to do. And suddenly, the zooming motorcycles and plumes of exhaust seemed a bit more bearable.

I took French in High School, then completed four additional semesters of French at BYU. And I always dreamed to getting to use the language outside of the classroom. But that was a looooong time ago. And I don't remember much French.

I just hope there's a disco in Paris, because the only phrase I can remember well is: "Je voudrais aller a la disco tech." And of course, I've practiced how to ask for "pain du chocolate."  Between those two phrases, we are sure to have a grand time.

In preparation for our trip, the kids each chose a topic to study and give a presentation. Elise did the Arch de Triumphe. Madi did the Eiffel Tower. Truman chose Napoleon Bonaparte (though after doing some web searches he was mostly intrigued about some guy named "Napoleon Dynamite"), Amelia presented on Edouard Manet, and Madi also did Claude Monet.

We spent an hour one afternoon painting a la Monet style. It was delightful. I love the variety in colors of each painting and how each child connected their colors with times of day.

Looking forward to seeing the real thing:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

9 of 10: Thoughts about teaching High School

I never thought I'd teach high school. It was a bit too scary for me. But here, at Jakarta International School, thousands of miles away from everything familiar, I truly found a home. 
 I found a place where the students exceeded my expectations, and I was challenged and rewarded every day. 
There were moments where I found myself saying, "I can't believe I'm getting paid to teach Romeo & Juliet and have this much fun!"
Here's a picture of my "crazy" (in the best possible sense of the word) class:
 Here they are displaying their true colors:
 Sameer, James, Sean, Richard, Rohaan, Rohan, Derrick, Akash, Tanvi, Ido, Elisa, Sabeeh, Tammy, Nitya, Anna, and Indah

How I will miss them.

During our last few minutes of class, I read my favorite quotes from "Book Thief," specifically the part when Death comes for Hans whose soul is light because he had given so much of himself away during life. We had one final discussion as a class about what it means to "leave pieces of yourself" with people and places throughout your life. 
Each of these kids took a piece of my heart with them this year. And I'm pretty sure most of them left a piece of themselves with me whether in an essay, laughter, an insightful comment, an honest short story, or just a smile.
Teaching high school?
What a joyful ride it has been.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

8 of 10: Truman's Half Birthday and a "Catch You Later"

One night in May, Tman and I had the following conversation as I tucked him into bed:

Tman: It's May.
Me: Yes, I know.
Tman:'s been almost 5 months since my birthday.
Me: Yes?
Tman: So...when are we going to have my party?
Me (suddenly panicking): Your party? Is this your year to have a birthday party?
(To clarify, we only have friend-birthday parties every other year.)
Tman: Yes. Remember, Amelia had her party last year. (Then, probably sensing my panic, he added,) But it's okay. I don't need a party. I haven't had one since we moved here. Another year won't matter.
(Total. Mother. Guilt.)
Me: Of course we'll have a party!! (Said with mustered confidence as though I had secretly been planning a party all along). We'll do it on your Half Birthday!

And so, three weeks later, we celebrated Tman's 9th Birthday on his Nine and a Half Birthday. Tman, his friends, and our family played laser tag, swam, and ate pizza, cake, & and ice cream. This is the only picture I remembered to snap with my phone as the boys were waiting to go swimming. It's safe to say, it was a memorable day for my sweet boy who deserved every minute of the celebration.
Now a goodbye.

One of the difficulties of attending an international school is the amount of turnover each year. It is a transient group of people. Between faculty and students, about 25% leave each year. Tman's best friend, Tane (from New Zealand), is moving back home in a week. Yesterday they spent their last day together swimming and playing soccer.

The happy/sad thing is Tane's mom, Tina, was one of my best friends in the English department this year. Happy because she and I loved to talk about our "little men" together. Sad because that means my friend, Tina, is also moving. So as Tman said goodbye to Tane, I had to say "Catch you later" to Tina (because she refuses to say goodbye!)
I kept my composure until we pulled out of their driveway and started for home. I had to pull over in front of a stranger's house and have a good cry. I am going to miss these friends dearly. I let myself feel the sadness of saying goodbye. I embraced it. Because if there's one thing I've learned from a life of moving around, it's this:

If the goodbye is sad, then it means you did something right.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

7 of 10: I digress

Dear husband,

Remember when you asked me if I wanted to go to Sydney? I think my first reaction was skepticism: "Are you serious?" But your encouragement "Let's do it!" worked. And a few short weeks later (after a near catastrophe passport dilemma at JIS), we found ourselves walking from Darling Harbor to Circular Quay on a beautiful morning.
Remember when we followed the sounds and smells that led us to the outdoor market at "The Rocks?"
The lines of business workers with their tell-tale sneakers and suits, extended past the shops and snaked into the nearby square. We thought, "It must be good if it's worth that wait." We ordered wraps - mine was a smoked pumpkin, spinach, and chickpeas with feta cheese.

We found a green park bench shaded by a towering cotton tree. Large, palm-sized leaves fell in the breeze. We looked up at the intersecting branches, a tent of green, yellow, and orange, and realized it had been almost two years since we had heard the sound of rustling autumn leaves.
Remember the other couple? Remember when the grey-haired woman asked if she and her husband could join us on the bench? We scooted to the edge to make room for them.

He was much frailer than she was. She guided him as he sat down. She took the hat from his head and placed it securely behind them propped between the bench and stone wall. They had one plate of food to share. He fumbled with the cellophane-wrapping of the plastic utensils until she gently took it from his hands, opened it, and handed him his fork.
They were happy. They smiled. They seemed to be delighted with the same things we were: the canaopy of leaves above us, the good food, the street musicians. And in a strange moment, a touch of melancholy mixed with a surge of hope as I thought, "That is us...that is us in just a few decades." 

There will come a day when we won't be able to walk three to five miles in a morning with ease, energy and speed. Perhaps you will be the physically stronger one. Perhaps I will. But I hope we will love each other enough to share a plate of food. To help each other with the cellophane wrapping. To spend a day together.

For all the beautiful sights we saw that day, dear husband, this one of the elderly couple comes into focus most frequently. Like favorite lines from a good book, I think about them again and again. And I am filled with gratitude that I have someone with whom I can share my life - for these fast glorious times, and for our future slower calmer times.

To borrow your own words of encouragement, "Let's do it!"

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

6 of 10: From School to Pool! Welcome Summer!

A new Abbe Family Tradition: 
Post-School PJ Pool Jump!

We rolled out of bed (with a non-alarm clock wake up!), danced to "School's Out" (yes, High School Musical) and Kenny Chesney's "Summertime," then headed to the pool in our PJs.
Ready, set, go...
 Welcome summer!
Welcome family time, plane rides, car trips, Paris, SLC, fireworks in Provo, soccer camps, family reunions, French Food! American Food! BYU bowling, late night chapter book reading, games of Frisbee on green lawns, snow cones, lemonade, popsicles, early morning runs in clean air, beach days with Grandma and Poppy, Mt. Rainier, pool swimming in St. George...bring it, bring it, bring it!!!  

Monday, June 3, 2013

5 of 10: Food!

A strange fact: I have as many pictures of food from our Sydney trip, as I do of the Sydney Opera House. And most of the pictures highlight salads.

After living in a developing country for two years, one of my favorite parts of being back in a first world country was getting to eat fresh food Worry Free! Worry Free - how marvelous! Meaning, I didn't have to worry if I was going to suffer a horrible bacteria infection that would consign me to the toilet in my hotel room for the duration of my visit. Or worse: I didn't have to worry that I would  be plagued by a parasite who would live in my system for weeks, if not months.

Yes, we eat salads and vegetables here in Jakarta. But the vegetables require a lengthy washing process. And I hardly ever dare eat a raw vegetable salad in a restaurant for the fears listed above. Even in my own home, I regularly experience a moment of "should I or shouldn't I?" before taking a bite of salad.

Oh the joy of the Sydney cuisine! Worry Free and delicious!

We discovered a small bistro Sunday afternoon whose display overflowed with salad choices. We drooled over the selections like kids in a candy store.
Our last night we dined in Manly - a beach town on the furthest peninsula of the bay. I had not yet eaten shrimp. And isn't "shrimp on the barbie" the quintessential Australian food? We asked a local at a bike shop for a recommendation. His directions led us to a tiny restaurant tucked away from the tourist crowd. Best shrimp I've had the pleasure of eating. 
One last picture. A Ben&Jerry's store sat on a street corner across from Manly Beach. My husband 
indulged in a decadent brownie Sundae with double scoop of mint ice cream. My choice: Cherry Garcia, of course! Yes, we were in Australia. But we couldn't resist a taste of good ol' American ice cream.
  I've always loved good food. But living in Jakarta has made me appreciate good, clean food. 
Wherever I live, I hope I never take Worry Free dining for granted.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

4 of 10: Church in Sydney

My husband wanted to attend church on Sunday when we were in Sydney. If I'm completely honest, I was NOT thrilled. I figured if I only had 72 hours in Australia, I didn't want to "waste" precious sightseeing time in church.

But when we discovered the temple was closed (will describe in a future post), I had a change of heart. 

Sunday morning, we woke up early and walked a few city blocks from our hotel. The air was brisk and lovely - the closest weather to a Virginia October I've felt in 2 years! At 185 Liverpool St., across from a beautiful park, we found the inconspicuous sign in the glass window. We took the elevator to the 2nd floor and attended Sacrament meeting.

The chapel was filled with missionaries. I counted 20! A couple missionary later confirmed that there were 10 missionary companionships in the ward. Apart from the missionaries, a very multicultural congregation surrounded us - mostly Asians.

We sang "Come Unto Jesus" as the opening hymn. I could barely sing the last verse because my heart was overflowing with gratitude as I realized I was witnessing the fulfillment of this hymn:

Come unto Jesus from ev’ry nation,
From ev’ry land and isle of the sea.
Unto the high and lowly in station,
Ever he calls, “Come to me.”

After the meeting, a sister turned around and introduced herself. She was from Fiji. When she heard we lived in Jakarta, she quickly located a newly baptized member of their ward. Albert, from Indonesia.

"Salamut Pagi" we said (good morning). He greeted us with a huge smile. As we conversed, I had the most unexpected feeling. Here I was in Australia - an English speaking, first-world country. And I felt most at home speaking to this Indonesian brother.

The couple missionary took us to the roof of the building to show us the view of Sydney. You can see the Sydney Opera House over my shoulder. Sailboats dotted the harbor. The water glistened like thousands of diamonds. Deciduous trees blazed with autumn colors. And my heart overflowed with gratitude for so many things.
Clean air.
Church in Sydney, Australia.
Hymn #117
And of course, my good husband with whom I get to experience all these incredible things.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

3 of 10: How we have fun in Jakarta

Laser Game in Kemang is a popular spot for kids' birthday parties. So when we were invited for a surprise birthday party with our friends - we were pumped.

It was some serious gaming goin' on.
Girls verses Boys.
Girls won the first time. 

Bragging rights: I was one of the top three high scorers every game. 
And I was higher than my husband every time.
Perhaps I'm in the wrong profession...I'm just sayin'.
Games were followed by a late night dinner at the new TGIF in Lippo Mall. 
I love these dear friends. So much laughter!