FINAL DAY IN OKINAWA!!
It felt weird to wake up this morning and look around my room, knowing I have less than 24 hours remaining here. I borrowed my coworkers vacuum and finished packing last night. I borrowed Jessica's scale and finalized the weighing of my luggage. My large suitcase weights 49 pounds and my medium one weighs 35 pounds. If by chance the scale is off a little, then I can move some items around at the airport but don't think that will be needed.
After breakfast and cleaning my room, Jessica and I headed to our work bbq. We stopped at Jessica's friends house on the way to pick up some bug spray. I am so thankful we did that because there were lots of bugs out and I didn't get bit once! Luckily, the rain stopped and it was a beautiful day out. The sun was shining and a nice warm breeze was blowing. I enjoyed lunch talking with various coworkers. I filled up on fruit and some good Filipino food.
My coworkers mingling after lunch.
The food area.
The kindergarten aide and the fourth grade teacher. I never got to hang out with them outside of work but I really like them and hope to keep in touch.
Mr. Elofson gave presents to the teachers that will not be coming back next year. Lori's husband got stationed in South Dakota and they will be leaving in July, after living in Okinawa and working at New Life for four years. Mr. Mc Gee, a high school teacher (and unofficial vice principal) is not coming back next year because his daughter graduated 12th grade from our school (plus he's been at the school 13 years). Rocky got laid off because school enrollment is very low for the upcoming school year. Usually, there are around 130 students enrolled and at this time, there are only 80 students enrolled for next school year. Rocky is going to look for a job on base for next year and hopes to teach at the school my students mom owns the following year. Rocky has worked at the school for 5 years. I was the person leaving who has been here the shortest amount of time.
Mr. Elofson gave each of us Ryukyuan lacquerware pencil holders. Okinawan lacquerware is unique because of the climate conditions in Okinawa. Ryukyuan Lacquerware dries at a temperature of 80% humidity and 20 degrees centigrade. Here's some interesting information about Okinawan lacquerware that Mr. Elofson gave us with our gift: "Okinawa has ideal natural conditions for lacquer production. The distinctive features of Ryukyuan lacquer are said to be its vermilion color as well as the tsuikin applique and raden inlay techniques, but all of these qualities are intimately related to the climatic conditions in Okinawa. The strong ultraviolet rays of the sun bring out the vividness of the vermilion red pigments. Since the late 19th century pig's blood has at times been used as primer and was said to be the reason for the deep vermilion color achieved, but it is now believed the primer base has very little to do with the vivid colors of the finished lacquer."
Very interesting! I haven't opened the package yet but I'm sure it's beautiful. Mr. Elofson knows that as teachers, we will get good use out of pencil holders! He asked for us to pray for New Life when we look at the pencil holder and to let it remind us of our time here.
Here is the staff and their families at the bbq.
I enjoyed visiting with coworkers and said my goodbyes to everyone. My coworkers said they would keep in touch by email and will let me know how things are going. Mr. Elofson wrote me a nice letter of recommendation, I got my end of the year paycheck and turned in my health card and apartment key.
I'm happy to have met each person at New Life academy and know that God put them each in my life this year for a reason. My time here was an invaluable experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. This wasn't an easy experience but it was worth it. The things I've learned about myself, the teaching experience I've gained and the life lessons are irreplaceable. I am happy I took advantage of this opportunity and my memories in Okinawa will always hold a special place in my heart.
Thank you for the encouragement and support during my time in Okinawa. I couldn't have gotten through it without your prayers. I'm looking forward to arriving home and pressing the play button on my life again. I'm excited about the opportunities in my future and have faith that God will guide me in the tasks that lay ahead. Nothing in the world beats being surrounded by those you love and those that love you =)
Here is one of my favorite quotes this past year:
"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." - Lance Armstrong
16 hours until take off!