Friday, June 11, 2010

Oh the Places You Will Go (Part 2)

by Eric

We’ve traveled a lot of places over the last year… And now we know where we’re going next year!

This past week, the home office of TeachOverseas went through all the personality profiles, questionnaires, and preference sheets from the Vietnam teachers. Based off all this info, they had to figure out who should be paired with whom and where they should serve. While we were each sure we knew one of our teammates, there were still a lot of questions. Will we be a two person team, or will we be teamed with 2-4 other teachers? Will we be in Northern, Central, or Southern Vietnam? Will we be in a large city (6+ million) or a ‘small’ city (500,000 – 1 million)? Or …

Wednesday, the email arrived that let us know where we'd be serving, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam! We'll be a two person team and we'll be at a new location for TeachOverseas. They have had one team in HCMC (I've already found that it's MUCH easier to abbreviate!) at an English center for several years. We'll still have a team at that school and Karissa and I will be working at a 'sister' location.

While there is still no shortage of questions to wonder about, now we can start checking out pictures of our new ‘home’ city and read all about in the Lonely Planet! Looks like there’s plenty to do! We’re not exactly sure what our apartment situation is going to be like, but we should have a spare room or a couch for guests to crash on. Or at least some floor space… Or the phone number of a local hotel… So give us a while to settle in and then come and visit us in our new city!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oh the Places You Will Go (Part 1)

by Eric

May is over! It was a busy month for the Sjaarda’s! We were out of town together for three weekends, and Karissa was out for a fourth weekend visiting her younger sister. Each trip took us to a different state! Omaha, Nebraska for our anniversary; Dallas, Texas for work and a little bit of fun; Minneapolis, Minnesota for family and fund-raising; and Indianapolis, Indiana for family! The traveling schedule calms down a bit in June. So far we only have one confirmed weekend trip, though we may have another small getaway, depending on how the packing and other preparations are going.

We got a new camera just before the trip to MSP. So far, we're VERY happy with it! This is probably my favorite pic of a weekend full of testing out the camera on some adorable models (aka nieces).

We leave for training in 5 weeks. The reality of our departure is sinking in more and more each day. Normally when you visit family and friends, you know that you’ll probably see them again in a few days, or weeks, or at the most months. The dynamic of saying ‘See you later’ changes a bit when you know you’re saying goodbye for a year! So far, the goodbyes haven’t been too teary. I’m not exactly sure why… Is it because the implications of a year apart haven’t sunk in yet? Is it because the people we’ve been saying goodbye to are people we don’t see in our everyday lives? Is it because as you age, you realize years go by pretty quickly and next summer will be here before we know it? Or are the emotions just storing up for a time when the reality fully sinks in? Time will tell I guess.

May was a really good month. We got a lot done! Fund-raising went into full force and we were blessed with prayer and financial support from a lot of wonderful people! There’s still a ways to go, but we feel good about the start we’ve had.

We also took some big steps in the physical preparations. Old boxes are being gone through, non-essential things are being packed up and moved to storage, and our garage sale pile continues to grow! While packing and moving is certainly a large task, it’s really nice to take the time to go through things and figure out what you don’t need. Our trash can is pretty full by pickup time every week!

Of course, there’s still PLENTY to do and I have a feeling June will be just as crazy busy as May was. Stuff to pack, books to read, people to contact, funds to raise, language to learn, …

Better get crackin!