Thanksgiving is already half-over here in the ROK, but you wouldn't know it. I'm at work, just like any other Thursday, and there was something in my soup that looked like tiny brains. My five-year-olds are discussing the current political affairs ("Teacher, did you know four people died? And thirteen more got hurt? It is North Korea's fault!") while they practice Christmas songs and color pictures of what they hope Santa brings them. I'm sitting at my desk, refreshing the google newsfeed every five minutes. My hands are shaking as I type this, but I don't know if I'm cold, scared, or sad. Maybe all three.
Yesterday was one of the worst days of work I've had in the three months I've been here, and I stayed up until one in the morning crying to Carie about how things are just not the way I hoped they'd be right now. It's impossible to not imagine what I'd be doing at home right now; fighting with my family over which Thanksgiving dinner to attend and reading the Black Friday ads to map out our 5 AM shopping plans. It's my first Thanksgiving abroad, and it's harder than I thought it would be. It doesn't help that one of my kids just suggested playing "bomb shelter."
I could write a post about all the things that feel like they're falling apart. I'm sure quite a few of you are curious about my exchange with the principal yesterday, and I probably have more information than the American media is providing you regarding the bullies up north and their not-so-secret uranium plants. But today is a day for being thankful, not miserable, and I firmly believe in the theory of "fake-it-til-you-make-it" during circumstances such as these. And thus, here is a list of things I am thankful for today.
I'm thankful that I have a job to hate. This time last year, I was unemployed and couldn't afford to buy groceries, and now I have a job where I get to listen to "Butterflies in the USA" while watching some really adorable kids try to sing and sign along. Sure, my boss pissed me off yesterday, but doesn't that happen with any job?
I'm thankful that I'm American. I'm not the sentimental, patriotic type, but in light of current affairs, I'm so proud that my passport has an eagle on it. Yes, you could say that the US just has its hands in everyone else's business, but it's because of America's willingness to assist countries who need it that I am safe right now. One of my Canadian friends posted something yesterday about how he was waiting for Obama to send more troops over, and I felt a little rush of pride. No matter how much you hate the US, most foreigners here are trusting America more than their own countries to stand beside South Korea, and that makes me so thankful.
I'm thankful for adventure and the ability to chase it. It's mind-blowing that I'm in a geographic location where I can hop to Japan for a weekend just to see a movie, and I'm so incredibly blessed that I had the opportunity to follow this crazy dream of moving to Asia alone. Life is a bit surreal when you're literally in the middle of living out your dreams, and I'm just so grateful that all of this is possible.
I'm thankful for skype and the people who have made time to talk to me on it. It's remarkable that I have the technology to talk to my friends and family on the other side of the world whenever I need them, but in some ways, it's even more remarkable that I have so many people to talk to. I haven't been able to keep in touch with all the people I care about as much as I would like, but that's one of the best problems I've ever had to deal with.
I'm thankful for my family, and it's been far too long since I've seen them in person. I'm so grateful for the way my family has handled this ridiculous adventure of mine, particularly now that things are kind of dangerous. Even though my parents hated the idea of me moving to Asia (and my mom even threatened to put a box-cutter in my carry-on so that I wouldn't be allowed on the plane), they supported my right to make my own choices and dream a little too big. My parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins have been so great these past few months, sending me packages every few weeks, talking to me on skype all the time, and reading this blog religiously. Thanksgiving's really hard without you, but I hope you're enjoying the seaweed paper I sent home especially for this occasion.
I'm thankful for the family I have here. I'm thankful for the other teachers who commisserate when the school makes me want to pull my hair out and for the people at Jubilee who have listened to me cry more times than I'm comfortable admitting. I can't believe I've only known you all three months, and it already devastates me to think about the fact that we'll all be going our separate ways far too soon. Without you all, I'd be heading home right now for sure.
I'm thankful for forgiveness and grace and God. His faithfulness and blessings are completely undeserved, and they are the reason everything else on this list exists. All good things come from God, and I have more good things than I ever thought I'd have.
Wow, that worked amazingly well; I'm much more peaceful and grateful than I was an hour ago when I started typing this. Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans. We have a lot to be thankful for.