Forty-two pages, 12,490 words. That’s how long Pam’s proposal was when it went ‘out the door’ at 7 pm last night. During the time it took to write those 42 pages, three months have gone by, along with three trips to Cambodia, a dozen conference calls to major stake holders, a hundred hours of research, and countless discussions and revisions. The document calls for the creation of an entire new team within the TWR office in Cambodia to deal with HIV/AIDs and the associated health and social issues. If approved it will provide funding for this team for three years.

My small role in all this work has been to edit the grammar and syntax and do some fact checking in some of the various UN documents that had to be referenced. Along the way Pam and I have both had to learn some new skills and extend others. I always tell my students that if what they hand in is the best they can do, then it isn’t good enough. The best you can do implies that you haven’t learned anything in the process of what you were doing. Instead you should aim to do more than you thought you were capable of. The doing of it should produce not just a new project, but new understanding, new skills. That is what this project has done for both of us.

To say that I am proud of Pam would be to belittle her. Being proud of her would imply that I already had the skills that she has just attained. That is not the case. She is doing things that I simply cannot do. She has a skillset that I will never have. It would be more honest to say that I am proud of myself for being part of the person she is becoming, for not getting in her way, for seeking to be what support I can. This proposal is something that I could never have written, and I am pleased to have had even a small part in its creation. I trust the Lord will bless its way through the many stages it must now go through before it can be funded.

I am also pleased with how this first part of the term has gone for me. I am teaching ENG 4U this term. This will be the fourth new English curriculum I have had to master since I got here. Each new curriculum has its own challenges, and of course there are no lessons in my computer to call up; they all have to be written from scratch. I have over two thousand documents – lesson, articles, slide shows – that I have written since I got here, and the number grows every day. I tell myself that there is going to come a point when everything I have to teach will all be written down and I will just have to call it up from some file. But I know that this is just a little white lie I comfort myself with from time to time. When that day comes, I will truly be ready to retire; for when there is nothing new to learn, there is nothing new to teach.

This week is the Chinese New Year break, an appropriate time for both of us to take a few days rest from what has been a very busy stretch for both of us. We plan on spending our days reading and watching the Olympics and maybe getting caught up on our sleep. We wish you all a Gong Xi Fa Cai and a prosperous and happy year of the tiger.