Life on a Small Pacific Island

Saipan is a tiny island. You inevitably run into someone you know, no matter which store or restaurant you choose to go to. Seeing students out and about is a normal occurrence and soon you even get used to saying hello to people you don’t even know.

The beauty of this island is indescribable. Whenever I’m out-and-about I prefer to drive on beach road which is right along the water. I can’t get enough of the blue ocean and the horizon. The view takes my mind to new, undiscovered places. I have always had the travel bug, and being close to the ocean reminds me that there are still many places to be experienced.

Like any other place in the world, Saipan also has its quirks. Take today for example, I went out to find a large photo frame and knew that it would be hard to find. Each store I went to sent me to another store to find the frame. I ended up driving across half the island and went into five stores before I found something that was almost what I was looking for. I laughed to myself in the car because it reminded me of Italy! Another example is that most the food you find on island is either Asian, full of sugar or costs a fortune. The last couple weeks I’ve gone to the store and left almost empty-handed because I have felt very uninspired by what I see. I miss my Italian grocery stores, full of fresh vegetables, fruits, affordable food and so much more.

Despite my grocery shopping woes, I do love living here. When I’m not working I try to enjoy the island. It’s easy to forget to take time to get into life here and instead go home and crash. Teaching is a tiring and stressful job, no matter where you live on the planet. That being said, I know I will not teach forever! It’s fun to take the kids to the beach for a couple hours or for a walk in Garapan in the evening to watch the local dancers. Our children love walking through DFS and the I Love Saipan store. Evening walks along the beach with a picnic dinner are unrivaled. I can say with assurance the time we are spending here will be some of the most precious moments in our lives.

Yet it’s not always easy going. There are days when I’m so exhausted from being wife, mother, teacher and youth leader that I just want to go hide under a coconut tree with a glass of red wine. There are moments when I think: “What in the world were we thinking when we chose to move here?” only to remind myself that being here has allowed my broken heart to begin healing. That teaching these children is making an impact. That even if all of this is just for one student, then it was worth it. Stress is real, but so is God. Some ask me how I can do it all, and the answer is simple: Christ is holding me.

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