As I look out the window of my 1800’s historic apartment in Northern Colorado, I observe the gentle breeze of a winter day smoothly gliding through the trees. Rack-focusing to the interior of my home of almost a year, I see the synchronized lights of multiple hues on my bride and I’s first Christmas tree. It’s Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is our first Christmas together and as I have time away from my job in the oilfield to sit down, write, and reflect on this past year, I find myself peculiarly found of what is to come in 2014.
For starters, I see myself with an immense desire to write more, blog more, take pictures more, and share more about my new life in the Northern Rockies of Colorado; sharing all the new opportunities, dreams, plans, and events all in between along with my dearest friend , my wife. As for new opportunities the new year plans to bring, one of which is tutoring part time on Monday nights with the International Students Inc. or ISI for short. It’s a group of individuals from all over the world including China, South Korea, Chile, the Middle East, and a handful of others. A similar experience takes me back to teaching English in Houston where I am originally from. I enjoyed it then and I fully expect I will enjoy it again next year. Training starts in January and by then I also hope to start an online certification course in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
A burning desire of mine as of late and for quite awhile, at least, ever since I came back from China in 2012 is to teach. Currently I work full time in the Oilfield as a service technician to the model homes provided to rigs all across Weld County. It’s a great opportunity to kick start my wife and I into our new lives together keeps me very busy. However, I also hope while working in this productive industry that I can also put in some time toward helping to raise the Youth and next generation of leaders. Along with teaching English as a tutor for ISI, I also hope to start developing a private supplementary course in cultural and social studies with emphasis in Worldview and world religions. My current aim is toward middle school and high school students who are exclusively home educated (as I was during those years), but I also hope to pursue a wide range of students who would be interested in extracurricular activities. Sounds crazy that I want to involve the Youth of Northern Colorado in extra studies, but I think after a presentation or two they may find themselves extraordinarily interested in what both my wife and I have to offer. I plan to expound on this venture a lot further in the next post I plan to write so please stay tuned.
Yet another new venture I plan to take along with my writing and return to the Blog Sphere is to explore the realm of Podcasting. This past year I’ve been listening to a myriad of topics and I can’t begin to describe all of the fascinating stories, ideas, and biographies of people I’ve listened to for the last several months. I do, however, intend to share more often what I listen to on a more regular basis. For a list of current podcasts that I personally subscribe to, check out this link or refer to the end of this post. With all this being said, also look forward to a Podcast of my own hosted by both myself and my lovely wife. We plan to cover a lot of different topics, but eventually it is our goal to focus on social issues in both the realms of Education, Family, and Community.
To conclude, I’d like to mention that two of my greatest achievements this year have been 1) Finishing my bachelor’s degree in Communications and 2) Marrying the love of my life. It’s been a wonderful, crazy, difficult, surprising, lovely, heart breaking, joyful year and I am nervous, excited, frightened, encouraged, and fascinated with what is to come next.
Serving with nobility, noblesse oblige,
Robert W. Oakley
Podcasts I Subscribe to:
NPR TED Radio Hour
English Teaching in Japan
The Artist in American History
Seth Godin’s Startup School
For the past month now I’ve been helping teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to Chinese students who reside in the city of Houston. Once a week I attend Crosspoint Lutheran church in Bellaire to assist in training Chinese natives in the basics of the English language in order to help them gain a better sense of prosperity in the United States along with preparing myself to teach at an English Camp in Pinghu, China this coming summer. I am very excited to be learning so much about the Chinese Culture and, slowly but surely, the Chinese language along with equipping myself with the necessary tools and experience to teach. Below are some photographs I took of last week’s class the day before the Chinese New Year. Normally we have a much larger class but due to the holiday festivities many of our students were probably away with family celebrating the on coming year of the Dragon. I am very excited to be a part of this wonderful opportunity to teach and look forward in continuing to share my journey with the rest of you. Enjoy the pictures and stay tuned for more to come!
Betty Cooke helps explain the week’s new Bible memory verse
Students range from adults of early 3o’s to late 40’s on up
We also include elementary students in our lessons!
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
As a visual artist—a rather idealistic one at that—finding Christ at the center of every frame, pixel, sound, and display of movement has inevitably revealed His perfect will and glory to me. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I believe in myself, no matter what I put at stake, Christ forever shall remain the center of attention and focal point of my existence. Now, that hardly seemed sufficient to a very prideful, vain, and arrogant young man such as myself at first, but through my parents wisdom and instruction, through the wisdom of my heavenly Father, and by His salvation was that all undone, breaking me away from the bondage of sin, and granting me an eternal place in heaven as a child of the King humbly serving in His service and not my own.
The moment I realized my reality was not my own, my existence was not all left up to me, that my life did not belong to me, I was set free. I remember never being able to satisfy my desires, dreams, and wants because the vanity of the situation was all too clear—I was meant to be His and His alone; everything I set out to do must be for His glory and His alone, and once my whole life has finally chosen that path less traveled could all the difference be made in the world. Otherwise, I would aimlessly achieve only what the material world had to offer—absolutely nothing.
The happiness so many men and women waste their whole life searching for will never be found unless their mind is set on heavenly things. This is my mission, this is my purpose, and this is my life: to reveal to men the ever satisfying, perfect sustaining, wonderful savior Jesus Christ through whatever means necessary and by far the most effective. That is why I feel called to teach and enter the media industry. As Christ instructed His people in righteousness and taught through stories so do I feel the need and dream to do the same. To teach and show everyone around the world the wonderful saving grace of God, the unprecedented sacrifice He made for us all, and the perfect loving relationship we can have with Him and each other for all eternity.
As for the calling to go to China, witnessing lately the desperate search for answers to life’s greatest questions among the Chinese people, in the comfort of the States, constitutes my whole desire to go to their country of origin. I want to learn their language, their culture, their history, and find ways to better communicate the Gospel, teach them the English language, and show them the love of Christ along with my team. Up until this point, my evaluated experiences of the past has led me to this conclusion, but even more so the burning passion and desire within my heart that I can only know God has placed within me.
We are noble men and women of the risen King; for that may we feel nobly obliged to go and serve our almighty creator LORD and one another in unity and love for ever and ever. Amen.
Today I had the pleasure to work with once again my mentor, teacher, and friend, Rob Brayton. We were both immensely pleased to have the opportunity to bless the senior citizens of Grace Care center with photographs of Santa Claus. Each of them will be getting a copy just in time for Christmas to share amongst their families and care takers.
Rob Brayton is an experienced 2nd generation photographer with decades of study in digital engineering and the arts; his vision is to enrich the lives of people and business through visual storytelling in still and moving life portraiture—as is mine. He has taught me everything I know about film and photography and it is always an honor to work with him.
And of course the big guy himself, Santa Claus was a real treat to work with as well. He was able to bring so much joy to the citizens as they posed with the man of jolly and cheer making Christmas this year for the Grace Care center and its members a happy one indeed.
Call it a sabbatical if you will; I’d much prefer to look at it as if I fell into some vortex of a world that wasn’t necessarily perfect but pretty darn close. All year long I can remember myself praying, “Dear God, let me see mountains again!” Who knew He’d actually answer my prayer and not only give me a mere glimpse of them but actually allow me to live among them for twelve weeks! If that wasn’t enough, let me tell you about the food—if a man’s heart is truly won through his stomach, then I left my heart in Pegosa Springs along with the cooks. And then there were the people who ate the food with me: 30 students who I not only ate with but also studied with, worked with, played with, prayed with, laughed with, cried with, and truly lived with for three months. Such adventures we had and though I keep trying to remind myself that the end is only just the beginning, I honestly cannot believe it’s over . . .
There are some things in life I always want to remember and then there are some things I will never forget. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then not even a picture can express well enough what I felt while living in Colorado. Don’t get me wrong though. It’s wonderful being home again. Being back in the city, where this city boy probably belongs, I can tell how much I missed the rush of Houston traffic, the stress free life of a stay-at-home college student, the worry free . . . Who am I kidding? The answer is not at all! Still, it is very nice to be home again. And by home I mean where my heart truly lives among my family who all five brothers and one sister I call friends, and parents who I consider wise and wealthy with God’s providence. As much as I long to go back to the mountains, I’d be dragging them all up with me in a heartbeat if I knew that I could. But who knows? God knows and that’s enough to keep my hopes up. As fretful and anxious I may get from time to time, I know who controls my destiny. Ask a fellow minister of mine how to spell love and he’ll tell you, “T-I-M-E.”
So what about my work, my art in photography? Well, in the next several weeks I will be uploading a ton of photos to Flickr featuring most of my favoritest and bestest work from places as majestic as the Pegosa Spring Mountains, to as mystical as the Great Sand Dunes, and the misty Grand Canyon in winter. Also, I plan to feature some amazing HDR photos and a few portraitures I did so stay tuned for that as well.
And as for the world of video, I plan to upload a bunch of those too as long as I can manage time to edit and upload them all.
sigh of blissful content
I really can’t tell you how exactly I feel right now about everything. I feel amazing yet at the same time totally exhausted. I feel super happy and excited yet at the same time totally depressed. But I’m making due. It brings me overwhelming joy—which is quite possible to have when you’re feeling lonely and sad—to know how much my family and friends care about me. Though they may be near or far, I love each and every one of them with all my heart.
It really is good to be back . . .
And, as always, there will be plenty more to come!
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (NKJ)