Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A quick trip and school starts soon

Since the start of the 2018 school year was postponed, four of us single ladies decided that if we had potentially three more weeks of cooking for ourselves, we may as well head to Solwezi for a supply run. So, we gathered up lists for others on stations, wrote our own, and set off in the Patrol Sunday morning. There were some pretty awful parts on the sea of mud road before we reached the pavement, but with four-wheel drive, 8 years of experience driving on rainy season roads, and a lot of prayer we made it through. At one point there was huge piles of ‘gravel’ down the middle of the road and a truck stuck in the detour down each side. I had to off-road on the raised bank above the road; thankfully there wasn’t anything unpleasant lurking in the grass! We bought non-perishables, then headed back to the lodge to enjoy a lovely supper and a quiet evening. After breakfast we were greeted by this:

We’re still not sure exactly what happened, but obviously we couldn’t head into town like that! So, the cook and the gardener at the lodge changed the tire for us; thankfully we had all the tools in the car, and the spare was in good shape. That adventure over we went into Solwezi do visit a hardware store and get our perishable items. We checked the air pressure in our tires before leaving town (a good thing too—the spare was pretty low!) and headed back up country. The sea of mud road was actually a little drier than the day before, so we made it through with no problems. I have to admit I was pretty thankful to be back—as much fun as driving over swiss cheese roads and in hubcap deep mud is!

Today I helped with the Upper School bathroom renovation project; I finished the first coat and put the second coat of paint in the boy’s bathroom. I managed to not make too big of a mess, but my hands looked almost as Pollockesque as the vehicle had after driving to town.

Just as I was finishing up, I caught these rainbow clouds over Upper School; while there are frequently rainbows in the east this time of year, this delicate shimmer in the clouds to the west is more unusual.

School opening update: The government passed on a few days ago that private schools can open earlier, so we are looking at having our students arrive on January 22 and have classes start on the 23rd. I started working in my classroom today, but there is quite a bit more to do before the 2018 school year can start! Prayers for wisdom as we re-arrange our first term schedule, for the health inspection we need to be cleared to open the school, and help to finish up the big projects we started would be appreciated.

Parting shot: A little view out the window of the mission plane when I flew up to school a week ago.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

January 2018 Update and an Announcement

Dear friends and family,

I had originally planned to write a newsletter at the end of third term last year, but as I have some important updates to go give you I decided to wait until the new year. And then I found out that this year was not going to be starting as planned, so maybe it’s a good thing I waited! I was able to spend December in Texas; it was a wonderful time with family and friends, and I am so incredibly thankful to the Lord for making it possible. There were also several things I needed to do while I was Stateside, one of the most pressing of which was related to some ongoing health issues I have been having.

As you probably remember, I have been dealing with chronic pain in my right shoulder for the last three and a half years. While I was home I had two massage appointments to work on the big knot that spasms and causes me so much discomfort. Because I missed one of my appointments and had to reschedule, I had an appointment with a professional who because of her personal experience was able to more precisely diagnose the source of the pain and show me a new stretch to combat the issue. So, while my days of shoulder pain are not finished, I am encouraged to have more information and a practical way to work on managing the issue.

Another major struggle for the last four months has been an injury to my left ankle. When I wrote my last newsletter I was already dealing with it, but I figured it was a sprain that would clear up in a week or two and so didn’t mention it. There was no definite moment of injury, but a week before third term started it became extremely painful for me to walk. Being a teacher at a boarding school I couldn’t really do anything about being on my feet all day, so I toughed it out for two months before seeking the school nurse who gave me a wrap and had me take ibruphen to deal with the serious swelling I was experiencing. Since my ankle had only improved slightly, I had an appointment with a podiatrist right before heading back to Sakeji. Sadly, the news isn’t good. I have posterior tibial tendonitis, which means that I have almost worn out the major supporting tendon in my left foot. Some of the damage to the foot is unfortunately going to be permanent, but with a major brace and arch support there is hope for healing and a mobile life going forward. It was a pretty hard thing to hear and deal with, but the brace is already making a big difference in the amount of pain I deal with day to day, and I am hopeful that I will be able to take my much-missed daily walks again.

While I had a good trip back to Zambia, I arrived only to find that schools were not going to be opening in January because of a Cholera outbreak in Lusaka. At the moment the boards or education and health will be reassessing the situation on January 30th; we are praying that we will be able to go ahead and open the first weekend in February. If we are able to start school right away, we will have to extend two weeks into the holiday which will make what was planned to be a 10 week term a 9 week one and cut into the April holiday, but it seems to be the best way forward at the moment. So, prayers for wisdom as we await the government’s decision and try to prepare as best we can.

And now, I have one other important thing to share with you. After much prayer and seeking the Lord’s will over the last three years, I have decided that 2018 will be my last year at Sakeji Mission School. Just as it was absolutely right for me to head out on faith in 2010, is now time for me to again step out in faith. I do not know exactly what the Lord is calling me to next, but as I continue to pray over my future I have some ideas of what I want to do when I return to the States permanently in December. There are many circumstances that have lead to this decision including my health issues and the closure of my home church sometime this year. I am thankful for my time at Sakeji; while it has been far from easy, I have learned to much about myself, the Lord, and life in these years. I look forward to the next adventure He is calling me to, and know with confidence that He has prepared me through my time in Zambia.

So, please pray for healing physically, pray for wisdom to leave Sakeji well, and pray for strength and help during this time of transition as I have many decisions to make, many emotions to sort through, and many ends to tie up. I have a lot of big challenges facing me in my classroom this year, and I feel that I am specifically called for one more year to help certain students with big challenges of their own. I know that my God is faithful, and that He has been and always will be right beside me as I continue the adventure of a life lived for Him. Thank you so much for all your prayers, support, and encouragement over the years. As we go into 2018, may we each become a little more Christlike, and serve Him with all our hearts wherever He has called us.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 School year? DONE!

* The end of term program, What a Glorious Night, went well. We hope and pray that someone in the audience heard what they needed to that evening, and that the words of the songs and the text stirred everyone's hearts.

* I spent 3 days (4 really with the time changes) traveling and made it safely home last Thursday. We made it through to the pavement despite all the rain we had--a praise!

Travel is interesting with a sore ankle, but I managed. I slept better on the plan than I usually did, and I got some good sleep in Dubai.

* That wasn't the only thing I did in Dubai--I also went on a 2 hour tour of the city. Wow. Just wow.

Since getting home I have enjoyed sleep, putting up the family tree, starting to do a bit of shopping for Christmas and next year, and some time to put my feet up. I was so busy for the last month of term that having the time to read, to knit, to decorate, to just sit is such a blessing. I'm looking forward to catching up with friends and people here at home, and to having almost all my siblings home for Christmas. If I have learned nothing else in life, it is that people are so important. Flawed? Yes. But absolutely important. This Advent season as you listen to Christmas music, bake, decorate, go to programs, and buy gifts, don't forget to stop and love people. Because that is what Christmas is all about--the ultimate expression of love so that we would know how to.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Proof of life

I have been super busy lately and don't look to stop being busy anytime soon, so here is just a tinny blog update as proof of life!

I continue my treatment of my ankle; it is so frustrating to not be able to take my walks, but if this gets it cleared up for December than so be it. Overall I would say things continue to improve, but there are still some days when being on my feet all day is a bit of a challenge.

This last week I made the first staff photo ID's for the school; interesting experience. Discounts, here we come!

I rehearsed a part for the Christmas program with the senior girls rally group on Friday, and watched them decorate cookies for the program reception. Lots of reminders NOT to lick their fingers!

I had a super productive and slightly restful weekend 'off,' and enjoyed the first flame lilies blooming up by the girl's dorm.

This week is, as previously mentioned, super insane as it is exams/report cards, plus trying to get a (at this moment) very shaky program off the ground. Prayers for sanity, peace, and strength to get through it are much appreciated!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Half-term, and an update

First, a two minute health update: I had the school nurse check it out, and apparently the two big ligaments that connect in the inside of my left ankle are what the issue, and there is a lot of swelling. So, wrapping while walking and standing, ibuprofen, and taking a week totally off from recreational walks, and more icing is what we are doing to try and keep the swelling down enough that it can heal up. So, prayers that this will help and that I have only strained and not torn my ligaments would be appreciated! I have a lot I need to do in the next...um...I was going to say 3 weeks, but really the rest of my life. And I'd like to be able to do it without limping and pain!

Monday and Tuesday last week were half-term, the last interruption holiday of term. Now it's just a straight shot through the last three week! I didn't take a lot of pictures over half-term; I was pretty busy. Ruthie and I made sleds and key ornaments with the 5th and 6th grade girls--an interesting morning!

Some other staff members set up a live 'Angry Birds' game--the kids loved it! They also found out it was harder to shoot with the big slingshot than they had thought...

Ruthie, Anna, and I took the gr 7-9's out for an evening in which we finished watching Hidden Figures and then played "Heads Up." We think our hearing might come back in time...the kids got pretty intense with it!

The grade 7 national exams are over--PRAISE THE LORD!, so now it is down to the business of finishing off the school year well. There are some things with students that need to be decided, and of course a million and one things that need to happen before I can head home for the holidays. Prayers for strength, sanity, and grace are appreciated!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Catch up, a praise, and a prayer request

Sorry about last week folks; the story of this term is barely averted burial alive under marking/responsibility mountain, and with Tuesday being taken up by Independence Day, I just didn’t recover enough until this weekend…when I was blessedly off again. So, to sum up:

Independence Day happened! Swimming, king of the plank, bonfire, good day.

A fantastic grasshopper was discovered and enjoyed,

And we started some Christmas crafts in handwork.

Ever since I arrived back in the country in early May, I have been praying earnestly that the funds would be there for me to go home for Christmas. Yes, I was just in the States. However, there are some things I need to do that I can only do from that end of the ocean, and after the two term I’ve had, it’s the only I way I know of to actually get a break (you’re never truly on break while you’re in the country). When I first opened my remittance this month I was crushed because it wasn’t going to be responsible to buy that plane ticket. And then, the next day, the Lord provided a way for me to go home for Christmas. So, with much thanksgiving, I’m starting to set some things aside for going HOME!

Finally, a prayer request. I haven’t mentioned this yet because I never in a million years dreamed it would go on so long, but I injured my left ankle pretty significantly a little over 9 weeks ago, and it is still really troubling me. I can walk and I have some good stretches over the day when it hardly hurts, but then other times I’m reduced to limping along at rather less than my normal speed. I have no idea what I did to initially injure it, but I am so ready for it to be healed. As a teacher, I spent great chucks of every day on my sore foot, and spend lots of time walking around the very uneven grounds of the station. Prayers that it will heal up before I fly and head home for December would be very much appreciated!

Only three more weeks!

Monday, October 23, 2017

A rough week with good spots

Last week was…difficult to put it simply. There was a lot of frustration, I was very tired, and let’s just say it was a good thing I had the weekend off and could barricade myself in my house for all of Sunday to recover. So, here a few good things about last week.

I now have an ANTIBACTERIAL STAPLER in my classroom. I can’t believe it has taken us so long to some up with this obviously necessary piece of equipment, and I am so glad I can rest assured that I won’t be spreading the plague via my stapler.

We are wrapping up our physics/simple machines science unit, and my students got to 'reinvent the wheel' last week.

I found a huge beetle while inspecting clean-up one afternoon; it made a terrific noise!

I captured it and took it down to show the grade 1’s as they have been really into bugs this term. I love showing young kids cool things; they are so enthusiastic!

One of the junior boys found this delightful chameleon who showed his displeasure at being captured by going yellow and curling his tail most charmingly.

Parting shot: This bush at the end of my house is a cheery welcome when I come home every evening!