Monday, March 19, 2018

Birthday Party and Some Student Art

Sorry for the lack of update last week; I struggled through that week and there really wasn't much to say about it. This last week was birthday party--a three day trial for teachers, and an interesting study in the absorption and reaction to sugar in children. The theme was Zambia, and my table's cake was a pineapple. No, I didn't make it; I was waaaay too busy on cake decorating day!

There was some lovely art as always decorating the dining hall; this is one of my student's pastel drawing of a lion.

This week in history class we tried out hands at writing in cuneiform; I am so fascinated by how intricate this photographic writing packed on little clay tablets was!

For St. Patrick's Day on Saturday, I made Celtic knots with my 3rd and 4th grade girls. It was a stretch for a few of them, but I was pretty pleased with the results as a whole.

Last week one of the 4th grade girls broke her arm; it's been a bit of a process, but as of today she's all casted and ready to finish off the last two weeks of school. It's really amazing, all things considered, how *few* injuries we have!

If you think about it, prayers for this weary, battered teacher as she tackles the last two weeks of a brutal term would be appreciated. I have so many challenges in my classroom right now that I feel overwhelmed and inadequate on a minutely basis; there is just so much need. I know I could never be all even one person needs, but it's hard to know where to lay down the sword in this oh so important fight for these young lives.

There is also a lot to think about in the next month--my taxes (always a fun challenge for someone living overseas and being self-employed!), buying my ticket for my trip home for my sister's wedding, a much needed trip to town to get new shoes, and continuing to think and plan for the future. I'm trying to be wise as well as trusting of the Lord, and once I have a free minute to think about something other than my students I expect things to hit a little harder.

Parting shot: Some more of the string art Ruthie and I did with the kids over half-term; a few more were finished up this weekend.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

I life my eyes unto the hills

Last week was the kind of week that makes you reconsider your vocation, throw around the idea of changing your name and running away to a deserted island somewhere, or wonder if there would be enough parents or teachers on the jury to acquit you. A week where I was lied to by my students, stolen from by my students, had an unknown number of students cheat, had every last nerve and a few I didn't know I had stood on, endured way too much pre-school level behavior from my middle schoolers (you don't want to know), and basically was worn down till I wasn't sure I could face a weekend on. I spent almost the whole weekend supervising kids (thank goodness my longest weekend is on is now over!), and as I was taking my laundry home to hang it up Saturday evening (because I didn't have time before), I looked up and saw this:

One of the reasons I love my exercise time on the airstrip so much, is the wild skies here remind me to look up and marvel at the greatness of our God. While I love East Texas passionately, it is rare to get the kind of sweeping views of the sky and the fantastic cloud sculptures at home that we get out here. Looking up is a physical and a spiritual reminder that there is more to life than what is on the ground and bogging me down right now. It is a reminder that I serve a God who paints the sky with fire--because it's beautiful. I serve a God who sweeps the sky clean after a storm and adorns it with a double rainbow. I serve a God who is so much bigger than me, that whatever I've got on my plate, I can bear because of Him. Thankfully 'Jonah' weeks come to an end, students adjust their behavior, and teachers get a bit of desperately needed sleep. As we go into the back half of this very trying term, I'm going to keep working on looking up--looking above my struggle at my Savior who said that His yoke was easy, and His burden light. The One who has promised to never leave or forsake me, and who wants the best for these kids more than I ever could. Excelsior!

Monday, February 26, 2018


It was a busy week leading up to half-term; my students had their science exam and half literature exam (I give them two shorter ones and average them). It rained for early morning swim, but that did not diminish the kids enjoyment of the novelty of jumping in the dam before breakfast, and it rained after tea so they had to play up at the school for the morning instead of going swimming as usual. We served lunch in the covered play area; loud, and it did require a lot of taking balls away while we were eating, but a much better space than the chotas down at the river.

On Saturday Ruthie helped me do string art with the 5-6 girls; it turned out really well!

I got some relaxing done over half-term (naps are the best) including the leaf projects my students did to finish off our botany unit.

Now it's back to schoolwork again; hopefully the kids get back in the groove quickly! It's hard to believe we're past the half-way mark for term 1...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Hearts, questionable activities, and a busy weekend

This week has been interesting. Valentine’s day was a lot of fun with cards appearing all day on my desk from different students. The kids had a lot of fun showing their appreciation for friends and teachers, and there was a nice air of brotherly love going around. Sadly, they did not put the same enthusiasm into their work, so we have been trying to get back on the right foot ever since.

I was on this weekend, and in addition to dealing with the usual supervision things, I found that someone had pooped in the trashcan in the hall bathroom, and some has been emptying out all the hand soap and filling the dispenser with water. What even?

Oh the good side of things, my two kids who are on probation are going to be able to stay in 7th grade, and thought it stormed most afternoons, I’ve found a low-impact workout that I can mostly do (who knew how much you use your tendons for lunges?) when I can’t bike. Oh, and here is the bike:

It’s nothing fancy, but I am very grateful for it. Even though it does take up a lot of room in my kitchen…

Half-term is Friday and Saturday of this week, and it’s midterm marks time, so my kids have several tests and a leaf collection project due this week. Should be interesting!

If you think about it, please pray for the kids. There has been a lot of immature and plain mean behavior lately--more than usual. Pray for us that we will with grace dispense justice, and that we will help root out these character flaws in our students.

Parting shot: I got a big kick out of watching some first and second graders play doctor while on Sunday morning supervision. There was a dramatic death scene, ‘shots’, and careful knee reflex checking! I love it when kids play imaginatively like that.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A tale of two chairs and some little girls indulge in hearts

In the 8 years I have taught in this classroom, my main chair at my desk has become progressively more and more shabby. And, I can tell you from long experience, marathon marking and report writing sessions in it were not comfortable affairs!

The goods from the fall container just arrived and are being distributed, and LOOK! The lovely folks at Subury sent me an office chair! It has some miles on it, but it is sooo much better than the one I had. A little cleaning and Fabreeze, and it’s good to go. It is truly the little things in life that make all the difference.

I was touched when the headmaster found and refurbished a bike that was tall enough for me. I’ve taken it for two test runs, and it has been exhilarating to have a physical outlet again, and to not feel earthbound. Five months is a long time to feel like that…

On Saturday, as I have grade 3 and 4 girls, we made Valentines in craft. Because if you know anything at all about that age group, Valentines are right up their alley! I have such good memories of making Valentines with my siblings as a kid; I wanted these girls to have some of that too.

Last week was extremely challenging; many of my students are struggling to adjust to grade 6, or they probably really shouldn’t have passed grade 5. I was in a lot of pain from my shoulder (stress is NOT good for it), and there was a lot of immature behavior on top of the other issues. On the other hand, there were some little successes that showed that the battle is not in vain. Prayers for patience, strength, and wisdom for me would be appreciated! I am so thankful for the rest I got this weekend; it has been a long time since my soul found such peace. Okay God, I can do this week—but only with You!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Life is sure full of interesting sometimes...

So, as I write this, I am currently without a working toilet in my house because over the last 8 years roots have taken over my soak-away system to the point where nothing was going down anymore. A valiant crew of plumbers worked all morning on it, and had started to make a little headway apparently, but it's going to be a huge job to get it all sorted out. So, until then, I'm trekking to the guest block to answer the call of nature. I'm really praying it is only another day or two--who knew how beautiful flushing toilets really were?

My infected toe is improving a bit with my regimen of saltwater soaks and antibiotic ointment. It doesn't hurt as much to walk around, and so I'm optimistic and praying that it will soon clear up. Having spent several years suffering from toe issues, I'm being aggressive now!

On Sunday I did something I haven't done for 12 years--rode a bike. I'm trying to find a form of exercise that won't strain my tendinitis, and so I went into the bike shed and found the biggest bike I could. Sadly, it was still rather too small for me, so the strain on certain muscle groups was pretty intense. I thought I might die before I made it back down the long end of the airstrip, but I didn't fall off which I had sort of been afraid I would, and I got a good work out! Today my ankle has been sorer than usual, so I stuck with housecleaning as my cardio. There was quite a bit of dirt tracked in by the plumbing rescue squad...

Parting shot: One of my favorite projects to do with my kids is these mobiles that remember the good things from the year past and set some goals for this year.

Monday, January 29, 2018

How do you eat an elephant?

I, like I suspect pretty much every adult who works with children, have a stock of phrases or saying I pull out at all applicable occasions. Some of them were handed down from my parents, who learned them from their parents, and back in a chain probably to the dawn of parenting. Some of them are things I’ve picked up over the last few years, and some of them like one of my current favorites, “Head. Use.” is the product of my own crazy teacher mind. Another thing I’ve said a lot to my students over the last year or so, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is of course, “One bite at a time,” meaning that big tasks are possible if you tackled them bit by bit. Well, this year I’ve got more than one elephant sized challenge in my classroom, and I’ve had to remind myself about this truth many times over the last few days.

This year I have two students repeating grade 6; one is taking it well, and one isn’t. I have at least three if not four students with significant learning challenges. One of my students is very intelligent, but his brain is wired in a way that makes being a student and a part of a classroom community very difficult. One of my students who can least afford it missed the whole first week of school. One of my students is convinced she is the center of the universe, and my primary job is to attend on her highness. Two of my 7th graders are only in 7th grade provisionally, and they had a pretty unimpressive first week of school. So yeah, I have more than one elephant sitting at my table.

But this I know. God has asked me to be here for this last year for a purpose, and as much as I don’t feel like I have the energy to tackled this many elephants at once on top of trying to wrap up my time here well, this is not an accident. While I can’t ‘fix’ all these kids in 9 months, I can make a difference. I can teach them to be more responsible, better students, and help them to grow. So, while I almost had to breath into a paper bag a few times last week as the enormity of what I have taken on would suddenly become apparent, I’m going to do the best I can do…which is all God asks of me. Okay elephants—one bite at a time!

Quick health update: The brace is helping, but these last two weeks of prepping for and starting school have been hard on my tendonitis. And, the shoes I was wearing so I could have the arch support insoles, irritated my big toe, so it got infected. I’m trying to get that cleared up again since I have a history of bad infections in that toe, but it’s going to be hard to balance having arch support and letting that toe heal. I’m thankful that I was off this weekend and so could attend to my foot problems a little more intentionally than I would if I was on duty. So, please continue to pray that my tendonitis will heal, and that I’ll be able to make do with the shoes I have out here.

The bathroom renovation project continues--can't wait to have working bathrooms at Upper School again!

Students hard at work.