Monday, June 19, 2017

A fall and a fail

Week six of term was not marked by much; a fairly typical crazy-busy week, except for my falling in a ditch and Ruthie and I taking the 7-9th graders out again on Friday night. It was the week that mid-terms were due, so I was doing a lot of marking trying to get everything I wanted on the report. I didn’t quite get it all done, but there sure is a lot of my work represented by those reports!

The Ditch: On Tuesday night I was heading over to the staff meeting, and as usual I was walking without a flashlight. As I crossed the playground, I saw a line of dirt that indicated they had been digging to lay either a pipe or some cable. Without remembering that that much dirt had to come from somewhere, I took a bit step over it with my left foot…and then my right slid into the concealed ditch and down I went. Luckily I didn’t twist anything and just scraped both legs pretty well, and there may have been some tea flung and a knit kit which had to be returned to me the next morning. I guess if I enjoy walking around at night without a flashlight, I have to be willing to accept those kinds of consequences from time to time!

Friday Night: When we took the seniors out, I made kettle corn for the first time (super easy and very satisfying!), and we had planned an evening of stargazing. I was going to set up the telescope, Ruthie was making hot chocolate, and it was all supposed to be nice and relaxing. Except, we managed to choose the one cloudy evening in dry season, and the kids were WIRED. So, there were lots of games that involved running around in the dark, and I found, surprisingly, that I am not 18 anymore. Let’s just say it’s taken a few days for the soreness to work it’s way out… That being said, the kids had a good time, and we'll just have to try for stargazing another time.

In station news, here is a picture of the workshop remodel; it will be interesting to see what it looks like when it's all done!

Parting shot: The new view on the way down to the river; the underbrush was cleared out to try to give a better view for those on supervision.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Week 5 of term was busy...

There isn’t a whole lot of interest to write about last week; I was busy, busy, busy! Several tests fell during that time, and my kids were pretty ‘hung over’ from half-term, so I had a pretty frustrating few days trying to get them back up to speed. This week I am working towards half-term marks being due, and I continue to fight the battle of fractions and percents.

On Friday, Ruthie and I took the grade 7-9 students ‘out’ for the evening and we watched Pixar’s Inside Out. I was very impressed when I finally got to watch it, and it has already sparked some good conversations with various kids at the table. I hope that it helped someone, and that it will open other doors with the older kids. I made cake mix fudge and Ruthie made popcorn; it was a nice treat to have a relaxed time with the older kids.

On Saturday, I put together a Powerpoint of the pictures we took of the girls on the photo scavenger hunt, and I had the 3-6th grade girls into my classroom to watch it at the start of craft time. They got a kick out of seeing what the different groups did to fulfill the prompts! We are already starting to think about what the next half-term’s activity will be; we want to keep building on and working with this group of girls.

This weekend I filled and fired up my new kerosene heater for the first time; it worked quite well! My cat was intrigued by it, convinced by turn that it was a scary beast when the kerosene gurgled down, and that it was the best invention for cat luxury because of the heat. So, I guess if it’s cat approved, then it is a good thing indeed!

Parting shot: The bougainvillea outside my classroom window is about due for a trim again, and I thought I’d capture the beauty while it’s still there!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Exhausted after a 'break'

Friday and Saturday of last week was our first half-term, and I am exhausted after the ‘break.’ I don’t usually end up being quite so busy, and while it as challenging, I feel like I connected with some kids in important ways over the weekend. So, what was I up to?

On Friday I started the day with early morning swim for the senior seniors at the dam; all 16 who were here came! I had forgotten to ask for a fire, but there was enough ‘hot air’ and I had made a bunch of hot chocolate, so no one got pneumonia (despite the claims!).

I then had a bit of time to work in my classroom before tea, and then I spent most of the time between tea and lunch planning a photo scavenger hunt for the grade 3-6 girls. After lunch I had some time to work on the marking that had piled up alarmingly, and then it was bag supper outside. The board was here having a meeting over Thursday and Friday, so they joined us for meals and got to visit a bit.

After supper I went up to the dorm to watch the second instalment of That Darn Cat with the kids, and then we had a fellowship time with the all the visitors, staff, and board members.

Saturday morning I put the finishing touches on the scavenger hunt, and then from 8:30 till 10 I had these lovely ladies in my company as we found the clues and took pictures together. Due to circumstances just now, it is rare to have such a small group of kids, and I feel that it was not only a lot of fun for the girls, but also a profitable time for them to enjoy some higher quality adult company.

During tea I had a few chores to do, and then it was down to the pool. I supervised silver-candy seal, and laughed a lot as I watched the spirited water fight among the senior students.

I had a brief break after lunch, then it was back down for river time where I surprised this 5th grader enjoying a book in the nook of a tree.

Sunday I had afternoon Sunday school and river duty again, so it was another long afternoon finishing with dishes and evening fellowship. This week was the Sunday when the grade 7-9’s join us, and we got to hear a moving testimony from one of our visitors.

So, it was a very busy weekend for me, but I feel like I made some good connections with different kids. This last week was a bad one for my shoulder, so I’m hoping that being a little less busy and a little less stressed will help that sort itself out again.

Parting shot: I was explaining to a second grader why I wouldn’t have time to do something on a Tuesday because I teach 5 classes, 3 piano lessons, have clean up and prep duty, and had a meeting to go to. To which he burst out, “Why can’t I do that much in a day?” That has had me laughing for the whole last week!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Birthday party, a birthday, and another busy week

Last week was a little intense as it was birthday party (early, I know). That meant that Tuesday, Wednesday (the actual day of), and Thursday were rather thrown off by the pre-cake, cake-day, and post-cakehead syndrome that afflicts our children three times a year. The theme was Russia, so I made a kokoshnik (Russian headdress),

and found time to sneak in and do a balalika birthday cake.

We had a Russian dinner including peroshki (huzzah!), and the kids as always produced some lovely art.

My birthday was this weekend, and as I was off, it was a lovely weekend indeed! Naps! Cooking! Movies with friends! Knitting time! Laundry! This is the stuff bliss is made of… Don’t worry, I didn’t do any marking after lunch on the actual day, but I got caught up this afternoon and evening. I got a few cards and gifts from students including this lovely item lovingly crafted for me by a grade 3. Not sure what to call it, but am tickled with her creativity!

This week will also be a little intense, as it is a four day school week with half-term on Friday and Saturday. So, the phrase that will be on my lips all week as I continue my overcoming inertia efforts will be, “GET IT DONE! Because I CAN and I WILL haul you in here over half-term!” So, prayers for some extra grace for me, and some extra ‘want to’ for my students would not go amiss!

Also, it is board meeting at the school this week, so there will be a lot of traveling and a day of intense discussion of school affairs on the board’s part. Please pray for wisdom for them as they have a difficult issue to discuss.

In just the last few days the weather has noticeably gotten colder at night—yay dry season! I’ve started pulling out socks in the evenings, and soon I’ll be firing up my new heater. Looking forward to what cold weather I can get—hand knits time!

Parting shot: Grade 2’s in music class working on their pictures as we listened to Pictures at an Exhibition.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

May 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

I know it’s been awhile, and a lot has happened since I wrote you last! I am back in Zambia after a wonderful, but very busy five months in the US on a much needed furlough. During those five months I made trips to Colorado, Tennessee, Georgia, Delaware, Indiana, Montana, and Canada. I got to go up Pike’s Peak, see Niagara Falls from both sides, and see the Liberty Bell. I had the opportunity to visit with many dear friends and family members, and I was able to find some much needed supplies to bring back to Zambia. I was able to get my shoulder seen to, attend a cousin’s wedding, and finally meet some dear saints who have been sending my supplies in container boxes for the last few years. I had to spend the night in an airport food court after a series of canceled flights, and had the opportunity to do some substitute teaching at a local Christian school. Yes, it was a very busy five months, but it was also a very wonderful five months.

There has been a lot of paper work I needed to do in the last two weeks, and the Lord has given great help. Before heading back up to Sakeji I was able to get my NRC (National Registration Card) so that I can continue the process of registering to teach in Zambia with the ECZ.

I also had to make a visit to immigration in Ikelenge to get my work permit extension stamped into my passport and certified copies made of my documents last week. Thankfully I was able to find the immigration officer, and get those items taken care of. Also, while I was in the States I took the Generalist 4-8 exam and passed it, so I have now added that qualification to my teachers certification. It is a relief to have all those details taken care of—now I should be fine for the next year and a half!

Once I got back up to the school, I had two and a half days to prepare for second term. This whole first week has been pretty intense; picking up old routines, figuring out where things are, evaluating what was accomplished during term 1. I have 11 6th graders to get to know, and 10 7th graders to continue a relationship with. The days continue to be long, but it is good to be back in my own classroom. This term will certainly have its challenges, but I also look forward to having a chance to impact these young lives.

As I go into this new term at Sakeji, here are some specific things you can pray for. Firstly, please pray for me and for wisdom as I settle back into all my routines and responsibilities. Secondly, a praise that my shoulder is much better after some medication and two massages, but prayer that I will be able to manage it wisely and keep it from getting so bad again. Thirdly, pray that I will know the Lord’s will very clearly over these next few months, and that I will be quick to obey His voice.

Thank you so much to all of your who pray for me, and particularly all the people who encouraged me, listened to me, and treated me to some North American luxuries while I was home. Without your support and prayers, I could not continue to serve. Thank you, and may the Lord bless you richly for your kindness to me.

May we be found faithful, wherever we are called to be!

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Teacher has Returned

Well, no matter how well I plan and how good my intentions are, I just can’t seem to manage the last few days of my furloughs as well as I would like! This time I got a grand two hours of sleep before loading up the car for that last drive to Dallas. I had been up late watching a last movie with my family, and then packing my bags and the tubs of my things that needed to be put in storage. I cried when I left my mom to head through security, and I cried when we took off from the state I love. Every time I leave, I am reminded again how deep those pine scented hills and friendly folks are woven into my heartstrings.

While long, my trip to Zambia was pretty uneventful. As usual I had a long layover in Dubai where I was provided with a hotel room so I could do the two things I most wanted in the whole world at that point—take a shower and sleep in a bed. I enjoyed my last Starbucks at the airport, and found the tinniest Nutella jar I’ve ever seen. One of these days I’m going to go out on a tour of Dubai…when I’m not so tired I’m nauseous!

I had two and a half days in Lusaka before heading up to the school, and I spent them with some dear family friends who cheerfully waited for me to get my report order, took me shopping, and treated me to a few last indulgences before heading up country. I am so thankful for their hospitality and kindness. As I have been processing through a lot of emotions and thoughts these last few days, the ‘buffer’ time was much needed. It is also good to be with people who have known me since I was a kindergartener, and who know and love my family.

Now that I’m back up at the school, I have been busy with cleaning in my house, unpacking, getting my classroom straightened out, and sorting through the many details that go into a beginning of term. These are of course compounded because I was away for a term! The students arrived back on Friday, and I spent a large portion of the day in my classroom working through lesson plans and projections. This is my first time with the new term schedule (opening on a weekend), and I’m looking forward to seeing how it works out.

Today was the first real day of classes, and while I could have used an extra half hour or so, it was a good day. I also had to make a run into Ikelenge to run various errands including a stop at immigration, the post office, pick up a basin of tomatoes for the school, and buy a few staple items for myself. All in all it was a productive day; I even got a nap in!

Parting shot: The view towards Kalene--so pretty!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Home...for another week!

I apparently haven't downloaded my pictures from Canada yet, and I didn't take that many because to be quite honest I was far too busy living, but I figured I should do another update on the wild life of Lina. First, a quick run-down of my Canadian trip:

* I was stranded at Laguardia Airport for 28 hours. This meant I spent the night partly on the floor and partly in the food court, and that I now would rather wrestle a yeti than go back there again.

* Beth rescued me, and we got to see Niagara Falls from both sides.
* The Canadian border guards take themselves VERY seriously.
* I got to hold four day old goat kids, drive a tractor, meet some alpacas, drink Timmies, and got a hair cut.
* It was beyond amazing to get to spend some time with Beth again; I have missed her terribly over the 16 months, and we spent a lot of time talking and knitting.

Now that I'm back Stateside, I have just over a week to fit in all the things I need to do before heading back. Sorting through and packing up personal items, buying the last few things on my list, writing a TExES exam to add the Core Subjects 4-8 to my teachers certification, and two more presentations. Prayers for strength and grace (for others and myself) as I process through the many lists, the many emotions, and make decisions about the next few months would be appreciated. The time went far too quickly...