Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A day at Sakeji-

Wow—I managed to survive another Tuesday! Tuesday is my hardest/longest/most challenging day, so making it to the evening without falling over is always a triumph! Here is what I was doing all day:

6:05—My alarm goes off. I fumble with my mosquito net, turn off the alarm, roll out of bed and go to the kitchen to let Ceili out. She made another puddle last night, so I stick her nose in it, smack her and say, “Bad dog!” She tucks her tail between her legs and whines until I let her go so I can unlock the door and send her out. I get dressed, gather up the marking I worked on until late last night, and head for breakfast about 6:55.
7:00—Breakfast in the dinning hall. I have a little first grade boy beside me who takes constant watching. He has managed to get himself and most of the table around him thoroughly sticky with honey these past few mornings, so I’m trying to catch him and remind him that one spoon of honey on his rice cake is enough!
7:25—I’m making copies and a transparency to use in Social Studies class—we’re studying Mexico this term and we need to label some land forms.
7:40—I lead singing assembly. Tuesday thru Thrusday is singing assmebly, Monday and Friday are for character qualities, and Friday is also for giving out certificates. I have the kids walk out to class singing “I have decided to follow Jesus.” They sing so beautifully and with such amazing harmony—I wish everyone had as good an ear for music!
8:00—First period. I have literature with the 6th graders while the 5th graders have grammar next door. We read the story “It Happened on the Brooklyn Subway” and talk about chance and God working things out.
8:40—5th grade comes back in and we switch to math. Saturday was a math test, so we start the new topic—properties of addition before handing back the math books with their test grades. I use the kids as manipulative to illustrate the different properties we’re studying, and then I send them back to their desks to look at their grade and start their homework. I’m letting them do corrections for half credit to raise their grade today only—tomorrow it is too late. We’re working on getting things turned in on time right now...
9:20—Third period. We put up the math books and get out our social studies duotangs (three ring folders). We work on labeling the landforms of Mexico as well as some of the major cities. I warm them that a map test is in their near future. We shall see how far to heart that took that hint!
10:00—Morning tea. A welcome break to grab some tea and a snack and visit with the other staff. We talk about people traveling, missing parts for the tipper that have finally been located, issues with students, and details of the day. After closing in prayer its back to the classroom.
10:30—Fourth period. We have reading response today, and I play some music as the kids write. I’ve found that the music helps them to focus and cuts down on talking and wasting time. Reading response is where they write to me about books they are reading and then I respond back. Its kind of a fun private letter throughout the term, but it takes a lot time to respond back to 16 kids! I enjoy the little break though.
11:15—Fifth period. 6th grade goes for grammar while I have 5th grade for literature. We read the story “Boar out there” and work on timelines of their lives. 6th grade is doing the unit on journeys, and 5th is doing growing and changing. Several of the 5th graders make beautiful timelines—I’ll put them up on the board this week for everyone to admire.
11:55—Normally we would be about ready to dismiss for lunch, but today we have a fire drill. The bell at upper school starts to ring continuously, and I hustle my kids out of the classroom closing windows and the door on my way out. Its takes about 2 ½ minutes to get the whole school assembled in front of the hall, and then Bethany calls role to make sure everyone was there. My kids later indignantly wanted to know if I had known about it in advance. Ha!
12:10—Lunch. Today its Spaghetti, Garlic bread, green beans, squash, and carrots with chocolate pudding for desert.
12:30—The kids are hading up for rest hour, and I head to my house to get some things to make animal cards to use in music this afternoon. I spend rest hour in the admin copying, pasting, and laminating with Beth’s help. We finish just before the bell rings again.
1:30—Sixth period. I have the 1st and 2nd graders for music. We play “The Old Gray Cat,” review things from last week, and talk about quarter notes and quarter rests. We finish by starting to work with the animal cards. I have to explain what sound a turkey makes!
2:15—Seventh period. 3rd and 4th grade come charging up from Lower School—apparently News was really exciting today. We play some games to let them get the wiggles out and review things from last week. I might send them for a marching lap or two before coming in next week to burn off some of that energy!
3:00—Afternoon tea. I go over to the chotta by the dinning hall and enjoy the break.
3:30—Afternoon prep. I go into my room even though I’m not on, and answer some math questions. Prep is homework time, and I remind my kids that they need to be completely caught up by the end of today. We shall see how that goes...
4:00—Piano lessons. This time is free games for everyone else, but the seniors who signed up to take music lessons at this time. I have Natasha Phiri, a 7th grader who is just starting piano. 5th grade will be allowed to take next term after having some time to settle in, and apparently no 6th graders wanted to take. I work with her for 45 minutes, and then head down to the house to let Ceili off her rope and fetch some things for my classroom.
5:30—Supper. Today there are bowls of pineapple and fruit at the kids places instead of having them go for fruit—my little first grade boy asked me if he could “Please touch my desert” as he wanted to eat his pineapple with his hands. The kids have to ask to start their desert when it is already dished out for them.
5:45—I make quick stop in the classroom for books to mark and head back down to Valley View (my house). I let Ceili out, make up a big pot of dog food with rice and the meat Vickie gave me, and spend some time with Ceili. She’s been a bit neglected as of late, so I give her some loving and relax a little. She chases a Zozo (LARGE black ant), and soon the characteristic odor fills the evening air. Normally there would be a staff meeting at 7:45 up in the main sitting room, but as there wasn’t anything to discuss other than the fire drill, it is canceled for this week (last week we had 12 points to discuss on the agenda—it was a loooooooong meeting.)
7:00ish—Beth comes home from marking, and we take Ceili on a walk behind the dorm, past sick bay (where we pick up some yeast from Mrs. Ronald) and almost to the bridge, left to the dam, and then back up past Bethany and Mrs. Loudon’s house. The steep hill up about does us in—we’re both out of shape and the altitude sure doesn’t help, but we needed the exercises. We get home and make a pot of tea while I soak my foot. I go ahead and use hot water from the tap, hoping it won’t empty the solar tank too much as we both want a shower. Beth cuts up the pineapple one of her parents former workers brought us last Friday, and we mark and savor the unforgettable taste of Sakeji pineapple. We both shower (there was enough hot water!) and work on letter writing until we go to bed a little before 10pm. I let the dog out one more time in hopes that there will be a clean kitchen floor in the morning, and then read in bed for a bit to let the gunk in my chest sort itself out before turning out my light and closing my net.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Saturday night was not my night. A storm was brewing, and lighting was flashing in the distance. On the way home from video I apparently stepped in a hole, my ankle gave way and I fell all over the road. I skinned my knee pretty good, but I was more worried about how I slammed the bag with my laptop, speakers, and I-pod down as I fell. Luckily nothing other than my knee was harmed. When we got home, we let Ceili in the house as a storm was obviously brewing. We have Ceili trained so that she only comes in the kitchen, and normally she is pretty good about it. We generally only let her in the house overnight, and she is pretty good about not messing in there, or at the very least restricting herself to one puddle. That night she started barking, and then came into the living room twice. We threw her back and told her, "You know you can't be in here—Kitchen!" Well, we went in the kitchen shortly after, and found that apparently she had eaten something that disagreed with her... Her poo was runny and very gross. We felt really bad then that we had been mad at her when she was apparently asking to go out! The storm continued to come towards us, and about 8:30-9 it started to rain.

After we cleaned up the floor, we were in the kitchen making tea, when the 240 power went out. So, we were there in the pitch dark trying to find the flashlight or matches. Beth found the matches, but she opened them upside down! We finally got the stove lit and found the 110 light switch. The 110 stayed on for about another hour and a half which really surprised us as it tends to go out at the first flicker of lightning. It had been raining really hard since about 9, but after the 110 went off the lightning got really spectacular. Beth and I sat in the dark living room watching the lighting and cringing as the thunder crashed over us. The lighting was striking practically in our backyard, and the walls were shaking and the window’s rattling. Beth started to video the backyard because it was so amazing to watch it get lit up bright as day in the flashes. One flash in particular was so bright that it sent both of us crouching behind the couch and then laughing at ourselves for being scared. I’m pretty sure that flash also lit one of the light bulbs in the dinning room for a few seconds.

We watched the storm for awhile longer before singing some hymns to drown out the rain and thunder, and then finally going to bed. We were sure that Jill would have been up comforting terrified kids all night, but most of them slept right through it. Lucky! I’ve never felt to exposed and vulnerable to a storm before. Everything seems so much more real out here—the sky is close, the sun is more intense, and the storms are so powerful and THERE. I remember the verse in “O Worship the King” that talks about the wings of the storm. After living through that intense evening, I have a new appreciation for the power of God!

I’m going to try and post about a typical day at Sakeji, as well as my schedule so y’all have some idea of how I fell my days! I might also do a ‘Kid of the Day’ feature where I introduce my students, but that’s going to depend on time and probably borrowing Beth’s camera as my cord is still in Texas. I hope you all have a blessed week, and thanks again for all your prayers and e-mails!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Still Alive...

I'm still alive, but very busy! I'm trying to stay one step ahead of my students, keep up with marking (note--handwritting takes a LOOOOOONG time), and take care of my puppy. Beth and I are having so much fun in our little house, and we're both enjoying the lush beauty of the area as well as the weather. We both have a knack for leaving our umbrellas at home when its raining, so we've gotten wet more than once walking to and fro!
Ceili is still doing well--we're working on training her to sit and stay before eating, and not leaving puddles in the kitchen overnight. She was doing so good! Our toilet was having problems and was out of commission for a day, but its back and flushing better than ever, so we are very thankful. I'm also enjoying my new matress--I've never slept on a new mattress before!
Well, marking is calling my name so I had better go. Thanks for reading and all your comments!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And the big news is...

I have a puppy!

Dear Friends and Family,

Yesterday, January 12, most of the children arrived and started to settle in. And, on the noon flight, rather sick and stinky from being sick, were the two puppies we had requested from Kitwe. The Ronald kids sort of chose theirs and my puppy came up to me first, so I think all things considered it worked out for the best. The newest member of my household is a rotweiler doberman cross named Ceili (Kay-lee). She is a little over two months old, and very, very cute. She has great big feet (she’s going to be a BIG dog!), a very long tail, and large ears. Beth and I kept her in the kitchen last night, and then in the closed off porch today. We gave her a bath last night (which she was not happy about but she STANK) and then let her dry a bit on the porch. She has been very good about only going outside except overnight last night. When I got up this morning, I found three piles and one puddle and a very excited puppy. We’ve decided that the kitchen is as far in the house as she is allowed, and that she will primarily be an outside dog. I took her to meet my 5th and 6th grade class this morning, and then down to the pool this afternoon while the kids swam. She is very friendly with them and seems to enjoy having them pet her which is very good. It takes a lot of energy to look after a puppy at the best of times, but she has sure been a lot of fun in the day we’ve had her. Plus, having Beth here means that there is someone to help me keep up with her.

Today was the first day of school, and on the whole it went well. We had a bit of excitement down at the river with one of the new students who did not know the rules, but it all turned out happily in the end. I am the homeroom teacher of the 5th and 6th grade students, so I went over expectations, schedule, and passed out the workbooks they are going to be using for my classes. I remember some of those kids when they were in 1st and 2nd grade—how they’ve grown! I look forward to getting to know them all better as well as getting comfortable with the rules again!

I know you all want to see pictures, so here they are. They’re small because I’m trying to save bandwidth, and these will be the only ones for awhile because I left my camera cord in Texas somehow and haven’t found anyone with the same camera yet. Beth’s laptop is a newer one where there is a slot for cards, and we put my card in there, but it was too small, so some of the guys ended up having to take apart her computer to get it out... So, more pictures of Ceili will follow, but I’ll have to get them from Beth’s camera.

This is a picture of the road we drove up—this is after Mwunilunga where the pavement ends. There is no ways for pictures to do the roads justice—they must be driven over to be believed!

Here are some pictures of my little house, Valley View. These were all taken that first night, so there isn’t much of our stuff out. This is the kitchen,

Through the door and to the left is the dinning room area,
And then round to the left again is the living room.
This is my room with the mosquito net that was in the house to start with—I have since hung mine which is much prettier. I actually enjoy sleeping under a mosquito net—its a little like being a princess and it makes me feel (somewhat irrationally) more secure. Funny how the thought of creepie crawlies in the night is so disturbing...
This is my classroom as it was when I found it. I have since re-arranged the desks and re-done a lot of the bulletin boards—once again, more pictures will follow.
This is Ceili with Beth,
She is such a cutie! More pictures to follow--trying to not crash the internet!

Thanks so much for all your love and prayers—this week is full of challenges because everyone is getting into a routine, but so far it has been a good start of term. This weekend Beth and I hope to go to Ikelegne to pick up a few things such as umbrellas (yes, we are both that stupid! We didn’t buy umbrellas in Lusaka when we KNEW it was rainy season) and cell phones (which would have been nice during the excitement today!). Thankfully this weekend is our weekend off (the staff are one two teams which take turns doing weekend duities) we we’ll have a little more time with the puppy. Hope you all are doing well, and thanks so much for all your prayers and e-mails. I’m trying to get back to all of you—if you e-mailed me and I haven’t gotten back, I’m working on it in my spare moments!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In which we try cooking by the seat of our pants...

Today Beth and I rode with the Ronald’s to the assembly in Ikelenge. It was a nice church service, and we both had fun reacquainting ourselves with singing in Lunda. Some of those words are so long and have so many syllables that it can be quite a challenge to get them all out. Not to mention the fact that even familiar tunes have been ‘afracanized!’ It was so good to hear the beautiful singing again as well as to greet the brothers and sisters in the Lord. Apparently Beth and I have our work cut out for us—we are expected to learn Lunda, and on the double!

Last night we made a casserole with what we had in our cupboards (quite an odd assortment I can tell you!) as well as some fresh vegitables we found in the garden. We weren’t sure how it would turn out, but it ended up being delicious. We wrote down the recipe and plan to make it again. Here is it for those of you who might be interested:

Lina and Beth’s Losu Casserole

½ cup uncooked losu (rice) (ends up being 2 cups cooked)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tin ham (tuna can sized)
3 small carrots
1 ½ handfuls of snapped green beans
Spring onion to taste
1 red pepper
Good dash of Italian herbs mix
Dash of garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste (we added a bit of salt as we were eating, but it doesn’t really need it)

Cook the rice and boil carrots and beans until slightly soft. Chop up ham and put in a bowl with the soup, seasonings, and pepper. Add rice and drained vegetables and put in a glass dish and bake at about 350(f) for roughly 15 minuets. Will serve about 4, or 2 hungry teachers with some leftovers.

This afternoon and evening are staff meetings both to plan out the term, and as a time to fellowship together. I’m looking forward to seeing the term take shape, and it will be nice to get to spend time with everyone. The children will be arriving on Tuesday, and there is still a lot to do to get ready. We would all appreciate your prayers as we plan and start this term. I will post pictures of the house this week, but as bandwidth is limited I’m trying to not use too much the beginning of the week! Thanks for all your comments and prayers—they mean a lot.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I spent k60,000 for lunch!

Ha, today while Beth and I were shopping, we had a lot of fun trying to get our heads arround the roughly k4600 to the US$ exchange rate. I think we have everything we need, and whatever we don't we'll either get there or do without. My card is still frozen as the bank isn't open back home yet, but luckily Beth had enough cash to change so we could go shopping, and once I get some more cash I'll pay her back. Now I just need to finish repacking for the trip up to Sakeji so Mr. Ronald can load the trailer.

I went into imigration this morning to get my work permit, and I was able to pick it up with no problems. I had to leave to go make photo copies of some pages to bring back to them, but that is pretty typical of Zambia. Watching the way they threw folders arround and shuffled papers its a wonder anyone ever gets anything done! I now have a very offical looking, passport sized booklet with the seal of Zambia on the front--yay!

Lunch was a large (what we could consider a medium) pizza by the way--chicken and mushroom with a sort of creamy honey mustard sauce. Not exactally pizza hut, but pretty good! I also splurged and got a Coke since I figured it might be awhile till I got another. Well, once again my bags are failing to pack themselves, so I had better run.

Pictures are coming, but all my cords are at the bottom of a bag that I don't want to open for fear that I won't be able to get it closed again!

In which is is a very good thing that I know how to use the Tube, and God provided through a random stranger.

I’m feeling much more like myself now—most of the jet lag has worn off and I should soon be back at 100%. As some of you know, I had quite an experience in London. I arrived about 10 in the morning, went through customs with no problems, and left my laptop bag at one of those excess baggage places where they charge you eight pounds to leave your luggage for 24 hours so you don’t have to lug it around with you while sight seeing. I bought an all day tube pass for all six zones with the pounds I had left over from two summers ago, and happily embarked on my little adventure. I arrived at Victoria station and decided to walk down to Westminster Abbey from there since I wanted to stretch out and also I wanted to see about something to eat as well as find an ATM. I have never had any problems with getting cash internationally, so imagine my surprise to find that both of my accounts had been frozen!

This presented quite a quandary as I had only about six pounds to my name, and only $1 in cash on me. I tried a few other ATM’s just to make sure that they were really and truly frozen, and then I found a phone booth and gave my mom a very brief call letting her know my predicament. I forgot it was New Years day and therefore it was unlikely that she would be able to do anything about it. I continued on down to the Abbey, and decided that I would ask at the gift shop for help finding an internet cafe so I could e-mail my mom my account info. I of course forgot to take into account the fact that my family was traveling that day and wouldn’t be able to do anything. I was told there was one on Trafalgar Square, so I left to head that way. As I walked out of the gift store I remembered that the Methodist Central Hall was right there, so I thought maybe I would see if someone there could help me out either with letting me use the phone, or perhaps giving me enough money to get my bag out of storage. Well, they too were closed! During this time I encountered a parade which I continued to meet as I went through the city. I decided to walk down past the houses of Parliament to reach the nearest tube station to Trafalgar square, and once I arrived I remembered the fact that my family was traveling, and therefore finding the internet cafe was a moot point. I also noticed that the National Gallery was closed.

So, I walked over and vainly tried another ATM, and while I was there, an middle aged man was using the one next to me. I said something like, “No!” or “Argh!” when this one too failed to yield any money, and he looked over at me and said, “Sorry.” I found myself telling him that I was just passing through and they had frozen my card and I was needed to call my mom. I must have looked really pittiful, becuase he looked at me, reached in his wallet, said, “In the spirit of the season,” and gave me a ten pound note. As he walked off I stood there stunned at his generosity and realized that now I had enough to get my bag out of storage as well as call my poor worried mother and tell her that I was alright.

I walked around some more, found myself on the banks of the Thames, went round the back side of the houses of Parliament, walked back up to Victoria station, and began the long ride back to Heathrow. Once I got there I redeemed my bag, went through security again, found my gate (Heathrow is the most annoying airport every—you have to go up and down and up and down and up and down again to get anywhere), and called my mom with most of the rest of my change. After that I easily found the Ronalds, the family who was going to take up to Sakeji with them, and we easily made our flight to Lusaka.

As I said in my e-mail, my seat mate was throwing up all night. It wasn’t great quantities, and he was pretty quiet about it, but it still was a little unsettling. I really should have asked to be moved like the girl in the row across from me. There was a big Zambian man sitting in the middle of her row, and she was feeling rather squashed. It turns out the girl on the other side of him was Beth who was is heading out to Sakeji, so we were all on the same flight. The girl who moved ended up doing the right thing as the Zambian proceeded to drink six bottles of wine, snore VERY loudly, and talk in his sleep all night. He was very talkative and chatted with me until I switched from the isle to the window seat (so my poor sick seatmate could get up easier) and then he talked with Beth and made it very hard for her to sleep.

We arrived in Lusaka about 6:40 in the morning, and all got through immigration in pretty good time and found to our delight that ALL our luggage had come through! This is a big deal as we had all checked it all the way though to Lusaka, and there was no telling where it might have been lost or damaged. I also found to my delight that my tub was still tied after my dad retied it in Nashville when they opened it during the security check. I ended up leaving the heavier tub behind, and now I’m kicking myself for not lightening it, but at the time I was just about at my limit of things I could deal with. Oh well, I’ll just get it sent out with my other stuff.

Tomorrow I will be working on getting my work permit paperwork done, trying to get my card sorted out, and doing some shopping before we had up to Sakeji on Tuesday morning. We will stay overnight at the Garnerton guest house in Kitwe on the Copper Belt before going the last leg up to Sakeji. We will be in the Ronald’s Land Cruiser which will be a bit crowded, but thankfully most of our luggage will be in a trailer. I guess we will try to pick up my mattress on out way if someone from the school hasn’t gotten it already. I’m so ready to just be home and not on the road anymore, but I’m sort of looking forward to the trip in a way. I’m enjoying the sights and smells of Zambia so much that getting to drink them in for two days doesn’t sound like that horrible of a prospect.

I’ll update again once I reach Sakeji, and hopefully I’ll have some pictures soon. Things have been a little crazy as we plan, get over jetlag, and take care of odds and ends. Just a few more days till I’m home!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Me and all my lugage made it safely to Lusaka--apparently they took one look at my tub and decided it wasn't worth the hassle...
I'll post more later--just wanted to let y'all know I'm alive, not dead of jet lag (yet!) and already enjoying the smells and sights of Zambia.
Happy New Year!