Tuesday, May 25, 2010

According to my mom its high time I updated, so here goes.

Basically, life is crazy. Yesterday (Monday) was my afternoon off, and I didn’t spend any of it ‘off’ at my house—I had to many other things to do.

This weekend was my first weekend off, and I spent Saturday afternoon waiting to and then getting my toe nail pulled off. I’ve had an ongoing infection and ingrown nail problem for the past two years, so I’m really hoping that this will set it all right again. I’m keeping a dressing on the toe during the day as the dust is really bad (and really germy!) right now, but I’m letting the toe breath at night. I’ve been very fortunate to have little to no pain through the whole thing. It’s a good thing really as I have far to much to do to spend lots of time with my foot up!

School is in full swing now, and I’m managing to stay one stroke ahead of the sharks. Classes are going well for the most part—there is a book report due this Friday that apparently makes me the meanest teacher ever—who on earth would be so cruel as to require them to read a book and write a report in two weeks? Shocking! Just wait till the next one... My students are delving into ancient Egypt, the mysteries of dividing with and by decimals are being plumbed, they have learned about Kennings, and auditions have been mostly held for the end of term program. We discussed the flute last week in music—this week its the clarinet (also known as the ‘squeakaphone’ by non-clarinet players). My class is doing a literature unit called “Friendship Road” this term, and most of the time the kids are in small groups reading novels, but once or twice a week we gather as a class to read the book “Simon” by Rosemary Sutcliff. I wasn’t sure how the kids would respond to it, but they are getting really hooked. They beg to read that instead of their books. I think some of it may be they don’t like reading aloud in their group and some of it may be they like hearing me read (that is of course the less probable/more flattering for me conclusion!), but I’m tickled that they are so into it. Its one of my all time favorite books, and I’m hoping to lure them into reading other Rosemary Sutcliff books through it.

In big news on the station, our library is put back together again! As we repaired it, we have been brainstorming about some improvements to make to it while we’re at it. The biggest change so far is we added a bulletin board by the door so we can post book reports, book lists, photocopies of book covers as recommendations, and have a “if you enjoyed this, you’ll probably enjoy this” section. I’ve been trying to come up with as many ideas as possible to hook my class on reading—the 7th and 8th grade girls go around with their noses in books all the time, but my kids would much rather play football (soccer) or do other things than read. Book reports are part of my grand strategy to make book worms of them all. We shall see! That’s also why I read at least a book aloud to my kids each term. There is something magic about listening to someone else read that I will never grow out of. That reminds me, I think we have a book worm cut out in the paper store. I’ll have to go look for that...

Well, I have math books that aren’t marking themselves no matter how hard I squint, so I had better end this off. I’m enjoying the cool evening—next month I want to have a few fires in my little fire place. The only downside that I have found for dry season so far is all the dust. However, its a small price to pay for the lovely weather!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Whew—its been a crazy few days! Staff meetings, getting my room ready, tying up loose ends, cleaning my house, and a grand shindig before school kicks off on Wednesday. The children start arriving today (Tuesday), so there are flurries of last minute preparations as we see to all those little things that keep a boarding school of 60 children running smoothly.

Last week I took a quick trip to Solwezi with Beth and her friend Crystal. The highlights of the trip were learning some new card games, staying in a fun hotel, and getting to visit Shop Rite (like a small, basic Wal-Mart). We flew back to the school (about an hours flight) and then had a few more days with Crystal before she left on Sunday. Saturday was the day of the get together at the Fergusons and the day Beth, Crystal and I went on a game drive through Nchila Game Park. We saw some Zebra, Puku, Wildabeast and lots of Sable. It was so much fun to see the beautiful animal, enjoy the setting sun and the wild beauty of this area. Nothing like being home in Africa!

I’m trying a new arrangement in my room that I think will work out well. It makes the room feel more open and it gives the kids a bit more room. I’m starting to get excited about getting back in the trenches once again! As much fun as vacation is, I missed ‘work.’

Saturday, May 1, 2010

You can tell the drunk drivers in Zambia because

...they drive strait.

I've been kind of silent because Beth's friend Crystal is visiting us from Canada, and I've been sick for the last week. I think I'm starting to see the downhill slope and being totally recovered, but I opted out of the bike adventure today so as not to push it too far.

On Wednesday I drove us over to Kalenge, and let me tell you, it was a white knuckle experience! The road right below Ikelnge is the worst part, and I was worried about a) getting stuck, b) tearing the bottom of the truck out or c) tipping the truck over. Going downhill isn't that bad--you just keep it in low gear, ride the brake, and let the truck carefully go down straddling the deep channels and not going into the bush on either side. I felt like a drunk driver because I was weaving all over the road, but there was no other way down. Going up hills is scary because you can't see the gaping holes as well from that angle, so you have to make lightning decisions about which is the best way to go.

I must admite I was praying pretty hard and had a death grip on the steering wheel. It is so easy to hit a bump, get a little air time and loose your wheels. We arrived safely at Kalenge after about an hours drive, and then we had a picnic lunch before visiting Alice T. briefly to find out how to get a hold of a tailor we had heard about. After dropping off some cloth to be made into bags for Beth and Crystal, we headed to the Kalenge market. They get most of their stuff from Congo, so we were hoping to find a better chetengi selection. There weren't that many shops open, but we were able to find plenty of chetengi for our various purposes, and then we went ahead and turned home as we didn't want to be trying to get back in the dark or in low light. I was more worried about getting back as there were more uphills to deal with, but once again the Lord's hand was with us and we made it back safely and in one piece.

Yesterday we stayed around the station except when we got a call from the Ronalds that there was mail, could we go pick it up. Of course! So we piled in the truck again, and bumped our way into Ikelenge. I had four packages and several letters, Beth had two packages and some letters, and there was a whole bunch of stuff for the missionaries in the Congo that we recieve mail for. Good thing too since they came down yesterday to pick up their mail and go shopping!

Today two more of our staff memebers are arriving back, so we're going to have a big dinner down at Margie's. I'm excited to see them back, but that means the school term is about to kick off again! I feel more ready than last term about some things, but others I still feel like there is so much to do. I guess I should go look in my classroom today--it was supposed to be cleaned and the floor waxed. Its been such a good break, but I'm kind of looking forward to getting some structur back!