Thursday, December 22, 2011

My kids can't get me to shut up...

...and now everyone here wants me to speak!

Today I went out to lunch with my dad and his crew--many of whom have watched me grow up and even worked beside me when I was a student at LU. It was neat to get to catch up with them (and enjoy the Chinese food!) and hear a little about what they are up to. My dad asked me to give a brief update after the meal, so once again I found myself trying to condense 2 years of intense experience into a few minutes. I managed to get through it alright, so I guess I earned my lunch!

Mother and I went up to the fabric store to try and catch our elusive friend Regina--the dear lady who has not only sent me a bunch of craft kits, but takes a very active interest in my life and work in Zambia. She was extremely busy, but found time for a hug and a little chat. I've promised to come back after Christmas when hopefully life will be a little saner for her.

I splurged on a jug of Red Diamond Sweet Tea while in Wal-Mart the other day--oh, there are some things of the South that I have missed! (Dr. Pepper is also in this category) I didn't realize how much Texas was in me until I went to Zambia; while I will always love my little school in the bush, I will also always love the place where I was born and bred. The state where oak is live, big trucks abound, folks speak with a drawl, and the rebel spirit lives on. I hope I never get to the point where my heart stops jumping as I step off the plane in Dallas and think, "This is my own, my native land."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

You might be celebrating Christmas in Texas when...

You see a truck with rolls of barbed wire in the fabric store parking lot!

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How I love my state...

I shared my presentation at the church we used to go years ago and had a great time visiting with all the dear folk there. It was so good to catch up a little bit with their lives, and share what I'm doing with mine. Most of those folks have known me since I was 6, so it's like having lots of extra grandparents.

I'm going to try and put some pictures up to make up for two years of thumbnails--this was a picture taken at our "Has Sakeji Got Talent?" show this last term. I'm not sure why the red noses were a part of the evening, but the kids enjoyed them!

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Pink Trees and Santa Fans

Today I got to chat with a dear old friend who was a nurse at RVA for many years. While I have had a blast getting to catch up with friends my age, there is something special with talking to a veteran in the lifework I have just embarked on. To visit with someone who understands how hard it is to hold two so vastly different places in your head--while you are here Africa almost feels like a dream, and while you are there, your life in America seems like it must have happened to someone else. It's also great to have someone who understands the challenges of station life, and knows how two places can both be home.

Yesterday Flynn had me over for dinner in his apartment--I was was so excited to get to sample some of his cooking and just have some quality time hanging out with my brother. Flynn's apartment is an awesome mix of nerdy-geek, things from home, and that unique brand of crazy that is my brother. The Christmas tree cracked me up-

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Not many guys would be man enough to have a pink Christmas tree!

Today I took Mercy and Lucy shopping at Wal-Mart and the mall, and while there I was tickled to see this:

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In Texas, we make sure we treat Santa right. We give him a fan so he will be comfortable in that silly red suit!

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm home for Christmas!

Well, at long last the term is over and I'm home for Christmas with my family. Getting home involved-

*Taking a 3 hour flight from Sakeji to Lusaka.


*Making a quick stop at Mukingi, the mission station my family was at when I was a kid, to drop off two students. Talk about a flood of emotions!

*Fly from Lusaka through Jo-burg, London, and Dallas.

*Arrive to find out that I can't get both myself and my luggage on the flight to Gregg County.

*Get picked up by my amazing friend Elise and finally arrive home after 10pm last saturday.

Now that I'm here, I've been doing some of the following things-

*Going to Starbucks, and even taking my littlest brother on his first ever trip


*Enjoying my family's two adorable kittens!

*Helping decorate the Christmas tree

*Buying yarn!

*Getting to see something totally East Texan--Hot air balloons!

I'm going to get my brother to help me get this pictures a little larger--for now I hope they will at least give you an idea of what I've been up to! The days are busy and I'm often up way to late, but it's so good to be HOME!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm home!

Well, after about 27 hours in the air, a missed flight, and a scenic road tour of East Texas, I finally ended up back home at about 10:30 on Saturday night. I've been catching up on sleep, spending time with my family, sorting through my stuff that I left behind, and trying to get some shopping done. I also managed to get a cold somehow between all the stress and traveling, so I'm comfortable ensconced with medicine, vitamin C drops, and a box of tissues. Oh well, at least I'm sick where my mom can be sympathetic!

I'm working on trying to find a way to get bigger pictures to post on here as I'm sure you're all anxious to see a little bit of where I've been for the last two years. I must say that it's nice to have easy internet access again!

Yay for being home!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The end of the tunnel is in sight...

Today was our Christmas music assembly (which was my bright, not thinking "Oh, that's report card wee!k" idea...), and thought it went for almost two hours, I think it was really good. Some people could have practiced more, the heart-stopping technical failure was a little much (PtL it was able to be fixed), and overall I think a good time was had by all. I want to do that again next year, but I hope it will be shorter, and I hope to have things organized better.

I'm still plugging away at report cards--I have till tomorrow midnight to get them in. The server is down tonight so I'm about to head home to pack since I can't get at the report cards. I have to have my luggage over at Kalene before Sunday because we'll be full on Thursday, so over I go. It's really weird to be packing to be a guest in my own home...

I only have one more final to mark--the grade 6 grammar, and then it's just the long process of trying to write intelligent comments. I find that the tireder I get, the worse I see, hear, type, walk, talk, and pretty much do everything. I think I might have to take a celebratory nap on Sunday...

Okay, enough rambling. Back to packing! It's a month from Christmas today!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I have officially started filling out my report cards, and despite minor setbacks I made a good start tonight.

If you think about it, an extra prayer or two for me would be appreciated. For this last week of school my work load pretty much triples, and there are some days that if it wasn't for clinging to the promise that God can and will bless my little effort and make it bigger than anything I can do on my own. I'm also holding onto the knowledge that I'll get to sleep on the plane next Friday. NEXT FRIDAY!

I can't wait to be home.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Only 10 more crazy days!

Well, the last week and a half of school are here! The insane, crazy, hard-as-all-get-out, final last weeks, and I’m already starting to feel a little crazy. Thank goodness we have a great God who shows His strength in my weakness!

I have to laugh the other day when I was talking to one of my fifth grade students, and we were discussing what classification Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes falls under. I commented that it was so cool that the wisest man, Solomon, had left us his wisdom, and my student said, “Well, I don’t think all of his books are really wise.” Somewhat startled, I asked him which one he had in mind. “Oh, I started reading The Song of Solomon and I don’t think he was in his right mind.” Sometimes it’s so hard not to loose it right then and there…

I’ve started this extremely hard nosed policy with nameless work—you didn’t name it, it doesn’t exist! I had a kid re-doing his castle layout because of namelessness, and when he turned in his very nice replacement, it still didn’t have his name on it. Oh dear…

One thing that makes these two weeks so stressful is the compiling of reports and making some hard decisions about promotions or lack thereof. There are a couple of students who are coming up in staff discussions quite a bit, and we would appreciate your prayers for us as we seek to do what is best for each child. It’s so hard when the kids are often a year old for a grade anyway, and then there are all the social as well as academic ramifications of holding someone back. I’m so thankful that I’m not the headmaster with the final say! We are also in the process of doing interviews, so wisdom on who to accept into our Sakeji family for next year will also be appreciated.

I can’t get my head around the fact that two weeks from today I’ll be home. I’m trying to prepare mentally, and I’ll admit I’m already setting things aside for the trip and planning travel knitting and reading (yes, I am that bad!). When I think of all that has to be done between now and then I feel my soul start to quake a little—praise the Lord again for His goodness and unfailing steadfastness. I don’t know how teachers who aren’t Christians do it…

Monday, October 31, 2011

Today was a good day.

Today there were no big storms, and in addition to surviving my morning classes, I had a fairly productive afternoon. I took two of the short term girls into Ikelenge as I was running low on some staples, and I managed to find not only sugar and Blue Band (a margarine of sorts), but FLOUR. I had asked around all over the place, but finally in a little hole in the wall behind the main row of shops I was successful. Score! You learn to define successful days a little differently out here--finding even one thing you are shopping for is considered success, finding all of them is amazing. I also enjoyed a nice drive to and from 'town,' a mini nap, some quality time with my cat, and a lovely evening with Jill and Bethany in which we laughed ourselves silly at the book we are reading. Good times!

It's only a month till the end of term--I can't wait!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nothing like a good lightning storm...

Last night we had a really sever lightning storm—as in the school itself must have been struck a few times. I had just fallen asleep when I was woken up by the bright-as-day flashes and house shaking booms. I was so tired I wasn’t really concerned about the terrifying raw power being displayed outside my window, but I did remember with comfort that my laptop wasn’t plugged in! There was one flash in particular that was just amazing—the room was full of blinding light and I heard a loud POP by my head where my lamp was. After that I knew the 240 power was out since the lights outside were off.

The really creepy thing was that I have this little rubber ducky keychain with two little metal contacts on the bottom that lights up when you touch it to complete the circuit. Well, this keychain was on my wooden bedside table by my wooden lamp base, and after that POP the keychain lit up. I had my eyes closed at the time, but I think my lamp might have sparked as well. I just lay there looking at my flashing duck and thinking about how much electricity had just amassed beside my head. Some of the short termers said they saw bolts of electricity jumping from socket to socket in their house, and they also said their burglar bars were stuck. When we have storms out here, we have STORMS!

I’m working on getting rid of yet another cold and trying to keep myself organized and caught up so I won’t get too swamped at the end of term. So much has to happen in the next month—it’s going to be insane! The second half-term, the end of term show, interviews, exams, and the hundred and one things that go into finishing up a term. Oh well, you can do anything for a short period of time, and I’m going to have a nice break afterwards. How did this year slip by so fast—it seems like just yesterday we were celebrating new years, and not it’s almost gone!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lots of random things...

Sorry--it's been far too long, but by the time I stagger home at the end of the day, the last thing I feel like doing is lugging the laptop to the admin to do internet stuff. Here are a few snapshots of things that have been going on in the past several weeks:

*The rains have started again and what was a brown, dry land is becoming lush and green again. Love it!

*I got stung by a scorpion on my foot--ouch! My foot really hurt that night, but by the next day was just all weird and tingly. No, I did not eat the tail. Yes, scorpion stings are pretty much as bad as everyone says they are!

*I had a very trying weekend that involved a stupid decision made by one of my students that had the whole school in an uproar, and interrupted many people's evening plans. We are continuing to pray for the Lord's work in this student's heart and mind--he is a Christian, but he really needs the Lord right now!

*I undertook a new ministry this last weekend that I think will be very exciting, but very challenging for the first bit. On my weekends off I'm teaching some of the 'grans' over at the orphanage to knit--in semi-Lunda! Any prayers sent my way regarding wisdom, stamina, and the ability to retain the language would be appreciated! I've taught many people how to knit, but never armed with the sole words "to knit" and "knot." Good thing my life is never boring...

*I survived birthday party as a lion--fully made up face and southern lady hair and everything! I also survived the sugar overdoes caused by ingesting kids birthday cake (the more candy the better!), and the whopping cold someone very considerately passed along to me. I'm really hoping that this means that I'm not going to be sick in December... Pass the oil of oregano, will you? Or the euthanasia...I mean echinacea!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Newsletter

It’s hard to believe that third term is already a third over, but our first half-term has come and gone and we are looking forward to Independence Day on October 24th. The children have settled in well, and there has been some marked improvement in some students who were really struggling earlier in the year. This is the term of the dreaded grade 7 and 9 exams, so our seniors are well on their way in test preparation. These national exams are very important—if a student fails to pass them in the limited amount of re-takes they will not be able to progress in their education. The tests are in English which is a stumbling block for many of the village students, and the English is poorly written and sometimes the answers on the test are wrong! Our students have always passed with flying colors despite the difficulties with the questions, but it is still a very anxious time for them. Our one grade 9 student will have to write her exams in Ikelenge as we have not managed to get our registration as a grade 9 exam center to go through yet.

The Lunda week at Kalene in August was a difficult time, but I think as I have time to work on what I learned it will be quite helpful. It was interesting to see where some of the kids English problems come from—one example is that Lunda has no distinction between male and female pronouns, so it’s quite common for the kids to call girls ‘he’ and vice versa. It was really overwhelming to get the whole structure of a language in 5 days, but I’ve already noticed that I can pick out a few more words in the sermons, and have a slightly larger vocabulary. I will continue listening and adding words as I’m able—if the Lord could give a donkey speech, I guess He can help me learn Lunda!

The new dining hall is coming along well—there was a little bit of a scramble to get the rest of the roof on before the rains came, but thankfully all is secured now and it can rain as much as it likes! Most of the work is centering on finishing the inside now—all the wiring, tiles on the walls, painting, and things like that. We still have Jim from the UK here helping us as well as Michael, a Sakeji Alum whose parents served here for a few years. There will be a team coming out from Canada, Lord willing, to help us re-roof the dorm sometime in the next few months. This will be an interesting challenge during the rainy season, but it has been a huge need for several years now. The Lord has showed His mighty hand in providing all the sheet metal for the roof, and workers willing to give up some of their time to come help put it up. We continue to pray for safety on the job site and for the team assembling to come help us out with the roof.

We have some other short term helpers with us now—three girls have come out form Vancouver to help for most of the term, so we are keeping them busy with projects, marking, games, and child supervision. We are still praying about a permanent 3rd and 4th grade teacher, and some day in the future splitting grade 1 and 2 into separate classes. Our grade 9 plans are still very much up in the air; we really need another teacher if we are going to add that program, and we would need to be able to register as a grade 9 test center. There are so many things to do both here at the school, and in the surrounding area—please continue to pray for us as we seek the Lord’s direction in these things, and wait for Him to raise up the right people at the right time.

Thanks so much for all the notes of encouragement, prayer and gifts that you have sent my way this year. It means so much to know that you are thinking of me as I serve the Lord at Sakeji.

May He find us faithful wherever we are.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jonah day...

Today was one of those days when the advice, “Never work with children or small animals” seemed rather good. The kids have been climbing the walls all day, I had a kid pee on the floor during assembly and then fiercely deny it, another was sent marching for elbowing and shoving his way down the hall to get a broom for clean up. To add insult to injury, he then proceeded to march while reading! I’ve had a lurking headache all day, and the constant scrape and bang of chairs mixed with the cacophony of children’s voices just gets to be a little much. Thank the Lord for His mercies and for the snatched moments of peace and quiet! Days like this are more difficult to live through, but they sure do build patience and give perspective better than the good days!

The first blooms are starting to dot the flamboyants, and beyond all reason the grass is starting to come in green. The trees have mostly shed their leaves and replaced them with fresh green ones, and now the parched bush is breathlessly waiting for the first good rain to send every plant into a burst of growth. It’s overcast today (which might explain some of the kids craziness), and while the new dining hall isn’t quite ready for a rain, the rest of us are!

I can’t believe the term is already a quarter gone! The first half-term is next weekend, and September is almost over. As the kids would say, “Imagine!” I have just two more months with my 6th graders, and three more months before I have a new batch of kids to get broken into my classroom! How does the time go so fast?

Jonah day...

Today was one of those days when the advice, “Never work with children or small animals” seemed rather good. The kids have been climbing the walls all day, I had a kid pee on the floor during assembly and then fiercely deny it, another was sent marching for elbowing and shoving his way down the hall to get a broom for clean up. To add insult to injury, he then proceeded to march while reading! I’ve had a lurking headache all day, and the constant scrape and bang of chairs mixed with the cacophony of children’s voices just gets to be a little much. Thank the Lord for His mercies and for the snatched moments of peace and quiet! Days like this are more difficult to live through, but they sure do build patience and give perspective better than the good days!

The first blooms are starting to dot the flamboyants, and beyond all reason the grass is starting to come in green. The trees have mostly shed their leaves and replaced them with fresh green ones, and now the parched bush is breathlessly waiting for the first good rain to send every plant into a burst of growth. It’s overcast today (which might explain some of the kids craziness), and while the new dining hall isn’t quite ready for a rain, the rest of us are!

I can’t believe the term is already a quarter gone! The first half-term is next weekend, and September is almost over. As the kids would say, “Imagine!” I have just two more months with my 6th graders, and three more months before I have a new batch of kids to get broken into my classroom! How does the time go so fast?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

An election and a sick day

I’ve been waiting for the election results to be in to do an entry on my classes visit to the polling station at the river, and then I was nauseous to the point of not being able to function yesterday afternoon, so I’m finally getting around to writing. I’m still a little queasy, but I’m hoping another good night’s rest will set me right. There is a lot of sickness going around right now, and a couple other staff members are feeling a little off as well. Too bad the kids can’t just go home so we can get better in peace!

Last Tuesday was election day here in Zambia, and I took my class down to see how things are done. Sakeji is a polling station, so there were two ‘streams’ set up down at our two chotas at the river. We were able to go right into the chotas and see up close how the process worked. A few weeks back, they had voters registration, so there were booklets with photos and information on all the registered voters. They were in full color, so they must have cost a fortune! After a voter was found on the list, they went to the second desk to get their first ballot. There were three separate ballots for the three different levels of government—presidential, parliamentary, and local government. Each ballot was again in full color, and had pictures of each of the candidates. Apparently there were 10 presidential candidates! After filling out the first ballot in the little booth, the voter would file it in the appropriate sealed plastic container. Then they would go back for the next ballot, file it, and finally go back for the third.

The counting started that evening, and went on into the next day. The cell network was actually turned off for awhile during this process as people were spreading false information around. There were riots on the Copper Belt when it looked like Banda would be re-elected, but eventually it was announced that Sata had won. Then there were riots in the many other places that didn’t want him in. It was very peaceful up here, though the people of this area are not happy about Sata getting in. Apparently, there was some rigging of the votes to get Sata in—to the point where they can’t even recount them. This is not all that surprising, but rather sad. Sata is very anti-foreign investment, so it will be very interesting to see what he does while in office. He claims he wants to get ride of the Chinese on the Copper Belt, and if he actually does start deporting people, it makes you wonder where the missionaries will be. Of course the other big question is where the country will be without foreign investment, and how long it will take all the good accomplished by these people to crumble away. Clearly, Zambia needs our prayers in these interesting days.

There have been several days when it looked like it might rain, but even yesterday’s wind and dark masses of clouds only produced a little spatter. Apparently it poured at Kalene for about 10 minutes though. I’m looking forward to our first real good soaking of the season. I know I’ll get tired of the constant rain before dry season rolls around again, but the first rain of the year is always an exciting event. Things are already greening up here—I don’t know where the plants are finding the moisture! The flamboyants are just starting to come into bloom, and the jacarandas are in their full glory. The end of dry season makes up for the barren brown of the rest of it!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Lady On the Porch

Yesterday evening I came back the house to drop off my basket of marking, and to my very great surprise I saw a pair of feet sticking out from behind the crates on my porch. Cautiously advancing I found that the feet belonged to a little lady wrapped in yetengi with a bowl beside her who was apparently quite happily camped out back there. After greeting her I then stood there and tried to think of any Lunda phrase I knew along the lines of, “Do I know you and why are you on my porch?” Nothing came to mind, so I asked her if she was waiting for someone. She showed me her crucifix that hung around her neck, and just kept sitting there. So, I texted Pam to see if she could come down or send Mark, and then headed back towards the school to see if I could find someone. Mark happened to be in the office, so he came and escorted the lady away—apparently she is a local crazy lady who has showed up here periodically.

I have to say I was a little unnerved by the incident, but proceeded to go on the walk with Beth, Jill, and Bethany. By this time is was pretty dark, so I had my flashlight out in case of snakes and to prevent myself from falling in a hole. When Beth and I were coming down the road from the shop we saw someone at my house moving around on the porch, so my first thought was that my visitor had come back, but it turned out to be Pam coming round to see if I still needed help—she had forgotten to check the time stamp of the text. Never a dull moment!

The past few days have been interesting weather wise as it has been really overcast and even thundered a bit, but hasn’t rained. It would be so nice to get a decent rain, but I’ not sure if it’s going to manage it today. I guess that means I need to start keeping track of my umbrella again! The jacaranda trees are starting to bloom, and the flamboyants won’t be far behind. The jacarandas color reminds me of the wisteria back home in the spring—sometimes I miss East Texas’ seasons!

I’ve been encouraged by the way many of my students who were really struggling are doing so far, but it’s early days yet. Any prayer for my sanity and their progress would be appreciated! This is the term where we have to make the hard calls on whether our students pass into the next grade or not, so we are all praying for wisdom as we evaluate each one. We are also going through applications for the next school year and setting up interview weeks. Third term is a very busy one, but with the Lord’s help we can do anything He calls us to!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A new outfit and a taste of home.

Last week Beth and I set out to get some yetengi outfits made for us before the seamstress got too busy with her fields, so we duly set off with some sketchy directions to Rachel’s house, the Lunda word for seamstress, our yetengi and notions, and high hopes. After a minor detour and second attempt which involved asking directions, we managed to find Rachel’s house and start the process of being measured. Now, neither Beth nor I are what could be termed ‘slim,’ so much to our chagrin we were told a couple of times that we are just too fat. Now, in Zambian culture this is a compliment—if you are fat, than you are obviously rich enough to eat well! Also, Rachel was sadly simply stating the obvious. After the measurements were written down, Rachel told us to return in four days and the outfits would be done. We duly returned on the appointed day to find Beth’s outfit finished, my skirt halfway done, and the shirts for Beth’s nephew’s cut out. There were some slight alterations made to Beth’s top and then we went our way with the promise of the rest of the items being done the following day.

All Saturday I kept an eye out for Rachel, but she didn’t appear. Then, Sunday morning, I had just gotten up and was in the process of starting to get ready for church when I heard Ceili barking and voices coming up my walk. After throwing on my kimono I opened the door to see the watchman and Rachel. She had walked all the way in from Ikelenge to bring my outfit! I tried it on, and while the skirt fit nicely, the top wouldn’t zip all the way down. Despite having the grim number of inches around my hips, Rachel apparently didn’t take that enough into account! I was able to wear my skirt to church that day, and then on Monday my top arrived via Rachel’s son Tony who works here. Some clever modifications made the top now fit nicely, so I have a very cool Zambian looking outfit to take home with me.

Two of our staff members were in Canada this holiday and have just recently returned, so Beth and I had them over for a nice supper and ‘girl night’ on our last night of freedom. Bethany brought me back an unexpected treat from Canada—something you can not get over here and which I have missed. It’s funny how when you’re out here, it’s the little things that you miss the most—things that just aren’t manufactured in SA or don’t make it out on the containers. What did Bethany bring me? A bottle of Dr. Pepper—the soft drink that makes the south run. I was so tickled that she could cart that all the way from Canada just to bring me a taste of home. Now I just need to find a suitably solemn occasion to enjoy it!

The kids are all back, and already there is a lot more noise on station! The long holiday is over, and it’s time to plunge back into our busy schedule. I’m looking forward to being in the classroom again, and participating in that most awesome calling—to share Jesus with children. So begins another adventure at our little school in the bush!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Still alive!

When you get an e-mail from your mother inquiring whether you are alive or not, I guess that means you might need to do a blog update too!

There is about a week and a half before term starts up again—this is our longest break, but once again it has flown by! I’ve got my house mostly clean and organized again, some sewing projects have been finished, and I’ve done a lot of reading for the coming term. I will be sitting down to some heavy duty planning this week, as well as working on my classroom and getting everything organized for the coming term. I’ve started working on the music for the Christmas program, and I’m working on mapping out what I hope to accomplish. I also need to plan for handwork—I finished making the 12 handwork bags for my girls, and now I need to decide exactly what we are going to finish the year out with. In between getting these things done, I’m also enjoying the freedom to take afternoon naps and sleep in a bit while it lasts!

Jill and Bethany are both back, so we are once again fully staffed—it was so good to see them getting off the plane! You don’t realize how close you are to people until they go away for at time…

Friday, August 12, 2011

Call me crazy...

Wednesday started out a little earlier than I would have liked with the guy from the bookroom coming by for some more books, but after doing that and getting the watchmen’s trays sorted out for the week (our watchmen change every Wednesday), I finally had time to go home and eat breakfast. A little later that morning Beth, Jackie and I went into Ikelenge to check the mail and poke around the shops a bit. Beth told us that Doug was planning to go to Mwunilunga that afternoon to look for some stuff for the building project, and we came up with the mad idea to go in for him. After a little begging, obtaining a list, and talking to one of the workers about places to possibly find what we are looking for, we squished into the cab of the land cruiser pickup and bumped down the road to ‘town.’

Now, Mwunilunga is where the pavement ends (or begins!), and is the first bit of ‘civilization’ that you reach driving out from here. Now that part of the road has been re-graded and because it’s dry season, you can make it there in about an hour give or take. During the rainy season it can take longer than 2 hours, depending on the puddles. Mwunilunga is a very small town full of hole in the wall shops, people, and dirt. The dirt is very red down there, and already the sides of the road and pretty much everything else is getting a film of red dust.

We drove up and down the main road a few times and finally found a shop that had the pipe we were looking for. To our surprise, we had to go up the road a bit to their ‘warehouse’ to collect it, and then we were faced with the interesting problem of lashing two 6 meter (18 foot) PVC pipes to the pickup. We managed it, and then gingerly went down the road to another shop to see if they had a saw we could use to cut the pipe. Thankfully they did, so with the much more manageable 3 meter pipes secured to the back we headed back to Sakeji. We arrived a little after supper time to find Janette, Phil and Gwen, and Vickie safely back from their trips.

When I took a shower later that evening I was disgusted to see how much dirt I had collected during the day—between the dust from the road and the dirt of Mwunilunga I looked like quite the ruffian I’m sure! It was so nice to be clean again, and enjoy a quiet evening with Beth. Nothing like a little crazy to spice up the week!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Some very tiny pictures..

Sorry I can't get these bigger--issues with photobucket!

This is how the dining hall looked shortly before term ended. I'm standing in front of upper school, and the part you can see is the dining room.

Again, shortly before school ended. This is showing how close the old dining hall (on the right after the arches) is to the new dining hall (from the arches to the left). There is about 4-5 feet from the old building to the new!

These pictures were taken today. This is what was the cook side of the kitchen, with the cold room on the right about four feet above the new slab. I'm standing by the door that used to go into the cook side. Past the tractor on the left is the storeroom that was part of the old dining hall and is being integrated into the new one.

This is the front of the dining hall--the new one is on the left and the old one on the right. That door on the old dining hall is the old boys entrance--the girls door has been closed for over a year now because of construction.

Friday, August 5, 2011

August Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

Now that the whirl of term is over, I finally have some time to sit down and write another update. Second term is our shortest term, but often seems to be the busiest. 10 weeks is not that long to fit in all the school topics, report cards, an end of term program, and all the little side projects that come up! It was good to get to visit in person with the parents of our students and to talk about our joint concern—their children. I am constantly encouraged by how supportive the parents are of our efforts. Since we have so much less contact with them than a day school would, it’s so important to touch base and coordinate our efforts to disciple their children.

Second term had many challenges, but many blessings as well. We had two MK student leave shortly before the end of term as their families are going on furlough, one student who had to go home early because of a broken tooth, and another student who was suspended for stealing. At the end of term two more of our students left Sakeji for good to join their mother in Canada. Our prayers are especially going with those two as they have never known anything other than Zambia, and to be thrown into big city life will be quite the transition for these two. It’s always hard to say goodbye to students, but at the same time we know that the same Lord will be with them who is with us. We continue to seek the Lord’s guidance in dealing with our students who are in need of discipline, as well as for help in clearly teaching His ways to all the children.

One of the highlights of this past term was a baptism on the last day of school where 22 of our senior students publicly proclaimed their desire to follow the Lord. It was pointed out yesterday that this wonderful event was only possible because of years of effort from many different people. It is times like these that are so encouraging to look back on in those hard days when it can seem like all our labor is in vain. The Lord is working in the hearts and lives of children at Sakeji, and we look forward to seeing the continuing faithfulness of our God!

This term break I am staying on station and working on projects around my house, preparing for next term, and helping out with different duties on station. This month I am going to participate in a Lunda learning week at Kalene to try and jumpstart my language learning. Please pray for all of us who will be attending and seeking to learn more of the local language. There have been several occasion just this past week that have reminded me how important it is to be able to speak the language!

While the kids are gone, some important stages of the new dining hall are being finished. The old cook-side of the kitchen was demolished, the floor lowered, and a new slab poured to finish off the end of the new dinning hall which will include the old kitchen and store room. The roof is mostly on now, and the inside is starting to take shape. The old, faithful wood stove was successfully moved and will be able to be used in the new kitchen after all. There was some concern that it would fall to pieces when it was removed! Our cold room used to be in the corner of the old kitchen, and now it is about 4 feet higher than the new slab and accessible by a little strip of the old floor. Simple tasks like getting milk and eggs are a little more adventurous now! Next term will be a real challenge for the kitchen staff and building crews as they try to finish off the project and get everything closed in before the rains start.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support, and I hope you are all enjoying a lovely summer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The break so far

This term break has not gone exactly as I had anticipated; a bad chase of bronchitis evolving into a nasty head cold have left me pretty useless, but between the coughing and the sleeping I have managed to get a few things done.

*Beth and I are in charge of the morning teas for the Brass Tacks teams, so we have been having fun baking up stuff for the guys to enjoy.

*Beth and I also had the Brass Tacks people over for a meal--a little of a challenge with my small table, but it worked out really well in the end. It's so nice to have people over!

*I'm in charge of the day watchman and the two night watchmen's trays, so I've also been involved in the veggie buying.

*Next term I'm going to be teaching "Europe in the Middle Ages" for social studies, so I've been doing a lot of reading to prepare for that.

*Leah (a former teacher) is visiting from Canada, and we have been reading a G. A. Henty book together as well as doing different cooking projects.

*Beth and I went to Kalene yesterday (the closest mission station--it's about an hour away) to check out the market for chetengi. Kalene is really close to Congo, so they get nicer material and (sometimes) a better variety than we get in Ikelenge. While there wasn't near as good a selection as when we went last year, we both managed to find several chetengi to give as gifts when next we're home.

*Beth and I also took a little side trip out to the rapids yesterday as we were in the neighborhood. The river river bed there is made up of huge slabs of rock, polished by decades of water thundering over them. Right now there is very little water going over as we are well into the dry season. Beth and I waded across and had fun taking pictures, sitting with our feet in the frigid water, and generally enjoying the wonders of God's creation. We are so going to have to go back there again!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The light is shinning at the end of the tunnel!

Tomorrow is our end of term program, teacher interviews, a baptism, the AGM (annual general meeting), and our big end of term assembly where we give out awards. It's been a crazy ride, but the term is almost done! I see a nap in my future Thursday afternoon... I'll do a 'real' post after I've recovered a bit.

Praise the Lord for His goodness, and His mercies which are new every morning!

Friday, July 8, 2011

FIRE, and a letdown.

Yesterday they started burning the firebreak around the school, and started on the part that is behind my house and by the soccer field. I was a little alarmed to see the billowing clouds of smoke and ash coming from the direction of mi casa, but this was a 'controlled' fire with several of our guys watching it and beating out any errant blazes. There was so much ash falling that it looked like black snow, and the soccer games in progress had to be stopped because they couldn't see the far half of the field. Yay for burning season!

After all the excitement of sports day, it was discovered yesterday that due to a spreadsheet error Fisher had not won Sports day after all, it was in fact Poole. I was just glad that it wasn't faulty score keeping on my part! Oh well, we still got second, and so far we are leading in Academic points.

Only a week and half left of school!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sports Day Snippets

Just a few details about Sports Day 2011 at Sakeji Mission School.

*I was the scorer, so I had my tent and everything out on the field as well as my laptop to punch the scores into a spreadsheet. Are we getting posh or what!

*This was the first Sports Day with our new house system--Fisher, the house I'm a part of placed highest overall, and won the track events. Poole won the field events. Hoyte and Molyneux both did a good job as well.

*I'm going to need to buy a yellow shirt as that is Fisher's color. I tried painting my nails yellow, but it was such an awful color that I had to take it off as soon as I was home for the day. There is only so much I'm willing to do to support my house!

*Being outside in the open air all day is very tiring; I slept like a log!

*We had a couple of minor injuries, and one girl who strained her knee petty good while high jumping. The irony is that we have more injuries on the high jump now that we have a crash mat than we did before when they had to fall into a sand pit.

*I've never heard such a quiet supper before--we should (almost) do this more often.

*Go Fisher!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Crazy Begins...

Only 2 1/2 more weeks of term which means--lots and lots to do! Report cards, interviews, Annual General Meeting (AGM), show, and all those little odds and ends to tie up. I'm doing my best to have as many marks ready to total up before exam week so hopefully I won't be up till midnight on Saturday!

We have had some problems with theft in the last week, but thankfully a lot of the items were recovered, and some good discussions with our workers has come out of it. I didn't have anything go missing, but several other families on station did. Sometimes it's easy to forget that this is a culture that will take anything not bolted down, and that 'nicking' something is fine until you get caught and it becomes stealing. Hopefully this will discourage further theft for awhile and help keep our watchmen on their toes!

Another Brass Tacks family has arrived to continue work on the dinning hall; the roof isn't on yet, but you can definitely see the shape the finished building will take! This family was out here last summer, so it's good to see some familiar faces.

We are now at our coldest part of the year--yesterday morning it was 12 C after breakfast (about 50F)--brr! I must say I do enjoy getting to wear my shawls and light fires though!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Snake whacking!

This weekend was the senior’s walk to church, so I headed down with the kids to Hillwood which is about a 15 minute walk away. After a good message on King David, we all headed back, and I found myself behind 4 of my 5th and 6th grade boys. One of them was swinging a stick he had found and whacking the tall grass by the side of the road, when his friend suddenly exclaimed, “You just bashed a snake!” Sure enough, there were hurried rustling sounds by the side of the road. Of course then the boys all wanted to see it and were on the verge of heading off into the bush when I reminded them that it was now an annoyed snake, and we should probably keep going. I laughed about it for the rest of the day though, because that kid is a bit of an airhead, and when informed of his action, his reaction was, “I did what?” in a really high, girly voice. I bet that poor snake got the shock of his life! Sitting there, minding his own business, and then he got belted by a 6th grade boy!

We are well into the coldest part of our year, and socks, sweaters (aka jumpers), and even a few gloves and scarves have been standard attire for our mornings. The nice thing is that by noon it is nice and warm, and then as the sun falls, so does the temperature until the nippy nights have you appreciating a fire, tea, and a purring cat on your lap. The only problem is dragging your body out of your warm bed in the dark. How I love dry season!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Parting is such a sweet sorrow...

Yesterday one of the harder parts of missionary life came around again, one of those parts they forget to warn you about. The part of your life where you always seem to be saying goodbye. The three education students who have been blessing us for the last 6 weeks climbed on the little plane and took off for Lusaka while the children waved and cried. I find it’s hard sometimes to let people into your heart when you know they are just here for a short time—holding back makes saying goodbye so much easier! We are so blessed by the many young people who give up a part of their life to serve with us here, but that only makes saying goodbye all the harder.

This morning I ended up walking to Hillwood for church, and then I came home and took a longer nap than I intended to. It was so lovely and peaceful on the road this morning—since it’s dry season there was clear blue skies and a nice breeze blowing. It was so great to have that time of quiet to pray and settle myself before getting to church. I love the first part of the dry season before all the burning starts the best I think—it’s still a little green, there isn’t bits of ash everywhere, and the cool mornings and evenings are all the better for the hot days.

I can’t believe there are only 4 weeks and a bit of term left—where has the time flown! All too soon it will be report card week again, and then the kids will be heading home. Where has the last year and a half gone?

Monday, June 13, 2011

In which I make Smurf shoes and get some things done.

Today is the first of our half-term days, and I’ve managed to have a some one-on-one recorder time with about half my students, get two sets of papers marked, supervised the kids for their morning swim down at the pool, felted a pair of slippers, and made some bread and cookies. I’ve also fit in a few hugs for my cat, and a few chapters of a book.

The reason I said I made Smurf shoes, is because the felted slippers that were supposed to be an elegant ballet flat in a vibrant blue, didn’t quite shape out as promised, and created shoes definitely reminiscent of Smurfs. Oh well, at least they will keep my smurfy feet warm…

This weekend I lit my first fire and enjoyed an evening of letter writing and marking complete with crackling flames, hot chocolate, and classical music. Yes, I am that helplessly nerdy! Since my house has cement floors, it can get quite cold inside in June and July, so that is one reason why I was making slippers, and it’s also why I was so excited that my house had a fireplace. One of my favorite childhood memories is of eating a special breakfast of cinnamon toast and milky tea in front of the fire while my mother read to us. This was while we lived at Mukingi, and I’ve always remembered how special it was to not only get TEA, but also to start the morning off in such a cozy way. I’m so thankful that my parents understood how important it was to make little moments like that special. Enjoying a fire is still one of my favorite ways to spend an evening, and this is the perfect season for that.

My class just finished up its science units, and now its time to start our India social studies topic. I’m not sure if I have a novel that will work to read with the unit—Kipling’s Kim is a little over my kids heads, and I can’t think of another book that is educational enough to put with the social studies unit. Hmm… I’m slowly slogging through The City of Joy, and I think that I’ll be able to read parts of it (it’s a rather long book!) once I finish reading through the whole thing. I didn’t get near as much reading done this term break as I wanted to…

Well, I had better be going. There are lots more papers yet to mark, and a few things to figure out for the end of term program before I can go to bed tonight. Yay for half-term!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

May 2011

Here is my May newsletter, and at the end is a link to the article about Sakeji that Jill wrote for the Missions Magazine. There are some good pictures of the kids, as well as some neat testimonies about what the Lord is doing in the children’s hearts.

Dear Friends and Family,

I can’t believe how time is flying! Already it a week before half term, and just six more weeks till the end of term! The children have settled in well, and we have all gotten back into routine. We have three short term girls from Canada who are with us for another two weeks who have been a huge blessing all over the school. Ashley is mostly in the upper school, and she has been a huge help with marking, teaching units on several different subjects, and just being another body to help answer questions. I’m sure going to miss her when she goes back!

My students are continuing to settle into being seniors—both the increased privileges and responsibilities. We continue to pray our students who are working through various challenges both academically and socially. As always, we are not merely teachers here, but parents as well. We strive to not only give the children a good education, but to bring them up in the ways of the Lord. I am finding out how exhausting discipline can be—I never believed my parents when they told me it was just as hard for them as it was for me! However, it is also a true joy to see children growing in the Lord and maturing.

Work on the dining hall is progressing well—we currently have four Brass Tacks
workers on site supervising, directing, and working alongside of our Zambian crew. This week the roof trusses were put up with no major accidents—praise the Lord! Most of the interior walls are plastered, and door and window frames are being installed. As the trusses and supports are welded into place and painted, the sheet metal for the roof will start to go on and finishing work can begin inside. We continue to pray for safety for all those involved with the construction and for God’s continued provision for the many different aspects of this project.

This past month has been rather challenging between the things going on here, and things going on back home. I have really appreciated the many ways people reached out to me and kept me in their prayers—how blessed it is to be a part of God’s family! As I continue to work with these precious children, I am reminded over and over again how without Christ working in me, I am nothing. What a privilege that God uses our feeble hands to do His work here on earth.

P.S. This month’s issue of the CMML Missions Magazine has an article about Sakeji Mission School that can be read online by visiting May Missions Magazine There are some good pictures of the kids as well!

Friday, June 3, 2011

I dropped my flashlight on the floor twice…

…and it’s brighter than it’s been since I changed the batteries. Odd…

I have kind of mixed feelings about flashlights. On the one hand, they keep you from stepping on things that go CHOMP in the night, but on the other, with them you can SEE the things that might go chomp. Rather like umbrellas, flashlights are a somewhat burdensome thing to keep up with, but as there is no dark like a cloudy night when the 240 is off out here, and as I don’t want to slam into buildings or fall into ditches, I tend to use them. Random bunny trail for the day…

Dry season is slowly but surely making itself felt around here. The grass is starting to brown around the edges, the bougainvillea is starting to bloom, and I’m starting to think of firing up the ol’ fireplace again. Getting out of bed in the mornings is a dark, cold process, and the sun is down by about 6:40pm.

Only a week and a bit till half term! Where do the days fly...

Friday, May 27, 2011

"You have five candles on your cake,"

"so you must be turning 5!" -Anna T, staff kid, age 4.

Today marks my fifth birthday on this continent--a cool mile marker in itself, but also cool because this is the year that I reach a quarter of a century.

7th birthday--We had just been in Zambia almost 6 months, and my most vivid memory of that birthday was the cookout with the cake that was supposed to be wrapped on sticks that fell off into the fire. I don't remember being that upset by it though, after all, I was HOLDING THINGS INTO THE FIRE.

8th birthday--Another cookout, this time with friends and fellow missionaries. My mom had put together a cool treasure hunt with the chocolate being hidden in the dutch oven at the cookout spot. I think the neighbors dogs also got in a fight--I seem to remember thinking they were 'spoiling' my birthday.

20th birthday--My first time in Zambia since I was a kid, when I came to Sakeji for second term. My birthday happened to fall on my afternoon off that day, and I went to the cottage with a staff couple and the other young people. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon! We had a really nice tea with a chocolate cake decorated with marshmallows.

24th birthday--My first birthday as a full time staff member at Sakeji; my kids were pretty nice to me all day and gave me lots of sweet cards. I was so thankful to finally be where my heart had been for so long.

25th birthday--Today Mr. Ronald forgot to have me stand on my chair at breakfast, so at lunch the kids were almost beside themselves with worry that he would forget again. Don't worry--I duly stood on my chair (and did NOT tough the ceiling! I' not THAT tall!) and was sung to! I got lots of sweet notes from the kids and some great birthday hugs, as well as a cake iced with Nutella at tea. Beth and I made a lightning dash into town to get the parcels--I was kind of hoping my family's box had come, but it was the last of the boxes Beth mailed me in October last year. Pretty cool timing! All in all, it's been a great day even though I had to work, and I'm looking forward of another year in the Lord's service here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The problem with posting so infrequently is...

…you end up with REALLY long blog posts! Apologies in advance!

This morning those of us who were off duty headed off to Kelondu, a more remote assembly, and were able to witness the baptism of three ladies. We ended up walking down the road for about 15 minutes to the river, and in the course of standing at the river and walking there and back I got a awesome sunburn on my neck. Apparently in order to adequately prepare for church I now need to take some sunscreen with me… The thing I can’t figure out though is why I’m the only one who burned…

As Beth and I were walking back from the Ferguson’s tonight, I passed a line of big, black ants that were marching in a line. When I paused by them to make sure I wasn’t stepping in them, they HISSED at me. At least, that’s what it sounded like. Yet another “You know you live in the bush when…”

I’ve had to laugh a few more times this past week as ‘only in Zambia’ situations have occurred. On Monday Pete F. the owner of the game farm came over to tell us that our dogs, Ceili and Sasha had dug under the fence and been chasing Sable! Now, Sable cost around $25,000 to hunt, so the last thing I want to do is pay for one my dog may have damaged or killed! So, Ceili and Sasha are being tied up at night for the time being. I’m still a little surprised that they headed that far from the station, but I guess a nice big animal like that was just too tempting to leave alone!

On Friday Sasha, the Ronald’s dog, was trailing the senior girls as they went down to the pool for Rally, and she collided with a guy on his bicycle. Neither part was seriously hurt, but it could have been quite serious as the road down to the river is a really steep hill. Vickie had a nasty spill going down that road last year, so it’s fortunate that the Zambian wasn’t going faster. I guess that will teach her to meander on the road!

Also on Friday Ikelenge had a riot going on as people fought over who would be in charge of the newly declared boma, and whether the boma should be in Ikelenge anyway. So many people want a piece of the ‘power pie,’ and we just hope and pray that the Lord will protect this area from the worldly influences that are sure to move in with the development of our little village into a boma town.

In other news, last week I got to lay a few bricks in one of the walls on the new dining room—now I can say I helped! I love watching the arches being built on their frames and how the building changes day by day. I can’t wait to see it all finished and ready to be used—the kids are going to be so excited! I’m going to miss the old dining hall though; there is so much history there. Oh well, I guess even Sakeji has to occasionally march with the times!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Not the post I'd hoped to make next...

Even though I knew it was coming and was sick of living in suspense, even though I knew that message would mean that someone I loved was finally released from great suffering, when I found the text message from my dad saying that Opa had finally gone to be with the Lord on Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but be sad. I’ve lost my Opa and my great Grandpa Baker in the space of a year, and while I know I’ll one day get to see then again, it’s hard to know that I’ll never hear that voice again on this earth.

My Opa was a tall, strong man with an endurance that put us to shame. He was always up for a walk, loved to play tennis, and spend his retirement traveling all over the world to help teach others about his beloved Lord and Savior. Opa was also a very well read, learned man. He was a lot of fun to talk to as he had such a wide base of experience and reading to bring to conversations. Living in three continents gave him a perspective of the world that was fun to listen to.

As I got older, I realized how old fashioned European Opa was, but I loved him for that. His old world dignity, sense of duty, and how when he gave his word it meant something were all part of what made up the strong character of my Opa. This past year I read the books the three Burklin siblings (or should I say, Bürklin) wrote, and I was impressed in all three of them at the character of my great Opa Gustave, and the determination (or stubbornness!) that he passed on to his son (and grandson and great grandchildren!). This same determination is a quality that has stood so many of his descendants in good stead as they serve on their various mission fields. It’s a quality that I find as useful when dealing with my classroom of 5th and 6th graders as Opa did teaching at the German Bible Institute and being a teenager in war torn China.

My Opa had a deep, strong voice that he loved to use to sing hymns. One of my favorite memories of him is at one family reunion my Aunt Ruth, Opa, Oma, and I all gathered around a piano and sang together. I always think of him whenever I sing the song “Open My Eyes That I May See.” Another favorite memory was of the “Burklin Trio” singing “How Shall I Serve You Master” at the 2000 Burklin reunion. That song summed up Opa’s life, as it had his parents and later his descendants. I’m sure that Opa is now singing in the heavenly choir, and one day I’ll join him in singing hymns to our Savior.

While I’m really going to miss Opa, I’m so glad that he is where he no longer feels the pain of his battle with cancer. Cancer took his strength, his mind, and sometimes his voice from him, but now he has a new body that isn’t burdened with age and illness. Opa could barely eat for his last year on earth; now he is enjoying heavenly banquets. How hard it is for us still here to understand that life on this earth is just a beginning, a time to meet our Savior and start to be transformed into Him. We can only see the coldness of the grave, grieve for the voice forever stilled, and believe that the Lord told us the truth when He said He goes to prepare a place for us. I look forward to that day too when I’m released from this body, and will get to stand face to face with my Lord and Savior. Though death is a cruel consequence of sin that touches everything living on this earth, praise the Lord that He has conquered death, and because He lives, we can face tomorrow.

“Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Forgive my grief for one removed,
They creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.”

From “In Memoriam” by Tennyson

Thursday, May 5, 2011

April 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

I’m taking a few moments from the preparations for second term to get out another newsletter—it’s always so much harder to find a spare moment during the term. The four weeks of break have flown by, and we are all getting ready to start our busy term schedules again. One of our permanent staff members, Bethany Fuller, is on a well deserved furlough this term, so we are finding out how many things she did quietly behind the scenes to keep this place organized and running. Thankfully the Lord has led some young education students to spend six weeks with us, so we have a few extra pairs of hands. As always, the more staff on station, the more we can accomplish and the more time we have to reach out to the local community. We continue to pray that the Lord will bring the right people at the right time to join in our ministry here at Sakeji.
Beth Sheach and I took a trip all the way down to the capital, Lusaka, at the start of the break for some shopping and to spend some time off station. It was a 1,000 kilometer trip that involved lots of adventures, laughter, and gave us another good look at life in Zambia. Things like the noise of the city, the crazy drivers, the lorries overflowing with people, the constant hazards of chickens, pigs, goats, and pedestrians crossing the road suddenly, and the many people selling tomatoes and watermelons by the roadside are all little snapshots of this beautiful country. Lots of businesses and restaurants are coming up from South Africa as well as from overseas, so more and more things are becoming available in country. One of the malls, Manda Hill, was recently renovated into a two story structure with an escalator and two level car park that makes you forget for a moment that you aren’t in North America. Yet, even though it was fun to shop and enjoy the city, both Beth and I were very glad to return to our quiet bit of bush again. While it involves more long range planning and occasional inconvenience, I wouldn’t trade living in the bush for the city!
During the term break a Brass Tack’s team has been working on the new dining hall. After seeing the slab for so many months, it’s exciting to watch the walls go up and see the shape of the rooms inside. Part of the existing kitchen wall had to be knocked out so a new wall could be built, so we are laughing at ourselves for the nightly locking up of a building with a gapping hole in the side! The current team hopes to see the roof on and the inside walls plastered before they leave. Near the end of second term we will have some more teams coming up to carry on the work while the weather is still conducive to building.
As we continue through the year, we hope and pray that the students will learn and remember not only the three R’s, but also that they will come to know the Lord Jesus better and later go on to live a life that pleases Him. Thank you so much for all your support and prayers; you play an important part in our ministry here. May He find us faithful,


Monday, April 25, 2011



Lusaka trip part 1

Whew—it’s been a crazy week! I’m trying to get everything I bought put away, get my crazily multiplying dishes under control, and get the house back in some semblance of order. I’m going to need a few days to recover from my vacation!

Thrusday—Leave Sakeji early in the morning and head down to Solwezi. We weren’t able to stay where we had planned to, but we eventually found a place that wasn’t too shady and later enjoyed a nice dinner at the place we had planned to stay at. We visited Road Traffic in an attempt to get our licenses, but only managed to get our provisional.

Friday—We reached Kitwe before noon and ran a few errands including being told at the Kitwe Road traffic that we couldn’t do anything there since we started in Solwezi, reserving 50 chicks for the school, and visiting Shoprite for some lunch. When we came back out we couldn’t find the car at first because some kids had washed it. We went out to Mkushi to visit a friend of my mom’s who works at Chengelo School. We had a lovely visit and enjoyed getting to see a different part of Zambia.

Saturday—We arrive in Lusaka! We make a quick shopping run before heading to the CMML Flight House where we were staying. That evening we went out for KFC—newly opened in Lusaka! It was very nice, but definitely Zambianified. You can order Nshima with your chicken, and pretty much the only thing you can get is chicken, chips (French Fries), mashed potatoes, and coleslaw. I was a little sorry to find that the coleslaw wasn’t at ALL like it is back home, but it was nice to get a little piece of home. Plus, we don’t eat a lot of chicken during the term, so it was a nice change.

Sunday—We went to church at the Lusaka Gospel Hall and arrived half and hour late since we remembered the wrong starting time. Oops! After that we headed to Arcades mall to browse the craft market there. Every Sunday lots of local artisans set up a huge craft market in the parking lot of Arcades. You can find wood carvings, jewelry made of all sorts of things from bottle caps, wood, silver, malachite, and beads, chetengi, cloths, and much, much more. After a few hours of shopping and frying on top of the trucker’s tan from the two days before, we finally headed home. That evening we splurged with an evening at Rhapsody’s, a really nice restaurant at Arcades. It was fun to dress up and enjoy a fancy meal with adult conversation!

Monday—Shopping in earnest begins! When you live 6 hours from the nearest real grocery store, you have to stock up when you have the change! Both Beth and I had a list of staples we needed and a list of ‘wants’ that we were looking for. On this trip because we were buying for two cats and a dog, a lot of the room in the patrol was taken up with pet stuff. Another thing I stocked up on was toilet paper—you can’t get nice stuff (or often anything!) up here, so I figured I’d stock up while I had the chance.

Tuesday—On our way to the amazing fabric store Safiks, we accidentally got stuck in a turning lane and ended up one a detour which took us past the Lusaka Animal Welfare Society which I had wanted to visit but couldn’t remember where it was. So, we went in and found that they had one kitten old enough to be adopted, so I then spent 20 minutes being grilled by the lady in charge. After the fabric store we went back to the malls to do some more shopping, and then we headed back to load our car and sort all our purchases.

Wednesday—We packed up that morning and then headed to Arcades one last time to meet Mr. Solomon to pick something up for his father-in-law who lives up by Ikelenge and a few last minute things. Then we went to the show grounds to pick up some vaccinations for the kitten, and then back to LAWS to get Java. Shortly after leaving Lusaka, we got pulled over at a police checkpoint and fined for not having the new license plates. We were pulled over again at another checkpoint for the same thing, but this time we had the form to wave at them. After arriving in Kitwe just after dark, we tried to go around the block of the Edinburgh Hotel to find the parking lot, and ended up in the meat grinder by the bus depot. Now, when I mean meat grinder, I mean that there were people double and triple parked on both sides of the street, and at least three lanes of people trying to go both directions on the street. There were dozens of pedestrians weaving fearlessly through the traffic snarl, and every time one car moved an inch, another quickly jumped into the space. It was impossible to turn around, and I had 5 or 6 people shouting directions at me at once. The guys on the street finally cleared a little space and I started the nerve wracking process of back up the street in the dark, weaving around all the buses, cars, and people until I reached a part where I could turn around. Whew—I hope I never have to do that again! We finally found the parking lot and wearily checked into the hotel. We smuggled Java into our room in her basket, and spent a nice evening distressing and playing with the kitten. Unfortunately, Java lived up to her name and kept us up for a lot of the night with her piercing meowing.

To be continued...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Household chorse and driving practice

Today marks the start of the first full week of term break, and I celebrated it by doing all my laundry, wading through the pile of dishes by my sink, and cleaning up the living room. I’m trying to get a room a day cleaned up before going on my trip—I like coming back to a clean house. Now I have a huge pile of things to be put away in locations around the station that ended up at the house during the term. Odd how things pile up…

Beth and I head out Thursday morning, and I must say I’m getting pretty excited. It will be so nice to be driving again, spending some time off station, and being able to get some shopping done. Today, much to the amusement of passing Zambians and the guy who watches P. Fisher’s hanger, Beth and I went up on the airstrip to keep practicing for the driving test. Now, driving tests in Zambia are a much bigger deal than they are back home! There is a COURSE OF DOOM that must be navigated and as I failed pretty flagrantly last time, I want to have at least a chance of passing this time. This is a picture of the course you have to drive-


You have to pull into the T and go first to the left and back out, and then to the right and back out. For whatever reason, going to the left is harder. The two circled cones are the ones that tend to get creamed or end up under the vehicle. Those are the two I hit last time. I was managing to get through the course pretty well this afternoon, but I’m just afraid we had the cones to wide and that when it comes down to actually doing it I’ll take out two ‘pedestrians’ again. Oh well, if God wants to teach me patience by trying to get a Zambian drivers license, than it is my job to face it head on!

It was so nice today to be home, hanging my laundry out on my new clothesline. There is something special in the smell of fresh laundry. The bright, blue skies of dry season are starting to come more and more frequently, and I am slowly working through some of the things that caused me so much stress last term. I am not a perfect teacher, and my students are not perfect students. However, as I work on regaining perspective and getting myself back in tune with the Lord, I’m slowly getting back to where I need to be as I serve Him here. Now that I have some time to think, meditate, and focus on something other than the desperate demands of the moment, I’m realizing again how vital it is to stay ‘charged’ with the word of the Lord. Because it is impossible to give as He asks us to give when we are dry ourselves.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Term 1--DONE!

After an afternoon of parent-teacher interviews and a howling gale, it is finally the evening of THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL! There are just a few children to tuck into bed, and tomorrow the station will be eerily quiet as the last of the students make their way home. There is a wrap up meeting tomorrow, and then we are officially on holiday!

I have about a week to recover from the term before the epic road trip to Lusaka with Beth starts. I’m so excited about getting off station and getting to do some shopping and relaxing! I’m sure we’ll have all sorts of stories to tell when we get back. We’re also hoping to get our drivers licenses, so hopefully all goes well with that.

Yay for term break!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The week of crazy is almost over!

Reports are due Saturday at midnight, and I think I'm going to make it! I can't wait to take a nice, long nap on Sunday though...


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still alive...

This morning as I was walking back into my room I saw a funny something on the hall floor. I decided to take a closer look and to my surprise there was a squished scorpion! It appeared fairly freshly squished, and as I was in bare feet (as I always am in the house), it was a pretty fair guess that I had not done the squishing. Rachel always wears shoes in the house, so I wondered if she had either a) freaked out and managed to kill it without me hearing, or b) in a state of blissful unawareness stepped on it on her way to the bathroom. I asked her at lunch if she had killed a critter in the hall that morning, and she said, "*gasp* No, what was it?!?!?" I can't believe she managed to step full on a scorpion and not notice! I guess it was God's birthday present to her...

We had another great big storm here--I can't wait till the blue skies of dry season roll in! I'm also hoping it dries up as much as possible before Beth and I head off for our town trip. We both want to try and get our Zambian licenses, do some shopping, and have some down time off station. I really enjoyed my Christmas holiday here, but I'm starting to get a little 'station crazy.' It's not like I'm used to being able to go off wherever I want whenever I want, but being so far out in the back of beyond makes you appreciate the simplicity of travel back home!

Well, I'd better go to bed--mushy brains do not a good teacher make!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Yesterday we had an incredible electric storm right as the bell should have been going for dinner. Thankfully the kids were all safe in either the dorm or upper school, because there were deafening peals of thunder and trees around the playground being struck! I was standing outside my classroom (on the covered porch that runs around the upper school) watching the storm when one particularly powerful strike hit. I could hear the wires over my head crackle all the way down to the bulbs at the ends of the hall and then POP. Ceili had been beside me in the hall, but after that crash she dashed into my classroom only to be callously evicted by me. She knows that she is not allowed in buildings, and ever since I found out that she had been locked in the library all Friday afternoon during half-term since she had sneaked into the junior section for a nap on the rug, I haven't been very sympathetic.

Half-term was a great success --we had great weather and safety for all. Some visitors from Chit also came up which was nice. Now it's back to face the last three weeks of school--we're in the home stretch!

Beth and I are preparing to enjoy St. Patrick's day. Any excuse to do something fun with the kids! I think I might get some green cookies made for my class tomorrow...

Well, I had better go--7am supper comes far too early around here!

Monday, February 28, 2011

What a weekend...

I was on duty this weekend which meant that I got to be involved in the most exciting event to date this term. This particular Sunday I had a very full morning—supervision from 8:45-10, sitting in on Rachel’s Sunday school from 10-11, doing letters with the seniors from 11-12, and then Senior Sunday School from 2-3. It was the Senior’s walk to Church, so Mark had taken the kids down to Hillwood and everyone on the off duty team had headed out to a local assembly. I was had just walked through the dorm to kick any kids out (it was a beautiful sunny day) when Rachel found me and asked me how to open the hall. I was just walking down the hall when I heard the familiar cry, “Miss Burklin! Somebody’s hurt!” I turned around and saw one of the first graders, Abigail heading towards me flanked by a few concerned bystanders. She was crying a bit, and the tone of her cry and comparatively how little noise she was making let me know right away that she was actually hurt. I went up to her and saw that her left arm was crooked right below her wrist and knew that it was broken.
She was still somewhat in shock, so I quickly got her over to the chotta by the girl’s dorm holding her arm and pulled her onto my lap to keep her calm and keep her arm as still as possible. Rachel went tearing over to Sick Bay to find Pam (who almost never walks to church) only to find out that she had chosen this Sunday to walk to church. Then Rachel went and got Vickie, Vickie took one look and called Pam while trying to find some ice and some pain killers for Abigail. I carried her into the dorm so we could put her arm out straight on the table for Pam to splint when she got back and sat with her till Jill came down. After that I went to help Rachel with her Sunday school. One of the funny things was all the wild rumors that were flying around the school shortly after the accident—Abigail broke both arms, Abigail broke her hand, Abigail had been jumping on the high bars… Kids! She had actually slipped off the low monkeybars and landed on her arm at just the wrong angle.
Thankfully Abigail is now back and her normal bouncy self after getting her cast. She’s also enjoying her celebrity status! Yet another Abigail story to add to Sakeji lore… Life is never boring out here in the bush…

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nothing like a science class gone wrong...

So, I got this brilliant idea that I would do a simple experiment demonstrate the three states of matter. When I was in high school, our chemistry program used the same experiment to demonstrate everything--fill a balloon with baking soda, fill a 2 liter bottle with vinegar, and then do different things with the same experiment. Our class was enlivened by the fact that the mom in charge of lab always brought water balloons--the trying process of trying to ram 20 grams of baking soda into a tinny balloons stands out in my memory right up there with the fact that as we gingerly held the tinny balloons on the bottles, they would inflate to their full capacity and burst by your face dusting you group with a fine powder of baking soda. Good times!

So, I remembered that experiment, and decided that if I tinted the vinegar blue for visibility, it would be a great experiment to do for my kids. So, I duly dumped a good bit of vinegar into a 2 liter bottle, filled a LARGE balloon with a a generous amount of baking soda, and put in the food coloring. I vaguely remembered that the experiment was always rather pathetic, and I wanted that balloon to inflate, so I put in a good amount of both components.

The next day I duly placed my loaded bottle in a plastic tray I had just brought up for the kids to put their health assignments in, gave my little talk about the three states of matter, put the balloon on the bottle neck, tipped it up, and let 'er go. Well, all went well for the first bit--the reaction started, the balloon started to inflate, all was well and good. Then, I noticed the hole in the balloon that was letting vinegar smelling gas out. Then, I noticed that I had started something a little bigger than my bottle could contain! As I watched in horror, blue vinegar started to spurt merrily out the hole in the balloon and all over one of my 5th graders notes. I grabbed the spurting balloon and directed the spray down, but not before the notebook was liberally splattered, and a howl of shock and appreciation was let loose by my riveted class. Once the reaction was finished, I sent a kid for a rag to wipe up the floor and desks that had been spattered, and tried to recover with something approaching grace. Ah, life is never boring! I'll go down in history as the teacher who sprayed the class blue!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Life is a polka...

Well, the term has started out with a bang indeed! Life has been a little overwhelming, but some troublesome things are already getting better, and God is always good. Here’s what’s been going on in the bush:

*Boils. Well, not quite boils, but a sore of similar type. I have about 7 ‘mini boils’ on my right shoulder that suddenly came up right as term was starting, and have made my life interesting. Let’s just say that the story of the plagues of Egypt will never be the same again! They are healing now so they just itch a little instead of the burning pain I had before. Those on top of everything else this week were just a little much, but now that they are healing and everything else is shacking out, I think I’ll be fine.

*Changing class numbers! I started the term with 20 kids, knowing a MK was going to possibly be joining mid-term, but after the first day of school it was proposed that one of the 4th graders skip up to my class. Her parents had requested it partly because she is so tall, but she is also very precocious academically, so after much talk, we let her do a trial run till today to see how she did. I’ve been very pleased with her work—it’s been better than some of the ‘real’ grade 5’s, and I think it’s better to challenge a kid than to leave them in a class where they are bored. So, I had to dig out some more books and figure out what number to give her, but I think we’re settled now until the other student returns.

*New housemate! The Thursday before school opened, Beth S. (my former housemate) and Rachel B. arrived at Sakeji. Rachel is living with me, and while it took a little adjusting to having a housemate again, I’ve enjoyed getting to know her. Rachel is from Scotland, and thus has an awesome accent!

*Laptop issues! Let’s just say that I now know a great way to spent a stupid amount of money is to buy a laptop, ship it via DHL to Zambia, and then try to get it out of customs. I ended up having to pay a k4,000,000 fee for customs, but God is in control and already I have had a surprise gift of k1,000,000 towards that surprise expense. God is good!

*Mouse! Remember my mouse trouble? Well, I had heard a second mouse knowing on a dresser in my sewing room, so I had put down some poison after the trap failed. Well, a few days ago, Rachel asked me if I smelled gas in the house. Now, I have practically no sense of smell, and at the time I didn’t notice anything. However, it soon became apparent that something was rotten in Valley View. I traced the source of the odour to the sewing room, put two and two together and came up with…IV. I pulled out the bottom drawer of the dresser with some fear and trembling and saw a HUGE mouse crawling with maggots. I put the drawer back quickly and considered my options. Somehow I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to deal with it. Turns out, Pam’s dad has no problems with things of that sort, so he very kindly came over to my house and removed and cleaned up my nasty visitor. I’ve been trying to get the smell out of the room—candles, airing and room spray seem to be slowly diminishing the smell. I’m just glad the thing died in such an easy to reach spot! Also, I’m glad someone else was willing to dispose of it for me!

And that’s what’s going on in my life! Hope your month is a little less hectic!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My New Years Story...a few days late

Well, I wanted to post this on New Years Day as it’s a New Years story, but both the 110 and the 240 went off at once and I lost all that I had typed up, so I finally have a pocket of time to do it again, so here goes!

Last year on January 1, I arrived in London on my way to Zambia. I had a good sized layover, so I had planned to get out into the city and go through Westminster Abbey and maybe (time permitting) check out a yarn shop before heading back to the airport and then on to Lusaka. I had a few pounds on me from a few summers ago when I took a travel study trip to England, so I was able to buy an all day tube pass for the correct zones. This left me with about £5, but as I had my debit card I planned to get some cash when I hit the city. In the airport there is a place where for £8 you can leave a bag for a few hours, so I dropped off my bulky laptop bag and headed out into London. When I arrived at Westminster, I started trying to pull out my cash so I could pay the entry fee for Westminster Abbey. To my surprise, no ATM I tried worked. I was starting to get worried—my card had always worked internationally before, and I wasn’t sure why it would be this time.

When it became clear that my cards were blocked, I found a phone booth and called my parents to see if they could sort it out. What I forgot was a) it was New Years Day so the bank was closed and b) my parents were driving back from Tennessee. I got through and explained my dilemma before running out of change, but of course there was nothing they could do to help me. Now, I knew I could get back to the airport just fine (though somehow I failed to communicate that to my poor mother), but I wasn’t sure how I was going to get my bag back. Not only did I have less than £5 now, but I had less than $2 on me because of all the craziness of leaving from Nashville. I wondered if the place would take a check, but figured it was unlikely. I didn’t know anyone in London, and the one place I could think of to go for help was closed. I spent a lot of time wandering around Westminster trying to find an internet café to see if there was anyone I could get a hold of, but had no luck.

Shortly before I would have to head back to the airport, I decided to try one more ATM, just to make sure my card was really frozen. As I was once again unsuccessful, I muttered, “Rats” or something along those lines and started to step away. A middle-aged gentleman had just stepped up to the ATM beside me, and when he heard me he said, “Sorry?” Almost without realizing it I was pouring my story out to this complete stranger with no real goal in mind, just the need to share with someone the frustration I had been going through all day. To my shock, the man looked at me, said, “Well, in the spirit of the season,” and handed me a £10 note. I stammered some thanks as he went off to continue his life, and then sent a heartfelt “THANK YOU” to heaven for the Lord’s provision. I was then able to redeem my laptop and make a quick phone call to my worried mother telling her it had all worked out and I was safely on the airport about to get on a plane for Zambia.

I will never forget those desperate hours in London trudging all over in the cold trying to figure out what to do. I’ll never forget that kind stranger who gave me a bill that covered my need even though I had not named a sum. And I’ll never forget how God showed me yet again that He meant for me to be going to Zambia to join His work there. How many people get to start their time on the mission field with a miracle?