Monday, December 23, 2013

December Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

Whew—the 2013 school year is over! The last two weeks of school are always a very, very busy time for the staff at Sakeji Mission School. Seventy-seven report cards had to be written that take into account spiritual and educational progress during the term. These report cards had to be proof-read, and final grades calculated. Prizes need to be decided on, certificates written, classrooms cleaned, and the last batches of papers and notebooks sent up to the dorm to clear the desks for another year. Jill and I were busy rehearsing the program, last minute details were being organized, and each of us were trying to get all the loose ends in the areas under our supervision tied up. On December 3rd there was a PTA meeting which I was involved in, and then on December 4th the parents arrived to great excitement from their children. I gave several parent teacher interviews, played for the Prize Giving ceremony in the afternoon, and then for the show that evening. We had a special guest this year for the show—Chiefteness Ikelenge came with a few retainers. We don’t know how much English she understands, but we trust that the Gospel message went out to her as well as the parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and friends of our students.

While those last two weeks were very difficult in moments, it was all worth it. It is so special to remember where the kids were at the beginning of the term and see how far they have grown, matured, and improved over the course of a year. It is always good to talk to their parents, and it was good to hear the PTA taking measures to insure that this will stay a Godly school where the first priority is honoring Him. We said goodbye to ten of our students who will be moving on to different schools in January, and prayed one last time with them that they would continue in the things that they had learned. Now there are a few weeks of holiday for the staff to rest, regroup, and organize for the next school year which starts on January 8th. I’ll have a new class of 6th graders to ‘break in,’ and a continuing class of 7th graders to get ready for their national exams. Prayers for wisdom, patience, strength, and grace to show the love of Christ are always needed as I input into these young lives.

A recent item of praise is that my new work permit came through! I took a quick trip down to the capital to pick it up; now I’m taken care of for emigration for another two years. It is a constant challenge to keep up with documents in two countries, but there are some very patient people who help us missionaries out with that. Also, with so much backlog and inefficiency in Zambia, it’s always a matter of rejoicing when someone’s paperwork comes through and is not lost! This trip was a chance to visit some friends who live along the way, and to do some shopping for the next few months. I don’t anticipate heading out to town again for quite awhile, so I’ll need to stock up on the items I can’t get in Ikelenge. I am so thankful for the safety we enjoyed on the roads and in town; it is so easy to forget how blessed we are every time we go out and return safely.

I’m looking forward to another year of blessings, challenges, and learning how to serve the Lord better. Thank you so much for all your prayers, letters, e-mails, and the many different ways you keep in touch and encourage me. May He find us faithful wherever He has called us to be!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another crazy road trip over, and nobody died!

Beth and I rolled into Sakeji around 7:30 last night after a week of craziness in travel, shopping, and government offices. Here are the highlights:

Day 1: We packed four girls into the back of Jill's little single cab Hylux to begin the trip down to Solwezi. The road was actually quite good, and everybody survived!

Day 2: We dropped the four girls off at the airport and proceeded to drive down to Kitwe to stay with my dear Sri Lankan friends. Indian food for supper--what a treat! The road was TERRIBLE. Lots of pot holes and a few muddy detours made driving rather interesting.

Day 3: We set off for Lusaka and endured some more bad roads because of the construction on the dual carriageway between Kitwe and Ndola. As we had experienced the day before, we were bothered at every check point and asked an interesting variety of questions including:

* Can I see your license? (almost every stop)

* What kind of triangles do you have? (I wasn’t aware that there was more than one kind…Uh, the metal ones…)

* Can I see your passport? (This from an emigration guy. I’ve never seen emigration on the road before!)

* Did you know your fitness is expiring soon? (Fitness=Inspection. Why no I didn’t—oh dear!)

* Can I have your particulars? (Translation—can I get your number? Why no, I don’t give out my number to creepy guys!)

When we arrived in Lusaka we got to enjoy some Christmas including this tree made of recycled bottles at Arcades,

and these lights in Manda Hill

Day 4: I went to emigration and was able to pick up my work permit with only an hours wait! Praise the Lord! After that Beth and I did some shopping and repacked the car.

Day 5: I took off in the rain to get the vehicle fitness (inspection) taken care of, and Beth went to the Canadian High Commissioner's office to pick up her passport. We both managed to get our errands done, ate some lunch, then headed up to Kitwe to stay with the Fernandos again. We almost lost the truck in a lake by the farm, but that little truck is made of stiff stuff!

Day 6: After a much needed sleep we headed into Kitwe to finish up our shopping. After that we went with the Fernandos to a bible study Christmas party. It was rather interesting as 80% of the people there were Indians, but the food was fantastic, and we enjoyed the caroling.

Day 7: Aunty Anita made a lovely breakfast of her fabulous spring rolls and samosas, and then we set off. The road was aweful and rather wet with all the rain, but we managed to roll into Sakeji at 7:30pm. We found out later that one of our tires was in really bad shape--I'm so thankful the Lord allowed us to get home on it! Truly, God is good!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Term 3 is officially over!

Yesterday was a crazy day--so much had to happen before the kids could go home! The morning was spent finishing off odds and ends and having our in school certificate assembly. After a hurried lunch I grabbed my prizes and then raced back to my classroom for parent teacher interviews. Once those were finished it was time for the big prize giving ceremony at which I had to play a few things. It started to pour rain right after the prize giving, so supper was a slightly damp affair. I raced home after that to change for the program, then it was back to the hall to start playing as the parents came in. I am so thankful for our refurbished hall--the porch on the back was a God-send last night! We had our annual visit from Father Christmas, and then there was time to enjoy some of the treats at the back! I slept like a rock--the adrenaline had kept me going, but once I left the hall and squelched home I realized that I was exhausted. I'm so glad it's all over--so very, very glad. I'm ready for some time to rest, reorganize and regroup. Teaching is an exhausting profession!