Friday, January 31, 2014

Week 4--a death, and continued construction

This week was a little odd because Paul Fisher, a descendant of the founder of our school, passed away on Monday morning, and the funeral was held on Thursday. Paul was not just an important part of the missionary community, but he was also a Lunda chief, so his funeral was an even bigger deal than funerals usually are in this culture. Beth and I took the whole school down to the river at 10 so that other members of staff could attend the funeral, and then the usual afternoon classes and activities followed. I had fun playing with some grade 2 students, but I’m sore today! I don’t even want to think how many years it has been since I last played dodge ball…

Here are a few more pictures of the renovations of the main sitting room. First, coming from the boys wing, here is the new pillar that will help support a beam which will allow the old white wall to be taken out. I think…plans keep changing!

This picture is coming from the girl’s wing; the new brick wall on the right is the new closet which is being built around where the stair to the attic is, and the other side of the new pillar. The old guest room just out of sight to the left is full of debris as they have taken out the ceiling and are working on getting the one wall ready to be removed. Again, I think!

Lastly, here is the outside where they are extending the front of the building by a few feet, and working on a new fa├žade so the whole main sitting room area will look nicer. There are some very obvious repairs to the brickwork on the front.

I’m on this weekend, so I’ll be supervising letter writing, taking the kids down to the river, and teaching junior (grades 1-4) Sunday school. Luckily there will be some time to rest in there, as I’ve had a busy week. I can’t believer we’re 4 weeks into the term already!

I just remembered a funny kid story that I meant to share! A few weeks ago I was coming down the hallway of upper school with an armful of handwork stuff, and as usual, the girls were crowding around the library entrance. I told them, "I'm glad you think I'm so skinny, but I can't fit through that gap." One little girl pipped up, "But Miss B-, you ARE skinny." Immediately the other girls all went, "EEEEeeee." Which is a Zambian expression which means basically, "I can't believe you just said that/you liar/Nuh-uh!" Good thing I have no delusions on that score! Gotta love kids and their honesty...

Parting shot: The sunset was AMAZING last night!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Determination

As I was getting ready for my singing assembly with the children this week, I found this song again, and was struck by how well it went with what I’m trying to do with getting my heart and eating more solidly under the Lord’s control.

Be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you,
Be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you,
I am not afraid, I am not dismayed,
For I’m walking in faith and victory:
Come on and walk in faith and victory,
For the Lord your God is with you.

I have determined in my heart that good habits must continue, and that bad ones must be changed. I continue to learn to predetermine what my food choices for the day will look like before I walk into the situation, and am determined to remember my identity in Christ. I am a blood-bought, radically loved, work in progress. The Master is slowly chipping the hard edges of my character away so that I look more like Him, and in the process teaching more about Himself and the abundant, wonderful life He wants me to have. A life where He is my all in all, and where I walk confidently for the Lord my God is with and for me.

So, through this week and its temptations, I’ve been singing this song to myself as a reminder of what I have in Christ, and who I am. With the Lord’s power at work in me, excelsior!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Construction of more than one kind...

As there are some big changes taking place around station, I thought I’d take some pictures of them while I was thinking about it. Down by my house will become a new container depot, so they are working on building a slab. There will eventually be a roof over them as well, but right now there are just some stones and a bit of cement to show where the slab will be. I was sorry about the trees that had to be cut down, but it will be nice to have things more accessible.

Yesterday was the day when the guys emptied out the attic of the main sitting room and moved it onto the stage in the hall so that they can get to work on the ceilings. The attic is a scary place full of guano, dirt, and the ‘wealth of ages.’ The floor was made of these thin boards that flexed distressingly as you walked over them, and I often felt like I was about to go shooting through the main sitting room ceiling. It was also stuffy and hot up there, so digging for supplies for crafts was not a favorite activity! Now the front of the hall is piled with musty stuff that will need to be sorted. I’m just glad it wasn’t me up that ladder…

This week we had our second Latin lesson, and we all had a blast! I’m so tickled that the kids are enjoying this—I think its going to benefit them on so many levels. We’re also really enjoying our literature novel, Holes. We have a bunch of yellow-spotted lizards on our board right now—I’m glad they aren’t real!

A specific prayer request for me in these next few weeks is for wisdom in how to 'build' my grade 6's into the kind of students that they need to be. I realize that it's the beginning of the year and that I'll probably be amazed in December at how far they have come, but right now it's a little discouraging to see how little work they are able to handle. I need to figure out how to push them without overwhelming them...so I'm definitely going to the Lord for wisdom on this one!

I’m off this weekend, so I’m looking forward to getting some rest and doing some planning. It’s amazing how your body gets into routines and schedules… At the end of two weeks I’m always exhausted! Naps are a good thing...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Empowered

Feeling empowered about my food choices and my ability to walk in obedience to the Lord is a relatively new thing for me. Works like defeat, misery, shame, and failure have been much more the story of my life. At one point I was even telling myself that it was okay that I was not taking care of my body—I was too busy serving God to worry about that. Give me a break, I’m a missionary living in AFRICA. Sounds very holy, right? Boy was I wrong!

Since realizing that my food issues were of great concern to God, and that it wasn’t just the strain I was putting on my body, but also an outward sign of an inward problem, I am being freed from those old ugly words. Bringing this area of my life under the rule of Christ has been so liberating—not the burden that I always assumed it would be. While I sometimes have to make conscious choices, creating a routine of exercise and predetermining some things about my eating habits have made a world of different.

Through Him I am empowered to say no to baked goods that aren’t really that high on my pleasure list, and I no longer living with the guilt of my excuses and binges. Submitting my food choices to God has brought so much freedom—if only I could have learned this when I was a teenager and first starting to struggle with food! His strength in me makes it possible to reduce my portions, make better choices, and to actually look forward to (most of!) my exercise times. This body is a temple of the Lord, and I want it to have the ability to serve Him full out! Not that I have arrived at where I need to be physically or spiritually, but I am committed to making 'imperfect progress' for the rest of my life.

“Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b, 10b

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Favorite Scripture

This is practice for the blog hop of the Made to Crave Bible on-line bible study; I'm so excited to go through the book again and to get another boost in my journey towards obedience to the Lord in ALL things...especially my eating! It's amazing to me how quickly I forget what the Lord has done for me, and how often I have to be reminded of His goodness and promises.

It's really hard for me to nail down what my favorite scripture is. Depending on the season of my life that I'm going through I might cling to a certain passage more than others, but there are some scriptures that come to mind quite a lot. One of them is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. "And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, i will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Here at Sakeji I so often feel weak and unable to handle the staggering responsibility that the Lord has given me. In the classroom, facing piles of marking, trying to figure out how to get through to a child, and so many other things often leave me feeling lost or helpless. I miss my family, I miss my home state, and sometimes I just wish I could GO and drive to a coffee shop to get away from the stress of life on a mission station. It's in those moments that I most treasure His promise that His grace is sufficient for me. His grace is big enough to handle any child, any situation, any issue, and any problem I might have. I so often fall for the lie that God somehow isn't enough for me--that He won't come through for me, or that this time I'm not important enough for Him to work it out. Foolish me--I know better!

As I get ready to start this bible study journey of Made to Crave, I'm excited about having a chance to get refreshed and encouraged. God has done some amazing things in my life since this summer when I first read this book, and I'm looking forward to continuing the journey of obedience and victory over the sin that so easily entangles me. His grace is sufficient--not brownies!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Construction

This week the school embarked on a new construction project--the renovation of the Main Sitting Room. For many years this room has been a hub of activity at Sakeji, and for many years its inadequate foundation has been sinking, and the walls have been developing some alarming cracks. As a part of solving the foundation problem the room is going to be extended about two feet, and the old nasty attic is going to be removed. It will be interesting to see how things progress. Right now it just looks like a mud hole!

My classroom is looking cheerful this week now that my students have their New Years mobiles finished. I'm always amazed by their creativity, and how different each child really is.

It's been a pretty good week in my classroom; I'm getting to know my new 6th graders, and working on setting up some good habits. I always forget how hard first term is--after third term where the kids were much closer to my goals for them, it's a bit of a shock to deal all these issues that I haven't had to worry about for a few months! Thankfully, God gives more grace.

Friday, January 10, 2014

First Week of School

1) All the kids arrived back safely, and classes seem to have started off well.

2) I really enjoy these first few days when the kids are all still on their best behavior...

3) I killed a small snake in my kitchen the other day. Got my heart rate up, and provided some entertainment for my cat. Not sure what it was, but when it's in your house all snakes are BAD.

4) After almost 5 hour of laboring with Jill, the music shelf and cupboard are once again usable, and we are getting rid of A LOT of things that we will never use. It's amazing how much space we have now!

5) It's been really cool and overcast these last few days; I keep hoping for a sunny morning to make getting up easier. Good thing I've got lots of handknit socks to enjoy in the evenings!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome 2014!

I can't believe that it has been 4 crazy years since I set out on this journey--the journey of teaching at Sakeji Mission School. It seems like just yesterday that I spent that last bleary night packing and throwing things into my closet at home, just yesterday since I said that first goodbye in the airport, and just yesterday that I got off the plane and smelled the smoke. So much has happened since then, but God was and IS faithful.

This coming year is going to be full of challenges; some I already know about, and some are going to surprise me. This coming year is going to be full of blessings, opportunities for growth and maturing, laughter, tears, and a few curve balls. While I can't put most of those things into my planner, I'm excited to begin this new journey. Bring it on 2014--there is nothing that my Father and I can't handle together.