Monday, September 29, 2014

September Newsletter

Even though we are just four weeks into it, this school term has been very challenging and is stretching me in many different ways. Two of our permanent staff members are away on furlough right now, which means that there are lots of extra jobs to pick up and responsibilities to take on. It’s always amazing to me to find out how many little acts of service other people quietly do—you only notice when they aren’t being done any more! Praise the Lord though, He sent us two short termers who are being a huge help and blessing to us. Then, right as school started, we received word that one of our second grade students had been ill over the holiday, but would hopefully be joining us before the end of the week. A few days later we received the shocking news that he had just been killed in a car accident. While there haven’t been mass outpourings of grief from the students, there have been many little signs that the news impacted them deeply and that they are still thinking about it. How we pray that this tragedy will result in more intentional lives from our student who are already saved, and conviction in the lives of those who are not. How often we forget that our days are not ours to number, and that any day could be our last opportunity to serve the Lord and impact one of these precious lives. Third term is always busy, and this year is no exception! The students had fun preparing for the Dr. Seuss themed birthday party and now the next big event is half-term and the Copper Belt Sports Tour at the beginning of October. Our grade 7-9 students will travel down to compete against Amano Christian School and at least two other private schools in netball and soccer. It’s so good for our kids to have the chance to measure themselves against other athletes and practice their sportsmanship skills. Now that birthday party preparations are over, work on the end of term show will being. This year our theme is Christmas around the world. Later in the term my grade 7 students will be writing their national exams, so we are covering some specifically Zambian topics in class and starting to work through old exams in preparation. I have no worries about my students being able to come through with flying colors, but there is a lot of pressure put on them by their parents to do well. The main sitting room renovation project is drawing to a close; the door and windows were finally installed last week, most of the wiring is done, and the finishing touches such as painting and tiling are well underway. It will be such a blessing to have that space back; it’s one of the main hubs of school life. The kids gather there for video and music nights, we use it for staff meetings, evening fellowships, and other special events, and especially as the rains start up again it’s nice to have a place that is big enough to do things with large groups of kids. It’s been a long process, but we hope to get things finished off this term. Even though things have been more challenging than usual this term, it’s been really neat to see God working in and through us. We are always praying for either more staff to help us serve, or for extra grace, patience, and strength. I’ve been so amazed at how God has answered that prayer over the last few weeks. It would be so easy to become stressed and irritable with each other because of all the extra ‘stuff’ in our lives right now, but God is helping each of us to have an extra measure of gracious patience and love. While no one enjoys going through a stretching experience, I’m learning all over again that when the Lord calls you to do something hard He does not leave you without the resources to accomplish it. Praise Him for His faithfulness and goodness to His servants! Thanks again for all the support and prayers you send my way. I so appreciate knowing that people are thinking of me and Sakeji, and hearing from you about what God is doing in your lives. I couldn’t serve as effectively without you. May He find us faithful wherever He has called us to be!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sakeji Convalescent School

Well, it's been another interesting week here at the school! Wouldn't want to get bored or something... One of my sixth grade students sprained her ankle pretty good early in the week, and has been clicking about on crutches ever since.

Then, on Wednesday this little guy took a tumble off the teeter-totter down at the river and broke his arm. Rough stuff when you're in grade one and it's your right arm!

For some good news, the main sitting room is getting ever closer to completion! Today was a rather stressful day on the site; they installed the bit window up top, and had a bit of a crisis with the door being to tall for the doorway. Not sure what they did about the door, but as you can see it now fits and is installed. I've never seen a door that opens like that before; I'll post another picture of it in action and up close.

The other big news around here is that yesterday, September 18th, was our first real rain of the season. It rained pretty hard for over an hour, and once it stopped all the frogs living in the ditch beside my house broke forth in songs of joy. I was pretty excited myself--the land is so dry right now, and the smell of the first rains in Africa will probably be worked into a corner of heaven somewhere. Hopefully we have another good rainy season! This also means that the months of fanatically unplugging everything of value to you have begun... Oh well, I'm still excited about the rain!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Settling in and a field trip

Whew—I had all these grand plans for how I was going to get caught up on everything over the weekend, and I ended up taking some very needed naps and getting sort of caught up on some things. Once again my days are all too short, and I find myself trying to juggle having a semblance of a ‘life’ outside of school things and getting enough sleep. It was a good week though—God continues to give me extra grace and patience, and thankfully my students are still somewhat the whole school thing!

One thing that was I working on just before school started, was making some curtains for the new boys dorm at the orphanage down the road. I was finishing the brown curtains for the boys room,

and these pink and chetengi curtains for the dorm mom’s room.

I don’t have the time during the term to go help out at the orphanage, but I really felt the Lord calling me to do this project for them, and it ended up being a real blessing to me in more ways than one. For one thing, it was a great way to enjoy listening to some great podcasts and get spiritually refreshed for the term!

Last week there was a rare opportunity to take my students of a field trip! Some people from the Zambian arts council were in the area teaching the local craftsmen how to improve and market their goods, so we took the grade 1-3 and 6-9 students out to have a look. It was so neat to see people actually making these things, and to see the new splashes of color the arts people were encouraging the craftsmen to use. Who knew that the black they get for the chairs comes from mud!

We are all finding the rhythm of school again, and the kids seem to be settling in well. While there are still some effects of the loss of our grade 2 student, the kids seem to be handling things pretty well. Perhaps this tragedy will help turn some hearts towards the Lord.

Parting shot: Hazel is enjoying all the leaf piles that were left for her to snuggle up in!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A hard week

Wednesday was our first day of school, and all this week has been full of tweaking things, finding out things that our two staff members who are away used to do because they aren't being done, and getting the kids and ourselves settled back into the school routine. I feel like I've been running around putting out fires all week, but hopefully once we've gone through a full week of classes things will be less wild. Third term is especially challenging since there is no rolling things over to the next term--IT MUST BE FINISHED. God has been very good though, and He has given strength, grace, and a joy in serving that has made these days easier.

On top of the regular beginning of term challenges, we have suffered two losses to our student body this week. Two of our students didn't make it up at the beginning of term; one of our second grade boys was sick, and a fifth grade boy just didn't show up. Further communications with the fifth graders family confirmed that he will now be attending a different school. It's hard to not have had a chance to say goodbye--for us and him I'm sure, but we pray for God's workings in that young life.

On Friday we got the news that our second grade boy was supposed to be traveling up to the school soon, but had been in a car accident and killed. This student had only been here two terms, but his loss has shaken students and staff alike. It hit me how much we take it for granted that all our our students will return to us whole and well; who would ever have guessed that we would never see this child again? How we staff members pray that this will shake up our students and turn their thoughts to spiritual things. How we pray that the Lord will bring good out of this tragedy into the lives of that family. And how we pray that we might not miss any opportunities to make an impact on these young lives. As far as I know that student had not made a profession for Christ, but only the Lord knows the heart. Perhaps he had heard and believed at some point this year; I sure hope so.

Despite that rather sobering note to the week, the rest of our students seem to be settling in well. We had our first Latin lesson of the term, and I started our first literature book, The Hobbit. Not only is this a favorite story of mine, but I think it's so critical to teach these middle school students who to distinguish good fiction from bad. I've been really encouraged by a few discussions I've had with students this week over various things--God is so good to give us little glimpses of the fruit He's bringing about in their lives! I pray that I will have the wisdom to listen and counsel these young people and help them to develop not just their faith, but also their minds for the glory of Christ. May we not grow weary of doing good!