Monday, January 26, 2015

Time ran away with me again...

I meant to post this update on Saturday, but as I was so exhausted I took a nice long nap instead. Some highlights from week two of term:

* First Latin lesson of the term with my 6th and 7th graders. I love teaching this class, and most of the kids enjoy it at least some of the time. Latin is such good brain training, a vocabulary builder, and foundation for studying any other romance language. Plus, it tickles me to bring it back to Sakeji!

* That nasty chest cold I had is mostly gone--Praise the Lord!

* My first junior music classes went pretty well. I am using Classroom Dojo again; I'm hoping that accumulating positive 'monster points' will help motivate those rather boisterous youngsters to think before they act.

* I continue to be challenged by my Hungarian ESL student. While Z is a lovely, sweet, intelligent boy, trying to find the words he needs to understand the concepts and figure out what to expect out of him without overwhelming or boring him has been a real stretch for me.

Well, I'd better sign off for now--marking is calling my name! Have a blessed week, and thanks for praying.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

First School Week

Whew--getting totally adjusted back to Sakeji physically has been a bit of a challenge because of the lingering crud I picked up either right before or on my way back here and the expected readjusting to the altitude. That being said, the first few days of the 2015 school year have gone pretty well. This year I have 20 students; only 5 of them are boys! A particular challenge for me this term is that one of my 6th graders is Hungarian. While Z is a lovely, intelligent young man with better English than I had hoped, it does take some extra support as we go over concepts to make sure that he understood everything. These first few weeks of the school year always take more work because you are laying down so many routines, expectations, and standards with the new students and the new to your classroom students. Doing weekend dishes and tables takes longer because the new 5th graders have not paid much attention to how things work up to this point. However, I know that over the next few weeks, habits will be formed, tasks will become more streamlined, and the structure that takes a lot of effort to put in place will begin to do its job of keeping most things at the school running smoothly. The subsequent two terms will be a lot easier to start as the children will already know what is expected of them.

I've been getting a lot of use out of my rubber boots this week; the grass between my house and the school proper is quite long, and it has been pretty soggy ever since I arrived back. I'm amazed again at how green everything is; to come from the drabness of a Texas winter to the explosion of green that is Zambia right now is quite a change! I was also amazed at how much the Sakeji river has risen since the end of last term. Tubing for half-term! Sunny days are not only a welcome chance to get things dried out and to enjoy the sunshine, but also mean that there will be hot water from our solar heaters. Ah, the challenges of living in the bush!

How is this my 6th year at Sakeji already? Where did the time fly?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

December 2014 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

As 2014 draws to a close I thought I’d send out one more newsletter this year about life at Sakeji. I was able to come home to Texas for Christmas, so I have been enjoying spending time with my family, both sets of grandparents, and as many friends as I could fit in. I will be heading back to Zambia on January 5th, and Lord willing I’ll be arriving back at Sakeji on the 8th. Prayers for safety in travel and a quick turn around before term would be appreciated!

This past term was a real challenge for everyone at Sakeji, but the Lord really gave us a lot of blessings as well. We were short two full time staff members, but the Lord provided two short termers who were a great help. In addition to all the usual madness that comes from finishing up a school year, writing the final report cards, cleaning up classrooms, rehearsing for the end of term show, and meeting with parents, we had the great privilege of baptizing eight of our older students at the end of term. Several of our students had been asking about taking this step of obedience, and after they received their parent’s permission we were able to schedule a time before all the meetings and programs when we could gather as a school down at the pool and watch these eight young people proclaim their faith publicly. God is so good to give us little glimpses of the fruit that is growing in these children’s lives; we pray that their example will encourage and challenge their school mates, and that they will continue to grow in the Lord over their last few years at Sakeji.

On the practical side of station life, our remodeling of the main sitting room is finally finished! Having that space back has made video nights and half-terms so much easier, and the staff have sure enjoyed the new furniture and ‘posh’ surroundings! The vaulted ceiling really opens the space up and cuts down on the dirt falling through. The new sidewalk at the front is still being put in, but that project can just about be ticked off our to-do list. The school is planning out our next big maintenance project; there is talk of renovating Lower School where the grades 1-3 classes are held as well as taking some time to knock out the multitude of little jobs that have been accumulating over the years.

As we go into 2015 there are lots of exciting opportunities for working with our students as well as some new challenges. As of now there are no short term helpers coming to Sakeji for first term, so there will be a bit of extra strain on the permanent staff. We will have several new students to train in school rules and expectations, and I’ll have a new class of sixth graders to ‘break in.’ With the death of the Zambian president Michael Sata in October, things are still rather up in the air as to who will be stepping in. We just celebrated 50 years of peaceful independence in Zambia; we pray that this transition of power will go smoothly and with a minimum of conflict. I know I ask for this often, but I will always need wisdom and patience from above as I teach my academic and music classes. These precious children are the future of Zambia, and how we pray that they will be well rooted and founded in the Lord during their time at Sakeji. May we seize the teachable moments and have the discernment to deal with the heart issues of our students.

Thank you so much for all your prayers, letters, e-mails, and gifts of all kinds over this last year. I am constantly amazed at your generosity and loving care of me. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and that 2015 will be a very blessed year.

May He find us faithful wherever He has called us to be!

Why Does Time Fly So Fast When You’re Having Fun?

I had the great privilege of spending Christmas at home in Texas this year, and while there was never enough sleep, so much shopping, cooking, and wrapping, wildly varying weather, it was the best Christmas ever. I spent somewhere around 58 hours in the air in just over a month, and was able to lease a vehicle from MTT which really helped out with all the errands. Some highlights:

* I got to go on a quick trip up to Ohio and then down to Atlanta to visit first a dear friend and then my Oma and Aunt. People are so important when you are home for such a short time, and I’m so thankful that the Lord worked things out for me to do that.

* All 8 of us kids were home for Christmas, and it was loud, crazy, full of people, and absolutely the best thing ever.

* My other grandparents came for a quick visit; unfortunately, they were rather violently ill with a killer cold/flue bug for the whole time so I didn’t get to see near as much of them as I would have liked!

* On my way to and from the States I had a layover in Dubai in which the airline put me up in a hotel room with complementary meals. While I didn’t end up going out into Dubai either time, I did enjoy the bits I got to experience while en route. So different from Africa and Europe!

* I got to go spend some time with a dear friend who lives in a nearby city, and call two others who lived too far away to visit this time.

Now that I’m back at Sakeji I have a few days to prepare for the start of our 2015 school year. Please pray for wisdom and help for the teachers as they plan and prepare their classrooms, pray for safety for the students traveling up by air and by road, and pray that we will glorify the Lord with what we accomplish over the next 10 weeks.