Wednesday, August 12, 2015

August 2015 Update

Dear Friends and Family,

I realize that it has been a long time since you heard from me; I just found an update that I started in March, but never actually finished and sent out! This year has been a very busy one here at Sakeji, and even though we are two weeks into the August holiday I am just finding the time to sit down and try to catch up on correspondence. Second term was very full of ‘stuff’, but good. Among other things we hosted a group of students from Amano Christian School over one of our half-terms, had a great sports day, and put on a show at the end of term, “Safari.” There was another broken arm, some good progress made in classes, and a winter themed birthday party.

Something new for me this year was helping with the grade 9 mock music exam at Samahina, a local school where our students will be writing their exams as we are not a grade 9 test center. I was very thankful for all my musical training; I spend an hour going over and correcting the exam with two other Zambian teachers, then had the very interesting experience of helping to administer the exam. This school has no electricity, so the keyboard was run off batteries that gave out just as we were about to start the exam. 12 batteries were then rolled up in a cardboard tube and one teacher held the bare wires to the terminals so we could be in business for cadence dictation! Seeing things like that makes me very thankful for the facilities we enjoy here at Sakeji, and reminds me how desperate the need for good education is in this country.

Another big happening of this year took place just this last weekend. Sakeji celebrated 90 years of the Lord’s faithfulness with a weekend where former students in Zambia representing several different decades of the school’s history gathered to enjoy a scavenger hunt, afternoon at the pool, trip to the cottage, enjoy school delicacies such as ice cream and fudge, and lots of time to share memories and visit. This little school in the middle of the Zambian bush has had such an impact over the last 90 years—it’s amazing how often you fun into former students, and when you hear where they all are and what they are doing for the Lord, it makes me thankful to have my small part in this great work. I spent a lot of the weekend helping to organize and serve the teas; it was interesting to see a very different side of the hospitality of the school. Usually when we have visitors I am busy talking to parents or doing a program!

Work has started on the renovation of our Lower School building. As there are cracks in the wall through which you can see daylight, this is a much needed project. Foundations for the small expansions on either end have been dug and put in, and we are waiting for the rest of the supplies to make it up here before the major work begins. It will be a challenge to coordinate the needs of grades 1-3 and the construction crew, but we have had a lot of practice in flexibility and creative location use since the major overhauls started a few years ago.

As we continue through the holiday and then start term back up in early September, there are some specific ways that you can pray for us here at the school. We are loosing our grade 1 teacher at the end of the year, and so far there has been no word of anyone who could take her place. We have not had any short term helpers this year, and at this point it doesn’t look like there is anyone preparing to come next year either. Please pray with us that the Lord will raise up the right people to join us in this work, and that if we have to wait awhile for His perfect timing, that He will give us the extra grace and strength to serve in this challenging circumstance. Another area for prayer is for my grade 7’s and the grade 9 students who will be writing their national exams in November. The government is trying to push through national syllabus changes that were put in place in 2013, but not widely enforced, so this year is a particularly difficult one for exam preparation. Lastly, this year has been a difficult one for me personally, and I would ask that you pray that these challenging circumstances will pull me closer to the Lord, and shape me to be more like Him. Thank you for all your prayers, letters, and encouragement; I couldn’t do this without your support.

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Part 2: Some thoughts from the last weeks of school, and Sakeji’s 90th Anniversary Celebrations

First, the end of term. End of term is always a very busy time; the Monday and Tuesday are spent trying to wrap up loose ends, clean classrooms, and tie off the dozen or so loose ends that must be tied off before the kids can go home. We have our big end of term assembly where students receive certificates for things like academic excellence, neatness in the dorm, and for our merit system. The house results are also announced. Sadly, even though we won sports day, Fisher is in third place still! Bags are packed, papers are send up to the dorm, and my classroom disgorges a terms worth of clutter as they clean out their desks.

Wednesday is the day the parents arrive starting at 1pm; the kids are so excited that they can hardly eat their lunch! The afternoon is a whirl of parent teacher interviews for me, and this term there was also the AGM (Annual General Meeting) to attend before supper. I grabbed some supper before dashing over to the hall to help Jill tune the guitars to the piano. A quick change later and I was ready to start the program, “Safari.” While it was not what I was hoping for, the parents seemed to really enjoy the show. After that I collapsed into bed, a thoroughly exhausted teacher!

Here is a picture of the stage shortly before the program started.

Once the kids were gone we had a few days to collect ourselves before we had the big 90th anniversary weekend. People came from all over Zambia, and a few friends and former students of Sakeji just happened to be in the country and able to attend. There was a large group of young people in their early 20’s, and a good selection of students from the 40’s-80’s. There was a scavenger hunt so people could revisit favorite spots, an afternoon at the pool, and a trip to the cottage. I spent most of my time organizing the morning, afternoon, and evening teas so that Vickie could concentrate on getting the meals done. It was good to see people of all ages remembering, laughing, swapping stories, and enjoying being back at their old school. Many things have changed, but we still make ice cream and fudge, do early morning swims in the dam, and have marmite and rice cakes for breakfast! We pray that it was a refreshing time for our visitors, and that it was a real blessing to each and every one.