Monday, January 25, 2016

The First Full Week of Term—the Highlights

* We got our 2016 resolution mobiles done and up in the windows! I love the sound they make blowing in the wind, and the splash of color they bring to our classroom.

* We went all the way through the schedule, and there were no major disasters or omissions! Always a risk, especially when you have changed some things around.

* I have started a cold; I’m hoping it will be a brief one. Bring on the vitamin C!

* We have been covered by clouds and rain just about constantly for the last 4 days. Therefore, my shower this morning was a rather chilly affair. Oh the joys of solar water heaters!

* I have been exhausted every day when I finally go to fall into bed, but the Lord is constantly performing the miracle of the widow’s flour and oil in my life. One day at a time, pouring out the grace for that moment.

* This grade 6 class is very, very different from last years class. Plans are accordingly adjusting…

* God is good. Always, and in every circumstance. God IS good.

Parting shot: I caught this double rainbow up on the airstrip a few days ago—isn’t is lovely?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January 2016 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

The students all arrived safely at school a week and a half ago, and we have made it through our first full week of school. Every term one is full of challenges; getting new kids settled in and trained to our procedures and rules, sorting out the hundreds of little details that come with the beginning of term, and even such things as getting supplies up over the increasingly deteriorating roads. A sample of some things I’ve done over the last few weeks to prepare for this term include changing out bulletin board boarders in my classroom, organizing and tracking down the bathroom cleaning supplies for Upper and Lower School, making a lot of copies, counting textbooks, burning as much rubbish as I can get my hands on, coordinating and placing an emergency textbook order, and helping set up procedures for the students using our new dishwasher. You truly never know what you will be called upon to do from day to day!

This year I again have 19 students in my classroom; 11 in grade 6, and 8 in grade 7. I am continuing to teach music class for grades 2-4 and 6-9, in addition to picking up grades 1 and 5 music for a few weeks while we wait for a teacher to return. I still have my grade 3 and 4 girls handwork group, and in my ‘spare’ time during the day I’ll still have a few piano students, supervise the Upper School homework time most afternoons, supervise and train the kids on clean up duty, and take senior girls Rally (a New Zealand program somewhat like Girl Scouts) on Friday afternoons.

Over the December holiday I took my first solo road trip to town in the school’s Nissan Patrol. I was supposed to be taking Beth down to fly out of Solwezi, but I came down with a nasty case of malaria right after term ended and was in no shape to travel when she needed to leave. The Lord provided other transport for her, and when I had recovered I went down to Kitwe to visit some dear friends, do some shopping, and pick up some supplies for the school. It was fun to see a bit of Christmas in the shops, to check out the new mall that has the two main grocery stores in addition to a Game (comparable to Target). I indulged in a haircut and lots of gelato as well as stocking up on the standard rural missionary treats—apples and cheese. I was able to find some useful supplies for my classroom, and a few nice things for my house in addition to some groceries I needed. On my way back up country I transported two bags of dried fish, 51 point of lay chickens, and 11 boxes of textbooks back up for the school. I got to visit Musenga, where the containers contents are sorted for the various stations, and to experience the true horror of the Solwezi-Chingola road. It was raining on and off all that day, and there were times when I had to squirt my water bottle onto the windshield to supplement the wiper fluid so I could actually see where I was going! After leaving the pavement at Mwinilunga I found that it had rained quite a bit, and the second river crossing and hill was a churned up sea of mud up to and over my hub caps. I couldn’t get up the hill by myself, so I ended up bartering a loaf of bread to a group of Zambians who pushed my vehicle up the hill. I was so thankful to reach the school—I don’t think I could have ‘done’ being stuck in the mud with all those hot, stinky chickens!

As we begin this school year, my two biggest prayer requests are for strength and grace for myself, and for the Lord to send more full time, qualified teachers to join in the work at Sakeji. This year is requiring a measure of courage from me like no others. Our classes are covered for this term, but our situation is far from ideal. Through these challenging days I am praying that the Lord will make His will for the future of Sakeji very clear, and that I will be cooperative with what He is doing in my life. Thank you for your prayers, support in so many ways, and e-mails; they are a great encouragement to this busy teacher.

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

And life exploded...

Whew—I’ve been going since 7:45 this morning, and I’m thankful for the chance to catch my breath! Since the kids arrived back last Tuesday I’ve been crazy busy with training students, tying off loose ends, finding things, making copies, and teaching. I’m so thankful that there is less homework to mark the first few days of term! School started well; we are stretched very thin this term, but as I was talking to another staff member today, God will use these times to drive us to Him and to keep working on our character. And while that is not a comfortable or enjoyable processes usually, we can rest in the knowledge that His hands hold the chisel.

I have 19 students this year; 11 in grade 6, and 8 in grade 7. So far the new grade 6 class is still trying to figure out what hit them—me! As a class they seem to be a little slower than classes from years past, so I am learning how much time to give them and who needs to work on being more productive. We have been tackling basic number theory these last few days, and I’m finding out who is going to need more help with math concepts. This morning we started working on key word outlines in creative writing; our theme for this term is going to be paragraph writing as that is a skill that takes a lot of practice. We started a quick survey of taxonomy in Science class, and we are beginning the term with one of my favorite young adult novels, Holes. I put up some pictures of west Texas from my collection of Texas calendars today, and they were trying to decide which one looks the most like Camp Green Lake!

While things are 'covered' for this term, we are in desperate need of more staff--in particular a grade 1 teacher. Please pray that the Lord will strengthen us while we wait!

Parting shot: First weekend on river duty, and the new students are discovering the charm of playing in a river!