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!