Tuesday, September 19, 2017

First week of Term 3

The first week of term was pretty crazy busy, but here are a few pictures of what has been going on from my point of view. Enjoy the randomness!

Yes, I own a thriving retirement home for Ziploc bags!

It's amazing how many books made their way back to the library...after YEARS...when I was paying an M & M a book bounty...

Exploring forces in science class with grade 6 & 7--PS, I LOVE my new spring scales!

The rose bush I rooted from a cutting is in bloom!

And some pretty sun catchers made in the first two handwork classes thanks to a kind lady in Canada sending us some nice craft supplies!

Parting shot: I'm finally succeeding at rooting an avocado! It's the little things in life...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

It seems like just yesterday that I was getting my students packed up, several bins of old papers were taken to the incinerator, and I was having interviews with parents! Since the students went home at the end of July, I have been enjoying my break from teaching, but I have been keeping busy with a variety of projects. Ruthie and I went on a trip to Kitwe that involved traveling some dreadful roads, some illness, a visit to RTSA (Road Traffic and Safety Administration) to renew my Zambian drivers license and get the vehicle fitness (inspection), tracking down a term’s worth of cheese and margarine with mixed success, personal shopping, and a windshield replacement among other things. Since getting back, I have been taking care of the food for the school watchmen and working on getting the senior and intermediate fiction and biography sections of the school library organized and catalogued. A short-termer had started the work last year using an app, but since then there have been books returned and added to the library, and we have quite a few in our collection that are pre ISBNs. So, I have spent the several hours in the last two weeks tracking down ISBNs and manually entering books. Now that I’m finished with my library goal, I still have some time to work through some bigger projects in preparation for my upcoming term including creating and revising some resources and sorting out some Christmas music. So, while I’m not in my classroom all day, I am far from bored!

This week the preparations for our final term which begins September 9th will really get going. Staff members are returning from holiday, the kitchen is being unpacked and cleaned, and school buildings will be given a clean and sprucing up before the students arrive. I will only have 19 students this term as my identical twins have moved on to another school; I’m going to miss their smiles! Third term is always busy for me for many reason,s including the national grade 7 exams my students will be writing, the Christmas program, and the usual pressure of getting everything done for the school year. I have a student who I’m going to be giving some extra support to try and get her caught up, and I would also like to do some more activities with the 3-6th grade girls on the half-terms. So, prayers for stamina, wisdom, and patience are always appreciated. We have a new short-term teacher joining us this term; it’s encouraging and very helpful to have another certified teacher around!

Another particular item for prayer for me over the next few months is that due to various circumstances I strongly feel I need to be home for the December holiday. Of course, I always love spending Christmas with my family, but some other things have come up that can really only be dealt with on that side of the ocean. So, I am praying that the Lord will both make His will clear as to my holiday plans, and that He will provide the funds for this trip if it be in His will.

Thanks again as always for the support you give me in so many ways—prayer, e-mails, letters, and practical details. I am so blessed to know so many wonderful people, and I could not do this work without your hands helping mine. Have a wonderful fall, and may we all be found faithful wherever we are called to be.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

If you need me, I'm in the library

Not much to report--it's holiday! I'm enjoying having the time to cook, read, knit, and work through a Great Course. I've done some cleaning and sorting at my house (need to do more though), and am engaged in trying to solve the great watchman sugar mystery. (Don't ask) The big project that filled last week and looks to fill this week is getting the Intermediate and Senior fiction and biographies a) put in order, b) checked, and c) cataloged using Libib. A short-termer started the good work, but I am finding lots of books that should be there and aren't as well as many books that need to be added to the system. So, I'm channeling my inner librarian and spending around 3 hours every morning getting the library up to date. Good thing I love fiddly jobs like this!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Take me home country/bumpy/dusty roads...

Well, Ruthie and I are back from our epic town trip in which many wonderful and frustrating things happened. First, some facts about why road trips here are so epic. From Sakeji to Kitwe, the Copper Belt town that was our ultimate destination, according to Google it is 583.6 km, or 362.6 miles. Also according to Google, this distance should take you 8 hours and 7 minutes to drive (a figure that I would be fascinated to know how they calculated). In reality, it took closer to 11 ½ hours to drive it yesterday, and that was going as fast as was safe (for us and the vehicle). If you drove that same distance going at 70 mph, it would take you about 5.19 hours. So, with that in mind, here are the highlights of the trip!

P.S. Almost all the pictures are curtsy of Ruthie, as I was pretty busy driving most of the time!

• Thursday: Ruthie, Bethany, and I load into the truck and start the drive to Solwezi. Compared to another trip I took with three ladies across that cab, this one was far more comfortable! We arrived in plenty of time to grab a lunch at Hungry Lion (a South African chain rather like KFC, but much greasier and somewhat dodgy—I’ve had about half and half good and bad experiences there) before taking Bethany to the airport. Ruthie and I tried two windshield places to see if we could get a replacement before tackling RTSA (Road Traffic and Safety Administration—the Zambian DPS). No luck, so we headed to the lodge where we were staying, enjoyed a lovely dinner, and headed to bed.

• Friday: Ruthie had started feeling ill that evening, but is very nauseous that morning. We consulted the school nurse about items to look for in pharmacies here, picked up a few other treatment items, and then went to do battle with RTSA. It took me 2 ½ hours of standing in line and going from room to room before I emerged victorious with my renewed license; I decided that if they wanted to renew it on the strength of an expired US passport, that was their problem! I had checked on Ruthie a few times in the car; she was able to sleep some and had started to feel a bit better. We grabbed some lunch and then headed back to see if we could get the fitness (inspection) done on the truck, and it was a relatively painless process—God is good! They passed it even with the cracked windshield, so that was one more item off the list. Another complication of that day was we were unable to unlock the gas flap of the car. Many vehicles here have locking gas flaps for security reasons—siphoning off gas is not unheard of. We tried and tried to open that flap and popped into many little mechanic type shops looking for help, but eventually the lodge sent a trusted taxi driver to help, and he was able jimmy the latch and took the whole lock off so we wouldn’t have the problem again. Once we got back to the lodge I ordered supper as Ruthie was still not feeling that well, and then we were hit on by a very drunk Zambian MP who would NOT go away. Finally after sharing some horrible personal details (dude, I can’t think of any culture in which that TMI would be okay!) he left so I was able to eat my supper and we could escape. Not the most fun day to live through, but the Lord was good.

• Saturday: I woke up with some pretty intense chest congestion and almost unable to talk. I had been exhibiting some warning signs of a cold for the last few days so I wasn’t surprised, but it was annoying since I had a long way to drive that day. Back to the store for what turned out to be some excellent medicine, and then on the road for the drive to Kitwe. On the way I lost and regained my turn signals and hazard light; dust or a loose connection? We made it safely to my friend’s farm, took showers, and spent a quiet evening.

• Sunday: We sleep in, enjoy a leisurely morning, and then head into town for a late lunch. We did some pricing and scouting, and then headed back to the farm for the evening.

• Monday: Farmers Day, a national holiday, so some of the places we wanted to go weren’t open. We did a bunch of non-perishables shopping at the new mall, enjoyed Pizza hut for lunch, and revised our lists for the following days.

• Tuesday: One of the big treats for this trip was we had booked manicures, a hair cut (for Ruthie), and lowlights (for me) at a lovely spa and salon I’ve been to and really enjoyed. It took most of the morning, but it was so nice to be somewhere clean, enjoying relaxing music and lovely smells. Afterwards we did some school shopping, got lunch, and did our perishable shopping. We also got the car windshield replaced; I figured it was the least I could do since Jill is generous enough to let me drive it. It was dark by the time we headed to the farm to sort and load what we could, but it had been a very productive day. And, I really like my hair!

• Wednesday: We left a little after 7am and started the long drive back to Sakeji. We made a quick “few items we forgot or had thought better of” stop in Solwezi, as well as a quick stop to pick up something I had forgotten at the lodge. I again lost my turn signals and the hazards, but I got the turn signals back and then lost the horn—a big deal when there are so many goats and chickens on the road! We pulled up in a cloud of dust, offloaded the school items with the help of the watchman and the headmaster, and then went to our respective houses to offload there. There had been a massive hot water leak at my house while I was away, so Ruthie let me crash her shower since not showering was NOT an option! Boy was it good to crash into my own bed…

Today the leak was taken care of, I got pretty much everything else put away, and I have been enjoying a quiet day of being HOME. Yes, it was a lot of fun to eat out, go shopping, and get my hair done. However, as always when I go to town, I’m reminded of why I live in the bush!

Parting shot:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Term 2, 2017 is OVER!

Sorry I missed a week; it’s been rather intense this last week of school. I spent most of last weekend marking and working on report cards, and as I expected normal school assignments from my kids right up to after prep on Thursday, I’ve had my hands pretty full. So, here’s the highlights!

• I had 10 interviews with my student’s parents

• I got to watch four of my grade 6 students obey the Lord in baptism

• I caught the second half of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and was relieved that something that has been troubling me all term was addressed

• I helped serve chicken to the parents and siblings at supper

• I squeezed all the papers due me out of my students; whether it was complete or not is another story that I’m just finding out…

• We had a small leavers party for my 6th grade twins; they will be moving to a new school next term. We’re going to miss those smiles!

• Supervised the glorious task of clearing out the desks and straightening the classroom for the holiday

And of course there were countless ends to tie up and fire to put out as we worked through the details of ending a school term. Now, I’m really looking forward to taking a few good naps! I will be traveling next week for a shopping/get off station trip, so I’m looking forward to having some time away. I’m also looking forward to having some time to work in my house, rest, and regroup for third term. It’s such a treat to have the time to do my own dishes and make my own meals.

Parting shot: When you realize that these ARE your monkeys…and it is your circus!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Last Weekend on...

Whew—only two more weeks left of term 2! This is exam week in my classroom, and it will be interesting to see how the grade 6’s handle their first Miss B exams… I will also be writing report cards this week, but the good news is that they were greatly streamlined for first and second term, so it shouldn’t be quite the herculean labor that it has been in years past.

This was my last weekend on, and it was a busy one as I was in charge of Sunday lunch since the cook headed out for a quick furlough last week. So, that meant that I measured out the dry ingredients for pancakes for super (66 cups of flour), and made a large batch of peanut butter cookies for staff teas (8 cups of flour). I helped finish up Sunday morning dishes, and then I sliced up four large roasts for Sunday dinner. I helped serve up the kids plates and supervised seconds and thirds. After making sure everything was being put away and cleared up, I headed home to finish getting ready for Sunday school. The four grade 9 students were teaching, but I had the singing and a few things to put out for them. Thankfully they were well prepared, because I was called back to the kitchen to get something out that was forgotten while I was there. Then I had a chance to take a walk on the airstrip and have a little time to myself before supper. I had been worrying about it a bit all week, so I was very thankful that things went so smoothly! Yet another new experience to add to my life skills list… Also, the kitchen guys are doing an outstanding job of stepping up and getting things done while the cook is away.

They have been re-thatching one of our chalets this past week, and I have enjoyed watching the process. I find it fascinating to see how they make such great roofs with bark rope and dry grass. Here is a picture of the old thatch and the mat they put over the frame, and then the first layer of thatch going on.

As I go into this week, prayers for stamina would be appreciated. There is a lot to accomplish between now and next Tuesday night when reports are due, and a nasty cold is spreading through the school like…a cold at a boarding school. Also, this past week my shoulder has been acting up more, and all that meat cutting yesterday doesn’t seem to have helped. I’m not in agony, but having a constant discomfort does have an effect on your day.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Short Week

One of the nice things about this last week was that Monday and Tuesday were half-term, so it was a shorter week; and I missed my regular Tuesday—one of my longest days. Ruthie and I did tee-shirt crafts with the grade 5-6 girls—scarves and tee-shirt painting—which was a big hit.

We got to enjoy the fresh fruit Amano brought up with them—apples are a big deal when they are not readily available!

I had a nice weekend off in which I not only got some lovely sleep, fixed a minor plumbing issue, made a very good (and totally seat-of-my-pants) alfredoey lasagna, and got to enjoy some knitting, but I also did quite a bit of marking. Amazing how it continues to pile up… Three more weeks of term!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Sports Day and the second Half-Term

It’s been a busy weekend—here are the highlights!

Sports Day was this Saturday. As the house mistress of Fisher House, I spent most of the day being the official scorer of points, but I was able to cheer my team on in the tug o’ war, and to enjoy some of the fun relays like the wheelbarrow and the sack race at the end. It was a tiring day—being out on the field for several hours, but it was a good day.

The Fisher house mistress, team captain, and vice captain.

Also this weekend, Amano Christian School from Chingola was visiting, so thing were quite busy as we planned activities, did the extra dishes, and enjoyed getting to know some new people. This morning started with me making a gallon of hot chocolate and accidentally breaking one of my ancient thermoses (the vacuum sealed glass kind) for early morning swim. Here they are lined up to take the plunge,

And here they are huddled pathetically around the fire in the chota.

In their defense, it was about 10 degrees Celsius this morning—that’s 50 in Fahrenheit, and the water is heart-stoppingly cold. I’ve been working on catching up on the mountain of marking that accumulated over the weekend, chasing down some delinquent children, and getting a bit of rest after the busy weekend. Tomorrow is our second day of half-term, and then tomorrow is my teach 7 periods to ‘hungover’ students. Ah well, I got to skip my regular crazy Tuesday schedule, so I can’t complain too much!

Parting shot: The path down to the school garden worn by the gardeners going past my house. Now I want to sit under those bougainvillea—maybe on the holiday I’ll have the time!

Monday, June 26, 2017


Last week was quite busy; even though I had written my mid-term reports, there were a few tests that needed to be written, given, and marked, and the usual rounds of homework to wade through. I was very tired last week; partially because I am trying to fight off the cold that is going around, partly because I was probably fighting something else off, and partially because I’m a middle school teacher. More progress was made on the shop remodel,

and I got a few things done while I was off this weekend. I transplanted a rose I started from a cutting,

and I went through the carbon removal process and refilled my kerosene heater’s tank using the ingenious siphon it came with. What can I say, I’m easily amused!

Speaking of amused, one of my 6th graders made me laugh for at least two minutes straight by writing this on the first page of her scripture notebook:

Yes, she is a special snowflake…

On Sunday I started to feel nauseous, and I’ve spent most of today being very careful, resting (because it’s my afternoon off and I can!), and trying to get over this bug. Hopefully I’ll be up to full speed tomorrow, as it’s going to be a long day. This week is also a busy one as Sport Day is on Saturday and half-term is next Monday and Tuesday, so there will be a lot of IT MUST BE DONE. Looking forward to some break though!

Parting shot: Happy winter solstice from the southern hemisphere! And why yes, that IS a poinsettia tree!

Monday, June 19, 2017

A fall and a fail

Week six of term was not marked by much; a fairly typical crazy-busy week, except for my falling in a ditch and Ruthie and I taking the 7-9th graders out again on Friday night. It was the week that mid-terms were due, so I was doing a lot of marking trying to get everything I wanted on the report. I didn’t quite get it all done, but there sure is a lot of my work represented by those reports!

The Ditch: On Tuesday night I was heading over to the staff meeting, and as usual I was walking without a flashlight. As I crossed the playground, I saw a line of dirt that indicated they had been digging to lay either a pipe or some cable. Without remembering that that much dirt had to come from somewhere, I took a bit step over it with my left foot…and then my right slid into the concealed ditch and down I went. Luckily I didn’t twist anything and just scraped both legs pretty well, and there may have been some tea flung and a knit kit which had to be returned to me the next morning. I guess if I enjoy walking around at night without a flashlight, I have to be willing to accept those kinds of consequences from time to time!

Friday Night: When we took the seniors out, I made kettle corn for the first time (super easy and very satisfying!), and we had planned an evening of stargazing. I was going to set up the telescope, Ruthie was making hot chocolate, and it was all supposed to be nice and relaxing. Except, we managed to choose the one cloudy evening in dry season, and the kids were WIRED. So, there were lots of games that involved running around in the dark, and I found, surprisingly, that I am not 18 anymore. Let’s just say it’s taken a few days for the soreness to work it’s way out… That being said, the kids had a good time, and we'll just have to try for stargazing another time.

In station news, here is a picture of the workshop remodel; it will be interesting to see what it looks like when it's all done!

Parting shot: The new view on the way down to the river; the underbrush was cleared out to try to give a better view for those on supervision.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Week 5 of term was busy...

There isn’t a whole lot of interest to write about last week; I was busy, busy, busy! Several tests fell during that time, and my kids were pretty ‘hung over’ from half-term, so I had a pretty frustrating few days trying to get them back up to speed. This week I am working towards half-term marks being due, and I continue to fight the battle of fractions and percents.

On Friday, Ruthie and I took the grade 7-9 students ‘out’ for the evening and we watched Pixar’s Inside Out. I was very impressed when I finally got to watch it, and it has already sparked some good conversations with various kids at the table. I hope that it helped someone, and that it will open other doors with the older kids. I made cake mix fudge and Ruthie made popcorn; it was a nice treat to have a relaxed time with the older kids.

On Saturday, I put together a Powerpoint of the pictures we took of the girls on the photo scavenger hunt, and I had the 3-6th grade girls into my classroom to watch it at the start of craft time. They got a kick out of seeing what the different groups did to fulfill the prompts! We are already starting to think about what the next half-term’s activity will be; we want to keep building on and working with this group of girls.

This weekend I filled and fired up my new kerosene heater for the first time; it worked quite well! My cat was intrigued by it, convinced by turn that it was a scary beast when the kerosene gurgled down, and that it was the best invention for cat luxury because of the heat. So, I guess if it’s cat approved, then it is a good thing indeed!

Parting shot: The bougainvillea outside my classroom window is about due for a trim again, and I thought I’d capture the beauty while it’s still there!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Exhausted after a 'break'

Friday and Saturday of last week was our first half-term, and I am exhausted after the ‘break.’ I don’t usually end up being quite so busy, and while it as challenging, I feel like I connected with some kids in important ways over the weekend. So, what was I up to?

On Friday I started the day with early morning swim for the senior seniors at the dam; all 16 who were here came! I had forgotten to ask for a fire, but there was enough ‘hot air’ and I had made a bunch of hot chocolate, so no one got pneumonia (despite the claims!).

I then had a bit of time to work in my classroom before tea, and then I spent most of the time between tea and lunch planning a photo scavenger hunt for the grade 3-6 girls. After lunch I had some time to work on the marking that had piled up alarmingly, and then it was bag supper outside. The board was here having a meeting over Thursday and Friday, so they joined us for meals and got to visit a bit.

After supper I went up to the dorm to watch the second instalment of That Darn Cat with the kids, and then we had a fellowship time with the all the visitors, staff, and board members.

Saturday morning I put the finishing touches on the scavenger hunt, and then from 8:30 till 10 I had these lovely ladies in my company as we found the clues and took pictures together. Due to circumstances just now, it is rare to have such a small group of kids, and I feel that it was not only a lot of fun for the girls, but also a profitable time for them to enjoy some higher quality adult company.

During tea I had a few chores to do, and then it was down to the pool. I supervised silver-candy seal, and laughed a lot as I watched the spirited water fight among the senior students.

I had a brief break after lunch, then it was back down for river time where I surprised this 5th grader enjoying a book in the nook of a tree.

Sunday I had afternoon Sunday school and river duty again, so it was another long afternoon finishing with dishes and evening fellowship. This week was the Sunday when the grade 7-9’s join us, and we got to hear a moving testimony from one of our visitors.

So, it was a very busy weekend for me, but I feel like I made some good connections with different kids. This last week was a bad one for my shoulder, so I’m hoping that being a little less busy and a little less stressed will help that sort itself out again.

Parting shot: I was explaining to a second grader why I wouldn’t have time to do something on a Tuesday because I teach 5 classes, 3 piano lessons, have clean up and prep duty, and had a meeting to go to. To which he burst out, “Why can’t I do that much in a day?” That has had me laughing for the whole last week!