Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 School year? DONE!

* The end of term program, What a Glorious Night, went well. We hope and pray that someone in the audience heard what they needed to that evening, and that the words of the songs and the text stirred everyone's hearts.

* I spent 3 days (4 really with the time changes) traveling and made it safely home last Thursday. We made it through to the pavement despite all the rain we had--a praise!

Travel is interesting with a sore ankle, but I managed. I slept better on the plan than I usually did, and I got some good sleep in Dubai.

* That wasn't the only thing I did in Dubai--I also went on a 2 hour tour of the city. Wow. Just wow.

Since getting home I have enjoyed sleep, putting up the family tree, starting to do a bit of shopping for Christmas and next year, and some time to put my feet up. I was so busy for the last month of term that having the time to read, to knit, to decorate, to just sit is such a blessing. I'm looking forward to catching up with friends and people here at home, and to having almost all my siblings home for Christmas. If I have learned nothing else in life, it is that people are so important. Flawed? Yes. But absolutely important. This Advent season as you listen to Christmas music, bake, decorate, go to programs, and buy gifts, don't forget to stop and love people. Because that is what Christmas is all about--the ultimate expression of love so that we would know how to.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Proof of life

I have been super busy lately and don't look to stop being busy anytime soon, so here is just a tinny blog update as proof of life!

I continue my treatment of my ankle; it is so frustrating to not be able to take my walks, but if this gets it cleared up for December than so be it. Overall I would say things continue to improve, but there are still some days when being on my feet all day is a bit of a challenge.

This last week I made the first staff photo ID's for the school; interesting experience. Discounts, here we come!

I rehearsed a part for the Christmas program with the senior girls rally group on Friday, and watched them decorate cookies for the program reception. Lots of reminders NOT to lick their fingers!

I had a super productive and slightly restful weekend 'off,' and enjoyed the first flame lilies blooming up by the girl's dorm.

This week is, as previously mentioned, super insane as it is exams/report cards, plus trying to get a (at this moment) very shaky program off the ground. Prayers for sanity, peace, and strength to get through it are much appreciated!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Half-term, and an update

First, a two minute health update: I had the school nurse check it out, and apparently the two big ligaments that connect in the inside of my left ankle are what the issue, and there is a lot of swelling. So, wrapping while walking and standing, ibuprofen, and taking a week totally off from recreational walks, and more icing is what we are doing to try and keep the swelling down enough that it can heal up. So, prayers that this will help and that I have only strained and not torn my ligaments would be appreciated! I have a lot I need to do in the was going to say 3 weeks, but really the rest of my life. And I'd like to be able to do it without limping and pain!

Monday and Tuesday last week were half-term, the last interruption holiday of term. Now it's just a straight shot through the last three week! I didn't take a lot of pictures over half-term; I was pretty busy. Ruthie and I made sleds and key ornaments with the 5th and 6th grade girls--an interesting morning!

Some other staff members set up a live 'Angry Birds' game--the kids loved it! They also found out it was harder to shoot with the big slingshot than they had thought...

Ruthie, Anna, and I took the gr 7-9's out for an evening in which we finished watching Hidden Figures and then played "Heads Up." We think our hearing might come back in time...the kids got pretty intense with it!

The grade 7 national exams are over--PRAISE THE LORD!, so now it is down to the business of finishing off the school year well. There are some things with students that need to be decided, and of course a million and one things that need to happen before I can head home for the holidays. Prayers for strength, sanity, and grace are appreciated!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Catch up, a praise, and a prayer request

Sorry about last week folks; the story of this term is barely averted burial alive under marking/responsibility mountain, and with Tuesday being taken up by Independence Day, I just didn’t recover enough until this weekend…when I was blessedly off again. So, to sum up:

Independence Day happened! Swimming, king of the plank, bonfire, good day.

A fantastic grasshopper was discovered and enjoyed,

And we started some Christmas crafts in handwork.

Ever since I arrived back in the country in early May, I have been praying earnestly that the funds would be there for me to go home for Christmas. Yes, I was just in the States. However, there are some things I need to do that I can only do from that end of the ocean, and after the two term I’ve had, it’s the only I way I know of to actually get a break (you’re never truly on break while you’re in the country). When I first opened my remittance this month I was crushed because it wasn’t going to be responsible to buy that plane ticket. And then, the next day, the Lord provided a way for me to go home for Christmas. So, with much thanksgiving, I’m starting to set some things aside for going HOME!

Finally, a prayer request. I haven’t mentioned this yet because I never in a million years dreamed it would go on so long, but I injured my left ankle pretty significantly a little over 9 weeks ago, and it is still really troubling me. I can walk and I have some good stretches over the day when it hardly hurts, but then other times I’m reduced to limping along at rather less than my normal speed. I have no idea what I did to initially injure it, but I am so ready for it to be healed. As a teacher, I spent great chucks of every day on my sore foot, and spend lots of time walking around the very uneven grounds of the station. Prayers that it will heal up before I fly and head home for December would be very much appreciated!

Only three more weeks!

Monday, October 23, 2017

A rough week with good spots

Last week was…difficult to put it simply. There was a lot of frustration, I was very tired, and let’s just say it was a good thing I had the weekend off and could barricade myself in my house for all of Sunday to recover. So, here a few good things about last week.

I now have an ANTIBACTERIAL STAPLER in my classroom. I can’t believe it has taken us so long to some up with this obviously necessary piece of equipment, and I am so glad I can rest assured that I won’t be spreading the plague via my stapler.

We are wrapping up our physics/simple machines science unit, and my students got to 'reinvent the wheel' last week.

I found a huge beetle while inspecting clean-up one afternoon; it made a terrific noise!

I captured it and took it down to show the grade 1’s as they have been really into bugs this term. I love showing young kids cool things; they are so enthusiastic!

One of the junior boys found this delightful chameleon who showed his displeasure at being captured by going yellow and curling his tail most charmingly.

Parting shot: This bush at the end of my house is a cheery welcome when I come home every evening!

Monday, October 16, 2017

I eat another kind of bug, get a shot, and cut my nose in an unorthodox manner

So, last week was a bit crazy. In the yeah, ain’t got time for a blog post kind of way. Recovering from half-term/sports tour was the big project. So, here are some highlights.

We had a few big, soaking rains over half-term! There was a river around my house for a while there…

The kids made it ‘snow’ with little flowers after bag supper on Friday. Hey, you make do with what you got!

I experimented with double boiler leftover reheating as I can only light my oven when we have 240 power, and used old panty hose to stuff cracks as bug proofing. Living the dream folks!

I potted Groot and put him outside,

and the flying ants (ntuswa) came out in force, dropping their wings in clouds as they did. The kids caught a bunch, the cook fried them, and I tried eating one the next day. Way better than caterpillars—nice and crunchy!!

In the big news around station, we put in some liquid soap dispensers. I was wondering what could be more marvelous than escalators (no, I’m not joking). Well, now I know—soap dispensers! When they were installed on Friday, there was a non-stop potty parade all afternoon to check them out.

A few other highlights include,

I got my yellow fever shot for free via an initiative of the Zambian health board. Nice to finally have that done… All the students who hadn’t had it already received the shot as well. Zambia is not an area of yellow fever concern usually, so I hope they are just being safe.

I smashed my guitar into my nose right before assembly last week, and didn’t realize I was bleeding till halfway through. Oddly enough no one pointed that fact out to me, as usually they are all OVER that kind of thing. That and spelling mistakes on PowerPoints. Thankfully, the damage wasn’t great despite how it felt for the first minute!

Ruthie, Anna, and I took the 5-6 girls for a craft over half-term. No pictures were taken for my part as my hands were busy, but it went well. I hope we can make a difference in these young lives…

Finally, in the small yet important victories category, I unclogged my bathroom sink. Yay for drainage!

Parting shot: Grade 1-2 Sunday school yesterday.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Two weeks of term and a some pictures to make up for the silence

Sorry about last week—I had every intention of writing, but after a busy weekend off and then a wonderful but intense two hour conversation with some visitors from CMML, it just didn’t happen. Nothing of much note happened during the second week of term; I taught and marked, worked a lot on getting Christmas music together, and had a good handwork class with my grade 3 & 4 girls. Week three however, included one of our major term events—birthday party.

The theme was bugs and creepy crawlies, so there was some wonderful artwork in the dining hall, cakes were decorated, and instead of a show we watched the first part of A Bug’s Life. While the kids had a great time, it was a bit of an intense week for me trying to keep kids focused until birthday party, and then refocusing after their sugar crash. While it was unusually early in the term, I’m glad that it’s over! This coming week half-term starts on Friday, but the grade 7-9’s are leaving before that for their Copper Belt Sports Tour. So, I suspect Monday-Wednesday are going to be a bit crazy as I try to make sure that my 10 grade 7’s are caught up and able to go. We started statistics and permutations in math last week, and boy has it been a doozey!

Oh- one other thing of note about last week. I tried caterpillars for the first time! They weren't as hard to get down as I might have thought, but they were too 'fresh' textured for me. If they had been fried crispy they would have been better, and they didn't have an interesting enough flavor to become a regular indulgence. However, I can now say I've tried them!

September and October are somewhat difficult months because of how hot it is during the afternoons, and because of how little power is available because of water levels. All the heavy electrical work on station is via 240, so it has been an exercise in flexibility and planning to get things done in the few hours each morning and evening that we have power. We unexpectedly got 0.8mm of rain on Wednesday—between supper and the show, but we are praying that a lot more comes and soon so that the river can fill up again and the temperatures cool off a bit.

I can't remember if I've posted a good picture of the new child noise amplifier covered play area, so here is one I took this weekend, as well as pictures of the blooming jacaranda and flamboyant trees--one of the best part of this time of year.

Parting shot: Groot is almost ready to be put in a pot!

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: