Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Again it's been WAAAY too long since my last post.
Lot's has been happening.  School has started again and with it, my new role as kindergarten teacher.  I'm privileged to have a great teaching partner and we're slowly figuring things out together.  This class keeps us on our toes, but boy are they fun!

I've forgotten how much fun it is to teach kids the beginning steps to reading and writing!  It's so fun to see them accomplish things they didn't know they could do.  It's only week 4 of the school year, but already we're seeing sentences and kids making progress.  Just about all of them now know the words I, am, see, a, like, the, can, and is.  You can actually do quite a lot with just those few words.  We've also been having fun with patterns in math.  In Bible, we're moving through chronologically covering creation, Adam and Eve, and Noah. 

This biggest frustration has been deciding what to teach-- there are so many great ideas and resources for early literacy out there.  How do you decide which ones to choose?  This is the question I keep asking myself.  My desire is to be the best teacher I can be for this group of kids, but how do I choose what's best.  This is where I pray desperately for wisdom that comes from the Lord.  Am I going to get it right every time? Certainly not! Can I trust that my best efforts will meet my students where they are at?  WIth God's help, yes, I believe I can!

One of the great privileges of teaching at an International Christian school is that we can invite the Lord into our classroom.  We can talk about him, sing about him, pray to him, meditate on his word, and we can appreciate his creativity as we look around our classroom and see a snapshot of the diversity of His children.  What a blessing that is!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What's New? and other random thoughts

This blog post is probably going to turn out to just be random thoughts going through my head.  I couldn't really settle on one theme....

It's that time in the school year where everyone is feeling just a bit more tired-- students and teachers alike.  Thankfully, our school here operates on a 4 term school year with breaks in between each school term.  In just a few more days we'll be enjoying a couple weeks of school break.  This break is a short one (2 weeks long), but it's a break nonetheless.  The kids and I are looking forward to some down time.  Unfortunately, Dad doesn't get the break we get. 

We are, however, hoping to get away for a few days during the break.  We're hoping to get away for a short holiday and shopping trip to the town of Lae.  Lae is about a two hour drive by road.  It's one of the places we can actually get to by road in this country and is also a major shipping port in PNG. It's a coastal town (obviously) which in the Pacific means hot and humid. Our organization has a guest house there where we can stay.  The great things about the guest house are 1) some of the rooms have air conditioning.  2) There is a swimming pool at the guest house.  It's a simple oval shaped above ground pool, but the kids love it and it's a nice break from the heat. 

Aside from the guest house, the only real reason to go to Lae is for shopping.  We've been really looking for ways to cut our costs lately.  We've become half vegetarians--half because we eat meat about every other day now.  I've bee challenged in my cooking to find meatless recipes that my family will eat.  It's a challenge when half the family don't really like beans.  Anyhow,  we had some really successful meatless meals and some not so successful ones.  Another cost cutting method some families here use is bulk buying.  I'm told you can save a lot of money by regular bulk buying trips to Lae.  We're going to give it a try and see if it works for us.  I've been doing a lot of research and talking to people who do this.  Honestly, it's a bit mind boggling.  you have to know what stores to go to for which items, which items are worth buying in bulk and which aren't, and then you have to figure out where to store all of these bulk items.  Also, sometimes it's not so much about saving money, but about availability.   For example, our store (yes, there is only one) went for about 4 months with out popcorn.  Chad was able to find some on a trip to Lae which meant we were set.  As I ponder the logistics of buying in bulk, I keep thinking about US history and remembering the settlers who traveled west, lived in the middle of nowhere, and occasionally traveled to town for supplies.  Sometimes I feel a little like that.   I wonder--- how did they know how much sugar they would need before they made it to town again?

The other big thing that's been on my mind lately is my teaching job.  I've been teaching preschool now for about 4 years and really enjoying it.  I teach just 3 mornings a week and that fits nicely with my family's needs.  However, preschool is not what I've been trained to teach.  As we look toward the next school year (which begins in July), there are a LOT of needs in our school.  Also, we've got a couple of people in the pipeline who have experience  and/or training in teaching preschool.  I, however, am trained for teaching K-6.  So, after much prayer, talking with administration, more prayer, more talking; I've agreed along with my current co-teacher to move up to kindergarten next year.  The great things about this arrangement are...
1) I get to keep the same group of kids I've had since last July (they keep me on my toes, but I love 'em)
2) I'll continue to work with my co-teacher and friend.
3) I'll still only teach 3 mornings a week since I'm team teaching
4) I'll still only teach mornings since kinder is half day

But there are challenges:
1) I'll need to learn a whole new curriculum
2) Because our school is accredited K- grade 12 (but not for preschool) there will be new responsibilities related to that.
3) The kinder assignment is only for half the year (the usual Kinder teacher is taking a 6 month home assignment), so I have no clue what I'll be doing come Jan 2013.  It's a good thing God does!
4) It's a new classroom filled with another teacher's stuff.  I'll have to learn my way around.
5) I'm feeling pressure to finish the organizing/de-cluttering I've begun in preschool in preparation for a new teacher.... It's a lot of extra work.

Anyhow, I'm excited and nervous at the same time about the upcoming  changes.  I was feeling pretty comfy in my little preschool classroom.  God is moving me out of my comfort zone and stretching me once again!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Yucky

A lot has happened since I last blogged, we celebrated Jesus' birth, welcomed in the new year, and began a new school term.  In the midst of those things, we've encountered some Good things, Bad (at least from a human perspective) things, and some downright Yucky things...

First the GOOD...

In January Sydney, Calvin and I had the privilege of ministering to hundreds of Papua New Guinean children through a week long Vacation Bible School (Holide Baibel Skul-- in Tok Pisin). Here is a report from the organizer of the event.  God is Good!

We are hearing exciting reports from local valley residents who say their children are singing the Scripture songs and reciting the verses they learned at VBS.  This year’s theme was “Kamap Nupela” (becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus.)    Pray that the children will keep making an impact for Jesus in the local villages!  Here are some final statistics:  There was an average attendance of 540 children per day from 10 different villages.   One hundred forty-five people served in some way at VBS, from baking banana bread (over 200 loaves) to teaching the gospel.    Fifty-five of them were students from the International School on our center, and about 20 were church workers from 13 different churches in the surrounding valley.  Forty teachers attended training events prior to VBS to help them be well-prepared to teach the verses, the gospel and application activities.   We know of about 150 children who prayed to receive Jesus as their Saviour, but there could have been many more.  Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.   God is SO good!
Another GOOD thing that has happened in our family in the last few weeks is that Sydney took another step in her faith and was baptized. She had talked about wanting to do this when we were in the US on furlough, but "didn't want to do it in front of a lot of people."  A few weeks ago in her youth group she came to understand that being baptized "in front of a lot of people" is kinda the point to baptism!  So on Jan 29th (along with 18 other youth from our community) Sydney was baptized by her Dad in the Bae river (it's a good thing the washing of sin is symbolic when it comes to baptism because nothing could get clean in that river!)
The BAD...

We've seen some tragedies recently in PNG. We are mourning with PNG as a ferry carrying several hundred people sank off the coast on PNG a couple of weeks ago.  It is feared that hundreds list their lives in that accident.

Many here are struggling to raise needed support to return and to remain in PNG.  We know that these are uncertain times for many, please know that we often pray for our family and friends in their home countries as well.

Much closer to home... a sweet friend and classmate of Sydney lost her sister this month.  Judy (the sister who passed away) was a young wife and mother.  Judy's parents work with BTA (Bible Translation Association of  PNG) and are among the Papua New Guinean nationals working hard to bring God's word to all the languages of PNG. please join us in praying for Stacey (Sydney's friend) and her family as they mourn this loss.  

And finally the YUCKY...
One of the not  so great things about living in a beautiful tropical place like PNG is dealing with the yucky, but unavoidable things like mice, cockroaches, and rats.  I put them in that order because, while all three of these things are things I wish I didn't have to deal with, their is definitely a hierarchy of yuckyness (I know that's not really a word).  
Mice--we get them in our house sometimes. They are annoying, but they have a certain cuteness to them, so while I don't really want them in my house, they don't completely gross me out.  
Cockroaches-- these are just gross.  Especially when you wake up it the night and step on one in your bare feet. I can't stand that crunching sound! 
Rats-- these are the yuckiest of all!  

Why do I bring this up, you ask?  Well, we recently discovered that our storage area under the preschool building was infested with rats!  The other preschool teachers and I have spent the last few weeks going through everything in this storage area. We threw away lots of stuff that had been chewed on and peed on by the rats, we cleaned stuff up, we re-organized the storage area, and we repacked stuff into rat resistant (hopefully) plastic bins.  In the process of this clean out, we encountered not one, not three, not five, but EIGHT rats!  If that isn't yucky, I'm not sure what is!

So, there you have it... the GOOD, the BAD, and the YUCKY!