Thursday, May 25, 2017

Flat Stanley Visits from Franklin, NC

May 25, 2017

Dear Ella and Friends,

My trip across the ocean took SOOOO long and then there was all that time to get sorted in the mail but I’m happy to say that I arrived in the mailbox of Miss Botheras here in Niger just yesterday.  You might be wondering where Niger is?  It is right in the middle of West Africa above Nigeria.  One thing is for sure…I should not have worn a long sleeve shirt because it is hot here!  At 7:30 am it was already 96 degrees Fahrenheit inside.

Miss Botheras is a First Grade teacher at a school for missionary kids here in Niger.  Her students come from all over the world like Korea, Italy, Kenya, Brazil, Nigeria and the United States.  I hung out with them on the playground and I thought you might like to see some of the things that her students like to do for fun.

Miss Botheras forgot to feed me anything for breakfast so my first stop was to hang out with some third graders who were cooking in their kitchen.  They were making spinach.  Not what I prefer to eat for breakfast but since I was hungry…I ate some!  

I was feeling super strong after all that spinach so I decided to go for a race with some first grade boys.

On your mark! Get set!      


After that it was on to the monkey bars,


and parallel bars.

Hey!  Have you ever heard of an antlion?  What are you picturing right now?  A dangerous ant with a furry mane?  That’s not what an antlion is.  Antlions are insects that live all over the Sahel Academy campus. The kids showed me how to hunt one down.  First you have to find a hole like this: 

This hole is actually a trap that an antlion has set for ants.  They wait for an ant to fall in and then they eat them.  So if you want to find an antlion you have to flick a little bit of dirt into the hole to see if there’s an antlion waiting at the bottom.  If he is waiting down there he will think an ant has fallen in and he will kick sand up, hoping to cause the ant to slip even further into his trap.  Once you know he’s down there you quickly put your hand over the hole and grab the sand.  Then you sift the sand away to see if you have caught an antlion.  This is what an antlion actually looks like…

He walks backward and he is very ticklish to hold!

Well it’s been a full day and I have to get this letter off to you because I know school is just about over for you.  I sure do hope this letter gets there before summer break starts!
All the way from Africa,

Flat Stanley

Monday, March 20, 2017

As Seen On the Bridge - There's a Moto for That

You know that Apple ad campaign whose main slogan was "There's an app for that!"?  I am pretty sure Niger needs an ad campaign that says, "There's a moto for that!"  I mean, really, anything you need to do - transport a sheep, a mattress, a glass window or door - there's a moto for that!  Have a wheelbarrow and shovel?  Need to get somewhere fast?  No problem - there's a moto for that!  We'll just need to take it a little slower than usual today so your wheelbarrow can keep up.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Blessing of Being One Among Many

Two weeks ago in our Bible class we were reflecting on the blessings that God has given us.  One little boy in my class drew a picture of our school - the sports court, Hope Hall, our playground platforms and even our brand new building with its detailed staircase.

It was in the middle of drawing those detailed stairs that I stopped to ask him about his picture.  He told me about the first day he came to school to be tested for Kindergarten and how he cried because he was so afraid.  How well I remember that day!  He was terrified and cried incessantly. The teachers were afraid that he might run away at any moment. "But now," he said, "I'm not scared any more.  I feel safe!"  What a sweet blessing to hear these words and to know that Sahel Academy is a safe place for learning and growing!
But what happens when our students have to leave? 
It was last year at this same time that I found out one of my students was leaving.  He had struggled emotionally and behaviourally all year.  I had worked with him diligently on some of those really difficult behaviours and seen some huge changes in him. But he was still struggling and needed a closer connection to his father.  His mother decided to return to the U.S.  It was a wise decision but I remember being so saddened because I knew that he was leaving a place where he was seeing and hearing about Jesus and he so desperately needed the healing that only Jesus can bring.  I had no guarantee that he was going to a place where he would continue to hear that good news. 
One year later and I just had another student leave.  Her father was transferred to Senegal. They have known since before Christmas that this move was coming.  Just after finding out, her mother came to me and asked me if I knew of any schools like Sahel Academy in Senegal.  What a joy it was to be able to recommend Dakar Academy, a Christian school serving the international community in Dakar! 
So on her last day at school we put her in the middle of a big group hug, prayed for her and joyfully sent her on her way, confident that she is going to a place where she will continue to hear the truth of God's love for her.
I'm so thankful that Sahel Academy is just one of many Christian schools serving the international community around the world.  It is truly a blessing to know that when our students leave here, God can take them to other schools where the good work He has begun in their lives here can continue there!
Would you consider praying each day this February for Sahel Academy and other international Christian schools like it?  These schools play a critical role in the building of God's kingdom in the hearts of their students and in the countries in which the schools reside.  We need God's provision.
For a link to Sahel Academy's specific staffing needs click here.  One of those needs is someone who will cover for me while I am away on home assignment next year.  Thanks for praying for teachers!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Second Anniversary

This past week marked the second anniversary of the day that nearly 70 churches were burned across Niger.  I had the opportunity to go back to my friend J's church which was ruined that day.  You can read more about that here.  They were celebrating the completion of the rebuilding of their church and the addition of a new building.  It was a joy to see how God has restored what was lost.

January 2015 - The Church
January 2017
January 2015 - Living Quarters (I think.)

January 2017
January 2015 - Teaching Space
January 2017 - A Brand New Building with Additional Teaching Space
January 2017 - J & His Family
J has a vibrant faith and invests deeply in both his church and those that God brings his way that are in need.  You can pray for him and his family.  Pray especially for his son who is not pictured here but who has turned his back on the gospel and is instead following the majority religion.  J longs to see him return to the Truth.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Just in Time for Valentine's Day

Have you been longing for love but just not finding it?  Have you had your eye on a special guy but he just doesn't seem to notice you?  Perhaps you've already hooked him but you just need some tips on how to make him feel loved.  Good news! Just in time for Valentine's Day, we've located an expert on love who will answer all your questions.  You might be wondering how we discovered this expertise in our midst.  Well, you see the First Grade is exploring "How To" Writing.  This, of course, began with a discussion about what it means to be an expert at something.

Following the discussion we each made a list of our areas of expertise.  And voila! Just like that, we have a love expert in our midst.

(In First Grade expertise in the field of love is directly proportionate to the number of hearts you can add to your picture so don't be afraid to overdo it! The more hearts the more qualified you are!)

A timely topic, indeed!  Don't worry.  If I gain any meaningful insights, I'll be sure to pass them along to the lovelorn among you with an extra large helping of hearts!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

When the Magic Happens

There comes a point in every First Grade classroom when the magic happens!  The magic of reading that is.  This year and more specifically, the last couple of weeks, I have been tangibly seeing it happen in a way that I don't think I've ever seen before.  It just kind of feels like we're all taking off together whereas usually it's a more individual thing as each reader gets it and starts zooming ahead.

Everyone has been engrossed during independent reading time.

But the thing that I love and that has been putting a smile on my face is the story time that this one table has initiated when we are packing up to go home.  Everyone has been taking turns reading their little book to the whole table.

I can't even begin to tell you how sweet it was to hear the lowest reader in my class, the one who has been struggling to sound words out and having his tongue get all twisted, read to his little buddies and to see them all sit and listen and then clap for him as they had done for all their reading friends.  That, my friends, put the cherry on the top of my week!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Faithfulness of God in the Empty Hallway

Just about two weeks ago, I stood in front of a bulletin board I was decorating thinking about the mountain of work that needed to be done around the school before we would be ready to welcome our students back.  This hallway was a particular concern as it was full from one end to the other of furniture, cupboards, appliances, chairs and who knows what else that had to be moved out of Hope Hall in order for retiling to happen in that building over the summer.  I can't install a kitchen or move a refrigerator on my own and even if I could have, the other building wasn't ready yet.  But I can stress and pine for things I don't have! 

So there I stood thinking about how nice it used to be in public school when the janitors/facilities people just came along and took care of the junk that inevitably fills the hallway in the days leading up to the start of school.  "God,"  I thought, " why can't I be teaching in a school that has one of those amazing people to help move the mountain of stuff and get us ready?"  Almost immediately I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me, "That would be nice, Beth, but then you would miss the opportunity to trust God to help move the mountain even though it looks humanly impossible."

Convicted, I committed it to prayer seeking to trust God when what I really wanted to do was worry...especially when it was the day before students were arriving and the hallway was still filled! In 13 years of teaching I have never once begun the first day of school with junk in the hallways.  My 14th year is no different except that this year, I see the faithfulness of God in the empty hallway.  He brought the right people along at the right time to do what was needed.  And somehow, little by little, the mountain of stuff made its way back to its rightful home.  He is faithful!

Please do pray with us that God would call someone to the ministry of caring for the Sahel Academy campus.  We want to be faithful with the facilities that God has given us and we need someone who is skilled and knowledgeable to help us keep our campus safe and functioning so that we can better serve our students and their families.
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