Thursday, July 25, 2013

So Long Second

Way back when I was preparing for student teaching alongside my peers, it seemed like everyone wanted to student teach in Second Grade.  At the time, I didn't really have a strong preference but since everyone wanted Second Grade it seemed like there must be something magical about it.  It took me awhile but I finally attained a sweet Second Grade spot - technically it was a sweet First and Second Grade spot but the point is I got to experience what it was like to teach Second Grade.  I ended up teaching a combined First and Second Grade for three years before I finally got to experience Second Grade all on its own.  I'll gladly admit that it was a whole lot of fun!  My last class was made up of an awesome bunch of kids and I enjoyed the new challenge after many years in First.  So I'm glad that season of life ended on a high note because for now it is...

There's a lot to love about First Grade too! It is especially rewarding to see children go from being non-readers and writers to confident readers and writers.  So that's the task I have before me - 16 Little Ones perched on the edge ready to make some incredible learning leaps will be knocking down my door on August 14th.  One unique aspect of this class is the high concentration of English Language Learners.  I've never taught a class with quite as many students learning English and I feel very inadequate for the task.  Please pray that God would give me wisdom and understanding so that I will recognize their individual needs.  Pray also that along with that wisdom and understanding will flow creative ideas and ways to meet those needs.
School starts August 14th which is less than 3 weeks away so here are some other things to pray about:
  • Cleaning, fixing, installing, dusting, reorganizing, building and so much more continues daily on campus.  Pray that we'll be able to prioritize the needs.
  • Alongside all of that are all the logistical things like class lists, schedules and so on that are being done to prepare for the beginning of school.  It is often difficult to focus on these things when all around you can see other things that need to be done.
  • Earl and his wife, Ellen, are here for a month using their skills to be a blessing.  Pray especially for Earl who is working to reestablish our phone system.
  • We are having some IT and computer network problems which need resolution in the short term but pray also for someone who could take on this role in the long term.  It is a definite area of need.
  • New staff will begin arriving next week.  Pray for them as they adjust to a new country and culture and seek to fit into the Sahel team.  Pray for us as we welcome them that we would quickly recognize areas of need and be able to help in their adjustment.

Thank you so much for praying.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Whitest Chinese Lady Evah!

It was 2012.  My students were writing little letters describing their lives in Niger.  One of my students wrote about how when she entered the market with her parents people would start calling to her, "Chinoise! Chinoise!"  A fairly easy mistake for them to make but rather annoying to this little girl who was very proud of the fact that she was Korean.  Since that time, I've heard about others walking through the market who, despite their white skin, are referred to as "Chinois!"  So there I was walking through the market this morning when one of the traders began speaking to me:

How awesome is it that instead of calling me "Chinoise!" he just started talking to me in fake Chinese!  And why oh why, after spending an entire childhood perfecting the art of speaking fake languages, did I not think fast enough to respond with, "Chong chu chit chi."?  We could have been having our own fake language conversation and that, my friends, would have been nothing short of hysterical.  If it ever happens again, I'll be ready to be the whitest Chinese lady ever!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Building a Berm

If you are anything like me, when you read the word "berm" you thought to yourself, "Huh, I wonder what that is?"  I first heard the word being thrown around after SIM Niger & Sahel Academy began making their plans to restore and protect our campus from future flooding.  So I asked Google for some help and I got something similar to this definition from Merriam-Webster : 
a narrow shelf, path, or ledge typically at the top or bottom of a slope; also : a mound or wall of earth or sand.
It sounded much like a dam to me except I think it has to be built up against something solid.  Notice the words "I think".  I'm not going to claim to know much of anything on this subject but I'll show you what is being built on campus and perhaps you'll get a fuller picture of what a berm really is.

You may remember that a portion of the wall around our campus collapsed.  This is what it looked like directly after the flooding.

That section of the wall has now been rebuilt. 

As you can see, a shorter wall has been built about six feet away from the outer wall.  This does not extend all around the campus but does stretch from corner to corner in the areas that were under the most pressure from the flood waters. 

The short inner wall varies in height based on the height to which the flood waters rose.  In the above picture the wall was at knee level.  The duplex built just in front of this wall experienced very little flooding.  Whereas our soccer field is lower ground so the wall comes to about chest level on me.

Once the short inner wall is completed...

the area between it and the outer wall is being filled with dirt.

The idea is that should the river flood again this berm will reinforce the wall and hold back the water.

Please continue to pray for the completion of this project and wisdom for those who are working on it. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Does It Have to Be?

(British Columbia)
Does it have to be covered in snow to be majestic?
(The Bahamas) 
Does it have to be wet to make you want to dive in?

(South Carolina)

Does it have to be full of leaves and color to capture your attention? 


Does it have to go down in a blaze to take your breath away?

Does it have to be vibrant and full of life?
Or is there a singular beauty in the starkness of this land? 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It's the Little Things

When you're overwhelmed by the dirt,
the piles,
the furniture,
and sometimes just the emptiness,
it's the little things that bring encouragement.
Things like
a good laugh,
an organized space,
growing grass,
and the knowledge that your favorite appliance survived the flood.
There is courage to press on!
Thank you, Jesus, for the little things, especially these miraculous little cubes.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Post in Which I Advocate the Eating of TEENS

That's right.  You heard me correctly.  This is the post in which I advocate the eating of TEENS.  They are delicious, perfectly aged, a little crusty on the outside but sweet at the core where it counts!

I can hear you now, "Gosh! I can't believe she's turned into a cannibal!  I never would have suspected.  So sad!" or "I wonder if she'd like mine for dinner?"  Well, before we get too far down that road let me assure you...

it's the eating of these kind of TEENS that I am advocating.
So now that all the panicking is over lets talk about these TEENS.  At times the grocery stores here in Niger provide some interesting snack choices but I have to say TEENS were a pleasant little discovery.  I mean what's not to like about a treat that tastes like chocolate cardboard err I mean wafers with a white chocolate center?  For a mere dollar at Marina Market you too, can be eating your own TEENS!  Get them before they're gone.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pushing Back the Dust

Pushing back the dust - the largest part of these first two weeks back in Niger has been spent doing just that.  It began in my apartment where everything needed a thorough cleaning.  And that was before I opened the door of my store room where all my boxes and trunks were covered in a thick layer of dust.  Even things tucked away inside boxes needed a wash.  Then there was my car which was equally gross.  It got a good cleaning and spent some time in the shop for repairs.  Meanwhile I had some repairs done around my house as well.

But now that all that has been taken care of it is time to tackle the classroom where the Sahara seems to have overtaken the place.

I thought I was going to be sweeping all morning!  The dirt is so fine that even after several passes across the same area, there would be more dirt to sweep.  It gave me a new appreciation for the guys who clean our floors for us every day.  Thankfully I had some help to get the job done too.

Anyone need some sand for their sandbox?

Somewhat unpacked and looking much cleaner thanks to some help from two hard working ladies who gave me a hand.

Today I'm thankful for...
  •  The wonderful people who moved all this stuff back to the school.  What a huge job!
  • Kathy's coffee cake and the friendly harassment that comes with it.
  • Becky & Cameron who helped me clean.
  • Cool drinks of water & nap time too!

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