Thursday, February 25, 2010

Birthday Party

I can now say that i have been to a "sakeji birthday party'. so what? you may ask. well, unless you have been to sakeji, it is hard to describe the birthday parties. as we can not celebrate each individual child's birthday, once a term we celebrate everyone's birthday that took place (or will take place) during that term. th ere is always a theme involved, and the party is planned for weeks in advance. in art class the students will make the decorations to go with the party theme. often in music class they will learn a special song for the 'show', anyone available from the mission stations in the vicinity come to help decorate the birthday cakes. when the day arrives, (yesterday) there is much anticipation in the air. all the children can talk about is 'birthday party!', i quickly discovered it was completely useless to try and teach new math concepts to students who's brains could only concentrate on what was going to happen at supper time. the grade ones were rather cute as they were super excited, but really had no idea of what was to come. our theme this year was 'traditional birthday', which i admit i thought was rather lame but it worked out ok in the end. usually one of the new (or visiting) staff get stuck being the MC for the evening. it nearly fell to me, but then 2 new staff members came and so i got away with it... this time. :) so what exactly happens at birthday party. well, at 5 o'clock (instead of 5:30) the bell rings for supper. by this time the children will have all bathed and dressed in their best clothes with their hair all done nicely etc. the staff however, are dressed in costumes to go with the theme. (this brought back many memories of 'counselor dress-up' nights at camp!) it was hard to think of a costume to where when the theme was 'traditional party', what exactly is "Traditional"? the parties my mom threw for us were all themed parties, that would be 'traditional' for me. i asked one of the more senior staff how we were expected to dress. she told me to wear something nice that the children hadn't seen before... hmmm... with my limited wardrobe there wasn't much they hadn't seen. and there were reasons they hadn't seen me where those clothes. but then i tho't of a plan! i thought back to my friends (from "normal" families) and the parties they had had and got the idea to dress as if i was going to a 'slumber party'. this was somewhat common when i was growing up. i convinced Lina to do the same, that way i wouldn't be the only one who got into trouble for wearing my pj's to the dining room! ;) we put our hair into pig-tails and drew freckles on our faces, put on our pj's, grabbed our teddy bears and headed to the dining hall. the children were quite surprised to see us dressed in our pj's but were quickly distraced by the number of clowns running around! a few of the staff members were quite creative and came as candles. where we were allowed to enter the dining room it was transformed into a wonderful party place. beautiful handmade decorations, balloons and crepe ribbons hung everywhere. the tables had been joined together to form long tables, decorated with tablecloths, fancy party napkins, party hats, and a party cracker for each child. in the center of each table were the awesome cakes;everything from a bubble gum machine to an airport. we had fish and chips for our meal. after supper those who had a birthday had to stand on their chairs while we sang happy birthday to them. then we had cake and (homemade sakeji) icecream! the children had to have a piece of cake from their table then they were allowed to have a 2nd piece of cake from one of the other table. basically they were all on major sugar highs! after we were all stuffed on cake, the children were sent out of the dining hall while the tables were cleaned off and pushed against the wall. then we all gathered back in and watched 'the show' which consists of songs and skits written and preformed by the senior students, with games in between (eg. pin the tail on the donkey). again it reminded me very much of the 'skit night and talent show' at camp! i videotaped most of it, but some of it was rather repetitive and my battery was starting to run low, so i missed some of the games. it seemed like a very looong night, but when we were leaving i was surprised to find it was only 7:30! i have to admit that this theme turned out slightly better then i had thought, but i can't wait till next term.... we've already discussed the theme and it sounds so much more exciting! i won't tell you what it is just yet... you'll have to wait till next term, just like the children ;)

oh, just a quick prayer request. my housemate Lina just found out today that her grandfather who has cancer has been 'given' about 3-5 months to live. please pray for Lina and her family at this time and also for her grandfather, miracles can still happen! :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

missing Al

Today is the 5th anniversary of the day Alastair was called home. I have been thinking about him a lot this week and decided to dedicate today's blog to him. When he was here at Sakeji School his class had a field trip to the confluence (?) of the Zambezi River. After this treck he wrote a letter to me telling me about his trip. in the letter he included a poem he had written. for some unknown reason, i decided to keep that poem, so today i will share it with you along with a few other poems that he gave me over the years. We miss you Al!

(Written while attending Sakeji School 1996)

Stuffy, stifling, sweltering heat,
Headaches, aching feet,
Muscles and tendons stretched to their limits,
And beyond.
To continue is pain.
To stop is more pain.
What does it matter?
Oh, but for water!
Cool, clear, sweet,
Thirst quenching water…
Thirst…. Water…
Pain… water…

(Colours [as named by Beth])
The warm, sticky, red
Mingles with the lucid clear
As it flows down the rough, hewn, brown.
The deep, resonate, black
Echoes as it rolls overhead.
The rich, royal blue hangs between
The dirty, peasant grey.

(Love [as named by Beth])
It was not love that drew us together
But love that drove us apart.
For love is beyond my comprehension
And to love, so pointless compared to God.

(Pain [as named by Beth])
It was not nails or thorns that hurt my Jesus
The whip did not prove His love.
But the pain and agony He suffered
Was the turned back of God.

(Prodigal [as named by Beth])
Love beyond all comprehension
Love through which the ultimate sacrifice is paid.
For greater love has no man then Jesus
That He would sacrifice Himself for His children
But why are we His children?
When we turn away from the loving Father
And rebel like teenagers.
But oh, the innocence of youth
And maturity of becoming a believer.
“That we have the right to be called the children of God.”
-The prodigal has returned.

Weekends off rock!

(written on monday but i forgot to post it!)

Although our school week was a short one it took FOREVER to get through! The kids were exhausted and burnt out from a sugar overdose after the 1/2 term break and so were definately not on their best behaviour this week! There were a few times where I had to count to 10 (and once to 20) to calm myself down. on top of all that the annual board meeting was scheduled for this thursday. this added a little more pressure to the teachers to keep the students inline; of course the kids seem to pick up on our tension and use it against us by acting the worst they've ever been! i think we had a record number of 'marches' and 'paddles' that day. so when friday afternoon came round i was definately ready for my afternoon off! i spent the first 1/2 of it baking bread and cookies to get use some of my frustration productively! after baking i decided that a swim was in order and did laps for the next 30 mins. It was then time for my Lunda lesson. it's a good thing Steward is patient with me b/c my brain was so fried i couldn't concentrate! i have to remember that this is probably how my students feel sometimes. i have never been that great with picking up languages (unlike my brother chris) so i have to really work at it. i try and learn 3-5 new phrases each week and put them to use on Sundays at church. Unfortunately this week, nothing seemed to stick in my brain. Lina and i have declared Friday night to be our 'movie night' so we relaxed with some tea and cookies and vegged in front of the laptop screen. if you're reading this and are trying to think of something to send over in a package it would be nice to get some new videos over here (we don't mind if they're the original copy or not ;) ) as i didn't think to bring mine with me and Lina's collection hasn't made it over from the states yet.
The worst part about having Friday afternoon/evening off is that i often forget i still have to teach in the morning. yes, our students go to school on saturday until noon. i managed to make it through saturday morning, despite one of my students throwing up in the classroom. :P yuck! this is one thing i don't handle so well, and was SO tempted to get one of the students to call someone to clean it up. however, the Lord gave me the strength to get it cleaned up and finish teaching the lesson etc. as this was my weekend off i was officially 'off duty' after lunch. the weather has been quite hot the last few days so those of us who were off (2 men and 5 women [and 3 dogs]) decided to take our afternoon tea at "Z Cottage", so we all piled into the land cruiser and headed out for a picnic and some fun. it was great! the river is SO high right now and the current was increadibly strong. we made a game out of trying to see who could swim to these rocks in the middle of the river. it was crazy tiring! we'd be swimming and swimming and look up and realize we hadn't gone anywhere! as soon as you gave up you'd the river would rush you back to where you started from! we did eventually get to the rocks and even beyond a bit but it was an incredible work out trying to "wade" upstream. we also got 'massages' sitting under the litte waterfall, but again it was a strain to keep yourself in the same place and not be swept downstream! once we were all throughly exhausted and waterlogged we brought out our picnic baskets and had some yummy treats with our coffee/tea/lemonaid. it was great to just lie on the beach and read and not have to think of little ones running around etc. we had some great laughs but soon our time was up and we had to head back to the school. the rest of the day was spent relaxing and watching a video. life couldn't get better then this :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


a few people told me that they tried to comment and were unable to. appoligies. i forget to set it up for anyone to comment. it has been changed now, so please feel free to add your comments to my blogs. if you don't want people to see you comments, feel free to email me instead.

1/2 term part 2

half term...continues

White Water Canyon at Canada's Wonderland has got nothin' on tubing down the Sakeji river in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm! but let me start at the beginning.
the morning started the same as usual, breakfast at 7am in the dining hall. i decided against the 'polar bear dip' at 6am simply because i'd been up till midnight on the phone with my parents and wanted to get some sleep! after breakfast the kids have a bit of free play and then SWEETS!this is one of the things they look forward to all term. a small 'store' is set up where each child is allowed to "purchase" a certain amount of candy. there is no money actually involved but the different types are worth various amounts so how many sweets they get depends on how 'expensive' the sweets are that they choose. after the kids are pumped full of sugar, the day begins. the kids begged me to referee a soccer match for them. so i agreed and we went up to the field. they weren't too happy then i chose the teams for them (instead of guys against girls) nor were they impresesed that i allowed the juniors (grades 1-4) to play a quick game first. after about 20 mins of play i allowed them to play "zambian/sakeji" style (no outs, no rules, boys against girls) for the next 15 mins. i joined the girls team, which annoyed the boys :). the boys were also quite annoyed that the girls scored the first (and only) goal. they came up with all kinds of excuses why it "wasn't fair" etc. but we girls knew they were just upset that they were beat out by the girls. :D
after our morning tea the children were rounded up and taken down to the pool/river for the rest of the day. Lina and i didn't have any duties until 2pm so we enjoyed some free time of our own. we were going to go down to the river to join everyone for lunch, but as it started to rain about the same time, we quickly changed our minds and ate at home. around 2pm we wandered down to the river. Lina was on swimming duty and i had volunteered to go tubing down the river with Mr. Poidevin and the senior (grade 7 & 8) students. it is hard to describe the tubing experience unless you've done it yourself. this is not like tubing back home, well it is a bit i guess. first we had to walk to lizard point. about 1/2 way there it started to rain. at first it was a gentle rain but we could hear the thunder approaching. however instead of turning around and walking back we decided to try and beat the storm... ya right! if you've ever been to africa in the rainy season you'll realize how futile it is to attempt to outrun a sstorm. by the time we were putting our tubes in the river the thunder was quite close and we'd already seen a few flashes of lightening. for those of you who don't know me very well, you will not understand how afraid i am of lightening! i tried not to think about the lightening as i plopped myself down into a tube and floated out into the middle of the river. i kept telling myself to watch out for snakes and lizards instead. such comforting thoughts. i was supposed to be at the end making sure all the students got through safely. the students jumped on their tubes and away they went, what i didn't know is that they were 1/2 on their tubes and 1/2 in the water kicking to propel themselves faster. so before i knew it everyone was out of sight and there i was slowly floating down the river. it would have been rather peacful actually if the rain hadn't been pouring down so hard i could barely see where i was going, except of course when the lightening flashed. i used my arms trying to propel myself faster but generally ended up bumping into trees and rocks. i was starting to get kinda freaked out and was praying pretty much constantly that i would not get struck by lightening. by the time i reached the dam the others had gotten out and were waiting out the storm unto a chota (little hut). i jumped off my tube and swam to shore. not easy to do with a wet chitangi (long piece of material used as a skirt) wrapped around my legs! we waited until the storm had passed over then got back into the tubes on the river to complete our journey. of course it started raining again, but not quite as heavily and the lightning flashes were a little farther away. it was quite an exilerating ride! like i said before, i don't think i'll ever think of water water canyon as exciting again! they need to add a thunder storm and snakes and such to make it much more exciting! i didn't actually see any snakes or lizards on my little adventure but that doesn't mean they didn't see me!
so, after our great adventure we got back to the river play area in time for afternoon tea. :) i went back to my house to have a shower and change before i had to supervise the children. as it was raining (still... again?) they got free play in the dorms. i wandered back and forth between the boys and girls dorms to ensure that everyone was having fun yet staying out of too much trouble! i had a few good chats and laughs with the senior girls which was nice as i haven't had much time to get to know them yet. the kids had an early supper which they were allowed to eat in the dorm (normally they would have had a 'bag' lunch outside). the staff had a nice supper of beef fajitas (sp), barley salad, coke and fanta to drink and some yummy cheesecake and fugde for dessert! after supper the kids got their 1/2 term video. this term they're watching "UP". i've never seen it before but it's quite funny. the best is watching this kids reactions! they get SO into it! i had 2 little girls on my lap who both jumped about a foot at one part. i think the staff members are enjoying it as much as the kids are! :) we finish the movie tonight (weather permitting). after the movie the grade 5 & 6 girls wanted me to spend the night with them. i told them that i wouldn't spend the night but i'd hang out with them until lights out. Lina visited with the grade 7/8 girls in the next room. it was fun sitting and chatting with them for an hour or so, giggling and laughing as young girls do. it was like being a big sister to 10 girls. they had fun playing with my hair while we hung out.

today (tuesday) is the second day of 1/2 term. unfortunately it didn't start out so well for me. i was up sick all night last night. i'm not sure if i'm having a reaction to a food allergy, if i swallowed too much river water yesterday or what. there are two children in my class that have gotten malaria, but as i'm not really showing any of hte symptoms for maleria yet we're pretty sure that's not what my problem is. i was able to keep down my breakfast (i cooked eggs and toast for myself) so that's a good sign. mrs ronald, the school nurse is making me drink gatoraid to make sure i get re-hydrated again which should help.
this morning Lina and i were planning on doing the water games thing. but it rained all last night and even this morning and it was cold. so we changed our minds and decided to do rollerskating/blading with the juniors (grades 1-4). the seniors were rather put out, but we figured that they have enough extra priviledges that it would be nice for the youngers ones to be able to do something that the older ones couldn't do. the school has a number of skates etc but most of the are too large or broken so it makes it difficult for the younger kids who are just learning. we also had a shortage of knee pads and helmets which meant that just the grade ones got them. the kids were great sports though and had a blast! one of the staff members had a veggie tales cd with bob, larry and the gang singing 70's music at a roller rink so we figured it was perfect to skate to! :) i even dared to put on a pair of skates and show 'em how it's done! surprisingly i didn't make a complete idiot of myself or fall even once! despite the kids best efforts to knock me over!

it's now my break time so i'm just gonna finish up this really long blog and get caught up with some correspondence.!
if any sakeji alumni are reading this i'd love to hear some of your 1/2 term stories! feel free to comment!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

first 1/2 term

half term...

can you believe we're having 1/2 term already? neither can i! although technically it's 1/3 term as we have 2 '1/2 terms' this term. confused you yet? Lina and i are doing river and swimming duty (supervision to ensure we don't lose children). we're also organizing a water relay type thing which is going to involve us throwing water balloon at the students as they try to 'safely transport' items from one place to the next. of course this is not in any way meant to be 'payback' or stress-relieving ;)
some of the other activities that the children can participate in are bike riding on the airstrip, go-carts, tons of swimming time, computers, tubing on the river and the list goes on. basically we try and squeeze in as much fun as possible and try to forget about school for 2 days (monday and tuesday). we're praying for beautiful sunny weather as it's not as easy to keep kids entertained indoors, especially if there's a storm and we lose electricity! classes resume on wednesday, which is my longest
day as i have no spares or breaks until after supper. this should be interesting after the kids being hyped up on candy and ice cream and fun stuff for the last 2 days. i will try and update this as the half term fun goes on. oh, one other thing. i've given the esteemed pleasure of being asked to spend monday night in the girls dorm with the grade 5 & 6 girls. as'fun' as this sounds i'm still not so sure i want to do it... we'll see tomorrow if i cave or not...
more later...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

catching up

I'm sorry for falling behind in my blogging and correspondance already! it's hard to believe it was just a month ago that i left Canada! so much has happened in that time, and yet i am finding it hard to think of something to write about. as i've now settled into the schedule things here seem routine and 'normal' now.
one thing that i am very grateful for is that my allergies seem to have settled down a little. i was able to get a new pillow, mattress and mosquito net and the combination of these seems to have improved the situation, at least it's more manageable. many of the staff and students here seems to be battling chest colds but as
of yet i haven't caught that which is nice as the allergies were all i could handle! thankfully our little school seems to have been able to avoid the H1N1 flu which seems to have made it's way over here to other mission schools. For those who know of Rift Valley Academy in Kenya, please pray for the staff and students there as
many seem to have caught the H1N1.

The last few days the weather has been absolutely gorgeous! We've had a few dark clouds threaten and some loud rumbling thunder, but it has blown over before dumping the rain on us. This was nice for the children who were able to enjoy a lot of time down at the pool and the river this weekend. I myself also enjoyed relaxing and
cooling off down at the pool. I've decided it's a great way to get excercise and aim to get in as many laps as possible while the rain holds off! For those of you who don't know the Sakeji pool is a nice (nearly) olympic sized pool. it is fed from the river and not chylorinated (sp?) so it's sort of a cross between swimming in a pool
and swimming in a lake. :) they have fixed it up nicely since the last time i was here. one of the improvements was to put some mesh screens in the channel making it nearly impossible for snakes and other critters to 'accidently' appear in the pool. this makes me feel a lot better as last time i swam here i ended up sharing the pool
with a poisonous snake (for about 30 seconds!) now i don't have to worry about that.

so what else is new,let me think... oh yes! i'm taking Lunda lessons! As i'm not as good at picking up languages as my brother chris, this is taking me a little longer than i would like it to, but i think part of my problem is that i'm too shy to try the new words that i have learned. Yesterday at church Lina and I decided to put some
of our new words to use and were rewarded with many smiles and exclamations of joy. the people were tickled pink that we were at least trying to learn their language. they laugh at you when you make mistakes, but are quick to point out what you have said wrong and help you with correct pronounciation etc.

well, i was going to write a few more things but a big storm just blew in and i need to unplug my computer. more to come!