Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Sunshine

Bibi and Babu (my parents) brought Grace all kinds of dress-up clothes. So you know what that means....especially since my Dad is into photography too...time for another photo shoot! There were so many cute ones this time that I really had a hard time choosing some to post. But here you go...

Grace, age 2 and 1/2

Monday, June 23, 2008

End of the Year Events

School ended on Friday! The last two weeks have gone by at such break-neck speed that I have barely caught my breath...and we haven't stopped yet! On Thursday a team of nine joins us from California...and next week is our annual youth camp! But before too much time goes by, I thought I'd give a glimpse of some of the big events of the last couple of weeks.

Gil and I have had the idea for a couple years now to start an annual Bible verse contest, in order to encourage the kids to get their verses into their long-term memory. Finally, this year we got it going and it was a great success! Five finalists from each class competed against each other in a spelling-bee-like style of competition, but using Bible verses instead of spelling words. The kids were fantastic, God was glorified, and I was seriously afraid I wasn't going to be able to eliminate the last few kids...and that they would go on saying verses all morning! But we finally ended up with three winners:

First place: Josh, 3rd grade

Second place: Juen, 1st grade

Third place: Walker, 5th grade

10th Grade Celebration Assembly: As I mentioned in an earlier post, finishing 10th grade here is something to be celebrated.

And presenting....Haven of Peace Academy's very first graduating 12th grade class!!!! Very exciting day, obviously. This year, 7 seniors. Next year--a full class of over 20! How God is blessing our school!

But perhaps the best part of all...Grace's Bibi and Babu are visiting! And TODAY is their 35th wedding anniversary! I praise God for you, Mom and Dad!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Saying Goodbye

Tuesday night was the annual Staff Appreciation Dinner. Departing teachers and staff are honored and we celebrate all God has done during the year.
This is always a very difficult time of year for us. Each year we lose at least half of our staff. This year 17 teachers (out of 30) are leaving permanently. Most teachers come for just a year or two....3 years is considered a long time. We've been at HOPAC 5 years, and next year we will basically be the "senior" staff on campus--those who have been here the longest. (We just got the very sad news that our very loved Biology teacher and his wife, who have been at HOPAC 11 years, had their work permit renewal denied by the government).
It's emotionally exhausting to say good bye to so many people every year. Probably what's even harder is thinking of the 19 new staff who will be arriving in August and will need "seasoned" missionaries like us to invest in them. But it's part of life. There just aren't as many people any more who commit to missions as a career. We are SO thankful for each teacher who comes here--they fill great needs and really impact the kids. And we've made some incredible friendships over the years.
Emily, Steve, Denae, Richard, Nicola, Marie, Melissa, Brandon, Rachel, April, Julie....and more....we will miss you so much! (and'll get your own post!)
But on a happier note, Carley, Brandon, and Amanda (who I know are reading this!)--we are SO THRILLED that you are actually RETURNING to HOPAC long term and we can't wait for your arrival!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Visitor

So my small group girls came over on Tuesday for one last shindig for the school year. Here they are. Aren't they cute?

At one point in the afternoon, our dogs were going crazy out in the yard. I kept yelling at them to be quiet but they weren't listening to me, so I went out to investigate. This is what they were barking at:

A three foot long monitor lizard sitting on our wall. Yep, three feet. At least.

Now...I know I live in Africa, but we are in the city, so except for goats, chickens, cows, and some pretty amazing birds, we don't see a lot of wildlife. So this was pretty cool. I went screaming back into the house..."You girls have to come see this!!!" and "Where's the camera? Where's the camera?"

As the Crocodile Hunter would say, "Isn't she gorgeous?"

Yes, indeed. As long as she stays away from me. And my daughter. And my house.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Exam Time

HOPAC students work very, very hard. The secondary school uses a curriculum called IGCSE, which comes from Britain. It is much more intense than any curriculum I have seen. For example, in 8th, 9th, and 10th grade, all students take Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. All three subjects all three years. Basically, by the time our students have finished 10th grade, they've completed an American high school education (with maybe the exception of a government class or another English class). The classes they take in 11th and 12th grade are equivalent of American AP classes--college level. Whenever we have students staying with us and I see the homework they are doing, I am amazed.

At the end of 10th, 11th, and 12th grade, the students take IGCSE exams. The 10th graders take these exams over the course of an entire month. Almost 25 exams total--each an hour or two long--2 or 3 exams for each subject. It's a big deal. They work really hard and get really nervous. But they always do great. Every year, the 10th grade scores improve. Above is the picture of last year's 10th grade class with their IGCSE results. I taught that class in 5th and 6th I was especially proud of them!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Not Exactly a Chinese Church, But....

Grace and I were driving into town the other day, and we passed a Chinese food restaurant. She started hollering, "Church, Mommy, church!"

And she was right. Our church meets in a Chinese food restaurant. Sometimes you can smell lunch cooking as the sermon finishes up...makes it hard to concentrate.

We worship on Sundays with one of the international churches in the city. For a number of reasons, we struggled and wrestled over which Body we should join. How do we get involved with a church when our primary ministry is HOPAC? And when we are already receiving fellowship, leadership, and encouragement during our weekly meetings with our mission team? Do we choose a Swahili church or an English church? Do we choose a church where we agree with the doctrine 100% or a church where we can have the greatest impact?

The answers have never been as clear cut for us as they were in the States. And we've never felt totally settled with our answers. But the largest concentration of HOPAC families attend this church. I teach Sunday School and Gil is often given the opportunity to preach. So for now, it has been the most strategic group for us to be a part of.

Anyway. I do think it's amusing that Grace associates church with a Chinese food restaurant. But I guess that's better than her growing up with the assumption that a church must have pews and stained glass.