Monday, September 19, 2016

New Routines - What are we up to these days??

A new year has begun, and with it are new routines! Here's what we are all up to this term!

Marc continues to teach grade 9 - 12 Bible. HOPAC has added many new students to both grades 9 and 11, so Marc has more students than before. He's also added a grade 9 English class this year. HOPAC uses the British curriculum, which is much different than the American system. Bible is not an examined subject at HOPAC, so Marc hasn't really had to navigate the British system prior to this year. Now that he's teaching English, however, he has to be trained. He will be heading to Malaysia in October for a few days of training on the British system. He hopes to get a $25 flight over to Singapore and explore there for a day or two as well. 

"Happy Birthday, Baba!"
We celebrated Marc's bday on
September 6. 
Marc is one of the Grade 12 homeroom teachers this year, which actually means a lot at HOPAC! There is a grade 12 class trip to Zanzibar in June, which the students spend a lot of time fundraising for throughout the year. Marc will almost definitely go on that trip with the class, and will also be helping with the vaious fundraisers. The first one is coming up in October. They will be hosting a talent night, where they showcase their different talents like singing, dancing, poetry, etc. It's always a lot of fun to attend! 
Marc leading a 'pass the balloon' game at Hope's bday party.
Marc was able to go on the Grade 12 bonding day a few weeks ago. They took the boat over to Mbudya island for the day, which despite the crazy wind, was a great day for all the students and teachers. 

Grade 12 on Mbudya Island
Marc has a staff meeting after school each Wednesday, when the rest of us are in the library doing Swahili lessons. He also meets with several students throughout the week as needed, both for help with school, but also for discipleship and discussions. Marc has students in his classes from a variety of religious beliefs and backgrounds. Just this past week, one of his students sent him a message telling him that he loves the way Bible class is making him think and that it's already his favorite subject! Also last week, a mom of one of Marc's students told me that her child has really felt encouraged and built up because of the relationship with Marc.

Marc is also taking another Masters class online through Calvin College. This is his second class towards his Masters in Education. He can do half of the program online and the other half has to be on campus. We're still trying to sort out what that means for us and our future.

Isaac is in Grade 3 this year and is enjoying it. He's usually got some spelling, math, reading and writing homework each week. He's really looking forward to the grade 3 assembly coming up in a few weeks and has the role of "Dictionary Angel". During terms 1 and 3, each primary class leads an assembly for the rest of the primary school. These are usually quite elaborate with long skits, choreographed dances, songs, art work and usually includes a Bible lesson and some teaching on what the class has been learning so far this term. I don't think it's any secret that Miss Shirley, Isaac's teacher, is the BEST at coming up with ideas for her class assemblies. Over the past three years, I actually attended all of her assemblies even without a child in her class! I'm sure this one will also be fantastic! 
Isaac heading back to his classroom after swimming class

Our school has Fun After School Activities (FASA) each term, led by volunteer parents and teachers. Each term offerings are different, depending on who wants to lead what. Some activities from the past have been cake decorating, board games, choir, scrapbooking, art and prayer, baking, etc. This term, Isaac has signed up for Taekwondo on Thursdays after school. He started last week and came home very excited about what he had learned! 

This past summer, we started our children with Kiswahili lessons three times a week. Now that school has begun, we are down to just one time a week after school. Each Wednesday, Isaac heads up the library after school and meets up with Hope and another friend for a Swahili lesson. 

Isaac was a good helper at Hope's birthday party!
This past summer, I also began to give Isaac and Hope piano lessons. Isaac is doing quite well and picking up on it quickly. Finding consistent times to practice and do lessons has been a struggle, but we're still making work of it. 

Hope started in Kindergarten this year at HOPAC! She has loved being at school each day and really loves the 'special' classes of swimming, IT, art, music, Swahili and PE. I have really enjoyed watching Hope engage with kids her age. Since moving here, she has spent a lot of time with kids either younger than her or older than her. The kids close to her age all started KG last year, but because of Hope's September birthday, she had to wait a year. Even the kids in her preschool last year were mostly all younger than her and the two kids who wee her age were both boys. Her birthday party last week was so special to have 12 KG girls together for her to play with! 

Hope with all of the girls in KG at her birthday party last week
At some point last year, Hope just picked up on reading. She's reading far above her age and grade level, and we take absolutely zero credit for her ability! HOPAC uses the Oxford Reading Tree stage books for reading. Hope is cruising through the stages, trying to reach a stage that offers new words and challenges for her. I've reflected often over the past month of how far we've come. From her being two years old with no words besides 'mama' and 'dada', needing speech therapy two times a week for 10 months, going to geneticists to see about her growth and development delays to now excelling in areas of language and communication. Not only is she reading extremely well, she's also doing amazing in Swahili. Of the six children who did Swahili this past summer, I would dare say that besides the student in grade 6, Hope was doing the best. She was picking up on it quickly, remembering it, and has very good pronunciation. I would love to see if there is research out there regarding correlations between early childhood intervention for speech delays and ease in learning a second language. I'm curious. 

Hope joins Isaac up in the library every Wednesday after school for Swahili class. We haven't been as consistent with her about piano lessons, but hope to get a bit more serious now that we're more into a routine. 
Hope heading to the merry-go-round in the morning before school starts.
Geneva is going to preschool 3 days a week - Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She doesn't often love going in the morning, but by the end of the day she has had fun. One of her best friends just switched schools, so this will be her first week without her. On Wednesdays, she comes up to the library while Isaac and Hope have Swahili and we read books together or sometimes she watches a movie with one of the other children who doesn't have lessons that day. Geneva does her lessons on Thursday with two children from another family. 

Caleb, Shannon, Vimbai and Geneva 
This past Sunday in church, Geneva surprised us by writing words from up on the screen in her notebook. She's been learning letters in preschool, and loves to spell "hope", but really hasn't put together many other words yet. We haven't put any pressure on our kids to write/read before Kindergarten and prefer they learn through play and social interaction. Tanzanian preschool, however, is a bit more focused on academics, so Geneva is spending time working on her letters in her school. I'm actually hoping to open a preschool/daycare for HOPAC teacher kids in January (more on that later) that Eva can switch to. 

Chrispine is in Grade 12 this year and has a lot of work with his classes. He's also studying for the SAT subject tests coming up in October. He recently passed the TOEFL test, which is required for international students when English is not your first language. Chrispine was just chosen to be a part of student council this year as the Chaplain. We are so proud of him! He is a very intelligent, caring, thoughtful and intentional young man. We know he will serve his classmates well in this role. 

First day of school pic
Chrispine is also playing football for school this term, which means 3 after school practices each week. He's joined the rugby team as well, which practices once a week in preparation for a special sports weekend in November.
Chrispine on the Grade 12 bonding day on Mbudya Island 
On top of all that, Chrispine is also serving as a Wyld Life leader this year. Wyld Life is the middle school ministry of Young Life. They will have club once a month with all the middle school students, but Chrispine will also meet with the other leaders a few times each month for prayer and preparation. He volunteers at God's Tribe with the media/sound team as well a few times each month. 

If you read our last prayer letter, you already know that we've added someone else to our family for a few months! Ellen has taught at HOPAC the last two years. She originally thought she was going to be done at HOPAC after last year. The new teacher to replace her, however, cannot come to Tanzanian until November, so Ellen graciously agreed to stay on until he arrives and transitions. Ellen moved in about a month ago and will stay until mid-November. Ellen was born and raised in Japan as an MK and has also taught in Cameroon. It's been a joy to have her as part of our family! 

Ellen with Lisa on the Grade 11 bonding trip last weekend
I continue to help lead worship at HOPAC assemblies 3-5 times a week, depending on the week. I love doing it, and wish you could all hear the primary school kids singing out praises to Jesus! I often have tears in my eyes as I lead. 
First day of school assembly 
I'm also involved with Karama for about 10-15 hours a week. Every Wednesday I spend at the Young Life Africa training center, as my 'office'. I meet with Dyan, (founder of Karama) and do a lot of admin work during the day. What I actually do for Karama is a post for another day, but I absolutely LOVE it and feel honored to be a part of it! 

Mondays and Fridays are the other days that Geneva is in school, so I often work from home those days. I fit in grocery shopping and other random tasks on these days as well, such as writing prayer letters, blogging, writing supporters, cleaning/organizing at home. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Geneva is home with me, and we usually try to actually stay home one of those days. The day we don't stay home, we will go to someones home or meet up at the pool for a few hours with friends. These are great days to try and connect with other ladies with small kids. I don't always do a great job of this, but it's one of my goals. 
Leading the weekend bonding retreat for Grade 11 
This year I am a class mom again for Isaac's class. So far, that hasn't meant much, but things will come up in the next few months. The Bible study I'm in begins again tomorrow and will meet each Tuesday afternoon.  I also will continue to co-plan and lead Women & Worship with my friend, Dyan. We gather women from across Dar 4 times a year for worship, prayer and fellowship. Our first one for this school year was the evening of September 11. We worshiped and did a journaling activity that the women could take home and continue working on for a few weeks. We will host another Women & Worship in December sometime, focusing on Advent and the Christmas season. 

I was able to go on the grade 11 bonding trip two weekends ago. I got to dust off my youth pastor skills and lead all the activities for the weekend! We took the bus South for a few hours and stayed at a camp on the beach. It was rustic, but you really can't beat a weekend on the ocean - even if the toilets don't flush! It was so much fun getting to know the new students and reconnect with the returning students from this grade. When this class was in 8th grade I taught them Bible for a term.
Grade 11 bonding trip 
We look forward to other things coming up this term, including attending Chrispine's football games, Back to School night next week, monthly visits to Green Pastures home for children, Chrispines birthday in October, Geneva and Gretchen's birthdays in November, the artisan market in December, and two visitors coming for Christmas! So much to thank God for this term!