Friday, August 14, 2015

First Days in Fourth Grade

School is in session!  On Wednesday, August 12th, Sahel Academy had its opening assembly for the 2015-2016 school year.  Parents, teachers, students K-12, and staff gathered for worship and special announcements for the new year.  I love teaching at a K-12 school for this very reason.  Kindergartners are wide-eyed with wonder, middle schoolers eagerly chat with friends new and old, and seniors lackadaisically lean back in their chairs, perhaps too comfortably.

What a privilege it was to stand with my parents as staff at the same school!  Wednesday mornings, my 4th graders will visit Mrs. Knox for art class!  And dad keeps busy with odd jobs on campus, fixing desks, putting up bulletin boards, and even supervising study halls!  They fit right into life here at Sahel and I'm happy to be able to introduce them as "mom" and "dad."

Day 3 in 4th grade just finished, and as I sit at my "teacher's desk" writing this, I think of how blessed I am to be at this school.  It was just today at lunch that I was conversing with another staff member about the awesome community here.  God has blessed me with a wonderful class this year and great co-workers.  It's hard to believe that this is my second year of teaching and when I think about doing another whole year again, I am quite overwhelmed.  But as I take things day by day, I find myself full of joy and a renewed passion for investing in the students here at Sahel Academy.

To God be the glory!

Mom and me on our first day of school!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Getting Ready

Round two, another school year.  The summer has ended and school is almost in session!  I have been busily working in my classroom, setting up desks, cleaning shelves, making name tags, and labeling books!  Students have their first day of classes on Wednesday, August 12th.  As we begin school, I am reminded of this time last year.  And in many ways, there are many similarities...rain storms, teacher meetings, new faces.  But this year doesn't feel anything like last year, for which I am very much grateful!

For one, my parents are here!  It has been such an incredible blessing to have them around, and they've only been here for less than two weeks!  God has blessed us with good fellowship and I love being their neighbor.  I've been able to help them as they adjust to Niger by taking them grocery shopping and showing them around the school.   Since they live just down the street, I've been busy delivering spices they didn't have, dropping off medicine for unwanted sickness, and passing along messages from others when they didn't have phones yet.  I went running the other morning around Sahel's campus and ended up doing a lap with my mom.  How cool is that?!  Both mom and dad and I went for an early morning stroll past the rice fields, green with life and sun shining through the humid sky.  This year I get to experience life in Africa with family.  God is good.

We have already begun Teacher Orientation at Sahel and during the meetings, I couldn't help but think, "How awesome is it that my parents are here?"  We were able to worship together and share our story with the staff.  Even getting a simple mom or dad hug at lunch time is a gift from God.  I never thought that I would be on the same teaching staff as my mom, but I'm so excited to have the opportunity this year!

Another difference from last year is my living comfort level.  As I help welcome new teachers and staff, I am reminded of similar feelings I had this time last year.  Knowing how to grocery shop, understanding a bit more of the culture, and having a few familiar faces has made a tremendous difference and reduced a lot of transitional stress and anxiety.  The adjustment to Niger has, for the most part, already taken place for me, allowing me to feel much more relaxed and settled into life here.

Also, it's my second year of teaching!  I am eager to have older kiddos, as I teach 4th grade this year.  Although the curriculum is new to me, the staff and students (most of them) are not.  Being familiar with the school and how it runs has allowed me to easily anticipate what's next and understand how things are done here.  I'm so grateful to be returning to Sahel for a second year.

It was hard for me a year ago to imagine being in the place that I am today, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually, as well.  Many people welcomed and mentored me with open arms when I arrived to Niamey.  Now it is my turn to do the same for those around me.  Though it's only been a year, I am able to answer questions that new-comers have and hopefully offer encouragement when needed.

I am so grateful for all that the Lord has taught me this past year.  And I am also grateful that I feel a bit different this year.  Everyday with the Lord is an adventure when we are walking in obedience.  That is my prayer and heart's cry.  That I would know, without a doubt, that I am exactly where the Lord wants me.  So He can use me and continue to mold me.  May God be glorified because of my obedience and trust in Him.  To Christ be the glory!  As they say at SB2W, "The glory goes to God!"

Mom, Dad and me at Sahel Staff Orientation!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

One Year

On July 29th, I had the pleasure of welcoming my parents at the Niamey Airport!  Talk about role reversal!  Although this was the second time I have met Mom and Dad at the airport, it was a bit different this time knowing that they are here to stay for awhile longer.

I anticipated that having my parents here would be nice.  And to answer the frequently asked question, "Are you excited for your parents to come?" the answer is YES!  But having them here has been a blessing in small and unexpected ways, too.

Mom and Dad are living on Sahel Academy's campus.  Though I have moved to another house on a  neighboring compound, we are just a short walk away from each other.  Who would have ever guessed that I would be neighbors with my parents in Africa?  On Thursday I was able to have my parents over for their first dinner...homemade lasagna and mango ice cream for dessert!  I enjoyed being able to "give back," since Mom has been cooking for me all these years!

Friday morning, my housemate and I took Mom and Dad grocery shopping.  This was no short excursion.  Getting acclimated to the new menu options, figuring out prices, deciding what and how much you need, as well as how long something might last in the heat without spoiling all takes time.  Not to mention the traffic.  All in all, it was a successful trip!  I taught mom how to properly wash produce and she's already been cooking like a pro!  I've been over to their house twice now for lunch :)  What a unique privilege it has been to share these new memories with my folks.

After having lived here for a year (August 1st marks one year exactly!), and as people return from summer vacation, I can't help but think, "This feels like home."  Such an amazing family has formed for me here in Niger and welcoming Mom and Dad into this Niger family has brought me such joy.  Praise God for how he provides!

I continue to plan and get ready for school to start.  Only one and a half more weeks until the first day of classes!  Please pray for all staff at Sahel Academy as we prepare our classrooms and sort through curriculum.  There is often an overwhelming feeling that accompanies these preparations, knowing there is so much to do and so little time.  Pray for peace and diligence and JOY!  Thank you for your faithfulness to God and the Body of Christ!