Saturday, December 11, 2010

for the past week or so taylor and i have been singing the twelve days of christmas every day. sometimes we sing it when no one else is around, other times we sing it in the midst of large groups of people, such as on the bus ride back from butajira with forty other people on the bus. whatever the case, it’s definitely helping us get into the christmas spirit, that and the fact that i’m blaring christmas music from my room daily ☺

there have been many soccer games after school for the past couple weeks, with the different grades competing against one another. it’s been a lot of fun going to watch these games and witnessing the pride that the students have for their classmates—no doubt there has been lots of cheering and yelling! in my opinion, it’s much more exciting to watch a game where you know the people who are playing, and this was definitely the case as i got to watch my 3rd graders compete against one another—3A versus 3B. some of the boys had told me earlier in the week that they were going to be playing and asked if i would come watch—obviously i said yes. i seriously loved watching my boys play, and i was very impressed by their footwork and overall soccer skills—the game ended with a score of 1-1. i’m looking forward to watching them play again, as well as getting to watch my 4th graders show off their abilities ☺

zondra’s birthday was this past week and we got to have a bonfire to celebrate! it was definitely a memorable occasion and hopefully something we will get to do again. we sang lots of praise and worship songs, as well as christmas songs (with matt playing the guitar) and get this—taylor and i taught some of the house kids the electric slide—awesome...yes. to say that we had fun would be an understatement.

the stars here are unlike any i have ever seen—the sky almost looks fake and a picture would not do justice. the sky is pitch-black, with millions and millions of little lights shining ever so brightly. the grandeur and their exquisite beauty again point to God’s magnificence and creativity. i love that i appreciate something as simple as stargazing, another example of noticing the small blessings that can be displayed in grand ways.

i can’t even begin to put into words how excited i am for my family to arrive. it gives me so much joy that they will get to experience little snippets of my life here and get to meet so many of the people that i have grown to love. for the past couple of weeks i have been telling almost everyone i come across exactly when they arrive—i am sure they are tired of hearing about it by now, but oh well! ☺ my family will be here at project mercy for 4 days, allowing them to see various aspects of the ministry, such as attending church, watching me teach, witnessing the various trade skills, and of course, playing with and loving on the children. after that, we will all fly to kenya to go on a safari for a week! again, cannot contain my excitement regarding this opportunity! it’s going to be so amazing spending all this time with the people i love most, and even being able to celebrate christmas together in africa—what a blessing.

seeing as how i will be away for my students for over a week, i have shared with them about my family’s arrival and our upcoming trip to kenya. despite the fact that i’ve clearly communicated my plans with them (and of course had it all translated into amharic), a good majority of the kiddos think i’m going back to america and not coming back. many of them keep coming up to me and putting fake tears under their eyes and saying things such as, “no go to america, sad teacher”. even though i don’t want my students sad or confused, i will admit that i am enjoying this slightly, as it demonstrates their love for me and desire for me to stay with them. while i am away, matt, a twenty-six year old guy from indiana, will be taking over my classes. he is here volunteering for the month and there’s no doubt in my mind that the kiddos will love having him as their teacher.

this will be my last blog entry before christmas, so this is me wishing all of you a very merry christmas with family and friends! enjoy this special season and cling to the truth that we have in Jesus—we are nothing without Him!

please pray...

- for taylor as she travels back home to washington (she leaves tuesday,december 14)—she has been a true blessing and i will miss her so much!

- for my family’s safety as they journey here to ethiopia (they leave thursday, december 16)

- for patience and understanding as i continue to foster relationships with the people here.

- that i might continue to develop a spirit of selflessness and love as Jesus does.

something to consider..

“You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace amongst those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

Thursday, November 25, 2010

this past week (11/15-11/19) was not our typical week of school. i got to school monday to discover that we were going to have the rest of the week off! tuesday was a muslim holiday, and the local government had cancelled school wednesday-friday so that the students could be at home with their families to help harvest the crops. this was a pleasant surprise, kind of like our own extended thanksgiving break, just a week early! it was wonderful having extra time to relax, read, and reflect on my experiences here thus far but i was eager to get back into the classroom and be with my kiddos.

some exciting things happened this past weekend as we had the chance to go into addis. zondra, taylor and i went into the city with margot and her father, denis, and their family friend colin. the two men had been hiking in the simian mountains in northern ethiopia for a week and came down to visit margot and experience all the various aspects of project mercy. we headed to addis after lunch on friday, and zondra, taylor and i had the privilege of staying at marta and deme’s home! they stayed in yetebon for the weekend and were so kind to share their beautiful place with us. margot, denis and colin stayed at the hilton where we joined them on many occasions. we were spoiled in countless ways, as we enjoyed fine dining, laying out by the pool, and wonderful shopping experiences. there was a bazaar on saturday where many local artists from addis gathered and hundreds of foreigners crowded to see and buy their amazing work! it was really funny arriving at the bazaar, as they were blaring christmas music! i was definitely not expecting this, and it felt rather strange to hear christmas music in such warm weather. i guess i’m so used to christmas in michigan or indiana that i always associate christmas with cold weather and snow! nonetheless, the music was a great reminder of the wonderful upcoming holidays!

get ready for this—on sunday morning taylor and i got to run in the 10th annual great ethiopian run! margot and her dad were already entered to run, and he was able to get each of us the shirt to be able to participate! it was an amazing experience, definitely one of my highlights so far. the course wasn’t exactly what i would call flat, and combining that with the altitude made for quite the run ha! there were around 32,000 participants running and walking in this 10K (6.1 miles)! we all wore yellow and green tshirts and there was so much energy, dancing, cheering, and singing throughout the run—very memorable. we even received medals when we crossed the finish line! way cool experience.

even though i was only gone for the weekend, i was excited to come back to yetebon and be with the house kids and staff in a place that really has begun to feel like home. these people are simply incredible and i so wish that all of you could share in this culture and people; for now i guess you can live vicariously through me!

classes were cancelled on wednesday (11/24) afternoon, as the whole student body had to help harvest the wheat and corn in the fields here at project mercy. it was really neat going down there with the students and watching them work hard and have fun with one another at the same time. zondra and i even helped carry a few loads of corn and wheat—the students definitely found that to be amusing ha. great photo ops presented themselves throughout the afternoon.

a large group of students and adults have been here for the week from CO. noel and tammy cunningham, who head up the cunningham foundation in denver, have been supporting project mercy for years and have blessed this organization in numerous ways. here’s a little promo for them...they also own a restaurant in denver called strings, which i hear has amazing food. it’s been wonderful seeing all of these people serve in various capacities using their God-given talents, whether through the venue of bead making, teaching, photography, painting, teaching computers, and cooking. under the instruction of one of their bead artists, i had the chance to make a glass bead all by myself! let’s just say it’s not as easy as it may look ha.
i didn’t know if it would be possible and i didn’t want to get my hopes up ahead of time, but we were in fact able to celebrate thanksgiving here in yetebon! noel bought all the necessary grocery items in addis (including 2 turkeys from the u.s. embassy!) and all 25 of us feasted together! it was such a nice surprise getting to enjoy little tastes of home! yummo. i will admit that i have definitely missed watching football this season, especially on thanksgiving. to make up for this, a big group of us went out and played volleyball which was a lot of fun. gotta do what you can with what you have ☺

i’m learning more and more what it means to take things as they come, being sure to recognize the little blessings of each day. i see the beauty of exhibiting a positive attitude and truly desiring to display a grateful heart each and every day. the people here exude with joy so naturally and i pray that i may continue to learn by their example.

things i’ve discovered...

- peanut butter m&ms are a delicious treat that i am savoring. mmmm.

- harvesting the fields takes a long time when you are working without machinery.

- listening to Christmas music is a must this time of year.

- my family will be here in 23 days!!!!!!!!!!!!! (as of 11/25)

things i’m thankful for...

- the love and grace that Jesus showers over me daily.

- my precious family and their faithful love, encouragement and prayers.

- the joy and love that my friends share with me.

- the beauty of this place that i am privileged to call “home” for 9 months.

- all of the children here at project mercy—i can’t begin to put into words what they mean to me.

- each one of you—thank you for sharing in this journey with me and being a blessing along the way!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

lots to update you on; it's been an eventful couple of weeks!

on friday (oct 29) i had the privilege of going to butajira with many of the americans from the medical team. this wasn’t my usual trip into town for internet usage, but rather a time of soaking up the local culture by means of the market! i had been to the market once before, almost two years ago when i was here with taylor university, so i was excited to be able to go back and take in all the sights. the market is home to the ethiopians from the surrounding towns and villages who come together every friday, walking for hours to sell food, furniture, clothing, household items, livestock, and the like. thousands of people are present, with our group of ferenges (the word for foreigners) sticking out from the crowds quite nicely. two of the high school guys that live here on the compound took us around and made us feel safe and secure, which we were very grateful for. both times i have gone, i have felt like it’s a scene straight from a national geographic magazine image—the authentic african market is truly incredible to experience. while making our way through the market, i came across some pumpkins and got really excited about getting one. for a couple of weeks i had thought it would be fun to get a pumpkin and carve it with some of the house kiddos, explaining that many children in america enjoy doing this around this time of year, so when we stumbled across them i knew i couldn’t leave the market without one! i sent gezahegn to go get one for me (knowing that if i were present during the purchase, they would rack up the price), specifying that i would like a very orange pumpkin. he returned a little while later with my pumpkin, which was in fact orange, but extremely long in shape! i didn’t think i needed to specify that i wanted my pumpkin to be round (i thought it was assumed ha), but oh pumpkin has lots of character! ☺

saturday morning the medical team saw all the house children for dental check ups and physicals. in addition to perusing all the work that was being done in the tents, i had the opportunity to witness a surgery for the first time! mike, one of the surgeons from america, was so kind to allow taylor and i to witness the small operation. he removed a rather large cyst below the left eye of an 8th grade boy from the school and i got to stand right next to mike as he worked, proving isabella, the nurse, with extra gauze when needed. i was doing good for a while, and then i started feeling really clammy and my head did not feel right so i decided to sit down. i was glad i didn’t pass out haha, and it was really interesting seeing what i saw, but this experience demonstrated that i would not be able to watch a more intense surgery, and i’m a-okay with that. it was super interesting and made me appreciate the work of surgeons and nurses that much more! knowing that these students wouldn’t be able to afford these sorts of treatment (root canals, surgeries, and receiving medicines) makes the work that has been done that much more incredible, as these wonderful people have so willingly given to the people here. the work that they have done is amazing and such a blessing to this community.

my alarm went off at 5:35am sunday morning, reminding me of my early mornings working this summer at the michigan international speedway. thankfully i wasn’t going to work at such an hour, but rather getting up for the hike that we were about to embark upon. there were about 15 of us (with 3 ethiopian guys as our guides) geared up to spend our morning hiking up the mountains; half of us went all the way up to the fanna waterfall, and the other half went to the orthodox church. due to their hike being a shorter distance, those who went to the orthodox church made it back in time for the entire church service. those of us who hiked up to the waterfall made it to church a little later, as our hike took 5 hours round trip. we had such a blast hiking together and being immersed in God’s glorious creation. the views were breathtaking, and all the pictures and memories that were made along the way were wonderful. i couldn’t believe it when i saw a couple of my students way up in the mountains...definitely puts things in perspective when i see how far some of these students walk to school. and they loved helping me along the trail and making sure that i was doing ok...i think they were pretty shocked to see their teacher outside of school ☺

i finally have documentation of me teaching! on monday morning weldon, one of the members of the medical team, was so kind to come into a few of my classes and take hundreds (no joke) of pictures and some video footage! i was thrilled for him to see my kiddos and am forever grateful for the images he was able to capture for me. hopefully some of them will be posted in the near future (and all credit goes to him) so you can finally see what a class of 95 kiddos looks like!

on wednesday morning i had the opportunity to bring tesfaye, one of my 4th grade students, to see jenny, the physical therapist on the medical team. i have been concerned about the way he walks (he walks on the outside of his right foot and the inside of his left...major limping) and wanted jenny to take a look at him and see what she thought. she worked with him for quite some time, noting the lack of strength in his legs and quite a bit of immobility with his ankles. with kidane translating for us, we learned that when tesfaye was 2 years old, he fell off a bridge into a pile of rocks. thankfully he went to a hospital in butajira and they were able to give him a lift of some sort to put in his shoes, but he hasn’t gone back since. he said that for a long time he walked on his knees because he wasn’t able to stand up. his story is heart-wrenching, as i look and see what he has to deal with each and every day. when i asked him how long it takes him to get to school, that is when i about lost it—he walks over an hour each way. i will be working with him everyday after lunch to stretch his legs and hopefully strengthen his muscles, and we have alerted marta and deme of his condition (along with a few others) and need to see an orthopedic in butajira. a little bit of my heart breaks each day because of stories and experiences like this one. i can’t even begin to describe how i take things for when my parents bought me orthotics in high school to relieve my hip flexor problems, something that now seems so minor when i look at sweet tesfaye’s conditions. i pray that the Lord would continue to soften my heart so that i may see people the way He does—as beautiful and special creations of His intricate design.

after lunch on wednesday the medical team made their way back to addis. i never have been fond of goodbyes, and it was especially hard saying goodbye to these remarkable individuals. it’s amazing how close you can bond with fellow believers when you are immersed in a new culture and living in such close proximity each day, serving others and ultimately Jesus. i am confident that the Lord used them in mighty ways as they served with arms outstretched, day in and day out. i was thoroughly intrigued by all of the medical work that was being done and all praise and glory to Jesus for the 800 or so people they were able to see and assist! in addition to all that they contributed medically, they were a true source of encouragement to me as they took time to get to know me and allow me to share about my family, what God has been teaching me while i’ve been here, and teaching. i’m so blessed by all of the amazing people God brings through this ministry.

following dinner wednesday evening, us four girls (zondra, taylor, margot and i...the fearsome four, the fab four, the feregne four...still deciding on our name haha) had a movie night! zondra had a projector brought to her (via the medical team) and we were able to hook it up to her laptop and watch the movie bride wars! we even made popcorn on the stove. yum-o. definitely a fun evening and something we will have to do again.

get ready for this—we now have internet access here in yetebon. i’m still in shock and totally psyched about it. zondra had purchased this device in addis a couple months ago called an EVDO that allows you to pick up a network signal and obtain connection to the outside world! after a whole lot of waiting and trying, we finally got everything sorted out and can now use the internet in the comforts of our own rooms. she has paid for the month of november and we will see how it goes! my next goal—getting skype to work. rather ambitious, i know. ☺

things i’ve discovered...

- men do not wear shorts in this culture. interesting.

- i love hiking. and i want to do more of it.

- my amharic is improving. i’ve been told by multiple adults that my pronunciation is excellent (hopefully they aren’t just saying this to make me feel good ha). nonetheless, i’m encouraged.

- power outages can occur at the most inconvenient times— for example, during computer class when half of the students are using desktop computers. yay for lessons of patience!

- watching people get cut open is not for me; one time was enough ha.


-margot, a 26 year old from scotland, arrived about a week ago and will be here until nov 19. she has her bachelor’s degree and much experience with early childhood development and is using her gifts as she teaches at the kindergarten (taylor is helping her out as well)! i’m really enjoying getting to know her, as well as learning about scotland and listening to her beautiful accent! i’m thinking i ought to delay my arrival in coming home and do some traveling around scotland with her in may...thoughts?? ☺

please pray...

- for the safety of the medical team as they travel back to CA—may they continue to shine brightly for Jesus as they serve back in the u.s. and share stories of all they experienced while here.

- for zondra as she teaches with such passion and care to her 6th and 7th graders—may she be encouraged and know that she is loved and appreciated.

- for margot and taylor as they give of themselves to precious KG students—may they be creative and flexible in their teaching, and may they remain healthy.

- for continued understanding of this culture and these people—may they sense how much i love them and how Jesus loves them even more.

something to consider...

I was encouraged by a friend back home with this excerpt from one of Chuck Swindoll’s books, “...we are where we are:
-by His appointment
-under His care
-in His training
-for His time”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

i want you all to know how grateful i am for your faithful prayers and encouragement across the miles. it’s an incredible feeling knowing that there are so many people committing this ministry, these people, my teaching, and me to the Lord. in addition, thank you so much to those of you who have taken the time to email me! your emails provide much joy and i cherish each one. may God continue to be glorified in and throughout my time here, and THANK YOU for extending your love, support, and prayers to these beautiful people of ethiopia.

last thursday (oct 21) was a big day for all of my students—i gave tests in both grades 3 and 4. it’s not your typical testing experience like back home, so let me explain what it looks like here. i informed my students earlier in the week that they were going to be tested on thursday, and we spent much of wednesday reviewing. on the day of the test, each student receives a small piece of paper (about ¼ of a page...paper is used sparingly here) that is provided by the school. they all go outside and write their names and class number on their paper as i remain in the room and proceed to write all of the questions on the board. the tests are 10 questions long, usually consisting of multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank, and so on. for this first test (in all my classes) i chose to only have multiple choice questions. once i finish writing the test, all the students come back in the room and i read each question to them and repeat them 2-3 times. the students write down their answers then turn in their test and we call it a day! having had time to finish grading the tests, i can see that i have students all across the board (no surprise with 95 in one class!) so we will continue to work on specific skills to enhance their overall understanding. i really care for these kiddos and want to see them succeed, but i know i won’t be able to reach every single one of them (and that is a hard thing to come to terms with). i also have realized that i cannot read MANY of the names of these students (often because they only wrote their name in amharic...oops) so i will have to get together with some of the other teachers so that i can properly record their scores. so that’s my first test-giving experience here in ethiopia!

on sunday (oct 24) a medical team arrived from california!! they are affiliated with the menlo park presbyterian church in the bay area and are serving here for a week and a half. there are twelve adults in the group, with nurses, physical therapists, doctors, and dentists being represented. three large unicef tents are set up here at the school where they are providing clinics for the students. last year when they were here they gave physicals to students grades 1-6, so this year they are finishing up the student body, as well as having their teeth checked out. in addition to providing assistance here at the school, a few of the doctors are working up at the hospital and performing surgeries—way cool. it’s an incredible process (very organized as they are keeping record of each student) and such a blessing that they are here using their God-given abilities to provide comfort and services to these children! one of the team members was so kind to bring me a few treats from my lovely family—peanut butter m&ms, skittles, sour patch kids and some dvds. it was like christmas in october! ☺

this past saturday (oct 23) zondra and i were not able to travel to butajira for internet access due to lack of transportation. the PM van was in the shop in addis (it still is there), so our only other option was walking the 7 miles there. being the obedient and compliant foreigners that we are, we knew we would have to ask a couple high school guys to escort us for safety reasons...but the longer we thought about this, the more we realized that this was rather selfish to ask them to take us that far. so no connection to the outside world for us that saturday! ah the simple things we take for granted back home—reliable transportation and internet access just to name a few! despite this, something rather out of the ordinary and extremely pleasant has surfaced now that the medical team is here. one of the nurses from addis brought her laptop with her and has a device that allows her to pick up internet connection, even here in yetebon! you have no idea how excited zondra and i were to hear this. she has graciously allowed us to use her laptop and that is why i am able to update you all this time around!

the volleyball net got brought out this week! the kiddos were very excited about this, as were many of the teaching staff (including myself). we had quite the games going on which was a blast, and basketball and soccer are still enjoyed by many. my computer classes with the juniors and seniors are off to good beginnings. the majority of the juniors have never used computers before, so we are still trying to gain confidence in using a mouse and opening and closing programs. with the seniors, their knowledge is greater and we are beginning to work with microsoft excel. i’m really enjoying working with these older students, as it is apparent that they possess great motivation and desires to succeed beyond their high school experiences.

here’s a fun story from school on tuesday (oct 26): in 4th grade we were working on reading a passage where a boy and a girl described the physical appearances of their siblings—not a very exciting passage i might add—so i decided to add a little twist to the exercise as i brought some pictures of jack, sam and myself with me to class. before i showed the students the pictures, i explained that i wanted them to pay close attention to the physical appearances of my brothers so that we would be able to describe them using sentences later on in the class period (i had to explain my purpose in sharing these pictures right away or else they most definitely would have lost focus ha). i proceeded to walk around the room and show them the pictures and boy did they love seeing them! they kept asking if the pictures were from america, as well as wanting to know who was jack and who was sam. after they had seen the pictures, i asked for them to describe jack and sam. essentially here is what they came up with:

• jack is tall. he has short brown hair and is thin.
• sam is tall. he has big white hair and is thin.

not too bad huh? ☺ we had a lot of fun.

things i’ve discovered...

- there are around 70 different languages in ethiopia with over 360 dialects. all i have to say is wow.

- for most of the students, english is their 3rd language. the language spoken in this area is gurage, and then they learn amharic and english at school. i try to continually remind myself of this in order to keep things in perspective!

- the surgeon at the hospital here, dr. abraham, does work that is equivalent to 3 physicians back in the u.s. he performs general and gynecological surgeries, as well as urological procedures. he is on call 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. may God bless this servant-minded man.

- head, shoulders, knees and toes is a song loved by students here.

- even though they are multiple choice tests, it still takes a long time to grade 372 of them. wowzers.

- there are 1552 students here K-12.

- a class size of 30 seniors seems extremely small compared to my usual 95 kiddos. it’s a nice change of pace.

- these house kids have extremely hard work ethics—they hand wash dishes, help in the kitchen, sweep and mop floors, hand wash their own clothes (yes, even 3rd graders!) and study, study, study! i’m so proud and encouraged by them.


-at church two sundays ago (oct 17) there were many baptisms! there were probably 20 children baptized, and ten of them were house children (3 of them being my students), as well as two other students of mine. the children wore teal blue hospital gowns and took turns getting into the small pool and an evangelist from the church and a choir member did the baptizing. it was such a beautiful depiction of the hearts of these children and their faithfulness and desire to serve Jesus. praise and worship took place throughout—it was evident that the joy of the Lord was radiating throughout the congregation and that He was being worshipped and adored.

-a high school graduate named taylor from yakima, WA has just arrived and will be here for the month! she is a super sweet, cheerful and encouraging girl and i’m so looking forward to getting to know her better and spending time with her. God continues to demonstrate His goodness and faithfulness!

please pray...

- for the medical team that is serving here. may they be strengthened, encouraged and blessed by the Lord for all the amazing work they are contributing here.

- that i would better understand and be able to live out Philippians 3:10, “My determined purpose is that I may know Him—that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly”.

something to consider...

“Whenever you feel you should do something for someone else, you should do it. Because you may never have another chance.” --Seeds, A Memoir by Sasha Vukelja, M.D. (I had the privilege of meeting this incredible doctor and her husband during their short stay here at PM and was moved by the incredible journey God has led her on)

Sunday, October 17, 2010


it’s all about your perspective. your perspective defines how you view situations, events, and even people; and the way we view those situations, events or people usually determines how we act in response. perspectives can be positive or negative—the choice is ours. the exciting thing is that we have the opportunity to look for the good in people and situations, rather than so easily pointing out the bad. now you might be sitting there wondering why i am babbling on about perspective; the simple response is that i want you to know what God has been teaching me as of late. this journey that i am on, this new place that i now live, and these people that i encounter challenge my perspective daily, and more often than not it is unintentional on their part. i want to look at these situations and people through the eyes of Jesus, being sensitive to how He would desire for me to act in response. it can be easy to think of all that i miss back home—family, friends, easy accessibility to things, and i hate to admit it, but sometimes material things. there have been times when i have thought negatively about certain situations that have transpired and i’m ashamed of this. but even in my short time here, i have already learned that there are blessings here that i couldn’t share in if i were still home. if i just take a step back and look at the lives of these people here, my students in particular, i’m reminded that i have nothing to complain about, but rather so many reasons to display a grateful heart. the people i so frequently interact with exude with happiness and joy. this joy comes from their positive perspective on life, and in many cases, the joy stems from the blessings that God is showering upon them because of their faithfulness to Him. God can be glorified when i respond in ways that are pleasing to His sight, and i pray that i continually make this a priority—seeing each day, each situation, each person, with a perspective that reflects the character of Jesus.

this week i have taken on a new responsibility of tutoring a university student named kidane. he graduated from the school here 3 years ago and the government decided that if he wanted to continue on with his education at the university level, he must study law. realizing the value of furthering his education, kidane agreed to this, despite the fact that ever since he was a young boy his heart’s desire has been to be a doctor. with 3 years of law now complete, that desire still resonates deep within him—he wants to be a doctor “wherever the need is greatest” (in his words). clearly i am not the person to assist him with biology, chemistry, physics, etc, but there are a couple areas that i’m blessed to tutor him in. the first would be enhancing his computer abilities. we are using programs such as microsoft excel, powerpoint, and word and taking the time to add to his repertoire of knowledge in each of these areas. he also is furthering his typing skills using mavis beacon. in addition to computer usage, i am helping him prepare and study for the SAT. with his goal of attending medical school in the united states, it’s necessary for him to take this test in the near future. we are talking through each section of the test and working through many practice problems to build confidence within him. kidane is an extremely capable, motivated, and positive young man. his english abilities are quite strong and he wants to keep improving. he naturally desires to help others and his love and fervor for Jesus exude from his very being. i know that kidane would greatly appreciate your prayers as he pursues this goal of going to medical school and becoming a doctor, after all, “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

get ready for this—in addition to this new responsibility of tutoring, i am now the information technology (aka computer) teacher for grade 11 and 12 students! who would have thought i would get the privilege of teaching english and computer skills? ☺ the school is blessed to have a computer lab with around 12 laptops and 8-9 desktops and they have been looking for someone to fill this position so i figured, why not go for it? i am excited for this opportunity to pass on some of my computer knowledge to these high schoolers, and i’m especially looking forward to working with these older students. i’ll be sure to keep you posted!

i have given myself quite the task this weekend—looking through all 180 or so notebooks from my grade 3 students. i collected their notebooks on friday and will be looking through each one to note the students’ progress, understanding, and lack of understanding. yes, it will be time consuming but i’m looking forward to seeing what concepts they are grasping and what ones they are not, as well as hopefully learning some more names in the process!

things i’ve discovered...

- i counted 95 students in my 4A class this week. that’s almost 100 students in one classroom. turns out that in 3 of my 4 classes I have 93+ students in each. and thought 80 students was a lot. whoa dang.

- there are pros and cons to this change in “seasons” we have here: pros—beautiful sunny, warm weather daily (mid to upper 70s would be my guesstimate); cons—flys are everywhere. and i hear it only gets worse...

- at the end of grade 8, all students must take the national exam (in english). if they do not pass, they cannot continue on to grade 9.

- at the end of grade 10, another national exam (in english) is given that is much like the ACT or SAT. if they do not pass, they cannot continue on to grade 11, meaning that they will not be able to attend a university in the future. students can try and retake the test, but they have to come up with the money to pay for it.

- the government determines what you will major in at the university level. after you have taken your grade 12 exam, they examine your scores and decide what they want you to study. more often than not students get placed in a major that is drastically different from their true passion.

- getting 9+ hrs of sleep each night is a beautiful thing. yay for bedtime around 9:30-10pm!

- i really enjoy cabbage. and picking pea pods off the bush—delicious afternoon snack.

- walking halfway to butajira (nearest town that has internet access) is actually rather pleasant. the bus broke down on our way so we ended up walking the remaining 4 miles. yay for some good saturday morning exercise ☺

marta and deme have arrived from the states safe and sound! i’m so happy to have them back, as are countless others ☺

please pray...
- for all the workers here at PM...those who work in the kitchen, the gardeners, the construction crew, the basket weavers, the cattle herders, the launderers, the bead makers, and the office staff. may they sense appreciation from others and experience the love and mercy of Jesus.

- for all the teachers and staff at the school...may they be the hands and feet of Jesus to each one of their students

- for all those on staff at the hospital...may they be reminded that Jesus is the Great Physician

- that I would continue to learn what it means to serve sacrificially as i see God grow bigger in my eyes.

something to consider...

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” –John Piper