Sunday, January 31, 2010

Farewells, New Beginnings, and Birthdays

This past month has been filled with lots of farewells, new beginnings, and birthdays.

Farewells

During December all the kids at Boarding School come home and it brings me great joy. However, when January comes they all leave again and it makes me sad. Also, as Zambian government policy when the kids turn 18 they can no longer stay in an orphanage and have to be released to live somewhere else.

I decided to take all the kids that were leaving into town to have lunch, watch a movie, and get some ice cream. I loved spending time with these kids. They’ve all been around for so long and I am always sad to see them go. Fortunately, I still get to chat with them on the phone and we talk about once a week.

Here they are waiting to see the movie:

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In the movie theater (we watched the movie Avatar which the boys just loved):

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Josephine turned 18 and went to live with an Aunt.

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This is Josephine saying goodbye to Nchimunya. It’s always hard to say goodbye because you just never know when you’re going to see someone again.

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Dala went back to boarding school (the girls plaited my hair…I kept it in for about three days and then couldn’t handle it anymore).

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Moses came to visit on a rainy Saturday. It was sure fun to see him again. I wish he was still living at the farm.

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Chi Chi turned 18 and will be going back to boarding school (we just found out she passed her grade 9 tests…hooray!!!). When she’s finished with boarding school she’ll be going to stay with her mom in the Northern Province.

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Chi Chi and Choolwe (brother and sister)

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The missionaries moved out. I was sad to see them go. However, I do love having control over how clean the house is. I still see them every weekend and last night we went to dinner together. Sure love these girls. They’re the best.

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New Beginnings

The school is now opened and has been for the past three weeks. It’s so wonderful. I love it. I love teaching and I especially love teaching these adorable kids. We’re teaching about 25 kids. We have 3 preschool children and then a grade 2 class and a combined grade 4 and 6 class. We had a neighbor boy join us and also one of the workers has 3 children that he brings every day. The first week of school was so fun. I feel like I’ve been consumed by this whole school thing for a year and a half and now it’s finally started. It’s like a dream come true. There are lots of challenges with the school and teaching these kids but they’ve been good challenges and we’re all learning a lot.

We have the kids in school from 8 AM – 4 PM with an hour lunch break at 12 PM. This is a huge adjustment from what they’ve been used to. I’ve spent lots of time in the classrooms here in Zambia and have found that on average they receive about one hour of instruction a day. That’s not an exaggeration. We’ve had to do a lot of training on the proper way to behave in a classroom and how to sit and learn for six hours and an hour study break. There’s still much to be learned and sometimes I feel quite inadequate but again feel so grateful to have this opportunity.

There are three teachers: Jackie who teaches all the math, Betty who teaches the Zambian curriculum and preschool, and I teach reading/language, history and science. We let the kids out early on Fridays for their “sports afternoon” and then we have a teacher’s meeting and I head into town for the weekend. I still cherish my weekends in town and was just called to be the Seminary teacher so I spend my Saturday mornings at the church doing that. I love it.

This is what it looks like every morning. The kids line up and we check to make sure they’ve brushed their teeth, cleaned their nails, combed their hair, cleaned their clothes, and shined their shoes. We then give any announcements and offer a prayer before we start the day. This is a traditional Zambian custom.

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This is inside my classroom. The biggest class size I have is 12 and the room is big enough that I can put a semicircle of chairs in the back for reading groups. I love my classroom. It has big open windows that allow plenty of fresh air and also a great view. I love spending time here preparing and getting things ready.

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This is the second classroom where Jackie teaches math and Betty teaches the grade 2’s and grade 4&6. Because there are only two classrooms the preschool is done inside the house, along with the study breaks.

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Jackie and Betty are fabulous teachers and I’m so grateful to have them. I’ll continue to post updates on the school and how things are going. For now, we’re just plugging along doing our best to give these kids an education.

Another new beginning in my life was my move to the tent underneath the warehouse. I finally decided that I couldn’t handle the cockroaches anymore so I had Innocent put up a tent for me and now I’m almost cockroach free. I say almost because my bed still had cockroaches in it but I think they are slowly dying with all the chemicals I continue to spray on them and traps I’ve set out for them.

I love my little tent and having a bit of solitude at nights.

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Birthdays

I love my birthday. It just so happens to be my most favorite day of the whole year. I kept reminding everyone at the farm that it was my birthday and to be sure they got me presents.

I was awakened early by a phone call from my dear friend Suz. I was eager to talk to her and quickly unzipped my tent to take a walk outside and chat.

This is what I saw when I opened my tent. Yep, I was just as confused as you are. Outside my tent were a bunch of plates, cups, bowls, and containers filled with water. I wasn’t sure when they had been placed there and frankly I wasn’t sure why they were there. I knew it had something to do with my birthday but wasn’t sure what.

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I chatted with Suz for about an hour and then came back to find all the culprits hanging around my tent. They all sang a nice and loud Happy Birthday to me and I was so grateful for the birthday wishes. I later found out that it’s Zambian culture to throw water on the birthday girl/boy and that’s exactly the point of all the water outside my tent. It was meant to be a trap and I was supposed to step into it. Thankfully nobody poured water on me but they certainly tried.

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My family called me after that and wished me a happy birthday. It sure was fun to talk with them.

At lunch, Ethel and Nchimunya gave me their gifts. They gave me a card that all the girls had signed. It was so thoughtful it made me cry.

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They also bought me little cakes, white and chocolate. I was so sad that I wouldn’t get one of Stephanie’s fabulous cakes for my birthday and didn’t think I would get any cake so I was pleasantly surprised when I unwrapped my gift and saw that I would end up getting cake for my birthday after all.

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During school the kids were great and kept wishing me a happy birthday. After school while I was teaching the grade 7’s the boys brought me this nice beautiful bowl full of mangoes and sang me happy birthday. It made me so happy. I love mangoes and thought it was so thoughtful of them to go and pluck some for me and bring them to me as a present.

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I also got many great birthday wishes from home. I love facebook on my birthday because it does the reminding for me. Heidi took a picture of the kids holding a sign that said happy birthday (again it made me cry). And Stephanie sent me 33 emails with 33 reasons for why she loved me. How awesome is that? I also heard from all three of my brothers.

What a fabulous day!!! I love birthdays and this one was wonderful.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

To My Dearest Most Wonderful Sister

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Here’s the deal…for Stephanie and I birthdays are a BIG deal…especially our own birthdays.  We were fortunate enough to both be born in January so once New Year’s is over and January 1st comes along the focus turns to our birthdays.  Fortunately, mine comes first :).  Stephanie’s follows a week and a day later on January 27th.  Instead of celebrating birthDAYS we celebrate birthWEEKS. 

Here’s my dilemma…Stephanie is so much more creative and fun and better at planning things than I am.  She goes all out for my birthday and I’m always left in awe at how I can ever top what she’s done for me.  I never do and the same goes for this year.  As a matter of fact, I usually just end up copying what she does and doing it to her…which is exactly what I’m doing now.

On my birthday she sent me 33 emails (I LOVE getting emails) listing 33 reasons why she loves me.  It was so nice of her and I appreciated it so much.  So as my tribute to my dear little sis and best friend Stephanie I’m going to broadcast to the world (or the few of you who actually read this)    28 things I adore about Stephanie.

1.  Her love for pajamas

2. She’s BEAUTIFUL

3.  My eye fits so well in her forehead

4. Her kettle corn

5.  The new clothes she’s always buying and then returning

6.  Her incredible cakes (especially the ones she makes for my birthday)

7.  She doesn’t stress out

8.  She has the most beautiful angelic voice of anyone I’ve ever heard

9.  She creates the most adorable children…I can’t wait to see baby #3

10.  She has always supported me in everything I do

11. She’s the best party planner

12.  Whenever I don’t want to exercise I just call her and she tells me I don’t have to

13.  She lets me be me

14.  The love we share for birthdays

15.  She listens to me go on and on and on and on…

16.  She’s hilarious and makes me gut belly laugh every time I talk to her

17.  She’s super patient with my never ending mood swings

18.  Movie nights at her house

19.  She cooks me dinner…a lot

20.  Her uncanny ability to just be

21.  Her love of the gospel

22.  She’s always up for anything

23.  Shopping excursions

24.  She never swears

25.  Game nights with lots of yummy treats

26.  Our sleepovers…highlight of my life

27.  She’s my best friend

28.  And finally I love Stephanie because she loves me just the way I am.  She accepts everything about me…good and bad.  I go to Stephanie when I need to know that I’m OK just the way I am.  She has the power to help me see life from a different perspective…a much more calm and peaceful one.  She helps bring me back to reality and helps me see what really matters.  Her love means more to me than she’ll ever know.  I’m so blessed to have her as my sister and dear friend.

Happy Birthday Chews!!!  I love you!!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas and New Years

Spending time with my boys

My Christmas present came two days before Christmas when I got to spend the whole day with my sweet, adorable, wonderful boys.  We decided that we were going to visit Evans.  We set off on our journey at 8:30 AM.  We walked for an hour until transport picked us up, rode on the bus for 10 minutes, and then walked for another hour until we finally reached Evans.  It sure was good to see that boy again.  He’s just as happy as he always is with that big huge grin on his face.

They think they’re so cool.

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My boys Evans and Dala

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After we found Evans (he was at work where he makes ice cream) we walked for another hour trying to find some place to get a drink.  It was a hot day and we were hungry and tired. 

Then we walked another 30 minutes so we could catch a bus home.

Here are the boys just waiting for transport to take us home.

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Thunder and Lightning Storms

We got back from our visit with Evans around 2:30 and by 4 PM we had ourselves a nice big thunder and lighting storm with lots and lots of rain.  While everyone was running for cover I decided to become one with the rain.  I love these crazy storms and today I just couldn’t stay inside and watch it fall. 

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Rolling in the mud

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Finally after about 45 minutes of everyone just watching me from the windows Vincent joined me.  It was nice having someone else to join in the fun.  After Vincent, Choolwe ventured out and we eventually ended up playing soccer with ten of us.  It was so fun slipping in the mud and splashing in the puddles and just getting drenched.  Happy Memories!!! 

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Dala and Nchimunya decided to have a little photo shoot with my phone and camera while I was playing in the rain.

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Scorpions

My little nephew, Jaxon, has a slight obsession with scorpions.  I told him we have many scorpions in Africa and he keeps asking for pictures.  These pics are for him.  I usually see the scorpions while I’m sitting on the toilet at night.  Needless to say, my time on the toilet has decreased considerably.

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Christmas Celebration

My Christmas this year was wonderful.  I loved being with my kids.  We spent Christmas Eve preparing for our Christmas Celebration that evening.  I gave invitations to everyone with their part in the nativity.  That afternoon we went through the program three different times making sure everyone had the correct lines and positions.  It brought tears to my eyes watching these kids act out the events that occurred at the birth of our Savior.  It was beautiful.  I wish I could describe the feeling I felt as we were preparing and then when we performed.  I just kept thinking how incredibly lucky I was to be with these beautiful children celebrating the birth of Christ.  My life is forever filled with tender mercies and this was one of the greatest.

Me with a Shepherd boy and Mary

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Jackie and I singing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”

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Mary and Joseph talking to the Innkeeper

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Shepherds with their sheep

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Wise men bearing gifts

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Everyone singing “Joy To The World” at the end of the program

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Baby Jesus

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Everyone in the program

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After the nativity we had drinks and cookies…something these kids never get.

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Then there was dancing.  Another one of those moments where I just sat and thought, “I can’t believe how lucky I am to be sitting here watching these kids dancing, drumming, and singing.”  It was so fun.

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The kids wanted to stay up all night but by 11:30 PM we ran out of things to keep us awake so I sent everyone to bed.  Then I got to play Santa Claus.  I drew a little Christmas tree on our whiteboard and then set out gifts that my Aunt and cousins had sent for the kids and each kid got a bag (courtesy of the LDS church) full of school supplies and other fun little treats.  I was so excited for the kids to wake up and see all the gifts.  I went to bed after 1 and was up by 4:30.  The kids finally got up around 5:30 and they were all real curious about the table full of little presents.  None of them know that there are supposed to be presents on Christmas morning.  I kept singing the song from Annie where they say, “Santa Claus, what’s that? Who’s he?”  These kids have no idea who Santa Claus is and weren’t real sure about the gifts.

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We finally got to open presents after breakfast at about 8:30.  Here they are all waiting to get started.

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Tradition in my family is to start the gift opening with the youngest.  Each child got to open one present.  I don’t think some of these kids have ever even opened a present.  We had to show sweet little Alice what to do.

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The kids loved their little bags and it was so fun to see them get excited about the few things that were inside (notebook, colored pencils, regular pencils, pencil sharpener, ruler, scissors, sweets, picture of the Savior, and Chico biscuits). 

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One of the gifts was dice so I taught the kids how to play farkle.  We also played a bunch of card games.  It was nice just lounging around in my pajamas all morning playing games with the kids.

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In the afternoon I headed into town on my bike.  Vaughn, my Zambike friend, picked me up and we went to have dinner with a bunch of Americans and a girl from London.  The food was amazing and it was fun to be with my fellow citizens.  It was a great ending to a most wonderful day. 

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I also got to talk with my sisters and Pops which is always a real fun treat. 

New Year’s Eve Party

I love celebrating the New Year.  It’s always been a big deal for me to have a big party and this year was no exception.  I made a little schedule of all the events that were supposed to happen throughout the night.  The party started at 8 PM and went until 1 AM.

We started the night off with blowing bubbles and applying tattoos.   

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Then we did the traditional African dancing and drumming.  After that the boys put on a little skit for us.  It was hilarious.  Victor (the one in blue) was supposed to be from Utah and his Utahn accent put me to tears. 

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After the play we had ourselves some cookies, popcorn, and drinks while we watched Shrek on my laptop.  Then we played some games.

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At about 11:45 I got all the drinks ready for our toast at the New Year.

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We listened to the radio for our countdown and then we all ran outside a yipping and a hollering to bring in the New Year.  We banged our pots and pans, lit our fireworks, danced some more, and played a little soccer.

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It wasn’t quite 1 AM yet so we went inside and played the look and scream game then we cleaned up and everyone went to bed.   The whole night was a blast!

The following morning Dala killed the duck that was living in the bag since the day before so we could have it for our New Year’s lunch.  We also had chicken (I couldn’t bear trying the duck after I had seen it walking around the house the day before and the chicken was terrible…my New Year’s lunch ended up being a cliff bar).

Josephine plucking feathers off the duck and removing intestines.

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