Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Gift

Ever been to Epcot Center and walked around all the different nations around the lake? I was there tonight... but I was at the real thing. I had a concert tonight with the band. I was told to be there at 9:00 p.m. Of course, this is late for a school night. Also, the concert was in Moita... a town I've never been to... and no one was giving me directions. They basically just told me it was at the town hall and they fully expected me to find it with only that information. If you don't know me very well, I will tell you, this is just the kind of situation that I love. Finding a place I've never been to, no one I know is there, people all around me speaking a different language... it was just the kind of adventure I am looking for. :) So, that being said, I did make it to Moita (thank you, Wikipedia) and I am just comfortable enough with Portuguese that I could ask someone where the Câmara Municipal is and understand what they tell me. Well, once I get there, I find that the town is crammed full of people and cars because this is the town's annual holiday celebration. It was a quaint town and it was decked out with lights and there was Portuguese music coming from speakers that seemed to be everywhere. It truly felt like Disney World but it a much more authentic way. :) I finally walk my way around enough to find the town square with a full blown stage set up with no one that I know in sight. There are, however, hundreds of other merry-makers at cafes, sitting on benches, carrying baloons, dancing to the music. All I know is that I'm in Moita, there's a town hall, a stage, and it's 9:00. I felt the odds of being right were in my favor, so I texted the director who told me the band was still at dinner. This I partially expected. So, I sat down and waited. Because I was in a band uniform, I was a magnet for questions. In Portuguese. That's right, at least 10 people walked up to me and asked me all manner of questions, including children. And the amazing thing? I understood every one of them and answered them! Woo hoo praise God!! It was so fun just to sit in that environment and watch people and try to talk to some of them for awhile. Eventually around 9:50 the band shows up (we are supposed to go on at 10) and I join them and meet some more people that I have always seen but never officially spoken with. Much of this was in English. :) Finally we start playing. It's a perfect night, a light and cool breeze, a full moon, and I'm on stage playing my flute. It was during that heavenly 45 minutes that it was confirmed in my heart for what seems like the millionth time that there is not an earthly pleasure that I love more than playing music for other people. The crowd was so entertained, they clapped and gave us thumbs up and it was impossible to wipe the smile off my face as I walked the long walk back to my car. God has so blessed me in the gift of being able to play flute here. He brought me to the town and enabled me to speak with people, all with such joy. I don't expect everything in life to be so carefree and happy, but tonight sure was great. Thanks God. :)
The only downside? I forgot my camera.... sorry folks. ;)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

First Week Is Over

Well, the first week is over! I am absolutely exhausted and have a LOT of work to do tomorrow afternoon, and also a concert to play in, and of course church in the morning. So tomorrow will be a busy day. God has been so good to me this week. I am so blessed and so happy. And yes, I am tired, but I am so happy to be so tired. :)

I'll leave you with a picture of me with one of my 4th graders, Victoria. Tori for short. She has only been in Portugal for one year, but is adjusting well!

Monday, September 8, 2008

First Day!

The first day of school is complete!! I took some pictures before and after school so that you can see some of what I saw today. :) Praise God for His enabling me to get through a full day of subjects for all three grades! It was an exciting day for all and it's so good to be back teaching again!

This is my classroom!

This is Guimel, our new 11th grade librarian.

The high school hallway is decorated with flags representing the nationalities of all our students.

...and some educational quotes...

These are our two high school teachers, Nick and Craig.

Our Elementary students! Except Joao...

Sophomore, Thais.

Senior, Alison.

My class: Noah, Larissa, Sunny, Tori

This is Larissa, my 5th grader, with her parents after school.

These are the new Hamal cousins. Don't ask me to spell their names, I'd butcher them! They're from Nepal.

This is Maddie and Emma, future students! We figured it out today... they are the class of 2022. Yikes!

Well that wraps it up for the first day. Can't wait to go back tomorrow!! :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Zero Hour and the Schwa

Well, I guess it's not quite zero hour yet, but close enough for me. I'm in bed, trying to get my last minute stuff done on my computer, thinking that I should post something to my blog in order to stall getting my other work done. However I don't know that you can call it stalling when the thing you're doing in procrastination is actually something else that's productive. So anyways, the Parent-Teacher Tea went very well, excepting that we had no tea, but that was planned. :) At one point in the evening I heard lots of noise coming from upstairs, where the elementary portion of the school is located, to find the elementary students sitting in Miss Flietstra's classroom "playing school." I thought that was somewhat funny.
I've been frying my brain out for the past 4 days trying to figure out how to teach 3 grades at once. I planned on it taking about 2.5 hours to do my lesson plans and it took me about 6 hours. I am learning new things that I didn't know before like there is such a vowel sound as "the schwa" and what in the world does biogeochemical mean?? 5th grade stuff is harder than 2nd grade stuff!! Please pray for me. I am hoping and praying that God will give me a more clear knowledge of how to do this in less time. That was just the lesson plans, on top of that each week, there is the gathering of materials, photocopying, and other such things that come with being a teacher. The reward for this past week's work, however, will come tomorrow when I get to teach them. I can't wait. :)
Here is a way that you can pray for me in my personal life this school year. I have set one solid personal goal for myself, and that is to be more disciplined. I had one thing in particular in mind when I set that goal, but then started to realize just how much else in my life needs to be more disciplined. I have listed 13 things that I think should be a regular daily or weekly part of my life that I am really quite bad at doing consistently. I am so much a happier and healthier person when I stick to habits and routines. I will still be random though- don't worry. :)
Well, I have the privilege of conducting our 8 a.m. Staff Devotions this week and I need to gather my thoughts for tomorrow morning before I can drift off to dreamland tonight.
I'm getting up at 6 a.m... that's right... discipline.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Boxes and Jet Lag

Praise God with me that BOTH of my boxes arrived and I picked them up today at the post office with NO customs hassle or charges! Also praise God with me that He kept them in tact-- the one was just about to fall apart! It was an interesting ordeal finding out just WHICH post office was holding them, but with the help of a faithful friend, I found them and they are unpacked and re-packed and ready to take over to the school tomorrow.
I am still in the process of setting up my classroom and helping to get the Elementary school in order for our Parent-Teacher Tea on Thursday. We have our first teacher staff meeting tomorrow morning to touch base with each other. Please pray that we work together well as a team!
Also, thank the Lord that I had a VERY easy adjustment to the time change. I was never as groggy feeling as I have been in the past and I was completely over jet lag in about 2 days.

What's so very amazing to me about these two things is that I know people were praying for them specifically. God is so good to hear our prayers and answer, even things that seem small. :)