Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to School!

I was reminded, after seeing many of my teacher friends in America talking about decorating their classrooms, writing lesson plans, etc and then seeing many people talk about the first day of school, that I completely forgot to tell you guys that I went back to school!  At the beginning of this month, I did something that I used to say I would never do... I started teaching English.

I have a (pride-based) tendency to avoid stereotypical things, and teaching English in a foreign country seemed to me, to be a very stereotypical thing to do.  Thus, I said I would never do it.  Here I am, a year into living here in Guinea Bissau (I celebrated one year on August 15!  Woohoo!) and I started teaching English.  The fact is that many of my students will probably never use English, but just to be able to say that they know a little bit of English means something to them.

I have about 30 students (depending on whether or not it's raining during lesson time), which is A LOT!  They range from skill levels "I-lived-in-Gambia-for-a-year-and-could-be-conversational-if-you-made-me-talk-to-you" all the way to "I-can-say-good-morning-and-that's-pretty-much-it".  Ages range from about 12 to lower 50's.  Up until yesterday, there were only males attending.  Yesterday, someone brought their 2 girl cousins.  The girls will have some work to do to catch up, but I am so excited to have some female company in the classroom!

Is it a lot of work?  Yes.
Is it a challenge?  Yes.
Does it take a lot of patience?  Some days more than others.

Do I love it?  Surprisingly, yes!  I have discovered that I really love teaching, and I am so encouraged by the perseverance and hard work ethic of many of my students.  It gives me great joy when I catch them outside of class struggling through a conversation in English with a fellow classmate, when I know that they could much more easily communicate with them in Creole.  They really really want to learn, and many of them will take any opportunity they can get to practice! I love seeing their faces when they grasp something for the first time, when they think I'm making a total fool of myself charade-ing in front of them, and when they let go of their own pride and join me in my crazy charades.

These days, my black pen, red colored pencil and a homemade London Fog (earl grey tea with milk, sugar and vanilla) are my constant companions as I make lesson plans, grade quizzes/tests, and look at homework.

Please note:  This is not meant to be an advertisement for Mountain Top Construction LLC... it's just my favorite mug.  Nor is this picture meant to be a promotion for that soccer player... that's just my lesson plan book.  :)

With that being said, cheers and well wishes for those heading back to school - students and teachers!  Maybe some day I'll actually get around to showing you a picture of my classroom and students.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Thoughts from Adrianne's Mother

Adrianne asked me almost 1 month ago to write as a guest on her blog and I agreed but then "life" got in the way (chaperoning a youth missions trip, a mini vacation with my sister, getting two other children ready to leave for college, canning, garden/house work etc).  So now that I'm finally getting down to writing this blog, I hardly know what to write!

I guess I'll start by introducing myself:  My name is Elaine.  My husband Floyd and I have four children the oldest of which is Adrianne. Anthony, our son is next.  He lives at home with us and works full time.  Next is Justine, who is currently enrolled in the Physical Therapy program at Duquesene University.  And last, but not least, is our youngest, Courtney, who just graduated high school and will be attending Immaculata University this fall to study nursing. 

It is definitely hitting me this fall that my children are full grown and that I am no longer a young mother.  I am definitely facing middle aged square in the face!  I am still determined to try to enjoy every day that I am given on this earth (though some days, its really hard to find the joy and others are just plain wonderful).

Anyway, I thought I would share in this post some frequently asked questions that parents with children in foreign missions get asked on a regular basis and our answers to them. 

How is it or how does it feel to have a son/daughter so far away from home?
Well, this depends on what day you ask me.  Some days it really stinks.  Like when she is facing some kind of crisis, health or otherwise and you feel like hopping on the next plane over there to "fix" it.  Other days, you feel so proud of the difference that they are making where they are serving.  You see tangible progress with their work and are encouraged that God is moving.  The wonderful age that we live in technology wise helps us stay in contact with her fairly frequently.  Almost as much as when she went off to college in Indiana!  We can share in her ups and downs.  So much better than 20 years ago when you got a letter once a month if you were lucky and a phone call only in an extreme emergency.  We hear from our daughter at least once every two weeks.  Usually more often than that.  And of course the obvious point is that WE MISS HER but we know that she is right where God wants her for now and believe me, there is a certain peace that comes with that knowledge.

Do you worry about her safety?
I am not by nature a "worrier" which sounds strange for any mother.  I was never one to lay awake at night and fret about my kids.  It doesn't mean that I love them any less. I guess my "natural" bent is not to worry (but I can find plenty of other ways to sin as do we all).  I could tell stories that would curl your hair as a mother.  Usually though, we hear about her "situations" after the fact, after everything turns out "ok".  In reality though, are our kids any safer in the U.S?  I read the newspaper and bad stuff happens stateside too.

Will you go visit her?
Yes. Yes. Yes.  We hope to!  We would love to see firsthand how God is working in that little village in West Africa and maybe even get our hands dirty with the work over there. We had plans to go this past spring, but plane ticket prices jumped out of reach so we put the idea on the back burner for now.  We WILL try to get over there within the next two years.

All in all, it has been a great experience having a daughter do the Lords work overseas.  Our (Floyd and my) goal has always been to raise our kids to be independent, aware of the world around them and to serve the Lord wherever he leads.  It is gratifying as a parent to see your kids grow up strong in their faith and serving the Lord and, along the way, we do a little growing ourselves!

Well, I guess I'll close for now.  I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings!
Elaine Huber