Friday, February 16, 2007

Well happy post-Valentine’s Day to you all! I don’t have anything monumental to report, but just some of the day to day things that some of you may find interesting while others will wait until I can report on something of significance. But significance is in the in the eye of the beholder, so here I go.

Right now I am typing away on my old laptop which I have christened the Beast. I’ve had it since 2001 and had loaned it to a friend while I came to Kenya. When my newer computer (a hand-me-down from my dad) got stolen, my brother brought me this one when he came to visit. It is nice to have, but I look forward to the day when I can carry a laptop around and not feel like I have just been to the gym and back. I am sitting in the living room of the house I share with my 4 roommates. The middle schoolers were over for youth group again (it’s Friday night), and we just finished cleaning up after their mess. It was so much fun to have them here again. We played mafia and then had a little worship and a time in the Word. I’m reminded of the way God uses all our little talents that we think are insignificant. In my family, my two brothers are amazing guitar players, and I would consider myself to be proficient. In college, I was only asked to lead worship if everyone else fell through and they needed someone at the last minute. And I was just fine with that. I am not known for my mad guitar playing skills, and I am happy about this fact. But at this school, I am the only person who plays guitar, or at least can play and sing at the same time. So I often end up playing for chapel, and I have been playing for youth group on Friday nights. Anyway, all that to say that I have little talent in this area, but my God is big enough to use my little talent in a big way. “Neglect not the gift that is in thee” as they say.

So to continue in my trivial meanderings... I came to Kenya with a few of my favorite DVDs. One such disc is a live broadcast of the 30th anniversary of Prairie Home Companion. I knew I couldn’t go a whole year without my Garrison Keillor and Lake Wobegon fix. Yes it’s folksy, and yes I love it. So here I sit, laptop in place, feeling all nostalgic and thinking fond thoughts of my Saturday afternoons back in Alaska that used to be spent listening to my favorite radio show.

This week was teacher appreciation week at school, and let’s just say that I feel appreciated. And fat. I was given so many cookies and candy that I think my sweet tooth will be satisfied for the next year. But the best part was the notes my students wrote me. They were so sweet, and I will treasure their words forever. I got the cutest note from one of my Korean ESL students. She doesn’t know English very well yet, but she is the sweetest girl in the world. Here are her words to me:
Hi Miss Arnold. I’m Jenny (Min Kyung)
I came Kenya and out West Nairobi School. So I’m 6th so I can meet you. I”m not well English first time I very worryed. But you’re always good teach for me. So I think I meet good teacher. So I feel peace of mind. And you’re always smile. Look like-good. You teach me easily and many time do consideration. I happy always thanks. I stay here very short time. But you good to me so I stay here very comfortable. I think you’re good teach student. You have humor and nice personality you go anywhere many people like you. You’re Christian always God help you. I pray for you everyday. God love you and you too love God so you success after. I trust you. I meet good teacher I until school life. Thank you very much! You meet good people and help them. So you givft a lot of prize in kingdom of Heaven you make you’re life comfortable, ok? I expectation. You teach tribe student so very many trouble. So thank you I don’t forgot you. You sped good valentineday.

From. Jenny!

Isn’t that the most precious thing you’ve ever read? I was laughing and crying all at the same time. I never imagined I would love teaching 6th grade this much, but in so many ways I feel that I’ve really come alive with this class. It’s not all perfect, of course. I have been dealing with a lot of social issues in my class lately. Kids make fun of other kids and gang up on them, and I have been working out discipline issues with a few students. The cool part is that discipline is also spiritual. We have been learning about the mind of Christ, and the Lord has allowed me to use this to challenge my students. When they are drawing dirty pictures or writing mean notes, is that really showing the mind of Christ? I know that some 6th graders really don’t care about this, but my job is to challenge them, and they can choose to accept the challenge or learn it later on in life. I’m thankful for these opportunities to deal with things because, without mistakes, how will they ever learn? And if they are going to “rebel”, it is better for them to do it now when they are around so many people who care about them and will help them through it. It’s an opportunity for me to love them through discipline. I just pray I don’t do this on my own strength because I always seem to fail miserably when I do.

This is the first weekend where I have not brought any planning or grading home with me. I am quite excited about this, though I still brought one textbook home because it just didn’t feel right to come home empty-handed. I’m finally to the point where I can stay on top of things and work efficiently. I feel like I spent the first semester just figuring out how to be a 6th grade teacher. It was so much work, and now I can actually have a life outside of school, though if you ask my students they say I don’t have one since I spend time with them at soccer practice and on Friday nights. Now that I know how to keep my classroom in order, I feel like I can have more of a ministry with my students. I can focus on the spiritual issues that need to be dealt with instead of worrying about what I should be teaching in reading. I’m so thankful the Lord has brought me to this place.

Soccer is going well. If you didn’t know, I am an assistant soccer coach for the middle school girls. My good friend and roommate, Kayla, is the head coach, and she’s amazing. I’m just along for the ride. We’ve had three games so far. We’ve lost 2 and tied 1, and we have a game on Saturday. I’m hoping the girls will play more aggressively than they have been. And it would be great if they scored some goals! They are improving, and hopefully one day they will win a game. And now I will sign off. Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Hello to you all once again!

On Wednesday, West Nairobi School had cultural day. So all the kids (those who participated) wore their culture's special clothing. The Koreans wore their beautiful dresses, the Kenyans wore their Masai blankets or Kikuyu wraps, and people like me, the Alaskans, wore a t-shirt ( my Alaska Grown one), shorts, wool socks, sandals, and a bandana. It was fun to see everyone dressed up.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sorry, this is kind of an old post, but I didn't have time to publish it before. Enjoy!

Hello to you again!

I'm trying to post a few pictures, but my signal strength is not very good at the moment. On Friday night, my roommate and dear friend Kayla and I hosted the 6-8th grade youth group at our school. It is mostly kids from our school, but there were a few kids who were not. We don't have the largest living room, and with 35 (that's right, thirty-five) middle schoolers in that room, it was a little cozy. And noisy. But we had such a good time. It's such a blessing to be able to have a ministry with them outside of school. You can pray that Kayla and I would be able to really challenge them and make them think. The youth group is every Friday night, and we are hosting it for the month of February. We are blessed to have such awesome kids at our school, and I think they enjoyed "crashing" their teachers' house. They left quite a mess for us to clean up.

On Saturday (Feb. 3) Kayla and I went hiking up Mt. Longonot with our principal and his family. It was a beautiful day, and there were lots of people out hiking this dormant volcano. Kayla and I hiked to the rim of the giant crater, and then we hiked around the crater a ways to get to the highest peak. It was so beautiful, and so nice to get out of the city. The pictures I am posting are from the hike. It was a simply gorgeous spot and so worth every minute of the challenging hike. It was impossible to make it to the top without some scrambling, and our hands and knees suffered a little on the descent. All and all I we came out with just a little blood, and a whole lot of dirt. And I like dirt =).

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hello all!

I apologize for not writing for such a long time, but I haven't felt like I had anything blog-worthy, not to mention the fact that I haven't had much time on the internet lately. I forgot what a blessing it was to have internet available at home, in my college dorm room, etc. Things have been going quite well the past few weeks. It feels like school has been in session for a long time, but in reality it's only been 4 weeks. It's going by quickly, and I have a feeling that this year is going to slip between my fingers without me being aware of it.

All the new students in my class have settled in quickly, and it's hard to remember what things were like without them. The ESL students are improving each day, and I am growing in my ability to modify my lessons for them. It's still hard, but I'm getting used to it. Starting this Friday, my roommate Kayla and I will be having the 6-8th grade youth group at our house. You can pray for that ministry as it is an opportunity for us to connect with students outside of school. We are both really looking forward to this opportunity. It meets at our house every Friday night in February. I'm not sure how we will squeeze all these kids into our house, but I'm sure we'll manage. It will be fun.

The other exciting thing that Kayla and I are doing is coaching the middle school girls' soccer team. Kayla is a P.E. teacher and also the athletic director. It's really fun to be able to help her out, though it has been a long time since I've played soccer. The girls are so wonderful and cute...and out of shape. We had our first game on Tuesday, and even though we lost, we were the first team to score any goals against the team we played. We'll take our victories where we can. The loss was good because now the girls realize that you really do have to run all the time in soccer. They've been doing a lot of walking in practice, so I'm glad they're aware of what a game is like now. This is the first your that our school has had inter-school sports (thanks to Kayla), so it's just exciting for the kids to be out playing at all. The parents are so thrilled, and so are the girls. It is such a joy to be able to coach them. This picture is the team with Kayla and me on the edges. That's about all I have to report from Kenya. Thanks for reading!