Friday, April 30, 2010

Farewell Togo

Today is my last day in Togo. I don't know if having been here before as an intern makes it more difficult to leave or if I am just reluctant to experience change again. I see now why commitments are such amazing things because although it takes a lot to say you commit yourself to a place or to a person, there is a reassurance that you know those people and places will remain with you throughout your commitment, and the person or place may change and grow, but so will you. I admire that and I don't see commitment as such a scary thing as much after spending my time here, rather it's a desirable assurance that there is continuity in life rather than constant change.

I know little about where I am going now and what I will be doing, but I do know my travel plans for the next few months. Perhaps that is why I have a secret longing to attach myself to someplace and just stay there... My travels seem never ending at this point and I'm ready to settle down someplace for a while, without looking forward to goodbyes.

I'll be returning to Searcy with Jacque for finals week and staying in Newport with my brother Paul and his wife Amber. So excited to see both of you :) and looking forward to seeing everyone in Searcy as well! After Arkansas, I'll be driving up to Jefferson City and staying with Jacque for a couple days and getting to see Natalie Metz who is driving up to see us! Then... I'll be in Independence with the Dandys!!! I'm so excited to meet my new baby nephew and see my niece and nephews :) It'll be so crazy to see how much they have grown during my time here-- although I am so thankful to have been able to skype with them here and see glimpses into their lives on occasion!

Next, I'll be flying to Portland to see Mom and Dad and Annie! I'll also be able to see my brother John's family, his wife Tanya and my niece and nephew!!! So so excited to get to hug them :) I also will be able to get together with various friends while I'm in town, although I'll be traveling around to make sure and see all the family in the area.

After all this traveling I'll be returning to Independence for the summer to teach my nieces and nephews to embroider cushions and play their instruments very ill ;) At the end of the summer I have been looking into moving to Nashville with Bethany, but all of that will be determined by us getting jobs and a place to live there-- So really we'll be heading where God leads, but we're both leaning in that direction :)

I'm looking forward to all my stateside travels and will continue to update this blog throughout these ventures.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Open House

A beautiful morning beginning at the Kennell's porch to watch the sixth grade girls perform their tap recital which was choreographed and taught by our own Miss Jacque Breuer! Next we went to the schoolhouse for Open House, and toured the classrooms, heard class presentations including a reading from PD Eastman's Go Dog Go by Asher and from Dr. Suess' Green Eggs and Ham by Gabriel.

After the presentations we enjoyed watching a splendid slideshow which Jacque had put together with pictures of the students, teachers and families throughout the year. Last on the agenda, but very important.. graduation! Each student received a diploma from their teacher and the kindergarten class even wore adorable white graduation hats thanks to Andrea's creative imput :)
It was a marvelous morning and I was pleasantly surprised to receive a few teacher treats from the families and students! I loved my presents of an african bag, a Faure rice bag hat, a framed photo of our school and several notes and cards telling me how much I'd be missed. Thank you! I'm going to miss all of you too and I feel so blessed to have been able to have had this year in Togo with each and every one of the people here :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Last Days

I feel as if I can't write anything worth writing. Perhaps it is because I am filled with so many emotions. We are packing up and out of the schoolhouse, school is done for the year, and we are finishing up our time in Africa. I look forward to being back in the states, but I know I will miss so much about the community here.. so it is extremely hard to put words to my emotional state currently.

As I sit here, I have been making sure I have souvenirs I need for gifts and watching Jacque figure out the sorting of items to pack. I am thankful that I am packed for the most part-- I only need to reorganize a bit of my items so I will be able to add a couple items from Accra without my baggage going overweight.

It is so fascinating to me how different people react to the stressors of transition and packing for travel. I think it's funny how stressed I usually am about packing and getting everything I need into my bags and procrastinating about it, but here I've finished packing away everything I'm bringing back to the states... and I have a week to reorganize and repack and figure out exactly which bags I'll need in London, and perhaps even organize well enough to not have to repack for Searcy..

Well, I'm gonna go see if I can organize my baggage so it's practically perfect in every way :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Field Trip

Thursday morning we had an all school field trip to the well digging project that David Reeves and Matt Hangen have been working on in Lassa Tchou. My two kindergardeners, Gabriel Reeves and Asher Miller, began the day excited and energized at even the idea of observing the well digging.

They were both so happy to be able to help out with the digging as well. Each student had an opportunity to help with the drilling and to help with the pulling as well.

This is a great shot of Gabe helping out-- you can even see the sediment coming up out of the drill pipe.

This is Asher drilling-- I think he preferred this part since when he tried at the rowing he fell

Even the teachers were able to try it out and see what difficult work it truly is. Here is Jacque rowing to help lift the drill up each time the drillers strike down into the ground.

In this photo I'm taking a turn drilling-- hard work!

You can see it's a pretty muddy job...

As we observed the current drilling site and learned about the process of this technique of well digging, an audience of children from a local school gathered.

After helping at the current drilling site we walked with Dave over to wells that they have already dug in the area. It was neat to see what the finished product would look like and what goes inside the pump.

After walking back to the car, I took a photo of Gabe and Asher revealing their exhaustion from the draining day in the sun and the long walk. Getting back to school for snack time and read aloud, I was surprised at how much we accomplished in school after all we had been able to experience and observe out of school.. and with fatigued students!

Some more fun photos from the day:

Looking at a local well with only a puddle of water in it, unfortunately it wasn't dug deep enough into the ground, so it dries out quickly in the dry season.

Another amazing discovery of the day were these great colorful grasshoppers. This was one Aidan caught within minutes of arriving at the well-site.

For more information on the well digging project check out the facebook group Lim We - Clean Water for Togo.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Easter weekend when I was younger meant wearing a cute dress my mother had sewn and white dress shoes to church and sitting in the pew with my family listening to a reading of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. This easter weekend was so different and that little girl would have never imagined herself so far from what she had considered her home.

After school Saturday, I enjoyed a lovely dinner with the Miller family and my fellow teachers, with chocolate covered marshmallow bunnies (products of South Africa) for dessert :) That night Bethany and I headed back to the schoolhouse while Jacque went over to the Kennell's house for the night. When we arrived at the schoolhouse we were happy to find that our electricity was working better than ever downstairs with a light on our porch to happily greet us! It was so exciting and we were getting ready to
head upstairs and tackle our task of preparing a cake for our dessert for the potluck on Sunday afternoon. While we mixed away and lighted our gas oven, the electricity went off-- rather normal occurrence so we didn't think much of it and figured it would turn back on by the time we had finished our baking.

Well, as we mixed and baked... and hard boiled some white eggs to dye later.. it still hadn't came back on. So since both of us had wanted to spend a night on the roof before we left, we decided this was a perfect time to try it out! We went to the roof to enjoy the cool for a while after having baked away in our little hot kitchen and decided we should attempt to carry up Bethany's mattress and sleep up there. The experime
nt worked out and with a little bit of thought through maneuvering we managed to lift the mattress up to the roof. We fell asleep watching the stars twinkle, with the moon as our nightlight and with an occasional bird landing on a nearby rail.

We woke up the next morning to the sounds of the birds, the nearby main street and a nearby church service with loud speakers. We woke up early to go out to the village for the all church retreat, which was such a treat! I love to listen to the Kabiye worship and I took some video to remember and share.

After cleaning up a bit, we went to the Easter service at the Kennell's and enjoyed watching a presentation on the porch by all of our KCA students along with their friend Joshua Shanks, who is reading his scripture portion in this photo. The presentation included scripture readings and songs, my favorite probably would have to be He is the King of Kings, in which each child had their own word in the lyrics to hold up at the appropriate times :) So much fun! I could tell the kids really enjoyed that particular one as well.

After the presentation, we had an easter egg hunt around the house... eggs were hiding everywhere from under plants, in trees, around the trampoline, to inside a rain spout. The hunt began with the youngest two, Caleb and Anna, carrying their baskets and searching for the eggs full of treasures before the older and more experienced egg hunting herd was let loose.

After the hunt, Jacque, Bethany and I took some easter roommate pictures together on the tire swing and the trampoline... So hilarious! I don't have the photos on my camera, but I'll share them as soon as I have them. All in all it was a great weekend and I'm ready to take Monday off after all the excitement!

Happy Easter Everyone! I hope you all had a beautiful day full of family, friends and fun :)