Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My assignment is becoming clearer

I've never been totally sure what I am going to be teaching in Korr in terms of ages and subjects. When asked what I'll be teaching, I mostly just respond with, "Children!" (How annoying of me, hey? hehe) Well today I got an email from Nick, one of the missionaries in Korr...

Lynne [who runs the school] met the headteacher, Lawrence, yesterday and we have a special request to put to you, so please sit down first!!! [Um, gulp!!!]

We have 'inherited' children from the Korr primary school who did not perform well there. They have missed out on the basics. There are about 5 in Standard 7 and 5 in Standard 6 who have failed repeatedly, yet we are convinced that all they need is some real love and proper coaching. This is impossible to do in a large class. Would you be willing to give them your special attention?

YES!!! Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! I totally have a soft spot in my heart for kids who are struggling. I read this and my mind raced to one student in particular in my class at MySchool. He just was not making progress. Kindergarten, grade one, grade two... school for him is so, so hard, and his confidence is so, so low. It's kids like that who I most like to work with.

Of course, then there are the skills. I have the heart, but not the training! There are no special assesments (not that I'd know how to administer them), I don't know the cirriculum or performance standards, and I don't know where to get them (the "contact us" link on the Kenyan Ministry of Education website doesn't work!). All I can do is the best I can do, I guess!

Wow... Africa. In the desert. Teaching with none of my usual teaching supports or resources. And now the challenge of kids who - for who knows WHAT reasons - have failed their exams. Repeatedly... Here I am, Lord, send me!

I have NO idea how I will do this, but I am SO excited to do it! And terrified. And excited!

Six days to go!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

T-Minus seven days!!!

I know, I know, I need to sit down and post in a big way! For now, here's the contents of an email I just sent out to my email list this evening. If you're here as a result of that email, normally there will be different posts here! I just don't have much time right now and wanted to give an update! Ok... preamble over! hehe!

One week to go!!! Seven days! That's IT!!!

I fly out for my orientation in Toronto at 7am on Monday, January 5. While people are getting ready to go back to work, back to school, back to the proverbial grind, I'll be racing down a Vancouver runway at the beginning of what will be the most stretching, exciting, and mind-blowing experience of my life thus far. (Wow. That's even scary and thrilling to write!)

How quickly this has come! There is still SO much to be done - banking, shopping, packing, preparing - but in moments of stillness I try to wrap my mind around what life will be like two weeks from now, settling in in Korr, Kenya. My mind just doesn't bend that way (yet!).

A few bits of fantabulous news I thought I'd share with you:
  • I am only about $1200 away from meeting my fundraising goal of $11,300!!! I am flabbergasted at how quickly and how generously you have responded. "Thank you" is simply not enough to say! I can't wait for the email when I'll be able to say that I'm all the way there! :) In the meantime, if you would like to help bridge that gap, click here.

  • I now have someone to rent my suite while I am gone! WAHOO! This was one of my greatest stresses and causes for concern, but once again, God provided in the perfect way - she's a friend of mine (Vania, whose music I have featured here before, here and here!) who I trust completely, and we have been able to mutually help each other out in such a big way through this arrangement! And the best part? She called me on Christmas morning to tell me that she was going to take the place! :) What a huge, huge answer to prayer (and YAAAAY, God, for answering it even beyond what I was expecting or hoping for!)
Things are definitely falling into place, and God is totally amazing me in all the little (and the big!) ways that he's providing for me and working things out in these final few days. I absolutely can not wait to grow in my understanding of the depths of His love and to learn to share that in any way I can!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

May you be blessed this season not so much with presents as with Presence... of family, of friends, and of Jesus Christ, from cradle to cross and until He comes.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Calling all house hunters!

Live in Vancouver? Know someone who does? Know of anyone wanting to sublet a great suite while I'm away??? I'm getting kinda freaked out here, folks! January 1 is nine days away. I've advertised on craigslist, the AMS Rentsline, housing4students, facebook, word of mouth... I've taken out a 4 day ad in the two major Vancouver newspapers that will run Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday ($154!!! Sheesh!). No bites. I've even lowered the rent nearly $100 to give a god deal. I'll just make up the difference each month at this point if it means getting someone in here!

So here's the info... seriously! Pass it on if you think there might even be SOMEONE interested in living here! And there's pictures at the bottom. If you're not in the market, just consider this a wee tour of my house! Ha! :) Click any photo for a larger view.

Garden Level Suite for Sublet

* Warm, homey 1 bedroom garden level suite for rent from January 1- July 31, 2009. Preference given to those able to commit to full term.
* RENT NOW LOWERED! INCLUDES all utilities, cable, high speed enhanced internet connection, and free shared in-house laundry (email me for specifics)
* Convenient location - right on express bus route to UBC (approx 25 mins), easy access to downtown, very close to three major bike routes
* Fully furnished, including 24" TV, DVD, VCR, with or without all kitchen items and linens
* Land line not available: cell phones only
* Full kitchen, shared use of backyard and own patio furniture, plenty of street parking in a quiet neighbourhood
* Suitable for 1 quiet student or 1 working professional
* Absolutely no smoking (tobacco, cigars, pot, etc) indoors or out; no pets
* Email bygrace253 at yahoo dot ca for more details!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh, Chuck E Cheese, remember the heights from which you have fallen

I don't know about you, but I have many a happy birthday memory from Chuck E Cheese growing up as a kid. Whack-a-mole, ball rooms, pizza, and birthday hugs from a giant mouse (how did that thing not scare the CRAP out of me???) - it was all so innocent and fun.

No longer, apparently...

... Seven officers arrived and found as many as 40 people knocking over chairs and yelling in front of the restaurant's music stage, where a robotic singing chicken and the chain's namesake mouse perform...
Read the whole story here.

(Thanks, Karen, for pointing me to this story!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Temperatures are well below freezing outside and it has been snowing all day and all last night - that nice, powdery, fluffy snow; not the slushy wet muck we usually get. I've just come back from dinner with a big contingent of staff from my old school. I'm here in my classroom, Christmas carols blaring, miles of paper chains strewn all over the room, a ladder in the corner and a roll of making tape on my arm... The letters from Santa are chilling in the staff room freezer, the gifts are wrapped, the candy canes hung from our art hooks, and the footprints painted, and I am deliriously happy. Santa Claus is going to work his magic here tonight, and I can't wait to see the looks on my kidlets faces when they arrive to school tomorrow to snowy footprints and Christmas magic throughout the room...

More to come tomorrow, I have a note from Santa to write!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The most trivial post in the world

Is it just me, or do the blogger word verifications make more sense now? No more "wwxrpakds" and the like. Now, though still nonsense, they are at least pronouncable.

Why do I even care about this? Sheesh, I'm a weirdo. Go read my Kili post and tell me what to do!

Monday, December 15, 2008

To Kili or not to Kili

This is, indeed, the question.

Folks, I have a bit of a dilemma on my hands. Two of the things I really want to do while I'm in Africa are go on a safari and climb Kilimanjaro. A teacher from my old school did both a few summers ago, and her stories... oh my word! If I though I wanted to do these things before, I REALLY want to do them now.

Camping? In the SERENGETTI? Roars of LIONS in the (hopefully very very farr-off) distance? HECK YEAH! The safari should be no sweat to pull off. Masai Mara, Serengetti, Ngorogoro Crater... I'm hoping to book a one-week or so trip once my official assignment is done at the end of July.

It's Kilimanjaro that's proving a little bit difficult. It's a freaking huge mountain (and I SO want to climb it! Oh my goodness, how AMAZING would that be?). But here's the issue. I have a month off in April when I could do it, but April is the rainy season in East Africa, and, by all Kili websites, pretty much the WORST month to do Kili. So I'm hoping to tack it on to the end of my trip as well. I'm a little concerned about the time crunch. Finish in Korr July 31-ish, maybe a day or two of debriefing in Nairobi, then a week for a safari, a week for Kilimanjaro, and that doesn't put me back in Vancouver till mid-August. That's all fine and good, but, um, this all is going to be a pretty intense experience, and I want to leave myslef enough time to decompress at the end of it before jumping back into the other intense experience of teaching back in a Canadian inner city environment. I'm hoping for at least three weeks, I think, one of which will be spent back in the classroom setting up for the new school year. It makes the timeline very tight.

And then there' s the little issue of training. I'm not exactly in shape now, and I'll be living in the desert for seven months before wanting to do Kili. Not exactly lots of opportunity for hiking out there. I could run maybe (um, among scorpions and puff adders and hyenas?) and work out on my own I guess (core strength and squats here I come!), but I'm kind of concerned about the whole training thing. Kili isn't exactly cheap to do, and if I'm spending a good chunk of my money on doing it, I don't want it to be a waste if I can't haul my own butt up the side of the mountain!

And then again there's the gear. There's a reason you hear talk of the snows of Kilimanjaro. It's COLD up there! So I'll have to be bringing my hiking boots, trekking poles, and all manner of warm winter wollies to sit in an abandoned corner of the desert for seven months. That's some valuable packing space - and weight! - that would be taken up for just a one week adventure.

Hmm... so it is at all feasable? I don't know. Practical? Heck no! But worth it for the adventure of a lifetime? I think so, but I'm not sure...

PLUS, as of yet I don't have a partner that I'll be spending time with in Korr. I'd be Safari-ing and Kilimanjaro-ing all by my lonesome. It's kind of not my ideal. (Unless someone out there wants to take a vacation to Africa in July/August??? Come visit meeeeee!).

So, readers, if you were me, what would you do? Go big or go home, practicality be darned? Be willing to spend the money and bring the gear for the possibility? Or resign myself to the realization that it's just not going to work, and promise myself that I'll get back there one day, which realistically may never ever happen... (and just won't be the same, according to this image)

What to do? What to do? I really want my face beside this sign!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Breathe, Hillary. Just breathe...

I was driving to the fam's house last night for our annual tree trimming festivities and was thinking about my trip. Right now, psychologically, I'm still in full work mode, kind of oblivious that Christmas is coming, still have to organize, pack, and clean my house (and find a subletter! eek! I'm getting worried!), buy a whole bunch of stuff, pack, yadda yadda yadda. Going to Africa really seems like a long ways away.

But then I realized that it's not.


Yep, there it is again - the chest constricting, the shortness of breath... Let's see, what was I doing three weeks AGO? Right. That might as well have been yesterday. And three weeks from NOW? That might as well be the day before tomorrow!

Insert massive panic attack here!!!

Go away for a while. Make a sandwich or something while I regain my composure. Oh wait, that's not gonna happen because I'M MOVING TO AFRICA IN THREE WEEKS!!!!! *Gasp!* *Wheeze!*

In other news, as of last night, I now have $8615 of my required $11,300. I began my official fundraising TEN DAYS ago. Amazing. Even AIM said they were shocked at the result of the fundraiser. Woohoo! God is good!

I've updated my little pie there on the sidebar to reflect the current amount! I love watching that grey disappear! (or watching the pac man grow, as Shelli put it when she was doing a similar fundraising endeavor! I always think of that, Shelli! hehe!)

But now... off to do a million things! I kinda feel like I have so much to do, I don't even know what I have to do! It's list time, baby. Oh yeah!

*Breathe in... breathe out... breathe in... breathe out...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Desert Life

There is so much going on right now - wrapping up the term at school and preparing to "leave the hemisphere" as one friend put it (kinda makes it sound like I'm moving to outer space!) being the obvious big ones - so much I could say, but it seems every time I sit down to blog, no words come. I'm exhausted, honestly, and the thought of creatively putting words to my life right now makes me want to curl up and go back to bed. Not to mention that site visits and comments have all but dried up. Even daily posting for the first part of November saw hits drop instead of increase like it normally does. Busy time of year, I guess, but it sort of sucks some of the fun out of it, too.

I did, however, want to have something new at the top of the page, so I'm directing you elsewhere. I found an article about Nick and Lynn, the missionaries I'll be likely living with in Korr, and about life in the desert where they (and I will soon!) live. I found it really interesting to read a little more about where I'm going to be spending the next seven months of my life!

Click here to read it! :)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Africa Bound

As you probably know, I had my Africa fundraiser on Saturday night. I arrived at the church to set up at 5, two hours before it was to begin, and it was totally dark. We couldn't find the facility manager to open the doors, and I started to panic. We eventually made our way in - thankfully there was another group using the toddler room downstairs! - and got the set up going.

It was slow at first, but more and more people showed up to help: setting up tables and chairs, laying out the letters, prayer cards, candles, donation baskets, etc., cutting up fruit, preparing the coffee station, blending up the mago lassis, picking up the African food, sound checking, fixing the powerpoint, rehearsing the music... it was busy busy busy!

Guests began arriving at 7 and we got the show rolling at about 7:30. We had four musical groups - a group of friends of mine from dancing, a teacher from my school who did some First Nations songs and drumming, a Christmas-themed performance from a friend of mine from church, and a "What white guys think about when they think of African music" set by another group of friends from church. I did a presentatino about how I came to decided to do this, and what I was going to be doing in Africa, and another friend did the financial pitch for me, which was nice, so I didn't have to stand up there and ask on my own behalf. At the end, we had a commissioning service for me and the whole room prayed for me as I preare to leave in less than a month's time. (AAAAAAH!)

My dad counted 74 people, and that was before a few people arrived, and not counting one of the groups who were warming up in the lobby, so I figure we had between 75 and 80 people turn out. I had family, friends from chuch, friends from dancing, friends At one point early in the night, my mom pulled me aside and whispered, "See all these people? They're ALL here for YOU because they love you, and are interested in what you are doing!" There was no need to tell me. I was already feeling overwhelmed with the turnout and the interest in and support of my trip. So overwhelemed, in fact, that when I stopped to think of it a few times during the evening, I actually had to catch my breath or struggle to keep myself from tears.

And then I went home and counted the gifts people gave in support of my trip. Cash, cheques, pledges... and the grand total from gifts received that night and gifts people told me about in lieu of being able to attend?

Six. Thousand. Seven. Hundred. Dollars. (even!)

That's 59% of my budget. In one night. $6700!!!! Oh. My. Word.

It was an amazing night on all accounts. I can not thank the people who were involved - helpers, attendees, contributors - enough. There really are no words. I hope my dropped jaw and bugged out eyes (with little wells of tears) and my feeble little thank-you's communicate more than I feel they do. You are amazing.

I will have some photos available in a few days once people upload them and I can make a set, bot for now, here are two videos from the night: one of the "White Guys in Africa" set and one of an impromptu, pressured-into-it "African" dance demonstration. Again with the white guys theme. I'm pretty sure Africans would be looking at these guys with the same cocked eyebrow (and uproarious laughter) we all did on Saturday! Hysterical! :)

Here are the videos! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Jumping for joy

What a night! I just had my Africa Bound fundraiser, and I'm too exhausted and feeling too overwhelmed with support and love (not bad things to be overwhelmed by!) right now to tell the story, but I'll let these two images speak for themselves. I will tell you all about it - pictures and all! - soon, I promise!

Fundraising Pie Chart as of Friday December 5

Fundraising Pie Chart as of Saturday December 6

Friday, December 05, 2008


I told my class that I was going to Africa on Monday. I'll blog about that over the weekend, but for now, here is one of my favourites of the notes that have come my way over this week (I have ZERO bulletin board space left to display any more notes, and I have a stack half an inch high of cards, notes, and drawings!)

I will miss you so much! Ms Hillary :) I will love you forever and ever, your favirte studint K___ but when I am mad I still love you.

That's good to know. Cause let me tell you, she gets MAD. What a ltitle sweetie!

I had another student tell me today at home time, "We have ten days left with you, Miss Hillary!" Oh my goodness! Her comment shocked me into reality. Only ten days with these kiddos?!? It's not enough! (Argh, I'm getting all weepy!) I'm going to miss them SO much! They are truly a class like no other, and one I will never forget.

I am feeling more and more guilty about leaving them. I know it's for something good, and I know they'll be fine, but wow... December 19 is going to be a hard day to get through.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Makes sense to me!

We're doing a unit on mapping right now at school. The kids are learning about symbols and legends, and today I had them create their own island. They got to plan where the mountains would be, the rivers, the school, the neighbourhood, the parks, etc. It really was quite a fun project! As they were colouring their maps, one grade two girl looked up at me:

"Miss Hillary, look, do you see how I coloured this symbol grey and red mixed?"

"Yes! It looks neat!"

"Well I did it because I thought it would look kind of bloody, and that's good, cause it's the hospital."

Ummm... ok, then! :)


Busy, busy, busy! That's been my life the last two weeks. Between report cards, getting my placement confirmed, filling in all manner of permit applications, waivers, policies, etc, planning my fundraiser, writing and sending out prayer letters, making prayer cards to be printed, getting stabbed in the arm with more deadly diseases... life has been more than a little hectic. So many times I've wanted to sit down and write - reflect about this whole Africa process, talk about my kidlets, ramble aimlessly.... oh sorry, what? ... but I've been TOO. TIRED. and have had NO time! I totally even bailed on NaBloPoMo. (Cause you know, THAT was my biggest priority!)

I have my departure date - January 7 - and time is a-tickin'!

So much to dooooooo!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mountain moving

An open letter to God: :)

OK, God. You've always promised us that with you, nothing is impossible. That if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can say to that mountain, "Move from here to there" and it will move.

Well, I've got a pretty big mountain looming large in my view right now. An $11,300 mountain. And it needs to move by January 6. Which is four and a half weeks away. With that little thing called Christmas in the middle of it.

Even as I type that, I'm getting inklings of, "Not your timing, child, but mine," and "To the creator of the universe, $11,300 is NOTHING." I know you can do it. Somewhere in me is that little mustard seed that tells me that the shorter the time, the better the God stories. I guess I'm kind of at that point where I'm doing something that really CAN'T be done on my own.

So guess what that means? It means you're going to have to come through big time. Make good on those promises. I know you can be trusted. I know you have a plan.

I do believe. Help my unbelief.

Democracy my not-so-skinny white... well, you know

Ok. I don't really talk politics here, well, ever. Maybe three posts in all my blog's history? But this? This is ridiculous. Take a wee boo at what's been going down in the Canadian government the last few weeks. (And those of you who run away screaming at political stuff? Seriously. Read this, and TELL me this isn't MESSED UP.) Are ya ready?

We had a federal election in Canada two months ago. You know, the one where they spent 300 million dollars to basically come up with the exact same government they had before, minus a few seats for the liberals, plus a few seats of the conservatives (seriously - it BARELY changed)? You know, the THIRD federal election in five years? That resulted in yet anOTHER minority government? Well it's about to get dissolved.

So here's the breakdown to show how the minority government works, for background:

Conservatives won the most seats, at 143, so they form the governing party.
Liberals got 77 (the official opposition)
Bloc Quebecois got 49
New Democratic Party got 37
Independents got 2

So the Liberals (who lost BIG time and their leader was pretty much disgraced because he led the biggest Liberal loss... ever? In a long time, anyway), Bloc (whose main goal is to have Quebec LEAVE the country and create a new country of their own - good for a federal party, no?), and NDP together have 163, which is actually MORE than the governing party, hence the minority government.

The danger with a minority government, other than making it very difficult to get anything done, is that if the other parties band together and have a vote of non-confidence in the governing party, then the government is dissolved and an election is called.

Now the Liberals, Bloc, and NDP all have VERY different priorities, so don't usually work well together. Usually. Over the last few weeks, however, they have made an unprecedented coalition to vote down the current government because they don't agree with it's policies and think it doesn't have a good plan for the country. Well, duh, that's why you're not part of THEIR party, dum dums. A non-confidence vote would either trigger another election or cause the governor general to name the coalition to be the ruling party (which is more likely, cause if another election was called, people would MUTINY... and likely elect the biggest Conservative majority EVER cause they'd be so ticked off at everybody else for making them vote AGAIN, TWO months after the last one). Of course, the mutiny might be BIGGER (and SHOULD be bigger!) if the parties that the country did NOT vote for suddenly were APPOINTED to rule the country? Um, hello? I thought we were a democracy?

So basically, if this non-confidence vote goes through, the elected government will be replaced with the election losers, led by the man who led his party to the biggest loss ever. It's a big ol' LEGAL "We didn't win so we're staging a giganto hissy fit and taking power anyway to govern a country that REJECTED us."


I am SOOOO not a letter writer, but I'll be writing the Governor General to say that heck YEAH we'd better get to vote for a new government if this one falls. Dude, I'll send in my ballot from the middle of nowhere in AFRICA for that one.

:end rant:

Monday, December 01, 2008

One Day For AIDS

Click the logo to go to the site
Watch the video and ask yourself: what little bit will YOU do?

Happy Christmas Month!

To celebrate, here's a link to my new favourite Christmas song. Like many things, it only gets better with age. Be sure to listen to the very end!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"To Do" tidbits

Mom, stop reading now.

No, really. Don't read this post.

Ok, I warned you! :)

So I just saw that one of the items on my checklist of things to do is to make a will. You know, in case of death. Goodie.

Ok, so it's not on MOST maps

Yeah, yeah, I know. Korr has to be on SOME maps. A blog reader known to me only as "naclydogg" found it (though I think he had to work pretty hard at it!). He was clearly more dedicated than I in the search! BUT, my original shot in the dark google maps pin point was pretty darn close. On the Google map below, the blue one was the original, the red one is the updated one. Booyeah! hehehe

So all you map heads... enjoy! :) Click on either image to enlarge. Thanks, naclydogg!

Korr is outside of the central area on this one, right near the green word "Marsabit"

And here's good ol' Google Maps

View Larger Map

Tuesday, November 25, 2008



Pardon me while I take a minute to squeal like a girl and jump up and down.


I got the call about five minutes ago. They don't have a partner for me yet (something to keep praying for) but they figure I'm more mature (read: older) than many short termers and there are a few couples there (not just one) so if one has to leave I won't be left on my own, so they've ok'ed me to go.

I'll be going to Korr, which is where I thought I'd be going initially. (See my first prayer letter for a few details and pics!) It's in North Central Kenya in the middle of the desert! I'll be teaching in the primary/elementary school there.

The little blue flag is only the very approximate location - Korr is on no map! Hehehe!

View Larger Map

Now begins the fun task of finding out all the little details of living - what clothes should I bring? What kind of house will I live in? What will the school be like? Will there be electricity? What will I eat? What are the answers to the bajillion questions that I don't even know I should ask?

And oh yeah, how the heck am I gonna raise all my funds in five weeks??? (Holy cow! FIVE WEEKS?!?!?!?!??! AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!) Smaller time frame makes bigger God stories.... right?


Let the freak out commence!

If you're not already on my Africa email list and would like to get my letters, updates, etc, email me using the link in the sidebar and I'll get you on my list! :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

But on the bright side...

Today was a gong show. Absolute, total gong show. The past two weeks, things have been escalating in my class to a point where I am on the verge of l-o-s-i-n-g it. Kids who run away and hide in the school. Kids who just decide to wander the class, play with toys, and bang on instruments in the middle of a lesson... aaaaand, I could go on for days, but you know what, I wasn't going to focus on that.

Instead I was going to focus on the two things that brightened my day. Cause that's always a better way to go!

The social committee (of which I am a part) decided last month to do a "Secret Angel" program for anyone who wanted to participate. So I made up a questionnaire and asked whoever would like to participate to fill it out nad return it to me. Then we did a secret draw and everybody got thier recipient. The idea is that you use the questionnaire and pay attention to the person you have andthroughout the year, you give little gifts - just little, no breaking the bank necessary - or notes or whatever to that person to encourage them and to just genreally brighten their day.

It got off to a bit of a rocky start (asking the change the person you drew cause you've had a conflict with them? Not quite the point. Oy vey.), but it's underway, and I've seen thank you's "to my secret angel" popping up in the communication book. Hooray! I'm really glad it got of the ground!

So today, in the middle of all the insanity - behavoiurs, runaways, meetings (straight through my prep, straight through recess, straight through between recess and lunch, and all the way through lunch - I'd had to pee since 10am. I got to at 4. And I have yet to eat my lunch... but right, I wasn't going to rant!)... where was I? Oh yes. In the middle of the insanity. I checked my box for a form I needed forone of the meetings, only to find something from MY secret angel. Three somethings, in fact.

Once I had a chance to breathe, I took them back to my room and opened them up. When I think "Secret Angel program" I think notes, maybe a candy bar here or there, little stuff like that. But what I recieved was way above and beyond. I was truly overwhelmed by the thoughfulness of my secret angel.

First, I opened up a little mini book called "The Little Book of African Wisdom." It's full of sayings and proverbs from Africa and the African diaspora. Second, I opened a large, decadent dark chocolate bar (that I'm trying very hard not to just scoff down right here and now!) called "Divine - Heavenly chocolate with a heart," a fair trade chocolate company. Third, I recieved a CD from one of my favourite music publishers, Putumayo, called African Playground. It's a collection of kids songs by African artists from all over the continent. I have their "World Playground" CD and LOVE it. I'm listening to my new CD right now, and it, too, is FABULOUS. How blessed am I!

And then of course, the kids... they always give me lots to laugh about, but sometimes there are gems that just need to be shared...

We had all gathered on the carpet to begin the day and before I could get out a "good morning," grade two "Kianna" asked the question that would make me giggle all day long:

"Miss Hillary, are you having a bad hair day, or is that just a new look for you?"

(The difference? I had actually had enough time to both wash and blow dry my hair this morning. I actually thought it looked ok for once in my life! Ha!)

Realism or lack of faith?

So it's now six weeks exactly until January 1st, the approximate date I had in my head that I would be leaving for Africa, and I still don't even have my assignment yet. This means that no official fund raising has begun (and I'll be needing to raise, in my best estimate, $8000 - $10,000 BEFORE I'm allowed to leave). No visas have been applied for (cause I don't even know for sure what country I'm going to). No plane tickets have been bought (don't they get more and more expensive closer to the date?). There's a heck of a lot that has to happen AFTER I get my assignment.

I'm starting to accept the possibility that I won't be going first thing in January. But then there's a little voice inside my head that says, "Oh you of little faith, why do you doubt?" I know God CAN do it, but I guess I'm just starting to wonder if he WILL.

Prayers are much appreciated!!! That assignment needs to come through SOON!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Anyone think it's really silly to do NaBloPoMo if you're just posting things like this to make the deadline?

Yep, I thought so, too. Especially since I didn't really make the deadline and I'm backdating this post.

Meh. NaBloPoMo. Who needs it? ;)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chopped Liver No More? You be the judge!

Buah ha ha! I got a card today!!! ('Member my complex from last week?)

The kids were cleaning out their desks today, and one girl found a crumpled up card she had made for Miss LastYearTeacher that had been squished up against the back wall of her junk-stuffed desk. She looked at me, drew a big X over the felt-pen-written bubble letters spelling "Miss LastYearTeacher" and wrote my name on top in skinny little pencil lines. Spelled incorrectly.

She looked up with a smile and said, "Here, Miss Hillary, this is for you!"

Ah, these munchkins. They crack. me. up.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Clear communication

In my class, we have something called a "Problem Solving Sheet." If there is a behaviour issue (hitting, running away, refusal to work, etc) we sit down with the student and have a little talk about what happened, how they were feeling, and what the better option would be the next time.

Well, one student was up to her usual tricks last week - getting down on the floor and crawling away/around the classroom. She tries to get us to chase her, but we just ignore her. Sometimes she settles down and can be coaxed back to whatever was going on or to a quiet carol in the hall for a calm-down break (though usually it escalates, she runs away, and we have to scour the school and playground and page her on the PA to get her back. Buuuut, that's another story.)

There are lots of reasons for this, a few that we know and many that we don't. But this time, she was frustrated because the work she was doing was too hard.

Here is her version of what happened.

Yep, that's pretty much EXACTLY what happened. Facing AWAY from the teacher. Under the table. Her name already on #1 of the stoplight I use. She's even got the pigtails of one of the other girls in the group. And for how she was feeling? I'm not really sure, do you think you can help me decipher it??? Hehehe! Pencil clenched in her hand, a scowl on her face, she drew the eyebrows first. No confusion here, people! As for what should happen next time instead of crawling away? Yep, she sure knows! There she is, with the support worker, at her carol in the hallway taking a drawing break to calm down.

I love it! She's such a talented artist, and she's a smart one! This Problem Solver just cracks me up!

... Coincidentally, comedian Brian Regan knows something about this process: check out this clip (and also, it's just hilarious!)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Surprises surprises!!!

So my friend Jean's hubby gets a nomination from me (and I'm sure from Jean!) for the husband of the year award for. sure.

In mid-August, Ed and Jean moved from (more or less) their home town in Grand Rapids to Seattle so Ed could go to grad school. I can only imagine how hard it must be to be away from friends and family, and how much they must be missing them.

So Ed decided, as a surprise for Jean, to fly out one of Jean's best friends, Anne, and her daughter for a surprise visit for nearly a week! He orchestrated it perfectly, and Jean was SHOCKED when Ed came home from school last Wednesday with two extra people in the van!

Ed graciously invited me to come down and join them yesterday, so of course I jumped at the chance! I headed down to Seattle early Saturday morning and got to spend the day with Jean, Anne, Sam, Alina, and Randi! In the evening, Ed came home from working on his paper and two of Anne's friends who live in Seattle came over, too, and we all had Thanksgiving dinner together! (I had invited Ed and Jean up for Canadian Thanksgiving, but it just didn't work out, and they have spent the last few - many? - American Thanksgivings with Anne and Andy, so we did it in the middle and they got to do both! ... well, minus Andy, who was holding down the fort in Grand Rapids! :) )

These two women (and Sarah, too! I'm not forgetting about you, just because you couldn't be there!) are such a blessing to me! Their friendship goes far beyond our blogs, where we first met, to the (way better!) realm of real life, where we keep in touch, pray for each other, and enjoy spending time together when time and travel allow. It's for days like yesterday that I'm so thankful for the creative ways (like the internet!) that God brings beauty and friendship into our lives!

Thanks, ladies! I'm so glad you're my friends! :)

Don't mind the weird blue colour... my camera was doing funny things. And also, what you don't see are the oodles of candy wrappers from our late night Brian Regan watching Halloween candy feed! Ah, good times! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What is happiness?

You'll have to wait till tomorrow to find out! Muah hahahaha!

Also, check THIS out...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Africa Update

Arh! I feel like everything is at a standstill (I know it's not, it just feels that way)! I've done everything I possible can on my checklist. I'm waiting for my next round of vaccinations. I'm waiting for all my forms to get to the office to get my medical and police clearance. I'm waiting to send out a reminder email about my fundraiser. I'm waiting to prepare a slideshow for the fundraiser and I'm waiting to officially begin my fundraising because I'm still waiting to hear about my assignment.

Perhaps God's trying to teach me something about waiting, what do you think??? :)

They're working on it as fast as they can, I know that. The lady in charge of short term assignments has been in Africa, so it's been difficult to work on it. They know time is short, and actually, I've been really pleased with how they've kept me informed, and I know that they are pretty much scrambling to find something for me.

One little complication is that they are trying to find another person for me to go with - the long term missionaries are requesting - for a variety of reasons - that no short termer comes to them on their own, that they at least have a partner. Now this is a pretty big answer to prayer, cause overly-dependent-on-other-people-for-interaction extroverted Hillary was getting a wee tad worried about not having a lot of peer interaction while I was gone. I know the long term missionaries would be there, but I was cautious about how much I wanted to rely on them 0 they've got their own families and lives, after all (though I know they'd be very welcoming and helpful, too). So in one sense, I'm really relieved to know that there will be another short termer wherever I am.

But that creates... shall we say, two opportunities for prayer? :) One is that now they have to find someone who wants to go on the same timeline as I do to the same place (doing the same thing? I'm not sure about that one). So, logistically, it's harder, hence a bit of the delay. So if you're the praying type, I'd love it if you'd pray that something comes together soon!

And the second opportunity for prayer is that, well, the unknown is always pretty scary. Immediately I wonder, what will this person be like? Will we get along? What if we don't? What if they don't like me? What if I don't like them? (which is kind of ridiculous, because very rarely do I meet someone I don't like!) But of course, I worry. I'll be in the middle of nowhere, paired with a total stranger, most likely living and working closely in a really intense environment for seven months. So I'm trusting that God is leading them to the right partner for me and that soon I'll have another lifelong friend and fabulous girlfriend to share my experience in Africa with.

So basically, that's where things are at. I'm waiting. Thank you, God, for the waiting time??? Haha!

Here's hoping a jubilant post is coming very soon in which I can tell you just what I'll be doing in six weeks time.

Oh yes, my friends. SIX WEEKS!!! Crikey!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Phew! What a day!

Ok, so yes. I could say that at the end of every day (and more often than not, I do). These kids kill me. It never ceases to amaze me how one day can run the gammut of awesome to tear my hair out to that calm slow speaking tone that they all know means I am about to LOSE IT to pride in my kidlets to furious to fun and carefree. And that's all before the recess bell!

As challenging as it is working at this school, I have got some NEAT kids. I keep saying it to other teachers and - most importantly - to the KIDS: I really like these little guys and gals. They are teaching me SO much about how to be a better teacher (in part because you HAVE to learn or you DIE, but hey...) and even about myself. They are stretching me thinner than I ever thought I could be stretched, but I'm getting creative, building positive relationships with these kids, making all kinds of blunders along the way, and learning lots from my fabulous support worker.

But it's these kids that get me every time. Those little moments when I can get a little talk in with one of them, show them something they didn't know before, see their face light up when I tell them what a great job they're doing... They crave this love, this attention SO much. They need it. Many of them get so little of it among homes where parents are stretched thin and everybody is just doing what they need to do to make it through another day. My heart breaks for some of these little ones.

My lovelies, do you know that I go home and weep for you? You are precious. You are loved. You are a source of so much joy for your creator - who I hope one day you'll know. You are important. You matter. You say you can't, but I know you can - you are able. You are special. You are unique - made to be like no-one but you. You are creative. You are kind-hearted. You have eyes and smiles that light up the room. You are funny. You are smart. You are doing your very best.

You are precious. You are loved.

I'll say it again, because you need to hear it: You are precious. You are loved. And I am so lucky to be your teacher.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What am I, chopped liver???

Every week my kids go to the library while I have my prep. The librarian has a great little transition activity for them when they get there - she's got puzzles, paper, and colouring supplies out for them and gives them some time to come in and get settled before she begins her lesson.

And every week, without fail, my kids make cards. They REALLY like making cards. Finished their work early? They make cards. Centres time? They make cards. Library time? They make cards. Sometimes the cards are for other students in the class (those ones are always birthday cards - whether or not it's actually that student's birthday or not!), but more often than not, they are really cute little cards expressing love from a student to their teacher. "I love you!" "You're the best teacher!" "You're so nice." "Thank you!"

I know! Melt-your-heart-sweet, hey?

Except there's only one thing. The cards are always for LAST YEAR'S TEACHER!!!

"Look Miss Hillary, we made a card for Miss L!"

Ooooh, well isn't THAT nice? What about ME? Don't you love ME TOO? WHY WON'T YOU MAKE CARDS FOR MEEEEEEE?????? WAAAAHHHH! You don't looooove me!

Just you wait till I leave for Africa! Then all their cards will be for ME!


* Just for anyone without a sense of humour out there, I'm KIDDING! I'm LAUGHING. I think it's CUTE. I *don't* actually depend on the approval of seven and eight year olds for my self worth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

In the poem In Flanders Fields, we are given the charge to hold high the torch, lest those who gave their lives have died for naught. This year I watched the Remembrance Ceremonies in Ottawa on TV. They began a new tradition - the passing of torch of Remembrance. It began with 108 year old John Babcock, the last remaining Canadian veteran of World War I passing a torch to first a World War II veteran, to a Korean War vet, to a peacekeeper, and finally to a modern day veteran from Afghanistan.

Something about that really struck me. Mr Babcock. He is the last. remaining. veteran. of World War I. After he's gone, after the World War II vets are gone, then what? The importance of remembrance struck me today. Very soon e will not have those faces at our cenotaphs. Those wrinkled faces, once strong, still brave men and women who put our country, our freedom, our way of life above their fear, above their own lives. How often to I forget to be thankful for the place I live, the freedom I have. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't been to a Remembrance ceremony for a number of years. I do remember - assemblies, and I usually watch a ceremony on TV, but what? I can't be bothered to get in my car and go stand for an hour in honour of these?

And so I watched the torch of remembrance being passed. A small symbol, yes, but significant. May that torch never extinguish.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The do's and don'ts (but mostly don'ts!) of prayer cards

HA! AIM has a little tutorial for making up prayer cards. The tips are good, but the (fictional) examples of all the things NOT to do are better. Much, much better.

*UPDATE* This is probably the 6th time I've sat here staring at these prayer cards. The seconds one gets me EVERY. TIME. I'm laughing hysterically out loud here all by myself. I can't help it! "Committed to celibacy in Kenya with Africa Inland Mission. - She really needs your prayers!" Tears! There are tears of laughter flowing! (And the first "do" tip above the card is "Smile! You're going to Africa! That's a GOOD thing!" Somebody really needs to tell Miss Korbel!)

aaaah hahahahaha!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Marian Call

Marian is a friend of my friend Tora, and she's AMAZING! She's got some great songs that totally make me giggle! Hope you enjoy...

Vanilla (I'm not sexy)

(The song begins at 30 seconds)

I wish I were a Real Alaskan Girl

(The song begins at 1 minute)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Like babysitting for my blog...

I'm going away for the weekend - hooray! After this week, I SO need it! - but it's NaBloPoMo, so I'm still gonna post. This is where youTube comes in so very handy! I'll amuse and amaze with videos that make me smile, and I hope they make you smile, too!

Video numero uno... school kids! In the middle of nowhere somewhere in Kenya! Singing! I l-o-v-e their accents! It took me two or three verses to figure out what they were saying, but they're SO adorable! :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I love my little lovelies, yes. But some days... some days. They wear. me. out. Today was one of those days. But only about 1:30 I had already reached the quiet measured tone that told them that was *this close* to losing it. I dunno what's up with me. Am I just over tired or what? I had HAD it. It was one of those days that I had planned to stay late to get some work done, but it took me TWO HOURS to be able to wrap my head around ANYTHING after school. Now how's that for efficient?

Ok... good sleep tonight, tomorrow's a new day. Hopefully my raging headache will be gone by then... Oy.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ok, NOW save the date! :)

Woohoo! I've got the date set!!! If you're in the Greater Vancouver area (or even if you're not!)and would like to come to Africa Bound, a coffee house fundrasier benefitting my trip to Kenya, then consider yourself invited! It's going to be a great night!

Please RSVP to the email address listed on the invite below. Click the image if it's hard to read and you can see a bigger version.

When it's time to change...

(Thanks, Christine!)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Big Cheery Post About Lots Of Things!

Ahhhh. Feeling much better now. Pulled most of the prickles out. Yeesh. So, onward! And upward!

Yesterday? It was glorious! I got SO. MUCH. DONE. it's not even funny (and the fact that I had to take the day off from work for a few appointments made it feel kinda like I was playing (legitimate!) hooky!

So, Saturday night I was at a costume/birthday party, and as I was leaving (in my high heels, which is a big deal for me cause I NEVER wear them. Like, NEVER.) I started to drive away and I was like, "ummm... my car sounds funny." So I pulled over and sure enough, the front passenger side was dipped down waaaay farther than it should be. Dangit! I had a super-dee-duper-ly flat tire. Shooot! Of course, it was 11:30 or 12:00, and I figured I could walk home quicker than waiting for a bus (it was only 15 blocks or so). Turns out I was right. It was actually a really nice walk hone - it was really warm, and a nice night, and other than bruises and blisters and cuts on my feet from my stupid shoes, I had a very pleasant walk home.

Of course, no-one is open on Sunday, so I decided to just bus it to all my crazy places and fix it on Monday after my first appointment (luckily there was a mechanic/tire shop just three blocks away!).

So Sunday, I got lots done: went to an East African restaurant to look into catering my fundraiser, went to a goodbye party for a friend, went to church, and had a knight in shining armour friend try to help me get my spare on ym car so it was ready to roll (ha! Get it? Roll? I kill me!) on Monday. Armed with his expertise and camera phone flash as a light, we emptied my trunk and went at the tire. Spare tire? Check. Jack? Check. Tire iron? Nowhere to be found.


Oh right. MY car. Of course.

Oh well. He still gets knight in shining armour points for being willing to help me!

So how is my flat tire relevant to Monday, you ask? Well, all the running around I had to do now on the bus, I got in lots of reading time and I finished reading my AIDS and You book, sent to me by AIM as part of the prep for my trip.

Side note: When I got this book, I was laughing about the cover: a dark background with big red letters AIDS AND YOU. I joked that this wasn't really the book you wanted to be reading on the bus, though it may help you get your own seat. (People still have SO many misconceptions about this disease!) Little did I know I'd read almost the entire thing on the bus! Haha!

Ok. So Monday. I felt SO awesome at the end of Monday! I had:
- Gotten four of my eight or nine shots at the travel clinic (my arms hurt like a sonofamonkey!)
- Gotten my tire fixed (and ended up with three new ones. I knew they needed replacing, but ouch! Nearly $350 was NOT was I was planning on spending that day on some fancy rubber!)
- Gone to the police station to request my crim check
- Read up on all the shots I had gotten and will be getting
- Made up the invitation for my coffee house/fundraiser night
- Gotten confirmation that the location was available for said fundraiser night
- Emailed 200 people the details and an electronic version of the invite
- Called the caterer to confirm the date
- ordered and had the invites printed
- Finished my AIDS and You book
- Put the finishing touches on my Christmas gifts and ordered them (My Christmas shopping and wedding-gift-catch-up shopping is now DONE! ALL of it! MUCH better than the frantic December 22 shopping blitz I usually do! I so wish I was kidding!)
- Went grocery shopping
- Went to small group
- Emailed someone about subletting my house while I'm gone
- Did my dishes
- Swept up cat fuzz
- replied (kindly, I hope) to the prickly email
- cried
- Blogged
- fell into bed exhausted but exhilarated at getting so much crammed in to one day!

Getting my invites out and my Christmas gifts ordered were big BIG things on my list of stuff to do, and they are DONE!


Good thing, cause yesterday I noticed that my trip ticker had reached the "one month and something" point until I leave and I NEARLY DIED. It's really closer to two months still, but that dang thing says ONE MONTH when you look at at and it's FREAKIN' ME OUT!

I haven't even been able to really start fundraising yet cause I don't have my assignment! AK!

BUT? Life is good! It's a beautiful day, my yard is full of gorgeous yellow leaves that I don't want to rake up yet cause they're so pretty, my Africa plans are progressing (well, some of them are!), and I was really overwhelmed on the weekend with feeling SO blessed by people I really never expected to do so offer their prayers, their funds, and their time to support me and my trip to Africa. I feel pretty overwhelmed and loved, and it's a good place to be!

Off I go! I have a friend I haven't seen in nearly six months arriving any minute for dinner!

Life is good! :)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Change in plans

I was gonna write a big cheery post about lots of fun things, but I just got a pretty upsetting email and it took all the pep out of me for tonight (I'll be fine, just somebody was having a bad day and got all prickly on me). For now, I'll just show you this, cause it still makes me smile!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Mark your calendars!

Ok, ok, so I don't actually know the date yet. Is it selfish to ask people to hold TWO Saturday nights open for a coffee house/fundraiser/Africa night? Ha! Maybe. But, um, it's November 29 or December 6. So if you're anywhere close to Vancouver, you're invited! (You're invited even if you're NOT close to Vancouver, but, well, airfare is pretty pricey these days... ;) )

So I emailed the lady at my church who is in charge of room bookings on Monday to see if she had November 29th (my preferred date) free. She emailed back to say that she was really busy planning our church's Halloween carnival and that she'd get back to me early next week.

AK! But there are "save the date" emails to send out and caterers to book and musicians to invite and planning to do and I really really really need to get moving on this! So I called her and told her of the situation, and she was TOTALLY my HERO, pushed the application through even though she was CRAZY busy, and told me that the room was available on the 29th, and we'd work out the details next week.

And so I sent out the emails asking people to save the date. Perhaps you got one (if not, and you want to come, let me know!). And I also emailed some people I know who are musically inclined and who I'd talked to previously about playing.

And then disaster struck! Three of the four or five "main acts" I was hoping to come play are out of town that weekend! GAAAAAK!

Horrified, cause the facilities manager had done me SUCH a huge favour, I had to email her back and ask.... "Errrr... so, actually how 'bout Dec 6?" And she has to go through the whole process again. Eeeeeek!

AND I get to re-harass nearly two hundred people with an "Actually, ignore that date and save THIS one" email, if indeed the December 6th date is still available. Either that or have a coffee house with very little music. Ummm, yay?

Oh yes. Professional event planner I am not. But I figure it's good to have the wrinkles at the beginning, cause it means the rest will go off without a hitch.

... Right?

Saturday, November 01, 2008


It's that time of year again... National Blog Posting Month! You know, November. When report cards are due. When I'm right in the thick of big teaching units. When I'm trying my darndest to get my Christmas gifts done (home-made gifts this year - less expensive and more personal, but WAY more time consuming!). And, this year, when I'm preparing to go to Africa: planning a fundraiser, reading a stack of books that AIM has sent me, sending off prayer letters, going to all manner of appointments, networking, planning, shopping, organizing my house to move out (temporarily)...

Why SUUURE! I've got some spare time to blog EVERY DAY! Why the heck not?

It should be rather entertaining for you to watch me slowly go INSANE.

Here's to day one of the craziness...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

(part of the fun in this is wearing it in the car on the way to work... including the stop at the grocery store to pick up some supplies for my class Halloween party! Can you imagine? Stopped at a traffic light and suddenly... WHAM! There's a MONKEY beside you!!! Buah hahah!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You probably don't want to read about this.
I'm going to tell you anyway!

Lucky you.

As part of my preparation to go to Africa, I have to get medical clearance signed off by my doctor, so yesterday I took the day off for a number of appointments. Now, I'm definitely not one who spends a lot of time in the doctor's office. I think the last time I went in for a routine check up was probably twelve years ago when my mom held me hostage - I wasn't allowed to go work at camp till I had a doctor's appointment! Over the years, I've been to a few ear/nose/throat specialists and to a doctor at a walk in clinic for referrals (nothin' like making a doctor feel useful: "Hi! I don't really need to talk to you, can you just sign this paper that will send me to another dude? KThxBye!"), but that's it.

So all this medical stuff is new to me, and kinda interesting, and definitely proved a few good laughs throughout the day.

Can I just say this? It is STINKIN' hard to find a doctor who's accepting patients in this city. And then when you DO get an appointment, they try to shuttle you trough as fast as possible. Evidence of this was my appointment yesterday. I called to book a full physical: "Hi, I'd like to make an appointment for a full physical... so how long do you think a full physical will take? ... Hello! I'm here for my full physical... Hello, Doctor. Yes, I'm going to Africa and the organization wants me to have a full physical..." So I handed her the form, she took one look at it, and went, "Oh, wow... they want you to have a full physical." Ummmm... yes?

So after she suggested I come back another time to do most of it, and I explained that I had taken the day off work, and could we please do the bulk of it while I'm actually here already, she started in on the form, mostly which was a big ol' checklist of body parts where she had to check off "normal" or "not." She looked in my eyes and my ears, poked around my stomach a little, and then checked everything off as normal without nary a glance.

I kinda feel for these clinic doctors. So many people they have to get through, such a doctor's shortage, only so many hours in the day... but hey, at least I've got my forms. Too bad she missed the giant goiter on my neck.

Naw... just kidding. I don't have a goiter. Phew. I had you worried there, didn't I?

Part of the physical was blood work, urinalysis, and a chest x-ray. The blood work was fine. I get only mildly jittery with needles, but I was interested, so I forced myself to watch as she poked it through my skin, into my vein, and watched my blood flow out into a little tube...

Whuh huh uhuhuhuhhuh *full body shudder*

Ok. So maybe it makes me more than a little jittery. But I was too curious to look away!

The chest x-ray was kinda fun - hip hip hooray for too-short paper shirts and stretchy plastic ties to only moderately keep them closed. Um, riiiight. But seeing my own ribs? Pretty cool!

(Side note: The x-ray tech looked at my name as she was walking me back and said, "Oh! You must be Doug and Patt's daughter!" Uhhh.... yes I am! "Well I'm so-and-so. I knew your parents back when we were growing up at your church!" Crazy Talk!!! We chatted a little, and turns out her niece is looking for a place and might sublet my suite while I'm gone! Sah-WEET!)

I think the urine test was the funniest, though. (Am I really going to go there? Yes, yes I am) The lab tech gave me the little cup and gave me all the instructions. She then handed me a little packaged towelette and told me, "Oh, and before you go, make sure you use this to wipe... you know... down there." Why this medical professional felt she had to whisper, scrunch up her face, and physically point down to tell me this, I'll never know. I still giggle when I picture it!

So in I go, do my thing, close up the bottle, but where to put it? I see there's a little cabinet behind me that says to put your bottles there. Oh good, I guess the little containers will keep the counters from getting messy. So I open the door and put my container inside, turn around, finish up, and I hear a clatter inside the cupboard. Oh shoot! It fell over! Craaaap! I hope I had the lid on tight enough! One I'm done, I open up the door to check, horrified at having to go back out and explain that I spilled my pee all over the cupboard. Good show, Hillary. Plus, I'd have to come back the next day, blah blah blah. But once the cupboard door was open, I had to do a double take: MY PEE WAS GONE!!!

Ah, yes. Young in the ways of lab tests, I know. That's kinda what makes it funny. At least to me. You're probably totally grossed out. Um, oh well.

Anyway, after a split second of panic, I quickly realized that the cabinet went two ways, and someone from the lab had grabbed the jar when they heard me put it in. Ahhhhhh. Cause really, what did I THINK I was going to do with my little drippy bottle of pee? Bring it back out to the lobby? EW!

And can I just say? God bless the Canadian medical system. HUNDREDS of dollars worth of medical consulting, tests, and prescriptions (antibiotics in case of illness) - all FREE! I didn't pay a penny yesterday. for any of it. Hoo-ray!

I have the remainder of my doctor's appointment next week where she'll tell me the results of the lab work and x-rays (here's rootin' for NORMAL!), and then I get myself injected with all kinds of nasty diseases the day after.

Typhoid? Hepatitis? Diptheria? Yellow Fever? Rabies? Meningitis?


Saturday, October 25, 2008


ByGrace Photography!!!

I've gone through my (billions!) of photos to find some of the ones I'm the most proud of. As a fundraiser for my trip to Africa, I'd love to offer my photos up for sale!

Here's how it will work (for now!):

1. Go to my ByGrace Flickr page to browse and select your photos.

2. Decide what photo(s) & what size(s) you would like, & take note of the number in the photo's title.

3. Send me an email at bygrace253 at yahoo dot ca with the following:
  • Your full name
  • Your complete mailing address
  • A clear breakdown of what photo you would like in what size

  • Prints are available in 5x7, 6x8, 8x10, 8x12, 11x14, and 12x18 (some cropping or blank space around the photo may happen for photos of irregular sizes). Alternatively, I can just email you a full sized version of the file and you can print it out as often or as large as you'd like!
4. Once I receive that info from you, I will create a PayPal invoice and send it to you. You don't have to have a PayPal account - you can just pay by credit card through PayPal, too (though I think my credit card transactions are limited, so if you've got PayPal, go with that!). If you prefer to pay by cheque, that's ok, too. Just tell me that in your email and I'll send you my address.

5. Once I receive payment, I'll mail you your photo! If I know you in real life and see you on a regular basis, skip the shipping and we'll just swap! :)

Easy peasy lemon squeezie! :)

Here's the pricing info:
  • 5x7 or 6x8 - $12
  • 8x10 or 8x12 - $20
  • 11x14 or 12x18 - $30
  • Full sized digital file - $10 (no shipping fee on this item)

  • Please add $5 to per order to cover shipping to Canada and the US (multiple pictures ordered at the same time count as one order).
No go! Browse through the photos! Click on "slide show" in the upper right corner or click a thumbnail to see an individual photo. And thanks for supporting my trip to Africa!!! :)

Keep checking back, there will be one more batch uploaded next week. I'll let ya know! :)

What a week!

Oy VEY! This was one insane week. Last weekend was the Sea to Sky dance convention, which I decided to actually go to at the last minute. I was torn, but I'm glad I went. It was good to get back into dancing a little more, as I've really only been maybe three times before that in the last five months. Terrible! The killing of the feet, however? Yeah, could have done without that. Yeowtch! I met some cool new people (hi Travis!), brushed up on some technique, placed abysmally in the comps (woohoo!), and basically got zero sleep all weekend. I also learned more than I ever wanted to know about the undead during our one am zombie movie/pizza/wrestling fest on the Saturday night before we headed back down to keep dancing.

Work was nutty - exhaustion, rangy behaviour, staff issues, four different meetings, a field trip, subs, professional development, hanging out with Danny Glover... you name it, it happened.

I also got accepted with AIM officially (HOOO-RAY!) so that brought about all KINDS of new tasks to do - contacting my church's missions committee, making doctor's appointments, calling payroll and benefits to work out temporary suspension of my extended health (I'll be covered by AIM's plan, don't you worry), making appointments at the travel clinic to get all my vaccinations, more forms to fill out, more letters to write, a criminal records check to submit, two books to read, a mentor to find, a fundraiser to plan... are you exhausted yet??? And all this is not even what has to happen once I find out for sure what my assignment is going to be! Yikers!

Then there's my home sweet home. I've let certain corners (large, man-eating corners) get, well, rather chaotic in my house over the last *mumble mumble* year - you know, paperwork, what-the-heck-do-I-do-with-THIS stuff, random junk, etc., etc., etc. - and it's time to sort all that out now, so I don't have to do it all when I move out in December. I'll be subletting my place while I'm gone (anyone looking for a great furnished ground level suite in Vancouver from January to June? Anyone? Anyone?) so I need to get it up to snuff for people to come and see. I've already had one couple interested!

And then, just cause apparently I don't think I'm busy enough yet, I've taken on two rather large projects that are eating up mucho hours at my computer these days. One I can't tell you about (shhh! Christmas presents!) but one I'm excited to get the word out: I'm going to be getting set up to sell some of my photos! Who knows if people will want to buy them, but I figure, hey, every little bit helps on my way to Africa, right? Keep an eye out, I'm hoping to get the systems and pricing up soon!

(On that note, anyone know how to make a watermark on photos without using photoshop? I have an image I want to use, but just need to make a transparent image I can copy on top of the photo. Might not be able to be done without photoshop, I'm not sure. Or anyone want to batch download my pics and do it for me? Ha!)

And of course, all this done whilst dodging ankle attacks from my brother's psychokitty and keeping that stinkin' cat out of the venetian blinds.

Ah, my life is never boring, is it? Sheesh!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'M IN!!!!!!!!!!!!

(click image to see a larger version if it's hard to read)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wisdom from a cookie

Well, I DID call it. Tuesday was CRAZY. Let's just say that at one point, there were four adults in the room (including me) and we STILL had to call the principal to bring back one student who had abandonned her activity of pushing desks around the room and had run out into the playground. EEK!

It's funny, a coworker asked me last night how I was finding the school. It was hard to answer, because on one hand, it's SO incredible challenging. There's academic challenges, behavioural challenges, and lots of social/economic/historical challenges, too. Some days I am SO stressed out at the end of the day, and I am more exhausted this year than I think I've ever been teaching... But. BUT. These kids are SO neat. Even the one who bolted on Tuesday. Especially her. I really, REALLY like my class. It may be a battle ground at times, but (a few days removed from Tuesday and after a pretty good day today, I can say this!) it's worth it!

I think of one student in particular who brings (surprise, surprise) his own challenges to school. I can't really get into it, which is ok, except to say that there are a number of academic and behavioural concerns that I have about him. There is also a self-esteem factor, too. School for him is hard, and he knows it. Even in grade two, he tries to be so tough, so cool, to make up for the fact that he just can't do the same stuff as a lot of the other kids. He began the year refusing to read anything, even to TRY. "I can't read," he'd say. He tried all kinds of tactics to avoid his work and to push the limits of classroom rules, and let me tell you, there were a few times when he was n-o-t NOT happy with me. Hysterical wheezing crying shows of stubbornness all through lunch hour, that kind of thing. But he knows the limits. He's learning that I'm not out to get him.

And yesterday?

This tough little kid who rarely smiles walked in the door after recess with all the other kids. All of a sudden I felt two little arms around my waist and I looked down... He was giving me a hug! A HUG!!!

It couldn't have been more fitting when, after school, I grabbed one of the 18,000 fortune cookies a parent gave me for the class (seriously! SO. MANY. FORTUNE. COOKIES. We will never be able to get through them all) and pulled out the fortune:

Move slowly but surely to success.

You'd better believe it!

I am SO proud of these kiddos! I have already seen so much improvement in my class. Baby steps, yes, but each tiny victory is a step in the right direction. Those unexpected arms around my waist are the proof.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not to be a fatalist, but...

But today is gonna be craaaaazy.

It's the first day back after a weekend. Always challenging.
It was a LONG weekend. Even MORE time to lose the routines.
It was a full moon last night. EXTRA rangy kids.
AND? My super-duper wonderfully awesome support worker who's got these kids special break/adaptations schedule down to to a T? She's away today.

Heaven help us all....

As political as I'm gonna get

Ah the difference between American and Canadian politics. There are oodels, but here are a few.

America: one election every four years. Fixed. (right?) A year and a half of lead up, preliminaries, mud slinging, and shenanigans. The whole world knows what's going on.
Canadians watch the American debates.

Canada: three elections in four years (I freaking have to vote AGAIN?!?! It's a right, it's a priveledge, yeah yeah, but THREE TIMES in four years? Come on!). An election called on September 7, election complete October 14. Party leaders having hissy fits about "If SHE'S coming to the debate, we're gonna boycott!" Pretty much nobody (probably even a lot of Canadians, at least for the first half of the campaign) even KNEW there's a Canadian election happening. Debate night scheduled for the same night as the American debate (smart move, geniuses). Canadians watch the American debates.

Ah, well, at least our two nations could enjoy the circus together for a few weeks.

But today's decision day! (To my American friends: we beat you, nyah nyah! ;) )

So hey, Canadia - GO VOTE!

Blech. Politics on my blog. I feel so dirty now...

Monday, October 13, 2008



Ok, no, not THOSE kinds of letters! I mean letters about Africa! I spent most of Saturday writing up my first letter that I'll be sending out to friends and family telling them what I'll be doing in Africa, why I'm going, and, if they so choose, how to support me - via keeping in touch, supporting me financially (I have less than three months to raise all the funds needed for my trip! AK!), and/or by praying for me while I prepare to leave and while I'm gone.

If you'd like to read it, you can find it online here: Hillary's Support Letter #1.

I've also added a drop down menu to the Africa section of my sidebar. As I continue to write update letters, I'll link to them there as well. And, I don't think I've said this yet, but every weekend I'll update the timeline with things that have happened/stuff I've done/developments surrounding my preparation to head off. You know, in case you're geeky like me and like that kind of thing! :) Keep your eye on the fundraising pie, too! Hopefully all that grey will begin to disappear very soon! :)

Oh, and last but not least...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cause I like to procrastinate

I saw this over at Amy's place (Hi Amy!) and decided it would be a MUCH better use of my time right now than housework. hehehe!

1. What time did you get up this morning? 4:45 a.m. Ridiculous. My body sleeps for about 6.5 hours. Tough patooties for me if I try to go to bed earlier. PING! I wake up 6.5 hours later pretty much like clockwork. Course did I got BACK to bed? Noooo. I got up. Dumba$$.

2. Diamonds or pearls? Can I have both??? :) Um, diamonds?

3. What was the last film you saw at the theatre? You know... the one? With the guy? I'm terrible! I don't remember!

4. What is your favorite TV show? Any fluffy sitcom. Fraiser's great. I don't watch that much TV (too much time online! hehe!)

5. What do you usually have for breakfast? cereal

6. What is your middle name? Lynn

7. What food do you dislike? Squid/Calamari. I'm sorry. Those squiggly little legs poking out all over the place? EEEEEEW!

8. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Oh man! Too hard to pick! I'm kinda partial to my eclectic collection on iTunes. I should do one of those "what's on your playlist" memes.

9. What kind of car do you drive? '95 Civic, four door sedan. Nothin' says fun-lovin' adventurer than a family sedan, baby, yeah! Somebody get me a Jeep, STAT!

10. Favorite Sandwich? Pretty much all things pannini. Add cranberry sauce or pesto and I might start drooling a little. Ok, not really. That would be gross.

11. What characteristic do you despise? arrogance, condescension (Amy's answers were good ones!)

12. Favorite item of clothing? jeans

13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? AFRICA!!! :)

14. Favorite brand of clothing? Reitmans? *smacks forehead* I'm so boring!

15. Where would you retire to? Vancouver! Or maybe the Okanagan Valley.

16. What was your most memorable birthday? Hmm... lots of them. Maybe getting 16 roses delivered to me at work by my grandpa, who lives a 45 minute drive away, for my "Sweet 16." :)

17. Favorite sport to watch? Hockey? IF it's the playoffs and IF the Canucks are in (hahahahhaha!!!! So basically, I never watch sports!)

18. When is your birthday? Feb 2

19. Are you a morning person or a night person? night owl all the way

20. What is your shoe size? 8 or 9, depending

21. Pets? yes - my brother's phsychokitty

22. Any new and exciting news you would like to share with us? I'M GOING TO AFRICA!!! Ok, so it's not new, but it's extra-exciting, so I say it counts!

23. What did you want to be when you were little? It's pretty much always been a teacher. Or a missionary. Heeey. Funny, that!

24. How are you today? HAPPY! It's sunny, I've got the tunes cranked, and I'm NOT cleaning! hahaha!

25. What is your favorite candy (lollie/chocolate)? Dark chocoalte. Mmmmmm!

26. What is your favorite flower? Lilacs, Hyacinths, Gerbera daisies

27. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? Long weekends!

28. What is your full name? Well, ya got Hillary. Ya got Lynn. And that's all I'm givin' ya! :)

29. What are you listening to right now? Praise 106.5 online

30. What is the last thing you ate? BC Chicken burger at the White Spot. Oh, and way more Halloween sized chocolates than I should have. What can I say, I'm the picture of health.

31. Do you wish on stars? Nope. God's way better! :)

32. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Something bright and cheerful! :)

33. How is the weather right now? Cool, crisp, sunny, and GORGEOUS!

34. The first person you spoke to on the phone today? Some dude trying to call a hoity-toity food store in town. My number's just one digit off.

35. Favorite soft drink? Me no likey the fizzy

36. Favorite restaurant? Pretty much anything Thai or Mexican. Oooooh... Las Margarita's!

37. Real Hair Color? meduim-dark brown? Pretty much what you see without the streaks.

38. What was your favorite toy as a child? My Speak and Spell and my GloWorm! Ah to be a kid in the eighties

39. Summer or Winter? Ooooh... tough call. Summer?

40. Hugs or kisses? Depends who they're coming from, I guess! I DO love hugs... though I wouldn't mind some kisses! ha!

41. Chocolate or Vanilla? dark choclolate

42. Coffee or Tea? COFFEE! Weaning onto coffee process - COMPLETE!

43. When was the last time you cried? Don't remember! I think a week or so ago, thinking about Rita and how I really miss her.

44. What is under your bed? NOTHING! Sweet! (ummm... but that's cause I had to wash my carpets TWO WEEKS AGO and everything that was under there is still on top. Uhhh... my couch is really comfy?)

45. What did you do last night? Watched Airplane for the first time with some friends, followed by Hot Shots. There was much hilarity, let me tell you!

46. What are you afraid of? Hyenas!

47. Salty or Sweet? Salty Stone Wheat Thins smothered in sweet, sweet Nutella... BLISS!

48. How many keys are on your ring? Too many. Like the ones for my parent's van that was totalled a year and a half ago. Oy.

49. How many years at your current job? Current job? This is my 6th. Current school? A month and a half.

50. Favorite day of the week? Weekends!

51. How many places have you lived in? North Van... Hope (briefly for working at camp in the summers)... Vancouver... Mackenzie... soon KENYA!

52. If you were an inanimate object, what would you be? (I'm adding this one, cause my friend Chris asked me this out of my "If" book. I couldn't answer, so this is what he came up with for me) A POGO STICK!


Ok, ok, I'm getting back to work