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

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Prayer Letter #1

Hello friends and family!

Most of you know already about the adventure I’m embarking on in January, but I wanted to write to give you a little more information about where I’m going and why I’ve decided to go. For those who don’t know yet, I’m headed to Africa in the new year for a seven month short term mission with Africa Inland Mission!

I’ll be going to Kenya, and though my assignment is not yet officially confirmed, it looks like I’ll be going to the north central part of the country, potentially to a little (and I *DO* mean LITTLE!) desert village called Korr. I will be spending two terms teaching in a national (Kenyan) school, working with the missionaries that are already there, and getting to know and working with the Rendille people. The Rendille are nomadic camel herders who have, for the most part, resisted the influence of the modern world. Most still live in traditional huts, wear traditional dress, and live very similarly to how they did hundreds of years ago. I’ve been fascinated to read the little there is about them on the internet, and look forward to living among them!

So what on earth has prompted this? Well, in one sense, it’s something that has come up really quickly (I only applied for a leave of absence from my job on September 11!), but in another, I think it’s something that God’s been nudging me towards in all kinds of different ways for a very long time.

I think I was thirteen or fourteen when I first had a desire to go to Africa. It was Missions Week at my church, and we had a missionary from the Ivory Coast visiting. I don’t remember what he talked about specifically, but I do remember feeling like God was calling me to at least explore the field of missions at some point in my life. I remember feeling very certain that one day somehow I would be heading to Africa.

Over the years, as I’ve matured (hey, don’t laugh! :) ) and grown in my faith, I have learned that something that gives me the greatest sense of joy and purpose in my life is seeing people – kids in particular – take steps towards a deeper understanding of Jesus. I have discovered this largely through working at Camp Kawkawa, but also through various other things I’ve been involved with at church, and just generally in my everyday life.

Around May of 2007, I began to think about the possibility of maybe taking a leave of absence for a short time. I’d been teaching for four years, and maybe it was coming time to go try something different. I have always said that, while I love what I do, I wasn’t sure if teaching was going to be what I did for my whole life. I have often wondered if I might end up doing something along the lines of more traditional ministry work. Of course, I had no idea what that would look like, but I began to think about some possibilities. More specifically, over the last year and a half or so, I’ve been thinking more and more about taking six months to go do some kind of missions work. Africa has continued to fascinate me, and through workshops, musicals, performances of African dancing and drumming, and many friends who have been there, it’s been increasingly on my mind and my heart.

It wasn’t, however, until the very first week of September that I actually decided to do anything about this growing “nudging” towards actually going. I began to research different organizations and opportunities, and I began to pray. I applied for my leave and got it (three business days later!), and things have been moving at light speed ever since. I even was told I had a tentative placement before they had even received my application form! Things are coming together, and it’s starting to sink in that I AM GOING TO AFRICA in less than three months!!!

I cannot wait to get there. It is going to be SUCH an amazing experience, and I know that I will grow and be challenged more than I can even imagine. I’m excited about so many things: living in a culture SO different from my own, learning about life in a developing country, the adventure of travel and seeing some of Kenya. And of course, teaching will be an adventure in itself! In Korr, there is only primary school for the Rendille people – no high school for them anywhere – and then only IF there is a teacher available. Here I am! Send me! I’m looking forward to helping open up a world beyond sun, camels, and sand to these precious kids!

Most of all, though, I can’t WAIT to see how God is working in Kenya. I’m excited to experience God in a different way than what I have always known here in the setting of Western Christianity. I am eager to see how the gospel is relevant to Kenyans in ways I would never think of while looking at life through my Western lens. And of course, over all this, I want to learn how to share Jesus’ message of forgiveness and abundant life in a relevant and meaningful way to the people I am working with. I believe that the Jesus story is Good News – the BEST news! – and I want to be one who says, “How could I NOT share?”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’m writing this letter for a number of reasons. First of all, I’m writing to let you in on some background about my upcoming adventure, and I’m hoping that you will be able to share some of my excitement with me! :) Many of you already have! Thank you for you comments, emails, and words of encouragement as I’ve been telling you about my big news! It’s so wonderful to know that you are cheering me on as I go. And for those of you I see regularly, thank you for your patience with me, as Africa seems to be pretty close to all I talk about these days! Heehee! Your encouragement means so much to me, and your continued contact while I’m gone would be very much appreciated!

Secondly, Africa Inland Mission is an organizational body, meaning that they will not be paying me to work for them. I will be relying on people to partner with me financially to cover all costs such as airfare, insurance, and general living expenses while I am there. I don’t have specifics about how much I will need or how to give just yet, but would you begin considering whether or not you are interested and able to support me as I head off to Kenya? I will send more information in my next letter once I have a confirmed placement and know more details. It’s humbling to ask for support in this way, as I’m a pretty self-reliant kinda gal, but I know that God will provide!

Finally, and most importantly, I am writing to ask you to pray. Please pray for me as I am preparing to go, for the Rendille people who I will be working with, and for the missionaries, Grant and Loki, who are already working in Korr. Would you consider being one of my regular prayer supporters? I appreciate random prayer at any time, of course! In addition, I am specifically looking for a team of people who will commit to pray for me regularly as I prepare to leave and while I am gone. I will do my best to keep you updated when I can (internet access will be spotty at best!). I really believe that what is done here in prayer is just as (probably even MORE!) important as anything I will be doing in Africa! Some specific prayer requests that I have right now are as follows:

• that my placement would be confirmed as soon as possible and that I get my visas approved quickly
• that I find someone trustworthy to sublet my basement suite from January through the end of July
• that God would provide the funds I need to be ready to go in January
• that God would be preparing my heart and mind as I get ready to leave
• for the kids I will be teaching in Africa and the kids I am teaching here in Vancouver, and that I would not just teach the curriculum, but be a reflection of Jesus’ love into their lives

Thank you for reading! I’m looking forward to my next letter - it’ll be shorter, I promise! :) - when I can tell you some more specifics about my placement and other developments!

Bwuah ha haaah!

I totally forgot I had this! This is from the August long weekend camping/hiking trip I did with a bunch of friends to(almost) Needle Peak (You can see the Needle in the panorama shot in the video). It's Trudy, Ken, and I being goofy after a long hike! :)

Some summit shenanigans...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Be afraid

Be very, very afraid.

I thought this might be a good little video for the life cycle of a plant. You know, if I wanted to give my students nightmares FOREVER.


One of the benefits of my school being near a movie production company is that we sometimes rent out the soccer field for parking when there's filming going on (and what with 83 kids in a school designed for 350, there's still lots of room for them to play). This brings money into the school for field trips, art supplies, you name it.

It also bought the lunch lady a cappuccino machine. The school set a price per cup until the machine was paid off so that all money truly went back to the school, and now that that's happned, the price has been cut in half - just enough to cover the costs.

So how much does a fresh cappuccino, latte, or mocha cost?

A buck!!! Oh, I'm so glad I've finally weaned myself on to coffee!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cuteness overfloweth

The cuteness was out in full force on Friday. It's as if those little angels knew I needed something to get me through the day and send me on into the weekend. Here's a little glimpse into my class...

* Avril is a bright little spark in my class. She tries really hard, is well behaved, and is a motivated student. Of all the kids, I'd say she's the one with the most spunk. The streaks of fluorescent green in her otherwise blonde hair are just one testimony to this! We were doing something on the carpet - calendar, maybe - and I asked a question that I expected everyone to call out and answer, but only one boy called it out. "What?! Edwin is the only one who knows?!?! The rest of you must be sleeping!" To which Avril replied, "Nope, I'm not sleeping, I was just distracted!"

* Sharon is a little sweetheart, but also has some fairly major behavioural issues (stemming from many factors beyond her control, and some within it). Very often, if she doesn't get her way or feels overwhelmed or frustrated, she melts down. She'll refuse to work, scatter her supplies, yell, whine, kick, cry, etc. (She's one of about 6 kids who do stuff like this! Fun fun!) The support worker in my class (my hero!) and I have been working really hard to teach her to recognize when she is feeling overwhelmed, to ask for a break, and to use strategies to help her calm down and continue to make good choices, even when she's upset. She is trying, and she gets praised like crazy when we see even a little bit of an effort to use the stragies she's learning: stickers on her sticker chart, hugs and "I'm so proud of yous," certificates home, etc. Sometimes it works, often she backslides. She's seven. She's workin' on it.

So on Friday, we were doing a phonics activity that she hasn't yet gotten though without a meltdown. We were nearing the end, the time that she usually loses it, but she made it through! As the kids were putting away their letter tiles, Sharon looked up with a look of realization and total surprise and, so pleased with herself, declared in her big bellowing voice, "Miss Hillary! I did it!! And I didn't even get mad this time!!!"

Love it!

* Then there's Anna. She's another one similar to Sharon, behaviourally, in that if she's upset about something, she will just dig her heels in and refuse to do what she's told then whine, cry, mope, stomp her feet, yell out "This is why I hate school," etc. Strategies for her are a little more of a mystery, but we're workin' on it. BUT when she is having her better moments, she is the cutest little thing you've ever seen. She has the most ADORABLE smile, and is so full of sweetness and giggles that your heart just melts.

As an incentive program for the class, I have a jar and a big bag of sparkly pom poms. When the whole class is on task, has been listening well, or has done some other praise-worthy feat, I make a big hoopla about it and dramatically add a pom pom to the jar. When the jar is full, they get some kind of special treat - a movie, ice cream, etc. Sparkly pom poms. I tell you, they're powerful.

I didn't realize HOW powerful, though, till Friday, when I was giving the class one for something or other. Anna was right in front of me, and she asked if she could put the pom pom in the jar for me. I said sure, so she dropped it in. Little did I know it would be such an experience for her.

After she dropped it in, in a voice filled with awe, eyes wide, she said in a half-whisper to no-one in particular, "IIII touched a POMMM POMMMM!"

Hee hee heeee! Oh these kids! I love 'em!

* All names are changed

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Falling into place

It looks like my placement for going to Africa is becoming a little more solid. I got a call from Jim, the BC co-ordinator this morning, and he's got my application, has been talking to the personnel person in charge of short term missions, and we've arranged a time for me to go over to his place for an interview (Tuesday evening!).

Initially when he called me on Monday, he told me that they were looking at a placement with a girl from the UK beginning in January to go work with kids in the slum areas of Nairobi, Kenya. Woah. While I'm open to go wherever I'm needed, I did have a more rural placement in mind (which was in my application, which he didn't have yet, so I'm just grateful that he's working on this as quickly as he can - it's amazing, really, how fast this is all coming together!). Heading to Africa is going to be an experience in itslef, and the slums of a large city... well, that's a whole other level! I told him that if that's what was available, I was up for it, for sure, but if there was something in a more rural area, maybe could I look into that?

So when I was talking to Jim this morning, he told me that there were a few possibilities for a rural placement teaching in national schools. Both areas are up in the northern area of Kenya, approximately here. It's veeeery rural, and I'd be living among a much more traditional people - tradtional dress, nomadic tribes... Kind of just what I had been picturing, I think. (But then again, really, what do I know??? Ha!) I'd be teaching in national schools, and doing other types of ministry in the area, either with the kids in the boarding school, if it's a boarding school, or youth groups through the church, or ...???

What Jim wanted to know was whether I could stay for seven months instead of six, because that would allow me two full terms there - January to March, a month off in April, and then May to July. I was planning on travelling for a while afterwards if possible anyway, so sure! Why not do it in the middle?!

So once again, it looks like the ball is rolling, things are falling into place, and all those other cliched terms for "HOLY COW, THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!!!"

Friday, October 03, 2008

Just wondering...

How is it that, over six days this last week, four different boys bought or made me dinner*, and still I'm headed home from work at 8pm on a Friday night to my brother's cat and and empty house?

I'm getting pretty sick of single.

* Only one of those dinners was a date, but that one ended in a "I just like you as a friend" talk, so it doesn't really count.

Workplace hazards

I've had the chorus of this song stuck in my head for nearly 24 hours now. Goody.

Ahhhh, Friday. Sweet, sweet, short day Friday. What a week.