I got an email today from a fabulous missionary couple I got to spend some great time with in Nairobi asking if I had changed my blog address... they had been visiting my blog and hoping to find news from me on how I was settling in and what has been going on in my life since I got back from Kenya, and had not been finding anything! It's true... I've been pretty quiet in these parts these days. It's funny, every time I go to write, it's like I have nothing to say. Or rather, I have so MUCH to say that I don't know how to say it. How do I sum up an experience like this (espeically when there are still so many stories to be told!). Needless to say, it's been a little hard to find words these days.
In some senses, it's kind of hard to be motivated to write after such an experience. It seems like one minute I'm writing about warriors attempting to raid the town and being chased off, shoeless, into the night, and the next minute... what? Gee, I got a really good deal on toothpaste today at Safeway... Woo hoo!
Of course, there's been lots of life happening since I got home. A little TOO much, perhaps. So many fun things to write about! September is always a crazy month for teachers, but this one has just seemed to be EXTRA insane. Here are some highlights, in no particular order...
* The first Sunday back at church was FABULOUS. I got so! many! hugs! I was also wearing a scarf and carrying a bag I got in Kenya, and had a lady walk up to me and excitedly ask me if I had been to Kenya, because she recognized my things as being from there. It was so wonderful to find a Kenyan at my church! I even correctly guessed what tribe she was from based on where she lived! Yes!
* The first time I walked into a grocery store, I just kind of wandered and stared... so bright! All the colours! All the FOOD... and every single person had more than enough to buy whatever they wanted. I thought of the Rendille and the drought and how little people are living on, and definitely caught a glimpse of the injustice of our world.
* I spent the week before Labour Day in my class (which houses more books from my personal classroom library than Tirrim Primary has for the entire school - including textbooks!) getting ready for the school year. Or rather, I spent Tuesday to Friday in my room working. Monday was quite literally spent just wandering around my classroom and staring at stuff. Um, hello, SO not ready to wrap my brain around being back in the classroom!
* I went camping in mid-September with two of my best girlfriends Trudy and Becca down in Washington state. For this backpacker, car camping was a chance to revel in the gloriousness of inefficiency. We packed in Rubbermaid bins and brought everything but the kitchen sink. We roasted sausages and marshmallows on the fire, went for a wee morning hike, sat by the ocean all afternoon, and generally enjoyed each other's company. Of course, it would have been a much better weekend if I hadn't woken up in the tent totally sick Saturday morning. Thank goodness for drugs! It ended up still being a fabulous weekend! (And thanks, girls, for having patience with my wobbly body... and for the lift over the fence... hee hee hee...)
* Spent nearly a week home from work sick, coughing and hacking and wondering how in the world I managed to miss malaria, cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis, dengue, bilharzia, etc etc etc, yet stepped back into Canada and promptly got sick (um, don't get me wrong, I'd rather have a super nasty cold/cough in Canada than any of those other things in Kenya!). By the time I got back to school at the end of the second week, substitutes had had my class for longer than I had!
* Friends and I caught a few fabulous end-of summer activities with friends... a great little community festival called Deep Cove Daze (and buying the exact same statue for my dad I forgot to buy in Kenya from a lady who had a booth with stuff direct from the Masai Market in Nairobi!) and a few trips to the Fair at the PNE - Superdogs, Doc Walker, Chris Isaac and his sparkly pink suit, mini donuts, and the RCMP musical ride.
* I've been totally LOVING my class! I'm still teaching a grade 2 and 3 split, back in the same school I left, and I LOVE my kids! I have a whopping eleven kids in my class. I can't BELIEVE it. It's a regular class, not a special program, nothing. It's an inner city school, though, and the enrollment keeps dropping and dropping. Not sure what the future holds, but for now, my class is THE BEST! Oh and also? I have a nearly full time support worker in my room who is AWESOME. Oh yes, it's going to be a FABULOUS year!
* It is my personal goal this year to be the field trip QUEEN. With only eleven kids, it won't cost very much, and there are SO many fabulous trips that go along with the cirriculum! I don't know what has gotten into me, but I'm all organized and stuff this year and have booked most of my field trips already! We're heading to the bank and the firehall this month to support "communities;" to Science World to build all kinds of wacky structures, play in the galleries, and atch an Omnimax movie; to Hatzik Rock, a First Nations longhouse; to the Planetarium to explore outer space and do a workshop in the solar system; to the Museum of Vancouver to look back on Vancouver 100 years ago and do a FABULOUS program based on a book we're reading in class; to the Greater Vancouver Zoo (like a game park!) to see giraffes and grizzlies and gators, OH MY; to VanDusen gardens in the spring to view the gardens and do a Pond Peering workshop... I tried to arrange a workshop at the Lynn Valley Ecology center, too, but they do'nt book for the spring until February. Hmmm... perhaps I'm a little bit TOO on the ball? *GRIN* I have a hunch there will be some cool opportunities around the Olympics and Paralympics in February, too, and in March or so, I think we should do some kind of ice skating or bowling field trips, too! Hmmmm..... maybe we could go SNOWSHOEING! Sweet! Gotta look into that! The ideas are limitless!!!!! And the best part? I've totally been able to fanangle a deal at a few of these places because of our inner-city school status. I'm SO excited these kids are getting some cool opportunities! And the best part? The community arm of the local high school has a 14 passenger van available for field trips, and my support worker has her class 4, so she can drive it! Ba-BAM! LOVE IT! Now if only I could work on getting those Tirrim kids some opportunities, too.....
Ah, Tirrim. Korr. The Rendille. As busy as I am, and as much as I'm fully back into teaching, the people I've met in Kenya are never far from my mind. As I open my box of new Scholastic books, I think of the library at Tirrim. So sparse, yet so loved. How can I get more books to these kids?
As I'm standing at the photocopier, copying next week's spelling packets, I think of my ziplock baggie of little chalk bits and my one textbook I carried into my English class, and of Andrew, one of my students at Tirrim who so deseperately wants to improve his spelling and his writing, but just doesn't know how. I'm hunting around for a work book that would be suitable to send to him.
As I flick on the windshield wipers to clear the rain, I think of the dust storms in Korr, and the dead animals that dot the desert. More and more, animals ary dying, weakend by lack of food and water. I think of the people who are suffering and pray so hard for the rain to move their way.
As I sit in church and sing, reading the songs off the powerpoint and singing songs I understand, listening to a sermon that doesn't have to be translated, I think of church in Korr. The choirs, the mamas, the beads, the warm wind blowing through the open walls, the songs, the greetings, listening intently to pick up the few words and phrases I can understand, wondering if the sermon will be translated today, worshipping in a spoken language I don't understand, but in a heart language we all share.
Everything I do here reminds me of there. I'm seeing the world through different eyes I'm feeling more. Good gracious, I cry at SO many things now. I feel like I have a much deeper insight into myself and into the world around me. No, I'm not claiming mass amounts of wisdom, but sometimes it just seems like I can see things more clearly than I did before.
Of course, there's also some big questions. How, now, will I live in light of all this? How will I spend my time, my resources? Where is this path going to lead me? Will I stay in Canada? In Vancouver? Will I end up back in Kenya one day? Elsewhere? What is the next step God has in making me the person I'm meant to be? And how do I live TODAY, in this day God's given me, to honour Him and who He's made me to be?
Yep, just a few minor things to ponder as life hurtles by at breakneck speeds.