Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I don't think I've ever laughed harder

I miss Whose Line Is It Anyway. Specifically the game party quirks. I stumbled across someone who has 30+ clips of just that game last night. I think I watched about 20 clips. But this one. Ooooh this one. I laughed till I cried. I'm still laughing about it, 24 hours later.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

So much for posting every day

Ah, but it got me posting again, so why not? After all, unlike Katrina, I'm ok with not winning a sock zombie!* [Don't worry, Katrina, they're cool, I'd just be happier if you got it than if I got it! I'm guessing so would you! ;) ]

Part of the not-posting has come from the fact that my life is pretty boring these days. Work, come home, pack. Or, perhaps more accurately, work, come home, crash out by 8pm.

Thank goodness for long weekends - I've actually gotten a bunch of packing done so far and feel good about my progress. At the beginning of this process I had visions of running out of time at the end of the month and freaking out in a massive mad rush of no sleep and insanity to just jam every last little thing into whatever boxes, only to be dumped in a big pile-o-crazy at my parents, to be sorted out probably never.

Don't worry, mom, I'm sure that won't happen.


Speaking of mom, she came over today and helped my pack up my kitchen, minus a very small selection of essentials I'll keep out till the very last minute. While the first box I packed up a week or so ago was a kind of a milestone for me (first concrete step on a path that may lead me back to Africa full time {GULP!}), packing the kitchen today made it sink in a little more that I'm actually moving out. It's one thing to organize and throw books into boxes, or to get rid of mass piles of paper, or even to move out my bedroom furniture. None of those things really phased me. But packing up the kitchen today somehow made it much more real. I guess it's that, once my kitchen is packed, I can no longer functionally live here.

(You'd think that was true when the bed was moved out, but no. Who needs a bed when you've got a floor and a couch? I know. I'm weird. Too bad.)

I won't wax sentimental tonight about all the things that have happened in my life while I've lived here. That's another post for another day (probably a day where I've got a supply of kleenex nearby!). But goodness me, it'll be eight years, two and a half months. It's by far the longest I've lived anywhere since moving out of my parents place. (Does that make it ironic that I'm moving back IN with my parents now? No? Ok then.)

Huh. I need to stop now. I'm looking around as I type and getting all teary-eyed. I'll miss this little home of mine.

Any ideas of something to do to mark the milestone of moving on/moving out?

* From the website: "... A sock zombie is a zombie doll made completely from socks. It’s better than an ACTUAL zombie in so many ways! I mean, can you put an ACTUAL zombie in your backpack? Sure. But just that one time."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Her name, her story

I was short on time and low on groceries. Racing out the door, I decided to swing through the drive-through that is conveniently (or perhaps not so conveniently!) directly on my way to work for a breakfast sandwich. As I was waiting for my food at the pickup window, I saw her.

Purple dress, way too short. She was pulling it down self consciously as it rode up around her rear. White jacket. Bare legs. Shivering in the drizzly November morning. She was in a weird place - hanging out at the end of the drive through - and was definitely out of it. She was most likely high, and most likely working.

I didn't want to stare, so I looked away. And then something in me told me to stop. Everything I've been paying attention to and learning lately flooded into my mind at once. Trafficking. Prostitution. Slavery. Addiction. Theft of dignity. Brokenness. Loss.

I rolled down my window and told her that she looked cold, would she like a coffee. She asked for a muffin, too, and assured me it would be the same price. I told her of course and swung around into a parking spot to walk in with her.

She started telling me about how she had been hoping to ask somebody for a dollar so she could get some food. She wasn't from around here - she said she'd just gotten in from Edmonton and was her to try to get straight. She was waiting for her methadone and trying to get into detox.

"I just want to get straight," she told me, over and over.

I bought her breakfast and we chatted some more. I told her about a drug and alcohol treatment program I knew of here in the city, and wrote it down for her. I told her it would take courage to get straight, but that she had it in her. I told her I would pray for her, for God to give her strength. And then when she had her food, I asked her name.


I couldn't stay with her while she ate - though I regret that I didn't. I shook her hand and squeezed her arm, and told her to be well. I noticed that she looked young, but her hands were hard. Dry, and rough - so much older than the rest of her.

I prayed for her all the rest of the way to school. And as I prayed, I wondered about her story. Where had she come from? Would she get clean? Was she trafficked? Would she get into detox? What does she believe about herself?

As I drove, my heart broke. She's been on my mind heavily for the last two days. As I think of her, as I pray for her, it's her name that gives me hope.


A pearl is a thing of great beauty and worth, but it's formed through difficulty and adversity. When something that doesn't belong is introduced into it's shell, it's the oyster's healing process that creates this beautiful pearl.

Beautiful Pearl. You are so precious. You have such worth. I don't know if you know it now, but I pray that you discover who you truly are: a beloved child of God. I pray that you're serious about getting clean. I don't know if you are 'owned' but I pray you will find freedom from bondage and from fear. I don't know what demons you will have to face, but I pray you find people who will help you face them, and together you will find healing. What a perfect name for you. I hope your name becomes your story.

"Be well," I told her as we parted ways.

"You too. I know we'll meet again."

I hope we do.

If you're interested in learning more about the human trafficking that happens right here in our backyard, I would highly recommend the film Avenue Zero. The trailer is here:

Monday, November 08, 2010

Another gem...

Having settled in to fixing some errors in his phonics book, Danny* was almost finished when he exclaimed excitedly,

"Miss Hillary! I just have one more erection!"

"Just one more CORRection! Well done!"

Hmm... Or maybe two!

* Name changed

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Before it gets dismantled!

I got a new couch and put up some photos in my living room this summer. I also finally arranged some of my things from Kenya. I realized last night as I started packing that I don't have any photos of the finished product - so here they be. It looked good while it lasted! :)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Big Move Begins.

Ugh... this late night posting has got to stop. I'm way too tired to think of anything intelligible.

So. Step one of the Big Move happened today. Dad came by with a borrowed trailer and we moved all my bedroom furniture into my new room at their place. Now I have room to start sorting and organizing the boxes - what to move, what to store, what to throw out, what to give away... yikes.

I'm SO grateful that I've got this whole month to slowly move stuff in and get organized. All those people who have to move on one day - yikes!

This weekend I moved my bedroom stuff and will pack a bit more, next weekend (a 4 day weekend!) I'll pack pretty much everything, the weekend after that I'll move it, and the weekend after that I'll clean the place.


Now that I have a computer with a card reader, I'll post some pictures of the process. Cause ya know, it's so very enthralling!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Unorthodox lessons and vocabularial (it's a word!) blunders

Earlier this week, I taught my kids about pee.

Tired of the endless stream (no pun intended) of kids who come back in after recess or after lunch and, five minutes later, tell me with crossed legs, "Miss Hillary, I have to go the baaaathroom! It's an emerrrrrrgency!", I sat them all down for a lesson.

"Boys and girls, when we eat our food, most of it gets used by our bodies. But some of the food we eat, our bodies can't use, and it comes out as waste. What do we call that waste?"

Mostly I got some blank stares, but one boy, thinking he was giving a silly answer, giggled out, "POOP!"

"Bingo! You're right! It's poop!"

His eyes popped open, I'm sure shocked that he was right.

"And what ELSE comes out as waste?"

A chorus answered me thios time: "PEEEE!"

"You betcha! Boys and girls, todaaaay we're going to learn... about PEE!"

I proceeded to teach them about how when we eat and drink, our food goes into our stomach, into our intestines, and the nutrients go into our bodies to make us strong and help us grow. Some of the waste fills up in a part of our bodies called our bladders.

When we pee, we empty out our bladders, and then it's empty. Slowly, slowly, it begins to fill up again, especially after we eat and drink. When it's only half full, our bladder doesn't really tell our brains we have to go pee. But when it's full - EMERGENCY!

I wrote out an example of a daily schedule for the kids and showed them the times in the day that are good times to go to the bathroom. We talked about how your brain might not be saying "EMERGENCY!!!" but that, "I promise! There's probably something in there! And if you try, I'll bet something will come out!"

It was quite hilarious, and I'm 110% positive that this was the one and only lesson I've taught all year that EVERYBODY has paid attention to. Hopefully, at least now when I say, "Go and try anyway!" I can refer to this lesson and they'll understand why I say that!

Sidenote: I'm also veeery curious what the answers were if the kids were asked, "So, little Johnny, what did you learn about in school today?" HA!

Well, today I discovered that even my little monkey with serious attention difficulties picked up at least SOMETHING from my lesson.

He's working on learning the letters of the alphabet (oh yes, in grade two), and today he was working on U. He doesn't have a very expansive vocabulary, either, so he was having trouble with figuring out what the picture was.

"Miss Hillary, it's a cow."

"Well, yes, but look at the arrow - what part of the cow is it pointing to?"

"......... oh! It is a bladder?!"


"Ah! Good guess! I can tell you're really thinking about it! But a bladder is inside the body, and that's the part that holds the pee. This part is on the outside, and it's where the milk comes out. This part is called an udder. U-u-udder. Does it start like 'u-u-up?' "

"Yes! ... but Max* told me it was his tentacle."

Hmm. I'm prrreeetty sure Max didn't mean 'tentacle.'

I think just found the subject for my next lesson!

* Names have been changed


I know this isn't terribly elaborate (and might not even make sense!) but I. am. exhausted. Spent.

I got home from a public meeting a little while ago where school board trustees were listening to people's concerns and ideas about the proposed closure of my school. It was a hard meeting to be at - there were some pretty emotional please from kids and parents who simply don't have the options that so many of us have.

This ongoing battle with the ministry of education in this province is exhausting. Underfunding, underfunding, underfunding and cuts, cuts, cuts, cuts, cuts. Since 2002, there have been 191 schools closed in this province, and 25 that have been threatened with closure.

It's not a happy time to be in education... but day after day, I can't give up, because of the kids. They're worth fighting for, they're worth not abandoning. I just wish our government would buck up and see that, too.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Calling all teachers!

I've got two computers in my classroom and I've been trying to think of how to make it easy for my kids to access some approved game sites (and ONLY some approved game sites!). So I thought... a homepage!

Check it out! And if you've got more good sites I should add, please comment there and let me know!

Primary Learning Online

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Turn that frown upside down

I can tell I need to sit down and think about things I'm thankful for tonight, because as I sit here at my computer staring at the screen in complete and total exhaustion (it was another 13 hour day today), all I can think about is how frustrated and burned out I am by my job this year. Underfunding, huge cuts, a class full of seriously high need (and seriously awesome, but seriously high need) kids, and an insane lack of support have all turned me into a frazzled ranting stress case. You may think I'm kidding, but those who see me regularly I'm sure will vouch for it.

So, as I'm trying to get into the habit of doing so anyway, here's a list of ten things I'm grateful for - ten signs of God's goodness to me from today.

1. I ran into an old friend when I picked up my coffee today - someone I knew from my church years and years ago, and who I used to babysit. Every single one of his co-workers talked about what a lovely human being he was, and as I left, I realized just that little interaction made for a happy little kick start to my day.

2. I'm grateful for my coffee! :)

3. The tech guy showed up today to set up the computers and the program I need for my new ESL students. I only requested the job yesterday, and was surprised to see him so soon. This means I can start the kid's program tomorrow instead of waiting till next week like I thought I would have to.

4. It was a beautiful sunny day today after a day of monsoon rain yesterday. I'm grateful for ANY sun in Vancouver in November, and we got nearly a whole day of it!

5. I got some ideas from the ESL consultant today which should be helpful for my kidlets, and she called me back right away! Hooray!

6. I got an email from my mom today that my bedroom is ready to go and I can start moving stuff in as early as this weekend. Not having to do everything all in one weekend will make this move SO much easier!

7. Today was my prep period, so I had a bit of a breather in the middle of the day to get stuff done.

8. There are some really great people at my school this year, and I really like them. I'm grateful for fun co-workers.

9. I love my new computer! Finally I don't have a dinosaur slug of a beast! It's fast and it's big and it's shiny! OoooOoOOoOOOoOOOooo!

10. I'm grateful for this list and how it's helped my grumbly, ranty self remember that I have been blessed throughout today.

11. I'm grateful for my bed.

I'm gonna go sleep on it now.

Monday, November 01, 2010

I think this proves I'm cerifiably insane



National Blog Posting Month. It comes 'round every November. It's a challenge. Post something every day for the month of November.

I'm in. And I'm CAH-RAY-ZAY. But, I miss blogging. I miss getting my thoughts down, recording bits from my days, and the interaction that is a blog. Sooo... I'm signing up.

My teaching year this year is the craziest it's ever been. I have HUGE needs in my class and the least support I've ever had. It's insane, really. We're REALLY feeling the effects of the latest round of cuts to education in this province - they're deep. I'm at school for 10-12 hours a day. Oh, and they're considering closing my school.

I'm making big decisions about my future - researching schools, doing some self-study, and generally feeling like major life shifts are causing emotions to be very near the surface.

Oh, and in November? I'm sorting through my life for the last eight years - purging, sorting, storing, and moving. That's right! I'm moving back in with mom and dad so I can save some moolah for school in September.

AND report cards are due at the end of the month.

So of COURSE it makes sense to commit to blogging every day. I figure it'll either keep me same or help push me over the edge. Stick around and find out which!

I'll bet you won't be able to tell the difference!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In fact, sometimes it's true!

Scene: My classroom, helping a student who was having difficulty with the differences between long vowels and short vowels, particularly long a as in ape and short a as in apple.

Miss Hillary: Ok, so what's a word that has the long a sound in it? Aaaaaay.

Student: Umm...

Miss Hillary: I'll give you a hint... 'I don't want to work, I just want to....?"

Student: Um? [it wasn't the best clue on my part, but I was thinking of the word play]

Miss Hillary, making a "play" kind of gesture: I don't want to work, I just want to....?

Student: Ummm... OH! DRINK!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Water is Life

My heart sometimes aches for Kenya, and especially for the Rendille and for Korr. Here is a video about the need in Northern Kenya. It is full of my friends, narrated by my pastor, and has an interview with Nick and Lynne, the missionaries I stayed with while I was in Kenya. It was so good to see their faces and hear Nick's voice.

Watch this video and enter in to the place and the people that have captured my heart!

Water is Life from AIM On-Field Media on Vimeo.

The ball is rolling

When a friend of mine saw my re-designed blog and read my latest post, he said to himelf, "Uh-oh. Hillary sounds like a missionary to Africa who is trapped in Canada." Something in that resonated in me for sure. I feel like I'm home, but I'm not home. Though I have to say, the label of 'missionary' still seems foreign to me. But 'trapped in Canada?' I think that feels very true.

Over the last few weeks, my plans have been coming a little bit clearer. I've decided that I want to do my required training over one concentrated year in a seminary program instead of bit by bit while I continue to work full time. It's definitely the fastest way to get it done, and I think it will be beneficial to me to be around other people who are studying the same thing that I am. I've found one program that looks really good, and opens a number of possibilities for me (though I'm still researching a few other schools, too).

Of course, going back to school requires a lot of money. I was hoping for a few different housing options - getting a roomate, establishing a community house in the house I'm in right now, etc - that would allow me to save some money this year before going back to school, but none of those options have really worked out.

In fact, my housing situation has been less than ideal for the last six months or so. The owner of the place I've lived for the last eight years has decided to put the house up for sale. It was on the market for four months or so, and didn't sell, but in that time, my landlords (also renters, who lived upstairs) bought a house and moved out. I was all but told I could take over the whole house until the owner put it back on the market in the spring, but at the last moment, the owner changed his mind and rented the house to someone else. I could still stay in the suite, but I was disappointed not to be able to start the community house I had been hoping for.

Since then, it's been extremely frustrating dealing with the owner, who never returns phone calls or emails, and still hasn't fixed something he said he would fix over two months ago. And of course, there are adjustments with new people upstairs, too. Mostly cause of issues with the owner (and my own desire to stay SANE!), I've been feeling very desperate to get out of here.

And so, the need to move and the need to save some money for school has led me to the following solution... I'm moving back in with my parents!

It's been just over ten years since I moved out, and now, at almost 32 years old, I'm moving back in! (I feel terrible about the timing of it all... my sister just moved out on Labour Day, so for the first time in nearly 32 years, my parents have had the house to themselves. Now, just a month later, I come over asking to move back in! Eeek!)

My parents have been extremely gracious to let me stay for a very nominal charge, and I think I should be able to save enough for an entire year of tuition and fees.

So the first step in the plan to get back to Africa is underway!

I forsee a heck of a lot of sorting, cleaning, purging, and packing in my future.....

Monday, October 04, 2010

Clever little monkey!

I have a grade two and three class again this year. They're very fun (and a little crazy!), and they often make me laugh. Here's a gem from the other day from a student I've nicknamed Sunshine:

Miss Hillary: Ok, please put your books away and come to the carpet for our lesson.

Sunshine: Wow! That went fast!

Miss Hillary: Well, you know what they say, "Time flies when you're having fun!"

Sunshine: Oooh! We should have fun in math!

Miss Hillary: Oh! So you like math, do you?

Sunshine: No! I want us to have fun so it goes by fast!

In other news random though babbling... getting back into blogging seems weird. I don't know what to write about. This redesign needs tweaking, I think, so random posts like this one don't seem out of place. I know, I know, I just posted about anything and everything before, so why not now? And apparently I need to share how strange this feels for me.

Lots more to share coming up about some crazy, wacky, big-life-changes kinda plans! That is, if I can muster enough energy after my full days at the zoo! :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ruined for the Ordinary

Hi. It's been a while. Nearly six months, actually - a near eternity for the me I used to be. But that's just the thing... I'm not the me I used to be.

I've been ruined for the ordinary.

No longer do I envision my life unfolding as I thought it might. I have no idea what that means, but I know things will never be the same.

They say that one a person has been to Africa, it will always hold a piece of their heart. I knew that before I left, but I had no possible way of understanding what that would really mean for me. Some days I miss it so much that I feel a physical ache in my chest.

It's been over a year since I returned home from Kenya. So much has happened in my life and in my heart in that time. I really have no idea how to catch up, so I'm not going to try. I'm sure the important bits will all come out here over time, but here's the gist.

Once home, I knew that I wanted to be more involved in missions and outreach in some way. Everybody asked me, "So... are you going to go back?" I really didn't have a response. Sure, I could go back to Africa, maybe. But teaching in an inner city school with a majority First Nations population had me staring a huge need and huge opportunity right square in the eyeballs every single day. Maybe this was where God was calling me to be.

Over the Christmas holidays, Africa Inland Mission asked me to be the Canadian rep at their booth at Urbana, a huge missions conference held every three years in St Louis. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. God used that conference to do many things in me (mostly make me bust out in tears at every. single. speaker at each of the evening sessions), one of which was to open my heart even more to the opportunities in ministry to First Nations people. Still my heart was torn between staying and going.

In January, I began taking a course called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Perspectives looks at the biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic aspects of God's heart for the nations. It was in this course that I gained a sense of God's overarching plan to bless the nations and to bring glory to His name. Doing the reading each week, I would be moved to tears frequently. (Yep. I'm a regular ol' crybaby now. All. The. Time. I'm sure the people in Starbucks where I would study thought there was something seriously wrong with me!) Also through the course, I came to the following conviction.

I need to go.

It wasn't a dream or a vision. It wasn't an audible voice calling me to missions. Heaven knows I didn't morph into some kind of super-holy wonder Christian. HA! In fact, I think I've been the most broken I've ever been this past year. I lean heavily on God's promise that His grace is sufficient for me, and that His power is made perfect in weakness. It's just that my perspective has changed and that I'm willing to go.

For the first time, I came to see the biblical foundation for cross-cultural missions. I was shown the current state of the world and was taught what it truly means to be a part of the revelation of Jesus to the nations. I came to see that this kind of work was most needed among those people groups who are the furthest removed from the gospel. And, or course, my heart is in Africa.

I don't know what that will look like yet. I'm in the process of figuring out just how to get there. Right now I'm thinking of returning for two to four years to start. I have to do some course work before I go - mostly Bible courses and cross-cultural studies type courses. I have to figure out how to finance that education in a way that won't make it years before I am able to go to the field. I don't know how that all will work out, but, God willing, I know it somehow will.

It's exciting. It's thrilling. And it's scary. The least reached people groups live in difficult areas, whether that's because of climate, geography, politics, or wars. It's why they're among the last people groups to hear and accept the gospel. But over and over God keeps bringing the image of Revelation 7 to my mind:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

"Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb."
There are people missing from the multitude. I want to be sure that I do my part to make sure they are there on that day, bringing glory to Jesus.

There's a phenomenal video that Africa Inland Mission's On Field Media team has published that has also helped me come to this decision, and has encouraged me, as it's title suggests, to move against the fear. I would encourage you to watch the whole video. It's just under ten minutes. If you really don't have time, skip to 7:05 and watch it to the end.

Move Against the Fear from AIM On-Field Media on Vimeo.

Again with the tears. I cry every time I watch it. All this crying isn't because I'm imbalanced (ha!) but I think it's because I sense God pulling my heart in a way and in a direction I've never experienced before.

There's a lot that this decision implies, and it's by no means been a painless journey, nor will it be in the months and years to come. But it's the right decision. As I come back to blogging, will you follow me on this journey?

Maybe you, too, will be ruined for the ordinary!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thanks, God, that was quick!

Today at work when I went downstairs for my morning coffee, our lunch lady told me that one of my kid's grandpa had his motorized wheelchair stolen the day before.

Seriously?!? What kind of low-life would steal an old man's wheelchair???

He came in a few minutes later, so I sat down and chatted with him. He told me the details of what transpired, and a little bit about the search and the other difficulties that arose from the whole situation. It was some big stuff - some that can't be made right, and some that could, but nonetheless have created some major difficulties for him, apart from just mobility issues. My heart really went out to him.

"This is NOT how the world is supposed to be," I told him. "You know, I'm a person who belives in God and believes in prayer. If you'd like, I'll pray that they recover your chair and that God helps to rectify these other difficulties for you."

He agreed, so I said a quick prayer in my head, and made mental note to keep praying later, too.

We kept chatting for a maybe five minutes or so, and then I excused myself, as I still had yet to get up to my classroom to prepare for the day. As I was saying my goodbyes and reminding him I'd keep praying for him, his phone rang. I gave a smile and waved goodbye as he answered the call.

"They found it!" he called after me. It was the police calling him - his chair had been recovered at a crack house down the road (ah, so THAT's kind of lowlife who would steal an old man's wheelchair*).

After he was off the phone, I went back and told him, "You know, as we were talking I said a quick prayer in my head for you! Sometimes God answeres prayer really quickly!"

He thanked me, and I told him I'd keep praying for his other needs, too.

I am SO thankful that God answers prayer, and delights Himself in showing His love for us! YAY God!

* ... aaaand, as I was typing that, God reminded me - they're made in God's image, too. It's THEM that Jesus would be hanging out with. ARGH!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Yes, I'm still alive!

In the "just perfect for how I'm feeling" words of Velma at A Smeddling Kiss, "I know I've been posting quite sparsely these days. I've temporarily lost my taste for blogging, because so much is happening so fast and there are only so many hours in the day. I'm overwhelmed with the actual events of the day and have no time or energy left to turn them over in my mind and examine them and polish and chronicle them."

Yep, that about sums it up.

But here's a fun gem from today at school. During our writing time, one of my grade 3 kidlets informed me, "Miss Hillary, I'm going to write a poem!"

"Good idea!" I told her.

When she was done, she read it to me, and I was so impressed! Here it is! I've conserved the spelling as is, but broken the lines up as she read them to me, not necessarily as it was written.

Saturn oh Saturn, up in space
maybe your coverd with lace,
Saturn oh Saturn, may I sleep on your rings
while space sings to my face
Maybe your coverd with lace.
Orbiting around the sun
You'll feel undone,
when you run
around the sun
I want to see you up in the sky
with my very own eye.
Dear Saturn don't change a thing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Olympics Are Here!!!!!

A very big welcome to the Vancouver 2010 Spring Olympics!

Here's a FABULOUS tune that pretty much sums it up...

<a href="">"Hey El Nino" by Bodhi Jones</a>

Friday, February 05, 2010

Bake Sale update!

My kidlets raised $410.62 for Haiti!!! And of course, the Canadian government is matching every donation, so we're at $821.24 (see my mad math skillz?).

Hip hip HOORAY!!!!!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

In the eyes of a child

Can I just say for the record that I am so incredibly proud of my kidlets??? They are the best ever!!!

Last Monday, I decided to talk to them a little bit about the earthquake in Haiti. I knew some of them at least had seen the news, and decided it would be a good opportunity for discussion. So with a lot of qualification and some censoring of some of the more scary details (they ARE just in grade 2 and 3, after all!), I told them about the earthquake. I talked about the poverty in Haiti. I talked about how houses and stores fell down, and how people couldn't get food.

"Miss Hillary, did people die?"

"Yes. A lot of people died. And a lot of people got hurt. But there are countries all over the world who are helping, too."

"I wish we could help those people."

"Well... you can!"

"But we're just kids. We don't have any money!"

"No, that's true. Most kids don't have a lot of money. But we have done things in our school before to raise money. What have those things been?"

Huge, noisy gasps of air were sucked in and hands shot up in the air... "WE CAN SELL STUFF!!!"

"Good idea! What kind of stuff do you think would be popular to sell?"

One boy just couldn't contain his idea and shouted out: "WE CAN BUY A BUNCH OF NINTENDO Wii's AND SELL THEM!"


This launched us into a discussion of cost effectiveness and feasability, but we eventually settled on the idea of a bake sale (that would conveeeeeniently line up with our upcoming parent-teacher conference days!). We then talked about how the government will double any money we make (hello, math lesson!), and how we will give the money to an organization who will be able to buy food, clean water, and medicine for people living in Haiti.

And so the kids got busy. They picked a name - the "Please Help Haiti Bake Sale" - and wrote up invitations to all the other classes to bring in baking. ("More goodies means more money!" one little entrepeneur pointed out.) They wrote an announcement and have been advertising the bake sale over the PA every day for the past few days. They made posters and have been asking thier parents to make goodies.

In class, we've talked about recipes and how to read them, and we've spent three full mornings baking cookies and cupcakes and decorating the cupcakes. We've done our work in the staff room so we can keep an eye on our baking. We've been learning about money and how to count quarters, loonies, and toonies and how to make change. We've been practicing with plastic play money - and can I say, these kids have really got the idea! (We'll see how they do with a rush of big kids wanting their recess snacks pronto, but hey, that's ok!)

The big sale is tomorrow and Thursday, and they are SO excited! They've been working hard, and have told me so many times how glad they are they can help people who don't have as much as we do.

One little boy, while making his poster, told the support worker in the room, "I wish I had one million dollars, then I would keep one and I'd give the rest to the people who got hurt in Haiti."

The caring I have seen in these kids this week has awed me. They've more than once brought me to near tears, and I am SO proud of them!

In the eyes of a child there is joy, there is laughter
There is hope, there is trust, a chance to shape the future
For the lessons of life there is no better teacher
Than the look in the eyes of a child

~ Air Supply, "In the eyes of a child"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

If I were independently wealthy...

... I would train to become a children's counsellor/youth and family worker. I would hire a teacher to take care of all that "teaching stuff" while I worked one on one and with small groups of my kids and as much as possible with thier families. I would sit with them in their fear, in their pain, in their sadness. I would laugh with their silliness. I would cry with their tears. I would show them what to do when their emotions overwhelm them. I would set limits and give natural consequences. I would cheer their successes and help them gain confidence. I would hug them and tickle them and joke with them and play with them. And I would tell them a million times a day that they are special, that they are loved.

For obvious reasons, there is so much my heart longs to share here, but I can't. But so many of my kidlets are going through rough, rough stuff. I feel their pain so tangibly sometimes and it makes me weep. These children are so inspiring to me. While the behaviours that they show are sometimes difficult, it also is a testament to their strength. They are learning to cope with whatever means they can, and they are survivors.

Please pray for these little munchkins. You may not know details, but God does.

Friday, January 15, 2010

If you HAVE to go to staff meetings...

We're working on starting a behaviour system at our school known as Positive Behaviour Support (where we specifically and directly teach kids what is required of them in terms of behaviour - what a novel idea! :) ) and this past week we were to do the first lesson plan centering around behaviour expectations for moving through the hallways and stairways.

The handout from our principal included a few suggestions for our lessons:

* Drama activities highlighting hallway and stairway behaviour
* Writing activities
* Art projects such as posters
* Classroom discussions
* 12th century style lectures (monk habit and rosewood lectern available for loan upon request)

I'm sorry, what? Read that last one again.

During the meeting, I joked about wanting to borrow the habit on Thursday morning for my lecture.

"Sure! It's actually a snuggie."

If you have to go to staff meetings, at least we're kept amused!

Oh, and in searching for a link or an image of a snuggie, I came across this and I think I'm traumatized.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Friday, January 08, 2010

2009 In Review

I know it's just a snippet, but it's easy and a fun review of 2009 (good heavens, what a year it was!) If you do one for yourself (and I hope you do!) let me know in the comments so I can see! The name of the month links to the first post of that month (in case you’re curious and want to click through and read the rest):

Here’s what you do. Just take the first line of the first post of every month and repost them in one big post. (Clear as mud?)

January: I'm in such denial, it's unbelievable.

February: Can I just say right now that I am having absolute HYSTERICS right now with the amount of bugs in my room???

March: My feet tucked tightly under me and sharing a seat on the wheel hump, I try to make myself as small as possible to make room for the crowd of Rendille people crammed in the back box of a clattery old green land rover.

April: This is my friend Phil in Disneyland, posing with Buzz Lightyear, a character from the movie Toy Story.

May: Don't you just love coming to my blog and seeing THIS in your face?

June: I was in the middle of a Rendille lesson at my language helper’s house when the rain started.

July: Over thirty years ago, Lynne read the following verses from Isaiah 18 that speak of a people “just beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:”

Go, swift messengers,
to a people tall and smooth-skinned,
to a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
whose land is divided by rivers.

August: I'm a Rendille!

September: Wow. I really HAVE been hit with a whirlwind coming back.

October: 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!

November: It's been pretty scarce around here these days.

December: Miss Hillary's class has been working on "stretchy sentences" and "wow words" lately, using a variety of tactics.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

If I could get on Facebook at work...

these would be my status updates for today...


... is wondering why her phone went gibbled overnight and therefore didn't wake her up on time. YIKES! Gotta RUN!

... just got to school and... ARG!!! Staff meeting! I forgot and have SO MUCH TO DO before school starts!!!

... is holding in the screaming - interruptions, scatterbrained-ness, failed lessons, temper tantrums... yep, it's that kind of morning!

... is currently covered in paint. Literally.

... wonders how she's going to get the energy to do ANYTHING tonight. Painting is fun, but EXHAUSTING. And I chose to do it two days in a row. Eeeek! *yawn*

... thinks that kids helping to clean up is great, but ultimately makes MUCH more work for me in the end. Ah well, they're trying! And I have a table, a dozen paint bottles, and three chairs that are now all manner of bright splotchy colours.

... is fixing nine foot aliens to the walls and they're FABULOUS

... ooh look! Leftover Christmas chocolate!

... is blogging instead of finishing hanging the last of the aliens. Yep, it's time to go home.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Just so ya know...

Anonymous commenters are welcome to leave relevant comments, but they will first have to be approved. Random comments, links, and anything to do wit 5ex or p0rn will not see the light of day. So don't bother.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Memories of Urbana - Brenda Salter McNeil on A Credible Witness

I've got a river of life flowing out of me
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free
I've got a river of life flowing out of me

Spring up oh well, within my soul
Spring up oh well, and make me whole
Spring up oh well, and give to me
That life abundantly

"... so I listened to the words that I was saying and I thought to myself, 'Are we serious? Do we MEAN what we're saying? That we've got a river of life flowing out of us? That is has the power to open prison doors and set people FREE? That people who are stuck and can't walk out of situations, that, because of what's in us, the doors get busted open and they get to walk out, clean and free? We've got that inside of us?!?! Do we MEAN that? Or is that just a ditty we sing in worship?' When I thought about that I thought, that's powerful.

And that's not just a song to splish or splash. That's a song to flood the nations!"

At Urbana, Brenda Salter McNeil continued to speak about how that song reflects John chapter 4, where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well, and asks her for a drink. Her, a member of a race despised by the Jews, a woman, seen as perpetually unclean. And yet Jesus, a Jew, comes and not only talks to her, but drinks from her cup. She talked about how the Bible said that Jesus had to go into Samaria, a place most Jews took the long way around just to avoid. He took on credibility because he showed this woman that she, too, was valuable. He moved into her neighbourhood.

That's what the world is looking for from us... they're looking for us to be credible witnesses of Jesus Christ. They want to know if we walk our talk. The want to see people who do what Jesus did, who say what Jesus said, who love like Jesus loved, and who go where Jesus went. They're looking for it. They're expecting it. They're searching for it. They have us under scrutiny... and they're looking for our testimony to match our lifestyle. So if we're looking to be credible witnesses in this generation, we're going to HAVE to go through Samaria...

That means that we will have to make the conscious decision to be with people who we have not seen ourselves identified with before. We'll have to make the conscious decision to be with the marginalized and people who have been discriminated against in society because of their gender or because of their ethnicity or because of their socio-economic background. We're going to have to decide, just like Jesus, we have GOT to go there, if we're going to be the church. Amen. Because people are still wondering, all around the world, will Jesus come into MY neighbourhood? Does Jesus love me enough to come into MY reality and the stuff I face? ... There are people all over the world who are thinking about that same question... They're wondering if Jesus loves them enough to come into their neighbourhood.

When we say that God so loved the world that he sent his Son, that the Word took on flesh and stepped into our neighbourgoods, was he talking about Samaria? And this is our generation's opportunity to answer the question and say, YES! Yes, Sam, he was talking about YOU. Yes, young man, he was talking about YOU. That's why we can't afford to avoid Samaria - those neighbourhoods where the people are from different cultures or who don't speak our language or who don't eat our food. We can't avoid Samaria, because those places that are inconvenient or that are outside our comfort zones demand our presence if we're going to win back our credibility. We need to be witnesses who can be believed. And so if we're going to follow Jesus, we're going to have to go THERE. We're going to have to go to those places, those Samarias, those intentional places where the people may not be happy to see us and don't expect us to come...

She continued on to talk about where to start, and how to proceed in the midst of the fact that we are broken people who don't have all the answers but who still have a testimony.

She told us how to say, "I can't tell you everything, but I can bring you to a man who told me everything I ever did. He just. might. be. who he said. he. is."

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14

I've got a river of life flowing out of me
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free
I've got a river of life flowing out of me.

This isn't just a song to splish and splash about.
This is a message to flood the nations!

Watch the full talk here.

Books for lend!

Urbana, the conference I was at for the past week in St Louis, had a huge bookstore and AMAZING deals on books, so I went a little book crazy. I want to offer them up for lending to anyone who's interested. Take a look at the Amazon page for more info and then just message me if you want to borrow a book or two!

Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices - Julie Clawson

A Credible Witness - Reflections on power, evangelism, and race - Brenda Salter McNeil

Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation - Ben Lowe

Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals - Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is - N.T. Wright

True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In - James Choung

Christian Mission in the Modern World - John Stott

How to Inherit the Earth: Submitting Ourselves to a Servant Savior - Scott A. Bessenecker

The New Friars: The Emerging Movement Serving the World's Poor - Scott A. Bessenecker

Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle: Living Fully, Loving Dangerously - Kent Annan

Teaching in a Distant Classroom: Crossing Borders for Global Transformation - Michael H. Romanowski and Teri McCarthy

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical - Shaine Claborne

Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World
- Christopher L. Heuertz

Kingdom Without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity - Miriam Adeney

Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World
- Gary H. Haugen (International Justice Mission)

When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor... and Yourself - Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert