May 26, 2012

School's Out!

School finished up for Carter and Grace this past Friday at Hillcrest International School, and needless to say, they are happy to have a break!  It was a big adjustment for them to go from homeschooling to a "real" school setting.  For the most part, they have done quite well.  Here are a few pictures from this past semester.

The school truly is international, with students and teachers from the U.S., Canada, Korea, Australia, PNG, and Holland, and probably a few others I don't know about.
Mount Cyclops looms up behind the school property, which is situated on a hill above the city of Sentani.

Grace and some of her classmates work on a geometry project.

Luke is involved in a homeschool art club that meets weekly, and this is one of his projects.

This has been Zoe's big accomplishment of the semester - reading!  For over a year she's been working at it, and able to read simple books.  But just a few weeks ago something clicked for her and she took off!  Teaching each of the kids to read has been one of the most satisfying things I've done as a mom. (David wants me to point out that this is not Zoe's normal bed  - though she would very much love it to be.  She just happened to be sleeping in our room one night when I took this picture.)
Zoe flies at the Field Day obstacle course.
Luke nailed the bean bag toss.
Grace takes aim at her math teacher in the Dunk Tank.

Grace's sixth-grade class got to participate in a cool project, assisting Bible translators with proofreading over a new translation for printing errors (like ink smudges or blank pages).

There is a long-standing tradition at HIS for the eighth-graders to be whisked away for a day of fun near the end of school for what is known as the "Eighth-Grade Sneak".  It comes as a total surprise to the students - they don't know when it will happen or where they will go.  Carter was very much looking forward to this event.  This year their teacher took them to Base G, one of the local beaches, then to Pizza Hut for dinner, and the school for a movie.

The boys slept in hammocks at school property.  Lookin' pretty cozy, Carter!

Another tradition for the eighth-graders is a banquet to recognize their completion of middle school.  Everyone got dressed up, even us moms and dads, and we were served a lovely meal by the seventh-grade class.  Each of the parents had the opportunity to share some words of wisdom and encouragement to our kids as they look forward to entering a new phase of life - high school!

I can't believe it, really.  One, that I am old enough to be the mother of a high schooler, and two, that said high-schooler is old enough to be in high school.  We are looking forward to our summer with the kids.  No big plans - hopefully just lots of time for trips to the beach, hikes, reading, and hanging out together.

May 01, 2012

I have some new friends I would like to introduce.  Esther and Wes have been serving in the interior of Papua for many years.  David has flown into their village several times, and recently they spent some time in Sentani at the MAF guest house and we were able to get to know them a bit.

David with Wes and Esther in the village of Mamit
Wes is a bit of a legend around here, as his dad was one of two missionaries who were killed by cannibals in 1968 while trying to reach the remote Yali people.  Their story is told in the book Lords of the Earth by Don Richardson.
Wes (right) and MAF pilot Mike Brown look down the Mamit airstrip

In the village of Mamit, Wes teaches at the Bible school and Esther works with the children of the Bible school students.  They told us of how discouraging their work can be at times.  The older grandma and grandpa generation can read, but many of the younger generation are illiterate.  The education system in the interior regions is inadequate at best, with many schools opening for only a week each semester.  Students *advance* through the school system without having spent much time in the school, and many kids lack a basic knowledge of reading and math.

Esther is trying to at least give the kids of the Bible school students the ability to read.  They also provide basic medical care for the people of their village, and Wes is involved in keeping the hydroelectric generator going. Through it all, they try to live out a faithful Christian witness before the Yali people.  Even though Christianity has been in this area of Papua for a while, Wes says, "The Gospel has to impact each generation."

Wes and Esther live a very simple life. No fridge, no internet, a limited diet.  They eat mostly what the locals eat (yams and greens), supplemented with rice and noodles, and eggs when they can get them.  Esther talks about eggs like they are gold, and she says if they have them, she and Wes will share an egg a day, and that gives them an extra boost for their work.

I am humbled by Wes and Esther.  Their humility, their faith, their sense of humor in the face of daunting living conditions is a testimony to those around them.  After hearing about the situation in Mamit, I was ready to head back with them and join them in their work!  But before I could start packing my bag, David reminded me that we are here in Sentani, to provide support for Wes and Esther.  Without the MAF plane, they would not get the supplies they need, their mail, their eggs, so many things.

After our visit, Esther sent me a sweet letter of encouragement, with pictures of people in their village who have been helped by David and the MAF plane.  She listed some different things that came in via MAF:

*Much needed whiteboard ink so the kids can learn to read
*Asthma medicine for one of the Bible school students
*Glue for cut and paste
*New shirts to replace the rags the children wear
*Bar and laundry soap, so the families can avoid scabies
*Vitamins for women, to keep them alive and families intact

What a blessing it is to serve people like Wes and Esther!