2017 was a quieter year on our blog but as we welcome the new year, we just wanted to share a few highlights from term two and three.
The Jory Family
When we were home last Christmas, Nathan and Laura Jory, a couple from our church attended one of our dessert nights to learn more about MICS. I knew of them but didn’t really know them personally. That night led to Laura and I having coffee shortly after and just a few months later they brought their 4 children for a month-long visit in May and June. It was awesome to get to know them, share many meals together and introduce them to life at MICS. Their children all attended school while Nathan and Laura helped in many parts of the school including teaching science, social studies and home economics. We always love sharing our life here especially with people back home, and we are grateful for a new friendship.
Our Trip to Zimbabwe
Over term break we took our second trip to Zimbabwe as a family. Last time I was pregnant so our friends had never met Nathaniel. Jake and Nancy Shenk graciously opened their home to us in Bulawayo. We attended the wedding of Thinkgrace Ndlovu, the daughter of Trezia and Danisa (the former BIC Bishop of Zimbabwe) and was great to be with their whole family again. We went to Mtshabezi and stayed with Richard and Snoe and their family which always feels like home. A visit to Mtshabezi isn’t complete without seeing dear friends Mrs. Maphose and Rebecca as well. Mrs. Maphosa was a home-based care worker when we worked at the HIV/AIDS project, and who we consider our Zimbabwean grandmother and we got to know Rebecca through her. Rebecca wasn’t home as she had gone for a funeral but we drove around the bush with Richard and found her just before sunset. It was a sweet, surprise reunion! We finished off our trip with a night at Shumba Shaba, one of our favourite places on earth, enjoying time as a family.
Reuniting with Siza
We met Siza at camp we helped run at Mtshabezi for kids who had lost one or both parents, back in December of 2006. Of the hundreds of kids she was someone I really connected with and saw great potential in. We have kept in touch over the years and she has become like a daughter to us. I finally got to see her again after more than 10 years. Some highlights of our time together included meeting her son (he calls me ‘Gogo’ which means Grandma), her getting to bond with all three of our boys and a shopping and lunch date for just the two of us. Reconnecting with her was a dream come true and definitely one of my top moments of the year.
In late September Joel and I were able to sneak away for 4 nights to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. (We’ve been married 12 years but we had a baby a few days after our 10th). This was our first extended time away together in many years and we enjoyed lots of good food, some winery tours, a visit to Robben Island and a trip up Table Mountain. Thanks to Amy who took such good care of our boys and dealt with a cobra in our house. Speaking of, we adopted a kitten named “Happy” a few days after we got home, who is helping to keep us snake-free…we hope!
Term three was very full for us. I was in charge of our Christmas program so after picking some new songs for each class we starting rehearsing in early October and the kids worked really hard leading up to our two performances at the end of the term. Cynthia (our head teacher) and I did our second round of teacher evaluations which involved observing lessons and meeting with each teacher to talk about their strengths and areas for improvement. I also did end-of-year testing for our struggling students to see if they could move on to the next grade. This is probably my most stressful job as it feels like such a huge responsibility to make these decisions, but Cynthia and I worked well together. I’ve been trying to encourage more teacher-parent communication so these issues aren’t surprises. I finished off with final report cards and everything that wrapping up the year involves.
In his role as Director, Joel has been focused on creating a long term financial plan for the school, renewing staff contracts (the previous contracts expired in December), and partnering with the board of directors to increase teacher salaries. He has also been working closely with the Zambian Ministry of Education to finalize the process of formally registering the school with the Government. He also enjoyed teaching math to our Grade 7s and helping them prepare for the national Grade 7 exam.
Joel and the boys enjoyed a few weeks of downtime here while I was in Canada. I was able to easily get all my supply teaching days in, have an early Christmas with my side of the family, dinner with Joel’s family and catch up with some good friends. I was back just in time to have a quiet Christmas with my boys and recover from jet lag. We are looking forward to our new school year starting in a few weeks.
Thank you for all of you who continue to support us in our work here, especially as we’ve extended our time for an additional year. We wouldn’t be here without your generosity. We look forward to what 2018 will bring. We wish you a wonderful new year full of hope, joy, peace and love!
P.S. Don’t forget MICS has a Facebook page! Follow along with what’s happening around the school. We recently posted a series of videos from our Christmas program. Check them out!