School Opening Delayed Due to Cholera

The new year is already off to an interesting start. A week from today we were supposed to welcome back our teachers for a few days of training and then our students were to arrive Thursday to begin the 2018 school year.  However, there’s been a change of plans. We found out a few days ago that the government is not allowing any schools to open as scheduled next week. There has been a cholera outbreak in the country, mostly in the capital region of Lusaka. In an effort to contain it we are to remain closed and they will re-evaluate the situation on January 30th. In Zambia many children travel throughout the country to attend boarding schools so they are hoping this decision will prevent cross-contamination. As far as we know, there are no cases in the Macha area or nearby.

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Depending on where things stand in the country at the end of the month, we may or may not be opening. We hope it is soon as we are ready to get back into the routine of school. But more importantly we hope the situation gets under control for the health and safety of our staff and students as well as all citizens of Zambia. Please join us in praying for those who have been affected by cholera and that the outbreak would end soon. To learn more about the situation visit this article.

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Highlights of 2017

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.

Cape Town
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
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!

 

 

 

The Year is Done and a Quick Trip for One

Today marks the end of our 2017 school year.  This last term has been very full and we have had a lot going on right up until the last day. We are thankful to be at the finish line with a longer break ahead of us. We look forward to sharing more about our year soon, but for now we will rest. Well, sort of…

Tomorrow I’ll be getting on a plane for a three week trip to Canada. With a well-timed surprise baby I was able to get a maternity leave from my occasional teaching position with my school board. I was given an addition leave in our second year but now I need to come home and do my required teaching days to stay employed. We decided this would be a good idea so one of us has a job when we move back, and we’re thankful this will only have to happen once in our whole time in Zambia.

Unfortunately I’ll be leaving all of my boys behind. I am dreading the goodbyes and the time apart but am also looking forward to saying hello to friends and family who I haven’t seen in almost a year. Having two homes is an amazing privilege and it is bittersweet, always excited to go to one and sad to leave the other. So if you happen to see a girl dreamily walking the aisles of a grocery store, likely with a disproportionate amount of treats in her cart, that could very well be me. See you soon Canada!

 

Grade 7 Exams This Week

We are into our final month of our 2017 school year. We are a bit behind on updates and have yet to let you know what we were up to in term two. But in the mean time, we’d like to ask for prayers for our grade seven students this coming week. From Monday to Friday they will be writing their national exams. Passing these exams is critical if they want to continue on to secondary education. These kids have worked incredibly hard this year, writing mock exams and putting many extra hours of studying in. Their teacher, Mrs. Muzyamba, who is teaching grade seven for the first time, has also done a fantastic job.

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If you are the praying type, please ask God for wisdom, confidence and good health this week. At least one of them has been sick today. These kids are ready but I know they are pretty nervous. Joel teaches them math and has been going over some test taking skills to help ease their fears. This our biggest graduating class at MICS and no matter what the outcome is we are so proud of these kids and all of the staff who have invested in them over the years to get them to this point. This is a very significant week in their lives. Thanks for praying!

To my littlest on your second birthday…

To my littlest on your second birthday,

We seemed to have blinked and already you are two. The memory of your first few moments of life are still so vivid in my mind; laughing at the fact you were a boy…and a bit relieved too…and then instantly holding you in my arms and feeding you for the first of many thousands of times.

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You have grown and changed so much in the last year. You talk up a storm when you want to and run all over the place. Your sense of humour is coming alive. You have such a unique little life here. Yesterday I took you to the library and you sat on the carpet with the youngest class as they listened to the story. I smiled as you were the only one sucking your thumb and yet, in just a year you could be part of that class if we want you to be. Then we moved on to visit the computer lab where your brothers were. The teacher guided you to your own computer where you played around with the mouse and laughed at the images on the screen. Then you ran down the the veranda and were greeted by more friends. I felt thankful that we can leave our house and in only a minute, be interacting with people around us. The isolation I struggled with in the early years of raising your brothers, is virtually non-existent here.

Last night as Daddy and I were cleaning up after supper, you wandered out of our backyard to visit your boarding sisters. You sat on the steps and greeted each one of them as they came for bath time. You were laughing and chattering away. Sometimes you need a little space from us to open up to others and as you get a little older, we let you go a little further without us. This morning you visited Titus in the garden like you often do, and then Bertha gave you a ride around campus in the wheel barrow. Daddy and I spied from the office door with smiles on our faces, appreciating one of the perks of living where we work.

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You are surrounded by an incredible community of people who have become like family to you. Sometimes I catch you in a beautiful little interaction with someone and I’m thankful for this life that you have. I wonder if you will remember any of it. And one day when you return here, will it feel so familiar…the sights, the smells, the people, the language. Will it feel like coming home?

A few weeks ago I read the letter I wrote to you as I was eagerly awaiting your arrival. I couldn’t really believe you were coming and in some ways I still can’t really believe you’re here. Not a day has gone by over the last two years that I haven’t been amazed by you, the biggest surprise of my life. Like your name means, you truly are a gift from God. Your life is an unlikely story, but one that I am so privileged to be a part of. Being a mom to you and your big brothers is the greatest honour of my lifetime. Thank you for helping me on the journey of learning to be grateful for all of the wonderful gifts I’ve been given. Life is hard but is also filled with beautiful, grace-filled moments if we take the time to pay attention.

I love you my littlest one. Happy birthday! I’m excited to see what adventures this next year brings.

Love,

Mommy xo

Term One Highlights

We know there’s been lots of silence on the blog lately. Here we are, halfway through 2017 and we’ve yet to give you a proper update. I’ve written a few posts here and there that I never hit “publish” on for various reasons. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to share. It’s been an interesting season of life and I admit that sharing about it has felt like it required more energy than I had to give.  But we’re ready to engage again. Before we get to anything too profound we thought we’d start by filling you in on some of what we’ve been up to since we returned to MICS in January. 

Term 1 Inservice

We started the year with two days of staff training. Some topics covered were disciplining with love, how to use pocket charts (thanks for your donations!) and reading aloud to students. The teachers did a great job practicing reading to their peers.

 

Curriculum Theme

Our theme for term one was “Join the crowd, read-aloud!” Teachers read at least one book aloud to their class each week and we did a month-long home reading program for students. A large part of the donations I received from baskets while in Canada, went towards purchasing good quality read-aloud books and we just received another big bag from a friend. The teachers have been doing a great job preparing their read-alouds and asking good questions and it’s now a regular part of their weekly lesson planing.

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Chapel

This year we are using the kids curriculum from The Meeting House and adapting it for chapel. Various people lead throughout the week including our teachers on Wednesdays and Joel finishes it up on Friday, often with a memorable object lesson and the occasional live animal.

 

 

Rain

We were blessed with a long and consistent rainy season this year. This means a good harvest for our friends, for which we are very thankful. It’s a beautiful sight to see the dry, dusty land transform into a green paradise.

 

New Jobs

Joel has debuted his teaching career, teaching math to the grade 7 class twice a week. It’s no surprise he’s a natural.

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Reading Room

Anastasia Mungo has taken over my previous job and has been doing a great job helping our struggling readers. Whenever I stop by I admit I feel a twinge of jealousy as I miss working with students more, but I’m also happy to pass it into her very capable hands. Nathaniel stops by occasionally to brush up on his English 😉

 

Easter Program

I was more involved in our Easter program this year, helping to revamp the music. I taught each class a new song and they did a fantastic job at our two performances. I also led and participated in our teacher choir. 

 

Lake Kariba

Over our term break in April, we joined three other families for three nights away at Lake Kariba. We enjoyed our days by the pool, playing tennis and eating good food. We also got out on the water to explore the biggest man-made lake in the world and see the famous Kariba Dam.

 

Dates

Since having kids, Joel and I have always tried to be intentional about getting out for dates. This has definitely been a challenge living in the bush. But we managed to get away for two nights to Livingstone in early May and enjoy some much needed time without our kids. As an early birthday present, I enjoyed a 15 minute flight over Victoria Falls in a microlight plane. It was an incredible way to view the falls and I also got to see some elephant, giraffe, buffalo and a hippo from above.

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Nathaniel

Nathaniel finally started to walk just days before turning 18 months in late January. As we suspected, once he took his first few steps he took off without hesitation. It’s made life more adventurous as having a toddler who walks in the dirt instead of crawling opens up new options. When we are working, Nathaniel is often taken care of by Bertha who helps in our house. They are good buddies. We’ve also been blessed with Amy, a fellow-Canadian who is here for the year. Nathaniel and Amy spend three mornings a week together and have a blast. (Special thanks to Amy who made our kid-free getaway possible!)

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Caleb & Micah

The twins started grade two in January and have a very enthusiastic teacher who we hired this year. They turned seven a few weeks ago and it’s hard to believe that this is their third birthday they’ve celebrated on Zambian soil. Life for them continues to exist mostly outdoors, playing soccer, basketball and exploring with friends.

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We are now well into term two, but we’ll stop here for now. Thanks for being patient with us through this quieter season on the blog and for your continued love and support! 

MICS is on Facebook!

We know it’s been a long time since we’ve shared anything on our blog. We apologize for the silence. We are alive and well, ready to welcome students back for term 2 tomorrow. While we have plans to update you on the last few months in the near future, we wanted to share that MICS has a Facebook page. It’s been up for awhile but I don’t think we’ve shared it here. You can follow the page to stay up-to-date on what’s happening around the school. Click here to check it out, including a look at what we were up to at our staff training day today. More soon!

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How You Can Help…

Our time in Canada is already halfway over. As I write this, a snow storm is blustering outside and we’re happily cozy inside in our sweaters. It’s a long way from Macha. We’ve been enjoying quality time with family, sleepovers with cousins, swimming, catching up with friends over delicious food and anticipating Christmas in just over a week.

As we’ve shared with many about our work at MICS,  a question we often get is “How can we help?” We are blessed to be in a situation where we don’t need to raise any additional personal support for our family at this time. Thank you to to the dozens of you who are faithfully supporting us in this way.

But, if you’d like to support MICS right now in a very practical way, here are a few ways you can help…

  1. We have an Amazon wish list.  You can purchase items off the list and they will be sent to us to take back with us in January. There are many items on the list but in particular I would love to bring back a pocket chart for each classroom to have… 9 in total. It’s a simple tool that provides endless learning opportunities. Would you consider purchasing one? Check out the list here. It would be helpful to have these items in the next few weeks so we can pack! (**Edit: 15 hours after publishing this we have all 9 pocket charts on the way. Thanks for your generosity! There are other items still on the list for those interested!)
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  2. We are looking to bring back unlocked smart phones and tablets (new or used) to be used for learning apps.
  3. Gift cards for Amazon, Best Buy, Google Play or iTunes are useful to buy educational resources and learning apps. 

    In this season of giving, we know there are many valuable organizations to support. If you’re interested in being part of MICS in this way, or have any questions, please get in touch at juliannepercy@gmail.com.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

 

Grade One is Done

Today was Caleb and Micah’s last day of grade one. There are a few more weeks to go in the school year, but we decided to leave a little early to have a longer visit in Canada. The boys were blessed with four amazing teachers this year. Ms. Monde was their main teacher and they also had three assistants along the way. They kept getting promoted to a full teacher position which was great for them, but a loss each time for their class.

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It’s been amazing to watch the boys grow this year, not only physically, but in all they have learned. In some ways the context for learning here is so different… lots of seat work, copying off the board and virtually no worksheets. But they thrived with great teachers who have been kind and guided them along the way. One of my favourite things is to watch them read and immerse themselves in the world of books. It’s such a fun stage of learning.

But now we’re all ready for a break and to have time to just be together and with those we have missed. Tomorrow is our last full day in Macha, then we drive to Livingstone on Sunday, fly on Monday and arrive in Canada on Tuesday. The boys love to travel and are excited for unlimited movies  on the plane and the kids play area in Heathrow. I’m looking forward to a chocolate croissant and a smoothie. We will arrive exhausted but with anticipation for a wonderful few months ahead. Today was full of goodbyes, but soon there will be many hellos and we can’t wait. Your prayers are appreciated as we travel and transition back into Canadian life for awhile. And we hope Canada has saved a little bit of Fall for us!

 

 

Canada Bound in One Month

For both Joel and I, Thanksgiving is our favourite holiday of the year. We love the Fall weather, the turkey dinner, and the time around the table with our families. While it’s a hard weekend to be away, we are excited that a taste of home is getting closer.

Exactly one month from today, we will be landing in Canada for a two-month stay. The purpose of our trip is to rest, spend time with family and friends, and share about what we’ve been up to in Macha. As we are entering the peak of hot season we are also looking forward to some cooler weather, a Canadian Christmas and lots of time with the people we miss dearly.

We have planned some visits  to share at churches and will also be having some dessert nights where you can learn more about what we’ve been up to and what we hope for in the coming year. Stay tuned for more details. We’d also love to meet with you over coffee or a shared meal and catch up on life together.

While we were are home, we will be needing a vehicle to help us move around. Do you know anyone who is able to help with this? Perhaps, a snowbird who is heading south for the winter and leaving one behind. Or maybe you’re going on vacation and will have one that won’t be in use for a week or two? Even a short period of time would be useful for us. If you or someone you know can help in any way, please contact us at juliannepercy@gmail.com

It’ll be a busy month before we go as we have stepped into new roles and have much to learn. I’m also excited that my good friend Jenn is visiting for the month and will be helping me with teaching and ideas for moving forward. This momma is also excited for a few nights away without kids for the first time in close to two years. We appreciate your prayers over the next month as we prepare to go from home to home. And we look forward to catching up with many of you, very soon!