End of Term One

April is term break at MICS. The Zambian school system has a great schedule of three months on, one month off. Not being dependant on the summer months for warm weather they can take these breaks throughout the year. It’s a nice rhythm. It took me awhile to get used to the very quiet campus and the boys missed all of the kids around to play with but we are also enjoying the break. Our time has been filled with lots of Lego, a shopping trip to Lusaka, working around the house and school as well as more time together as a family. And a few days ago the Sanfilippo family was finally able to move into their permanent home on campus. Their patience has been amazing as they’ve been in transition for three months. It’s good to finally have them as neighbours. Tomorrow we leave for just over a week in Zimbabwe where we have a retreat with other families serving with the BIC in southern Africa. Then we are continuing on to introduce our boys to life at Mthshabezi where we used to live and to some dear friends we haven’t seen in over seven years.

The end of term is always a busy time and we enjoyed some fun activities to finish it off. The students have been learning about different virtues, the last one about being helpful. The star character was “Hat Matt” who wears various hats when he’s helping people in different roles. Each student got to make a hat and then were surprised with a hat parade around the school grounds. Some of the older students got to play instruments and they went around to pick up each class. They had a blast.

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The Easter program is a big deal that the students work hard on every year. They perform it at the school and also at the local hospital. For a few weeks they rehearsed every day after chapel and each class had their own part in sharing the story of Easter. I was amazed at their ability to memorize and it was fun seeing the boys in their first official school performance.

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On the last night of the term we had a bonfire with the boarding kids. Hot dogs were brought in from Lusaka and as an extra special treat we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. The ingredients travelled all the way from the States so we savoured every bite. I love a good campfire and all the cuddles from the kids we are starting to bond with made it a very special way to end the term.

Starting School

During our first few weeks in Zambia, the boys’ playtime often centred around the airpline rides they had taken to get here. My days were peppered with comments like “Daddy, please turn off your computer…we will be taking off soon“, or “Would you like the chicken or the pasta?” Airplane rides are a big deal in a four-year-old’s life, so it’s no surprise they made an impression.

The boys still enjoy playing airplane. But recently another theme has started to pop up. More and more we can see the routines from their school day showing up in their games. They will take turns pretending to be Ms Mwiinga, their new teacher, while the other plays the student. And the new songs they are learning are now a regular part of our soundtrack. As I write this, the boys are in their rooms for quiet time, and I can hear Caleb singing songs from morning chapel. “Ho-ho-ho-hosanna,” he sings, then with each verse calls out instructions to an imaginary audience. “Just the girls!” or “All together now!”

One of the big questions for us when we arrived here was how the boys would do in their new school. They loved kindergarten back in Canada, but there is a lot for them to adjust to here — new routines, new sights and smells, accents that can be hard to understand, the energy-sapping heat. But, in spite of a few anxious mornings when they were hesitant to leave mom and dad, they have done incredibly well. By the time we pick them up from school (which consists of a thirty second walk from our front door), the nervousness of the morning is forgotten and they are chattering away about the events of the day.

Today marks the end of our first full week living at MICS, and the boys’ first full week of school. There is still some more settling in to do, for us as well as the boys. For them, there are names to learn, friendships to form, and Tonga words to decipher. For us, there are still some things to unpack, still some shelves to build to put those things on, still some quirks to figure out on a stove where each burner has its own unique personality. But every day we take another step towards feeling settled. It has been a good week. And this place is starting to feel like home.

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Walking to school with Mom.

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Waiting for the bell to ring.

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Meeting some new friends.

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Checking out the new guy’s hair.

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Waiting for school to start.