Saturday, September 29, 2007

Chinese students in my classroom

Friday morning at 7:45 a.m., 24 Chinese students appeared at my door, along with four of their six adult supervisors, ready to build rockets. My own 22 students filtered in also. I had organized the whole thing, but something like that is difficult to foresee all the needs. They were spread between two classrooms, desks covered with newspaper, and we had to get a labeled kit in each student's hands as well as the supplies needed to build the rockets. I had to make sure that there were enough American students spread among them to help them understand the instructions.

Once they got settled in it worked well, and amazingly, the Chinese students (who read English better than they speak it) actually caught up to where my students were in how much they got done. Mine had started the day before. They are very studious and they get down to work.

Monday morning they will be back to continue building. Then, second period, the headmaster of their school has told me he wants to visit my chemistry class and he wants to watch experiments. He speaks no English so he let me know this through an interpreter. I will have other students and adults in my classes throughout the week until the following Tuesday (October 9).

We will finish the rockets by Wednesday, painting, decals, and all. I have adult help to take them outside to spray paint, and plenty of plastic aprons. I'm thinking about going to a thrift store and picking up a dozen or so long-sleeved shirts for "painting shirts." They have a field trip on Thursday with our high schoolers, then next Friday is the really big day--we will shoot the rockets!

These young people are here on an exchange program that we have developed with a middle school of 3000 students in central China. A graduate of our school is a teacher of English at that school. We sent a group of students there last spring, and this exchange is what has developed. Both the Chinese and American governments granted permission for the trip.

When they were picked up at the airport last Wednesday night, they ran down the escalator, they were so excited. They cannot believe the luxurious accommodations we have provided for the first few nights--They are in a Holiday Inn Express. At the hotel they took pictures of the light fixtures, and the next morning at our school they asked how to use the water fountains. They are ecstatic to be here. Most have never been out of their home province and have never traveled on a plane. Last night at our fall festival they pitched right in at the end and helped to carry tables and chairs.

Tomorrow morning they will be in our church service (another first for them) and then they will go home with their host families for the next ten days.

Friday, September 21, 2007

In One Day's Time. . .

. . .we went from poured cement to this. I've never heard of putting the roof on before the frame is done, but they must know what they're doing!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let Me Not Die. . .

MY PRAYER (author unknown)

Let me not die before I've done for Thee
My earthly work, whatever it may be.
Call me not home with mission unfilled;
Let me not leave my space of ground untilled.

Impress this truth upon me--that not one
Can do my portion that I leave undone;
For each one in the vineyard has a spot
To labor on for life, and weary not.

I long to be an instrument of Thine,
To bid men at Thy table "Come and dine;"
To be a means one human soul to save
From the dark terrors of a hopeless grave.

Yet most I want a spirit of content
To work where'er you wish my labor spent.
Whether at home, or in a stranger clime,
In days of joy or sorrow's sterner time;

I want a spirit happy to lie still,
Or by Thy power to do Thy holy will.
Let me not die before I've done for Thee
My earthly work, whatever it may be.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bow the Knee

Last Monday night I was listening to our church and school combined choirs singing the beautiful and meaningful song, "Bow the Knee."

Bow the knee. Trust the heart of your Father
When the answer goes beyond what you can see,
Bow the knee. Lift your eyes towards Heaven
and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don't understand,
The purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King, Bow the knee.

Then I looked at the young student singing whose father is known, for some unknown reason, to be treating his children without love. How can this young person "trust the heart of the Father" when trusting a father means grief and pain? And another young person whose father has abdicated his family responsibilities. And the larger and larger numbers of young people that we see who have been abandoned completely here on earth by their fathers.

I would think it would be very difficult for those young people to sing a song about trusting the heart of their heavenly Father, when their own example of trusting a father is so bad. Young people who lose a parent to death--as difficult as that is--do not seem to face the same issues that young people face who have lost a parent to abandonment or who have a very bad example. And even then I have seen young people who survived that through the incredible faith of loving mothers and other family members. But I am grateful to have never had to face the obstacle of not really knowing how to trust God the Father. . .because I always had an earthly example who was worthy of trust.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Memories of a Momentous and Sobering Day

I was monitoring a study hall when the math teacher came in. "Someone's flown a plane into the World Trade Center." She was the Paul Revere of our school, letting everyone on the hallway know. Fifteen minutes later she came back again. "They've hit the second tower." We were all glued to the radio for the rest of the morning.

I had a class of juniors who listened, aghast at what had happened. They were old enough to somewhat comprehend the horror, enormity, and grave possibilities of the morning's events. Then I had a class of freshmen, and was amazed at the difference in comprehension and maturity levels. They didn't seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation nearly as much as the students just two years older. Some were even lighthearted and I had to make them see that this was not a joking matter.

We drove home that afternoon and looked up in the sky as we passed the airport. We live on an east coast flight route up from Atlanta and can often see planes overhead--I remember thinking how empty the skies were. We watched TV continuously for the rest of the day. I remember being very glad that Andrew's scout meeting was canceled for that night. I just wanted him close by with the rest of us, close by, the whole family together.

Two weeks later I was in Columbia for the state teachers' convention, and a group of teachers met in a hotel room to watch the president's speech to Congress. I remember him saying, "This war will be long and complicated. You will not know of many of the successes. You may not know what is going on or understand the decisions." I've thought of that many times when the press and the public severely criticize the Iraq war. I'm certain that much is going on that we do not understand.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

So what would you think. . .

So, what would you think of a husband who, on his day off, knowing his wife is having fatigue difficulties due to some health issues, goes to the store, buys all the ingredients for his own chili recipe, comes home and cooks it, cleans up the kitchen, and has the table set and ready to go when she comes in from a long day at school?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A New Porch

Next week the new screened in porch project will be started. The deck was rotting--you should see the planks we walked across--and so we are replacing it with a screened in porch. Also, a porch will create more shade, which will keep the "big room" cooler in the summer. Mike found a company he is comfortable with, and they start on Wednesday. He thought long and hard about tackling it himself, but decided it was too big a project for do-it-yourself. He and Andrew did take off the old deck before Andrew left for college a week ago.

There is no shade out back of the house, and this will make a much more pleasant place to visit and entertain during three of the seasons. So these are the "before picture" and the "Step 1 picture" of the new project!