About Me

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Hello, I am a mother of three living with my husband in Africa. I have been blogging for seven years but still find myself very technologically challenged. I make lots of mistakes, but life is a journey. Come join me on the journey!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Created with a Purpose

Our children are created the way they are for a purpose. I want to take the chance to encourage you mothers out there, especially those with a child that is strong willed and outspoken. Take heart! 

Over ten years ago, at a large gathering of coworkers, a speaker said, "God looks out over all the Southern Baptist churches and looks for the most stubborn people and sends them to West Africa." It did not sound like a compliment, but it was true. People who continue to serve and live in West Africa have to be pretty stubborn. 

So when we went back to the states and would speak to groups about our work, I would encourage those mothers of preschoolers that it may be that two year old who was testing her patience daily was meant to go to West Africa. God had a purpose for that child. 

Unfortunately, I tended to forget that when it came to my own child. Often in the trenches of motherhood, it can be easy to forget the truths. Often times I found myself striving against Mariama's strong will and even endeavoring to squelch it. Then I had to be reminded of my own words. 

So in recent years, I have tried to encourage her at times to "tone down the fabulousness so that others can catch up." I have tried to let her have places where she could express her vitality of life while learning to tone it down in other places. I have tried to give structure to her "joie de vivre." I have tried to remember that it is for a purpose, while still giving boundaries. 

Last week, I had the opportunity to get a glimpse of how she is meant to use that gift. While it was not the first time, it was certainly a defining moment. 

At her new school, the students in grades 6-9 get to prepare one week to teach students grades 1-5 the next week. The younger students get to choose which group they join. The older students can teach alone or in a group. (I might mention that Mariama is the only new student in grades 6-9.)

On the first day that the older students met together with the headmistress to learn how the program would work, Mariama and two of her new friends decided that they would work together. They would do some learning games. 

On the second day that they met, the two other girls started to separate to join other groups. Mariama encouraged them to stay together but that maybe sometimes they could do the learning games and sometimes they could collaborate with the other groups. The two girls agreed. 

Unfortunately, that was not the end of things. The group then discussed who of the younger students would be in their group and planned how to invite them to join the group. The other girls said that they would invite everyone except one little girl, "who talks too much," and a little boy, with autism, in Lydia-Ann's class. Mariama was going to have none of that. 

Mariama told them they needed to include everyone. Her colleagues disagreed. Not one to take things lying down, she proceeded to plead her case to the headmistress of the school. The headmistress was in full agreement with Mariama and encouraged her to insist that all be invited to join the group. So of course, Mariama did and won the group members over, whether they liked it or not. 

Then to take things a step further, that night, she sat down to handwrite a note to send home with every child that was interested in their group, asking them to bring a tomato for their gardening project this week. For the little boy with autism, because at first he said yes and then said no, she wrote a special note. She explained that the boy had said he was interested and then said he was not. If he was, she asked the parents to send a tomato also. However, she also listed all the other groups, so that maybe his parents could talk to him about what he wanted to do. 

I could only feel pride as she recounted this story to me and saw her writing each note with such care. I wish she would take such care with all of her writing, but if I have to choose between nice handwriting and sticking up for the rejected, defending the weak wins every time. 

To those mothers still very much in the trenches, remember your children are made the way they are for a purpose. I might need to reread this myself periodically to be reminded as well. They are "born for this." 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Boarding School, Really?

You might be thinking, "Why would you send your child to boarding school? Why would you make that change?" 

When we learned our first language overseas, we only had a toddler. I was able to leave him with a sitter to go to class, and then I took him along with me on visits and outings. So no schooling was involved for him.

When we learned our second language, we had a first grader and preschooler. While first grade was a crucial year, it did not take up all that much time to homeschool, still allowing for lots of study and practice times. 

Now we have a ninth, seventh, and second grader. These are all very crucial grades. They each require time to be done well. It does not leave much time for French lessons, much less study and practice time. With also looking at learning another language in a year or so, it would be best to make the shift from homeschool to other options now rather than delaying the inevitable. 

"Aren't there good public schools to which you can send your children?" 

Actually, there are a few public schools funded by the government. The government does not invest a lot of money in the system here.  All schools are therefore basically private in that you pay for them. 

"Aren't there good schools in your city?" 

Yes, there are actually some really good schools. 
There are French and Belgium schools, but making the switch to all school subjects in another language can be very difficult in the upper grades. 

There are other small schools that have lots of benefits, but they may or may not have all the future grades. If he cannot continue at the school throughout high school, the credits he takes there may or may not be accepted when he transfers. Why make it easier now just to make it harder later? 

There is an American School here, which offers all grades and is all in English, however it is cost prohibitive. 

"What? Cost prohibitive? Isn't boarding school expensive?" 

Actually it is cheaper to send William to this boarding school and pay for flights back and forth each trimester than for him to attend the American school in our city. 
For that matter, the boarding school actually costs less than the small, English school, which only goes up to ninth grade right now, that we are looking at for the girls. 

"How can you let your child go away? Don't you love him? Won't you miss him?" 

Absolutely! I will miss him and I love him dearly! This is the reason for so many years in our village, I insisted that I would home school our children all the way through. Even when I saw a lack of Christian friends for him there, I believed we could be enough to encourage his growth. At that time, I could not imagine sending him a twelve hour, and later only a ten hour, drive away in the same country. 
Now we are sending him across the continent to a different country!

"So what changed?" 

About five years ago, as I thought about friends sending their children away to college, I thought how hard it would be to send them back across the ocean. I thought about how few years we still would have him. I thought about our friends sending their children to boarding school. I could never do that. I have so much to teach him. I could never teach him all that I wanted to before he went to boarding school. Then I looked in The Word. 

Moses' mother had him for three months before she had to place him in the river, but then she got to have him until he was weaned, maybe two or three years. Then Samuel, for whom his mother pleaded for years, was also dedicated to the service of the Lord and left at the temple when he was weaned. Jesus was "lost" by his parents at the age of twelve but was found sitting with the teachers in the temple and he himself was teaching.  Now I am not calling my son the deliverer, a prophet, and definitely not the Savior, but there was comfort in finding that other mothers had to trust that their children were ready and instilled with enough knowledge, virtue, etc., to let them go early. 

Then three years ago, I began my battle with cancer. The day before William's eleventh birthday, I had my first chemo treatment. Amidst the battle, there were times  I wondered what would happen if I did not survive and had to leave my family. Had I taught them everything they needed to know? When it came to the things most important, I could say, "yes." While there are a lot of gaps in my children's upbringing, loving God and loving others are not on the list of gaps. 

"So why boarding school? Why now?" 

Our kids love watching "Once Upon a Time." A recurring phrase regarding the children is to "give them their best chance." At this point in time, this is what we need to do to give William his best chance. 

Pray for us all as we transition, including his sisters who love him so much. 

(P.S. Mariama will miss William, but is looking forward to taking over his room and having her own room for the first time in her life!)