Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
The educational world is notorious for its in vogue jargon and acronyms. A current one is 'PLC' - Professional Learning Community. The last two days, I have been in Seattle with hundreds of other educators being instructed and inspired in how to develop PLCs in our schools. Essentially, PLCs are teams of educators (grade level teachers or subject unified teachers) that work together to analyze existing student performance and develop strategies to improve student learning (how's that for educationeeze!) More simply, it's teachers working together rather than just working in their own 'kingdoms.' Research shows that schools who have developed strong collaborative teams are having significant improvement in student performance. I actually enjoyed the conference and believe that our school will benefit from more structure in our collaboration. I got to experience the Seattle commute for a few days. The Vashon foot ferry makes it convenient for me to walk out my door onto the ferries which puts me downtown. It was about a half hour walk to the Weston Hotel, which was enjoyable exercise. I'm sure the commute would get old eventually; especially considering the hour and a half time each way.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Mr. Moore and Mr. Bulthuis are having a very enjoyable year teaching 61 adorable students. To some, our children may appear strange, almost peculiar; but to us they are stunningly stellar students that fill our hearts with joy. You can check out our pool of pupils here.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
On a completely different subject, we received a message from our sister church in Haiti. They are suffering much because of the hurricanes: homes and crops destroyed. The road is cut off to incoming supplies. Our church is working with RMI to get rice, beans and oil to the church. Hopefully, the road will be repaired soon, though these things don't happen quickly in Haiti.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
In the morning, we did some last minute shopping. Key West shopping has changed since we were here six years ago. Last time it was filled with tourist trinket shops, all with seemingly the same inventory. Now there are more galleries and upscale specialty shops. We headed out of the Conch Republic late morning bound for Key Largo and the snorkel tour at John Pennekamp State Park. We both enjoyed the snorkel tour very much. It was a somewhat rough day on the waters, so they took us to a reef about five miles off shore. We snorkeled for an hour or so just inside the reef. The coral and variety of fish were amazing. It felt like we were swimming in a giant aquarium filled with beautiful fish. We cleaned up at the campground showers as we decided to forgo a motel for the night and spend another glorious night in the Miami airport. Our flight left at 7am, so it didn't make much sense to get a room for a couple of hours, just to get up at 3am, bring the rental car back and get to the airport. We chose a spot about ten feet away from our last 'carpet suite' and caught a little shut eye between interruptions. The flight home was direct and we were in Seattle by 10am.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Despite the heat, we decided to rent bicycles to get around Key West. Mopeds and electric cars are also very popular rental items. In the morning, we took a long ride all the way around the key. We got a little overheated, but refreshed ourselves at Camille's restaurant, a funky local favorite. Then it was off to rent a sailboat for an hour. I wanted to rent their Hobie 16, but they were a little lazy, since it wasn't rigged yet; so they talked us into the Hobie 14. It was fun to be on the warm water. Hobie sailing is definitely a wet experience, so it is obviously not a Puget Sound favorite. Esther enjoyed laying on the trampoline and getting splashed with warm water. In the evening it was back down to Mallory Square to enjoy the sunset. Tomorrow, we head back to Miami.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
After a long night of sleep in air conditioning, we started down the Keys. We stopped in Key Largo at Pennekamp State Park and reserved a snorkel tour for our return trip. We were amazed at the traffic in the upper Keys, mostly coming out. There were lots of pickups pulling fishing boats; must be some kind of season opening this week. We arrived in Key West mid-afternoon and checked into the Chelsea House, an old historic house turned hotel-very cozy and right in the middle of things. Town is packed with tourists, despite it being off season. There are many Europeans as well as those from the Midwest and Northeast. Everyone heads for Mallory Square at sunset, which was pretty much a dud tonight. The town parties until 4am, but we turned in at 10pm.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Ah, the joys of travel in Haiti! We checked in early at the Les Cayes airport and waited a couple of hours. It was hard to say goodbye to the RMI missionaries and staff. They make so much effort to make our stay a pleasant one. We are able to have these trips only because these people believe in the importance of this ministry and sacrifice their comforts to make it happen. Check them out at http://www.rminet.org/ Once we got to Port au Prince the fun began: Keeping track of bags while being hounded by porters, standing in endless lines, going through security three times, handing your passport over five times. The three hour ordeal ended successfully, with all people and baggage aboard. We are now safely in Florida, spending the night in Homestead; and tomorrow Esther and I embark on our adventure in the Keys.
The retreat center at Zanglais is a mini-resort on the Caribbean. We had the morning to relax, go for a swim and soak in the scene. In the afternoon, we drove back to the mission station and did some shopping with traders and enjoyed shrimp at Billy and Debbie's home overlooking the valley. It was fun getting to know their daughters: Savannah and Mckena, who so much remind me of my MK days. It was also Esther's birthday and they made a special cake for the occasion. We turned in early at the guest house as we need another early start tomorrow.
It was an early departure from Les Irois. We were awakened especially early by Billy's pots and pans alarm. It didn't take us long to get loaded up. About thirty people were there to send us off, including the choir. Forming a circle of prayer, it soon became an emotional experience. I rode with Billy for the first half of the trip to Jeremie, gleaning info about the coastal culture of the towns we drove through. We stopped in Don Marie at the sister church to help a pastor move to a new church. Our flight from Jeremie to Les Cayas went well, flying over the mountains and saving a 60 mile, seven hour road trip. By the way, I think I forgot to describe the roads-conditions range from cement pavement in some towns to gully rutted trails only passable in 4 wheel drive. These Toyota trucks take a beating - about the only thing you do see in the road. The Les Cayes airport is nice by Haitian standards. After a short stop at the mission station, we went out to the retreat center and a swim in the surf. Supper was fried chicken and mashed potatoes. After supper we had the week's debrief session in the gazebo. I shared how special it is for me to be here with Esther. The experience is so Africa like, it feels like I am sharing my childhood with her.
Breakfast was spaghetti and bananas-not too many takers this morning The morning's seminar was on communication The material was quite detailed which made us skeptical about whether the Haitians could process it. The breakout session was in pairs as couples and seemed to go well. An interruption in our morning turned out to be the highlight of the day. Our sponsor child brought his family to see us. They had walked an hour from their home to see us, all in their Sunday best. David brought his mother and father,as well as his younger brother and sister. We learned that his father did live with the family, that they were active members of one of the satellite churches. We also learned that his brother and sister attend the school as well, but are not sponsored. The whole family was very appreciative for our sponsorship and gifts. It has been over eight years of our relationship, and it's pretty overwhelming to think that we have mutually been praying for each other all these years. Needless to say it was an emotional time. They gave us pineapples and mangos as gifts. When we got back to the seminar, they were renewing the wedding vows. Esther mistakenly called me Mike, which the team has got a hold of and will not let her forget. In the afternoon, the ladies had their 'tea' Cindee shared her testimony, and our ladies served the Haitian ladies, which was a switch. We took another walk in town with Jules, looking for the furniture shop of Mark and Joni's sponsor child. The send off meeting was in the evening. At first it seemed that no one would show up, but after blaring music for a while, the church slowly began to fill up.. The singing was especially expressive and Billy got them worked up with his Nah, Nah, Nah song.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Breakfast was cream of wheat and bread. This morning was the first day of the marriage seminar. The couples straggled in late, some walking two hours. The attendees were local pastors and their wives. John presented the biblical roles of spouses and the unique needs of wives and husbands. We were very skeptical about whether the Haitian culture would connect with the material. We were delighted that they seemed to be understanding, but saddened by their questions, which always seem to focus on the stress that finances brought into their relationships. We broke into separate discussion groups of men and women. They were open to sharing and we had some good discussions. Lunch consisted of lobster and conch, great as usual. In the afternoon we had the treat of the Hope for Children presentation and our gifts to them. They were all dressed in their uniforms and presented songs and skits to us. A highlight was the opportunity to spend some time with David, our sponsor child. We presented him some special gifts for he and his mother. In the late afternoon, I convinced one of the RMI staff to take a small walk. We enjoy walking through the town and stopping on the beach. The meeting tonight was with the church leadership, sharing the progress of ministry in eachother's church. Supper was fried vegetables. After supper was a team meeting.
Today (Sunday) was the big day of worship. The morning service is always the highlight of the trip. It is a thrilling experience to observe and join in their worship. There has been such a rich history of a relationship with this church and Harper (20 years). The relationships carry on. over the many visits. I was pleased to recognize many of the people. The service took a couple of hours, but it went fast as we absorbed it all. Introductions all the way around, worship songs, special music and a sermon. Pastor John preached on the sacredness of the marriage bed, which he did with great boldness. Given the focus of this trip being the marriage seminar, it was an appropriate topic, and one that touched a nerve with immorality being a problem in Haiti. Lunch was goat, rice and a macaroni salad. The goat was great. One of my favorite things is to walk through town and to the beach, which we did in the afternoon. The youth presented a program for us, and then it was off to the open air service. The blancs (white) are a great curiosity and everywhere we go will draw a crowd. I preached a sermon about the human conscience and we showed a film about a conversion from voodoo. Supper was pumpkin soup which is a special treat that the Haitians normally only enjoy on New Years.
After a few hours of sleep, we awoke to a little cooler temperature and breakfast calls. Breakfast was boiled eggs, bread, and spam spaghetti. Our first activity of the day was to hike two miles in the mountains nearby to a satellite church. The hike had beautiful views of the valley and sea. This church had had its bamboo structured church building destroyed in a storm. They are renting a small house to worship in. The pastor is very cheerful and a blessing to see. Our team has fallen in love with this little church in the mountains that has so little. After returning to Les Irois, we had a great lunch with fish,avocado, rice and beans.Excellent! Our afternoon activity was a trip to another satellite church. The parsonage is falling apart and our church presented them with some funds to build a new one. They were very appreciative. When we got back to Les Irois, we walked a little around town and down to the beach. One of the girls braided dreadlocks in Esther's hair. She says that it is much cooler. Supper consisted of various fried vegetables bread and rice. After supper, we had a planning meeting. By the way, it is quite hot because of the humidity. The nights are the most difficult because the rooms have no airflow.
I am lying in a sleepless swelter on our first night in Haiti. The sound of raucous music from late night partiers is not putting me to sleep, so I thought I would journal. The flight to Port au Prince went well. The shock of Haiti comes quickly as the plane lands over the sprawling slums of the city. The tarmac is furnace of hot wind that welcomes you to the Caribbean summer. After some delay in waiting for luggage, it was off through the mob of belligerent porters, to a bus to transport us to the other side of the airstrip for a flight to Jeremie. The chaos of the check-in system came to a crescendo when the airlines refused to put on Esther and my personal luggage. Fortunately, we had half planned on the possibility and will be OK for a day or two-if our bags come later. The flight to Jeremie was in a small fifteen seat prop job that smelled of fuel. It was a short flight, and we were happy to be on the airstrip in Jeremie. The drive to Les Irois took about four hours. Driving the roads of Haiti is definitely an experience. Since motor traffic is sporadic, the road is the main walking path for the people. You have to share the road with motorcycles, bicycles, donkeys, cattle, goats, pigs and thousands of people. You do get to see Haitian life in process, everything from bathing to partying is all done along the road. It was dark by the time we got to Les Irois and the church was ready to welcome us. It was good to see some familiar faces from the last trip. It is wonderful to be here. The frustration of the language barrier is evident in everyones faces, but we are determined to make the best of things. The accommodations are superb by Haitian standards as each couple has their own room in the parsonage. Tomorrow promises to be an adventurous day of touring some of the district churches.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
After a morning nap we took a walk around the hotel. When we got back to the hotel, Dave and Kim were there with a rental car. We had a great afternoon exploring Miami in a convertible. We saw Kim's childhood home and school near University of Miami. Then it was off to downtown, Little Havana and Little Haiti. We ate at a Hatian restaurant to help climatize our stomachs. I had goat, and it was great. We ended the evening connecting with other team members. Tomorrow will be a big day.
We are enjoying an afternoon tropical thunderstorm from the comfort of a Miami hotel. Yesterday was a travelthon with delayed flights and layovers. We landed in Miami at 1:00 am. After searching the unsecured areas of the airport for the best accommodations we set up camp for the night near the rest of the vagabonds. It reminded me of disaster shelter pictures with every family setting up their territory on the floor. After a couple hours of reading and trying to get comfortable, we drifted into a series of naps, interrupted by intercom all calls and passing service carts. By 7:00am, the airport was filled with departing travelers jockeying their luggage into long lines. After a fast food breakfast in the airport, we caught a shuttle to the hotel, hoping to check-in early as we wait for the rest of the team to rendezvous. Fortunately, we were able to check in at 9:30 and enjoy overstuffed beds for a two hour nap. We woke to an afternoon thundershower which put a damper on our poolside plans. So for now it is chillin in the cushy hotel room, waiting for our coming adventures.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Tomorrow Esther and I embark on our Haitian adventure. We brought Calvin to the airport to spend a week in Arizona with Corbin. So Markus will be holding down the fort. We fly to Miami tomorrow and Port-au-Prince on Friday. After a week in Haiti, we will take a few days to enjoy the Florida Keys. I will be attempting to blog when I have a chance, but no promises. Please pray for our safety, health and a fruitful time of ministry, both through us and to us. BON VOYAGE