Thursday, November 12, 2009

The View From Here

These are some of the views from our yard. Tell us which one you like best...

(Northwest View)

So What's It Like? That is probably the most frequently asked question I get. Sometimes it seems like we're living in a painting. Each morning is a new masterpiece with the light and the clouds. We have a very short but breathtaking drive to school, about 12 minutes. It would be 6 if it weren't for the 6 minute light. This brings us to the other aspect of living in Hawaii. Things here just aren't the same as on the mainland. It's behind the times in many ways by about 20 years, with the exception of Internet, television and cell phones (these are very important when you are disconnected geographically). The government infrastructure, the roads, buildings, healthcare, commerce and even restaurants are just a little behind. For many, this is part of the charm of the island. Except for Waikiki, it's less glitzy, less stressful, less modern and more simple. This was definitely a draw for us. Dave saw immediately that this would be a great place to finish bringing up our children.
(The View to the West)
Does it feel like you're on vacation all the time?
That's another question I get a lot. Well, except for the incredible work load of a first-year teacher with 26 papers to grade, lessons to plan, parents to communicate with and household responsibilities, too...yeah I guess it does. Maybe. The beauty is that we are always 10 minutes from a beach and a beautiful hike is just around any corner.

What's in a day for you?
Our alarm goes off at 4 a.m. Daniel faithfully wakes up early every morning to get school work done. He works so much better in the morning. I hobble to the kitchen (my arthritis is so bad in the morning and I'm only 41!) and put on the tea kettle and sneak back to bed until it calls for me. Believe it or not, it's cold in the house in the morning; the walls are thin and we live by the mountains. After a few sips of tea for me, Dave and I go for a walk and the morning is off. After breakfast, personal devotions, hair, teeth and lunches, the 5 of us are out the door by 6:30 on a good day. My students arrive around 7:30 and they are eager to get in the door. Laura comes a little later to school. She has just started working as an assistant to a girl in my class for part of the day; kind of the same job I had for several years. She's a natural and I love having her in my classroom. The kids love her, too. She's doing a little tutoring after school as well. (So good to see her doing well and not worried about the cold at this time of year. Normally, she would start to go downhill about now.) School is over at 2:30, so I get some things done while waiting for Daniel and Lydia to come from the other campus and we usually hang around at school until 4 or so. What does Dave do all day? He's busy planning out next year, finding all the glitches in the schedule now so he can fix them. He's also supporting our director by taking some of her load so that she can work with teachers and students more. So much of his job is still undefined but it seems like more and more he's finding his nitch and doing what he does best, blessing others behind the scenes.
(The North View by the Lanai')
As soon as we get home, our neighbor Andrew is ready to play. After their backpacks are unloaded, they're off to climb banana trees, catch frogs, fight with swords and get just plain dirty. Meanwhile, I try to stay awake and make dinner. My pastor's wife has a knack for frugality (common among pastor's wives) and a knack for kindness. She offered to buy my meat for me and let me just pay her instead of shopping around. What a blessing; I can't shop the sales like I used to. God always provides. While I make dinner, Laura usually heads next door, too. She is very close with Andrew's sisters. Our families are very, very much alike. But I never see Karelin, the mom. Like me, she's always busy inside. But when we do talk, it's obvious we're kindred spirits. I'm so thankful for them; can't imagine what it would be like here without them.
We eat dinner in the Lanai (car port). It's lovely out there, with the the breeze and the view. These days it's dark by 6:30. You think you're really running late and then you realize you have another hour before bed time.

(More of the West View)
After dinner, we are usually working on our laptops. Our school issues laptops to all secondary students and teachers. It's pretty funny to see all 6 of us staring at a screen, typing away. We never watch T.V. here. In Hawaii, if you don't have cable, you don't have television. We've never paid to watch T.V. in Maryland and we didnt' want to start now. So, we don't have access to television. But we do have Netflix now (actually, Laura does and she shares)...never needed that before with the wonderful library we used to have. And we have the Internet for watching a few of our favorite shows. Most definitely we read a lot more. That's a good thing. And we go to bed earlier, too.

Usually at 8, we try to get together to read the Bible and pray and sing. There is a gecko that listens in every night on the living room window. He stays in the same spot on the window and leaves pretty much after we're done. We think he wants to convert. By 9, we're exhausted. Everyone is pretty much in bed. I stay up to do a little yoga and then I'm off to bed, too. As my head hits the pillow, I thank God for allowing us another day to be here.
(The North View from the kitchen window)
What is your class like?
I have a sweet class. I believe the little girl whom Laura is helping is very much the reason they are so kind and caring. My class has a lot of "locals" and some military families. To be "local" means that they have always lived here and they most likely always will. It means they are Asian in some way, or Hawaiian. and they probably speak Pidgin - a conglomeration of many languages that evolved when people of many nationalities were working together on farms. The families who are not local, or Hawiian, or military, are often connected with the airline industry somehow. And others are just businessmen who came here on a venture, a common destiny among islanders. An interesting observation, which I'm not sure is an established fact: white people are not locals, even if they were born here.

My students love school; they are mad if we have a day off. I'm not. But I love teaching them. They started off the year not knowing many hymns and barely being able to carry a tune. They are matching pitch now most of the time. They seem to love learning. They love Fridays because I have an hour at the end of the day when parents come in to do science demonstrations. I keep telling my students that they're not allowed to have fun in school, but they won't listen. We have a song for everything from passing papers to the right or to the left, making transitions between subjects without talking, to writing our name and number on our papers...we sing all day. And we laugh a lot,too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Getting My Chin Above the Bar

Sunday Hike...the view through the trees
This week I was finally able to complete my long range plans for this year. Normally, this would be completed before the first day of school, but as things played out, this was impossible. Thankfully, next year, Dave has planned more time in the school calendar to allow for this. I have spent countless hours pouring over books, lessons, resources, goals, objectives and the calendar so that I could create a master plan of what I will accomplish this year. What a difference to know where I'm going each week! I still find that I am surprised by many turns and twists in the school calendar but I'm feeling less stressed and less attached to my piles of books and my laptop. As I labored over my plans, seeking to integrate science, history, math, the Bible, geography and literature, my mind swelled with over activity. Yet, I look around at the magnificent integration of our universe, the incredible ways that events in history integrate naturally with the inventions, discoveries and thoughts that have developed and I marvel that I was once convinced that all of this was a mere cosmic accident. My students and I are reading the first few chapters "The Mystery of the Periodic Table" together. The premise of the book is that The Periodic Table is a mystery that has already been solved. What scientists can't understand is how these elements came into such perfect order of atomic weight. Can they really not understand or do they simply not want to admit that there must be a Creator, a Master-planner behind it all? I painstakingly planned out a school year; I know the amount of work it takes and I know for sure that it does not come about accidentally. This week, I felt like I just got my chin above the bar in one long and painfully slow motion. In addition to the stress of lesson planning, I have been feeling stressed about finding land to build our house. I comforted myself that I know the One who has planned out my life so that no matter what comes around the corner, He knows where I'm going and what I'll be doing.
"For I know the plans I have for you; plans for a hope and future." Jeremiah 29:11