The second leg of the sail has been smooth sailing so far! I am currently, as I type this, sitting on the bow waiting for worship to start as we sail in the Atlantic off the coast of Angola. We passed through the waters of Namibia yesterday and it’s on to the Democratic Republic of Congo tomorrow morning. Monday evening was Back to School Night at the Academy, which was very exciting! Mom spent quite a bit of time in kindergarten with me helping to make a tree, like I had in my last classroom (which makes me feel much more at home)! That evening my three families got to walk through and see their daughter’s new classroom and it was very exciting!
|Mom and her creation!|
|Mom took this through the porthole in my door just minutes into the new kindergarten year!|
On Tuesday morning we had a big assembly for the whole school. Our principal welcomed everyone to the next school year and listed off all the countries that our faculty represent… “The United States, Russia, Switzerland, South Africa, the Netherlands, Disneyland…” Hehehe. He called up each of the teachers and the students in that class and we all got to wave to everyone and walk out together to go find our classroom and start our year together! I have three precious little girls in my class right now and I believe we will be getting a boy in December. This past week is what we call “Zero Week” so it’s really just a time to get to know the students and we aren’t expected to start any of the curriculum yet. I did start the Bible curriculum, but other than that we did a lot of prayer walks around the ship, working on our memory verse, playing heigh-ho-cherry-o and playing with the princess magnet dolls that Mom brought for my classroom (all the walls in my class are magnetic).
|The teachers all gather in the cafe every Friday after school for coffee and tea!|
My favorite parts of the week were our prayer walk around the ship (in which we stopped in the laundry room to thank God for all the housekeepers, in the hospital to pray for all the nurses and doctors, in the dining room where we thanked God for all our cooks and had to stop for a juice break, and near the bridge where we prayed for the Captain and all our Gurkhas) and also our scripture walk (we walked around the ship saying our verse of the week to anyone who would listen, including a line of folks who were getting their lunch! The girls started out very shyly, but by the end they did not want to go back to our classroom, they just wanted to keep finding people to say our verse to!). The curriculum is quite different from what I am used to and it’s quite overwhelming for me at the moment, but I know that I’ll soon get into the swing of things and so will my kiddos. It’s a special challenge at the moment because half my classroom is tied down for the sail so once we arrive in Benin I will be able to set it all up as I want it to be, which will be nice! I sometimes forget I’m even on the ship because I get so zeroed in on teaching and on the curriculum and my students, but whenever that happens some thing will remind me that, “Oh yeah! I’m still on the ship.” The crayons will roll across the desk when a wave hits us as we attempt to color. I’ll tell a student, “see you tomorrow! Oh wait…never mind, I’ll see you at dinner in a couple hours!” And my personal favorite, despite the unbelievably smooth second part of the sail, we did have one afternoon where I told the girls to just crawl across the room on hands and knees to get their backpacks because it was too rocky to stand up! :0) One of my favorite things so far is listening to the girls practice their French and ending each day by sending them off down the hall with an “au revoir!”
While sailing, Mom and I and my good friend Elizabeth got to go up to the bridge to visit a friend of ours who is an officer and was on duty. His shift started at midnight so we waited up and finally called the Bridge to request permission to come in around 12:30am. When we walked in it was almost completely dark because their eyes need to be adjusted so they can see the ocean below. It seemed pitch black when we walked in, but our eyes adjusted as we stood still and then we could move around and explore all the buttons and levers and maps. We got to see our route on the map which was very cool! During the second half of the sail we requested permission to go up again, during the day this time, and we actually, legitimately, for real got to STEER THE SHIP!!! It took a lot of concentration! I would have thought that we would be on auto-pilot, which we were for some of the trip, but because we were off the Gulf of Guinea which has been known for pirate attacks, someone has to be in charge of steering at every moment! Speaking of pirates, one of the most interesting things has been seeing the way we prepare the ship in case of a pirate attack.
|Visiting the Bridge at night!|
Unfortunately, that is top secret information, however I will tell you that it involves razor wire, hoses, locks, code words, secret hiding places…ok, anymore than that and I’d have to kill you.
|Mom sitting outside with my plants to give them sun. Note the firehose in position...no pirates today!|
|Pirate watch, Beth and Elizabeth style!|
|Pirate watch, kindergarten style...actually I think they were looking for dolphins|
We have had lots of activities planned during the sail which have been very fun! One night we had a ship-wide pop-corn and movie night set up on the big screen in midships. Another evening this week we had an open mic night with lots of singing, recitations, learning how to speak Australian, and I read one of my favorite kids books, which has lots of opportunity for fun voices!
|Reading "The Day the Crayons Quit"|
Last night we had a sock-golf tournament across the whole ship, which had a huge turn out (the most amount of teams they’ve ever had)! I was recruited by a 4th grader to be on his team along with a 5th grade boy, a 1st grade girl, and my friend, Miss Benham, or “Hammy” as the students have taken to calling her. We had a blast throwing our sock “balls” around the ship! Yesterday Mom taught a seminar on folding and the laundry room was packed out!
|Mom strung up all those missing socks and I provided the poem in the middle!|
This morning we had a special time of scripture journaling/coloring in the café! There is never a dull moment, let me tell ya!
Every day it has gotten a little warmer as we sail closer to the equator. It was quite cold in South Africa (as you may recall from the snow-capped mountain pictures from Winterton) and as of today (round about Angola area) I can officially sit out on the bow with only a light jacket! We’re enjoying it now, because I know that pretty soon it will be too hot to stay out on the bow for very long (which is a weird thought after being in South Africa for the last month!
|Spaghetti on the bow!|
A thought written a few days after that excerpt:
Worship on the bow was amazing! We sang in English and in French (the national language of Benin). Aside from the awesome worship, we also had a special time of prayer where we stretched out our hands toward the west coast of Africa (specifically toward Angola because that’s where we were passing at that moment) and prayed for those countries. Then we face forward on the bow and stretched out our hands toward Benin where we’re headed and prayed for the people of that country that will be our home for this year. It felt like a very holy moment indeed.