Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mission Impossible: Graduation 2012

“I made it!  I’m so thankful!  I never would have made it this far without the Lord!”  Those are the lyrics to an old song from Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and they exactly fit how I felt last Saturday, July 14th, when we held this year’s graduation celebration from school!  This school year has been one of the hardest in my entire life of homeschooling.  But it’s also been one of the best years-for all of us.  This year, my 2 oldest children made me so proud to be their homeschooling mom and teacher.  Amerel and Isaiah worked so hard to finish this year well - and they did!  Both of them accomplished things they’ve never done before.  Let’s start with Isaiah’s story…
When I was about to start Kindergarten with Isaiah about 4 years ago, I felt that I should have skipped him straight to 1st grade instead of doing Kindergarten.  I usually begin teaching my children around the age of 2 starting with simple basics like colors, shapes and numbers then moving on to letters around 3 and 4 years.  With Isaiah, most of the things I started to teach him, he was always able to grasp very quickly and sometimes even before I began to teach him!  He’s always been a very good listener and he picked up a lot of his pre-schooling education by listening to me as I taught Amerel.  Before I could even begin to teach him numbers, I heard him counting from 1 to 10 one day.  So I just picked up from there with 11 through 20!  That’s how it’s always been with him and when I finished a “Kindergarten for 4 year olds” curriculum with him at the age of 4, I felt that he didn’t need regular Kindergarten.  But my fear of myself not being able to do it kept me back from pushing him into what I now know was what God had for him.  I felt then that it would be too much work for me to make sure he learned first grade well, while making sure that I filled in any gaps that may have been missing from not doing the regular 5 year old Kindergarten program.  Early this school year, I knew that God was telling me I couldn’t wait any longer.  I still needed to skip him a grade.  So, after doing 3rd grade from August through December, I skipped him to 4th grade in January of this year.  We’ve worked hard together in these last months to get through all of his lessons, making sure there were no gaps left over from 3rd grade.  And, we finally made it through!  I’m so proud of my son!  He will be starting 5th grade in the fall.   

Our Graduation Celebration!
In October of this past school year, my 4th child, Berasia Dawn, was born - right in the middle of our school year!  This disrupted my schedule more than I thought it would.  I had anticipated being a little off schedule this school year due to the birth, so I started minimal lessons with Amerel and Isaiah in June of last year to try to get a head start on this school year’s lessons (I usually finish each school year in May, so we had already completed the previous school year’s graduation).  I thought it was all going well, until I realized that I would be taking off more time than I had originally scheduled after the birth.  My mother-in-law came to visit us for 6 weeks in November/December.  It was a really great visit, but it also really put me behind schedule for school!  I had promised my kids that we wouldn’t have school while Grandma was visiting.  I ended up taking off about 2 ½ months after Berasia was born, instead of my scheduled 3-4 weeks!  That was a huge set-back!  So I began to push my kids really hard to try to make up for lost time.  For Amerel, I realized much later, that was really unfair.  She was in 6th grade and there were a lot of new and challenging topics for her to learn and grasp, especially in Math.  I tried to double up and put a lot of the work on her to complete independently and she amazingly did much to meet the challenge.  Later in the school year, I realized that there were some learning gaps in certain areas that I hadn’t spent much time with her in and I had to stop and backtrack in a few subjects.  One of the subjects that Amerel has always found particularly challenging has been Math.  But during those months of pushing her to try to finish the school year as close to our normal graduation schedule as possible, she did end up finishing Math and Language on schedule, choosing to work ahead independently on her own accord.  In doing this, she actually did quite a few of her Math lessons on her own initiative without any help from me at all!  I was quite shocked to check her work, on many days when I felt the Math to be particularly difficult, and find out that she had actually learned and understood the material all by herself.  At the end of the school year, she ended up getting an ‘A’ on her final Math exam, which covered material from the whole school year!  Now that’s an achievement!  I’m so proud of her!

Praise God!  We made it!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fulfilled Dreams

So many times I sit around and think about all of the dreams I had once upon a time ago about what my life would look like when I “grow up”.  Some of those dreams included going away to Africa to be a missionary and the exciting adventures I’d have in some African jungle sharing the gospel; while other dreams were about settling down in America with my family in a nice house, with nice furniture, hot showers, and continual electricity.  Lately, I find that whenever I think about the American dreams I once had, I’m reminded or shown the “dreams” that God has actually fulfilled in my life here in Africa.  This morning I went walking around our yard outside (which I try to do daily), just marveling at all God has done for me here in Lichinga.  I once dreamed that I’d be able to build my own “dream” house with a nice yard, big bedrooms, etc. etc.  When I walked around our yard this morning, taking in the strawberry patch, lettuce plants, fruit trees, grapevines, and herbs and flowers that we’ve planted, it brought tears to my eyes, as it does most times when I walk around our yard.  I’m just amazed at how God has fulfilled my dreams in ways that I could never have imagined.  I’ve always dreamed of having a yard with my own fruit trees and vegetable gardens.  Now I have them.    

Most of our strawberry plants were given to us by a Mozambican friend.
I spend way too much time thinking about all of the things I miss about “normal” American life.  When I take a look outside in my own backyard, I can see all of the wonderful things God has blessed me with to make my life here enjoyable and pleasant.  I can see that He has given me the things my heart desires-not only in the things that I’ve mentioned here in this blog, but much, much more.  Yes, there will always be things that I wish could be different.  I wish I could just pick up the phone and call my sister or a friend and chat for 10 minutes or an hour without worrying about a huge, fat international phone bill.  I wish I could just order pizza at the last minute when I don’t feel like cooking on a Friday night.  Sometimes, I even wish I could just walk into a grocery store and buy normal, everyday foods that I’m used to in America like Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on spaghetti or sour cream for tacos, or even just a carton of fresh milk!  These types of things are unheard of in Lichinga!  But whenever I start to dwell on all of the things I miss about the “American life”, I start to see the things that I now love about my life here in Lichinga!  God has truly blessed me beyond measure!

We bought these grape vines on one of our trips to Blantyre, Malawi.  After a dubious start, they are now growing well.  Hopefully, they'll yield fruit in their season.