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Sunday, March 8, 2015

The 100th Day of School, Elections, & the Cat in the Hat

Life in 1st grade has been very exciting the past two months! We've started learning long vowels in reading, which is equally exciting and terrifying. We had fun visiting 'Teacher Emily's Store' in math while learning about money and are currently in a really fun dinosaur unit in science. Third quarter - the longest of the four quarters - ends this week, which means some final exams and report cards are on the horizon! Take a look at the photos below to see some of the fun activities my students and I have done this quarter.

Some of my students making their old women/men craftivity and accompanying writing project. We had a really, really exciting day on the 100th day of school in early February. I'd been playing up the 100th day of school since August and boy did it deliver. It was probably my favorite day of school so far! It's really incredible to see how far all of my students have come the past 7 months and that day was a chance for me to reflect on how my students have grown and how I've grown as a teacher.

Wearing our super cool 100 glasses.

A 'write the room' activity for ay and ai words. My students love being active, so they walked around the classroom reading different ay and ai words and sorting them into the correct columns. This activity was a real success and I'm going to do it again with other vowel digraphs and vowel pairs!

John Ehsa (my student's uncle) ran for an FSM Congressional seat and while he sadly didn't win, my students were very excited that they got John Ehsa pencils and pencil cases! 

Dr. Seuss's birthday was last week and thanks to Jennie Lorensen and the teachers of Delta Kappa Gamma we got to celebrate with our very own Cat in the Hat hats and new Dr. Seuss books to read! The students were so excited to have their very own hat and loved having a few new books in the classroom.

I'm doing my best to instill a love of learning and literature in these little students' lives. I'm so grateful for the hundreds of books that have been sent to our classroom so far! If you ever find yourself with children's books on your hands that you don't need anymore, know that they would be very loved here in Pohnpei. 

One last story before I head to bed for the night: I knew to expect the unexpected coming to teach in a developing country, but I never imagined that I would be pantsed by a student. Lo and behold, last week I found myself with my skirt down to my knees after a student tripped and in an attempt to steady herself, grabbed onto my skirt. Clearly she didn't calculate her weight versus my loose elastic waistband! Thankfully we always wear basketball shorts under our skirts, but the situation provided much comic relief for me and my class.

Stay tuned next week for a post on generosity and compassion! My 6-year-old students often fulfill the call to "love your neighbor as yourself" better than I do. I'm so thankful for their sweet hearts, enthusiasm, and how they show me so much grace as I try my best to be a better teacher for them each and everyday.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A (Sun)day in the Life

Now that you've learned what it's like at my host family (see last post if you missed it) I wanted to give you my Sunday morning walk-to-church tour! In Pohnpei, Sundays are for church. Most stores are closed except for one major grocery store and a few container stores. There are lots of churches in town, with many denominations represented, and the same is true all over the island. After church, most families rest at home. The long lost art of Sunday Sabbaths is alive and well here. 

Sunday mornings are quiet in the JV house, so I'm normally the only one up when I don my muumuu and leave the apartment around 8:45. I walk past the local parish, often admiring muumuus and fabrics as I pass the families just getting out of the Pohnpeian mass. After passing the church I walk down this gravel road

and turn left to go up toward the J-House. Sometimes I'll come to the J-House early if I'm doing a load of laundry to get it started, enjoy breakfast, then throw the clothes in the dryer before heading to the church I call home here - Pacific Mission Fellowship.

I walk straight down the gravel J-House driveway (the building on the left is the 8th grade classroom at PCS)

and turn right onto this road.

I keep walking on this road for about 5 minutes, passing INS (a grocery store) a few container stores, and some houses. There's some pig pens on one family's property, so I'm guaranteed a nice whiff of pig/feces, along with a few oinks, as I pass. The slabs of sidewalk aren't always sturdy (leaving you cement surfing to try to keep your balance if one end dips down), so sometimes I brave the sidewalks but other times just walk on the road.

Next comes a left turn onto this street below.

There's a nice church on the right hand side

and finally I come to the fork in the road. I take a  right at the fork, after first admiring Ferny Perman's sign to vote for him in the upcoming election. (Can you see it there amidst all the trees?) The elections are tomorrow for Congress and from the Congressmen they'll choose the President who'll serve for the next four years. The current Present has served two terms, so he's not eligible again. But I did see him at the doctor's office in January! So that was exciting. But anyways, after I make a right at the fork

there's a nice hill to walk up. 

It always gets my heart beating pretty good. By this point I normally have a thin layer of sweat all over my body, depending how bright the sun is, and am dreaming of the air con inside PMF.

And voila! Pacific Mission Fellowship. It kind of looks like a space station or observatory (I should have taken a picture closer up! It was a hot day and I was distracted by the desire to get inside as quick as possible).

Pacific Mission Fellowship (PMF) is a ministry of the larger organization called Pacific Mission Aviation (PMA). PMA has many ministries in islands all over Micronesia and the Philippines, including aviation services, a medical ship, orphanages, churches, and a radio station. The founders of PMA are the late Edmund Kalau and his wife Elizabeth, who were the first Protestant missionaries in Palau and Yap (another island in the Federated States of Micronesia). Edmund and Elizabeth had three children, one of whom went to Biola and is now the Pastor of PMF. Nob (the pastor) and Sylvia (his wife, born and raised in California, Chico State alum) have been incredibly welcoming to me. They've raised three children here in Pohnpei and it has been really great spending extra time at the church, whether that be coming by in the evening to workout at the women's workout group or staying after church to talk and play with their puppies (aptly named Moses and Pharaoh). Elizabeth (who most call Oma, because she and her husband are German and came over from Germany to be missionaries) is in her 80s and moved from Guam to live here with Nob and Sylvia about a year ago after her husband died. Oma often joins the ladies when we workout and does her own routine of kicks and punches.

I've never felt so welcomed by any church body in my life. And not just the first Sunday when I was new, but every single Sunday, I'm greeted with a rounds of smiles and handshakes and hugs and how are you's. People know by now that I don't have a car, so after the service they're always making sure I have a ride home or am ok walking. This church is an incredible group of believers that I am blessed to be a part of. Check out their website if you want to learn more about their ministries!

The pictures below are from a church baptism a few weeks ago. We all met at Nihco Marine Park, hung out, watched some baptisms, and had a potluck.

Wishing you all a wonderful Sunday! And a million thank yous for reading this, supporting me, and being here with me in Micronesia. It makes all the difference. Here's to a new month, the end of third quarter, and lots of island fun!