When you are a teacher in the northern hemisphere, measuring a year is a tricky thing. For reasons perhaps best understood by 19th century American farmers, the academic year and the calendar year do not match. My friends in the Kenyan school system, which runs from January to November, have a hard time understanding this. “You start in August and end in June? Why?!” Well … perhaps the overlapping calendar units help us better stitch together our disparate experiences … or perhaps we just enjoy an extra dose of confusion. In any case, it is what it is and it makes for an interesting reckoning of time.
Jan 1, 2009. Half way through my first year of teaching, I was culturally stressed, mentally exhausted, and spiritually numb. Why had I chosen to stay in Kenya for the holidays? Why had I come to Kenya at all? A couple of friends and I decided to skip town for New Years, so we headed for a camping spot along Lake Naivasha. After that trip, I found a measure of peace from Philippians 3: “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead …” I did not know what was ahead, but I was ready to embrace whatever 2009 held.
So what did it hold?
Peaks and Waves:
- Up Mt. Kenya with the 9th grade class – a trip complete with sunburn, altitude sickness and a med-evac helicopter.
- Up Mt. Longonot with the church youth group – no helicopters, just lots of dust.
- Spring break kayak trip with friends – a roll-over car accident on the way there, pickpockets and back-country busses on the way back.
- Two months of suitcase living. The summer trip across the US visiting friends and family also included mountains and oceans – hiking Sugar Mtn (twice unintentionally) in NC, paddling in San Diego, and swimming with the jellyfish in Savannah.
- To Malindi with the 7th grade class – ruins, sea turtles, trash and snorkeling.
Lots of music:
- Co-producing two high-school musicals – “The Fabulous Fable Factory” and “Sweeney Todd”.
- Conducting/Co-directing ten concert events – elementary, middle, and high school productions.
- Singing in an opera for the first time – Mozart’s “Magic Flute.”
- Singing around town with the Nairobi Chamber Chorus – audience members included ambassadors, high commissioners, UN delegates and presidents.
- Teaching IB Music (International Baccalaureate) – a new course at the school, which means I am also developing the curriculum.
- Teaching 5th grade band – everyone in the room was a beginner.
Life, Love and Death:
- The arrival of Abrielle – my beautiful new niece.
- Three weddings – my sister and two cousins
- Four deaths – a parent from school, a teacher friend and her daughter, an FSU friend.
- Common Ground conference
- Quality time with quality people
- Answers to prayer
Jan 1st, 2010 – a year older, and half-way through my second year of teaching – what do I think? The roads we walk are winding and we cannot see the ends of these adventures.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecc. 3:1,11