Dear Family & Friends,
A while ago, we posted an update to you of what a day in our lives look like. Well, we think it may be time to revisit that moment, since change is such a big part of this ministry!
We realize more and more that serving in the Father’s Kingdom, is just always filled with surprising extentions to supposedly clear job descriptions – we have also learnt to not hang any hat on these job descriptions, since change will stretch and challenge us into new growth, which is really good!
During this second semester, Harry and I feel just a tad bit more secure and sure of what is expected of us (we think….?). So, during the beginning of this season, we attempted to go with: “simplifying” – the buzz word which allows us that deep sigh of relief. So far, so good!
Until the surprising elements came:
- the front glass (double pane, safety glass) door cracked and needs to be replaced;
- a student accidently dropped a commercial size vacuum machine down a flight a stairs, it broke a hole into a second glass door;
- one of the 3 industrial washing machines finally died and needed to be replaced;
- one by one, the three vans started challenging us in the early morning cold and filters needed to be replaced as fuel mixes were not maintained from the master fuel stations;
- the school bus schedule surprise us from time to time by not showing up, so, we then jump into vans (whichever ones are willing) to get students to school;
- a cold virus and exhausted students stay in bed for the odd day and a staff member needs to be available;
- dental- and ortho- appointments are taken care of by dorm staff for students;
- a student forgets important documents/homework in the dorm, we receive a phone call, interrupts current activity and drive the 15 minutes (one way) to save a grade!
- seniors need vaccinations for college applications and appointments need to be arranged;
- laundry pipes freeze, washing machines cannot function, so Harry gets approval to purchase a space heater, drives to the hardware store, makes the purchase, installs the heater, staff waits for pipes to thaw and continue with student’s laundry (until wee hours of the night…….);
- an emotional student struggles with homesickness and I comfort until late;
- we help with checking of reports and home work assignments for 22 students, approve, help re-write, check again;
- another student tries to open her bedroom glass door to the outside, trips and breaks the glass pane – it is evening, cold, Harry runs to make a temporary fix;
- another student lets me know that the shower drain in her room is blocked – water overflowing – I run, push my hand down the pipe and withdraws a hand full of hair, the water suddenly whirls down the drain;
- someone else’s bedlight bulb dies, Harry now replaces that and discovers that her bedroom main light has not been working all semester. (we do have notes for these maintenance issues to be reported so that we can make replacements during the day……..??)
- a student tries to skype with parents, the internet dies, an upset student expects us to reconnect her……
- students sign out for activities and appointments for the week which we check daily – make several phone calls with hosts in order to verify logistics of traveling arrangements;
- along with our two Resident Assistants, we check student’s academic progress daily, have discussions of how we can help, arrange meetings with teachers for those who need assistance;
- we pull students from sports when their grades are dangerously low, help them through the tough spots and get them back on track;
- we meet with teachers to discuss a team effort to assist students;
- a toilet clogs and overflows – I get that delightful task to go help, since this is a girl’s dorm and Harry tries to be sensitive;
- the commercial dish washer breaks down and we try to create a FUN atmosphere to get the dishes done for 27 bodies……..
- this semester, we are blessed with the school’s purchase of two large refrigerators for the dorm – this creates a wonderful moment for me to ‘re-design’ the kitchen and make it more functional – I do that and maintenance has a flood in the school’s basement half way throughout the kitchen remodel. Cupboards are standing at the foot of our apartment’s staircase, the refrigerators are in, but the kitchen is in process and we need to function in the midst of that. I am quiet, (with a happy heart!) waiting on the break and for two strong men to complete the ‘hanging’ kitchen project…… I know that this too shall pass – it always does!
I can list more, but will want to save your time……
WHICH LEAVES ME THEN TO GET TO THE DAY:
- Harry & I wake at 06H30, spend time in the Word, Pray, then fly out of bed to serve breakfast and serve lunch variety to pack – to 22 sleepy students!
- Within half an hour, we help the two students who clean up, to complete this task and for them to be ready for devotions before the bus arrives;
- I normally have girls asking for medications, check off their files, provides TLC and encourage them to greater things!
- At 08h20, all students gather for devotions and prayer – we read and pray over them, then they get on the bus for school (if bus shows up);
- Now, is when our service starts: we prepare meals, organize events, attend staff meetings, on Mondays, Harry & I shop for the week’s food needs: we fill 3 carts to the brim! No, we do not have the large cement floor-warehouse type shopping here, we have a sister of ‘wal-mart’ where we purchase most of our pantry supplies, then return home to unload and store for the next 2 hours – after which we normally have an hour rest (if all goes well);
- I then serve a snack at 4pm to returning students from school, stay around for needed conversations. Then, Harry drives to school to bring home dinner (which is prepared 5 days per week from a central kitchen to the dorm students – not wonderful, but fine!)
- At 6pm we serve supper, make announcements, help with dishes and oversee other dorm tasks, then at 7,30pm, students start with study time. Now, we prepare the next day’s lunch and breakfast, meet with our RA’s and then at about 9.30pm, we come upstairs to help our children with their homework.
- On Thursdays, we normally have the day off and this is when we sleep, rest and catch up with our family admin. During the evening, I prepare a family meal for us, we hide in the apartment and just fellowship with each other while the RA’s manage the dorm events for the evening;
- On Wednesday evenings, we drive the students to and from their small groups, then oversee study hours;
- This semester, I have designed THEMED weekends – last weekend, we had an Asian weekend: I prepared meals from various asian countries, taught a little bit about that, the RA’s then show a movie with an asian theme on Saturday night, the students who study chinese, korean, etc., then teach us a song and they pray over the meals in native languages.
- On Sundays, we bundle everyone into the vans for church, return for lunch and spend quiet afternoons in and around the dorm where we have little tea parties, manicures & pedicures – homework catch up and then in the evening, we host dorm fellowship where we discuss and share various ‘teenage topics’ or play games or attend a music concert, but all dorm related;
- Monday mornings, our RA’s have the day off and this is normally when Harry and I go food shopping, etc.
Weekends are filled with sports events and music practices for which we ask the RA’s to help with driving, etc. The RA’s function as helpers to us, they also build relationships with the students to help bridge for us, make sure that the emotional climate stays healthy. They are young graduates, committing to two years service here. We provide much training and councelling to them also.
Harry and I normally fall into bed after midnight – it is a rare moment to be in bed before 11pm – so, with many short nights, we do reach exhaustion levels quickly and now that we do not have much time for physical excersize, we feel that need increase and hope to make changes soon. We are now looking for a juicer in order to also make sure that our nutrition is of higher quality – every possible idea to maintain a healthy, well balanced mind, heart and body in order to serve her under these difficult demands.
We do have one weekend off per month – it is required by our supervisor, so, we have tried to pace ourselves better, not travel too far, just around here in France and Germany – we discovered small quant villages which we love and it does help to rejuvenate us a little bit. We are realizing that most of these students are of high need – their parents (missionaries) live through various experiences, sometimes need to leave their countries of service unexpectedly, which causes the students great concern and emotional turmoil – they fear not being able to return to their countries of birth or origin – not many have been born in the US and our dorm has a high number of Korean missionaries’ kids as well. So, they are referred to as THIRD GENERATION KIDS – it is a very interesting dynamic and as some are also MISSION KIDS, these are complex circumstances for a unique generation!
Thank you for being to brave to read through all this – by now, you need a tall cup of tea – enjoy!
Thank you for your ongoing love and support – we are still honored and amazed at this moment in our lives. Karmyn & Benjamin are taking their time with the adjustment and we are so thankful to be able to watch them and handhold them through it all!
We value and appreciate each one of you!
Stephne and Harry