Sunday, August 31, 2008

This place is crawling with missionaries

Amy and I became official members of our church, Grace Community Church, after having gone through the membership class. We're excited about being a part of this church. There is a HUGE missions focus. It seems like every other person we run into has been on the mission field, is home temporarily from the mission field, or wants to go to the mission field. We just got back from a small group meeting for new members and probably 80% of the people had some missions connection. One woman went to Amy's rival high school in Nairobi, Kenya, and another couple knows Amy's parents.

We hung out with a family from church today who plan to go to Indonesia for Bible translation work. Our kids played with their kids and some others from the neighborhood. One neighborhood kid (also a missionary kid) turned out to be the sister of some folks that went to our church in Rochester, NY.

It still blows my mind when I think of all God did to bring us here. I continue to feel an increasing burden for West Africa, and being around all these missionaries has only fed that desire.

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Off to a not so great start

Bummer!!!

It was about 4:56 am last Monday morning. I was driving to a prayer meeting when all of a sudden I see the red and blue flashing lights in my rear view mirror. My heart sunk.

"Good morning, sir," the officer began. "Was there a reason you didn't come to a full and complete stop at that intersection?"

"Well, officer, I'm late to a prayer meeting where we're specifically praying for men in uniform such as yourself."

(It was true that I was late to the prayer meeting, but I didn't actually say that to him. I mumbled something about being confused about which way I was going blah, blah, blah.)

Inside, I was hoping for mercy. Maybe he would check my record, see that it was clean, and let me off with a warning...? No such luck.

Not the best way to start the day, my first day of school....But as Amy said when I got home from the prayer meeting, "At least your day can only get better from here."

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New teacher orientation

New teacher orientation for teachers in my school district took place a couple weeks ago. The main speaker was the City Manager. I was really impressed by this man who demonstrated a clear and genuine faith in Christ. He was very open about his faith in this decidedly secular setting.

He told us all that he believes God brought him to Cedar Hill, and that he believes that there is going to be spiritual transformation in the city that will affect government, business, churches and schools. It was very encouraging to hear his heart for the city, and to catch his vision of what God wants to do here.

After his message I sp0ke with him privately, and he shared more of what he believes are God's plans for the schools. As he was talking, I felt the presence of the Lord and I got a new sense of calling to my position as a math teacher. It was just what I needed to hear. I pray that the Lord will use me as a vessel at my school and that the light of Jesus will shine clearly.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Gearing up for school

I finished teaching one week of a two-week summer session at my new school. The summer session is designed to prepare the students (high school freshmen) for the rigorous material they will see during the school year, and for the college entrance exams they will soon be taking.

My school is an Early College High School. According to the website, "the schools are designed so that low-income youth, first-generation college goers, English language learners, students of color, and other young people underrepresented in higher education can simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree or up to two years of credit toward a Bachelor’s degree—tuition free."

The students will be taking many of their classes for dual high school and college credit. When they graduate high school, they should have between 48 and 60 college credits. They need to pass some college entrance exams in order to be eligible to begin taking the dual credit classes. The ECHS concept is very new—only six years old. There are currently about 160 ECHS schools nationwide. My school is opening this fall with about 104 9th graders.

I was very pleased with the performance, attitude and behavior of my students. The vast majority of them are very motivated to succeed. Their parents/guardians have demonstrated a commitment to be actively involved and supportive of their children. You can tell that these students have a goal in mind, and understand that they need to work hard to achieve it. They're still 14- and 15- year-olds with typical issues for that age group. But they're starting to "get it." They're beginning to realize that this is a huge opportunity for them that they might not otherwise get.

Teaching in this environment has so far proven to be a good experience for me, as well. My principal keeps me on my toes, and pushes me beyond what is comfortable. I don't always like to be pushed, but I can see in this short time ways that I have grown as a teacher because of her coaching and modeling.

I'm very curious to see how the Lord uses this experience, and I'm still amazed at how God started me on this teaching journey.

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