IslandArt Sketches Tab

I have added a new page tab to the site today.  I am happy to present  ‘IslandArt Sketches’.  This is a permanent location so that the kids artwork will be on continual ‘exhibit’ on the site.

Please take a moment and check out the new tab.  It is the fourth tab over at the top right of the web page next to ‘Vision Statement’.  There are several kids displaying artwork that I wanted to share with everyone.  I’m sure you will find that these art sketches aren’t very different from most other kids in the world.

I think you will enjoy their creative expressions.

Awards, Activities Day and Beach Park

Yesterday and today we  wrapped up Awards, Activities Day and the Third grade party at Beach Park.  It was good to hang out with all the kids (who make it all worth it) and to be able to bless those who have worked hard throughout the year.  After lunch on Monday we had the first ever Activities Day (thanks to Trecie’s admin anointing) and the kids played Freeze Dance, 3 Legged Racing, Sprinting, Water Balloon Toss, B-ball, Tug-O-War and the list goes on.  Simultaneously, there were fair-type booths under the tent where they were throwing balls into baskets, trivia games, and ring toss to name a few.  I don’t think there has ever been anything like it on the island.  People were coming out of their homes and sitting on their rooftops to watch the competitions of the students.  They are all very athletic and competitive!

(Below: The Green Team.  A great pic of Mrs. Grace, our principal, on the far left.)

(Below: Robby’s Tin-Can Sailboat. He made it by snapping off the tab to cut both ends of the can and construct something that sails off…into the ocean somewhere to sink and well, you know…we continue to inform the kids of pollution and contamination of the sea so hopefully one day, things will turn around.)

Then on Tuesday my ‘children’ went to Beach Park and we all hung out for the entire day.  I got burned (again!) and that was with 50 proof…what gives??  Ms. Cherold grilled chicken with potato salad and we had cookies, cookies and more cookies ;)  Yum!  Some fun in the sun with my kiddos. (Below: Miko eating a cookie in the lagoon.)

Some of my girls came over afterward  to the house and we had more fun taking pictures, brushing hair, giving away lotions and ribbons and all that fun girlie stuff :)

(Below: from left, Therizo, Faith, Harvest)

It was back to school on Wednesday where we played games, drew pictures (which hopefully I will be able to post the kids’ art on the blog for everyone to see – they are really cute!)  We had a birthday for Anna with pizza and prizes.  Then some of my kids came over to the house and we watched a movie.

Once my skin turns to a normal shade of ‘tan’, maybe we’ll head back to the beach again!  Taking advantage of the fringe benefits is a necessity:)

(Left: from top, Anna, Therizo, Harvest, Faith)

Baptism in the Lagoon

Gem School had its first ever Baptism Ceremony last month.  Trecie’s Fourth grade class all decided individually that they wanted to be baptized to show their love and dedication to Jesus.  Trecie ministered to them about baptism, what it meant, and made certain each student was deciding for themselves that they wanted to take this important step in their Christian walk.  We had a wonderful time seaside, and a beautiful sunset was happening during the entire baptism of the children.  God is so good.

Trecie opening up the ceremony.

The students ministered Psalm 91 to the crowd, complete with interpretive movements…they memorized the entire psalm.  It was a blessing.

The program.

Fourth graders awaiting baptism.  The teacher’s assistant, Mrs. Morina (front left) also got baptized!

God never ceases to amaze me!  We are wrapping up the final few weeks of school.  I’ll have plenty more to post as we’ve got graduation ceremonies, Activity Day and the Spelling Bee 2010 yet to do.  I’m looking forward to blessing the kids.

Educational Week 2010

We celebrated Educational Week last week on Ebeye.  All the schools from the island got together and listened to about three speakers talk in Marshallese about Education bringing Sustainable Development to the island.  I wish I could have understood it.  Maybe next year they will begin to speak with interpreters.  I would like to know where the leaders of this association are coming from intellectually and what ideas they want to bring forth.

Carton, Miko Rowa’s little brother.  Everytime I see him I say, “It’s a Rowa!!”  And he smiles real big like this…

All of us gathered inside the Ebeye Public School property singing songs and magnifying God.  I like the openness and freedom here to serve the Lord.

Everyone gathering for the beginning ceremonies.

Half-way through the event, one of the speakers complimented Ebeye Gem students for sitting still and being quiet.  We are so proud of our kids.  And thank God for His Holy Spirit that is upon their lives.  He is the reason for their peace.

Pastor Hone and Mrs. Grace are back from their two month ministry trip to America.  Praise the Lord!  I’ll give you all the details in an upcoming post.  It is good to have them back :)

News and Updates…

Just some quick updates and news…the end of the quarter is next Friday; then onward to complete the final chapter of this school year.  Amen!  The kids have grown so much, in fact, that is the theme I have going with them now.  It’s time to grow up.  And believe me, I’ve got plenty of that to do myself.  And together we have all grown up in the Lord this year.  We are all so proud of our kids.

We found out that the fiber optic cable that was laid to Majuro has been successfully run to Ebeye and Kwajalein.  What is the significance you ask?  It brings with it the benefits of DSL internet connection among other things.  So, my Skype will finally work!  Not to mention everything else will go so much faster.

I also wanted to share that I will be returning to Ebeye next school year.  It is on my heart for another year to be here and contribute to this wonderful school and the children God has in His sight.  I am excited about it.  I am also excited about getting home for the summer!  Just a couple of months longer:)

The Eighth Wonder?

I’ve never seen anything like it…a new creation…something unfathomable and unconventional.  It defies human understanding; is it a bird?  A plane? Perhaps with it, the manufacturers thought to leap the tallest sky scraper, it’s, it’s….

My God, what is it?  Made in Japan, the next revolution in dunking perhaps…or maybe the best pivoting shoe ever made.  Robby sports the latest in fashionable sportswear; the WonderShoe.

It is beyond logic.  How can you walk without catching the back of your other leg with the pancake-like bottom?  Of course on an island in the middle of nowhere you’d find this bizarre creation.  Who could’ve known :)

Robby learning how to walk, or not, in the eighth Wonder-of-the-world shoe…

R.M.I Memorial Day 2010

We celebrated the Marshall Islands Memorial Day in early February.  It was when the U.S. finally liberated the islands from Japanese control during WWII.  Usually they have several speakers that talk for around three hours but that night the rain poured continuously and they wrapped up the festivities in about an hour.  I was thankful!  I’ve read on other blogs from last year that it is usually incredibly hot and the speeches are long.  God is good.

Our line to the Memorial Speakers Conference on a rainy Tuesday night.  The building on the left is the Ebeye Medical Center.

The following day was beautiful!  It was the day that all the schools came together at Beach Park and they continue the Memorial Day festivities with food, activities and races for each grade.  We had grades K-4 which competed against all the other schools on the island, girls and boys respectively.

In the pink shorts, Sarah burning it up for the win in the girls Third Grade Competition.

Ebeye Gem won nearly all First Place prizes, some Second and only a few didn’t place.  The whole day it seemed the announcer was calling out “Ebeye Gem School!”  It was awesome – our kids are blessed!  And I mean that in every way.  All First Place winners walk away with a certificate and $20, Second Place $15, and Third Place $10.  The kids were racking up, and praise God for that!

Gem School applauding another win.

There was also a race for the adults that spanned from Guggegue to Ebeye (I’m not sure how many miles that is but by truck it takes about forty minutes at fifteen miles per hour.  Anyway, our courageous missionary Nyasha Nyemba signed up and ran the race.  He came in twelfth place!  We were all very proud of him and of all our students whether they won or not.  They are all dear to our hearts.

A Huge Month

It’s only Wednesday and already I’ve been to the dentist seventeen times this week, had over 17 fillings and 4 teeth pulled…well, maybe not directly but when you have as many children as I do, it sure feels like it!  There are three dentists that have come in to the Medical Center on Ebeye and the Third grade classes on the island were selected to get free dental care. Hallelujah!!!! We took half the class on Monday and the other half on Tuesday. I had the big job of hugging, wiping away tears, smiling, comforting, praising and praying (a lot) as we spent four hours each afternoon getting everyone’s teeth in tip-top shape! Praise God for these doctors who have decided to devote their time and personal funds to come to countries like the Marshall Islands and help the people.

And these kids are so awesome! I think about myself and how I’d be non-to-happy if I had to see another dentist than the one I’ve had since childhood. But these kids open up and trust strangers with big needles and loud drills – Holy Ghost troopers for sure! At the end of the day on Tuesday, our group was the last to go and Dr. Norma said, “You’re kids have been the best we’ve had. They are so well-mannered with no drama.” All the other dentists looked up with their masks and head lamps still shining and shook their heads in agreement. I was filled with joy for all my little kids! What an awesome compliment towards them. Baili and I thanked her for the compliment and I inwardly thanked God because I knew He had a lot to do with the peace my kids have.

So much has happened over the past month that I’ve barely been able to keep up. I already wrote to you about our informative and rare trip to the Kwajalein Elementary School. Then, Trecie had two incredible ideas she’s been working on that we initiated at the end of January: the Homework Club for the kids and the Parent Workshop. The Homework Club is now in operation and we open the school every Mon., Tues., and Thurs. for the kids to come and do their homework in a clean, quiet environment where there are teachers to help them. It’s open for an hour and fifteen minutes (which may change depending on demand). Most of the kids do their homework on the floor at home with sisters and brothers running around, people walking over them, constant noise and distractions. This should help them be more organized and productive about their work.

The Parent Workshop was for parents who wanted to learn more about being involved in their child’s education. Trecie did an awesome job organizing this with hand-outs, power-point display and so many good ideas. The parents loved it and got so many good things out of it. The Holy Spirit is really birthing some major ideas and talents through that woman of God. I’m honored to be working with Trecie, her husband Nyasha and their little girl Trinity. (Trinity is one powerful missionary). Amen!

The Gem Library opened this past Monday and we’ve had our first books checked out with many more to come. What an exciting time to be here, watching God move in the classroom and out, watching this school grow along with the people, being a part of this island’s life. I’m thankful to God that He has brought me here for a season to grow and contribute what I can.

Moving Forward

I want to first thank everyone who has left comments on this blog page and on the online Guest Book.  I so appreciate the uplifting words for me personally from family and friends, and the wonderful insight and thoughtful words about my mother; how much fun you all had together in High School and how you felt towards her.  I’m glad we all got to share in her life. I had a strong and wonderful mother.

Moving forward, all the teachers and the teacher’s assistants got the opportunity a few weeks ago to visit the Elementary school which is located on Kwajalein. The Yokwe Yuk Women’s Club, which is located on Kwajalein, made all the arrangements. Since the beginning of Gem School, they have been supportive in many ways.  The school on Kwaj is run by the U.S. and the standards are very high.  It was such a great experience to get to talk with the principal, the teachers, and see all the different techniques that they used when teaching or dealing with behavior.  We got good online resources as well.  Everyone received abundant knowledge and we were privileged to be able to go.  It was only the second time the school has invited teachers from around the Marshall Islands to come to their classrooms.  We were the only ones from Ebeye. There was another small group from Roi Namur which is considered an outer island.  The teachers there have no running water, they bathe out of a bucket. We all got to eat at the Colonel’s home on Kwajalein – something I was told rarely happens.  Colonel Clarke was on one of the outer islands so we didn’t get to meet him.  We did meet his wife who was a wonderful hostess.  And the food was sooooo good.  I don’t remember the chefs’ names but we had bbq chicken tenderloins, lemon chicken, green salad with a tangy dressing, a yummy rice pilaf and buttery bread…(sigh, I miss food!)  Anyway, the whole front of the Colonel’s house had ocean view (the Pacific) and it was stunning, with windows stretching the full length of the house.  It was a refreshing day to spend with like-minded people, and good food along with it.

My class is learning how to tell time, multiplication and cursive writing this semester.  They love cursive writing!  ‘Slant your letters’ I tell them.  Slant. They’re quick learners though, amen!  And they find their way into your heart before you know it.  If I’m working with one of them, then another will inevitably say (with a pout I might add),“Ms. Ash-a-leeey, what about meee?”

With a smile, as my heart kind-of wells up, I endearingly say, “What about you Taylor?” and promptly turn my attention on him.  So much need, so few willing vessels that God has to choose from.  But His work in this earth will get done.  His kingdom will advance.  There is no stopping it.  Opposition, persecution, abasement; they cannot stand up to the only force that has been described as ‘never failing’.  Love is the force that never fails.

Back to School 2010

Today was our first day of school and it was good.  The kids were refreshed from all the Christmas activities and eager to learn.  I took about forty minutes at the beginning of class to pray for each one individually.  They love prayer!  If Ms. Ashley forgets to pray over them and the noon time ‘bell’ is about to ring, one of them will come over and whisper, ‘prayer Ms. Ashley’.  Oh yes!  I say, then they all stop everything they are doing (about the only time they are all still at once) and they extend their hands upward and I pray a blessing over them complete with angels surrounding and protecting them.  Then they yell out ‘bye Ms. Ashley!’ with big smiles on their faces.  It’s so cute.

God has really demonstrated His power over all things in that class.  Twice now we have been in class and someone has started a trash fire in the lot behind the school.  There is also the dump that is really close to our campus and they burn off trash everyday.  The wind almost always blows from East to West, coming off that Pacific Ocean, and this takes the smoke out over the lagoon.  But the fire was in the lot behind us so there was a steady stream of black smoke trailing right through our classroom windows.  It’s horrible too; I mean they don’t just burn wood and paper.  They burn computer parts, batteries, plastic, metal, rubber electronics, Styrofoam; really nasty stuff!

So the first day this happened, I put up with it for about five minutes and then finally I said, ’everybody put your pencils down’.  I turned toward the windows and declared the smoke to blow away from our classroom – anywhere but through the classroom.  In about ten minutes, I looked out the window and said ’hey, did you notice there‘s no more smoke coming into the classroom?’  It was blowing towards the south. They were all a little amazed about it.  We took a moment to praise Him for it.  Here’s the interesting part, the smoke from the dump, at the end of the island was still blowing East to West.  :)  God is too awesome.
The second time it happened, I had the kids stand up and repeat the prayer with me.  And for the second time, the winds changed.  This time, they were beginning to catch on.  Prayer is powerful!
In two weeks, we will be wrapping up our second quarter.  This month we also have prayer every morning from 4am to 7am.  And for this week we will be having church every night.  Whew!  Hello 2010!!  In Jesus name, amen.