Food Pyramids and Earthquakes

It’s all in a day’s work at Gem School.  My third graders worked so hard on their food pyramid that I had to share it with everyone.  So here it is..

Isn’t it beautiful :)  It brings tears to my eyes.  I love their handwriting.  I’m so proud of my babies.

We’ve also been taking time to talk about all the events that took place in Japan surrounding the earthquake and how the tsunami could travel all the way to Ebeye through the water.  They got a mini education on ocean geography, wave formation and plate tectonics!  We watched a video on YouTube of the earthquake from inside a store in Japan. They had never seen anything like that before because Ebeye never has earthquakes. We pray for Japan almost daily and they are very much into knowing how the people are doing.  If I accidentally forget to pray about Japan, they quickly remind me. I love my kids.

They have worked hard all year-round but especially the third quarter. So we are celebrating by hitting the beach this Saturday with a barbecue and party.  They are all excited about it – and so are we!  I’ll post some pics of the time we spend hanging out and having fun next week.

Pastor Hone and Mrs. Gracie have returned from ministering in the states.  It’s good to have them back.  And they always bring back goodies to share.  I especially love the chocolate covered macadamia nuts from Hawaii.  What a blessing!

It’s really starting to warm up here…it’s been HOT.  Not much wind and the rain, which had been steadily blowing in once a day, has been avoiding us for three days now.  This year has truly been a blessing in regards to the weather; mostly rainy, cool winds, overcast skies and cool evenings. Cool meaning lower eighties, but believe me, that’s comfortable weather here.  I thank the Lord for it.

See you next week!

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The Twelve Hour Year: The Nineth Hour

The sun is now setting. With less than two hours left on this road, I can see the destination that God is leading me too. The destination was not the purpose – no, the purpose was the journey. But everything has to end somewhere.

Or does it? Maybe things don’t end, they just…change.

Day doesn’t end, it just changes into Night. Yes, I’m seeing my destination and it’s changing into something beautiful.

“God wants us to look toward, and then beyond the horizon.”

Indeed, Pastor Hone, I heard that.

“And I can tell you this. I have said it before and I will say it again, and again, and again, and again – times and times again.

“I will say it.

“For 2011… Everything is going to be All Right.  A new day is coming and it is here now. Everything is going to be all right. I said everything is going to be all right.”

I heard that Lord. Everything is going to be all right.

Cool Stuff Happenin’ at Gem

Here  are some pics from our previous Education Week activities.  Just some random shots of us playing concentration and having a good time with our kids.  I know every second counts for me, as I am likely not to see them again.  Perhaps on Facebook we can superficially keep in touch but really, it just won’t be the same.  I’ve developed such a love for them in my heart that it will really take the grace of God to help me not to… kidnap them all!

Here’s Jon playing the concentration game.  He was really good at it!  Well, until we realized that some of the kids were more than happy to offer their help when they had the matching card!  But it’s all in a days work with the kiddies.

We had a visit from Kwajalein High School students last week who donated several boxes of items, including a volleyball kit for the school.

There were boxes of folders, binders, artist pencils, pens notebooks and plastic sleeves to name a few.  The kids received all with joy and excitement.  It’s so much fun working with these precious little people :)

The third quarter is coming to a close at the end of next week.  One more 43 day stretch with my babies and it’s done.  Gotta work, work, work so we can finish strong!  But we’ll leave plenty of time for playing too :-)

God’s East Wind: Tsunami 2011

The more I began hearing about the details of the tsunami caused by the 8.9 magnitude  earthquake in Japan, the more I have thanked God every day.

I had set my alarm to get up at 2 a.m. to make a phone call to the states.  I got on the internet and was greeted with emails from friends and family urging me to contact them and let them know I was alive.  I was honestly in shock.  Earthquakes? Tsunami? Marshall Islands?  It was all surreal and I remember turning my head for a moment to listen for the rush, or the calm or whatever you listen for when a tsunami is barreling down on you.

I quickly began emailing to diffuse their anxieties about my well-being.  We were all sleeping, except me and my phone call, and we hadn’t heard a word about the danger.

As the days passed, the story began unfolding and my heart rejoiced more and more in our God.  The initial warning went out just a short time after the earthquake that all of Ebeye was to be evacuated.  The school administration did not inform us but were waiting, I suppose, until they absolutely had to; all the while hoping, praying and believing in God.  The police were canvassing the streets and people were preparing to evacuate. How was this going to happen?  There are sixteen thousand people on this island.  Twyla said she turned to Nobel that night, just hours before the tsunami was scheduled to hit and said, “Where are they going to take all of us?”

I doubt there are enough boats, even using those from Kwajalein, to hold all the people here.  And you need a lot more time than a few hours to transport that large of a number of people and children.  And what about family’s homes and possessions? Even if they took us out to sea, which would likely be the safest place, what would we come back to? Where would we sleep?  And all the food would be washed away. I was thinking about all these things as they were telling me how close we came to disaster.  But God was watching…

An hour before impact, the warning was lifted.  We were all still soundly sleeping.  By the time I had awakened, the danger had passed.  Nobel said the scientists had all their data and charts in front of them and they charted that the winds had shifted, which in turn, stopped the energy of the wave.  He said, “…the scientist have all their data and numbers about the East winds changing direction, and all that scientific stuff but…all I know is that God saves His people!”

I know.  I know that East wind.  They can call it whatever they like. Put a number on it and chart it in their little books. But His eyes are on the righteous and not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him knowing about it…much less sixteen thousand of the most precious people I know, the apples of His eyes.  Closer to peril than I would otherwise ever want to be, I know God and I believe in miracles.  Thank God I’m here writing this blog post to you today.  Thank God for that.  Thank God for His infinite mercy and steadfast love which never ceases.  And thank God for the friends and family and all the people who got down on their knees and prayed, because God answered them.

I just Thank God that I belong to Him.

(Edit) Update 3.14.11

I was talking to Annalise who lives on Kwajalein, about the circumstances involving the evacuation of the islands in this area. We were exchanging information and one of the interesting points she mentioned was the geography of this area.  The islands are part of the largest atoll in the world; we live on the rim of a sunken volcano.

So unlike most beaches in the world that have a slow grade rise up to sea level, we have a 100+ foot drop to the ocean floor.  Tsunamis gain their power and height as the ocean bed ‘pushes’ the mass of water up before hitting land.  But here, when the energy of the wave reached us, its power struck the 100 foot wall and dispelled around the atoll and consequently all the islands were relatively untouched.

She said the scientist and forecasters still aren’t sure what happened (funny that she mentioned that).  The tsunami did come onshore, but it was also perfect timing; low tide.  The majority of the shock was absorbed by the drop off and no damaged occurred.  Thank God!

An Interesting Cargo from Likiep

An interesting cargo hit the dock on Gem School’s campus this week.  The front loading hatch opened to reveal a company of outer island dwellers and their wares.  I unfortunately missed the mass exodus but caught the trailing remnants of handmade burlap sacks filled with coconuts, chickens tethered to string awaiting a glorious destiny with BBQ sauce and fire, friends greeting loved ones they haven’t seen for far too long, geese toted in bent cardboard, and loads of personal goods for sleeping and working.

There were rumors of giant sea turtles, pigs and ducks; precious cargo this boat did carry and there was an excitement in the air as kids perused the goods, played among the hubbub and exchanged laughter and smiles.

As quickly as it started, it trailed off, each person into the vast integral layout of Ebeye, melting into sixteen thousand others like a visitor in Manhattan on a spring day in April.  Not a trace that anyone had even been there.  No chickens, no coconuts, no laughter to speak of.

Yet somewhere, the grill is roasting, old friends are laughing, and secrets are carried on the salty ocean breezes. Adventure and life are being shared and perhaps someone will be whispering once again, “Goodnight old friend, see you in the morning”.

Putting On The Roof

The church which the school is associated with (B&J Church) is building a new church on the school campus grounds.  I’ve seen it rise these past 20 months and things are going good.

One problem with undergoing construction of anything here is the issue of supply.  That really is true for anything an island nation needs – it all has to be shipped in which in turn, can delay things.  Currently, they are waiting on bolts to be made on Majuro – apparently these are backordered.

These huge wooden trusses will be lifted into place once they are all constructed and then the roof will be laid.  Until then, they are protecting them against the elements until they can be put in place and the church completed. Under the platform is a 100 gallon water catchment to be used for future school operations on the campus.  There are trailers for the teachers next year which have been purchased but not yet brought to Ebeye. Once here, they will be situated at the end of the church next to the catchment, and consequently, right on the lagoon.  It’s a good location.

A Little Art Inspiration

I love children’s art!  I always have.   When I give the kids time to create I get inspired by their work; so free, vibrant and whimsical.  Children’s art is pure.  They inspire me to create more myself and so, here is a small collection of my kids art and my own rough sketches.

And the work they’ve inspired in me:

Hooray for Crayola and copy paper!  Not much to choose from in terms of variety but the inspiration is what counts.  Thanks 4th Grade :)