A Long Overdue Update

I should stop being a hypocrite. I’m having my students in World Literature write Personal Essays (which I’m loving, by the way), and I’ve realized that I’ve been slacking off in my own commitment to write.

Also, I read the note from Amanda Custer labeled, “Open when you haven’t blogged in a while.” Oh, hello Conviction. I was wondering where you’d been. It’s so nice to have you back.

But really, thanks, Amanda.

Since we’re working on organization in World Literature, tone in English 9, presentations in ICT, and editing in Yearbook, I’m feeling quite a bit of pressure to make this a good blog post. Here goes nothing.

First, the bad.

My awful week

Last week was a terrible week. It just was. I went home sick on Monday after throwing up and feeling like I might faint. Wednesday contained one of the worst classes ever—complaining students, feeling like I hadn’t prepared them well, not knowing how to handle classroom discipline issues, etc. Then on Thursday, I dropped the Yearbook tripod on my toe, causing it to bleed and me to almost pass out. All of this, combined with sheer exhaustion and expert pity partying, resulted in my lying on my bedroom floor last Thursday evening, heaving with sobs and wondering what I’d done wrong. Why was this week so hard? Did I slip into pride again? Was I trying to do this by myself? What was God teaching me through this? And how could I change so that I never ended up with another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week like this one?

Then my dear friend Hannah spoke wisdom and life into me: “I don’t know, Abby. I don’t feel like it’s anything that you’ve done wrong. Sometimes, you just have to be. You just have to be.

I allowed those words to scare me first. I did one of those chuckle-sobs or giggle-cries, when you’re still upset, but you know that you’re being ridiculous. “But if I didn’t do anything wrong, then I’m really not in control of this situation.”

At that moment, God brought to mind some key truths for me to cling to:

  • Christ is all I need. (If you know Cedarville and Dr. Brown, then you know the tune to which I heard this truth.)
  • Christ is more than enough for me.
  • I want Jesus to be my everything.

All of that from a crappy week of human failings and insufficiencies. I hope that I remember last week. I hope that I remember just how broken I was, how heavy my head was with the weight of my sinuses and my shortcomings, how red my face was after I finally just cried the tears til they stopped. I hope that I remember the liberating peace when I believed God at His Word. I choose to believe that Christ really is all that I need, even when I’m a hot mess of selfish emotions. I pray that I remember that.

Thankfully, my week did improve from there.

Professional Development Day

We didn’t have school on Friday due to a Professional Development Day. I want to clarify what this is, for both the educationally-minded and for those of you who no longer live by a school calendar. Typically, these days are painful, boring, and filled with teachers whining about how much grading and planning they could be doing instead of sitting in pointless meetings. Super cheery and encouraging, huh? I know that the issue is mostly attitude, but I also just have to say: Sahel has good PD days.

The recipe for an uplifting PD Day

  • Start with at least 30 minutes of praise, worship, and prayer. Communally, as the entire staff.
  • Add practical teaching advice and demonstrations from the secondary and elementary principals.
  • Gently stir in some teambuilding activities.
  • Allow the staff to simmer as they eat delicious fried rice and nems.
  • Thoroughly mix all ingredients with a collaborative discussion about classroom management, after a week when you were the poster child for a mis-mananged classroom.
  • Then finish the day with a time of chatting and prayer with your mentor and other mentees.

So yeah. Not only did I not have to plan and teach for Friday; I also had the chance to benefit from the wisdom and conversation of those older, wiser, and infinitely more experienced than I.

Sunday with M. Grandouiller

Last Sunday I had the immense privilege of spending the day with my friend M. Grandouiller. I had no idea how encouraging and revitalizing time with M. Grandouiller would be. The first time I saw him here in Niger, I felt my smile all the way down in my toes. He was someone from home, even though he’s not from Michigan. He’s someone who knew me before July 31. And he’s someone who was excited to see me, too.

Sunday was full of cultural experiences, good food, and great conversations in French, Tamajaq, and English. We went to church together at a very multicultural church where one of my student’s fathers is the pastor. Then we went back to the compound where M. Grandouiller was staying. A Tamajaq friend of M. Grandouiller’s brought us lunch: ground millet and gambo. (Spelling is questionable at best.) While I still don’t remember our guest’s name—something along the lines of Attahar—it was wonderful to speak some hesitant French with him, and it was great to see the joy with which he and Monsieur talked.

Then in the evening, after the English service, Monsieur took me out to dinner. While the nice Italian restaurant was closed, we had a great time at Dragon D’or (The Golden Dragon). We missed you, Madame Grandouiller, but we still had a great time eating nems, watching France 24, and discussing Cedarville, theology, ideologies, and life on the mission field. I hope that you read this, Monsieur, and I hope that you realize that I so appreciate the time that you spent with me. I also hope that my daddy reads this. My time with Monsieur reminded me of our Daddy-daughter dates, and, well—I miss you. But it’s a good kind of missing. It’s the I-can’t-wait-to-see-you kind that still allows me to live here, in this moment, full of joy and contentment. So, Daddy-daughter date in December? 🙂

An edTPA update

First of all, I need to say thank you. Thank you so much to all of you who are reading and listening to me as I whine and complain about the edTPA project. For those who have been fortunate enough to miss out on the obnoxious levels of anxiety that I associate with this assignment, here’s the reality:

The state of Ohio and Cedarville University want to make sure that I’m a good teacher.

Bam. There it is. Consequently, I have 3 Tasks to complete before November 7. I have a rough—I repeat, rough—draft of Task 1 completed. Which means that it isn’t really complete. But still. I have started and almost finished filming for Task 2. Let me just say, it is pretty hilarious to rewatch some of this film. I should probably be critiquing myself more, but to start with, I was just cracking up at all of the side conversations. The gems:

  • the level of acceptability of airline food
  • ebola in the States
  • the necessity of wearing seatbelts and calling an ambulance
  • requests for making music videos in class
  • requests for making parodies of music videos, also in class
  • reasons why the humans should have won in Avatar
  • A question, “Wait, there’s a movie of The Joy Luck Club?”
  • Followed by the passionate exclamatory: “Then why are we reading the book?!”
  • Followed by throw-your-head-back laughter.

Sometimes all I can say is, “Yes, this is real life right now.” Then I smile. 🙂

So the edTPA is still coming along. And I’m so grateful for the prayers that are shepherding me through this challenge. I can’t even call it a trial, mostly because I knew it would be coming and it’s part of my homework this semester. Filming today went so, so well. I seriously thought, in the middle of class, “So many people must be praying for me.” So thank you.

More ways for us to pray:

  • Please pray for the end of the Ebola crisis here in West Africa. No, it still isn’t in Niger, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be pleading with our Father to end this crisis.
  • I need to surrender my anxiety and my desire for control. Again. The edTPA is not going to ruin me unless I let it.
  • Pray for my students, please. Some of them have struggles more real than I can comprehend. Others just need help and guidance as they grow up and –hopefully—mature. Pray for patience and wisdom for me, too, please.

Just a few reasons to praise God:

  • He is all we need.
  • Fall Break is just around the corner (Oct 11-20). 🙂
  • He has surrounded me with great people who are becoming my good friends.
  • I’ve had some really encouraging texting and phone conversations with friends and family over the past two weeks.
  • The cross was enough.

Eh. That was a weak organization. Hopefully my editing worked. The presentation was poor again, due to my lack of photographing skills. As for the tone, I hope that my frank yet positive diction (vocab word) allows my readers to sense a content, joyful, finding-a-home-here kind of tone. How’s that for teacher talk?

Sometimes I just can’t turn it off.


2 thoughts on “A Long Overdue Update

  1. Hope Cypryla says:

    Abby –
    I so enjoy reading your blog. You write with such purpose and clarity that I feel like I see your class and feel the tears you were crying. I do not think of your writing as whining, per se, but rather processing the situation and ending up at the feet of Jesus. When we have hard times and our humanness is too close to the surface, we have to process to find God in it all.

    You are a gift and I feel blessed to be able to read about your time and experiences and to pray for you!



  2. Oh, Hope. Thank you so much for your kind words and your support! I’m so glad that my blog is encouraging for you. It’s definitely my humanness coming to the surface. 🙂 I’m so glad that you also can see the grace and the mercy that God brings when our humanness reveals itself.

    I’m hoping to see some of the Women of Faith in December when I’m back in town!! Until then, I’m praying for you all and I am deeply thankful for your prayers.



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