Dear Family and Friends,
As always, I can hardly believe the three months have passed and it is time for another newsletter! Those three months have been filled with all the craziness that surrounds the end of the school year and the farewells that seem to punctuate every moment of our lives here, hosting some visitors from the US, and even most of a week hiding out up in Bamenda enjoying great company and the beauty of Cameroon’s NW province. I think part of the reason it is hard to believe it is already August is simply that I didn’t really have any ‘down’ time between school years. School has officially begun here at Rain Forest International School, and though we have a much smaller student body than normal (just under 70 at the moment), I am quite sure they will still keep us plenty busy!
With my extra duties as Assistant Director, I am only teaching 3 courses this year. However, I will have a lot of new preparation to do for the courses I am teaching as one is totally new (African Studies) and another is in need of some significant changes to meet requirements of their revised international syllabus (IGCSE History 9). The third (US History), I have taught many times, but at the moment I only have 3 students in it, so even that could take some significant rethinking as I modify activities for so few students and figure out how to mesh three students who seem to be VERY different in terms of personality, how they think, and background knowledge.
The past two weeks have been full of new staff and full staff orientation as well as a wide variety of administrative tasks. I am SO glad I got some basic lesson plans done before all of that started, or I would be in BIG trouble!
I hosted this year’s staff retreat on the compound where I live in a beautiful outdoor area behind my apartment. (The family renting the hostel this year opened their home for lunch and coffee break and as a backup if the weather had been bad). Even with the added responsibilities connected to coordinating everything, it was refreshing to have a ‘retreat’ that didn’t involve fighting our way through Yaoundé traffic at the beginning and end of the day like we do in most years, having to worry if the roads would be closed or if they would actually have a space prepared for us, wondering if they had planned enough food for lunch, etc. I really enjoyed the day of worshiping with and getting to know my colleagues better!
At this staff retreat, our director also shared about having ‘margin’ in our lives. So often we schedule and plan ourselves for every moment of the day, trying to stuff everything into a limited amount of time. That might work for a while, but the minute something goes wrong we end up ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ as the expression goes. One of the illustrations she used was the importance of leaving space between tiles for grout. If we were to lay tiles tightly against each other, the natural expansion and contraction are restricted and eventually the pressure is just too much. They might simply crack or even break apart more dramatically. Have you ever put a full bottle of water in the freezer? If the lid is on tight it bulges or even explodes as the water expands. I don’t know about you, but it is pretty easy for me to just keep adding bits and pieces to the lists of things I think need to be a part of my life until there is no margin, no room to adjust, to deal with that expansion and contraction. In the midst of stressful or overly-busy times it is WAY too easy to allow my time with the Lord, my time in scripture, to get pushed aside. The same concept can apply to our money or other resources as well. Please pray for me this school year as I seek to discover where God wants me to step in and get more involved and where I need to back off in order to preserve a healthy ‘margin’ in my life!
In Him, Kristi TenClay