Saturday, June 21, 2008

Faith and Art

I started out white like a canvas
A blank slate with potential to spare
My life was stretched out before me
Waiting on a hand to paint me with care

The artist started out simply
Broad strokes were laid down with pride
A framework was needed for structure
For my faith which would later be tried

The time that He took was precious
As his painting began to appear
A few more strokes and then finished
The faith that evolved became clear

The painter stood back for perspective
To see what he'd created thus far
The weaknesses others might pick at
He saw for the beauty they are

The painter then did the unthinkable
He left the painting undone
To finish the work isn't His job
He has left that to me, His son

I am not left on my own though
He wouldn't do that to me
He watches as I pick up the paintbrush
The details he waits to see

At times the painting is easy
The framework He's painted is sound
I find the details come simply
My faith built upon solid ground

Other times distractions are frequent
And the details they start to blur
These times my Father will hold me
To keep my hand steady and sure

The painter and I work together
What comes next, only He knows
But my once white canvas is colorful
A testament to how my faith grows

Justin Wallace
June 20, 2008

Random thoughts: Goodbye's aren't fun, crying is o.k., chocolate cake makes everything better, there can never be too much football, facebook chat rocks my face off

Friday, June 20, 2008

The end...

And then there were none.

The six students that made it through the gauntelet have just left.

Some went out smiling and laughing.

Others went out crying and not wanting to go.

Most were asking why both their teachers were crying.

I'll admit it. I cried. My children, some of which I've had for two years, have just left me. And chances are I won't see them again.

I think that means I'm allowed to cry.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's the little things that show big changes

Eating ants.

That's how a small thing showed me what a big change two years can make.

During my first week of teaching at the American International School of Freetown I did an activity with my kindergarten class where the gingerbread man that I had made escaped our classroom and we had to follow clues that led us all over the school in order to find out that he had really just come back to our classroom. During the course of our running around the school sugar ants came and attacked the gingerbread man. By the time we got back he was covered. I took one look at him and quickly covered him back up and doled out the extra ginger cookies I'd brought for my lunch. My aide looked at me funny when I suggested we throw out the ant covered cookies and proceeded to munch on the cookies, ants and all.

This afternoon I ordered a pepper chicken wrap from a local restaurant. It was mighty tasty, in addition to being all sorts of flaming hot, but I wasn't able to eat the whole thing in one sitting. My lunch was eaten on my classroom floor while reading a magazine and listening to my screaming children outside. I mistakingly left the second half of my wrap wrapped in tin foil on the ground while I went to take care of some other school related business (facebook,, checking out apartments in Portugal). An hour later I went to eat the rest of my wrap and found it crawling with sugar ants. And man did it taste good. No hesitation, hands tickling with ants, down it went. Mmmmm.

Thoughts: Time has the uncanny ability to fly or trudge always at the wrong moment; Diaspora is a better than and cheaper than meat from a can; Parent magazine says it's got everything a mom can want, yet I thought parenting was generally a two person job; two and a half days; I've changed my blog to Portugese instead of English so now it's time to "GUARDAR AGORA" then "PUBLICAR MENSAGEM"

Monday, June 16, 2008

Where do moms come from?

The sky is dark, clouds sit atop mountain tops, making what light passes through a muddy mixture that dampens spirits as well as clothes.

Despite the dreariness of the day my kids made me laugh today. We were reviewing what we learned about whales. They let me know that whales are not fish because they have babies like people and they have to breath air. One student said that whales lay eggs but the others quickly corrected him. When I asked him where whales come from he said their mommies belly, like people. On a whim I asked where mommies come from. "Heaven", was one response. A general pointing up to the sky, was another response. Most of the kids had something to say about moms coming from heaven. When I asked again one little girl hesitantly spoke out, "From their mother?". "That's right, from their mother!", I was proud of this outside the box thinking. That's when the little girl sitting next to me looked me straight in the eye and said, "So we come from our mom's belly and they come from their mom's belly, but their mom came from up there", with an upward pointing finger.

I guess we still have a good bit to cover before Friday!

I literally just read a blog, randomly, that caught my attention. At the end of her blog she wrote the random thoughts that have been occupying her time for the past day/week/month/etc. I like the idea. So I'm thinking of...
Looking forward to early morning Facebook messages, flights home, staying up too late, skin like a tomato, the pleasent repetition of life, needing to make an itenerary, new batta drums.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dedicated to mom

Mom asked me nearly two years ago about the different kind of flowers that grow in Sierra Leone. Her amazing patience will finally be paid off, at least in part, as I show not all the flowers that grow in Sierra Leone but mearly the ones on our school compound, which I hope will satisfy in part.
Love you mom!

Monday, June 2, 2008

I once tried to swing for an hour, fell asleep in the swing, hit my head on the firemans pole, and woke up later watching Fraggle Rock, after my parents picked my unconscious form up off the ground and brought me inside.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Thoughts of the day...

I remember one of the best feelings in the world as a kid was getting new shoes. My sister and I always got new shoes at the same time, something about mom not being able to deal with multiple trips to the shoe store. The shoe shop was great! New shoes everywhere, each shoe full of potential to make you cool or nerdy, lightning fast or left in the dust. Choosing the correct shoe was definitelly a process. First mom would go off with my sister to get her shoes and would leave me to play basketball or videogames, which Shoe Carnival, in it's infinite wisdom, thought necessary to have in a shoe store. Finally she would come back and it would be my turn. I'd try on the first pair of the day, walk up and down the aisle and then legs and arms becoming a blur run in place to see if these were the shoes that were going to turn me into a track star. Inevitably the first pair would fail the test. What fun would picking the first pair be? Then mom would try and pawn off some white, no color, way too heavy pair on me and I would scoff. Three or four pairs later, and multiple mini-sprints later I would find my pair of shoes. Of course my sister and I would insist on wearing the shoes home. When we got home we would tear around the house looking for dad to show him our new shoes, somehow dad managed to get busy with work or household chores he'd been putting off right in time to miss shoe shopping. Dad would grab the two of us, collect mom, and we'd all go in the backyard to see how fast our new shoes made us. I felt like I could fly with my new shoes. I'd leave my sister in the dust as I pelted full on into the back fence, which was wooden and left a few marks when I, in my excitement, forgot to stop. Those were good times, shoe shopping and running into fences.

I had another bout of culture shock yesterday. At least I think I did. I had to ask my friend if it was possible to have reverse culture shock while you were still in the country you were supposed to be having initial culture shock from. To attempt to clear that up a bit...
After football yesterday my friend to me to the UNPX, the UN grocery store. It was a really really odd experience. First of all all of the prices were in dollars, which I couldn't figure out and had to keep converting to Leones, the official currency of Sierra Leone. Then there were things like ham, bacon, and real cheese, which I haven't seen in nearly a year. Finally there was a side room full of electronic equipment that looked new, not new in the Sierra Leonean sense of washing off something old to give it a new appearance, but new like they might even give you the thing you buy in the box it's supposed to come in. The whole thing was strange and has made me think about the last time I traveled back to the west after spending a year in Africa. Last June I arrived back in the states and my dad couldn't stop asking me if I was o.k. because of the haze I was walking around in, not talking much, eyes flitting around everywhere trying to take in everything. I wasn't expecting to have that experience for a few more weeks.

I had the best meal in the world yesterday. I took my ham that I'd bought at the px along with the pickles I also bought at the px. Bought some five blok bread from down the street and a 1,000 leones worth of mayonaise, grabbed the mustard and had a ham sandwich to die for. It was one of the best things I've eaten in a long long time. Acutally the thought of having another one in a few minutes is makeing my mouth water. I think I'm done with my thoughts now and I'll go get that sandwich!