Archive for January, 2010

I can feel a little bit of a shift in my person since being a teacher. The side of me that is idealistic and sentimental probably does not need to be boosted, but in some ways that’s exactly what teaching does. I find that cheesier things amuse and delight me. My sixth graders all have a fascinating sense of humor sometimes, and I’ve decided to share some of their recent journal response writings with you. These aren’t necessarily my favorites, just the ones I happened to still have. The following is their writing (with the same spelling and punctuation).

Invention for a Princess, by Maddie Kennell  (rated pg-13 for destruction of sharks and well-done steaks)

If I made an invention for a princess it would be called the “Magnificent Muncher.” The invention would be able to eat anything. But it is mainly for eating grownups. And the princess, whose name is Moussie, would opparate it to eat her teacher, Ms. Bethany. When you press the green button, it hands you out a piece of raw steak, rope and a speech bubble that ays “Come and get it!” You tie the steak to the toutor and then press the botton labeled “well done.” This willactivate the fire. It will Cook the steak to well done. Then tie the steak to your victem who at this point should already be begging to live. Then press the botton labeled “destruction.” (You might want to stand back for this part). Then the button will release a shark on your steak-a-fied victim. The machine takes 3 AA bataries (not included) and the shark requires 2 steaks a day and likes “Goodnight Moon” for a bedtime story.

*Don’t be too alarmed that Maddie is writing about my being eaten. She actually likes me a lot, she just enjoys being shocking. We all laughed at this.

“Eatscaliber” an invention for a prince, by Hannah Reeves

This is an invention for a prince that can be used on camping trips. Yes camping trips. You can bring this instead of a tiny gas oven, or a campfire. It is a sword that has three settings: Deep fat fry,  broil, and marshmallow roast. If you squeeze the hilt one time, it goes on a deep fat fry, two times,  broil, and three times, marshmallow roast.

It does this with a beam that shoots out of the tip. It is usefull because the princes will get so fat from the food they won’t be able to fit into there clotes! (evil laugh.) Ah! Did I just do my evil laugh? Well anyways, enjoy! The end.

“THE JALEPEÑOTELEPHONE” an invention for a prince, by Abby Miller. (Rated R for distruction of chimps and unwilling victims)

The Jalepenotelephone is an invention for a prince. It is usualy  used for defeating enemys. To make a Jalepenotelephone you will need these ingredients: 500 Jelepeno peppers, 5 mouse intestens a chimpanze, and an unwilling victim. First you must find your ingredients. first crush the pepper, then add the mouse intestens. Take your chimp and feed him the mixture. Now you are ready.

When December 2nd 2012 comes find your unwilling victim and tie him to a post. Make your Chimp dance in front of your victim. After that feed you unwilling victim 20 peppers. Then take your leftover mouse intestens sprinkle them on your victims head and make the chimp jump on top of him. When you are finished doing all this you will see a Jalepenotelephone which is a fance name for a Telephone booth with elephants and dogs permanently stuck inside it. You will throw this on your enemys heads durring battle and crush them with the Jalepeno telephone.


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Pride Rock Hike

1/2 way up the hike to Pride Rock, named by the missionaries, not it's official name

The hike was pretty steep at times, so we rested and enjoyed an incredible view.

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I thought you all would like to hear from the ladies on the team what they do here with the Kabiye people. I teach the children of three families on the team, so I asked those three mothers to contribute a paragraph about their work. Two of the three have a toddler at home but still manage to do some of their own work on top of caring for their families, which is a full time job no matter where you live, but especially in Africa!

From Becky Reeves:

Thanks for asking about what we get to do with you and the others being able to teach!  First of all, just normal parts of life that would get neglected like keeping up with email, supporters, and friends and family are made possible with someone else teaching our big kids during the day.  Also, I get some concentrated time with Caleb, who needs more one on one attention than some of my other children at his age.  Ministry-wise I am able in this season to go out to Ketao on Wednesday mornings, picking up Christianne on the way in Lassa Tchou and meeting with Mazalo at her brother’s house, discipling and mentoring them in how to teach discovery Bible studies.  We are also working to educate ourselves and interview others about how to use Moringa trees*, especially dried powder from the leaves, to bless other women in Kabiye land and give Mazalo and Christianne greater access into other women’s lives to teach them about Jesus. We are experimenting each at our own homes with growing them on a small scale and hope to begin on a bigger scale (for the two of them) in June during prime growing season. In past years I’ve spent 2 or 3 days out in the village during a week, but during this season I am also concentrating on equipping myself for future ministry.  I am blessed to be able to take an online course right now, Medical Terminology, that is preparing me to apply for acceptance into a medical assistant program that I plan to use in ministry in Rwanda in a couple of years from now.  I use daily time, often in the evenings, to study for this class.  If I were teaching my older children evening times would be taken up with preparing for the next day’s studies and correcting papers.  These are just a few of the ways your teaching helps free me up to be involved in other ministries.  We are truly so grateful for you and Jacque and Sarah.  I often think of the blessing of having such good, competent teachers that our children can learn from and who give us ways to use our cultural knowledge and language here to be in the lives of others.

From Andrea Miller:

A special thanks to Bethany’s supporters for giving her the financial help, prayers, and spiritual encouragement she needs to be over here helping to teach our children.  She is a joy to us!
For the past few years, our children have been very blessed to add to their lives the mentorship of their teachers. Abby has looked up to and learned so much from Bethany this year by being in her class.  Aidan is enjoying being in art class with Bethany and gets all the tips that he can from her as he is an aspiring artist himself.
Each of us moms have been able to help teach from time to time during the years that we haven’t had sufficient teachers.  This year I have an almost three year old that I am thankful to be able to spend time with at home.  She wishes that she could go to school with her 3 older siblings, but she will have to wait a few more years.
When we are not helping to teach we are blessed to be able to be more active in ministries to the Kabiye people, those around us, and our families.  This year I am able to go with AnnaMarie to the market on market day (Tuesdays), visit with friends there or visit other friends in town that have small children her age.  My husband and I are also taking classes once a week from a nun into town who is showing us how to rebind books and make journals. We are hoping that this will be something that will be useful as we are interested in starting a recycled paper project when we move to Rwanda in a few years. On Wednesdays I am thankful  to partner with my husband Matt to go to two different villages to help facilitate children’s lessons in two of our churches.  Once every other week we go as a family to the orphanage in town to teach a lesson or play with the children.   Thursdays are our team meeting and prayer days which are necessary for our individual and collective team spiritual health and planning for our work here among the Kabiye.  Other spare time that I have during the week is used to prepare Bible lessons for children, answer emails and write letters to our supporters and family, and oh! make meals from scratch for my family and our wonderful teachers. Saturday nights are our teachers nights.  I have other hobbies that I like to dabble in when I have extra time: scrapbooking, embroidery, gourd decorating, and anything in which I am creating something.
Some seasons are more full of activity than others.  We each  feel like we wear many hats here as we need to plan and carry out most tasks ourselves.  Please keep us in mind and prayer over here.  We and our families and children lead a blessed life and are thankful to be a part of this work here among the Kabiye people.  May the Lord himself continue to reap the harvest!

Me again:

Nicole Kennell is busy working with the AIDs clinic in town and another outside of Kara, and with at least one orphanage. She is going to an international AIDs conference in Vienna this summer to be better equipped to be of service here. She has an amazing heart for the pour and hurting people all around us.

*Moringa is a plant that seems to be extremely effective in treating Malaria and other illnesses, as well as improving overall health a great deal. I don’t know a lot of details myself, but the team is excited about using this side project to help minister to people’s physical needs along with the work they do ministering to the spiritual needs of the Kabiye.

I’d also like to give some explanation to what Andrea and Becky said regarding Rwanda. Those two families have been here about 10 years and are nearing the end of their committed time in Togo. They are then planning to join a team of missionaries in Rwanda for another long term. The Reeves will leave Kara in August of this year to be in the US for one year, during which Becky will take classes and get a Medical Assistant’s license. The Millers will leave summer of 2011, and join the work in Rwanda as soon after, God willing.

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Loving my Students

This semester has started out so much more smoothly than last semester, when everything was new and I was scattered and not at all confident in what I was doing. I feel like now that we have built a relationship and respect, I can take better advantage of my time with them. They are slightly hormonal preteens with their share of drama, but each has an amazing heart and a desire to please and better themselves.We’ve had several teaching moments lately where something or other will happen, and a resulting conversation or advice so naturally flows. It’s a joy having girls that respond to these occasions, and want to learn and grow into people of excellence and good character. I really love my students and am proud of them.

Two days a week science is the last subject of the day, with Jacque teaching the 4th and th graders together, so I’m free during that time. Today I came downstairs and on my desk was a small colored note which said “I love you sooo much” from one of the girls, and another note from all three of them. How sweet is that. I started thinking about having to say goodbye today, and had a not quite tearful but very sentimental session of ironing wrinkly pagnes*.

*a couple meters long stretch of various african fabrics sold all around town

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From Not too Long Ago

A memory:

On a slippery mountainside in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, nine of us made our way down a treacherously steep path flowing with mud and rain. To progress but not plummet down the mountain , I had to jam my hefty walking stick into the ground in front of me, put my feet against it, then repeat for the next step downward. Even with this careful process, I still slipped several times. Ever the protectors, one guy from our group went in front to catch anyone that fell, and another followed behind. It was slow work, but the rain in our eyes and the sense of challenge (and danger) made it exciting. I felt called upon to be strong and sufficient, but also taken care of, knowing 5 wonderful men were watching out for me. And I, too, was aware of the well being of the others, ready to help if there was a need.

This memory is from the last week of my internship in PNG 2 1/2 years ago, summer of 2007.  A missionary, his teenage sons and my fellow interns (Luke Shaffer, Rachel Gould, Bekah Gibb and Daniel Nicholas)  were my comrades on this adventure. This hike on which we saw amazing views of the Harbor, distant peaks and waterfalls.  On which Luke enjoyed using his machete to clear paths and arranged our photo-shoot of “band pictures” on the river boulders. On which our guide got lost and the hike which should have been 5 hours turned into 8. On which a surging river had carved the most peculiarly smooth tunnel in rock, and I gloried in finally swimming in a pool below a waterfall with Luke and the boys. Super great day.

I don’t know why I’m thinking of this today, or just now realizing that that hike down the mountain in the rain is one of my favorite memories ever. We do not have souls fashioned to thrive in safe complacency.

*Reminiscing is always better with a sound track. My choice for this occasion is Coldplay Live 2003.

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Pendjari Safari

Big fat thank you to the Brett and April Emerson for taking us on safari with them. I can’t imagine going on safari so cheaply or with such ease. It was nice to spend more time with them since we don’t teach any of their kids and don’t get to see them as much.

The park we went to was called Pendjari, located about 5 hours North-East of here in Benin.



Vervet (monkey)

patas (monkey)



Rhone Antelope



cape buffalo (I called them oxen)


Oribi (small dear like thing that hops)

waterbuck (fuzzy deer like thing)






crested crane

grey west african crane

whydah bird

abbisinian roller (bird)

horn bill


ibis (bird)

diker (different small deer like thing)

bush buck


We camped pretty comfortably at the hotel compound in the park, rode around all day on the top of the Emerson’s SUV, got incredibly dirty from the dusty roads, and marveled at the surreal fact that we were on safari in Africa.

wart hogs

wart hogs book'n it



This is a type of antelope called a Waterbuck

April points out hippos in the watering hole to Caden

My roommate, Jacque, elaborates more on our time on safari, in case you’re interested, her blog address is:


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A positively cozy Christmas started out with a brunch at the Millers house on Christmas eve. Andrea treated us to pull-apart cake (Monkey Bread), breakfast casserole, fruit and hot cocoa. It was a special treat to me, as that is the exact breakfast that my family makes a tradition of having on Christmas morning. It was excuisite. After brunch we watched It’s a Wonderful Life, and then went over to the Kennell’s house.

We stayed overnight at the Kennells’ Christmas Eve and Christmas night. I’m a big fan of traditions, and the Kennells have one on Christmas Eve I just might adopt. Christmas Eve is Pie Night. Everyone in the house gets his or her favorite pie. If that means baking a pie for each individual in the house, so be it. I’ve never seen so many lovely pies on one table. We had pecan, apple, coconut cream, french silk, and pumpkin pie.

Christmas day was lots of fun. Of course, opening presents came first, then breakfast and preparations for the big dinner. Dinner was really scrumptious. In the evening the team got together to go Christmas caroling. Caroling in Kara, Togo! First we went to the house next door to the Millers, where some of their African friends live. We also have a handful of American friends in town whose houses we drove around to sing at. Some of them work at S.I.L.,  a bible translating center in town. There’s also a couple other missionaries around besides our team, so we went to their houses, too. Caroling was my favorite part of the day by far. We wore scarves and Christmas colors and it was great fun. Matt Miller went fully decked out in a jacket, scarf and long knit hat.

After caroling we played games, ate more pie, and I got to talk to my family over skype for a while. Bless the Lord for skype. The night wrapped up with being serenaded with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” by my family- possibly the sweetest thing ever.

This picture of my with a plumeria flower in my hair at Christmas is mainly for my family, with whom I shared many Christmases in Hawaii

Here you see Nicole Kennell opening a present by the tree on Christmas morning. Maddie and Michal watch patiently, like the sweethearts they are.

This was our first stop Christmas caroling at Mana's house. Mana is the Miller's next door neighbor and works for them around the house. Her kids are good friends with the Miller's kids as well. Anna Marie often cries for Citope (sp?), Mana's teenage daughter when needing comfort.

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