I hope you are all well and enjoyed a good Easter. We had an interesting time! On Thursday before Easter Christine and Rachel went for a holiday to Scotland. That left Don and me sorting out all of the boys. The boys had a mixed program of school, work and holidays. They were generally very well behaved, which we really appreciated. On Easter Monday we were invited to go to some friends of Dons who own a big coffee farm about an hour and a half out side of Lusaka. We hired a bus and all piled in. The boys were all in high spirits even if we did have 4 people too many for the bus and some had to share seats. When we passed the police checks the curtains were pulled and all singing stopped as they pretended to be asleep so we didn't get an inspection. We had a tour of the farm which was huge, then had a swim, played some football and had a BBQ. The only thing that spoilt the day was Sam ending up with a broken ankle which meant lots of painkillers and a trip to clinic the next day. It seems to have healed now. He removed the plaster himself as it was crumbling and he wanted to play football and hasn't had too much pain since! On the morning we expected Christine and Rachel to return the volcano messed up all plans. Christine and Rachel ended being stuck in London for an extra week. The boys were all getting a little anxious about when 'Mum' would be home. Thankfully they managed to get on a flight the following Thursday so arrived only a week late.
Over Easter I also had a visit from James Skelton. He was able to help out in school and see a little bit of what my life here is like, although with Christine being away it wasn't quite a true representation. He also had the opportunity to visit Covenant College in Petauke where we spent 2 months in 2005 and Kasissi Orphanage (which I have told you about before). It was really nice to see a familiar face from the UK. James also got held up by the volcano as he was due to travel back on the same day as Christine was due home but was put up in a very nice hotel for a week so didn't have too much to complain about!
Just after Easter I closed school for two weeks and some of the boys went away to visit families. School is going well at the moment. I have had 7 pupils since Christmas. The time keeping seems to have improved a little bit. It is very annoying when I ring the bell at 9 and still they haven't arrived by 9.15. A few well placed words and punishments seems to have got the message across! In the past 2 months we have had two Canadian visitors here who have been a real help. They have spent many hours patiently listening to the boys read, asking them questions about the stories and correcting their mistakes. It is a very slow process and it can be hard to see the progress that is being made but all of the boys have benefited by growing in confidence as readers and understanding more of what they are reading. Gift, one who dropped out of school after Christmas has started working in the kitchen. He is really enjoying being there learning different things and even doing the washing up! Hopefully this will give him some kind of direction in life. Although Gift was in grade 8 he couldn't even do 2 digit multiplication and division when he dropped out of school. His reading was good but he didn't understand any of it. We have really had to go back to basics with him and he seems to be doing much better now.
The boys who were taken out of school for a variety of reasons are very excited. They went back to school on Monday. So far things seem to be going well. They have been requesting prayers of thanks in the evenings for being back at school! Hopefully the enthusiasm will continue for a long time!
We have had some bad news. Joseph, who came around October time, has been asked to leave. It wasn't one big problem that made Don and Christine come to the decision but lots of smaller things over the last few months. Generally he was showing no respect for authority and was becoming very demanding. Also we had heard stories of him saying he was going to steal a lot of things when he left and cause a riot. Not really the kind of person we want staying here.
Mum and Dad are hopefully arriving in Lusaka next Thursday. That is if BA decide to fly and the volcano doesn't play up too much! They are here for 2 weeks and we are planning a trip to the Victoria falls and to Mfuwe for a safari. They will also spend a week at the farm so will get to see some of the work I am doing and meet the guys and girls. I hope to return to the UK with Mum and Dad for a holiday before the new school term begins.
Over the past few months I have been thinking and praying about what to do in the next few months into 2011. Lots of reasons have made me come to the decision that I would like to carry on working here for another year. Through the year the boys in the class at home have made very good progress and have benefited from having some consistency in the level and type of work they are given. When there are lots of different people running the class it can become very disjointed. I don't want to leave the boys who are just beginning to grow in confidence to go back to constant changes. Also I have worked very closely with a lot of the boys who are in grade 7. They sit their exams in October/November so the last few months of the year will be critical. I don't want to leave without seeing them through to the end. Taking the decision to stay for another year brings a few things to sort out. When I came I was issued with a work permit for 2 years so that is valid until August 2011 and I don't have to do anything with regards to that. I need to sort out funding. If you have been sponsoring me through this year, I don't want you to feel obliged to continue, but if you would like to please let either Joe (JWKing@lgc.com) or me know asap.