Saturday 14 January 2017

A new year

Monday started at 6.40am with a list of just over 90 names. The names of children who had been in school last year. There is always an anticipation about who will report back to school as there seems to be a culture of changing schools regularly in Zambia. Then, we had to factor in the rain. If it's raining we must wait for the rain to finish before we can do anything. Some days only 10 children come to school when it's raining, or has been raining.
I think I need a gutter!
I have been fighting against learning a long and hard lesson in patience.  So, sitting in my (new) office on Monday morning, looking at my list, I had no idea what was about to happen but expected no children to come until whatever time the sky cleared.

My lovely, spacious, clean (not quite tidy) office.

By the time 9.00am came, regardless of the rain, I sat looking at a list of 120 names! I have since been told that another school had only 35 children report on Monday due to the rain. (A school with more grades and children than Taonga) So, on day one, 90 of the 100 children from last year had returned to school and 30 new children had been enrolled.

Uncle K and Uncle J
Grade 3 and 5 were very excited as they are in new classrooms that were finished during the December holiday. Koch, Jay and I were also very excited as we had our new offices. The 'old' children were happy to be back with their friends. The new children were excited about their adventure at the school run by Teacher Abi! There have been a few tears from little ones and lots of wide eyed stares as they get use to their new surroundings.

Grade 3 in the new classroom
The rest of Monday flew past in a bit of a blur - between helping with the 'criers', double checking the lists, checking in with teachers and making to-do lists.

On Tuesday morning there was slightly less rain. Again I started the day looking at the list of names and working out how many spaces we still had left in each class. By the time we locked the gate an hour earlier than on Monday, at 8am, all but 4 of the existing children had returned. (96) All of the children who started on Monday came back. (30) Plus another 15 new children had enrolled so the total on Tuesday morning was 141. Between then and now the total has reached 145.

Baby class fun
Baby class eager to go into their classroom
On Thursday morning as I sat in my office contemplating how these 145 children had become my responsibility (I daily wonder!) I was really struck by how they have all been placed at Taonga School. I don't believe they are here by chance. Why was it this child and not their neighbour that got a place. Why did they come on Monday to register when their friends parents didn't come until Wednesday when we were full. It's always hard to turn away children. My teachers hear 'just one more' far to regularly and I have to be very strict to stop at 30 children per class. Parents plead with me to 'squeeze their child'. I believe God plans our steps and makes our paths to cross. I don't know the purpose of all of these children being at Taonga school. Maybe it's because they need feeding, maybe it's because they need some love and attention, maybe it's because the ability to read will help them later in life, maybe they will go on to change the world... whatever the purpose I pray God will work in each of their lives through what they see, hear and learn.

Grade 5 waiting outside their new classroom
Proverbs says "We make our plans, but the Lord orders our steps." True in the big scheme of things, my plan was to be in Zambia for 1 year and help with the boys at the farm. Also true in the details, he knows all of 'my' children and brought them to Taonga School.

But, for now, 145 children is enough!

The view from my office

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