Deck the Halls

Every new job situation had provided us with the opportunities to learn how the staff celebrates the holiday season at the end of the year.  Although some things are universal, there are many things that make each place unique.

As Stephen becomes more integrated into the culture of Brazosport Christian School, he also learns what they do to make Christmas special around the school.  One tradition they have is a special door decorating contest.  Each teacher and staff will decorate their classroom (or office) door and a special panel of judges gets to decide which door is the best decorated door.  On the day of the Christmas chapel, the winner is announced.  Stephen didn’t decorate his door, but his secretary made sure he didn’t miss out by decorating it for him.

Notice the little running shoe in the bow.

Jared and Luke pose proudly outside of "Daddy's office."

Another tradition is to have a special Christmas chapel on the Wednesday before Christmas break.  Stephen got a chance to speak a few words at the end of the chapel.  So, he decided to read one of the Christmas stories that he had been reading to the kids from the Christmas devotional.  Stephen tells me that the school purposefully avoids mention of the secular figures and symbols of Christmas (Santa Claus, Frosty, etc.) so that they can focus on the story of Jesus coming to earth as a baby to become the Savior of all man-kind.

The message given by the teacher was on the gifts of the Maggi and explaining the spiritual significance of each.

Gift-giving is a big part of the BCS traditions.  Each staff member who wished to be involved could become a “secret angel” and give gifts to each other anonymously until they reveal themselves to each other a few days before Christmas break.  Stephen decided to be involved and I was quickly drafted to find some Christmas gifts around $1 each and then one nice gift to give the person on the final revelation day.

The staff "fireplace" where they hung their stockings for their secret angels to deposit gifts.

Stephen received gifts from his “secret angel” but he also got many gifts from staff, students and parents.  Gift cards appear to be a very popular item this time of year.  Perhaps this is not a new observation to many of my readers, but it is something I had not discovered before in the few years that I had celebrated Christmas within the U.S. borders.

We now have gift cards of various values for Wal-Mart, Chick-fil-a, and other local shopping locations.

My favorite tradition so far is the two week vacation that comes to those who work within the system of education.  Now Stephen doesn’t have to work until the Monday after Christmas and we can enjoy some time together as a family.

May’s Current Prayer Requests

We are now in the fourth quarter of the academic school year and things are getting more stressful on teachers and students alike. Both last week and this coming week have been filled with advanced placement (AP) exams for the students who have been taking AP classes at the Alliance Academy International. One of my students in my Journalism class has been taking three AP classes this year! Not only do they have to study for these tests, but they have to make up work for the classes they miss while taking their exams. Please pray for them to have the strength and mental preparation for each of those tests.

 We just found out that one of our senior students fell this weekend while foolishly climbing on some high precipice. We don’t know all the details, but we know that the fall warranted a much higher injury than he sustained. Although Nathan Marshall does not have life-threatening injuries, he did manage to break his cheek bone in three different fractures and give himself a black eye. He had surgery on his face on Sunday, May 9. He is one of the dorm students, so he doesn’t have his immediate family here to support him through this time. His parents are missionaries in Uruguay. His mother is there today while his father is actually in the United States raising support. We ask for prayer that his surgery is without complications and that he will heal quickly and that his parents will be at peace about being so far from him during this process.

A new chapel system was developed in the past two months that gives high school students the opportunity to break into 20 smaller groups of seven to eight students so they can have more of a small group discussion during specific weeks of chapel meetings. Many of the students are struggling with this new adjustment in their routine chapel times. Some can’t seem to get over the fact that they are being grouped with students they aren’t very familiar with. Please pray that they will be able to grow to appreciate this change and be able to mature in their relationships with Christ and grow in their relationships with one another.

Another successful week in spiritual emphasis

     All middle and high school students attend chapel every Wednesday. However, there is also a special week of chapels planned for each semester of the school year to emphasize areas of spiritual growth for all students who participate. Soon after the second semester began at the Alliance Academy International (AAI), they had their second spiritual emphasis week from February 9-13.  A graduate of the school, Paul Reichert (98) was the speaker for the week. 

      Although Cristina was unable to attend any of the chapels, Stephen was able to attend parts of the chapels.  He noted the dramatic transformation of the chapel into a dark room with three projectors pointing toward the center of the room where the speaker was located.  The students sat in chairs in the stages that surrounded the speaker as he focused on how one can “know God” and how to share God with others.
     Stephen found Paul’s first chapel message to be interesting as he focused on the aspects of evangelism and how to present the gospel message to those who are atheists.  As the week wore on, Stephen also noted that the students were very receptive to Paul’s message and responded well to him.  
     In summary, it was successful on both a spiritual and personal level.