Graduating the class of 2011

For the first time since we’ve been here, I was unable to get a babysitter to watch my kids during graduation.  Our first year, I had someone babysit Jared and I took Luke with me to graduation.  He was only five months old and slept through most of it.  Our second year, I found a couple babysitters to watch Jared and Luke and I was able to spend some time greeting the graduating seniors after the event was over. 

However, I still have the same challenge each year.  My regular babysitters want to attend graduation and I have to find someone the boys are unfamiliar with who doesn’t plan to go to graduation.  This year, I wasn’t able to find anyone who didn’t want to go to graduation. 

So, Stephen and I came up with a back up plan.  I would borrow one of the classrooms attached to the gymnasium where the students would graduate.  The boys could sit in there and watch a movie and I could sit right outside the classroom door with the baby to watch the graduation from there. 

Although I couldn’t focus my full attention on the graduation procedures, I was able to there when Stephen was presented with a special trophy for his three years of service at the school.  I also watched him get bear-hugged by one of the seniors.  (Stephen thought he was going to fall off the stage with that hug.) 

I kept getting flash backs from my graduation in 1995, as I watched each student so proudly walk up on stage and pose with the Stephen to receive their diploma.  By 9pm on June 17, 2011, every senior was turning their tassel on their graduation cap and reveling in the fact that they were done with high school. 

In their honor, I’ve created a modified version of Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

 A Time for Everything (at AAI)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity at the AllianceAcademy:
A time to register for classes and a time to clean out lockers;
A time for seating charts and class syllabi,
And a time for collecting returned textbooks and giving final exams.
A time for greeting new students and time to congratulate graduating seniors,
A time to set down firm rules, and a time to tolerate senior pranks,
A time to teach and a time to learn,
A time to give lectures and a time to provide study halls,
A time to grade papers and a time to hang out,
A time to stress and a time to relax,
A time to hand out homework and a time to gather it in,
A time to hand out hall passes and a time to hand out diplomas,
A time to practice and a time to perform,
A time for new teacher bar-b-ques and a time for final staff chapels,
A time to give detentions and a time to give merit points,
There is a time for setting goals and a time for assessing the work that has been done.

Congratulations, AAI’s class of 2011!

August Prayer Requests

We have a few prayer requests as we wrap up our summer months and prepare for a new school year at the Alliance Academy International.  Please be in prayer with us for the following situations:

1) Stephen’s Intensive Spanish Classes – That Stephen will get the most he can out of a three week intensive class in Spanish.  After finishing one week of classes, Stephen has felt challenged in taking in and retaining the mountain of language that is being thrown at him each day. 

2) Cristina’s Ph.D. program – That Cristina will continue to be motivated as she comes into her final year in the program.  She needs to retake two parts of her comprehensive exams in the fall, as well as work on the first three chapters of her dissertation so that she can defense her “dissertation proposal” in the fall.  If she passes this defense, she will be able to finish writing her proposal and possibly graduate in May of 2010.

3) Renewing Our Visas – That the process will take place quickly and that we might be able to obtain Ecuadorian residency.  We are in the process of renewing our yearly missionary visas for the family.  We had managed to get Luke’s Ecuadorian citizenship (because he was born in Ecuador) and his paperwork was completed before we went to the U.S., but we were running late in obtaining missionary visas for the rest of the family.  We were told to return to the country under tourists visas so we could get the visas renewed after we returned.  As of now, the school’s lawyer has all our passports and legal documents to see if it might be possible for us to obtain Ecuadorian residency based on the fact that we have a son who is an Ecuadorian citizen.  If we do obtain residency, we no longer have to obtain a missionary visa every one or two years, but would be able to pay a one time fee for being a resident of the country.

4) The RE-scheduling of the 2009-2010 school year – That the administrators will be able to make wise decisions that include the recent changes in the scheduling of school days. In past years, the Alliance Academy had started their school year in mid to late August.  However, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education informed the school this summer that they were not allowed to begin the school year before the first Monday of September.  Therefore, the first day of school is being moved to September 7th.  Recently, they’ve also expressed to the school that they are required to have 200 school days, of which 190 days must be “educational.”  This has the potential of increasing the school year for two solid weeks. Be in prayer for our scheduling team as they work out all the details.

Learning Spanish

Four days after coming back home from all our summer vacation travel, Stephen was waking up early to attend his first Spanish classes since moving to Ecuador.  Yes, he had picked up a few words here and there, but this was the first time that he would attend an intensive Spanish course specifically designed to help him learn Spanish quickly.

The class was set up by a nearby university in the city of Quito as a three week intensive class in Spanish, reaching the needs of various Spanish language learners at their personal level of learning.  The Alliance Academy International offered to provide the class for free to any of the teachers or staff (or their children) who wished to participate. Stephen said that about 20 people showed up for the free rides from school to the location of the Spanish classes.  The only thing that they had to pay for was the meal plan (if they chose not bring their own food from home).

Classes began on Monday, July 27 with classes taking place from 8am to 3:30pm. Stephen described his “placement exam” on the first day of class as a joke.  He couldn’t answer any of the questions or understand anything that was being said to him.  Eventually, he gave up and asked to be placed in the lowest level possible.

For the past week, Stephen has been learning the very basics of Spanish in a setting where most of the discussion takes place in Spanish.  Every afternoon, Stephen comes home with a stack of notes and picture cards to help him review what he has learned that day.

Although the class is quite a challenge for him, Stephen is already beginning to grasp some of the words and phrases he has been hearing for the past year of living in Quito. 

He is hoping to have a basic understanding of the language by the time he finishes this crash course.  He has two weeks left with his final class taking place on August 15th.  This basic understanding will help him as he begins preparing for the new school year next year.