From the Far East to the Middle East

Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: June 24, 2019

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Another school year is completed for the “MK” Meier family living in mainland China. A flurry of selling, discarding, and packing intermingled with as many final goodbye meetings that we could cram into the schedule for the first two weeks of June. As we prepared for our summer break, it was more than just a preparation for summer activities. We were preparing to leave China behind us for good.

Stephen and I have felt for quite some time that this would be our final year living in China.  As we prayed for God to show us where he wanted us to go next year, the opportunity presented itself for Stephen and I to work at an international school in Turkey, and we found our hearts being drawn to that opportunity. Although we do not know very much about Turkey, our research has shown that it is a unique Middle Eastern Country with a mix of European and Asian cultures. Unlike many other countries with a heavy Muslim influence, Turkey operates as a democratic government based on European models rather than an Islamic one.  This will be change from us after living for two years in a strictly communist environment.

Where will we be working?

We will be working at the OASIS International School of Ankara (http://oisankara.org/) which has been established since 2004 and teaches primarily international students living in Turkey with a few Turkish students who hold dual citizenship. We are currently processing all our paperwork in order to get two year working visas for Turkey. Through the OASIS branch of the Network of International Christian Schools (NICS), we will be entering Turkey as educators and staff members for the international school.  The “M” word is generally discouraged when describing what we will be doing in Turkey.

What will we be doing?

After eight years of leading different schools as the headmaster, Stephen has agreed to be the middle school principal at this school and I (Cristina) will be the high school guidance counselor. Although Stephen was offered a headmaster position at more than one school within the U.S. for next year, we felt very strongly that God was sending us to Turkey. Based on that choice, Stephen was willing to accept the position as middle school principal for the next two years. Stephen loves being an administrator and whatever administrative position that he is given, we know he will thrive.  We are excited to see what God will do through him as he becomes part of the secondary administrative team at this school in Turkey.

We are also excited for me (Cristina) to step into this new role in which I will be helping 10th through 12th grade students finish high school well and prepare for college.  I spent several years studying third culture kids (TCKs) in their transition between high school and college and observing how the use of social media either helped or hindered their development from teenager to independent adult. These studies were used to help me earn my doctorate in Communications.  I am excited to be able to interact with students in a similar capacity once again.

Our children have not quite grasped this big move yet, but we are looking forward to what they will learn and experience, as well. Jared will be in middle school as a seventh grader.  Luke will be in fifth grade, Grace will be starting third grade and Seth will be in first grade in the elementary part of the school.

What do we need?

We are looking for both prayer and financial support for the following trips:

1) Praise that our trip from Beijing, China to Portland, Oregon was smooth and we did not lose a single one of our nineteen suitcases and six carry-ons.

2) Prayer for safety as we travel from Portland, Oregon to Gainesville, Florida by car for about 7-10 days of travel across the U.S. (we own a vehicle that we plan to use this summer)
*CLICK HERE: Our summer travel schedule is provided.

3) Prayer for smooth travels and provision for all our travel needs.  We cannot send any of our belongings to Turkey in crates because we’ve been told that large packages get confiscated and/or stolen.  So, the only way to bring everything we need to turkey is to carry it with us on the plane.  We are estimating that we will be carrying an extra six to eight pieces of luggage along with the 12 pieces of luggage that we will already be carrying with us. Each extra piece of luggage will cost us approximately 200 dollars.

If you are interested in becoming part of our financial support team in helping us GET TO TURKEY, please click the link below.  NICS has provided a U.S. tax deductible way for you give both on-line and through the mail.

Follow us on Facebook as we take pictures of our summer road trip across the U.S. Pray with us as we prepare to move to Turkey. Stay connected so that we can continue to communicate as friends and family in body of Christ.

BECOME A PART OF THE MK MEIER FINANCIAL SUPPORT TEAM.

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ACSI accreditation

November 2012

ACSI-logo

Under the supervision of Stephen Meier, Brazosport Christian School (BCS) recently accomplished something that no other Christian school in the United States has yet to achieve.

Under the supervision of Stephen Meier, Brazosport Christian School (BCS) recently accomplished something that no other Christian school in the United States has yet to achieve.

The school was due to go through the normal accreditation process.  However, Stephen introduced a new concept to be added to the accreditation process.  Instead of striving for simply renewing their current accreditation with ACSI (Association of Christian Schools), they also wanted to become accredited with SACS (also known as Advanced Ed) which is an accreditation program used more often by secular private schools.  Although many Christian schools have achieved accreditation with both ACSI and SACS, this is first time that a Christian school has requested to process both accreditations at the same time with the help of a team from ACSI.

This became possible only recently, because ACSI has partnered with SACS in order to send a team of administrators to process both accreditations at the same time. Stephen’s first few months of the school year were focused on that goal of helping the school complete this dual accreditation process with success.  For several weeks, I would see stacks of binders being brought home as Stephen filled out all the proper paperwork that was needed. He supervised his principals and teachers as they created standards, collected evidence and created master binders that would reflect all the important curriculum and activities of the school.

The accreditation team from ACSI arrived on the afternoon of October 14 and visited the school from October 15-17.  After interviewing teachers, visiting classrooms and looking through countless binders, the team decided that the school was approved to be accredited by both ACSI and SACS.  It is such a new process that no other school has yet attempted to do the same thing.  Stephen was able to become part of a trail blazing effort that produced successful results.

The school was due to go through the normal accreditation process.  However, Stephen introduced a new concept to be added to the accreditation process.  Instead of striving for simply renewing their current accreditation with ACSI (Association of Christian Schools), they also wanted to become accredited with SACS (also known as Advanced Ed) which is an accreditation program used more often by secular private schools.  Although many Christian schools have achieved accreditation with both ACSI and SACS, this is first time that a Christian school has requested to process both accreditations at the same time with the help of a team from ACSI.

This became possible only recently, because ACSI has partnered with SACS in order to send a team of administrators to process both accreditations at the same time. Stephen’s first few months of the school year were focused on that goal of helping the school complete this dual accreditation process with success.  For several weeks, I would see stacks of binders being brought home as Stephen filled out all the proper paperwork that was needed. He supervised his principals and teachers as they created standards, collected evidence and created master binders that would reflect all the important curriculum and activities of the school.

The accreditation team from ACSI arrived on the afternoon of October 14 and visited the school from October 15-17.  After interviewing teachers, visiting classrooms and looking through countless binders, the team decided that the school was approved to be accredited by both ACSI and SACS.  It is such a new process that no other school has yet attempted to do the same thing.  Stephen was able to become part of a trail blazing effort that produced successful results.

A Homecoming Update & Prize Winners

November 2012

At Brazosport Christian School (BCS), their annual homecoming event was supercharged this year by a fund-raising event set to deliver prizes to a few lucky participants who took the time to donate money to the school. To attract donors, the school contacted a local car dealership to provide the school with a brand new vehicle to give away in a raffle at the school’s home coming game.  The only requirement for those who wished to participate would be to buy a raffle ticket worth $20.  For each ticket purchased, the greater the chance the person would have to win the car.  Although the free car was the grand prize, there were various other prizes to be given.

There was a $1000 gift card and a free iPad to be given away.  Tickets were given to each of the students at the school and classes competed against each other to receive a special prize to be enjoyed in the future. Jared was excited to participate even though he didn’t know very many people to whom he could sell the tickets.

The night of the homecoming game in early November, BCS students and their families filled the stands.  Friends and supporters and many who had purchased tickets were also there.

Half way through the homecoming game, the box of raffle tickets was brought to the middle of the field and the winning names were drawn.  /The winners turned out to be perfectly matched to their support of the school.  Each winner had already provided a lot of financial support to the school in the past.  It felt really good to watch them claim their prizes.

BRAZOSPORT CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

A Trip to Waco

April 2012 – We had been living in Texas for ten months before we made an overnight trip (as a family) to any other location in Texas.  In November 2011, we made a trip to Mississippi.  In March of this year, we made a trip to Mobile, Alabama and to Gainesville and Ocala, Florida to visit family.  But we had not done much traveling around Texas.  We had driven up to Houston several times, Galveston and even New Ulm, but we never traveled so far that we had to spend the night there.

One afternoon, Stephen came home talking about the BCS varsity boys’ baseball team being invited to the state championship games in Waco and Belton, Texas.  Stephen wanted to travel with the team to attend the games and then asked if he might be able to take Jared with him.  I thought about it a while and then asked him why not all of us go up there together.

So, we made our first family trip up to Waco, arriving there just in time to watch the team with their semi-final game. The final game was to be hosted in Belton the following afternoon.  We found ourselves a hotel on the outskirts of Waco, at dinner at a nearby IHOP and then took advantage of swimming in the indoor heated pool (since it was still too cold to swim outdoors).

The following morning, we took our time leaving the hotel and then had a picnic lunch in the park area of a Ranger Museum.  The picnic table was underneath a perfect climbing tree and we all took turns getting up into the tree.

We missed most of the final baseball game because Stephen didn’t realize that Belton was a city about 45 minutes south of Waco.  When we got there, we were there to watch the final innings in which the BCS team won the state championship for the first time in many years.  Everyone was excited about the victory.

We made our way back home that evening after stopping to pick up some dinner.  It was a short trip, but it gave us a chance to see something new in Texas.

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.

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!

Stephen’s Current Job Opportunities

The year began slowly as Stephen found himself back at the beginning of the process of looking for a new job.  He began to send out more applications to more schools both in and out of the United States.  He looked at the job conference taking place in Chicago in February for a while.  After much prayer and asking different people for advise, he decided the expense of the trip wasn’t worth the risk of not coming back home with a sure job offer.

So, we continued to wait.  As the weeks of February passed by, he received both positive and negative feedback from different schools.  He was interviewed over the phone and Internet for several schools.  A school in Lake Jackson, Texas, called Brazosport Christian School (BCS) was the first to ask for an on-site visit from Stephen and agreed to pay for his travel expenses and hotel stay.  Soon, they had scheduled him to leave Quito on Wednesday, February 23 and return to Quito the evening of Saturday, February 26.

Bangkok, Thailand

In the midst of talking to this school in Texas, another school in Bangkok, Thailand called International Community School (ICS), had also started interviewing Stephen.  Just a few days before Stephen was planning to leave on his trip to Texas, they also asked for him to take a flight over 12 time zones to come and visit them. 

With Cristina’s due date approaching, he asked for the trip to be booked soon after he returned from Texas.  Just this morning, he has been given a tentative itinerary which would have him leaving Quito only 24 hours after returning on February 26.  His flight will leave soon after midnight on Monday, February 28.  He will arrive in Thailand on Tuesday night and spend all of Wednesday and Thursday there before flying out early Friday morning to arrive in Quito late on March 4.

Fortunately for him, we have a two day holiday on Monday and Tuesday for Ecuador’s “Carnival” vacation.  So, he will hopefully be able to recover from his jet lag soon after returning to Ecuador.

Besides these two schools, there is a school in Peach Tree, Georgia, which has told Stephen he is among their top eight candidates for the administrative position they have there. There is also another international school in Casablanca, Morocco (northern Africa) and in Tegucigalpa, Honduras that have been interviewing Stephen, but have not requested an on-site visit yet. 

However, since Cristina has requested that Stephen not travel anywhere in her last four weeks of pregnancy, these two trips are the last he will make until our third little bundle of joy arrives on the scene.

If you would like to call Stephen and encourage him in the next few days while he is Texas, he is using the following cell phone number: 352-215-4524.