A Day Late and A Dollar Short

In case you didn’t hear about it on someone’s Instagram, SnapChat or FB post, this past Saturday (August 10) was “National S’mores Day.” I didn’t think about it too much at the beginning of the year when I was creating cute little calendars for my four children to hold onto for the 2019 year.  I was just trying to add as many fun and interesting “celebrations” as I could find for my kids to enjoy.

It wasn’t until the beginning of August as we finished settling into our new home in Ankara, Turkey, that it hit me that there might be groups of people celebrating this gooey and sticky tradition who might be interested in playing a card game to go along with their sweet tooth (as soon as they wash the melted marshmallow and chocolate smears off their hands).

Now, this isn’t a card game that you will find in your traditional stores.  Stephen created the game with the help of a computer art designer, and he bought the copyright so that he could sell the game through the on-line game site known as “www.gamecrafter.com” at the following site:

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/classic-smashin-s-mores
smashinsmores_deck

First, picture yourselves playing this game as your stomach digests graham cracker mixed with chocolate and marshmallow.  As you and your fellow card holders flick cards into a middle pile, you wait patiently for a graham cracker card to be laid down, followed by a marshmallow card and a chocolate card and then finally another graham cracker so that you can slap the deck before anyone else does.  You either hope to win by collecting all the cards in the deck or gaining three coins (one for every s’more that you smash).  It’s a fast pace and fun game for everyone.
smashinsmores_cardssmashinsmores_frontcard(the cost for one deck of cards is less than $7 dollars USD!)
https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/classic-smashin-s-mores

Secondly, remember that every deck of cards that is purchased is helping our family to regain our financial foothold as we transition into our new jobs as Christian workers in an international school in Ankara, Turkey.

I know I am a few days late to be advertising for National S’mores Day.  We are most definitely more than a few dollars short of living “in the black” when it comes to our financial situation.  We are amazed at the ways in which God has supplied our needs over and over again. Several people have stepped up and given us generous donations to help us with our big international move from Far East Asia to the Middle East.  But we are struggling with debt and the gap in our salary between our jobs that ended in early June and this new one that technically does not begin until the beginning of September.

If you cannot support us on a monthly basis, consider purchasing this fun game that you can play with family and friends, knowing that the money you used to make your purchase is helping us with our moving costs and getting started in this new adventure of learning a new culture and language.

Take a moment to visit the site to find out how to make this fantastic game your own:

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/classic-smashin-s-mores

If you are interested in helping us out beyond purchasing our game, you can click here to find out how to help us on a one time basis or a monthly basis.

 

 

 

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.

A Trip to Chicago

As the weeks of October began to fly by,  Stephen came home announcing that he was planning on attending a conference at the end of the month that would help the school develop a HomeStay Boarding program. He was really excited about this concept, because it was something that he had a vision for since his years working at Shenandoah Valley Christian School in Virginia.  A HomeStay program would open the door for international high school students to attend particular schools in the United States.  The idea was not to use a dormitory to house these students, but to ask local families to take in one or more students into their home.  Each family would be given a certain amount of compensation by the school for room and board and they would be responsible for making sure the student had transportation to and from school.  This would all be included in the tuition charged to the students’ parents.

Stephen used Southwest to find an affordable one-stop flight to Chicago.

Therefore, Stephen was off to Chicago from Monday, October 24 to Wednesday, October 26. The conference was hosted by Wheaton Academy in West Chicago. Stephen was able to attend various workshops concerning all the logistics of bringing international students into a U.S. school system and finding host families to take care of them.  He got to meet some of the international students who attend Wheaton Academy and talk to administrators from schools where the HomeStay Boarding program is working.

The keynote speaker of the symposium was none other than Dan Egler, who had once been a secondary principal and director of the Alliance Academy in Quito, Ecuador.  Stephen had first met Dan Egler at various events held in Quito for ACSI.

Stephen returned to Lake Jackson very excited about starting this program at Brazosport Christian School as soon as possible. He has a vision for 15 international students to start attending the school as early as the second semester of this year. It took a few meetings to convince some of the teachers at BCS, but everyone is on board for this new project. The school currently has a handful of international students, but all of them live at home with their parents who have moved to Lake Jackson, as well. So, the biggest challenge right now would be finding the host families who would be willing to take on one or more students right after the Christmas holidays.

It’s an amibition plan.  But those of you who know Stephen know that he doesn’t every dream little. Keep him in your prayers as he works to make this project a success that will help the school grow.

 

The New Head of School

“Have I told you I love my job?”

The question brought a smile to my face, but I tried to keep it hidden.  Stephen used to ask me this question constantly when we were living in Ecuador and working at the Alliance Academy.  We had been living in Lake Jackson for over a month before I heard this familiar phrase being directed at my person.  I was actually starting to get a little concerned.  Was Stephen finding the job more difficult than he expected?  Was it not everything he wanted it to be?

But, no, here was that question again, and now I know that Stephen is enjoying his new job at Brazosport Christian School (BCS).  We arrived in Lake Jackson on July 8th and Stephen began working on July 12. Classes began on August 17 and things have been busy ever since.  Stephen is working on promoting the school in anyway he can.  At its highest enrollment, the school had over 300 students.  Now, BCS has approximatel 190 students total.

Recently, he had the opportunity to attend a dyslexia conference.  He was interested in attending because of his own issues with dyslexia and also to help students who might have this problem at BCS. He has also become involved with the Chamber of Commerce in Lake Jackson and joined a pastor’s prayer group.  He keeps a busy schedule throughout the week.  He tries to get to work before 7am so that he can get some work done before students arrive to start classes at 8am.  Most of the time, he is able to come home for lunch to see Cristina and the kids, and then returns to work until 4pm before coming back home.

In spite of the financial difficulties we continue to face because of moving and relocation expenses, Stephen feels that he is in the place where God wants him to be.  He has said that this is giving him great experience in running a school. He knows this is where God wants us to be and we’ll stay here until he wants us to go somewhere else.

Stephen takes in the view with Grace from the top of the playground.

 

Stephen’s Busy Schedule

Stephen poses with a "cool" shaded Luke.

Stephen always manages to stay busy.  He leaves the house at about 7:45 each morning and (except for a lunch break) often doesn’t come back home until a little before 6pm.

After returning from his conference in Florida at the end of January, he felt he had been equipped with more tools to proceed with the development of curriculum at the school.  He has put into effect a curriculum mapping program to help continue to improve each subject area that is offered at the school. 

This is also the time of year in which current teachers are required to let the school know if they will be continuing in their position for next year.  Several vacancies have opened up in the secondary department in the past few months and Stephen has been involved in the searching and recruiting of new teachers.  Slowly, but surely, we are getting those positions filled.

Now only is he interviewing new teachers to come to the school, he has also been interviewing new students looking at transferring to the Alliance Academy next year.  His days are usually filled with meetings of different kinds and he doesn’t get to his administrative paperwork until the end of the school day when everyone is gone. 

He has also began searching different international schools for openings in secondary administration, especially high school principal or director/head master of a school.  Many of these positions hire a year in advance.  So, he is beginning his search this year for the 2011-2012 school year. 

We still plan to stay in Ecuador for at least one more school year.