Monday, September 29, 2008

No Rhyme Or Reason.

There are no patterns. I like predictability. It is impossible to do. Some days there is no traffic whatsoever and you arrive early to your destination and other days when you think you have left in plenty of time, only to find, traffic looks like this:

For the last three weeks I have taken the kids in the back room for children's church. Let me say emphatically that I am not a children's worker. But, sometimes you just do what you gotta do. Maybe one day I will learn not to say, "I will never do such 'n such." The kids in our church are...let's just say...unchurched. Very unchurched. So, in order to help instruct them on how to behave in church, I have taken them in the back, told them a little Bible story, and we've even done a couple of craft activities.

This week I thought they would enjoy watching a video. I got one of Nathan's DVDs, took my laptop, and was going to surprise them with a movie. Only, I was the one that was surprised. The first week, I had twelve kids. Last week, I had seven. Yesterday, besides Nathan, there were none. Zero. Not one. Should I read something into that? Or, is it like the traffic...there's just no rhyme or reason to it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Another Sign!

And why exactly is this sign on the cash register on the inside of the restaurant?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kung Fu Lessons

Ever since we saw Kung Fu Panda, Nathan has asked repeatedly if he could please take lessons. Since some of his school mates have enrolled in Kung Fu, we enrolled Nathan. He loves it. I must admit I was a bit leery and wasn't sure what we were getting into but so far it has been great.

The classes are held at a church in downtown Montego Bay. The first week the instructor, who they refer to as Master Shifu, was off the Island, so some of the older kids did the instructing.

There were quite a few newcomers, so they were split up into two groups. Let me take a moment to apologize for the pictures. It is not a well lit room so they are not the best. I will try to do better next time.

I am not qualified to talk about Kung Fu because really I don't know much about it. But, from what I can understand each "club" is different. Some give out belts or sashes and some don't. Our club does. There are nine sashes starting with white and going up to black. In between are yellow, orange, gold, blue, purple, brown, and grey. I think they are in that order. The thing I do like about Kung Fu is that it teaches self respect, self control, self confidence (which Nathan doesn't lack in) and self defense.

Class begins by running several laps and lots of stretching. Look close and you will see that my boy is pretty limber. I do believe his head is on his knees and his knees are not bent.

They stretch a little at a time and progress by slowly spreading their legs further and further apart. Most of them are very close to doing a true split.
There are several stances that are taught. Here Dewayne, Master Shifu's son, is showing Nathan how to do the crane stance. Dewayne is a brown belt. I was told at class that he is good enough to be moved up to a grey and possibly even a black but his father, Master Shifu, doesn't think he is responsible enough so he won't award it to him yet.

Ready stance.

Break stance.

The break stance is done by holding your fist out straight in front of you and taking the other hand and wrapping it around your fist. I loved when Master Shifu was teaching the newcomers this stance. When he thrust his fist out he said, "This is our weapon," and as he wrapped his hand around his fist he said, "but we prefer peace."
Master Shifu was very impressed with Nathan's self confidence, his attitude and his strong legs. He had to really encourage some of the other newbys to hold their head up high and keep their chest out.

Master Shifu is a great instructor. He is tough, knowledgeable, and confident. He has no trouble telling a kid what he is doing wrong. But what I loved about him was the way he loved the kids. He is passionate about his sport and really wants the kids to learn it.
He had no problems raising his voice to correct a wrong move but then he had no problem picking a child up and loving them, kissing the top of their heads or patting them on the back to affirm a job well done. I absolutely loved it. What a great teacher he is.

Nathan and his buddy Jaleel, watch the experienced kids.

Dewayne is showing the proper way to do what Nathan calls the Horse stance. He had a time trying to get Nathan to keep his back straight and his behind down. In the video you can see the pain on his face. But he didn't quit.

The club just got back from competition in Orlando. A lot of the kids won gold medals. The little girl beside Nathan is only in first grade and is really good. She should have gone to competition and would have won a medal but her father let her passport expire and she wasn't able to go. Maybe some day Nathan will get to compete. He really wants a medal like Michael Phelps.

Monday, September 15, 2008


There are many signs here that bring a smile to my face. This one is along the road that leads up to our house. Our road is not in the best of shape and as we approach the rainy season, the pot holes will only widen and deepen. As we were going to church yesterday Todd commented that there was no longer a "line to pick" while driving down the road. I'm glad they post these signs though, so I know where the 16.5% tax that we pay here goes.

This sign is along the "top road" and I am glad to report that since this picture was taken the road has been paved and no longer floods which is great with the upcoming rainy season.

And my favorite sign posted along the main highway speaks for itself:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

VBS in Anchovy, Jamaica

The week before school started here we had a three day VBS at church. Todd and I are not children's workers but we wanted to do something special for the children in Anchovy. The team of seventy that Todd just finished hosting on the south side of the Island did VBS at churches in the mornings. They had everything pre-planned and prepared for each day. We inherited the surplus of supplies so all we had to do was follow their guides.

We really didn't know how many to expect because on any given Sunday at church, our children's attendance runs anywhere from Nathan alone to fifteen kids. We went prepared for twenty five though. It's a good thing we did, too.
Each child was given a name tag when they arrived. We have found that to be so helpful because most of the time when they tell us their names we can't understand them. It makes it much easier if they spell it for us and we can see it written.
Wednesday was our first day and we started with only five kids, a baby and three adults. That quickly changed. True to Jamaican culture more continued to trickle in.

Soon we had ten kids and several idle hecklers that hung around in the back.

Todd told a bible story and had some of the kids role play it as he told it. It seemed to keep the kids attention a little better.
One of their crafts was to make a necklace out of twine and thread foam shapes onto the twine. Then tie it around their necks and it makes a cute little necklace. One, these kids will treasure.
Such concentration.

Before long we had twenty one kids and four adults.
You can tell by Todd's shirt just how hot it was.
At the end, they all came up to be prayed for.
Day two arrived with just a handful due to the threat of Hurricane Gustav. We started the day off with Todd painting Jamaican flags on the back of hands of those who wanted one. Since the Jamaican track and field team did so well at the Olympics this year, patriotism is at an all time high.
Judienne gets a flag.
Wendy intently watches "Pasta" paint her flag.
They were so good not to complain about having to color their pictures in their chairs.

On day two we only had nine kids but we had several idle hecklers that congregated in the back and were very distracting.
They had a golf ball and were playing a friendly match of football while we tried to keep the kids attention and have VBS. It is very hard to ignore these idlers and we have no "authority" to ask them to leave because after all we are using their community center.

But, when you look around and see this precious face holding her "light" up...

...somehow it seems worth all the aggravation.

*Day three was cancelled because of Hurricane Gustav.*

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day Of Second Grade.

It is really hard for me to believe that my baby is in second grade already. He has grown up so fast. Although in most ways I am glad that he is now able to do things on his own, parts of me really miss the baby.

I warned him when he was getting ready that he was going to have to let me take some pictures of his first day of second grade. Since he really hates to take pictures, I have found that there is less of a battle if I prepare him ahead of time. He wanted my first picture to be of his new backpack. He is really proud of Po the Kung Fu Panda on it.

This was his pitiful attempt at a smile while battling some Pokemon.

He was apprehensive on the ride to school. He told us that he was a little scared. I told him that it was normal to be scared but that he had an advantage because he already knew all of his classmates and that he already knew his teacher Miss Gooden. He had her last year at Summer's Cool.
On the way to school these cows were along the roadside. Todd told Nathan that they were waiting for the bus. Nathan informed him that cows don't go to school.

Steppin' up with new school shoes.

Miss Gooden has there names on the door.

Nathan quickly found his silly buddy Jaleel.

The school got a fresh coat of paint this summer. All of their "offices" were clean and fresh looking. I told Nathan to try and keep them looking that way.
When he came home from school yesterday and today he informed me that second grade was easy for him. I hope he says that every year.