An Adventure Like None Other

A couple Fridays ago after school, we quickly locked up our classrooms and loaded up our truck to head to the dock and off to Pisar. After our last trip to Pisar had to be rescheduled because of rain, we were not about to let it stop us this time. One side of the sky did not look promising, but with the help of our boat drivers, we loaded our gear onto the boat in record time and sped off, while everyone at the dock thought we were crazy to head off when rain was coming. Thankfully, our route took us mostly around the storm and it started to rain just as we arrived on Pisar. After unloading our gear, we were already wet, so we decided it was the perfect time for some WAF, which we played through the rain pelting our faces to the point we couldn’t even see while at bat. We snorkeled, played card games, read, chatted, napped, ate, then snorkeled some more. Pisar is our favorite outer island getaway and we basically had it all to ourselves for 24 hours. It’s always a good little break to escape our island of Weno to have a change of scenery.

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Pisar easily ranks on my list for top 3 best sunrise spots (Mount Sinai and Kenyan Safari sunrises make the cut for the other two – I highly recommend both!). While on Pisar, everywhere you look is unbelievably picturesque and makes you feel like you’re living in a postcard.

Every Wednesday, Elder and Sister Grimshaw, Merina Francis and I head out on a Seminary/Institute class visit; four are on our island and four are off island. We schedule our off island visits through the missionaries since we share a boat and drivers. Last Wednesday, after the four of us waited for 45 minutes for our boat driver to arrive, we learned (the patience testing way) we need to reschedule our visits since the driver will now be taking a set of elders to and from outer islands three times a week since their area has recently been closed. During our time in Chuuk, we’ve seen an area open and a few areas close due to safety, crime and persecution. We were unable to make our off island visit that day, so we visited our branch’s Seminary class a few weeks early.

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Shout out to Sister Wolbert for involving the students in her lesson (a concept we are trying to teach).

Towards the end of each class, I am often asked if I want to add any thoughts to the lesson (which was in Chuukese). I am usually able to piece together a few things to know what the topic of the lesson was. It’s a great reminder of my early days of serving in Romania where I am able to share my thoughts and beliefs in a simple way, even when I’m unaware of all that was discussed in the lesson. Some of the Mwan Branch Seminary students are also Chuuk High students. As I was sharing my thoughts that day, I was even more thankful for the experiences I have had teaching high school and also for having served a mission – two things I once thought were far beyond my abilities.

We recently finished Charlotte’s Web, our third book for my reading classes this school year. Before each test day over the book, I always plan a review day. I think this most recent twist on Jeopardy will be one of my favorite review experiences of all time! I divided the class into two teams, green and blue. Each student was given a number. There were two desks facing each other at the front of the room where #1 from the green and blue teams would each face off, then we would move to #2. There are daily Chuukese conversations the students have with each other and I have no idea what is being said; there are often times when I am able to catch on to what is going on based on others’ reactions – sometimes it results in someone getting in trouble and other times it’s hilarious. Once the students started to get the hang of the game and level of competition, Izreal, one of my 10B students who generally struggles staying focused in class, was up against Emmy, one of the quieter gals of the class. While I was about to read the face-off question, Izrael announced something in Chuukese to the entire class and slapped a $1 bill on his desk. Everyone in class immediately erupted, including myself, and I could tell he was placing a wager on his answer. It’s moments like this that bring me pure joy – when I see my students getting excited and invested in what we’re doing.

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After the review day and before the test, NOW they’re concerned with what we’ve been talking about in class.
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Izrael, McGyver and Aston, 10B class clowns overly excited to take their test

We’ll be staring our final book for the school year, and I’ve seemed to hit a dead end with every angle for curriculum resources. While I was home in December, I purchased some audio books and novels for my classes (thank you again to those of you who donated to the fundraiser!). When I got back to Chuuk in January, I was able to work with our school’s IT guy in getting a classroom set of kindles. The tricky part of being able to move forward with our final book involves multiple factors. After many reminders, some of my students still think it’s funny to put a passcode on the kindles, which lock out any user and require the kindle to be reset, which can only be done by our IT guy, who has been MIA for sometime as he also works with the police department. So, dead end of having them reset. I also coordinated with him on downloading a kindle-ready version of text for the audio books I do have OR to be able to download the audio for books we already have on the school’s serve that can easily be put on the kindle. I received three emails with downloads that I am unable to access because wifi has not been able to download them and the server is often off. 0 for 2 so far. So, I thought I’d go back to the early days of photocopying a classroom set of each chapter of a book for my four classes. Our larger printer has been out of toner for some time, with no hopes of receiving any more before the end of the school year. Teachers are left to make any copies on the secretary’s small printer/copier in the office, however, after being only halfway done copying 30 copies of chapter 2 and replacing the toner, the copies are now so light that they are unreadable. 0 for 3. To add into the mix is that my flash drive that has a few more kindle books ready to upload, has gone missing. Here’s to stalling 4 classes and 91 students for another week until the IT guy comes back…hopefully.

After a lengthy two and a half months of relying on the ever efficient Claudina at the DOE, continued stop by visits, emails, waiting for approval, people not showing up to work, cutting checks, time passing, flight prices changing, re-cutting checks, hand deliveries to the United office at the airport, passing the responsibility, not getting a straight answer, the need to involve the principal and school secretary, following up again….for most of us, our flights home have been officially confirmed. It’s a really good thing in January we paid to have our flights reserved for seven days so the DOE could do their process to have our flights booked…at the end of March. Ben, Katlyn, Josh, Amanda and I will be spending some time in Hawaii on the way back to Utah and that is a bright light that seems to be getting even brighter!

While there are many many things that I am very much looking forward to when I’m back home, I know there are things and people I will greatly miss here in Chuuk. Those are the factors I’m trying to focus on during my last 2 months in Chuuk, as this has truly been an adventure like none other.

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