Category Archives: By Abby

Preschool News

The last month has been an exciting one at our school.  I have been working directly with the preschool teachers to make some BIG changes in their classrooms.

The Kenyan schools are on a year round school system. The school year is January-December. There are 3 one month breaks. Each break is about 3-4 weeks long. We had our first break in April.

The first week after the closing of school the teachers have scheming week. They come and do their planning for the next term.  Andrew and I met with the teachers that week and did a lot of training with them for our big changes.  We came up with an overall theme with all the points we are wanting to address in the next year. Here is the outline of the things we want to cover.

Changing the Fundamental Dynamics of the Classroom

1. Classroom Structure (Layout and Schedule)

2. Behavior Management

3. Teaching Methods

4. Communication

5. Assessment

We actually only made it through point 2 in our outline, but the rest of the things will come with time.

We spent the first two days of scheming week doing training on numbers 1 and 2 from above.  How to create a system in the classroom with discipline and positive reinforcement, and how that affects every moment the teacher has with the students. We talked about setting high expectations for the students, and how the students can meet those expectations. How to set up a classroom that is appealing for the students and having a schedule that is age appropriate for the kids from morning until afternoon.

We introduced sticker charts. We put up classroom rules and consequences in each room.  We completely changed their daily schedule. The lessons used to be an hour long and we shortened them to no longer than 30 minutes.  There are labels on everything in the classrooms now. The desks have been rearranged into groups instead of facing forward. We introduced circle time each morning. And the most exciting is that we started centers each day. We bought a lot of toys for the classes and the kids get 45 minutes each day to play. Puzzles, play-doh, crayons, cars, manipulatives, blocks, building materials, books, and even more. The kids are LOVING it!

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The whole scheming week was spent preparing the teachers for how to make these changes. They worked hard completely clearing their classes to make room for the new materials. We put nametags on each students desk. We made backpack hangers for more organization. The teachers organized for the outside wall to be painted. I cannot tell you how impressed and proud of these teachers I am. They have never had any training before on how to teach this way. I know that they are stepping WAY out of their comfort zones by making these changes.

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The way these preschool classes were before we did this training was much different. The students were all in their desks while listening to the standard lecture teaching method. I’m not saying this is wrong; it’s the way most Kenyan schools are running. And these are 3-5 year olds. We are not trying to Americanize these classes, but just make changes to better suit their ages. It is extremely hard for a 3 year old to sit in a desk for even 5 minutes, much less 8 hours!

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School started on Tuesday this past week. We have been using our new schedule and materials for 4 days now. I could not be happier. There are definitely some challenges we are facing that will take some time, but overall things are going awesome!  The teachers are happy and the kids are beside themselves with excitement.

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Gripping my Green Thumb

I am surrounded by family that loves to garden and plant! My father-in-law is an awesome gardener; if you know anything about him you know that! You name it, he’s got it! My mom too, she loves plants! When I was younger she had a vegetable garden, but now she is more into plants and flowers. Her yard is beautiful.

I’ve been trying to grip this green thumb for years now. When Andrew and I first got married I bought a tomato plant (that was already big with one tomato on it). It was dead within a month. When we first moved to Kenya, I planted a very small herb garden. It was also dead within a few months.

But….this time I’m determined! I have recently planted a HUGE vegetable garden. I planted 21 different things. From lettuce to cucumbers to onions to melons. I planted all the seeds almost 2 months ago. And now things are starting to grow!

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But I’ll let you in on my little secret. Its not at all that my green thumb is present. Its that Kenyans are awesome gardeners! And I have help! A teacher at our school lives on our compound with us and she has been my lifesaver. She helped me plant, she goes out in the evening and waters it for me (I do too, but she beats me to it sometimes!), basically she helps hold me accountable.  A friend of ours who does our yard work has also been a huge help. And my biggest problem is weeds. I can’t tell what’s weeds and what’s not. So they have been a great help with that too.  There have already been times I’ve wanted to give up (it’s a big project!), but I’m too embarrassed with all these friends helping me. Is that a good reason?    

Hoping to eat from it soon! Come on over and I’ll share. Smile

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We’re back!!

Well, its been a while since we have written a blog post.

But we are excited to say that we are back in Kenya, where our home and ministry are!

We left Miami, Florida at 5:30pm last Wednesday evening. We arrived in Nairobi somewhere in the late hours of Thursday night, and got to the place we were staying at 1am. The flights went really well. I always get nervous travelling with Adalyn but she was awesome! We thank everyone for your prayers, and especially God for his grace. It was a very tiring 24 hours, but we arrived safely and got all 13 pieces of checked luggage with us!

Since getting here, we have been staying with a friend in Nairobi, recovering from jet lag. The first 2 nights Adalyn’s day and nights have been way off, as we have been having “play-time” from around 11pm-3am. But thank goodness last night she did sleep without thinking it was daytime! We are all feeling mostly rested now. Andrew spent most of today in the government office getting Adalyn’s dependent pass and renewing our drivers licenses. Thank goodness for a wonderful husband who will go spend a whole day in such long lines and patiently deal with people who make a simple task take hours to do!

We are excited to say that we are heading home to Nanyuki tomorrow morning! We are ready unpack our bags and start getting settled into our home, as well as see all our friends there!

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On our way to the airport. Thanks to our good friend Scott Kellerman for driving us to Miami, and his parents for letting us borrow their mini-bus to fit all our stuff!

 

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This picture doesn’t do it justice, but  here is most our luggage. We were the people you don’t want to get stuck behind in the check-in line.

Now that we are back, we are committed to and excited about blogging more often! Thanks for your prayers and interest in our ministry!

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Life’s not fair.

A few Saturdays ago, Adalyn and I took a walk over to see Helen Mbugwa, the dorm mom at our school. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to get outside for a bit. Also, my sister, Rachel, had written a card to one of the boarding students before she left that I needed to deliver.  I decided to go and chat with Helen for a little bit first,  and then ask her to give it to the girl.

When I arrived outside her house I found her sitting with 2 other teachers out front. I joined them and talked for a while.  After about half an hour, the other 2 teachers had gone, and I decided it was time for me to head home too. I pulled out the card and asked Helen if she could give it to Anne, the student.  She told me that I should deliver it to her personally, as she was right inside.

I said to her, “Well, I wasn’t sure if you wanted her to receive it in front of other students, since she is the only one getting a card. The others might be upset that they don’t have one too.”  I thought that was a pretty reasonable thought, but her response took me by surprise. 

She replied, “You know, life is not fair. I think the Lord is always teaching us this. He even shows us in creation.  Look at these trees (pointing up to all the trees around us), many of them were planted at the same time…and see, some are tall and some are short; some are skinny and some are large.  It’s not fair, but they grew differently.  These girls need to learn that life will not always be fair.  So, bring the card in and give it to her. ”

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Helen was right! I think that a lot of times we try and shield kids from being treated unfairly, but Helen teaches them that life is not always fair and that is ok. It will go on. 

What a simple lesson that the Lord used his creation to teach us.  

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Summer with Rachel

This is a blog dedicated to my sister….Rachel.     Smile

As many of you know, my younger sister Rachel came to stay with us this summer here in Kenya. We have been planning this for years, since before Andrew and I moved here actually. Back then I didn’t know if it would really happen, but it did, and it was a truly great summer with her!

I don’t think I realized how much I missed my family until this summer.  We have Skype (which is great!) and I talk on the phone to everyone, but after spending 2 and a half months with my sister, I am REALLY missing her these days!!  I was completely spoiled having her here for so long!

Rachel is studying Environmental Science at Florida State University.  She is just starting her senior year, and is very interested in living overseas when she graduates.  She had this summer free and came to do a sort of “internship” with us here in Nanyuki.  She planned science lessons to teach to the students in our school, she attended night activities with the boarding students, played with the kids at recreation time, went to tutor with me at the orphanage, and other random things. 

I knew that Rachel would be fine living here for a few months, but she completely exceeded my expectations!!  Seriously, sometimes I felt like she was way better at living here than I am!  Because I was at the end of my pregnancy I couldn’t do everything that I normally can, and that didn’t stop her! She would go join the kids even if she had to go alone, she would lead them in silly songs and dances, and had a great time getting involved.  Not to mention what a HUGE help she was around the house. She helped me cook dinner and cleaned my dishes almost every night, helped with laundry and so much more!

If you would have told me 10 years ago that when we grew up, Rachel would be one of my best friends, I would have laughed in your face. Seriously! We were like any normal sisters and fought all the time! But I am thankful to say that it is true…we have grown up and get along great now.  And I am so proud of her and who she has become. She is a beautiful, confident, God-fearing, and passionate young woman, and I wouldn’t trade anything for the summer I just spent with her! 

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DSC_0540  Rachel teaching a song to the boarders. See her down there in the front? I think they were being pineapples at this part (Fruit of the Spirit Song).

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Rachel teaching the students about volcanoes.

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Adalyn Grace Lettsome

Adalyn Grace Lettsome

7-27-2012

11:02 AM

7 lbs. 1 oz.

20.5 in.

As you all probably already know, our beautiful daughter Adalyn was born and she is a month old this week! What an exciting time this has been for us! P1130076

My (Abby) mom and sister were here in Kenya, which was a tremendous help! Honestly, I don’t know if I would have survived this long without them. My mom cooked for us every day and it was just so nice to have family around for this special time. My sister was here all summer, but my mom arrived on July 25th. We laugh about it now because my mom arrived in the country just a day and a half before I went into labor. Adalyn was just waiting on her Bibi (grandma) to get here, then she decided to make her arrival!

My water broke at 12:30 AM on July 27th. I was so relieved that we were able to drive to the hospital in the middle of the night, because Nairobi traffic can be horrible at all hours of the day! We arrived at the hospital around 2 AM and after checking me in, they immediately gave me an IV and starting giving me Pitocin. At this point I was 2 cm dilated and had not even starting contracting yet. At about 9 AM I was 3 cm and about hour later I was 10 cm dilated! Everyone was surprised at how quickly this happened. The doctor had come in and checked me and before she made it back to her office the nurse called her back telling her it was time already! Adalyn was born about an hour later. Even though it didn’t feel like it to me at the time, my entire labor process was very quick and went so smoothly. I couldn’t have even wished it to be any better!

Everything seemed to go wrong the month before I had Adalyn. I was actually kind of stressing over it and worried about the delivery because of how it was all going. We had made all these plans, and back-up plans, and they all seemed to fall through. Just in case I went into labor before we made it to Nairobi, there is a private hospital here with a doctor I saw all through my pregnancy. I had talked to him about delivery, and so he was my back up here at home. When I was 36 weeks, I went to see him for a check-up and he had gone to the UK for a month to visit family! Honestly, I was terrified in that moment, because what was going to happen if I did go into labor? He wasn’t here to deliver my baby! Then I received a call at 37 weeks from my doctor’s secretary in Nairobi telling me that my doctor was going on vacation up until the week I was due! We ended up travelling to Nairobi a few days early because I was having some stomach issues that needed to be checked out. While at the hospital the day we arrived in Nairobi, they told us that the delivery room we were supposed to be delivering in was now under renovation and we would have to go to the other delivery room on the other side of the hospital (not a big deal, but it did feel like it at the time!). All of the things that I had planned out that made me comfortable were falling through! I kept telling myself to not go into labor early because I wanted my doctor to be there, but, of course… I did go early!

When it came down to it, everything went great! My mom had just made it, the nurses took such good care of me, and I had a healthy baby with an easy delivery. Yes I did worry beforehand, but the Lord really worked it all out, not the way I originally wanted…but as I see now those things were not necessary. I know this may sound cliché but I learned through this experience that even though I want to make plans and back-up plans in most areas of my life, things don’t always turn out the way I want, and I can’t expect everything to! But the Lord is good, and he took such good care of me that day. And now we have a beautiful baby girl who has brought so much joy to us over the past month! I am just thrilled to have her, and I am pretty sure I love her more and more every day. Smile

Here are a few pics…enjoy!

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Dubai Retreat

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Last week we had the amazing opportunity to travel to Dubai to meet up with our fellow missionaries sent out from Grace Fellowship in WPB, Florida.  What a blessing this week was to us!

The church wanted a time where we could all come together to have a refreshing week, filled with fellowship, teaching, and most of all relaxing!  They sent over a retired missionary couple, the Richards, who provided our sessions each morning.  They were the perfect couple to send! So much wisdom and sensitivity to culture, and I know I can speak on everyone’s behalf and say that they were exactly what we needed!  We had sessions every morning until lunch, and then each couple had the opportunity to meet with the Richards’ alone to discuss personal issues and questions.

As well as learning a lot from our session time, last week was also great to have fellowship with friends who understand the difficulties and joys that we are going through on the mission field!  I (Abby) personally only knew 1 of the other couples before going, so it was really fun to be able to meet and get to know everyone!  Now, after spending a week together we know better how to keep in touch and how to pray for the specific needs in everyone’s ministry. 

Dubai. I didn’t even know where it was until we were going there. And I knew absolutely nothing about it until I was there.  And let me just say….culture shock, big time (for me)!!  Andrew and I laugh now and say it was a good prep for going back to America.  We had every day free after lunch, so we would go into town and enjoy the malls and sites.  The first mall we went to had over 1,400 shops.  The restaurants that we splurged on through the week were TGI Fridays, Chili’s, PapaJohns, Pizza Hut, Coldstone (my personal favorite), Krispy Crème, and Cinnabon.  Now, I know this doesn’t mean much to many of you, but remember…we do not have any American chains here in Kenya, so I have not seen any of these places in over a year! It’s official, I ate way too much last week!!

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I could write about the food throughout the whole blog, but I will refrain.  We were also able to do some shopping for our home.  We found an IKEA, which made my day!  We bought a lamp, some picture frames, shades for our lights, and a few baby items.  It was so nice to be able to get these things because in Kenya they are way over-priced, so we have been holding out. What a nice surprise it was to find these decently priced shops in Dubai!

IMG_1614                                         Standing in front of a huge fountain in one of the malls.

The day we were leaving Dubai, I have to be honest…I wasn’t too excited about it.  Part of me wanted to stay in this nice, modern city (with great, smooth roads!). But as soon as we got back to Nanyuki, it felt great to be home.  And that feeling was way better than being in a nice place with familiar shops and restaurants. I am so thankful for the week we had to relax and fellowship with friends, but I am also excited to be back where we are called to serve. 

DUB_0088 **A special thanks to Grace Fellowship (and all the members who may have given!) for making last week possible for us!  It was truly a blessing!! 

 

IMG_1731                      On the last day, the boys went dune bashing, dune boarding, and camel riding!

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