31 January 2010

The Joy of Moto Ownership

Most of the time owning my own moto is a blessing, but occasionally things go wrong, and then it becomes a challenge. Today was one of those days.

I arose at some awfully early hour (before 7am on a Sunday is not only not nice, it's nasty), and hopped on the moto to go and collect some keys from folk who'd be staying in a friend's place in Phnom Penh, and who were due to leave at 6.35am. No problems there. They were ready and waiting and I was safely back in my bed by 7am to catch up on the rest of the sleepin! The rest of the day was a quiet one, with a couple of Skype calls to Australia, and a book to read, and very little real "work". At 3pm I decided it was time to get ready for church, so had a shower, got dressed a little less casually, and headed down to the moto. As I turned the key in the ignition I thought I could smell fuel. Hmm. I checked the fuel gauge and it showed empty. That's odd. There was 3/4 of a tank when I got home last night. I pushed the bike out the gate, and parked it while I locked the gate, and noticed what seemed to be fuel dripping from the bike. Hmm. I think I'd better pay the local moto mechanic a visit. Well, I got almost there when the engine sputtered and died. OK. I can deal with this. I hopped off, put the moto in Neutral and walked the rest of the way (about 100m). When I got there, they quickly identified the problem, and replaced the rubber hose that has split. Ten minutes and 2000Riel later and I was my way. Still walking the bike. It started, but wasn't going anywhere. So I headed in the direction of the nearest servo, and as I passed the old Logos campus, met up with one of the tuk-tuk drivers who regularly drives a number of the staff. He speaks very little English, but he showed me how to get the bike going and to use up those last few drops of fuel, and I made it the rest of the way to the servo, where I put $2 worth of fuel in the tank and headed off to church (better late than never).

So how did I feel about all this. Well, to be honest, when I first discovered the missing fuel, I wondered if someone had been syphoning it off, but when I noticed the dripping, I quickly put that idea to rest, and became very grateful that this event occurred when I was at home, and within easy walking distance of the moto workshop and fuel. Praise God for his provision! It could have happened out at school, and then it would have been a lot more complicated (mainly because of not knowing the area as well, but also because of distances). It could have happened at church, and again it would have been more complicated. I was also grateful that I had left early for church, and so, even with the walking and stops, I only missed the first two songs. Thanks again Lord. Once again I have been reminded of your loving care for the details in our lives as well as the big things.

So what does tomorrow hold? Who knows, but whatever it holds, God will give me the strength to get through it! As the song writer so aptly puts it, "God is Good, ALL the time".

29 January 2010

Contemplating a birthday

So I've now celebrated my fourth Cambodian birthday, and it was a special day too! I was able to take a day off school, and spend it with a good friend, enjoying a girls' day out. We didn't get the movie in that I'd hoped for, but what we did get to do together was very enjoyable, and I'll remember the day with joy. Thanks J. I especially enjoyed the treat of a manicure and mini-massage.
Here's a photo of the finished results of the manicure, complete with nail art!

Those gorgeous flowers were handpainted with a very fine paintbrush! Amazingly delicate work done with a very steady hand. Lunch & dessert were delicious, and it was good to get some other shopping & chores done as well.

Well, it's time I headed for bed, so I'll finish this post by saying Thanks to the Lord for the life He has given me, and the opportunities he's given me, and ask that He will help me to continue to serve Him joyfully for the rest of the days He has already planned for me. God is good, ALL the time!

26 January 2010

Australia Day in Cambodia

Definitely no public holiday for Australia Day in Cambodia, but that didn't stop me celebrating. Still had to be at school at 7.30am, with the kids arriving in the classroom at 8.15am. Wore my Australia t-shirt, posted Australian flags all around the classroom, and promised the kids that if they worked hard before recess they could have a treat after recess. Well, enough of them finished the required work that we celebrated Australia day on the "gym" with a game of rounders (a bit like baseball, but played with a mini cricket bat, and a tennis ball). Much fun was had by everyone, and we returned to the classroom hot and sweaty and ready for a few minutes silent reading.

The next excitement for me (or maybe it was during recess) was the discovery of four boxes in the office from Scholastic! Yes! Yes! Yes! The books for our Book Fair had arrived, and with plenty of time to spare. This afternoon I had the very time consuming task of checking the books against the invoice so I can pass it on to the accounting staff for payment! All done, and all present! Wow!

So now I need to do a quick tidy of the desk (it's been collecting papers again all day today), and then head back to "town", pick up a few groceries, then a quiet evening (maybe I'll grade some Social Studies portfolios & maybe I won't).

That's it for today.


24 January 2010

Ready for another week?

Not quite. But definitely almost there. Still didn't get all the grading done I wanted to, but I got the really important stuff done. The rest will get done! One paper at a time!

We are doing Space in Science at the moment, and one fun task that I assigned my students was to make a model of our Solar System. Gave them some measurements, and a few vague ideas, and after that it was up to them. They were supposed to bring them in on Friday, and about half the class did. I let the rest know I was disappointed, and required that they bring it on Monday or no marks. I was impressed with the creativity of some of those who did! I'm currently trying to work out how I can display some them so students in other classes can enjoy them as well. Will take some photos once I work out how to display them.

Today's fun activity was baking multicultural Anzac Biscuits in my new oven. They turned out differently to when I made them in Austalia, but I've just done the taste test and they taste good, so that's all that really matters. Always interesting trying things in a new oven - no oven ever seems to cook things exactly the same way as the last one you had! Why were they multicultural? Well the Rolled Oats and butter came from Australia, the Golden Syrup from New Zealand, the sugar I'm not sure where from, the flour from Thailand, and I did use a couple of tablespoons of Cambodian water (filtered and boiled of course). It will be interesting to see what the children think of them when I take them for Australia Day on Tuesday. Downloaded some Australia Day worksheets as well, and maybe I'll take the rounders bat & tennis ball down at recess and we can play rounders on the basketball court (still not allowed to use the grass!).

Oh, that's right I've also been enjoying a parcel from home! Thanks to the ladies of the DSHFSW, I've got new books to read, decadent chocolate to savour, music to listen to, and a welcome addition to Australia Day materials. My kids will enjoy the stickers when they do a good job on their work!

Well I really must go and make sure I am ready for another week. As I'm also fighting a head cold (it is winter you know), I'm also looking for an earlyish night so I'd better get on with it.

Bye for now


20 January 2010

It's Raining At School Today

It's not supposed to be raining. This is the cool, dry season. However, like much of the world, Cambodia also experiences variations to the "normal" weather patterns, and this is one of them. It has been delightfully cool, and the rainy weather does wonders for reducing dust levels, so please don't think I'm complaining. I'm not. Actually, I'm very much enjoying both the coolness and the rain. I just don't like riding my moto in the rain, which doesn't mean I don't do it, just that I don't enjoy it. From a school perspective, it has the added benefit of giving an opportunity to discover rainy weather issues, when we are likely to have many fine days in the near future to fix those things that need fixing! For the kids it didn't really make a lot of difference, except to afterschool pick-up, and even that wasn't too bad, as you can see from the photo above. Yes, that is water lying around the edge of the turf, which is still off limits for another 3-4 weeks. I have no doubt that this rain will do more for establishing the turf than any and all the watering the grounds staff might do.

This afternoon, I discovered that two of my students, while "sliding their water bottles down the handrail" had managed to lose the said waterbottles onto the roof of the changerooms. Unfortunately there is no easy way to get them down. I spoke to the principal about a creative consequence, and so they are going to spend their recess time scrubbing at paint & plaster & other marks on the tiles around the school. Just one recess. Hopefully they won't have too much fun doing it, or it won't be any deterent for the future. Boys will be boys.

With the cool weather, we haven't really needed the airconditioning, but it has been partially fixed. It does at least cool the room now, but the correct lights still aren't coming on, so there's still more work to be done there. As one of the principals said today - "They are new. They should work properly." I live in hope.

Here's just one last fun thing I discovered happening at school yesterday. I was later leaving than I have been, and as I was heading out I noticed lots of small faces inside the guards "office". I was intrigued to see one of our guards was "playing school" with a group of children from the local neighbourhood. Not sure what he was supposed to be doing at that time (distinctly possible it is his "time off") but I mentioned it to the principal today so that maybe we can support & encourage him as a way of reaching out to our neighbours. Our new neighbourhood is definitely a lot less affluent than our old neighbourhood, and this could well be a way of reaching out to them.

Finally, we have another "service" project for 4th grade. Once a fortnight, on a Friday afternoon, we will take some time to do an "emu parade" along the narrow road into the school. If you don't know what an "emu parade" is, then I must be older than I thought. It's what we used to do at school, back when I was in primary school, and the teachers decided that there was way too much litter around the school grounds. I'm not sure why it was an "emu parade" but that's what I remember them being called. Suffice to say, we are going to do our part in keeping the area around our school a pleasant place to be.

OK I'm really going to be now. Good night.


13 January 2010

We had electricity today

All day! That was a blessing. I'm also thanking God that it was a cooler day today. Yesterday was exhausting, and we had no electricity for most of the day. Today we had power all day, but as far as I know my air-conditioners still aren't working, and since it wasn't too hot, I didn't even try. Fortunately, since my last classroom was in a much hotter location I had a couple of pedastal fans, and they certainly helped keep the room comfortable today. The curtains, while not looking glamourous, actually match the color scheme in the classroom, and did help a little. They do at least soften the glare of the sun in the afternoons. Tomorrow is a new day, with new possibilities, and new challenges. As a friend's blog just reminded me, it's not about me, it's about the kids!

On the home front, I now have an operational washing machine, at the cost of limiting use of the second bathroom. There was no easy solution to installing the machine in the kitchen, so it is now in the second bathroom. It is still useable, but users need to be a little flexible! I'm sure my househelper will be very pleased not to have to wash by hand any more. I figured that we do laundry far more often than I have house guests, and so the cost is justifiable.

Well that's it for now. I'm off to plan a science activity for tomorrow afternoon.

In His Service


11 January 2010

First Day - All over again!

Today saw the first day of classes at the new Logos International School campus in Phnom Penh Thmei, and I have to admit that it went reasonably smoothly! Praise God for all He has provided for us, and pray that the air-conditioners in my classroom can be fixed tomorrow. Although I originally said "no tour" for my students, I decided it would be easier if I did one, and so lost teaching time, but hopefully gained in other ways. They were definitely excited by the new facilities, and will be even more so when the construction workers leave and they can use the grass field as well as the basketball court (gym).

With the weather forecast predicting 35 degrees Celsius today, I was not looking forward to a day without air-conditioning. Unfortunately for the first part of the morning, there was no power to the air-con units, and when it did come on, they were running, but not cooling! The problem still hasn't been fixed, and I've been told the units need regassing (interesting when they are brand new units), and if that needs anyone to be in the room it won't happen until after 3pm (too much of a distraction for the students). Tomorrow's forecast is also for 35 degrees, so I guess I'd better plan on drinking lots of water and remind my students to do the same thing.

Apart from the lack of air-conditioning, and fluctuating power, the day went reasonably well. We didn't get through all I had planned, but that's always better than not having enough planned for the day, and running out of things to do. It was exciting to be in the new Library this afternoon, with much greater space, and plenty of room for expansion of our collection. Well done to everyone who helped get it ready to go. We even managed our computer class in the new Elementary computer lab today. It was an intro and demo lesson, but next week we plan to get students on line on the internet doing some research (using carefully selected sites).

Well, I'm off to bed, since I need to get an early start tomorrow - I left my desk in the classroom in a state of chaos because it was just too hot to deal with anything else this afternoon, and the sun was blinding me as well. We need curtains or blinds of some sort, but the cost is proving a challenge at the moment. Meanwhile I've got some spare curtains at home that I had made for my old place that I can at least rig up to reduce the sun in the afternoons. Well, I'm going to try anyway.

Bye for now


08 January 2010

Two days (nights) in a row!

As I rode out this morning, I noticed a tent going up outside the house two doors down the road from my, and thought to myself, I wonder if this means another noisy evening tonight. Well it was definitely a catering tent that was being erected, and the volume tonight is such that the glass in the doors has been vibrating with bass notes! How lucky am I?

Oh well, it's better than the screeches I was getting from the school Public Address system while they were testing it this afternoon! I hope they can fine tune that system. Speaking of school, my classroom is finally ready (well, almost just 8 student desks needing a little attention). I've even got "bulletin board" displays for our coming Science unit up, so that will create some excitement.

Tomorrow I have to grade a pile of papers, and put together a plan for the coming week. Oh, and that's right there's the Grand Opening from 9 - 11am, followed by a Staff meeting from 11.30 -12.30, and then I need to be down at the riverfront by 4.45pm ready for a birthday boat trip on the river with friends. I'm looking forward to that break.

Tonight I've got a few jobs to do for school, since the network was down this afternoon (not surprising given that the power went on and off about 4 times between 3pm and 5.30pm).

By the way, someone tried to post a comment to last night's post, but unfortunately it was in an Asian script (Chinese or Japanese or Korean or something similar) and I couldn't read it, so I rejected it. If you're the person who commented, please feel free to do so again, but do it in English, or I won't allow it to be posted. Thanks


07 January 2010

Party time again!

I think someone across the road from my place is having a birthday party. Now what might make me think that! Start with music that is so loud that when I'm at the back of my house it would still be more than loud enough to party with, and add to that the singing of "Happy Birthday to You" in English, and I'd say it's a fair chance that it's a birthday party. Fortunately the music is not that of a funeral, which would be at the same volume, but much more depressing. I think it's a live artist/band, and it's actually not too bad. Hopefully they won't go much later, as I need to put in a full day at school tomorrow, making sure I'm ready for the Grand Opening on Saturday, and also for a full week of teaching next week. Since there still seem to be people arriving, I think it's going to be a close all the windows and doors, put the air-conditioning on, and hope for the best!

Actually I'm rather disappointed it didn't happen a couple of days ago so my sister and her husband could experience a Cambodian party in the neighbourhood. Never mind. They did have plenty of Cambodian experiences. It was great to see them, and to have family here for Christmas. Thanks for coming and experiencing a little of my life here!

OK, it's definitely not about to finish - in fact they just increased the tempo, and participation I suspect, so I'll go and have a shower and hope for the best!

04 January 2010

Welcome to 2010

How quickly the days slip by when you are busy and having fun! It's hard to believe it's already almost the end of the 4th day of 2010. One thing I definitely cannot complain about here is being bored! There's just no way I have time to be bored. Moving house is finished, and I'm in the final stages of sorting the paperwork and odds & ends that have mounted up over the last two years so I can store them, file it or WPB file it!

Today I went to school for the first time since before Christmas and it was interesting to see progress in some areas, and regression in others. Fortunately it was mostly progress, although the level of dirtiness has definitely regressed. I think that the first week we were out there, we all spent time pushing brooms, and getting the place a little cleaner. Sadly, with most of the teaching staff away for the last ten days, the dust has definitely settled on the floors and shelves again. Never mind, not an insurmountable problem, and as installations are completed hopefully the dust levels will start reducing as well. Meanwhile, my noticeboards (bulletin boards) are now in the correct places, and I've been able to position shelves correctly and lay out floor mats. Still some fine tuning to do of the classroom layout, but it's getting there. Just four days to go until the Grand Opening!

We also got some work done preparing for our next round of Scholastic Book Club forms, ready to go home as soon as school goes back. I also got things moving again on our planned Book Fair. I hope and pray that I haven't left it too late to coincide with our annual Carnival.

Satruday I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of two Logos staff members, one a long term teaching assistant, and the other an expat in his third year at Logos. It was a delightful Christian wedding, with a blend of Khmer and western traditions. Congratulations Greg & Srey. It was also a good time to enjoy some fellowship with colleagues, and to meet the youngest member of the Logos family, a tiny new baby. There is something special about cuddling a newborn baby, and seeing their perfectly formed fingers and toes, and their little features. Welcome baby Calvin.

Well it's time I went and did a little more sorting before I head for bed!

G'night all.