Sunday, August 29, 2010

Frontier Days in Tecumseh

Friday morning, I went to my 3 month doctor's appointment to see about my blood lab results. My numbers were all fine except for my blood pressure. When Dr. Smith learned that I had gone back to teaching full-time this session, he put his hand on my shoulder and told me that I would get the same speech he had just given his daughter. Bottom line ----go back to teaching part-time. This really has been a difficult session for me because it is Ramadan and the new students are such low level. I dreaded going into my afternoon class until one of the young men (who is a tall, burly teddy bear) looked up at me from his desk and said, "Teacher Marti, I like you!" Another had written on the white board, "Techer Marti, have nis weekend." Those are things that keep me going! You gotta love 'em!

Friday evening, Bill, Chinami and I enjoyed dinner at Gliori's Italian Restaurant. Ian and Phyllis sat at our table for awhile and chatted while we pigged out on the freshly made hot breadsticks. After dinner, I put our leftovers in the restaurant refrigerator while we went out on mainstreet to enjoy the Gospel Sing in front of City Hall. (This would never happen in California!!) Several churches in Tecumseh and Shawnee contributed special groups. The Archer Family had 4 children under 12 years old (2 girls and 2 boys) who sang difficult songs in harmony while their father played the piano. They were great!! There were also several quartets that sang songs that everyone knows like, "I'll Fly Away" and "Victory in Jesus".

Saturday morning, we went back to mainstreet Tecumseh to enjoy more of Frontier Days. We took our camp chairs and watched gunfighters, Indian dancers, the high school band concert and a parade. We chatted with neighbors and drank Dr. Pepper. My friend, Kim Rawls, was working in the Chamber of Commerce booth and Bill bought a T-shirt from her for Chinami. I loved it so much that we bought two more. It was designed by my mother's friend who painted the inside of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Her name is Barbara Hertz. Also, while waiting for the parade to begin, several politicians came by and chatted. I asked Scott Pruitt what his spiritual beliefs are, and he had no problem telling me about his church and his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He even told me to read the book of Romas. Next, I talked to a young kid named OdNeal. When asked the same question, he was in a state of confusion. He told me about his gramma, and how politics had changed his life. The poor kid was so confused that I knew he would lead people into more confusion.

This morning, I taught a Bible lesson on how to maintain relationships with people. Paul has lots of advice on the subject in I Corinthians. It's been stimulating to have Chinami in our home. She enters into conversations around the dinner table. She told us about reading, "Frankenstein" in her university English class. We talked about implications of cloning, and how people learn to express love. The more we discussed, the more I realized why it is important that God loves us for what is in our hearts, and not for what we do. Many people are still trying to get to heaven with their works while their hearts are evil. It doesn't work!

After church, we went to China Buffet with 5 of our international students. Ted had come to church to say, "Good-bye". He's leaving to go back to Japan on Tuesday. Sun (Korean) returned from summer break and is back at OBU with Diana and Jasenia (from Peru). Of course, Chinami was with us. After lunch, I called Mom only to find out that she was at her church. One of her class members had an 80th birthday celebration.

Sofia called this afternoon to tell us about her first day of school. Because of her birthday, she had to wait a year and I'm afraid she's going to be bored. She can already read and is doing addition and subtraction. However, she's very social and couldn't be more excited! I should probably pray for Mrs. Jones, her teacher!!

Next blog, I'll post some pictures.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Made it to Wednesday!

Bill barbequed porkchops outside on the grill tonight. The temperature has dropped - making life more bearable. Chinami helped with the dishes because she loves Wheel of Fortune as much as I do. She has learned that dinner must be cooked and cleaned up before 6:30 p.m. Ha! She also sits in front of the TV with her notebook, and writes down every new word or phrase. She watches Bill O'Reilly, and hears all of the debate about such things as the planned mosque, and the government's overspending. It's really interesting to hear what she thinks about the world. On the way to school, she said, "I have always felt sorry for the people of North Korea because they have no freedom. Now, I feel sorry for the Muslim people also." This comes after being in class with her Muslim classmates for over a week, and having in-depth converstations with them.

Today, I made a little more progress with one of my students. He has been late for class, missed classes, and has tested me whenever possible. Today, he asked if he could go to the toilet. I told him that break was just 10 minutes away. And then I added, "No food, no water and no toilet." (It's Ramadan.) He cocked his head and began laughing. Later, when I checked the page he had written for me, it was perfect!! I told him it was breaktime and he could go to the toilet. I noticed that he was in no hurry. After break, he was a wonderful student! I'm not sure that it was a Red letter day. Perhaps it was a Pink letter day. That's good, too!

Back to last Sunday.....Bill and I played a trumpet/piano duet. We played Bill Gaither's song, "We are so Blessed". Jin, a new Korean student attended church with us. It was his first time in a Christian church. He ate lunch with us at Braum's afterwards. (We are eating all the ice cream we can while it is hot.) Later, in the evening, we went to Mom's to eat tacos and play Mexican Train. Chinami played for the first time and won two rounds. Mom loved teaching her to play!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On Happiness and Tears

I just woke up from a refreshing nap on our Lazy Boy sofa. During the summer, I usually sit on the left end of the sofa in the living room because the air-conditioner blows there. It is nearly 100 degrees again today. Last night, it rained hard for about 15 minutes, and then stopped. Thus, we went to the Tecumseh Rodeo as scheduled. It was warm, but a soft breeze was blowing due to rain in the distance. To the west, we watched clouds that would flash with colored lightening. It was soooo beautiful! Chinami loved the rodeo action, and often commented on the MC's Okie accent. He was hilarious! During the bucking bronco segment, he described one horse as being "as shifty as a chicken with X-Lax." We also laughed when two little boys got stuck in the soft red dirt when the children chased ribbons on the calves' tails. Their parents had to pull the kids out of the dirt and take them back to the stands. I was personally impressed by the cowboys in their 50's who were in the calf- roping. Some of those guys could still ride a horse and rope very well!

My Bible class is starting to come back after summer vacation. We had 13 this morning. The theme of the lesson was, "Long-Distance Relationships". We discussed how to show love and encourage those who live at a distance from us. All of us are challenged by that! Christians have an advantage because we know that we can go to our Heavenly Father for help.

Last week, our church prayed for a baby with failing kidneys. This week, we learned that the baby's specialist was at a loss because he couldn't find anything wrong with the child!!! Kirk wrote that there have been several miracle healings in his church as well. I have kept the newspaper article about my brother, David and I being hospitalized with polio in 1953. Many children were dying all around us, and at best living with paralysis. Many churches were praying that we would be spared if that would glorify God. Mom says that she and Dad spent much time in prayer preparing themselves for the worst.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about "tears". I will never forget a friend saying to me, "Look what you did. You made me cry." As I reached out to wipe the tears away, I remember thinking, "Tears are the language of the heart." God put a spirit inside each one of us so that we can feel deeply. Tears are an expression of happiness, sadness, pain, or just because we feel very loved. It is a terrible thing when a person cannot cry. That means all emotion and feeling is gone! It's a wonderful thing to be vulnerable and to have a "soft" heart. Love is from God and He puts feelings in us that sometimes make us cry. We really should embrace our tears because that means we know how to love!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Week's Events

We just returned from OKC where we took Chinami to see the National Cowboy Museum. We had been there before, but I saw so much more today. I decided my favorite artist in the painting and sculpture section is Robert Shufelt. He has a picture of a donkey and a cowboy on a horse that have incredible detail. I also enjoyed the section on old western TV shows. There is memorabilia from Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Lone Ranger, John Wayne and many more. There is a machine that plays music and one is to match the shows. After leaving the museum, we drove back to Shawnee and had dinner at Cracker Barrel. We had rainbow trout.

In a few minutes, we are taking Chinami to the Tecumseh Rodeo. It's raining at the moment, so it will be interesting to see if the event continues. It may be postponed.

This has been a very busy week. I have been teaching full-time, which I almost never do anymore. I'm praying that the school hires some more teachers so I can go part-time again. I have a great morning with excellent students who are "high level". My afternoon classes have been very challenging for me! I have two new Saudi men who are very low level, and had to get use to the idea of having a woman teacher. I felt the power struggle for the first three days, and then things started getting better on Friday. Staying on a schedule was very difficult for them, and they wanted to negotiate their grades! To make things even worse, this is the beginning of Ramadan and they have to fast from sun- up to sun -down. No food or water! I have been asked repeated why I don't fast. When I explain legalism versus the heart, I can see the wheels turning.

Chinami has been a pleasure to have at school and in our home. She seems to enjoy my cooking, helps with the chores, and is always on time. She is excelling in her classes, and says she isn't home-sick. She has called home twice. On the way home from school, she commented on the Oklahoma sky. She says, "It is so high!" I told her I love the Oklahoma sky also. We have the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets! Our air is clear and you can see for miles!

I'll write more later since we are leaving soon for the rodeo.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Monday!

I will write a little while I wait for my eggs to boil. I'm making deviled eggs to go with Mom's T-bone steak dinner tonight. Last evening, she wasn't disappointed! She loved her banana split at Braum's. The ladies graciously made it with carb-watch frozen yogurt, a drizzle of chocolate syrup, a sprinkle of nuts, whipping cream and a cherry! She was like a little girl and ate every bite! At one point she checked to make sure there was really a banana on both sides.

This morning, I took Chinami to school to be tested with the other new students, and I worked on lesson plans. Yeah!! Chinami made the highest score on record at our school. She got 96 questions right out of 100. That puts her in the highest level possible. To be honest, I was a bit nervous because my director knows that Chinami was one of my students at Ferris High School which is famous throughout Japan for its academics. I prayed that she would not have forgotten all that she learned. Our testing includes grammar, listening and essay writing. I'm not involved with that testing program, so I waited anxiously to hear how she did!

This new session, I will be teaching 1 hour of advanced verbal skills, 2 hours of 104 grammar, and 2 hours of beginning reading and writing. We are short on teachers because one went to Spain, and one went to China to teach English.

Well, my eggs are done, and I should get busy in the kitchen. Bill picked 4 more cherry tomatoes this morning, so I'll add them to the others picked last night and put them in a salad.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Sunday

It's cooler than yesterday! It has dropped to 100 degrees. However, it is still hot and we are going to take Mom to get a banana split for her birthday. She will be 87 years old tomorrow. We'll make sure that she takes her insulin!

Chinami arrived on schedule on Saturday at 2 p.m. She was all smiles and glad to get off the plane. It took about 24 hours from the time she left her house in Yokohama, Japan to our home. We know too well how she felt. We let her sleep for a few hours before taking her to Bamboo Gardens for dinner. She ordered chicken and vegetables with oolong ice tea. Her English is still very good, and is helping us to remember Japanese. This morning, I translated for her in church as much as I could. Over lunch at Golden Corral, she said that she really liked the music! Our guitars and drummers are exceptionally good, and the church was just about filled since school has started in Oklahoma.

Pastor Mike preached today. His sermon was about knowing that once you have been born into the family of God, you cannot be unborn. Christians can rebell against God and refuse to come back into fellowship with the Father, but they are still His children. The consequences of complete rebellion against God is a premature death. There are many examples in the Bible. In our Bible Study class, we studied the reconciliation that is possible to God because of the death of Jesus. He paid the price for our sins. People all around us still refuse the gift that has been offered to them. Some cannot accept the fact that they are loved that much!

At the end of the worship service, a young couple came to the alter with a beautiful two year old daughter and their newborn daughter. The baby's kidneys are failing. All of the mothers (about 100 of us) gathered around and prayed for God's will to be done. Yes, we were all crying as we thought about our own children and grandchildren. While at the cottage last week, I found one of my favorite books, "Angel Unaware". Roy and Dale Evans wrote a book about their baby daughter, Robin, who died. Robin was sent to this earth for a short time to teach them about God's unending love. Now, Dale and Roy have joined the angels of heaven! When you love deeply, you are so glad that God made a way for us to be together forever!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back in Tecumseh

Bill and I spent the last week in Manistee, Michigan. It was warmer than usual this summer, although there was a refreshing breeze blowing off of the lake at night. One can hear the pines brushing against each other just outside the window. It was sad to be cleaning out the cottage, but rather fun to find many treasures. Bill found a box that held his christening clothes. He was baptized in the Lutheran Church as a baby, and then later baptized again as a true believer in Jesus Christ. He found his mother's high school senior picture that was taken in 1923, and his grandparents immigration papers from Prussia. They had been processed through Ellis Island. His mother's first Bible was bi-lingual, German and English.

The neighbors on each side of the cottage (for 25 years), Roy and Marlene Walters and Dan and Mary Lou Ursum, came over and helped us set up the yard sale. Dan loves history and puzzles, so he helped me match cups and saucers from a box for at least an hour. For two days we had antique dealers come and buy many of the items. In a better economy we could have made more money. Most of the furniture is still in the cottage, so if it doesn't sell quickly, the kids plan to go back often. Just before we left, Marlene and Roy gave Bill the most beautiful gift! When we replaced all of the windows a few years ago, Marlene kept one of the old ones. She and Roy sanded and painted it white. Then, they placed mirrors in each of the four panes. When Bill saw it, he had to leave the room. He was so overcome with emotion. His Dad had made that window over 60 years ago and he had found replacement latches in one of the sheds.

Kelli drove up from Grand Rapids twice that week and brought Hannah and Caleb. Caleb reached his goal this summer. He beat his Papa Bill in tennis. He has also made the Varsity tennis team this year in spite of only being a 9th grader.

On the way home, we drove to Chicago to see Keri, Kevin and their 3 little ones. Sofia and Selah were excited to see us! Isaiah was so thrilled to see his Gramma come back that he gave her the sweetest smile! He's two months old now. On Monday night, Keri grilled barbeque chicken pizza for us, and then we all walked to the lake which is just a few yards from their condo. As we watched Bill play with the kids in the water, Keri remembered when Bill taught her to swim as a little girl. On Tuesday, we took a tour of their church, (gorgeous) and then had lunch at Mitch's Chicago Deli. We had brots and onion rings. Mmmm, lots of delicious calories!

While at Keri's, we learned about the tragic accident which took the life of the cheerleading coach at CBU, and injured several track team members. I also learned about the couple from Tecumseh who was murdered. It's been a hard summer. I'm so glad that this life is not all there is! It's true that one is not ready to live until one is ready to die and feel at peace about what comes next. I don't have to wonder, "What if the Bible IS true?"

We drove from Chicago to Springfield, Missouri yesterday. I was excited to realize that I could remember how to get to Noel's house coming from the east. I actually turned on I-65 and was able to get on the James River. There is a lot of construction and I was fascinated by the Kansas Expressway interchange. It's exactly like the British round-about with stop lights. Again, we always love visiting with Noel and Janice. After ordering pizza, Noel called Galen and David and told them that we would be using his web-cam for a group visit. We teased a lot about the Greenwalts being in charge where ever we go. David also said that Mom had given him Dad's wallet and he was overwhelmed by its contents. He found Dad's driver's license from Germany, his original social security card and several other things.

Janice had to go to work at the Job Center, but we went to breakfast with Noel and Mark at Ziggy's Cafe on the corner of National and Republic. When in Springfield, go there! You can get a huge breakfast for $2.99. The cafe was filled with senior citizens! After breakfast, we headed for home. The house is fine. I picked 8 more tomatoes and can see 15 more on my topsy turvy. Mom and her friend, Shirley, did a great job of watering for me. Bill is out mowing the lawn as I write. It was 102 degrees today, but it is suppose to rain and turn cooler on Monday. School started in Tecumseh yesterday. Maybe that means fall is just around the corner.