Wednesday, January 30, 2008

warming up in kabul

this week was a little warmer, which means i got to sleep cozy with just the down comforter and not the at sleeping bag also on top. it's been an interesting week becasue we have all these new US guys moving in out floor, the other officers had to double up and move to other barracks, and now these guys are moving in, over all there will be 50 new ones eventually. so that is ientersting always new people around.
the picture is of a dc-10 I think, cargo from italy you can see in picture.
students all passed their book quiz, and then today we had the monthly proficiency test, and several improved their scores, so they are LEARNING. my biggest goal now is to bend the ear of the general, who is all gung ho about getting acomputer lab at our school, and I have to tell him NO NO NO. has NOTHING to do with learning English. Students need to be IN CLASS witha teacher who is speaking English to them, doing exercises and activities with them, and teaching the grammar basics , not random computer vocab stuff on the computer. any free time they have for a computer lab, they have time for homewoke and studies!
I am vehemently opposed to internet at the school and will also voice this given the opportunity. I have my master in TESOL to back me, and the internest has nothing we don't have with personl teachers in the room with students!! I've told the DLI rep here it would only decrease teacher productivity if anything!! such a waste. so those are my two goals right now, the colonel and general must be TOLD! ha ha

Friday, January 25, 2008

hello again blog......

been busy, teaching and such.

last week went reallly really well in my classroom, i had planned some things, used some videos that went with the books. provided extra worksheets and had extra sentence writing assignments. will do same tomorrow during review and I've been looking at the next book to get prepared what I'll want to do.

there is a new focus on grammar and less vocabulary after todays meeting.

we met with the US General in charge of getting the AFghan air force going, and also the head DLI rep here in AFghanistan. i wasn't sure what to expect as there has been some confusion who is in charge of our school and who is supposed to tell us what to do or not to do etc....

our team leader doesn't seem to want to give up any control of anything. I'm pretty much neutral and could care less about the drame, just wanting everyone to work together to have a successful program with all of us doing our best in the classrooms.

One interesting bit of information was the DLI rep mentioning they had 2 DLI instructors coming to fill our two slots, and in fact had 8 ready to come over. This gave me the impression the govt hasn't been happy the way things have dealed with the contractors so far, and so they'll use their own from now on. I pretty much figure that means we'll all only be here one year. ha! but who knows. although it made me happy having the freedom to know when I'll be returning to my family and my HOME.... (my gardens of course). which will probably be November at some point. I will have to stay here an extra month to get the tax exemption, which means touring a bit of Europe ( who wants to join me) or maybe I could go to Honduras and wait it out. I'll know more eventually, who knows maybe I could still stay longer if possible.

in other news......I received a box of EXCELLENT chocolate chip cookies from home, mom!, very very good. also some piano music (Chopin nocturnes and polonaises, Gershwin preludes, and scott joplin and others) and my prize copy of december issue Monocle magazine I'm been reading ever since.

I getting used to my schedule of working out in the afternoons, and last week ran a 5k in 30 minutes, no too bad, but only on the treadmill. I definitely miss swimming laps in a pool though. but it's nice to have all the time in the world after work and before dinner to work out however long I care to. also of course I'm eating whatever in the mess hall, I've tried to eat a lot of meat as possilbe and less pasta and rice, but still having some buttered wheat toast with about every meal.

enough about eating. hope all have a good weekend. tomorrow morning Saturday begins my work week, review, test on Sunday and then a new book 14! low of 7 degrees farenheit tonight in Kabul and high tomorrow of 32 and low of 4 the next night.

Monday, January 21, 2008

large plane

this is a cargo plane, we these from time to time, neal or dad could probably tell you what the plane is but look at all the wheels! big plane
i had to take a pic today.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

my beard

my beard is coming along nicely and I'll have it prolly for another month.
its so cold here,and i only have to shave my neck and I can go every 3 days without shaving .. ah yeah!!
plus I look my age and I think that helps in the classroom since I'm teching my age and older, some younger
anyway, it's good not too look so young sometimes.
off to class!

I'm from barcelona

Friday, January 18, 2008

russian officers club

pics of something we drive by from time to time on the afghan base where we teach. This used to be a Russian Officer's club. but it was bombed when the Mujahdeen took back AFghanistan from Russia. now it just sits there and I think some students use it for place to stay maybe? or go to have lunch there? I dunno.
but it has an interesting sort of plane in the facade. Eventually we'll go inside and get more pics but these were from the van window.

you got mail........

I recieved some things in the mail here that I orderd on the internet. ha. first box that arrived was an order from Godiva chocolate which was a splurge one lonely boring drab day here on base, and I was online and remembering how at penn square mall i like to go in and buy a chocolate now and then. I went online and found a box of chocolate marked way down (from Christmas) and 2 boxes of cookies. and here you can see how extravagantly they shipped them, a cardboard box with a styrofoam cooler inside, and 3 gel pacs included keeping everything crisp and cool during shipping. yum

next is a pair of shoes I bought on ebay. you may remember the orange and black ones I got a long time ago and posted, and it was time for new running shoes! beyond time. I put these shoes on and my feet or legs did not hurt for a second. the same day i went to the gym and ran 2.7 miles in 25 mintutes. total of 3 after cool down. good thing I'll be running what with all the that chocolate. ha

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

busy day to day

i had some extra time to read a bit of bible in my classroom today and came across Isaish 51, 7 and 8. and it sort of encouraged me a bit, it was abou don't worry about the reproach of non believers when you are taking stand for God, because they will all be eaten like moths eat a garment... anyway, you just have to put things in perspective that Christians have faith in something eternal, and if that is against the non Christian world, or if you are counter to American culture because of how you live your life, then so be it. like it says, eaten like moths eat a garment.
so that was my verse today, it was somewhat helpful.
today i came to the realizaion how much I love it here, have no problem with how I'm living or working, and how great it is to teach the students. but the single most awful thing is the lack of leadership among our team. i so want to be a top notch esl program here, but with a few halfhearted teachers and no leadership it can be really awful, so I have to remain patient, quiet, and just pray for leadership, or that whoever is in charge of the whole deal here on base will get something worked out once they see the misery no reall leadership is causing the school. ha
i dunno, anyway, there are some true feelings for a change.
new class tomorrow and new book, so that IS exciting , and we are going to a ceremony with the president Karzai attending on Thursday, so I'll take some pics!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

New Delhi?

I am trying to decide on vacation plans for late Febuary. I plan on trying to schedule a visit with Brady and his wife, my friend from college who I taught with in Honduras. He is now in Romania so that is most likely. However i could save time and money if i went to New Delhi. It is impossible to save money getting out of Kabul, because you must fly to Dubai first and from there you get real flight options....

i have also been considering Dushanbe in Tajikstan, but not in winter, everything I've researched say don't go in winter. ha. other interests are Thailand, and Kyrgyzstan.

I am not sure but I will also bite the bullet and fly out to Barcelona of perhaps London again before I leave this place. There is a chance that I may need to stay out of the USA long enough to be tax exempt on which case i can plan a visit to some other country at the end of all this.

lots of ideas. So how are things on base at KAIA ISAF NATO base in kabul? things are wonderfully fine. I worked out an hour and half today as is my new schedule for the gym. I am also eating whatever i want, I decided I will work out as much as possible and just eat. then i can lose or work off whatever extra weight once my muscles start getting a good enough size. ha

also when the weather turns warm here I can start running outdoors.
Some news at school today, you know about tribal differences in Afghanistan? well ther is a pilot who has not had electricity or a bathroom to use for a while, and then no room recently, so we had to talk to the mentors and get them to speak to Afghan officers about changing something. thsi guy is from a south provence near pakistan that no one likes ( no one here like pakistan anything btw). so tomorrow we might let hinm stay at the school room for the time being. he is a fixed wing pilot and has a LOT of English so it woudl be a shame if he just went home.
news from kabul....

Friday, January 11, 2008

another week ahead

back to class tomorrow morning.
I had a great day off, was online this morning. I also went and got a nice haircut at the barber on base, some Nepalese guy.
it cost 5 euros, and I have to say a mighty fine thorough cut.
he buzzed it and cut it nicely on top with scissors. but the nice part was when he put a new blade in his straight razor and then laid a bit of tissue on my shoulder, then with a cotton ball rubbed something cold all along the hairline from one side of the forehead around the back and up again.
then began shaving ever so lightly a nice little line all around, now and then wiping it clean on the tissue on my shoulder. when finished he took off the paper collar wrapped around my neck and scraped off my neck and stuff... so nice.
went to chapel service today. we are changing back to Thursday nights for services, and with a chaplain we will be doing a worship service with a sort of bible study in place of the sermon. so today we just sang songs, had the announcement, then broke into groups to pray for one another. that was nice becasue there are hardworking officers and stuff here on base with real concerns. many prayer requests for families back home and mil. friends traveling. and also all of us keeping our focus on Him while here, and also that the church body will grow.
after that, to the gym, then the mess hall, where I was served lamb, and then realized it was lamb and said no take it back, I'll have the beef. sorry. hope a good weekend to all.

weekend looking back

very good week at school last week.
on Tuesday, one of the instructors was sick so we joined his class and mine since we are on the same books and added h is 9 to my 5 and had 14 in my classroom. that was fun.
I was serious about teaching the lesson and jumped right in, after the first hour I was going at full steam ahead not missing a beat. ha.
later some of the other class said thank and that I "was very strong teaching". so that was very motivational. my other students told me the next day they didn't like it because they could not ask as many questions. ha . well sorry guys speak up if you got a question. guess they are used to 5 to 1 teacher ratio.
so we finish book twelve this week. tomorrow ( sat) i will continue w/ lesson 3, and Sun 4, and this will give us all day Mon to review the book and then quiz on Tuesday.
its exciting getting through book after book. a LOT of new vocab and grammar for the students, but that is the ALC system of books we use.
on Thursday during plan/tutor time we were visted by General Lindell and his entourage. that was fun although we all wished he'd been able to come when all the students are there.
pics are of driving through the afghan army base where our school is located.
you might notice a faint image in the window, it's the driving pass wth my pic on it....

Monday, January 07, 2008

nice day Monday

taught all day, fewer vocab words this lesson, but a lot more grammar concepts.
conditional sentences with If clauses, and then present perfect!

anyway, I like getting into the habit of praying before meals, it really keeps one accountable considering that Im' eating in a mess hall. Today the worship guy from church said they are changing chapel service from Fri AFternoon back to Thrusday night because twice the poeple can come than do now. SO he asked for bible study book suggestions since there is no chaplain on Thrusday nights. well I just hope they get the keyboard in soon! ha
cold wet and snowy windy tonight. there are many things going on I'll post later, jsut on base in general.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

its not that easy.......

i woke up this morning, and while wetting my head in the sink and brushing my teeth, I hear a guy in my barracks who smokes coughing and hacking, and i was thinking how I hear that every morning, and then I thought I wonder if he ever notices that I don't smoke and i wake up and just breathe in the morning air and smile and get ready for the day.....etc..
anyway, it made me think of yesterdays blog all about living with God's joy in your life and how people might notice that joy regardless of what you're saying to them, but I thought, you know ---what it's not enough, people need to be hear the good news, and some Christians have the gift of just putting it right out there, and some Christians have different gifts, sure.
But I was thinking so this smoker is probably never going to say, "Hmm why isn't that guy hacking and coughing every morning?, he must be a non smoker, maybe I should stop smoking." Because the smoker is quite happy as a nicotene addict with the crutch of smoking tobacco, giving no care to the temple of a body we've been given, maybe..... And so I thought how Christians with their faith and hope in Christ can be ignored all the same by a non-believer who considers life quite joyful based on the false hope of material goods, intimacies with others, drugs, admiration of others, cruelty, power, money, piety, etc...
I'm comforted to know that God provides the words to speak when the opportunities arise, and some are perhaps more prepared than others. But all Christians play a role in showing a nonbeliever why having the salt of the earth in your lives makes life different, and Christian culture should be different than American culture, and you should ask yourself, how is your life any different ? How do you live that might be noticed, how do you react to others differently, how are you encouraging the believer or nonbeliever?

back to kabul. 4 of my students passed the quiz, but we are doing some changes of classes so 3 of my students will stay with me and go into a new class of 12 total that i will be teaching book 12 to. its been a great week so far. One of my students had to leave after lunch yesterday, because his son had a birthday party so i let him go because he only has one son ( he has 8 kids, the last is the son who just turned 1) in this culture having a son is everything you can imagine why he had 8, ha. anyway, he brought some "cookies" from the party, giving each ofus one, and they were like a circle the size of your hand, sort of like sweet wheatbread but flat in the middle, very thick and dry. but good, I drank water because I was so thirsty. and later he brought in a tea kettle and 2 glass mugs, and we drank Chi or black tea, I drank from one glass, and the other pilots shared the other, each would drink down a glass, then another would poor a drink in same glass. ha , that's different.
SO I will miss the two students who are being pushed back to repeat books, but it is for the best!

(ps I hope i haven't sounded too discouraged about our teaching team. They are really quite interesting characters, and overall good Oklahoman type people to work with. I have begun praying for my team, to work together, to understand each other, and to develop professionally. I am also praying for our leadership, among the team and military both afghan and USA that we deal with.)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

saturday begins the work week

some pics of the mountains that we can see on the way to school in the morning, in these picswe are driving alongside the runway and taking pics of the view plus all the planes parked there in Apron 5. This week I've been driving the van back and forth which is kind of fun, because at before getting on the taxi way, you have to turn on the radio and call "tower, yankee 86, delta india to ramp 5"... and wait for them to say approved, and then you say back "tower, approved" . Next I turn on the hazard lights and then drive on keeping it at or under 40km
we'll be testing tomorrow book 11. review all morning and then after lunch the quiz. I'm getting ready to go down to the lounge and find some sort of appropriate movie to show the students. They've asked for a movie as a sort of treat after the quiz. I, of course, am fine with jumping into the next book and going over all the new vocab of lesson 1 durin that last hour of the day. ha. but I said yes that'd be fine... and they do deserve it, and watching a movie does challenge their English listening etc...

We had discussed Hindi movies in class a few weeks ago and my students knew many of the titles and the actors such as Sharak Khan from India. I brought a DVD with me to show them the cover, and one of the students remarked to another, don't show me that I wish not to see. This is because of the woman on front with short sleeves and stretch pants I think. So you see there are cultural reasons to consider, regardless of the religion, men attempting to remain holy is something to be respected regardless, and I think Christian must take that into consideration.

A response from one teacher was "You can show them movies with women like that, so what, they love it". And I think that could be an easy non-Christian response, to not consider first the beliefs of others. Indeed as Christians we are not meant to just fully enjoy anything we have find pleasure in, whether we think it damages anything about us or not. We are not God, and He knows what is beneficial and what is not...even in this modern world full of things to enjoy. So you either follow His will or lead your own way in the dark, such a difficult path walking in the dark and only seeking a bit of light now and then when our own ways starts to really fail.

I have to say, I thank God for blessing me with the peace of knowing He is in control. It's interesting to grow older and when things go wrong or not as expected , there always remains hope in God having a plan no matter what. I see co workers get all stressed out about what is happening at the school next or who's in charge of what on the military side of things, or our schedule or how we get paid or when we get days off... etc. (And I'm no fool, of course I look out for myself protect myself from getting taken advantage of..) But I don't feel wronged in any way here, I'm here, I'm teaching, I'm not the boss so i show up and teach. If I am asked, I'll give some opinion and judgement on things. But I wonder how it must be, as a non-Christian without a constant Truth to hold on to, when you are down, sick, worried, things going the wrong way, feeling lost or not in the control, struggling for riches and never truly happy, in a power struggle with other people etc.. .. and so you can fill your time and energy worried about endless details and wrongs, (and yes I too have worries and fears at times, and judgements and opinions I fight to keep QUIET... but i have God to go to with any of those things!) And perhaps there is a wisdom that comes as a believer as you grow older, to learn to communicate that calm and joy in your life that claims your faith with or without words, drawing people to notice that in you whether you are outright preaching your faith or not. ha

And I think there is a very difficult balance to maintain in one's life in America, because everything is a distraction, shopping, entertainment, other people, all the material things, ( and i love ALL my things don't get me wrong!) but what people see speaks louder than what they hear.

We are blessed and rich in the states, but the Word tells us blessed are the meek and the poor.

The Afghans are very poor, and I will love them, and I will go and try to find a nice movie.

(...sorry lots of time for thinking and blogging tonight..........hope this doesn't ramble on....)

Friday, January 04, 2008

good possible

well i worked out arms and chest today and just kept working out until i felt like i was worked out ready to head out of the gym. thing is what'st he rush. dinner will still be there if i get there at 5:30, 6:00 or 6:30. ha! so I got there by 6:15 tonight (usually i show up after the gym at about 530ish). So what are "weekends" like in kabul on base? well the weekend starts Thursday mornings but we actually go into work, and do some "plan" time for 2 hours or so while the cleaning men clean the rooms. i guess we have to be there as a security thing, but we also encourage our students to come for extra study time. we leave between 11 and 11:30 and come back to start our free time. after lunch I went to the market on base and bought some more minutes for my cell phone, and some dvd movies, and then I went to the gym and walked for 25 minutes on the treadmill, later dinner at the mess hall, and then chill online before bed. etc.
today I slept in, went to breakfast, cleaned up the room a bit. went to lunch, came back to my room, went to drop off laundry on the way to church at 3, and then gym after church. then dinner etc..
i called a Pinares student from Honduras tonight on his cell phone, he was in Miami waiting for his car to clear customs. I like keeping in touch with jose (I taught him 7th grade Englsih and then twice a day in 8th grade, math and English) because I can encourage him and he's about to graduate college. He finished high school in the states, so he has a good perspective of both the gringo american side and the Honduran side of things. Something tells me he'll be doing great things someday!
oh yeah also his dad is retired Honduran military and works on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ. what a blessing God has put on that family. I know jose will have many personal challenges ahead in life, and I continue to pray for him and other former students I keep in touch with, that they will have the strenth and reason as they continue growing up to seek God's will above all. (same for me acually, ha)

human tetris

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

happy January second!

SO how is everyone adjusting to the new year? Are you ready to stop taking control of your life and let ready to let God have full control?? yes? no?
have you considered anything for your future and how He plans to use you?
well, I can honestly say He will be using me in AFghanistan this year, because, well, I'm here aren't I. I have been considering many time what I'd be doing if I had stayed home and if I would have been better off or not, and I have to honestly say, I'm undecided thus far. ha!
I haev to ask myself was I being stubborn and just wanting to come here regardless, or did it work out as the next step i was meant to take this year.... I'm doing well here and love when I'm in the classroom with students. but the work is difficult because these students are poor and just don't have the time to get all the things done they need to really study and learn a langauge. yet they are improving and doing homework and learning. so life is just difficult here in AFghanistan for everyone. At least I know I can be an example of a kind person, and a considerate person with the students. I have to remind myself to be Christian first, American second. It is true that the two cultures are completely different.
Anyway, so IF I had stayed in OKC I would have spent a lot of money at Christmas and probably travelled or something by now. and I would have been restless working two jobs getting nowhere really. I think I'm going to be A O K until spring comes and I start thinking about my yard and house back home. ha.
so back to Jan 2nd. I taught class today and will finish up lesson 4 on Saturday hopefully giving us some time to review and review even more on Sunday when we will quiz on the book.
My weekend begins tomorrow although we do go in for a couple hours of plan time from 9-11am. Friday I'm completely off and have considered going to eggers but nothing it stone yet.
happy jan 2nd to all.
btw anonymous comments are accepted again without being on blogger so go ahead, say something. :) (just click onthe word comment below)