Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Let the partying begin!

On December 2, 2006 the staff of Harvest Ministries gathered at the beautiful Westin hotel for our annual Christmas party. We had a nice buffet dinner and an enjoyable skit and caroling time followed by a short challenge from Pastor Herron. Below are some pictures of my friends and me from that night.

My roommates, Kelly and Elizabeth, and me.

My friends, Julie and Lisa.

Doug, Karen, and Jake Abels.

Me and April.

Pastor and Mrs. Herron.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Seaside Concert at the Hilton

This year I got to participate in the Guam Symphony and Chorale concert at the Hilton Resort. It was a really cool opportunity to sing under the tent in front of Tumon Bay and Two Lover's Point at sunset. The "Chorale"--only 4 sopranos, 4 altos, and 1 tenor this year--sang a medley of Christmas carols with the orchestra providing accompaniment.

One of the highlights of the concert is the appearance of Santa Clause riding a caribou. Children thronged around him as he rode around the circumference of the crowd. I followed him the entire distance around trying to get a good shot and finally got this one back near my original seat!

After the concert and as we were running to the car because we were late for church, I snapped this picture of Tumon Bay in the moonlight. Guam is so beautiful! "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." Psalm 19:1


I had a very relaxing Thanksgiving. The break started when we got out of school early on Wednesday. We had a special dress up day and fundraiser for the senior trip called Pilgrim and Indian Day. Many students wore costumes and the teachers got a free lunch if we wore an outfit too. It's a lot of fun. Some of the teachers go all out with their creative get-up.

On Thanksgiving Day, I got up relatively early (especially since both my roommates were still asleep--that usually doesn't happen!) and made sweet potato casserole. Last year I learned to put a pan underneath the sweet potatoes so they don't explode and ooze all over the stove, and this year I learned to put tin foil over the pan so my roommate doesn't have to spend all night scrubbing the pan (sorry, Kelly!). I also learned to buy sweet potatoes early so I don't have to use 20 minuscule ones instead of 6 big ones. The casserole turned out really well, though, and everybody loved it.

Dinner at Doug and Karen Abel's house was special as usual. Karen does a fantastic job of organizing the food and displaying it in a pleasing way. After dinner Doug led in a testimony and song time. There were several HBBI students at the dinner and they love to sing! It is always a lot of fun to sing with them. This is a picture of my two HBBI "daughters," Youlean and Sincer.

Later that afternoon my roommates and I headed down to Agat where we were going to stay overnight with the Webbers, a couple from Harvest that was housesitting at a beautiful home by the ocean. We were hoping to see a beautiful sunset, but unfortunately, it was raining out at sea and the sky was cloudy and gray. Just being by the ocean was relaxing, though, and we enjoyed talking with the Webbers and another family that was visiting for the day.

We stayed in the guest house, which had two bedrooms, a bathroom (which had a serene face painted on one entire wall!), a living room and a kitchen. We slept in, read our Bibles, and then watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Mrs. Webber spoiled by bringing us coffee and breakfast. After a leisurely breakfast, we went kayaking out on the ocean and looked at the coral through the clear canoe Elizabeth and Kelly used. I loved trying to catch the waves as we rode back in. We stayed at the Webber's until late afternoon. By the time we got back to Agana, we could tell there was going to be a beautiful sunset that night! Oh, well. We had a great time on the beautiful, clear day-after-Thanksgiving.

Mid-December Madness

It's been so long since I've blogged, I hope I can remember how to do it.

I've been teaching Twelfth Night recently, hence the allusion to Shakespeare in the title of my post. I do love Shakespeare; I wish I could teach more of him, but alas, the semester is ending soon and with it our exploration of a couple of his great plays. My seniors are in for a doosy of a semester exam. If any of them are reading this, I hope they take the warning and study. (In class I've been encouraging them to study, so don't be worried that I haven't told them.)

In between writing recommendation letters for several seniors tonight, I'm going to try to post some recent pictures of things I've done lately. I've had a busy month and a half since I last wrote, so I need to get some pictures up before I head off for Christmas break, which will mean more pictures!

Linda, Kallen, and Grace read the parts of the Weird Sisters in Macbeth Act I. The witches are described as having beards, so the girls came up with a creative solution. We were able to go to the auditorium for class one day to act out scenes from the play--one of my favorite activities of the year. The students always have a great time, too.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Botched Joke--Whatever!

John Kerry has a history of not saying what he means to say or of denying that what he said is really what he said. Instead of simply apologizing for his inappropriate statement, Kerry is now trying to blame the media for "misinterpreting" his comment. If you're interested, you can read James Taranto's commentary and research here. And why is it okay for Kerry to make jokes about the president, but not about the military? Since Bush is the Commander-in-Chief of America's armed forces, Kerry's comments about Bush's leadership in the war are against the military. I would not want someone so unsupportive of my sacrificial work to be my Commander-in-Chief. Furthermore, slandering the president not only harms the military but it also hurts the entire United States.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The sunshine is back, too!

This morning we had no school, and this afternoon and evening were parent-teacher conferences. My roommate and I celebrated our few hours of freedom from the classroom by going to the beach. Have I mentioned recently that I love living on a tropical island?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm back

I was out of school for over a week; first, I was sick with the flu and then laryngitis and a sinus infection. Since I don't have internet at home, I have not been able to blog. I seriously doubt I would have done any writing anyway, since there were times I could barely hold my head up. But I'm back in school now, and although I still don't feel completely better, I am much better than I was last week at this time. While I was out, I did quite a bit of reading. I greatly enjoyed G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who was Thursday. If I tried to explain the plot, it would thoroughly confuse you, so I won't try. But the book is well worth the read. I read an annotated version by Ignatius Press which has a very helpful introduction. I love Chesterton's style--he uses a lot of alliteration, even in prose. I also read Condi: The Condoleeza Rice Story. I was already interested in her because of what I had seen of her on TV, and I came away with an even stronger admiration for her. She is a fascinating lady. Before deciding to study Russian history and language, she was a Piano Performance major and had considered a career as a concert pianist. When she was my age, she was finishing up her doctorate in International Studies at the University of Denver and then started teaching at Stanford. She served on the National Security Council during the George H. Bush administration and then returned to Stanford to become the provost. Now she is the National Security Adviser. The White House has a concise bio of Dr. Rice, but I encourage you to read the book for a more complete picture of this talented lady. I took a break from the more serious reading to read the second and third books in the Mitford Series: A Light in the Window and These High, Green Hills. I actually read both books in one day--almost 800 pages! The books are from the perspective of an Episcopal priest, Father Tim, in the small village of Mitford, North Carolina. I love the characters in these light, easy-to-read novels. I appreciate Father Tim's realistic, often humorous, responses to the situations and people he meets. I'm going to check books four and five out of the library to read this weekend. I just finished Theodore Dreiser's Jennie Gerhardt this morning. I do not recommend this book unless you want to be seriously depressed. Dreiser's deterministic pessimism is overbearing and leads to a very unsatisfactory conclusion. This is the sort of book I'd like to write a paper about because of the nature imagery and philosophy, but I don't know if I could stand re-reading it so closely. I read Dreiser's Sister Carrie in grad school and rather liked it (in a weird academic way); I don't remember the philosophy as being so in-your-face pessimistic. My roommate asked me why I read books like Jennie Gerhardt. I am trying to expand the breadth of novels I read to include more of the classics but also lesser known works by important authors. I didn't want to end my study of serious literature with my graduation from graduate school. In fact, I think I have an even greater desire to read more now that I teach literature. Sometimes I am familiar with only one work by an author which I studied in high school or college (sometimes even twice in college), but I have read little else by the major authors. I am trying to read more by the authors I teach so I can have a greater understanding of and appreciation for the works that I teach. For example, I teach "The White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett, but that is the only story I have ever read by her. The next book on my reading list is Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Political Candidates Visit HCA

In the past two weeks, we have had the privilege of hearing four candidates for office speak in special assemblies at Harvest Christian Academy. This has been a valuable educational experience for the students. Each of the candidates had an opportunity to speak about his platform, but they also answered questions prepared by the senior Government class. On October 3, 2006, Governor Felix Camacho was our first visitor. He described his role as governor and explained how his position and decisions affect each citizen of Guam. Camacho spoke with conviction and clarity about the issues that need to be improved on the island. Because all of the candidates emphasize education, Governor Camacho chose to make the issue of clean and available water and water treatment to all citizens the distinguishing feature of his platform. Camacho believes the military's increase in soldiers on Guam will have a positive impact on Guam as it will encourage job growth and improve the island's infrastructure. For more information and pictures of the Governor's visit please click here. Former Congressman Robert Underwood spoke to the high school students on October 13, 2006. He told entertaining stories of his early political involvement and his time in Washington, DC, as Guam's representative to Congress. Underwood encouraged the students to pursue their dreams and, if so inclined, become involved in the political process. For more information and pictures of Robert Underwood's visit click here. On October 24, candidates for Attorney General, Alicia Limtiaco and Vern Perez, spoke to the student body about the role the AG plays in government. The Attorney General is part of the executive branch and works with all branches of government to give legal advice and to approve initiatives. Both candidates want to increase convictions and improve the staffing of the AG's office (apparently the former AG was really difficult to work with so there was a high turnover rate). In addition, Perez emphasized that the AG needs to work with the governor on issues that will benefit the island instead of constantly hindering the process. For more information about the candidates visit, you can click here. Some additional pictures: The governor accepts an HCA hat as a token of appreciation for his visit. Robert Underwood signing autographs for students.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"War Thoughts at Home"

I recently mentioned a new Robert Frost poem that was discovered by Robert Stilling. Unfortunately for me, since I am not a subscriber to VQR, I can't read the newly published poem. But you can read Stilling's paper here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Sometimes it seems like it rains all the time. In fact, on Guam at this time of year it usually is raining. Usually the weather map looks like this: But lately the weather has looked like this: And here is an interesting picture of Guam right now: After a while, I find all of this rainy weather depressing. This rainy Monday morning as I was up at "o'dark thirty" (as one of my college friends used to say) walking around the pool (Don't be too impressed--it's the first time all semester I've gotten up to walk. Hopefully it will become a habit, though.) I started complaining about the fact that it was raining and Monday and still dark out. God started bringing some verses to mind that really helped my outlook on life: "Thy mercies are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness," "My strength is made perfect in weakness," "My grace is sufficient for thee," and "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." In an effort to renew my mind, I decided to do what one of my friends did last Monday and make a list of things I am thankful for: 1. I am thankful for God. He is my Strength, my Fortress, my Strong Tower, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Shepherd, my Father, my Sustainer, and my Life. The list could go on, but these are a few characteristics of God that I thought of this morning. Yesterday I sang "God's Power Within Us" as a special in the evening service. I needed to be reminded of those words today: "God's power is within us, now we can move our mountains. God's strength within us can calm the raging sea. And by God's Spirit we can overcome our sin. And by God's grace we'll run the race until it's won. Our God is worthy of honor, the power and the glory. Our God is worthy of all praise. Sing alleluia, alleluia. Give praise unto the Lord." 2. I am thankful that I teach at Harvest Christian Academy in Guam. This is an awesome ministry and I am privileged to be a part of it. God is at work here! I am thankful for the godly leadership of the pastoral staff and the school administration. I am thankful for the wonderful staff members who encourage me to trust God and not to lose focus as I seek to serve Him here. I am thankful for my students who bring joy and who, even on the worse days, are exceptional students. I am often amazed at the quality of their work. I love teaching here! 3. I am thankful for my roommates, Elizabeth and Kelly. We have a great time together whether we're hanging pictures in our apartment, watching a football game (Notre Dame--see the post below) or movie, or cooking supper together. I also love that fact that we often sit around and talk about what we are learning about in our devotions or about how God is working in our lives. My roommates are a great help and encouragement to me! 4. I am thankful that I am single. This may seem like a funny thing to be thankful for, but I am. (Sometimes I do have to remind myself to be thankful for this.) Odds are that I wouldn't have come to Guam or have had many of the opportunities I have had if I were married. I am glad for this time to serve the Lord here and in this capacity. The Lord is using this time in my life to teach me many valuable lessons and I am thankful for the oppportunity to rely on His strength and grace in this way. One of the things the Lord taught me during Spirit Week this year is that I often use other things (reading, watching movies, hanging out with friends) to ease the loneliness that I feel instead of turning to God. I committed to God that week that I didn't want to escape the process but instead allow God to use it to draw me closer to Him. I'm still learning how that works out in practical living, but I am realizing more and more how much I need God and how He can help me every day. 5. I am thankful for my family. The other evening my roommates and I were talking about family picture memories (we're going to hang pictures of our family in our living room) and I was overwhelmed with good, funny memories of my family. I love them and I miss them! My mom, dad, and youngest brother Zeke live in Vermont. Nate is a reporter in South Carolina and is planning on getting married next summer. Right now Ben is at Marine boot camp in Paris Island, SC. Ben is engaged to be married next summer to Rebecca. 6. I am thankful for my friends. Last week I heard from several friends who I hadn't heard from in a long time, and it really did my heart good to reestablish contact with them. I'm also thankful for email since I am so far away; email is really the best way for me to stay in touch with my friends on the mainland.

Go, Irish!

Bet you didn't know I was a Notre Dame fan! Well, I've only recently become one. My roommate Kelly is from South Bend, Indiana, so she is a die-hard fan. I watched some of the games with her last year but have really gotten into them this year. I've really surprised myself at how much I enjoy the games and at how much I've learned about football this year. I think I yelled as loud--and possibly more--than she did last week when ND squeaked in a win against Michigan State. It was fun to see them have a solid win this week after so many tense games this season. I guess practicing first and second downs in practice last week really helped. I have always found sports commentators amusing and interesting. They always tell you the most random information in between plays. For instance, yesterday I learned that Ryan Harris has an Introduction to Jazz class on Friday afternoons. Thank you for telling me that. My life is now complete.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bulletin board project

Wow, I spent almost the entire evening putting my bulletin boards together! If I had known how long it would take, I probably would have done something easier. The first picture is of my Beowulf bulletin board. I actually put this one together last weekend before I started teaching the poem. In the center is a section of Beowulf in Old English. My students thought it was cool that I could read the OE (thank you, Dr. Martin!). The modern English translation is to the left. My students are working on their final projects for the poem--dramas based on the poem or a newspaper front page based on the work. I'm looking forward to seeing the final projects next week. The "Poetic Gems" board features poems the seniors turned in on Thursday. I am very impressed with their work. The last bulletin board displays some of the best essays from my Research and Writing class with my comments in the thought bubbles. I'm hoping that seeing some examples of good thesis statements and paragraphs filled with support for the topic sentences will inspire the other students to do the same in their papers. My room looks a lot more cheerful now with the blank spaces filled in with colorful displays of my students's work.

Hurrah for Graduate Students!

A new Robert Frost poem was found by a graduate student, Robert Stilling, at University of Virginia. It sounds like his job cataloguing books and manuscripts is rather boring, but it had a big payoff in this case. I'm excited to read the poem when it is published next week.

Ah, the joys of being a second year teacher!

Today I laminated bulletin board borders and letters--something I only dreamed of doing last year. I am so glad to be able to put forward a little more of a professional look. Last year I mostly put up student work on my bulletin boards, but this year I have been able to be a little more creative. Pictures of my most recent bulletin boards will be forthcoming.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Students on Center Stage

During a recent "Professional Development Emphasis" teachers meeting, we discussed an article by Max Fischer titled "Learning to Cope With Larger Classes." Fischer encourages teachers not to resort to only lecturing when the class size is large but to modify group or whole class activities to accommodate the larger classes. The key to effective group activities is the teacher's preparation and instructions. The teacher needs to break down each part of the activity and clearly explain each step of the process (it will feel like over-simplification but the students need the structure). When the students understand what is expected of them, the results will amaze you. Last year my junior class had about 17-19 students (the enrollment changed several times during the year) and I felt very comfortable incorporating both large or small group activities. This year's class size is 25 in Research and Writing and 30 in junior English. I have shied away from some interactive activities because it was difficult to organize and manage that many students. Today, however, I had a successful group activity in my Research class. I am extremely pleased with the focus of the students and the learning that took place today. On Tuesday I asked each student to bring in two letters to the editor published in either a magazine or newspaper and three articles they were interested in responding to in their own letter to the editor. I split the class into groups pairing strong students with weak or ESL students. I gave the entire class instructions and then talked with the group leaders about how to help the ESL students in their groups. I was really proud of the leadership some of my students took. I observed them analyzing the articles, underlining topic sentences, explaining the definitions of terms, and summarizing the articles. At the end of the letter/article analysis, a spokesman summarized the organization and good/bad points of the article. One group leader had each person (including the brand-new ESL student) in her group explain one part of the evaluation. Another spokesman presented an articulate critique and summary. My faith in group work has been restored. With proper planning and guidance, the experience of working with classmates toward a clear objective is profitable and valuable.


One of my students confessed today that she used to think "Anonymous" was a person's name. What is the difference between "Anonymous" and "Unknown"? I tried to explain to my senior British literature class that the author of Beowulf is unknown because we just don't know who wrote the poem but not anonymous because he wasn't trying to keep his identity hidden. Was I right? I was probably splitting hairs about the definition like I usually do.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

ESL moment

One of my ESL students left this charming comment on my chalkboard before I had a chance to write the day's writing prompt: "No school today . . . Go sleepy!" I still chuckle every time I think of it.

Monday, September 18, 2006


I decided to test my literary wings on my own blog. I just hope my wings don't melt and I plunge into the ocean, which really isn't too far from where I live. I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while, especially since I moved to the other side of the world. I hope this will help me stay connected with my friends Stateside and give me a place to share what I am learning here in Guam. My best friend wants to hear more about my experiences teaching in Guam, so I hope to accomodate her on this blog. I'm sure you caught the obvious allusion in my blog title and description--most of my friends should have no difficulty with that one--but I'd like to elaborate a little on the description. I am a teacher; I teach 11th and 12th grade English and Yearbook at Harvest Christian Academy in Barrigada, Guam. I would like to share with you some of the stories, experiences, and lessons I learn while teaching at this wonderful school. I love to teach, but I also love to learn. I frequently think about what correspondence course or degree I could work on next (my mom is probably cringing right now because she knows my track record with correspondence courses). I love to read! I always have a book on my nightstand and lately I've been staying up late to finish the good books I've found (Black Hawk Down, Papa's Wife, and My Antonia are the most recent to spend a few days on the nightstand). I am also attempting to be a student of God's Word. I'd like to use this space to share some of the lessons God is teaching me. And I am an "islander." I moved to Guam 14 months ago and I love it here! I enjoy the relaxed way of life (though life is NOT slow at Harvest) and the fantastic scenery. The island people are wonderful and I am learning more about the culture every week. I'll probably share with you some of the oddities and neat things about living in a melting pot of cultures like I do. There is no place like Guam; I say that with fondness--but with a touch of frustration at times! Well, I've got to get back to being a teacher and finish grading a stack of papers!