Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Miss Shannon, I'm growing so much I have to limbo to get out the door.
The doors are 10 feet tall :) wishful thinking dear...i feel ya.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Some favorite quotes from the last day:
I was "painting" with shaving cream with Merritt... I asked her, "What does it smell like Mer?"
Merritt: (thinks...thinks...thinks....) CLOUDS!
Then I was reading a book called I Heard Said the Bird to Kiki... which obviously is about rhyming... and as I was pointing out some words that rhymed like bird, heard, word... Kiki shouts with glee, "TURD!"
This. Is. Why. I. Love. Preschool.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
picture 80 4 year olds and their enthusiastic and slightly anxious teachers descending upon UVA's campus to spend two hours downing hot chocolate as fast as it can cool, pouring glitter on glue soaked pinecones, chucking balls at an unfortunate snowman, and singing songs we made up on the fly...
then picture all of us Corps Members laying on the floor in delighted exhaustion.
it was fabulous.
My favorite quote of the day was as I was leading a group of students into the building and I was talking to two little boys.
Marlo: My birthday!
Me: When's your birthday?
Marlo: RIGHT NOW!
Me: No way! Today is your birthday?
Adrian: No, Miss Bremer... it's RIGHT NOW, not today.
:) that made my Right Now.
Monday, December 01, 2008
About two years ago I had the privilege of walking home with a man named Tommy. He told me was from North Carolina, that he loved Jesus and that he just had a problem with drinking. That was my first introduction to a man with a kind smile who I continued to catch up with on various street corners around Charlottesville, until recently.
Our church, Trinity Presbyterian, has gotten in the wonderful habit of displaying art and photographs and having openings for the different exhibits. This month, we have the privilege of hanging a handful of James Erickson's paintings of homeless men. James paints on HUGE pieces of cardboard, about 15' by 10', honoring these men and the beauty of their lives by making their portraits enormous... too big to be passed by or ignored, as we so often do on the corner.
Last week at the opening, I stood in the center of the gallery area just turning, turning, turning... in awe and in love with what I saw. James didn't just paint these men. He knows them. And he brought them to Trinity for the opening! Beside each man's portrait was a letter he had written to James... and beside that letter stood the men themselves. It was a cold night, and everyone was mingling without removing their coats and hats... so to be honest I had a hard time picking out who was homeless and who was a normal figure in the church.... which was BEAUTIFUL and as it should be. Fewer categories being formed, more stories being told.
I was getting ready to leave, when I came around the corner and there was the biggest of all the paintings. It hung from ceiling to floor in the entry to the worship room, full of color and life. Gentleness, humility, brokenness, and beauty. Tommy Parker. I stopped, and smiled. There was my friend!
I wondered why he wasn't present that night... but figured I'd see him around town.
Then a friend informed me that Tommy had passed away in October, and I got to read the end of his story here: http://commongroundsonline.typepad.com/common_grounds_online/2008/11/in-memory-of-to.html
I am thankful to whoever provided him a bed to rest in, and to James for making his smile larger than life. And to Tommy, for introducing himself.
Chris decided that since we went on a fieldtrip to a farm to see animals, the animals were coming on a fieldtrip to see us at school!
One of the cows fell over, and I said, "Uhoh, Chris... what happened to the cow?"
Chris replied, "Oh, somebody shot it. Santa's not gonna be happy that someone shot his cow."
After recess (a chilly 35 degrees) the adults in the classroom were making some tea. Jaqueline asked, "what's that?" and we explained that it was tea. She said, "My mama drinks that, but it's black." And we said, "Oh, is it tea or is it coffee?"
Jaqueline replied, "She drinks coffee! But everytime it makes her go to the bathroom bad."
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Yesterday Garrett told his mom he didn't like school. She said, "Yes you do! You love school, you always come home talking about what you did. What do you not like about school?"
Garrett said, "Miss Betsy always makes me do these 20 hour long art projects and I'm just tired of it!"
:) apparently our art lesson was a little intense this week.
In music class today Garrett climbed up on my lap, wrapped his lil 4 year old arms around my neck and whispered in my ear, "It's going to be a very long time until I let you go, Miss Shannon."
makes. my. day.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Every Tuesday and Thursday I work with an organization called Jumpstart. It's an Americorps partner organization whose goal is to work towards the day when every child enters Kindergarten ready to succeed.
Our team works with a local elementary school's two pre-k classes two days a week one one one with some fabulous children! I can't show any pictures of the kids... but trust me they are ah-dorable.
We end our time with the classes by having lunch with a select few children. The teachers are always on the lookout for "good citizens" and children who are "listening with their whole body" to come have lunch with us in the common area.
Well today's lunch was extra special. We had two boys eat with us (and some cute girls too)... I'll call them Evan and Jose. (none of the names on this blog are the actual names of the children)...
Well Jose is a Spanish-only student... he's learning a lot of English, but is pretty silent most of the time. Evan, however, speaks entirely in English at school and in Spanish at home. We were trying to talk to Jose during lunch, asking him questions, trying to say "apple sauce" in Spanish. How many adults does it take to make a complete sentence in Spanish? In this case, four :)
There we were piecing together sentences to talk to Jose... and when we finally got one correct, he bursts into this "alaksdhfklasjdhfklasjhdfklajhsdfkasjhdf" of Spanish to us! We all looked at each other and said, "uhoh. What in the world did he say!?"
Then we realized Evan could translate!! Jose repeated what he said to Evan, who threw his hands in the hair and exclaimed, "AI!"
When we asked Evan what Jose had said he grinned and said, "I don't know."
Riiiiiight. That's when we knew we were in trouble :) Before we knew it the two of them were chattering away, pointing at various members of our team and laughing. Trouble :) The most we could catch was them calling Lanita a Water Head (we think because her hair is wavy) and the rest of us Apple Heads.
When Lanita tried to ask Evan a question, he sighed and said, "You always say everything wrong."
Well... at least we tried. This girl needs to keep taking Spanish.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Today I left my house at 8:10am, and normally it takes me about 10 minutes to get to school, but there was a rather large accident on the way so I didn't arrive until 8:50am (whoops). My kids were already in music class so I just jumped right in singing "Five Fat Turkeys" with them and was greeted with many hugs.
Our morning message always says "Good morning! Today is..... and then a sentence or two about our days. Today's was already up on the whiteboard in the class and it said:
Today is Monday.
Today we have music.
One of the little boys asked to add a sentence that said: Miss Bremer is here today!
And then at recess one of the boys from the other Pre-K class ran up to me and said, "You look beautiful today!"
Now THATS the way to start off the week.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Then another little boy who is almost entirely a Spanish speaker came running up to me and announced, "I am having a happy Halloween!" Its Oct. 27th :)
It's the first sentence I've EVER heard him speak! He usually just says "Yup" and "Whats'at?" repeatedly. It's so fun to see how much his vocabulary is expanding... today he also correctly named Circles and Squares in Colorama (you know you wish you got to play that game).
Friday, October 24, 2008
You smell like an airplane!
Ania: I saw the real Cinderella. Her sisters made her do all the work. That wasn't very nice.
Me: That's true. What could Cinderella have done about that?
Ania: She could pack up her stuff and leave.
Me: Why do you think she decided to stay instead?
Ania: Because the prince was there of course.
Me: Liv, what did you like about the trip to Whole Foods last week?
Livia: The goat cheese! It tasted like clouds.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Ellen and I headed up the mountain in lil rojo with some of our favorite ladies...
We wandered through the trees in search of the perfect apples... and it ended up that we picked 20 pounds of apples!!! So we came home and got baking...
Then today after church we decided to put a few more pounds of apples to use in the neighborhood...
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Last Friday, during indoor recess one of the little boys in my class asked me to play football with him....
G: Miss Shannon! Will you play football with me?
Me: Well sure! Do you want me to be the quarterback or do you?
G: (looking confused) No, here's how we play... you throw the ball and I catch it. Then I fall down, and the other guy helps me up. Thats how you play football.
Me: Sounds good.
I proceed to throw the ball... which G attempts to catch :) He then ignores the ball and proceeds to flop his four-year-old self on the ground. I pause... he opens one eye and with a frustrated tone says,
G: Ok! Now you're the other guy. You have to help me up.
Which I did... because thats how you play football :)
I would be fine with life's contractions if they would simply pass when I am ready for them to, so I can be okay again and remember what, after all, I'm doing in labor. Being human can be so dispiriting. It is a real stretch for me a lot of the time.
Anne (we're on a first-name basis) is referring to childbirth and how the pain is worth the end result, much like the sufferings of our faith bring eventual glory. I just love her honesty here... you can hear her clench her fists and stomp her feet a little because life is just frustrating sometimes. Call it what it is!
but as I muddle through gradschool there are some thoughts to share, some quotes that inspire, and some questions I have... so they'll come up occasionally!
Monday, August 18, 2008
she sent me off with a compilation of wendell berry poems and i just delighted in them! especially the ones about nature just ran through my head as we kayaked through marshes into open ocean, walked over sand dunes down to kettle ponds, and saw lilies leaning with the bayside wind.
here's one of my favorites...
Hunting them, a man must sweat, bear
the whine of a mosquito in his ear,
grow thirsty, tired, despair perhaps
of ever finding them, walk a long way.
He must give himself over to chance,
for they live beyond prediction.
He must give himself over to patience,
for they live beyond will. He must be led
along the hill as by a prayer.
If he finds them anywhere, he will find
a few, paired on their stalks,
at ease in the air as souls in bliss.
I found them here at first without hunting,
by grace, as all beauties are first found.
I have hunted and not found them here.
Found, unfound, they breathe their light
into the mind, year after year.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call
I have a father
He calls me his own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go
He knows my name...
-- Geoff Moore
Sunday, April 13, 2008
The market is full of my favorite venders... like the guy on the left. He sells goat cheese, which apparently the government has now regulated so he can't sell it... so he gives it away! People give donations to help support, but its free! There are always a multitude of flowers and fruit... usually I just walk up with a few dollars, enough to get a freshly made bagel, coffee, or lime iced tea from my favorite stalls. It's still early in the season for all of these fun things, so yesterday I got fresh salad greens for our dinner.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Both of these are "goat owners." The man is holding a record of all the times his goat has been "serviced" by female goats! The woman on the right was so proud to show us her two female goats that she is entrusted with.
Right now the staff of CSB is trying to increase the school's agriculural production to help feed the students and staff. A few years ago the students were given a choice between beef and rice/beans and they chose rice & beans. So their diet consists of three meals a day-- porridge for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch and dinner. They never get meat or fresh fruits and vegetables. The staff gets meat once/week, usually rabbit. The school is participating in World Harvest's attempt to breed the local goats with mid-grade dairy goats to eventually produce a sustainable source of milk and meat for the students... so we spent some time with the goats (Wade, being a large animal vet made sure they were all healthy by promptly sticking his hands in their mouths... yuck).
Our visit at CSB was wonderful... obviously my heart is for education and the work that they are doing is truly going to impact the future of the entire country! Part of me longed to return one day and teach the Ugandan kids, like my fellow Tribe member Scott Ickus did for a year. Keep tabs on David and Annelise here: http://www.christschoolbundibugyo.org/CSB%20home.html and please pray for their ministry! There's a link from this blog that tells how you can help with prayer and financial contributions... a worthy cause.
The big news is that I got into the University of Virginia for graduate school! In the fall I will start a two year program working towards a Masters in Teaching in Early Childhood and Developmental Risk Education. It's the only program of its kind in the country and exactly what I hope to do with the rest of my working life, so needless to say after months of anticipation I was pretty pumped to recieve a letter from UVA! Lauren was with me and we woke up all our neighbors with our screams I think! :)
Appropriately, where I left off in the story of my trip to Uganda was the day where we toured Christ School...
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
February 23, 2008... we arrived at the airport in Entebbe, Uganda on time and WITH ALL OUR LUGGAGE. That was a HUGE answer to prayer as you can see from the picture above, we had a lot of it. Each of us brought at least one suitcase plus the big footlockers full of supplies for the missionaries-- everything from peanut M&Ms to solar panels!
We flew over Bundibugyo, and thanks to Paul Leary's narration, I was able to capture images of the town Nyahuka, where World Harvest Mission is located, as well as Christ School and the Health Center without really knowing what I was capturing!
Our first team activity was to go and see Melen, the widow of Dr. Jonah Kule. Jonah gave his life to the treatment of the people of Bundibugyo during the Ebole epidemic this winter, leaving behind his wife and 5 daughters-- and just recently Melen gave birth to a sweet baby boy! We came to sit with her and to give her a framed edition of Harvester dedicated to Jonah's life. And this is where our team's tears began to flow...
So dream a little, dream for me in hopes that I'll remain.
We finished that first day by making homemade pizzas in the Myhre's famous brick oven! Every Thursday the team gathers to scoop out the dough, top off the pizzas, and enjoy time together. It was a great first step into their lives... and a very full first day.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
My brain must still be on Africa-time because I couldn't even wrap my mind around what I was doing or thinking this time last year. One of the many benefits of journaling I have found is the ability of really revisiting where I was, what I was thinking and experiencing a year ago.
So this morning, in an attempt to think about that question, I pulled last spring's journal off of the bookshelf. Among many things, I found this poem I had written one Friday afternoon at work at Trinity. At this point I was six months into my job here, and it had obviously been a tough afternoon. But rereading the pages this morning reminded me again of my call to be here now, and how sweet it has been the past year. So a break from the Africa narrative to share these thoughts...
a very busy friday, even more than most
a phone call and messages when i leave my post
my feet pound out my to-do list
that rambles through my head
what to do first, and next, now vs. then
frustrated, and now tired, my arms they carry on
my heart wishes for a helper
or just to hear, "well done."
around the sanctuary, office, down the hall
check in, move on, what's that? who called?
and now my heart is restless,
"they're asking way too much!
i simply cannot do it... i've had about enough."
then calling from the middle,
the central room to all
is a voice i seem to recognize--
calling, soft and small.
someone's playing musc, alone
but full of hope;
the rythm draws me closer
can't help but take a look.
empty room of worship, filled
with one guitar's sound,
here my heart can rest, here my purpose found.
i walk softly toward the back,
to get a bigger view;
a cross stands tall and mighty
somewhat lonely, too.
i remember why i'm here now,
and why i care so much,
because You had a purpose
with your unique touch.
i stand in awe of beauty, love and grace
and let your voice remind me...
"I called you to this place."
Sunday, March 09, 2008
I was sitting on the living room floor of Doug & Sarah Granger's house, playing with their three oldest children-- Abe, Annabel, and Oak-- while Doug and Sarah were at the hospital in labor (or so we thought) with Granger #4.
Ellen, my roommate, kept texting me and asking me when I was going to be home because we needed to talk. Being the one who panics about conflict, I immediately called her and asked her if she was mad at me! She assured me everything was fine, and it could wait until I was done babysitting.
Apparently it couldn't because an hour later in walked Ellen, Clark, and Katie Pennock-- my great friend and the Assistant to Missions at Trinity (www.trinitycville.org). I thought something must be terribly wrong for all three of them to come over. Ellen, again, quickly assured me everything was ok, in fact everything was great.... "Your friends want to send you to Africa," she said.
Heart, breathing, thinking, motor control, the ability to communicate-- it all stopped.
"WHAT!??" I squeeked out.
Then the story unfolded... how there was a spot on a team going to visit the World Harvest Mission (www.whm.org) team in Bundibugyo, Uganda... how these three saw fit for me to be the one to fill that spot... how the church gave me the time off from work... how I miraculously had NO plans for the 9 days the trip was planned.
I know Psalm 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
But to experience the Lord fulfilling in me a desire I did not even know I had! I can't explain the shock::joy::tears::gratitude that overflowed.
In that moment so much was fulfilled, and yet only begun. In the next 24 hours all of my support for the trip was raised by the generous and wonderful family and friends surrounding me, confirming this was indeed God's plan for my February. Plane tickets, luggage, and long skirts followed suit (in Uganda women wear skirts below the knee almost everywhere).
The beginning of the story... much like the beginning of THE story, begins with God's goodness.