Here is my latest newsletter. August 2016-TenClay
Here is my latest newsletter . . . the last one from the field this term! Excited to be returning to the US for a bit May 2016-revised
So, the most time consuming part of my life right now is our Drama Department’s production. Each year we do one play at RFIS, and our performance is generally about a week before our equivalent of Spring Break. The technical aspects of RFIS theatre productions in the past have been . . . well . . . let’s say a few decades behind. They have done well with what they had, but since they have never had someone specifically working with the technical side of the production, very little had been invested in that over the years RFIS has existed.
In the past year and a half we have made great strides towards modernizing and expanding our program! Starting with one financial gift specifically aimed at expanding in this direction, and continuing from multiple other sources, we have purchased some LED lighting fixtures and a system to control them, collected a variety of tools necessary to build scenery, and even started a ‘Drama Tech’ class as an elective! We still have a ways to go, but I have been having a BLAST!
With the additional equipment and a class to train students in some basic technical theatre knowledge, we have gone all out on this year’s production! The lighting is going to be a bit more of a fluid process as I experiment with the new software and equipment to figure out what options I have, but I designed the costumes and the set and my crew and I have been making everything from lightning bolts to capes and from masks to wooden boxes. Combine full technical support (have I mentioned that I have an AWESOME CREW?) with a great cast, and a REALLY FUN script that is totally ‘outside the box’ from what has been done here in the past , and this year’s show is going to be awesome!
If anyone is going to be in or near Yaoundé, Cameroon on the 11th or 12th of March, let me know and I can get you more details on when and where. . .
Yes, the violence we have seen from Radical Islam is terrible. Yes, the attacks in Paris and elsewhere around the world are absolutely tragic. Something needs to be done. There is no doubt about it, and in no way am I trying to lessen the tremendous losses that many have experienced. However, just as the days and weeks following the 9/11 attacks on the US in 2001, we seem to be in dire need of stepping back, taking a deep breath, looking at the big picture, and reconsidering how we want to define ourselves.
I have seen so much anger and hatred in the past week that my heart is breaking . Are we/they justified in being angry? Most certainly! Would it be ‘just’ to hate? Maybe. However, as Christians, and even simply as members of humanity, we MUST resist that urge! Hate will destroy us from the inside out. We can hate the evil things that have been done and the many heartbreaking situations surrounding those events, but it is NOT ok to hate individuals because of their country of origin or the religion they profess. Disagree with them? Yes! Condemn such horrible acts? Yes! Take action against them? Quite possibly. Now, I am NOT trying to get into the argument of whether Islam is inherently violent or if it is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by extremists That is beside the point. My point is that when our response is hatred and violence, we are guilty of exactly what we are criticizing in their religion.
Should we bomb Syria? Maybe. I am not dismissing the idea that this might be part of the solution (and I am quite happy to defer to those with the training to assess that side of the situation). However, if we are completely honest with ourselves, we know that the issue is much bigger than that. In fact, we also need to consider how our actions also have the potential to make matters worse in the process.
Will closing our borders to refugees stop ISIS? Nope, sorry. They will find a way to get in whether or not we restrict immigration. Will it at least help to protect us? Maybe to some small degree, but it is problematic on so many levels at the same time. Punishing the very people who are fleeing these same oppressive regimes simply doesn’t make sense. I understand that the fear here relates to the terrorists who might slip over the border in their midst, but how can we possibly justify punishing so many who are in such dire circumstances because of that chance? Aren’t there better ways to ensure security than fear? I’m not saying we should just throw the borders open without regard for who is coming in. Even without security concerns there economic considerations, but a nation of our size and with our resources could handle that influx much better than many others. Do we need a process to screen those seeking entry? Of course, but even that should not be dictated by fear and hatred. The issue is much deeper than stopping immigration, and this will NOT solve it.
To my American friends – We are a nation of immigrants, so many of whom came in flight from various forms of religious and political persecution. What does the inscription on the Statue of Liberty say? “Give me your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed to me” Isn’t the freedom, the chance to start a new life, the hope that so many of these men and women seek exactly what men and women in uniform have been giving their lives to protect for generations now? What are we teaching our children? I’m not claiming to have the answer, but it must be an answer that includes compassion.
To my Christian friends – Yes, I know the balance we must walk in this world is tough, especially when we are angry, and even more-so when the anger is just. But we can’t forget, we can’t let go of, and we can’t lose sight of Grace. Love MUST overcome hate, and light MUST overcome darkness, or where are we?
I haven’t posted much in a REALLY long time, but here is my latest newsletter. If you are on my mailing list it should be coming soon. My internet and email have been SO slow and problematic lately that I have asked my Dad to send it out again.
As is American tradition on Thanksgiving Day, it is fun to sit back and reflect on the many things for which I am thankful. Obviously some of the first things that come to mind include my awesome family, the many church families who graciously claim me, my wonderful upstairs neighbors, and the opportunity to work at such a great school with great kids (yes, even the ones who drive me crazy some days!).
But as I was walking up to campus this morning, it occurred to me that you probably don’t know about some of the ways we have been blessed here in the past year, so here are a few of the things that we are thankful for here at RFIS that are tangible ways we are blessed by supporters around the world and members of our local national and missionary community.
I am thankful for our BEAUTIFUL campus, but it is a little too far away from where most of our teachers and students live to be convenient at times. The school was able to purchase a used van a couple of years ago to carry teachers back and forth. A group of parents have set up a van/carpool schedule to get kids here and back for school and athletic practices, and those who have vehicles work together to make sure others get out here. I am so thankful for how people have worked together to make transport possible. (And quite honestly, I am even more thankful that I live out here now and don’t have to get carsick on the way to and from school every day!)
I am thankful for the background I have in theatre. Our ‘auditorium’ is really just a big room with folding chairs, and our ‘stage lighting’ is a bit of a joke, but I am thankful of the progress we are making in this department! We have some actual stage lighting fixtures coming on the SIL container that could be here any day, and we are trying to start designing a possible auditorium. Building it is still a ways off, but if we can figure out how to design something practical for this climate and our situation, we might be able to tackle the rehearsal space part of it in a couple of years.
The list could go on and on, but I should probably get back to the work I HAVE to get done . . . Happy Thanksgiving
I was going to write a blog about our experience this Wednesday in Chapel at RFIS. However, a friend of mine just posted this, and she says exactly what I wanted to say, so just take a look at her blog. It is a GREAT story!
Click here to visit Janet Ziegelbaur’s Blog about Mama Pauline
Many of you may have heard me say we have a REALLY nice soccer field at RFIS. In fact, I have been told multiple times that it is the second best in the COUNTRY. Generally this isn’t something that concerns me, (or quite honestly something I care much about,) but evidently it has some perks. The other day a bus pulled up on campus and out piled a whole bunch of Cameroonian women in yellow sports clothes. It seemed strange, but our athletic director was out there greeting them, so I didn’t think much of it. However, it was the Cameroon Women’s national soccer team! Seriously!
And that isn’t even the biggest news. Our Athletic director set up for them to scrimmage with our high school boys’ soccer team at the beginning of the next week! How cool of an opportunity is that?! They played a GREAT game on Monday afternoon!. I am not surprised to admit that they beat our boys, but it was so much fun to watch (even for someone like me who has somewhere in the vicinity of NO interest in sports)! And, quite honestly, our boys held their own. For example, if I understand correctly, our goalie blocked a penalty shot from the only member of their team to have scored in the OLYMPICS. We lost 3-7, but can you imagine the stories the three boys who scored will be able to tell someday about the day they scored a goal against the Cameroonian (women’s) national team?! I took a ridiculous number of pictures and thought I would share a few with you.
Here is a link the the newsletter I just sent out. Let me know here or on facebook if you would like to be added to my mailing list to get it via email next time.
TenClay 2014 August Newsletter
Also, here is a short introduction video I just made for one of my churches – feel free to use it in yours too (The first link is for the full-sized file, and the second is for a version with a little lower resolution in case your internet is as slow as mine. I couldn’t get them to show up as actual links, so you will probably have to copy and paste whichever you want into your web browser.)