Tuesday, November 14, 2017
“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” ― Seneca
I’ve done a lot of hard things in my life, but this is one of the hardest if not the absolute hardest. While most of me wants to go be with my beloved, the part of me that controls what I do is more concerned about keeping me here and looking out for my sons and keeping Karen’s dreams alive for the children here. Physically, I got problems that ordinarily would let me opt out of working—but this is no ordinary situation, so I just gotta keep on swimmin’ and holding my head above water. The doctor checks on me every day and my B/P and blood/ox are both well within normal limits, so he’s fairly happy. I’m not, but I’ll live—even it that’s not how I hoped things would go. I'm 73 years old today and never thought that would happen, so who knows?
With all that in mind, I didn’t come to Africa to become a school administrator but that’s sorta how it’s working out. I’ll be devoting a lot of my time and energy from here on out working on making it so the preschool here that Karen started will continue for at least another ten years (which is probably longer than I’ll continue to be here). Teachers need to be hired, kept inspired, paid well, and set up to replace themselves if they leave for greener pastures. Seems that working for my wife made those who did much more in demand than others, so we kinda hafta plan for teachers to work for two or three years and then to move on. We also have to maintain supplies and teaching equipment which means collecting as much as we can and storing it, so we can distribute it as needed. Shaban has already begun a program for accounting, keeping track of the money we have coming in and the money we need to spend. We may have to increase some salaries to keep some teachers longer and to incorporate some of the duties of the outside staff with those of the teachers and aides. That way, we can cut outside staff while increasing the pay for school workers while not losing any work that needs doing. Shaban is really good at doing this, and I am really good at telling him what a good job he is doing. Just so you know, I once ran a 200 bed mental facility with 80 employees and an annual budget of over five million dollars for several years quite successfully. I do have experience in the private sector—just didn’t expect to be using it in equatorial Africa. We will be expanding just a bit in terms of the number of students—by adding paying kids we can offset some of the cost of the orphans without having to reduce their numbers at all. Turns out that there are a lot of private students who want to go to Mama Africa’s school—that’s good. We can also increase the number of paying kids in the afternoon English school (when we say “paying” we are talking about five to ten dollars a month, so still pretty reasonable for here). Again, there is a waiting list of prospective students as Karen’s English kids have always aced the national English exams. We will continue to use “Starfall” as the main curriculum since it has worked so well over the last ten years. Some of our projects will sadly cease, as I did not learn to sew on a treadle machine like my wife did, and cannot teach sewing as she did. However, we will always be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and who knows what people with what gifts will cross our threshold in the future? We never planned to start a preschool, or build biosand filters, or distribute mosquito nets, or put in deep-water pumps, or work with albino children—well, you get the idea. I have a sneaking suspicion that where we need to go and what we need to do will be revealed to us, along with the stuff we need to accomplish whatever God needs us to do. The main thing, as I have written many times before, is to be available and to be obedient. That I will do as long as I continue to draw breath.