St. Andrew’s College report, December 2007
School finished at the end of November as exams finished and reports were given out. The staff carried on coming to school until December 12th when we finished with a big staff lunch in the school hall. There were well over 100 people there. The office staff finished on Wednesday this last week and the workmen all have staggered holidays so that maintenance work can continue throughout the holiday period. Of course there is no-one in school now or for the next few days. We carried on going into school with the office staff but not staying all day. Friday was the first day we didn’t go in and we felt like our holiday was starting.
The school year carried on in the same way it started! It’s been a very difficult year but there have also been times of great blessings…so I supposed we shouldn’t be surprised at the problems!! In August we had two weeks in which Linn and the two of us managed to teach all the primary children English…with the help of lots of classroom assistants. At the same time Mags taught her 9th grade and Gwen took on the infant class. We had a good time doing a project in those two weeks and the kids seemed happy enough. Then Naomi arrived and took Babs’ classes and was with us until Babs returned at the end of September. I don’t think she found it easy coming into a new environment with no Spanish and everyone rushed off their feet. Still, she survived and returned to England in October.
Elaine Black arrived also and settled into her two classes quickly. In October she went to St Andrew’s students and came back feeling ill and was diagnosed with Giardia, a very resistant parasite. She was very ill for a few weeks. I think she thought she’d never recover. A few visits to the hospital and to various doctors finally saw her right but by then the term had ended and she’d missed the final part! It reached the point where her 3rd grade class asked the helper if she felt ok as all their teachers seem to get ill. They haven’t managed a whole year with one English teacher for the past three years due to illness!! We’ve had to promise the parents we’ll put in someone who looks likely to stay the course next year!!
Elva’s absence was obvious during the year with various people trying to cover her work. We have now appointed someone for the job for next year. We interviewed quite a few people but finally chose the maths teacher already in school and then had to appoint a new maths teacher! One of the secretaries in the secondary school stepped off the bus at the end of July and her coat got caught in it and she was dragged along with the bus going over her feet. She was off school for the next three months. Thankfully one of the top traumatologists has a child in school and he managed to operate on Mati’s foot in the state hospital and so it was all done free. That was another job to be covered in the secondary.
The end of year celebrations went very well. The infants did a lovely show for their parents and the hall was packed out. The primary act was a little too squashed in the hall with 6 classes and their parents and other family members . It was a Christingle service. Sadly the parents seemed to have come for a show, to watch their children perform, and so it wasn’t quite what it was meant to be . I think a new venue is called for, for next year. The 9th grade service was held in the cathedral and there was a lovely atmosphere there. The 9th grade are a very special class and it was very moving to hear even the big lads giving a testimony as to what God has done in them this year. There weren’t many dry eyes in the building…except for those who didn’t understand the English!! The 6th form had their leaving service in the chapel and each one was prayed for and then given a candle to go out and shine as lights in the world. The next evening was their graduation service which is an official “do” with people from the Ministry of Education there. The top pupils have to give a speech and , again, it was amazing to hear their testimonies as to what God is doing in their lives. Bishop Andres came down from Concepcion and at the end was asked to pray. He said he’d listened to English and understood not a word and so he was going to ask permission to speak in Guarani …. which he did! He then took hold of the school flag and the Paraguayan flag and prayed for the country and the school. The parents gave him a round of applause!
The annexe school was not forgotten in all this. We also went to all their end of year celebrations and enjoyed seeing how much the Lord is blessing the school there. We were even given a meal there. That was one of many we were offered in this time as we also went to parties for our 6th grade and 6th form.
In between all this we had school each day and it was in this time that a number of parents chose to come and share what they thought was wrong with the school! It wasn’t an easy time but we tried to make all feel welcome to come and to be listened to and to give an answer where possible. Some of the problems centred round our lack of English staff and especially a stable English staff. We would ask your prayers for more people to be called to join us who are willing to commit to more than just a few years with us. Other problems are now noted to be worked on for next year. Some families have taken their children out of school. One family went because he said we didn’t offer enough sports. Having also said the English wasn’t too good he then came back to say how he’d been congratulated on his children’s level of English in an American school. It seems you can’t win with some people although we have tried to meet with folks to help where we can.
Christmas seemed to come early to Paraguay and there are now no more Christmas services in the Anglican church this year! We had a big Christmas service in the Cathedral on Sunday night (16th) and 9 lessons and carols on Wednesday in the English church. Both were very well attended. In fact, the service in the cathedral was extra special for us as we saw quite a few of our ex pupils taking part in the service, in the music, reading, sound system and then giving the talk. It was like a dream come true to see our ex pupils so involved. They are the result of Patrick’s work in the Youth Encounters. Since his return Patrick has also led a big assembly once a month for the secondary. They go into the cathedral and it’s quite amazing to see the joy on the pupil’s faces as they join in there.
We are here for Christmas. The main celebration being tonight, Christmas Eve, but we are having a Christmas meal tomorrow with Irish Elaine and her boyfriend who’s here for a visit. On Wednesday we expect Claire to arrive from Concepcion and on Thursday we are off to the beach in Brazil for a week and Claire is coming with us. We hope to come back via Curitiba, a city in Brazil, but so far haven’t been successful in booking a hotel. Our animals are all fine and enjoying having us home a bit more although they don’t tend to understand holidays and still wake us at 6 am for breakfast! Olga will come as usual to look after them whilst we are away.
Thankyou to everyone for all your support and prayers. They really do mean a lot to us. We’d like to be able to thank you all for the Christmas cards too but we haven’t had any post from England for ages!! So, we have no English cards, nor the presents we know our families have posted! The last thing to arrive here was posted on Nov 11th so we are living in hope that our things will arrive soon!!
May the joy of the Lord be yours this Christmas and in the New year.
God Bless, Love from Mags and Gwen