The All Star Team at the Beginning
"Our group of new teachers is amazing! These seven new women and one man, for lack of a better term are all stars and they rock. . . . They just go full tilt all the time. They’re out scrambling all over the island, soaking up all the adventure they can. They arrive every day at work fired up and full of good cheer. They teach amazing lessons, charm the kids with their charisma, bring their A-Game to every school activity. We are truly blessed to have these girls and guy and we thank God for bringing them to our school this year."
--Quote from The Journal Online, September 2006
The All Star Team at the Half-Way Point
"And just like that, the year is half way over. It seems only yesterday that the all star team swept into town ready to take on and take over the world. And what of them now? Are they still all stars? Absolutely. Amazingly as the rigors of the year have borne down on them their glow has not faded, but shines stronger than ever. They still do amazing work at school and breathe life into everything they touch"
--Quote from The Journal Online, December 2006
The All Star Team at Season's End.
L to R: Babs, Jari, Virle, Heather, Larene, Me, Mai, Grant, Britni, new summer school teacher Rosanna Beharry, Missy, Layla.
So how did the All-Stars end their season of dreams? On a high note, after three encores, in a blaze of lights, a microphone held aloft while the entire audience sings along in unison to their signature song. They shone all the way to the end and where ever they are now, you can be sure they’re shining still.
They never lost their fire, if anything it deepened to white-hot devotion to their mission, to the kids they’d come to love, to the friendships they’d found, to the Savior that made it all possible. And when the end finally came, no one wanted it to be over.
Rock on, G-Rant.
First Encore: The Final Joint Worship
For the final time, Grant strapped on his guitar, strummed the first chords of “Herman”, and swung into the “anti-pork eating” anthem about Herman, the pig on the run, that Grant wrote. For the last time, Britni led the kids in raising imaginary milk glasses as we kicked into one of our favorite joint worship songs, “Milk.” The kids sang loud and strong and the All Stars had a blast as always.
"Milk, Milk, Milk, Drink that Milk, Eat those Words and grow stronger/
Mr. Postman sent to me/A copy of the NIV/Read the Bible and grow stronger/
I can't wait any longer. . ."
Left to Right, Britni, Layla, Grant & Missy
Second Encore: The Paamaalam
Each year, the church has a “Paamaalam”, a going-away party for the departing teachers. We eat, play games, watch a slide show, share memories and appreciation. “Paamaalam” means. . .well, I’m not sure what it means. Something having to do with good bye in Filipino. . .Anyway, Barbara had the kids from the school help plan this year’s Paamaalam and they, and their parents, turned out in droves to say good bye and thank you to the teachers who’d given them so much of themselves.
At our church, the tradition is that at the pamaalam those who will be leaving us sit on chairs at the center of the room so that we can all gawk at them. This is their punishment for leaving us. . .Kidding. Seriously, though, they do have to sit in the center of the room and there is an opportunity for everyone to get up and say their tearful words of gratitude, farewell, and tribute while they sit there and try not to cry. They also get a chance to make a little farewell speech as well. From Left to Right: Grant, Britni, Layla, Missy, Jari, and Heather.
The All Stars where they made their name, where they put their heart and soul. . .with the kids. See if you can pick them out--Britni, Grant, Missy, Layla, Heather, Jari, and Mai.
The first good byes. Grant's wearing a shirt signed by students, colleagues, and church members. Each departing teacher got one.
One more song. . .the All Stars join their church family in singing "The Power of Your Love" at the end of the pamaalam.
The mantle is passed to a student. One of our students plays guitar on "Power of Your Love"
Bev, Mai, Grant, Brit, & Layla at "The Wake"
We kicked back, watched some of Bev's favorite "dental hygiene" moments on
Youtube, laughed, cried, talked, reminisced and savored our final moments together.
"The Final Song: Leaving on a Jet Plane"
This is a version of the song created by the All Stars and sung for Britni right before she left for the airport.
If you're a new teacher planning to come out to Saipan and you've read this blog and the others to come highlighting each of these teachers, you might feel a little intimidated. "Wow, how do I live up to that! I'm not a rock star. . .how can I ever fill their shoes?" Well, I think these guys would be the first to tell you they're no one special. They were just doing their job. This, of course, is what all heroes say. And in a sense, it's true. These All Stars--Britni, Grant, Heather, Jari, Layla, Missy--got back what they put in. They put their whole heart and soul into their students, their school, the church, their lives in Saipan. They understood why they were in Saipan. They gave, and gave, and gave, and when they couldn't give anymore they went diving or went to sleep or did the tank swim. . and then gave some more. In return, they got the undying love of their students, the appreciation of the veterans on their team, and a rich, fulfilling year. The lesson is simple. The more you put in, the more you'll get out. Give your all, like these guys did, and you too can be an all star.
And if that doesn't work, you can always take lessons from the rock star who is staying on, Miss Odiyar!
No one can ever replace these people--their contributions were unique. But then so are yours--Jesus will use you to touch hearts and change lives, and you too will shine like stars forever.