Mar 28, 2009

Guam: Sabbath-LOST

. . .and cue ominous "boom" ala opening of LOST TV series. . .

The LOST 8th graders

Wandering the trackless wilds of Guam. These countless muddy, red clay four-wheeler tracks made it so confusing!

Blogging has been very difficult lately. It's been very busy and what little time I have at home is often taken up with looking after our increasingly active little fellow. I've been sitting on this blog which has literally been finished for two weeks. The text was written, the pictures were uploaded and all I needed to do was move the text around and arrange the photos. But just that simple five minute task seemed to be impossible to get to. Well, this morning I sat down to finally do it. I had cut the text and was going to paste it at a different location in the post. But then I got distracted and cut something else, thus losing all of the texct I'd painstakingly written. There's nothing more disheartening. Especially since I've got limited time this morning.

So, I've decided to go ahead and post the pictures. I may or may not write more of an explanation of our adventures in Guam on Sabbath, March 21 later--the short story is that we got quite lost on a very muddy hike trying to find Tarzan Falls on Sabbath afternoon. For now, it would appear that not only did we get lost in Guam on Sabbath but the story of our getting lost is lost as well.

It's somehow appropriate, don't you think?

I still have a backlog of blogs for this blog and for Elijah's that I will try to get to this weekend, so keep checking back with me. We'll get there. . .eventually.

I know it looks like there isn't civilization for miles but most of the time we were lost we could see a condominium complex and a baseball field in the distance so we knew we weren't truly in the wilderness.

Nicole and I try to figure out where the heck we are.


It's rare to see a TV growing in the wild like this, but we were lucky enough to spot one!

The Road That Should Not Have Been Taken

"Jennifer" checks out her muddy feet.

French cleans off her feet in the stream at the top of Tarzan Falls. Hmmm, maybe that's why the pools at the bottom were so murky. . . :)

Me on the way down Tarzan Falls. After about an hour of wandering in the wilderness, we found our way back to the trailhead and found the correct trail. From there we did get to the falls. The pools were a bit murky for swimming but there were some nice little cascades that we could "shower" under. There are no pictures of the falls themselves because Jaimie, who had the only camera decided to stay at the top of the falls.

Muddy feet at the end of our adventure.

8th Class Trip to Guam: Friday--Horse Whispering

Friday, March 20, at the Rock and Rail ranch on Northern Guam where the kids went horseback riding. From left to right, Charlene (our knowledgable horse whisperer and the owner of Rock and Rail), 8th grade class president "Jennifer", "Tiara", "Takako" (on the horse), one of ranch hands, me, "Kareem Abdul", "Little Steven" (who you may note is not actually little at all), Nicole French, the 8th grade class sponsor (on the horse), and "Jong Won". Other class sponsorJaimie Nickell is not pictured because she took the photo. She also took all of the photos shown here and in all the blogs about our trip to Guam. Thanks for the pics James!

This year our 8th grade class went to Guam for their class trip. We left Saipan Thursday night, March 19 and returned early Wednesday morning, March 25, 2009. The kids were initially disappointed that we weren't going somewhere more glamorous (we'd originally been aiming for Japan) but the price tag for the airfare was just too steep for their parents in these hard times, and Guam turned out to be the most affordable destination.

And in the end, the kids had a really great time and we did too. Turns out most of the students had never been to Guam before, and only one had been there recently enough for it to "count." I think the kids had as much fun as they would have going anywhere else, and the only thing that suffered was the bragging rights that they might have had in going to a more "exotic" location.

This year, for the first time on a class trip, I was not the primary sponsor. That job belonged to the 8th grader's homeroom teacher. I went along as the boys chaperone and "secondary" sponsor. Jaimie Nickell, one of our preschool teachers, came as another secondary sponsor as well. The three of us worked well together and the trip went without a hitch. It actually was a fairly easy trip--we didn't have to deal with a different language and exchanging money and the other challenges that normally attend an 8th grade class trip.

In the upcoming blogs, I'll share a few glimpses of our Guam trip.

The three 8th grade girls on the trip: From L to R, "Tiara", "Jennifer", and "Takako"

"Takako" on horseback.

"Little Steven" strikes a heroic pose astride his noble steed.

Nicole is an experienced rider and she was in horse heaven at Rock and Rail. At the end of our time they let her take one of the horses over a few jumps. It was pretty impressive!

I chose not to ride, to save the class a few bucks, but they did let me clean the horses' hooves, free of charge.

Sunset on Guam, Friday night. We stopped at seaside park for a quick sundown worship Friday night, after an afternoon of shopping at the mall and Coldstone ice cream.

Meet Me in St. Louis Photo Shoot

The REAL team strikes a pose for our latest fundraising play, Meet Me in St. Louis.

This next week is going to be crrrazy!!! We'll be in production week for our fundraising play, so it will be rehearsal every single night for three hours (at least). I plan on being exhausted and stretched to my limit. But it will be worth it, and with two shows next weekend, Saturday night and Sunday evening and a dessert bar for the audience, hopefully we'll raise a lot of funds for our upcoming tour to Australia in May.

This year our play is Meet Me in St. Louis, by Sally Benson. This play is near and dear to my heart because it was our senior class play when I was in high school. Back then I played the part of the scheming yes-man, Mr. Duffy. This time, I'm the director of the play and also play the role of Lon Smith, a father of four spirited daughters and a son. It's a really fun play and I'm really enjoying doing it again. I just hope everybody will be ready by next weekend--the last rehearsal was pretty rough.

These photos were from our photo session for our posters. It was quite a challenge getting period costumes (the play is set at the time of the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri)--there's not exactly loads of old-timey outfits to be found on Saipan. But we managed, and I think we look pretty fetching!

I'll blog the play once the production is over.

"M" plays the role John Shepherd, sweetheart to one of my "daughters" in the play.
The Official Cast Photo of Meet Me in St. Lous

Mar 27, 2009

The Second Annual Kids Cup Volleyball Tournament

The Lamers: The boys on the team, "M", "Ko", and "K" are from SDA School and the girls are from Saipan International School.

On Sunday, March 15, 2009 some of our students participated in the second annual Kids Cup Volleyball Tournament. Our team did very well--they placed second overall, and played from nine in the morning until about five in the evening. They were coached by our preschool director and "big sister" to the boys, Amy Foote, with assistance from our school's volleyball coach the talented Ms. French. We are quite proud of the kids (though don't get me started on the name they chose for their team--The Lamers. I hate it!) The kids had fun, won some cool prizes, and I had a lot of fun watching them play. It was a great way to spend a Saipan Sunday.

The twins, "K" and "M" out on the sand.

"K" launches a powerhouse serve while his teammate (and girlfriend, incidentally) from SIS looks on.

"M" with the bump.

"M" serves

The award ceremony. The team poses with the organizers of the Kids Cup (including our buddy Russ Quinn, back right) and their prizes: water park passes, medals, volleyballs autographed by Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser, who was on Saipan the previous weekend for the Marianas Cup Volleyball Tournament, also held at P.I.C.

Mar 7, 2009

Time to Say Goodbye: Sunday Morning

Our traditional school photo on the dock Sunday morning, March 1, 2009

That's a lot of stuff! Loading up the ferry.

On the boat ride back.

Looking back at Managaha Island, our home for four days.

Sunday evening, after long hot showers and long, dreamy naps a group of us gathered at Coffee Care to celebrate Nicole French's birthday. It was the perfect way to end the weekend--good food, good friends, good times--and a day off from work the next day. Happy Birthday Frenchie!

Anticlimax: On Winning and Losing "Capture the Flag"

Ames n' Me: Co-Captains of our ill-fated team.

Co-Captains of the Rival Team, Nicole French and Angie Perez.

Every year, the highlight of the Managaha camping trip is the Saturday night “Capture the Flag” game. This year’s games promised to be a clash of epic proportions, with the course carefully planned out and not one but two captains for each team. In the end, though, you never really know what kind of game you’re going to get until it plays out. This year Game 1 was a quick and frustrating (but fairly played) loss for us, and Game 2 was a rather hollow victory, where there was more fun in losing than in the victory we were finally given. Expectations were at fever pitch, but the game itself was a little. . .anticlimactic.

Amy and I co-lead one team, and Nicole and Angie led the other. We gave up our “siesta time” Sabbath afternoon to hash out the rules and course boundaries (though some of us weren’t totally pleased with negotiation results. Amy never liked the positioning of the flags vertically parallel to the prisons—it made it too easy to defend both, she felt. It would remain a sore point for her.) We came up with a plan for play that promised an action-packed, fun-filled game for both teams.

And indeed there was action and lots of fun; just not in the ways and at the times I expected.

The first game ended quickly. One of their players had been tagged earlier but rather than submitting to imprisonment they’d melted into the jungle to keep playing illegally. Eventually he was caught a second time and sent packing off to prison, but the issue was in the air and when there were shouts of “I got another one” over another of their players, we all clustered over to the prison trying to figure out if this player had also been captured but refused to stop playing (it turned out he had not been tagged). While we were distracted, “Ko” sauntered down the
path, correctly guessing that a walking rather than running player wouldn’t be immediately suspect. When he was only a few feet from the flag, Jaimie, one my key defensive players realized what was up, lit him up with her flashlight and sounded the alarm. But it was too late. By the time I saw “Ko's” fleet form flashing by me on the way to the boundary line, he was home free. We’d lost the game—and I’d later find out, that we lost only moments away from a possible victory ourselves. Six of my players were even then converging on French-Perez’s flag when “Ko” ended the game.

We began the second game determined to learn from our mistakes. However, it was quickly becoming apparent that we were simply overmatched. What my team had in overall enthusiasm and excitement simply couldn’t compete with their superior skill. Some of our older, quicker players quit after the first game drawn to the equally compelling social back-and-forth going on back at the pavilion. Many of my younger players, though, stayed on and as hard as they tried, they were never able to get much beyond the center line without getting tagged, and they weren’t quite ready for the spooky,--and even worse, boring--job of playing defense deep in the dark corners of our own territory.

I was left with my two Dentists in Deep, Dr. Rankin and Dr. Pierson, who disappeared far behind enemy lines waiting for an opportunity to nab the flag that never came. “M” and Girlie made various forays across the line but they needed more help too, and we simply had no help to give. Rhonda, Jaimie, “J”, “Bella”, and I ended up being forced to play a very defensive game, a game that was actually quite fun in it’s own doomed kind of way. Near the end of the game when more of both teams had quit and even my co-captain, Amy, called it a night after injuring her foot, it felt like it was just a handful of us fending off hordes of French’s forces. “Ko” and other fleet-footed comrades of his rushed our flag time after time, not even bothering to return to their side of the line after abortive attempts. They’d simply move back into the trees on our side of the line, knowing that with our dwindling numbers no one would sneak up on them from behind. They'd rest, plot another angle, and then fly at us again.

My solid defensive team: James, Rhonda, and "J". Without them, our flag would have been stolen much more quickly. I always try to pick people I think will not only be willing, but will even enjoy the thankless defensive work of guarding the approaches to our flag. I lucked out with these three.

"J" actually did double duty, doing some valuable offensive work with "M", especially during the first game.

These two boys, "Ko" and a new student I call "King" plus another one from our church kept us on our toes during the final segment of the second game. A little longer and they would have taken the flag for sure.

Antonee! A former teacher at our school, now working for the clinic and on Managaha to help with church pathfinder team, Antonee was a force to be reckoned with. He plays CTF like he plays "Mafia." Silent, deadly, totally unpredictable. I was never comfortable unless he was in jail and a constant refrain in our camp was "Antonee is out there, somewhere. Sooner or later he's going make a move." Thankfully, Rhonda, who heard him approaching through the jungle more than once and was able to nab him in time, stopped him from being even more of a threat.

Girlie, left, our 5/6 teacher was one of our most reliable offensive players. She took one of her students, "Bella" with her on a few raids, but they simply needed more help.

Dr. Ricardo Rankin, one of our two Dentists in the Deep (Dr. Ken Pierson is not pictured--he went back on a different boat so I didn't get a chance to take his picture). He and Ken spent hours creeping through the jungle to get a good vantage point for snagging the flag. All they needed was sufficient distraction to make a dash for our opponents flag. Unfortunately, we were too busy playing defense to be of any help. Ricardo is a long-time CTF veteran. Every year he says he thinks he'll skip the came, but he always comes around. And thank goodness, he's one of our hardest of hard-core players. Ricardo and his family have been a key feature of our annual Managaha campouts and we were so glad they could join us again this year.

It was crazy and exhilarating fighting them off. I knew we couldn’t hold them off forever, that eventually we’d lose, but it was fun while it lasted. We’d go out fighting, in blaze of glory, die all, die merrily.

And then, just like that, the game was over. Nicole and Angie decided to forfeit. It was after two in the morning—their team members were dropping out of the game like flies (as were our own) and they were ready to go to bed. We accepted their “surrender” of sorts and called it a night. I think if they had known how close they were to winning outright they might have stuck it out and won the game. But in fairness, they had given themselves the hard work of defense and it wasn’t their preferred style of play. Especially since we were in no shape to do very much attacking, it was pretty dull work for them.

So we “won” the second game—a war of attrition. But the victory was a bit of letdown—it felt more like what it perhaps truly was—a loss.

Still over all, it was lots of fun, as evidenced by the fact that as always we were still talking about thrilling moments from the game the next day. In Capture the Flag as in life, things don’t always turn out the way you expect—that which you anticipate most eagerly can turn out to be anticlimactic in the end. And by the same token, you take joy where you find it, often in the most unexpected places, and you can have a lot of fun even when you’re losing a battle.

I’m not sure that I’ll play Capture the Flag next year at Managaha—for a number of reasons, so this may have been my last game. I’m at peace with how it all turned out—because I played with my dear colleagues, precious students, and good friends who I love, respect, and care for. How this or that game turned out will soon be forgotten but those who played with me will be in my heart always. For me, the players are more important than the game.

Managaha Memories: Sabbath

Sabbath morning on Managaha

The Cooking Crew work on breakfast Sabbath morning: This year, Malou was gone and I was on my own. Thankfully, I had a great team, including pre-school teacher Shirley Digma, above, and Carol (that's her arm in the foreground working the massive cauldrons of scrambled eggs).

I include this photo of nothing in particular mainly because of the backdrop. Can you believe the blue? Amazing.

Pastor Jerry Nickell breaks it down for the kids. His Sabbath morning talk was a powerfuly moving retelling of the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Fidel and his boys: On Sabbath morning a group of the church Pathfinders that don't attend our school joined us for the day, among them the sons of one of our long-time church members, Fidel Barro, pictured above.

Team-building Sabbath afternoon. In the afternoon Amy, Megan, Carol, Nicole, and Jaimie planned lots of cool team-building activities for the kids including the scavenger hunt pictured below.

Look at our aggressive teachers! Angie, above, and Nicole, below, push past the kids on their way to present Carol with their latest find. . .okay they didn't really push pass the kids--that much anyway--it just appears so in these photos. Lol!

Carol examines the finds from the scavenger hunt.

The end of another Sabbath