Notes from Nicaragua

 

Group in Nicaragua with a view

by Lily Mae Easterbrook

This year over spring term, many of the high schoolers were fortunate enough to go to Nicaragua to minister to the people. After a three hour flight on March third to Managua, we took a bus ride through Nicaragua to Los Rayos de Esperanza.

On the first morning, we had a short preparation time before we went to our morning activity. For the activity, we were separated into teams and went on a scavenger hunt in Diriomo for items we would use later in the week. After the teams collected the items and took pictures at the specified sites, we gathered at the bus and went back to Los Rayos for lunch. Later, we went to Candelaria to serve through a children’s club. Everybody was put into a team for the clubs such as English lessons, games, and Bible stories. The kids were extremely welcoming with a ready smile and a hug for everyone. By the end of the afternoon every adult, teenager and kid had a blast experiencing God’s love. That evening, went to Maranatha church and met some of the youth, which ended with getting ice cream and watching “futsal” (a form of soccer) in the park.

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On the second and third day, our schedules were very similar.  All of the students were split up into four levels of Spanish where we learned immersion style. Following Spanish lessons, we went to a sports outreach. The first day we played soccer on a field in Diriomo, and the second day we played basketball in Diriomo’s Central Park. It was truly amazing to see Arborbrook students and local children connect through sports even with the language barrier. After the sports outreach, we grabbed lunch and headed back out to the kid’s clubs at Valles de Granada and Paz y Reconciliación. The kids were very different at each barrio, but, overall they loved to be taught and happily received the materials we were able to share with them. We finished off the second day by walking around, exploring, and getting pizza in Granada. At the end of Sunday, we attended church at Maranatha.

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On the fourth and fifth days, we went to Spanish class but instead of sports outreach afterward, we all went to separate barrios and served a specific family there. There we built outdoor kitchens for the families and helped out around the house with cooking, cleaning and childcare. Wherever they needed assistance, we gladly helped them. Since many of the outdoor kitchens were done in the first day of construction, many of the girls decided to visit a special needs community. The community was a truly beautiful experience. The children there found delight in the smallest things. When we finally left, there was not a dry eye among us. We all had been touched by God through those adorable children. At the end of the fourth day, we all went to Maranatha church where we practiced the drama for the Evangelistic Festival. The fifth evening was the Evangelistic Festival. We served ice cream, danced, and played with the children in the park before the skit. It was magical to see so many peoples’ hearts touched. We also had the opportunity to give out lollipops and Bibles to the people in the park that night. The experience was truly incredible. We all went back to Los Rayos in awe of the night’s events.

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On the last day in Nicaragua, we started out with a team building exercise. The exercise sounded deceivingly simple. The objective was to tap 101 numbered plates in order. While it sounds easy, it took a lot of leadership, teamwork and patience to complete it. We eventually got our completion time down to 9 seconds! After that, we headed out to go zip-lining and shopping in Catarina. Catarina is built around the crater of a volcano. We shopped, took pictures, and enjoyed the last moments in Nicaragua. On our way back to Los Rayos, we stopped by a pottery shop where the owner illustrated the Christian faith through the forming of pottery. It was really interesting to see the parallels between the two. That evening, we discussed everything we had seen and experienced that week. We also shared our highs and lows of the week. We unanimously agreed that leaving was a massive low.

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Early the next morning, we climbed on the bus and drove to the airport. We all struggled with saying goodbye to Nicaragua. When we finally reached Charlotte Douglas Airport, it was surreal. It still did not feel like we were home. After experiencing so much it was hard to find the “normal” that we had left behind. One thing that I learned is that blessings come in every size, shape and form. They can come in the form of a thought, a present, or a smile and to one person, they can mean the absolute world.

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Thank you so much for your prayers and support. I would also like to give a special thank-you to the chaperones: Mrs. Peaseley, Mrs. Mowbray, Mr. LeSuer, and Dr. Hagler. They took incredible care of all of us and made sure to connect with everyone individually. Also, thank you so much to Mrs. Heidorn for letting us use her facility and resources and for the opportunity to serve. Thank you again and again.

I <3 Nicaragua

 

Internet Filtering for Arborbrook Families

by Wade Grimes

Hi there Arborbrook families,

So you’ve crossed the digital divide.  Your kids have computers and tablets and phones.  They have apps and lingo and secret hand shakes.  They sit in front of the computer on your home Internet connection and…you have no idea what they are doing.

You know you’ve raised them right, but you don’t want them to stumble across something they shouldn’t see—like that terrible hamster dance video—or get into something they shouldn’t get into.  You want to give them freedom, but also want to give them some boundaries.  In reality, all you really want is to stop them from playing that terrible hamster dance video!

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I can see that glazed look in your eyes…that look that tells me that for the first time since they’ve been born your kids know more than you know about something, and you’re not sure that’s a good thing.  You’re stressing that Arborbrook has just given your grade 7-12 kids an email address and required them to go online on your home Internet connection to check it…requires them to use the Google Classroom…gives them access to chat, and Wikipedia, and YouTube…and that terrible hamster dance video!  Welcome, Arborbrook Families, to the scary world of “the internets.”

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Nah, just kidding…it’s not scary. You just need some help.

Because I know you, I know that you have already put into place some effective parental oversight—you have the computers out in an open area of your house, you have rules against kids with devices in rooms overnight or behind closed doors, you log on and read your kid’s email, you friend your kids on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.  Also, because I know you, I know that even though you’ve done all those things, you still feel a bit lost.  It’s ok, really.  What you need is some good solid Internet content filtering, time limits, and reporting to come alongside your already excellent parental oversight.

“Wait,” you say.  “What in the world is Internet content filtering?” Well, here’s what it’s not:

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Think of it this way—there are places that you don’t want your kids to go on the Internet.  There are probably places where you don’t want yourself to go on the internet.  Internet Content Filtering is hardware and software that keeps you and your kids out of those places.

Really though, it’s more than that—say you want to set a time when devices just won’t work anymore…or say you want to know exactly how much time they spend on YouTube watching that hamster dance video…or say you feel like your kid is spending too much time on the Internet, and you want to limit the amount of time they have access.  Say you get mad at your kids and you want an easy way to turn the Internet off entirely?  Internet Content Filtering not only keeps your kids safe from the sketchy parts of the web, but it can also help from turning their brains into mush, like this guy:

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“That sounds great,” you say.  “Where can I get one of them Internet content filters?”  I have also recently been trying to skin this cat as well, and have found a new vendor that has an easy-to-install, low-cost solution that fits the bill: Circle.  Circe is a small, white magical box that you pair with your home network and sits in-between your family’s tablets, phones, and computers and the Internet.  It examines and records all traffic, and allows what you tell it to allow, and denies what you tell it to deny.

Here’s a pretty picture of Circle:

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Here’s a quote from the Circle website:

“Circle is a smart device and app that allows your family to manage all of your home’s connected devices. With Circle, parents can filter content, limit screen time and set a bedtime for every device in the home. Circle can even pause the Internet.”

You set this thing up on your network, and then install an app on your iPhone (no Android at this point).  Circle automatically identifies all the devices on your network.  In the app, you associate the device with a user, and then set up appropriate content for age, time limits for apps or content categories, and bedtimes.  You can block ads, and enable Google safe search.  From that point forward, Circle controls Internet content while the device is on your home network.  You will receive push notifications on your phone when someone hits a time limit, or when your kids unplug Circle cause they’re mad they can’t see the hamster dance video.  On top of all that, you can see how much time is spent online, or in Facebook or Instagram, or on science websites.  You can also see a complete history of all sites visited for a day, week, or month.

Again, “That sounds great,” you say.  “I bet it costs a fortune.”  Nope.  $99.  That’s it. No monthly charge. Just 99 bucks. Here’s the website:  https://meetcircle.com/

Once again, “That sounds great,” you say.  “But I’m totally lost, and I have no idea about how to get this thing installed, much less configured.”  Never fear, my friend.  I’ll come to your house, install it, and configure it for you for $100.  You spend $199, and you get a turn-key solution—installed, configured, and ready to help you with the hamster dance.

Let me know how I can help.  My email is wade.grimes@arborbrook.org.  Remember, 99 bucks for the circle, a hundred bucks for me to install it.  You know I’ll do it right, cause here’s my picture:

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by Wade Grimes

Arborbrook Dad and Sometimes Head of the Arborbrook Technology Team

wade.grimes@arborbrook.org

 

 

A Guide to Surviving the Science Fair

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I am seeing more and more angst from parents who “dislike” the science fair (and in some cases that might be an understatement). And I get it. I feel your pain. I’m a parent too, and science fair “board weekend” can be traumatic at times. However, I think it is important for us to gain some perspective on the science fair too. We do it for good reasons and it truly does not need to add huge amounts of stress to family life.  I offer these thoughts as a fellow struggler, realizing some of them will come “too late” in the process this time around for some of you, but in an effort to release stress for those of you who may be feeling it at the moment.

First, why do we do it?

Not many parents really ask this question out loud, but I know they are thinking it.  If it is so stressful, why do we do it at all? There are several good reasons:

  • It helps our students understand good science. They experience, in an age appropriate way, what it is like to be a scientist. To ask a big question, to design a test to answer that question, and to figure out how to report the data they find- these are all important parts of the scientific method that they simply need to know. Many of them will go into a science-related field one day, and this will be their first real exposure to what it might be like to be a biologist or a botanist or a chemist.
  • It helps our students become critical thinkers. I am sometimes surprised at how many people fall prey to hoaxes. Yes, as Christians, we believe in a God we cannot see, but he also gave us a logical mind that can think critically. Taking a statistics class in graduate school helped me appreciate data and not fall prey to convincing-sounding arguments with little reliable data to back them up. The science fair begins to build that ability in our students.
  • It encourages our students to develop perseverance and resilience when they do something hard. If everything comes easily and nothing takes time or is challenging, they do not learn those important life skills. They need the mental toughness that a “big” project will require of them.
  • It teaches them how to manage time well. This is not something they can do the night before, so they must do it in steps and think about those steps beforehand. Breaking a big task into component parts is an important life skill.
  • It gives them an opportunity to practice their presentation skills. Many of our graduates go on to jobs that require a high level of presentation ability. Many 21st century jobs require the ability to communicate well. This is a great way to practice sharing something that they did with an audience in a concise and interesting way.
  • It sparks their curiosity. Children are naturally curious and ask questions. This gives them the “permission” to follow one of those questions until they get an answer.
  • It builds memories. My children often do not remember day-to-day assignments that they do which may not require much of them, but they always remember their science fair projects with great fondness, down to even small details. These have become the stuff of family folklore.
  • It is a great way to engage with mom and dad. My husband helps my kids with the science part and I help them with the trifold board part. It is a great division of labor and enables them to spend some high quality time with their dad and with me.

How do you do it without stress? A few tips to help!

  • Keep this in mind at all times: it is their project. It is not your project, mom and dad! It is theirs. You do not need to be embarrassed by a board that doesn’t look professional if it was your child’s work.
  • Have age-appropriate expectations. If they are very young, their hypothesis might be very simple and their sample size won’t be quite as large as when they are older. Their boards definitely won’t look like the older kids’ boards.
  • Follow the teacher’s lead. The science teachers have put a great deal of time into helping students have the skills they need to do a graph or follow the scientific method. They have set mini deadlines to help your child manage his or her time well. Be encouraged by all the help you are getting from the school so it doesn’t all happen on one weekend. Mini deadlines are your friend. You can also create your own checklist with goals with your child which will also help.
  • Set time limits. This is also good if you have a perfectionist or over-achiever in your house. Set the timer for one hour and say to your child, “Today you have one hour to work on this. What are you going to do in that hour?” Write it down. When the timer rings, go do something else. The next day you can spend another hour on it.
  • Choose to have a good attitude.  If you are already saying the science fair project is going to drive you crazy, your child will pick up on that attitude too and it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can choose to have a good attitude and help your child choose to have a good attitude also.
  • Split the responsibility. As I said above, we split it 50/50. Dad helps with the actual project (kids do generally need a little help thinking it through). Mom helps gather supplies and makes suggestions for the board. Talk to your spouse about this ahead of time and make it a division of labor (or if you are single maybe a grandparent or good friend can help!)
  • Encourage your child to choose a project in an area they have interest. When we are doing something we love it is not burdensome. If they love to bake, there are tons of baking science fair projects. If they love the outdoors, choose something in botany to do. If they love engineering, they can build something.
  • If you have multiple children doing a project, encourage them to do something together. This may require a bit of compromise but it is worth it. They still have to do their own boards, but they can do a very similar project, just collecting their own data and doing their own board. We had a family of four kids that did this one year and it really helped four projects feel like just one!
  • Celebrate a job well done! Plan to go out for frozen yogurt or do something else that is fun to celebrate when it is done. Give yourself permission to order pizza out on “board weekend.” And don’t forget to come to the science fair, listen to the presentations, and give your child a giant high five for his or her hard work. When you come, don’t compare the projects to one another. I know this should go without saying but I also know we tend to do it. Comparison kills joy.
  • When all else fails, remember this only happens once every two years! Next year is a history fair year. You have 24 months before you have to think about this again. And if your child is in junior high (7th or 8th grade) this is their last one. Believe it or not, a time will come when you will miss this fleeting time with your child and wish you had one more science fair project to do together.

Thoughts from the Creeper Trail

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by Joanne Depp

I lift my eyes up to the hills.

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

who made Heaven and earth.

Psalm 121

As I’m sitting down to reflect on our family’s first Creeper Trail trip, I can’t help but to be reminded of the Psalms of Ascent, a collection of songs sung by Jewish pilgrims on their way to worship in Jerusalem.  The metaphor is not perfect, of course, as the pilgrims were on their way UP to worship, while the Creeper Trail is a steady descent, proving itself a manageable ride for bikers of most ages and abilities.  

Nonetheless, we, Arborbrook, joined together as sojourners, worshipped along the way, and ended in a joyous feast together.  It is a beautiful picture reminiscent of those who have gone before us in the Christian walk.  But even more poignantly, the trip is a beautiful picture of the journey we’ve been on, both collectively and individually, as we sojourn this earth and head towards Home.  Individually, we came from all different kinds of backgrounds, seasons, joys and sorrows.  And collectively, we came together, perhaps bruised by living in a world that condemns us, but encouraged by the fellowship of being banded together as believers set securely upon the rock of God’s promises.

Yes, this was more than an ordinary bike trip.  This was God’s call to me to slow down and look towards Home, and to ponder that with every turn of the pedals, with every breath and every word and every thought, I was one step closer.  With this thought as a backdrop, please join me as I reflect on our trip.

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On Thursday afternoon, families slowly trickled into the common area provided by Damascus Cabins.  After three hours in the car, the children were eager to explore the creation before them.  As the kids happily caught frogs and crayfish, rode bikes, waded through the stream, held the wild ducks (literally!), the adults casually fellowshipped and lent helping hands to those setting up tents.  The mood was happy –  bikes littered the lawn, families exchanged hugs and smiles, and the steady, joyful noise of volleyball and soccer games filled the air until sunset.

Friday morning was the big day.  We caught shuttles from Sundog Rentals, where families rented bikes and trailers to haul the smaller children.  The 30-minute drive up to the top was long and windy – someone told me they counted more than a hundred switchbacks! First observation: it was COLD.  Layers were a necessity for the old; optional for the young.  Second observation: you can avoid the pit toilets at the top of the trail and use restrooms with legitimate plumbing a hundred yards down the trail at the Visitor’s Center.  Third observation: you may not actually pedal the first couple miles of the trail because the descent is so steep.  This is especially true if you have a bike trailer propelling you forward like I did.

Our ride started off cold, somewhat damp and uneventful.  The kids were in high spirits. I loved hearing the steady hum of conversation amongst the junior high girls and seeing the younger children absentmindedly wind in and out and across the trail.  Adults rode defensively and conversed casually and easily.  Sojourning had begun. The path was constantly changing, and varied from a dark path tunneled beneath the canopy of trees and rhododendron to large open fields with barns, cabins and antiquated houses.  The trail followed a stream closely, providing beautiful bridge crossings and places to play along the way.

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The Lord was truly on our side (Psalm 124).  The sun came out, our families were safely kept (Psalm 121), and the minor snags were met through the community on the trail (Psalm 133).  Sundog Rentals loaned a bike for free to a boy whose bike broke at the last minute.  Two elementary school dads repaired the tire of a middle schooler’s bike.  Moreover, they fixed the tire with a tube gifted from a complete stranger. At the halfway lunch spot, families shared food and there was an abundance.  As the group formed into pockets, parents embraced any children who happened to be near them, whether they were theirs or not.   The beautiful picture of the journey Home was working itself out into what it should look like.  For those few and sweet hours on the trail, we were focused on getting home, staying on the narrow path, and keeping watch over each other.  

When we safely returned to our destination, we were greeted by warm sunlight, perfect temperatures, and a beckoning stream.  Again, play in God’s beautiful creation amongst children and the ease of conversation amongst adults continued.  There was no agenda other than fellowship, with the exception of the feast to come that evening. The children swam out to a giant rock in the middle of the stream and enjoyed the thrill of jumping from its top.  The braves ones climbed the steep, cliff-like rocks along the bank and jumped from heights that left mothers cringing.  Middle and high schoolers hung nonchalantly from Eno hammocks.   A two-year-old and a thirteen-year-old sat along the bank for some time together, and in the context of the Creeper Trail trip, this made perfect sense.   My only regret is that there are friends and acquaintances I wish I had more time to catch up with.

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As for the feast… Wow.  Our group gave thanks to the Lord and gathered before an abundant spread of soups, sandwiches, salads, chips, and the most decadent s’mores bar I have ever seen!  Tired from the day’s activity, we were especially hungry and food that may have seemed ordinary in different circumstances was especially appreciated.  We ate until we were full and there was plenty left.  This was only a foretaste of our real journey Home – the everlasting one that counts for all of eternity –  which will also end in a feast beyond our imagination.

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Saturday morning was a fitting end to the utopic weekend.  We woke up to the heavy pounding of rain on the tin roof of our cabin.  It was the kind of rain that soaked tents and people, regardless of weather seals, rain jackets and umbrellas.  Packing up was soggy, especially for the adventurous campers, and the downpour hindered our goodbyes with one another.  After this sacred retreat together, the rain provided a gentle re-entry back into the world, where our fellowship would temporarily break, and duty and responsibility would demand our focus once again.

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I give thanks that God has given me this trip as a visual to remind me of where I am ultimately going – Home to Heaven forever one day. The journey there and the destination work together; and how much lighter the journey seems when we’re mindful of where we’re going.  How I wish to love this earth less and love Heaven more!  

This is my prayer for Arborbrook:  that we would be an eternally focused school, grounded in grace and truth, knowing that we are strangers and exiles in the world heading towards the city he has prepared for us.  May we deeply appreciate our teachers who journey alongside our children, point them Home, and teach them what the narrow path looks like.  May we, as parents, have the courage and conviction to teach these same truths to our children.  May we marvel at the child-like faith of our children and believe with the same satisfaction and peace.   May we look to the Lord, giver of all good gifts, to help us in all these things.  And as Jesus prayed for as, may we be one.

It is only suiting that I end with the final Psalm of Ascent:

Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the LORD,

who stand by night in the house of the LORD!

Lift up your hands to the holy place

and bless the LORD!

May the LORD bless you from Zion,

he who made Heaven and earth!

Post by Joanne Depp, Arborbrook parent

Photos by Joanne Depp, Amy Norman, April Petrie, and Joy Fisk

Why Love? A Reflection on our Ten Year Anniversary

IMG_5512“Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.” – C.S. Lewis

This week leading up to our amazing 10-year anniversary celebration has been a week filled with late nights, work, and contemplation. I spent many hours this week putting together an iMovie with pictures from the past ten years, many of which I remember as if they were taken yesterday. There was so much raw memory- so many moments of great joy and hope, but also photos of families who were once a part of our school who have moved on to other places and whom I still miss. Then there were the faces of young children who are now still with us thriving in the high school, loyal families and loving families who have woven deep and lasting threads into the fabric of our school. Looking at this year’s new faces filled with so much joy and hope, I was filled with the weight of responsibility that comes with the deep trust these families put in our school to educate their children, not just about mathematics, spelling, or the location of Paraguay on a map, but about deeper things like kindness, forgiveness, mercy, and love. I pray we never lose that singular focus as a school.

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Friday night I came to see the high school students present a play with excerpts from the works of C.S. Lewis and a scene from Shadowlands, about his relationship with Joy Gresham, the woman who became his wife somewhat late in his life and who died of cancer. It was very powerfully done and moving, and I wept watching as Allie who played Joy told Jack (C.S. Lewis) played by Josh Scott, that the pain now is part of the joy before. They shared a glimpse of the playfulness and love these two had for one another. These students were sharing a depth of truth far beyond their years and life experience. In some ways, I want to shield them from the reality of such hard things. I want them to have a magical childhood, filled with wonder and joy. But alongside that come the hard things too, things for which they must be prepared lest they believe their faith to be based on a lie when hard things come. And ultimately we want them to know that only God can satisfy. We want them to know that lesser things do not cut it. As Laura Story writes in her song, “Blessings,” “You Love us way too much to give us lesser things.” Everything other than Him is a lesser thing. As Pastor Furtick recently preached in his sermon series Mood Swingers, we need for our joy not to be dependent upon our circumstance. Our feelings need not control us, and neither do our circumstances.

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Naomi Heidorn, the founding director of our school, graciously came to speak to us for our 10-year anniversary yesterday. Her words were filled with wisdom and grace as she shared about the early years of Arborbrook and also acknowledged some of the hard things that happened too. It isn’t good to gloss over the hard things, focusing only on the good. The pain now is part of the joy before. God uses those things for our good, as he used some hard things in the life of our school to make our school better and stronger as a result. Two of our alumni spoke yesterday, and it was clear how much good Arborbrook had done in their lives. How thankful I am when God gives us such clear pictures of the good He is doing in our midst, a lasting and eternal work in the hearts and minds of children and families.

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Saturday, just as the ceremony was wrapping up and the rest of the festivities were set to begin, we received word that a mom from my church Carmel Baptist, dear friends of the Mowbray family, had been hiking on Crowders Mountain when she slipped and fell, losing her life. Earlier that day I had to deal with an incident of vandalism. Two of our staff members have close family members who are dying, and several close friends have received some devastating diagnoses. So as fun as it all was- the bands were amazing, the face painting and hair braiding and sketching were all so fun, the food trucks and fellowship, and dunking booth- all of it was just a blast; it was also marred somewhat by the reality of those things. The pain of loss, the sting of sin – it reminded me that this world is not our home. As grateful as we are for ten great years- and I am deeply grateful- this world is just a mist that appears for awhile and then vanishes. This is why it is so important what we are doing- teaching children about the reality and joy of the kingdom and new life through Christ.

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I will choose to love, even though loving hurts. Even though it carries the risk of loss. Even though every family that leaves our school hurts my heart. I know that God’s will is a mystery and must trust that He will use the choices they make for His glory and for their good. When Naomi left Arborbrook, it hurt, and yet there is a new school filled with children in Nicaragua that would not have come to be had she not left. And He continues to bless Arborbrook beyond measure.

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Meanwhile I pray. I pray for the choices, the hires, the schedules, the curriculum work, the campus improvements we must make happen this summer. I pray for those experiencing loss and illness. I pray for those who have children who are in rebellion or running from the truth of the gospel. I pray with a sense of urgency for the Lord’s favor to be upon our school. Please pray for the permitting delays and extra cost we may need to incur as we are facing an unexpected issue with Phase II of our gym renovation. Pray for creativity and patience as we work through these things, and that the Lord will raise up people who choose to give to the important work that we are doing as a school. Pray for our teachers and staff, and pray for the hearts of our students. Pray for strong and healthy marriages for our families.

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I also give thanks. I give thanks for all He is doing and has done. I am thankful for our beautiful new gym, for a strong and supportive board, for the beautiful gardens all over campus and for people like Emily Shepherd who tends to the hearts of her students along with the veggies in our garden. I am thankful for news of great joy like the birth of little Luke Alexander D. and the engagement of our own April D. I am thankful for the very high quality people we have drawn this year to interview for open positions and for the equally high quality people who we have already and who are joyfully staying another year to teach or work for us. I am thankful for the hours the teachers and staff put in far beyond their work day at school to make our school amazing. I am thankful for volunteers like Jenna M. and Stacia N. who put in long hours to share their gifts with our school. I see the fingerprints of Jehovah Jireh all over this school from the people whose unique gifts add to our school to the privacy fence materials that the local Lowes is donating to us. God is so very, very good.

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Will you join me in giving thanks for ten amazing years and looking forward with hope to the next ten? For make no mistake- what we are setting out to do at Arborbrook is no less than eternal- to love children and families for the kingdom.

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“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9

An Arborbrook “Staycation”

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As we approach Spring Break, we often think of sunny beaches and warm breezes. However, not every break is about a big getaway, and home becomes the destination for relaxation. There are plenty of ideas all over the Internet with things to do in the Charlotte area, so what could you do that is different?

The better question is: What are some “living ideas” for a “staycation?” Below, I’ve compiled a list of ideas that I hope will help with provide some fresh ideas. Perhaps you have already seen or done some of the concepts, but these have added twists to them and it could make for a very fun week! Enjoy!

History – Head over to Kings Mountain National Military Park in Blacksburg, SC. There you can take a stroll on a paved 1.2 mile loop that is quiet and scenic with displays of events that took place during the Revolutionary War. Want a more difficult trek? Check out their 16 mile hike, but I advise caution, as this is noted as a moderately difficult path.

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Geography – Have you ever gone geocaching? This is a great activity for people of (almost) all ages to try. My family has gone to several sites in the Charlotte area, but we have a very special location that you may enjoy. This cache is not a secret, but it is by far the most unique geocache we have found to date due to it being an abandoned/utility only type of road. To get started, go to this site and set up a free account. You will also need to set up a compass on your cellphone to help navigate. On the site, you will be able to access many hundreds of geocaches in the Charlotte area and beyond. Some will be easy, and some not so much. Check out my favorite geocache at the following coordinates! N 35° 03.598 W 080° 45.840

Bible – Go to Jetton Park, Lake Wylie, or some quiet location outdoors, and enjoy a picnic together, pray together and rest in God, rejoicing in the recent celebration of Easter. Both parks have waterfront decks that you are able to reserve. Check out my family’s favorite private spot on the lake at the following coordinates: 35.466562, -80.903775

Math and Science – Break out the pots and pans and get cooking…or baking! Create a cooking challenge (Chopped!) in the home with your family and see who was the most creative. Want a simple math challenge? Help your child figure out how to break down a cup of flour in smaller amounts. Or if you’re a big kid, challenge yourself to break a cup down from a tablespoon! For the science portion, use a base recipe and adjust most of the measurements. Will the recipe work? Only you will be able to decide!  Mrs. Fisk’s family used to play “cafeteria” for lunches when her children were young.  She would set out items like cheese sticks, raisins, chips, and boiled eggs and give each one a price.  Then she would give her kids a dollar and they had to “shop” for their lunch!  This taught them how to budget and gave them practice counting out money (of course she usually had to specify that a main course and a fruit was required so they wouldn’t spend their whole dollar on dessert!).

Writing/Grammar/Poetry – Get your creative thinking caps on, and draft up a poem. Have your whole family do this and have a Poetry Jam! Or…go to the local library, grab a children’s book (or a comic book) and ACT it out to your family!  Make dinner for your family one night and come up with a beautifully written and illustrated menu complete with creative names for the courses.  Or go to a bookstore and help your child pick a “spring break book” and choose a time to read for at least 30 minutes a day in a beautiful spot (maybe even a hammock in your backyard).  You can read right along with them.

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Art – Head uptown to the Mint Museum and enjoy the sites of some beautiful works of art. Did you know admission is FREE on Wednesday nights from 5-9pm? (This applies to both museum locations.) Don’t feel like leaving your home? Check out some virtual museums online!

Music – If you are family of musicians, create a song and record it! You might be surprised in your own talents. If you are not a musician, grab some cans, empty glass jars, or whatever you can; take spoons and other utensils and have a music jam session together. We used to do this with the drum line in college and it was amazing what tunes would develop with simple rhythms.

Nature – It’s spring! And what better way to kick off the season than by helping design your gardens at home. Create a raised bed for better crop production, or make a new gardening section only using pots and planters for a unique challenge.  Grab some watercolors and ask your children to teach you how to paint a leaf or a flower using dry brush technique.

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I hope you enjoy your spring break! May it be full and restful!

-by Andrea Robson

Spring Term

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I love working with the junior high and high school students at Arborbrook. I get to experience the change in the atmosphere when something exciting is getting ready to happen.  A couple of weeks ago the change in the air was spring term. Spring term (previously called May term) is a week set aside from the regular class schedule where junior high and high school students may choose a single intensive course for one week.  Students chose between options that corresponded to their interests. As the week approached, you could feel the excitement in the air.

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If you were on campus at all the week of March 9-12, you may have wondered what was happening.  We had a group of 15 students actively building a gazebo that can serve as an outdoor classroom! This was our Project Management Class led by one of our parents, Tom Schrachta.  Tom took 15 junior high and high school students and taught them how to use basic tools and follow instructions to build the gazebo. One of our junior high students, Carolena, said, “Mrs. Trent, I actually got to use a drill!”

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Elijah described it like this, “It was fun, and challenging and overall a hard task to tackle, but we did it!”

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Another exciting class on campus was our Sports and Nutrition Class hosted by the Charlotte Eagles.  The Charlotte Eagles are passionate about engaging students in sports while promoting healthy habits such as nutrition. Students spent time in the classroom learning about proper nutrition and what the Bible says about their body being a temple and how they are to take care of it.  They played various sports including soccer, volleyball, and Ultimate Frisbee.  Student Cora E. wrote about her experience. “Over the week we talked about nutrition, trust, identity, confidence, and how to apply God to sports. It really helped me play sports more to the glory of God and less for myself.”

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One of Lorien’s favorite activities was the trust exercise.  She explained you had to lead your partner over various obstacles, then fall back into a group and trust that they would catch you. “Both of the times we did it, I was with someone I usually didn’t hang out with, but I loved getting to know them.”

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Now for those who were not excited about sports or building, Home-Economics was the perfect class.   Eleven students met each day at the home of MaryLou Scott for a week of meal planning, sewing, and cupcake decorating.  Students received a recipe that they used to make their own lunch everyday. Some of the items on the menu included enchiladas, turkey potpie, fruit salad, taco soup, and chopped salad with homemade dressing.  They even had a special caterer come in and teach cupcake decorating! Students also learned how to sew a pillow.  Jessie Z. said she used a sewing machine for the very first time. “I made a pillow all by myself.  It was fun because I had never made anything like that on my own before!”

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And to add to an already fun-filled week, they learned how to build a wardrobe on a budget.  When I asked junior Rachel her favorite part of Home-Ec. she said, “Everything!”

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And for our history buffs out there, do you know about the cool places you can explore all within one hour of Charlotte? Our students hiked the Battlefield Trail at Kings Mountain and learned about a great battle that changed the course of the Revolutionary War.  Gabe described it by saying, “So I was in Kings Mountain and I was breathing the fresh mountain air and I was just thinking about how great it is to be an American. I mean people in some other countries like Russia are ‘free,’ but not really free like we are.”

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Or how about a trip to Historic Camden where the worst American defeat took place during the Revolutionary War? Then there was the visit to Fort Dobbs, the only French and Indian War site in all of North Carolina.  Students engaged in the “Gone for a Soldier Tour” where they actually got to dress in uniforms the soldiers would have worn and see a musket fired.  And one of my favorites that I highly recommend for anyone wanting to learn more about Charlotte was the Charlotte Historical Walking Tour. I took this tour a few years ago and was amazed to learn how the city got its name as the “Queen City.” I also learned the old Ivey’s building my mom worked in as a teenager is one of the only original buildings left it downtown Charlotte.  Or how about Fourth Ward where there are still some homes that date back 75 years. Nicole said, “One of my favorite things that happened during spring term was when I got to tour Charlotte Center City.  It was beautiful and I enjoyed looking at the buildings.” Four trips, in one week; that is the kind of history class anyone could enjoy!

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One week, one class that really interests you, and the experience of a lifetime!  That is spring term! I wish I had a spring term when I was in school.  To sum it up, when I asked Madalyn T. if she enjoyed her spring term she said, “I wish we could have a fall term, winter term, and spring term. I loved it!”

by Missy Trent, Guidance Counselor

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