Follow the Adventure: The Brazeau's Serving In Papua

School year 2013-2014

New Updates will be at the top of this page so please scroll down for older entries!

march madness in papua

March 17, 2014

Last  year Jeremy started a March Madness bracket for the middle schoolers and it was very well received so he brought it back this year with one of the best prizes imaginable, well at least for middle schoolers in Papua. The winner of this years bracket gets two regular sized bags of Doritos straight from Singapore (there are bonuses to traveling for surgery). I specified the regular size because the kids were quite concerned they would just be the fun size. When we went to Singapore for my surgery Doritos were the number one requested item from people here. While its no billion dollars from Mr. Buffett it has attracted a lot of excitement and even parents want in on it  but Jeremy specified no parental involvement. We will post a pic of the lucky winner and their prize when the Madness is over.

surgery in singapore

March 1, 2014

Many of you know I broke my wrist last year while teaching gym and had to go to Singapore for surgery to repair it. I was having ongoing issues and was told by my physiotherapist in Canada and two doctors here that my ulna kept popping out of place. Jeremy and I returned to Singapore and I have had reconstructive surgery to fix it. Unfortunately the fix includes, amoung other things, two metal wires put through the bones of my forearm in order for the ligaments to heal properly which means I cannot rotate it . They will be in there for six weeks at which point Jeremy and I will return to Singapore for surgery to have them removed as well as receiving some physiotherapy to help me regain as much mobility as possible. I have missed three weeks of teaching as it has been quite painful and I didn't want to risk being bumped by anyone. Thankfully it is improving and I plan to resume teaching this coming week, I need to get the kids ready for this year's track and field day. For the second year in a row I will be demonstrating events with my left hand. It is a good way to recall all the little steps involved in the movements. P.s. I have typed all this with my left hand :) 

Anatomical Valentine's

February 14, 2014

 This year for Valentine's Day Jeremy's grade 7 science class had a special physiology lesson. They had learned about the anatomy of the heart lungs and liver and just to help facilitate further understanding Jeremy acquired several specimens from the local pasar (market) for his class to dissect. The girls really enjoy the lesson and Jeremy told them they would make good doctors one day. The boys, however, were much more squeamish and would not touch the specimens once they had been cut. Jeremy showed the kids the heart strings, kids felt the heart chambers and inside of the trachea with their fingers, and how to inflate the lungs using a straw.  The part Jeremy found most astounding about the day was not the boys general aversion to the hands on aspect but the fact that the national worker who had purchased the parts for him wanted them all back when the kids had finished to eat.

While Jeremy and his class were busy with their lesson my high school gym classes were taking advantage of the heavy rainfall. The past few weeks it has been around 44 degrees every day with the humid ex and the sun bakes down on the school's field so the rain was welcome. My first high school class played capture the flag barefoot while the second (a class of four girls) decided to play chicken tag. Chicken tag involves throwing or hitting other players with rubber chickens. There was a lot of slipping, sliding, laughter and some chicken shaped welts.

grade 6 movie night

February 7, 2014

This Friday we had a movie night for the grade six class, which because of a conflicting birthday party, became a gathering of all the grade six girls and one brave sixth grade boy. Jeremy loves to have special events for the kids and the grade sixes were very eager to come to our apartment and meet our two little turtles, K.J and Swimmy Boy Juniour, so a movie night was a good excuse. We watched a Thanksgiving themed cartoon that recently came out featuring militant turkeys going back in time to get themselves off the menu. We do not recommend it though the kids really seemed to enjoy it which is what counted. All the children brought snacks and then marched up to the grade six room to retrieve a pile of comfy pillows before we settled in for what turned out to be a giggle fest. The lone boy announced he was sick from too much popcorn and drink before availing himself to more.

Our other guests included the three Ottawa YWAM girls who have become something of celebrities to the kids and had to sign autographs and notes before being allowed to leave at the end of the evening. Once everyone had gone home all that was left was dirty dishes, muddy footprints and crumbs, a sure sign of a good time.

worlds colliding

 January 31, 2014

Sometimes living here in Papua and knowing you are literally on the other side of the planet from your country of birth leaves you feeling like you live in a different world. The language is different from the world you came from, the food, the climate, the date (we live a day ahead of you half the time) I could go on and on. Last week those worlds collided in a very unexpected way. Three young women from Ottawa came to town with YWAM and not just any three girls but ones Jeremy taught and I coached. It was amazing to see them and spend time reminiscing about old times and how awesome Canada is. Nothing will teach you more about what it means to be a Canadian than living abroad. We met their team at a local restaurant and helped them order and kept them company for the next three hours as their driver had locked his keys in the car.

Over dinner we found out that the girls, who are travelling in a group of ten around Indonesia and had been in country for a month, had not seen a beach yet. Jeremy and I were happy to rectify that situation and we rented a van and crowded thirteen people in with the driver and spent Chinese New Year on the white sand of Pantai Harlem.

There was a few office parties going on there as it was a Red Letter Day and everyone was out celebrating. We were serenaded by three men and their guitars as we enjoyed the sunshine. Jeremy took everyone out snorkeling and  found some lion fish which was pretty incredible. That night we also took them to the school for game night (HS basketball and hot dog meal) and showed them around campus. The YWAM team will be sharing at our school's Friday chapel The kids are very excited to hear from them and we are so happy to have been able to spend time with them while they are here. It's a small world after all.

Grade 6 Beach Trip

January 16, 2014 

Last week was our first week of the second semester for our school. Our school has a three week break at Christmas so that the kids, especially the ones who live in the hostel, are able to go to the villages where their parents work as translators and church planters and spend some time as a family. Right before Christmas break Jeremy and I were asked to be sponsors on the grade six beach trip. The kids had won the trip for achieving a goal as a class for Na No Wri Mo ( National Novel Writing Month). We were all packed and ready to go when we found out it was cancelled due to security reasons. First week back and the trip was on. We had twelve kids in two vans, and because of a massive cootie outbreak we had a designated boy van and girl van, and we were off. It was a loud and bumpy hour and a half drive to Depapre where we hired two boats to take us on the 25 minute ride to Pantai Harlem.

The second the kids feet hit the beach they were having the time of their lives, swinging on rope swings from palm trees, snorkeling for hours with Jeremy, building sand castles and just floating around. There was a devotional during lunch on  Psalm 139:17-18: 

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them, 
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. 
When I am awake, I am still with you.

The speaker had the children press their hands down into the sand and begin to count the grains that covered a square inch and it was already beyond their count. Then we looked and saw the beach and the ocean floor, all made up of the tiny grains of sand, and it was a powerful image we were left with. God's thoughts towards us, individually, outnumber all the grains of sand in the earth. I felt blessed.

After lunch there was a scavenger hunt followed by even more fun in the sun. Jeremy took some amazing photos of underwater life that left us in awe at the Lord's creativity. At three the boats came to retrieve us and we headed back to school. It was a wonderful day.

bringing in the new year with a bang

December 30- January 1, 2014

Jeremy and I were invited to go beach camping  with some friends and were excited for the opportunity. They had friends visiting from an international school in Shanghai and were working through their activities list: Kali Biru, hike to the water falls, beach camping and so on. Our friend Jared grew up here and is an expert on all things Papua so he is the man to go on an adventure with. The fact that his wife is a nurse doesn't hurt either. Our boat ride was a wet one and when we arrived at the beach we saw that the area was pretty flooded. There was only about 12 feet of land between the ocean and the fresh water that had pooled around the bottom of the mountain but that was enough. We set up our tarps, hammocks and bug nets and were pleased to see the rain had stopped.

Jeremy went out snorkeling with Jared and learned how to spear fish. The guys caught some fish and a cuttle fish (type of squid) during their day trip and went again for 3 hours after dark. I hung back because I was feeling badly and later found out I had my first case of malaria. Jeremy accidentally speared a puffer fish but thankfully it was just by the tail so he was released and went on his slightly less merry way. Jeremy said there was phosphorescent algae in water that swirled around and lit up the reef in a rather magical fashion. The guys hand caught and then released a walking shark, a species native to here, it was pretty cool. Jeremy also caught a crab and several squids with the spear. He said it was really cool spearing the squids because even if you missed you could follow the ink trail and find them again. They also came across an extra large puffer fish that they were able to handle and play with.   

The tide went out so far that the boat was grounded over night and we were able to walk out and see the stars. The milky way was incredibly vibrant that night, the only light around came from our fire and the small villages way across the bay, and was accented by the occasional fireworks display.

The boys cooked some of their catches over the fire and then we set off some of our own fireworks before we headed to bed. I could hear the some drums in the distance over the sound of the surf and jungle and watched the clouds float past the bright moon through a gap in the palms. 

We spent the next day at the beach and then raced a storm across the bay, trying in vain to get to shore before we were soaked. The waves were huge but our friend Theresa is an excellent driver and got us back safely. We made it back in time to clean up and watch the amazing fireworks display that happens all over Papua on New Year's eve. There are literally thousands of dollars going up in smoke around you every minute. It is loud and awesome.

We live on the hill where the school is and have a great view on every side of us so this is the place where everyone comes to see the show. This year it was raining so we didn't go out at nine o'clock like we usually do, we waited to eleven-thirty when the show was already in full effect. Everywhere you looked there was fireworks going off, at one point the smoke was so thick you could only see the light of the fireworks reflected in the clouds of smoke. It was awesome. A great way to ring in the New Year. The fireworks continued all night and through the next day, though not at the same level, our things actually had a fine layer of black powder on it.

middle school christmas party

December 14, 2013

This year Jeremy planned the first ever Hillcrest Middle School Christmas Party and it was a blast. The moms were incredible and helped to organize and decorate the event with us and made it a night for their kids to remember. There were appetizers in the court yard which included a chocolate fountain and featured such hard to come by delicacies as marshmallows and pretzels. After photos we went down to the beautifully decorated MPR for dinner, a guest speaker, games, photo booth and a gift exchange. One of the most entertaining parts of the evening was the toilet paper snowman contest in which each table had to transform one person into a snowman using only toilet paper, construction paper and tape. The results were hilarious and magical. After the gift exchange we went outside for beautiful fireworks and a fifty person popper war. Poppers are those small fire crackers you throw at the ground and they explode at your feet, or on your feet. The kids had a blast. We hope it is a tradition that will carry on in future years.

fun fair!

November 15, 2013

Each year at out school there is a Fun Fair but on by the Elementary and Middle School students and teachers for the children of the school's karyawan (national staff). Each grade, including the little kindergartners, creates and runs a game or station for a few hours after school that day. This year Jeremy was in charge of the grade eights which meant he was the 'Don' of the 'Water Mafia'. The water mafia is one of the most popular booths. You pay with your tickets and sign up a friend, and quite often a teacher, for a hit. The water mafia then goes after the victim and absolutely drenches them. All wise people leave non water proof items at home on Fun Fair day.

One of the other very popular booths is the dunk tank. Our school actually has its very own, built in, permanent dunk tank. Jeremy is always a very popular target and this year I got the honour of being a 'dunkie' as well. Who would have thought kids would love soaking their teachers so much? 

dinner and a study group

November 2013

I think it is safe to say that most of us enjoy being invited out for dinner from time to time. Living on campus with your students can put a bit of a different spin on it though, in a good way of course. From time to time Jeremy and I are invited over to Hostel 2 for dinner. There are two hostels on campus and each can hold up to twelve students at a time. Many of the missions agencies in Papua have their headquarters in Sentani because the airport and the school are here. When families have younger children they are posted to more remote areas, including Wamena where our school has a satellite school that can take kids up until high school age at which point families often move to Sentani so their kids can continue their educations. If the parents need to be in the village their kids stay at one f the hostels. Children must be in middle school to be able to live there. Hostel 2 is the one that houses all the middle schoolers and a few of the high school kids.

Back to me and Jer. When we are invited over we get to have dinner and hang out with the kids and then Jeremy leads a study session, generally scientific in nature, for the grade 8 kids. It is nice to be able to help the kids outside of school hours when they really need it and we are always excited about a free meal, the hostel's cooks are amazing. 

Classroom guest

November 12, 2013 

Jeremy had a guest in his classroom recently, a student in her final year of university that was interested in missions teaching. She stayed and observed all of Jeremy's classes for the day, six classes for grades six, seven and eight. At the end of the day she told Jeremy that she had decided to pursue a career as a missions teacher which made us both rather happy. Our school is perpetually looking for new teachers and is generally stretched pretty thin so we are always happy to hear that another person may be coming to help.

After School MMA

October 21, 2013 

Since the beginning of the school year I have been spending several days a week after school (after the weight room) training some of my students in mixed martial arts. It is a lot of fun and a great stress reliever for me as it is something I really enjoy. One of the Seniors trains several times a week and a handful of other students are asking to begin. I am also currently planning a self-defense class for female students and community members here as it is a concern for most. I am hoping to train my Senior MMA partner and some other students to help me run that class so we can increase the size and effectiveness by making it as hands on as possible.

Futsal Intermurals: Teachers vs Students

October 15, 2013

Today at lunch  the students who won the Futsal Intermurals played the teachers as a reward. Mrs. and Mr. Fennell, Mr. Lott and Jeremy and I played 'Newcastle United'. It was a good time and we had a big crowd of middle schoolers, high schoolers and parents cheering and jeering us on.

Now that Futsal is over we are now into Pinball. Any form of dodge ball is always a fan favourite. After the middle school games are finished we play a game of High School vs Middle School and it gets wild. The kids are definitely enjoying intermurals.

men vs boys volleyball

October 11, 2013

At the end of each sports season the kids teams play their parents and teachers. It is always a really fun night for those playing and watching. Jeremy played the Boys A team and it was a fantastic game. The teachers won but it was a hard fought victory full of incredible rallies. I tried to get some action shots but it all happened so fast!

middle school spiritual emphasis day

October 11, 2013

Once a semester the middle school (grades 6,7 and 8) sets a day aside to focus on strengthening their faith. Guest speakers come in and share with the students and offer advice on how to improve their walk with God. This years speakers presented on the basics of worship, salvation, reading their bible and prayer in hopes that the students will have a strong foundation to their faith and the ability to grow into a more mature Christian. 

Students spent time in fellowship, prayer and small groups over the course of the morning and the event was capped off by a potluck picnic under the pine trees over looking town. The students expressed their pleasure with the day and wanted to know when we would do it again.

Forget the Books, Hit the weights!

October 1, 2013 

Just kidding, Jeremy and I always endorse good study habits but we do believe in a healthy balance of interests. Everyday after school, except when we have staff meetings, Jeremy and I supervise the weight room for a group of young fitness enthusiasts. Some of the boys have been working out for a while and others are just beginning but once they're in there they all sweat the same. And when its forty degrees out on a regular basis there is no shortage of it.

bottle rockets

September 15, 2013

This week Jeremy and the seventh grade science class were learning about forces, motion and Newton's Laws in their physics unit and what better way to learn than building and launching water powered bottle rockets! The kids designed, named and tested their bottle rockets over two weeks. Thankfully their testing period lined up perfectly with my rather rowdy kindergarten class (I teach ten students, only four of whom speak English) and I took they out to watch. 

middle school intermurals

August 3, 2013

This week Jeremy started Intermurals at lunch hour for the Middle School kids, which here includes the grade fives. The kids were so excited and the majority of the middle school signed up to be a part. There were enough kids to make six teams and they attract a large audience every time they play. This first round of Intermurals will be futsal (indoor soccer) followed by dodgeball and then basketball.

Beach Bond 2013

August 29-31, 2013

This past weekend Jeremy and I were blessed to be sponsors at the annual high school beach trip. Three days of camping at the beach right on the ocean. It takes about and hour to drive to the dock where we charter boats to take us to the beach, that drive takes us through Sentani, around Mount Cyclops (the dormant volcano the school is built on the foothills of) and to the town of Depapre. It took six boats to haul the gear and 51 students and teachers out to the beach. The boat ride is a pleasant forty minutes if the weather is on our side. To get to the Outside Beach, as it is known by the missions community, we go out through the bay and around a large point. The beach faces north, all you can see is ocean and sky, the next land mass north of us is Japan and that isn't close.

 The Senior class went out the day before and set up camp. Two large tarps for the eating and meeting area, one for the girl's camp and one for the boy's. There is a small waterfall that a pipe has been set up on above one of the drops which make for a nice natural shower. And of course latrines are dug at appropriate distances from camp for each gender.

This year in the high school we are really trying to push for the refinement of character and to help reach this goal this year instead of a single speaker presenting at the twice daily meeting we had teachers and staff giving their testimonies, specifically about an area of our lives where God has been working to refine our character. Jeremy was the first speaker of the weekend and he did a fantastic job. He spoke of how we should find contentment in God by; giving thanks in all things, rest in God's plan, be satisfied with what you have, learn to live above life's circumstances and find our identity in Christ. Jeremy spoke of some struggles that we have been facing together as a couple and then left them with a cliff hanger saying "you will have to wait and see what happened when Mrs. Brazeau speaks because I promised not to step on the toes of what she will be saying" Then the kids broke up and talked in their small groups about what they thought about the speakers testimony and what was meaningful to them.

I spoke at the morning session the next day and presented some struggles that I was dealing with and what I thought God was trying to teach me through it all. I got a lot of good feedback I spoke and was even asked how I was able to keep my faith during all the times of struggle Jeremy and I have faced. That gave me another great opportunity to share. During the small group times I was so impressed with the Senior leaders. They were well prepared and so focused on God and His glory it made me so proud of the work God was doing in their lives.

The spiritual side of the trip was stellar but there was a lot of fun had as well. Bonfires on the beach, skim boarding, rugby, snorkeling (a teacher saw a 4 foot reef shark and a student caught an infant walking shark), and an amazingly entertaining game (for players and observers alike) called Buck Buck. The kids claim they learned it from Bill Cosby talking about Fat Albert but modified it slightly. There are two teams of equal numbers. One team lines up front to back, grabs each others waists and bends over forming a long table. The other team lines up a distance away, runs and vaults onto the other team, trying to get as many people piled up on top as they can. To win the other team must collapse beneath you or stay standing under the barrage of bodies. It was hilarious and terrifying to watch. Everyone wanted Mr. Brazeau on their team.

On Friday I organized a Survivor Team Challenge that had the kids racing around the beach competing to earn tiles (puzzle pieces) that would have to be assembled at the finish line. The six challenges were; having to start a fire with a magnifying glass to burn through a tally line suspended above the fire, having to build a human pyramid to retrieve a tile hanging from a palm tree, finding 3 sea cucumbers, 2 purple shells and a sand crab, building a stretcher to carry the largest team member across the beach, pulling a team mate out to sea to dive down and retrieve a tile suspended from the ocean floor,  and finally solving a puzzle called Missionaries and Cannibals (a variation of the  Japanese River Test). Once the team had all their tiles they had to assemble them for the principal and read the verse the tiles formed. The kids had a great time.

There was a lot of time to sit around and bond with the students and staff. The whole weekend was hugely positive and we all felt it was a great start to the school year. As we took down the camp and packed out gear the boats arrived but so did a huge storm. Being out of the ocean in boats who's only seats are wooden boards that are not attached as your race through huge waves is not fun. There was thunder and lightening and I almost fell out of the boat twice within the first ten minutes. The kids were screaming, everyone was holding onto each other, and all I could think was no matter what happens it will be okay, God is watching over us. As we made it further out into the ocean the waves decreased, Thank you God!, but torrential rain battered us. It was so cold and we couldn't see a thing, the shore disappeared and the engine stopped working. I worked hard to keep things light telling jokes and singing annoying songs. The engine started and stopped a couple times but then rain lightened up and soon we could see shore again. There was a lot of lightening going on and I was praying pretty hard, as I am sure the kids were too. Then I noticed everyone's hair had begun standing on end, not from fright but because the lightening was so close to us. God was really watching over us because the lightening was all around us but we were kept safe. It was an epic end to a fantastic weekend. We all felt closer because we had survived that boat ride together and God kept his protective hand over us the entire way.    

Middle School Welcome Party

August 21, 2013

Tonight was the Middle School Welcome Back Party and it was a blast! I had ordered glow in the dark dodge balls and we put them to good use. I made glow in the dark necklaces and gathered the kids after dark and shut off the lights. Forty kids and a dozen glow in the dark balls make for a pretty amazing show. Unfortunately we were so busy playing we didn't stop to take any photos. It's more fun to live in the moment.

 After we played pinball (a dodge ball variation) and the night game classic 'sardines'. Everyone had brought snacks and drinks to share. It was a pretty memorable night! We hope to be able to plan one middle school gathering every six weeks. We have been very proud of the kids and their maturity thus far in the semester after a rough last year. 

Teacher Inservice and Starting the Year off Right!

August 16, 2013

Today we started off the school year with Teacher Inservice. We had a staff meeting where we went over all the regular staff readiness issues and made sure we were all on the same page for rules and guidelines. I think the most important part of the meetings was that we decided as a staff on some things that would help create a positive environment in the school and how we could help foster a sense of welcome and refinement of character, specifically Christian character. Last year there were some issues in the school were that was not always the case, regular school yard happenings, and we as a staff wanted to make sure we portrayed what we expect of our students on a daily basis.

So far the environment at the school has been so positive and we are so thankful. Issues of bullying and other such things have not yet been an issue and we are continuing to pray for God's grace and blessing on the school. We hope you will pray along with us! 

Moving Apartments and Lost Luggage

August 2, 2013

Jeremy and I were home for the summer and when we returned to Sentani after 3 days of travel the first thing we needed to do was move. Our friend picked us up at the airport, we grabbed a quick shower and dove right into the move. Some of our friends had moved our bed and living room furniture so all we really need to do was move some shelves and all our belongings. The apartment we moved into was attached to ours so all we had to do was open the adjoining door and slide everything on over. The tricky bit was figuring out how to make a much smaller apartment work for us but we bought some bins and organized as we had never organized before and in 3 days we were all settled in and unpacked.

 The only two wrinkles in an otherwise amazingly easy trip back to Papua came at the start and the end. In Ottawa after and insanely long wait in 4 different lines we were a bit too overweight and had to give up some precious cargo. We left behind a bottle of ranch dressing and a big bag of brown sugar, both things we cannot get in Papua, and we were very sad to see them go. The final wrinkle was when we arrived in Jakarta and my bag didn't. After a couple silent tears at a late night mie goreng restaurant we boarded our final flight and prayed my bag would follow soon. Thankfully it showed up a day late with all its contents and only one major dent. That was a huge answer to prayer as basically everything I owned clothes wise was in it.

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