They warn you about this when you come to be a missionary teacher.
They say, “You will be overwhelmed- don’t worry. It’s normal.”
They prepare you for a whole process of adjustment.
But they don’t prepare you for mummifying chickens. And the chicken mummies were the last straw today.
With a few hours distance and the help of an awesome parent, I can now say that it was a great experience for my kids. Tomorrow, we’ll continue the learning as we compare and contrast our life experience with the non-fiction texts we are reading about the mummification process. 12 hours ago, though, it was all I could do to hold back tears during morning meeting.
Let me back up.
At Faith Academy, third grade mummifies chickens. Period. It’s tradition- kids talk and write about it for years to come. So in my mind, this was more than just a fun activity for our Egypt unit. It was my unsworn but serious duty to provide my students with this experience.
What was not my duty, however, was to schedule it three days before parent-teacher conferences, at quarter end when I am supposed to be stressing over things like progress reports. (Side note: my personal chicken drama makes grades look like a walk in the park. I’m being only slightly dramatic when I say that.) Nor was it my duty to add papyrus making and cartouche design to the same day. But…I did all that.
(They probably did say something about not going crazy because of poor choices in training…perhaps I was out during that session.)
It didn’t help that the day started with 1) the realization that I left several packages in the grocery basket last night and 2) running out of cash at the cash-only store while picking up the item I forgot while at the grocery store last night and 3) running across the road to my sweetly waiting roommates to borrow a few hundred pesos. By the time I got to school, I was wound a little tightly (to put it nicely).
So bless their hearts, two colleagues stopped by, let me cry on their shoulders (I wish I was speaking figuratively), and prayed for me. Once I got through the residual sniffles (I’m a terrible crier) and my kiddos had been basically amazing, we had a great morning. Carol took my lunch duty so I could finish running around like a chicken on its way to mummification, and Amanda showed up to set up the papyrus making.
While it’s entirely possible that we are not completely following Faith Academy tradition in the way we are caring for the three deceased fowl in our care, they will make it to mummification, a sarcophagus, and proper burial in a few months. For now, they are happily ziplocked on the counter in my classroom, and the deodorizing power of salt/cinnamon/baking soda is amazing.
And I am home, considering the lessons of this day:
-This too, shall pass. Even chicken mummifying will come to an end.
-It wasn’t about the chickens, really. I’m pretty good at putting pressure on myself and making things bigger in my mind than they really are. This is a pretty good example of that.
-I’m surrounded by awesome people. From “good morning” and “I’ll pray” texts to a hug and a prayer to “How’s it going?” and hands-on-chicken so I could take pictures, I felt the love all day, especially when I didn’t feel so lovely.
So instead of blaming the chicken mummy, I think I’m ready to be thankful for the lessons I didn’t choose and a God who knows better than I do what this third grade teacher needs to learn.