A Few of the Passengers
They decided to have an “Emigrant Shipwreck Honor Roll Party”, and they even spelled it right! That was from our 6th grade vocabulary book; emigrants leave a country, immigrants arrive in a country. They wanted a dock, a ship, and a trek out into the woods behind the school. So we did.
We began at the Irish emigration office where each of the emigrants had their picture taken with their ticket, which was also their invitation to the party. They were told that we were leaving Ireland because of the potato famine.
Next we had a clothes relay where they had to exchange a vest, scarf, and hat.
Then they lined up on the dock and boarded the ship, walking along a twisting gang plank. If they touched the grass, they had to go to the back of the line and try again. This was made a little difficult by the fact that many of the bricks that were supposed to be used for holding up the planks ended up being used to hold down the "ship". We had some great ideas to make the hull of the ship and the sails, but the blustery March winds blew away the sails, the hull, and even the chairs we tried to use instead.
Once aboard the ship we enjoyed hardtack, cheese, and tangerines so we wouldn’t get scurvy. (That was a student’s idea, too.) The younger students “fished” over the side of the “ship” and received little prizes. The older students got fake coins and flower seeds.
Then the storm clouds came (supposedly) and the whaling song changed into thunder and storm sound effects. (We had a stereo hidden underneath the landscaping plastic hull of the ship.) The crew, the boys in grades 3-6, began to spray us all with water. We leaned and rocked back and forth, feigned sea sickness, sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “Peter, James and John Had a Little Sailboat,” and “I Will Make You Fishers of Men” to calm our nerves. Then the ship “wrecked” and we all passed out.
Our captain (principal) informed us that we had landed in Greenland, and that according to his map, there was a little fishing village about a mile’s walk away. After leaving the first mate and another crew member to "fix" the ship, we took off.
After a long trek through some muddy trails and bramble bushes, we found a kind Christian fisherman (a brother from our church) who happened to be out fishing. He took us to his little fishing village and shared what they had with us. We sat around a fire beside a pond and enjoyed fish, rolls, carrots, stuffed baked potatoes (there was no blight in Greenland), and blue jello with gummy sharks swimming around in it. After we had finished, we were informed that the crew members had repaired the ship. We thanked the fisherman, sang him a song, and headed back in the dark through the mud and brambles to the ship.
After a bit more comic relief from our captain and crew, we landed safely in America where we were informed that we had to learn a new American game, kick-the-can. The younger students played, the older students helped us clean up all the stuff, and I really enjoyed working with these fabulous humans I am so blessed to have for students.
To date we’ve hosted twenty-five honor roll parties, and I think this one ranks in the top three. Why? Because of the way the students worked together. The wind messed up our original ideas for the boat and the sails, the rain and all the mud made the trek to the woods much more difficult, and at one point I thought the whole thing might not work and we’d have to call it off. But, we pulled together. The students had great, creative, ideas and used things we’d learned in history. We improvised, worked alongside each other, and prayed together when things didn’t go right. I laughed so hard at the five funny crew members and their captain on the “ship” that I had tears running down my cheeks. None of that would have happened if everything would have gone perfectly, or if I didn’t “bother” to let my students have a part in it. One of the sixth graders said something that made it all so worth while. She said, “Now, we’ll know what to do for our students when we are teachers some day.” Mission accomplished.
Sometimes things don’t go the way we had planned, or the way we would like them to, or even in a way we think we can handle. It is then that I remember that God will never leave me nor forsake me, that His ways are not my ways, and that He will not ask more of me more than I can handle. I cling to those verses. My hope is in God. Him will I serve. Master, here am I.