What is Success?

It is a good thing for young folks to get it straight in their minds what success in. If they think it’s money, they’ll probably be “dead failures.” Real success does not mean wealth. Whoever thinks of George Washington because he made money ? Yet the father of his country was considered a rich man in his time. And there were George W. Childs and Frederick Douglas who died the other day. Who thinks of asking how much money they left? And there is Gladstone, who knows whether he was a rich man or not ?

All of these men are considered successful because they have done a great deal of good for the community in which they lived. They made the most of the talent with which God entrusted them, and did what they considered right. According to that standard anybody may be a success. A carpenter or a farmer, or a mill girl or a houseworker is a success when he or she is honest and upright and tries to do his or her best.

One of the very best mottoes for a boy or girl to hang up in his workshop is the one Oliver Wendell Holmes, the gentle autocrat, gave some girls who were reading his poetry and who wrote him a few days befoe his death : Be in earnest : work hard.”

Mary E. J. Kelley, 1898

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Missionary Journeys: Bukidnon, Mount Apo

The pictures in this post are from the members of our congregation, from their recent preaching trips up into the mountains, but they are not necessarily in correct order and don’t necessarily match up with the text.  I get place names mixed up- but they depict recent missionary journeys by people I know and respect.

While here in the Philippines we attend a congregation of about 100 members, of whom at least half a dozen are preachers. All the preaching and teaching is largely in Visaya, with occasional jaunts into English depending on who is doing the preaching (one of the  oldest of the members speaks Ilocano and English better than he does Visaya, so he usually preaches in about a 70/30 English Bisaya mix.

Setting out on a missionary journey

They have so many preachers because they are very evangelistic.  Many weekends they and some of the other members are traveling to small villages of indigenous peoples up in the mountains- places that are only accessible by motorbike, or by motorcycle for a while and then walking for a few KM.  They have open air meetings by the riverside, and baptize in the river immediately afterwards.

Recently they heard an appeal from a group of young believers who want to build a meeting place so they can meet together even in the rain- because rainy season is no joke.  It’s raining as I type this, and my husband and I cannot have a normal conversation in normal tones and still hear each other. We have to raise our voices considerably.

This is the sort of church building they need forty dollars to build.

Anyway, this little baby church needs 40 dollars to build their shelter.  They have the wood.  They need the forty dollars to hire two wood-cutters who have chainsaws and to pay for the gas for the chainsaw.

This group meets in Malikongkong.  Another meets in Tambobong. Another meets in a place called Kadili. There are other names I have forgotten or am afraid of misspelling.  The names are unfamiliar to me, exotic, exciting.

One place they went, they left Davao the night before and rode their motorcycles as far as they could, and then stopped to spend the night with some other Christians.  The next morning they had to leave their motorcycles behind and walk the rest of the way- the walk took 3 hours, and they crossed the same river 6 times before they arrived to visit and encourage a new group of believers.

Another place they went because members of a rebel camp invited them, and I believe a couple of them accepted the gospel, and are anxious for our friends to return and teach them again.

In addition to the money for gas, they also are striving to get Bibles to all of these groups- there are no bookstores in the mountain villages they have visited.  We have given them about 50 Bibles in Bisaya to share, but they need more.

One of the places they preached is so high in the mountains they told me they could see their breath in the morning.  This is a novel experience for Davaoenos, where the temperature is between around 85 and 100F all year round, and even on chilly nights it is rarely below 75 (yes, I am now cold at 75, but I’ll get over it).   They said the cold wasn’t so bad, except they had gotten so dirty in their journeys they had to shower, and the showers there aren’t heated, so it was pretty painful.

They said that while they had to walk a couple hours from the riverside where they had baptisms back up into the village where the people live, they thought that the locals would have made the journey in half the time on their own, but the city dudes slowed them down and the locals accommodated their pace.

That reminds me of something interesting I realized here and meant to share: river-front property in 3rd world conditions is not prime or valuable. It’s scary.Insurance is limited, as are rescue operations.   In Davao proper, the poorest hovels are by the river, often little more than shanties.  In the mountains, where heavy rains and occasional earthquakes cause flooding and mudslides on a regular basis, the people live a safer distance from the river.

Safety, however, may not be perceived precisely the same way I see it.  If I understand my friends properly, people ride their motorcycles across this bridge:

One of the young men in his twenties, married, father of one, was telling me about the bridge and how exciting it was. His English is very good, but when I said, “Exciting? That is not the word I would use,” he thought I was giving him a free English lesson.
“Oh, that’s wrong? What is the word you would say?” He asked.

I told him, “Terrifying,” and he laughed.

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Learning the Parts of Speech, Verbs and More

Here’s an example of the way I’d approach teaching grammar to a year 4 student in a Charlotte Mason education.   By now, they have several years of reading thousands of pages of well written literature, and using copywork to practice writing well written sentences under their belts.  Many of these things they will probably have picked up naturally along the way, but in year 4 we begin a more focused approach to teach them some of the mechanics, some of the formal terms for grammar.  We use their reading and copywork, along with a handful of specific definitions.  You can get a formal grammar workbook, but it’s really not necessary.  You can work along the lines laid out below, a little at a time, small bites in regular servings over time, and they should pick it up quickly.
A sentence is a group of words containing a complete thought or idea. It must have at least two parts- the thing the sentence is about (subject) and either what that subject does, or what it is (Predicate). In these simple sentences, the predicate is an action word, or a verb. Identify the subject and verbs of these sentences:

1. The frog croaks.
2. The frogs croak.
3. The swallow twitters.
4. The swallows twitter.
5. The lamb bleats.
6. The lambs bleat.
7. The rooster crows.
8. The roosters crow.
9 The brook babbles.
10. The brooks babble.

The girl runs.

The girls run.

The girl is happy.

The girls are happy.

The room is clean.

The rooms are clean.

Over several days, take a few minutes a day to look at some sentences from your daily reading or copywork and identify the subjects (what the sentence is about) and the predicate (what the subject of the sentence does, or is)

Other things to notice:
Each of these sentences is really part of a pair.  What difference can you find between the first and second sentences in the pair?

The word frog means more than one-it may be two or hundreds. Would it sound tight to say ‘Frogs leaps?’

Find the difference between the sentences in each of the other pairs.

When the verb tells what one thing does how does it end?

What do we do to change most nouns to mean more than one?

This is called pluralization.  Plural means more than one.  Frog is a singular form, because it means only one.  The plural form of frog is frogs.

Write five sentences of you own,  each telling what one thing does, and then change them into plural form to tell what two or more things do.

Work on the above items just a few minutes each day. Always try to show examples in their regular reading of what your students are learning in grammar. Don’t overdo it, but in daily copywork and dictation ask them to identify any plural forms of a word, or what they would need to change in their sentence if the form of a word changed from single to plural or vice versa.  Ask them to find the subject and the predicate of a sentence, or to find the nouns and verbs in a sentence.  Again, this should be brief, but steady.  A few minutes three or four times a week for several weeks will accomplish more than two hours a day once a month.

If you need more work on pluralizing, here are a few more sentences:

I. The wind blows.

2. The winds blow.

3. The bough bends.

4. The boughs bend.

5. The bud swell;

6. The buds swell.

7. The squirrel leaps.

8. The squirrels leap.


—Find the difference between the first and the second sentence in each pair. Notice that these verbs ending in s all tell what one thing does; not what it did in the past or will do in some time to come.

— How would you change these sentences to show the action happened in the past?

–How would you change these sentences to show the action is going to happen in the future?
The wind blew. The winds blew. The wind will blow. The winds will blow.

Look at these four sentence; and see whether the verb adds when it tells what one thing did or will do. When a verb tells what one thing does, how does it end ? How can a name be made to mean mere than one ?

Write five sentences each telling what one thing does, and then change them to tell what two or more things do.


You could take a few days to work on homonyms for words like bough (bow) and blew (blue).  They will come up again, so you needn’t feel like you must master them today.

More exercises:

1. The wind is blowing.

2. The winds are blowing.

3. The bough is bending.

4. The boughs are bending.

5. The bud is swelling.

6. The buds are swelling.

7. The squirrel is leaping.

8. The squirrels are leaping.


—What differences do you find between the first sentence and the second?

Examine each of the other three pairs of sentences, and tell what you discover.

When you use is, do you speak of one or more than one?

When do you use are?

Again- take a few minutes on a regular basis, over time, to point out examples of the usage of these ‘to be’ verbs in your students’ other reading and regular copywork.  Much of this will probably already be familiar to them, you are giving them formal terms for what they already know, and directing them to observe the mechanics of writing a little more closely than they have hitherto.

Questions and Statements:  Sentences that end in a period are statements.  Sentences that end with a question mark are questions- if you did not already know, these marks are called punctuation marks.

Is the wind blowing ?

Are the winds blowing ?

What are the differences between these two sentences?  How may each of the other first six sentences be changed to questions?

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Letter writing and manners

” Every letter should be carefully and distinctly written. No one has a right to inflict on another an illegibly written missive, it being the height of egotism to assume that a communication will be of sufficient interest to the recipient for him to be willing to make a study of it.”

Caroline Bantung, in an 1897 Good Housekeeping.  She wrote an entire article on the niceties of writing letters, giving crisp, clear, and quite firm opinions on everything from the colour of the paper and ink (creamy white, black), type of pen (steel), to punctuation, spelling, closing, and postage.


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Fighting Cousins, an Old Tale

“Now then, Caspar, wipe those dirty feet of yours, and mind my fair linen, that you do not upset it into the fire with your clumsy ways! Dear heart it puzzles me for what the Almighty made the men. always in the way as they are, making a roughed field of my new-scrubbed floor: clamouring for their food three times a-day ; and then, if they are wanted to take a girl to the fair or to dance, always tired or busy, forsooth !” Such was Madell’s reception of her cousin Carper one chilly autumn evening, when he returned from work a little earlier than his father.


They were three in the household,—old Caspar, chiefly called’ Father,’ young Caspar, and the orphan cousin Maddel, who had never known any other home. All hale and hearty, and blessed with a fair amount of the world’s goods, they ought to have been a very happy party, if it had not been for a certain’ rasping —I can call it by no other name- which went on between the two younger two.


Caspar was clumsy and careless, often causing dire mischief in the neatly-arranged household: and then, Maddel’s ire and her tongue once roused, there was little peace for the rest of the day.


This evening Caspar had walked half way across the newly mopped kitchen floor, leaving clods of dirt from the field in his wake before he remembered to stop and remove his boots.  To make matters worse, as he bent to unfasten the boots,   his broad shoulders brushed up against the shaky clothes-line on which, before the fire, hung the linen sleeves and lappets of the burgomaster’s wife, Maddel’s weekly triumph of washing, causing the best lappet of all to tremble, flutter, and finally sail downwards on to the hearth and the wood-ashes, to be snatched up by Maddel, smirched, if not scorched. Her tongue wagged afresh, and not too pleasantly, at this disaster.


Caspar made a kind of grunt of apology; but talking not being in his way, his cousin received it with a scornful toes of the head, finally flouncing out into the wood-yard for more logs, and leaving the door wide open, sending a stream of chilly air poured into the cottage.


There-at Caspar pulled his moustaches- new, of which he was vastly proud, and said to himself,—sat down by the fire to begin mending the torn whip, which was the reason he had come home early, and began a rare stream of words of his own, “And Heaven alone knows to what good the girls were born into the world! Fiddle, faddle, from morn till night! No place for the sole of one’s foot; cleaning the house up just to serve as a trap to catch dirty boot.; going to church, even, merely to see if Fritz or George is missing from his place, and—’


How many more sins Caspar would have discovered in women-kind cannot be told here, as he was abruptly  stopped in his catalogue by a shriek from Maddel outside,—the cry of his name, so piercing, so heart-rending, that the lad rushed from the seat by the hearth and dashed- still in his stockinged feet- out into the court-yard.


‘Oh, Caspar! dear Caspar! save me! the terrible creature!” cried the girl, convulsively hugging a log of wood, while at her feet from beneath another log a snake reared and wriggled itself; a dangerous snake, known to be fatal in its bite.


Poor Maddel was barely able to keep her balance with the log in her arms, and she was stunned with terror. It was the work of a minute for strong-armed Caspar to kill it with the butt-end of the whip he still had in his hand. Then Maddel threw herself into his arms, with tears in her eyes.


‘I should have been a dead woman but for you, Caspar!’ she gasped. The Lord be thanked you came home when you did! Ill never complain about your boots again.’


“Then the men are good for something, are they ?’ said Caspar, somewhat mischievously, as he guided poor shaken Maddel back to the light and safety of the cottage.



Yes, and so are the girls,” returned his cousin, smiling through her tears. “I heard you through the door, Caspar, girding against us all, I’m so glad you were home, even if you were making a list of my sex’s sins against you.   However, I reckon, when you taste the hare stew and the chestnut cake to-night, you’ll think better of  womankind!”


‘Let us both think better of each other,’ suggested Caspar. ‘I always find you perfect, it it wasn’t for your tongue.’


“And I shouldn’t like any of the lads so well as you, if it wasn’t for your boots,’ said Maddel, frankly. So they made an agreement to bear and forbear and to be careful of each other’s weak points ; which answered so extremely well, that there was not a high word in the cottage for a whole month.


And at the end of that time Caspar put some question to Maddel to which she replied,— ‘ Oh, go along ‘


‘I am going, said Caspar;’ only you must come with me.’


After some discussion Maddel and Caspar did sally out together, making for the old pastor’s house. They had found out that, after all, they could not live without each other, and so the marriage-day was to be fixed.


‘Bear and forbear’ had been such a good motto that all the sharp angles were rubbing off Maddel, and all the blunt parts of Caspar’s character were being sharpened, so that even Father Caspar had noticed the change, which added much to his comfort too.


The snake was stuffed and fixed up over the chimney-piece, somewhat to the old father’s wonder, but Caspar and Maddel liked to look at it. They had begun to understand each other from ‘ that day,’ and they dated their happiness from its death.


H.A.F. in The Chatterbox, 1877

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