Wednesday, February 29, 2012

English is Fun!

Learning English can be a challenge to anyone who didn't learn it from their parents as a child.  My Turkana students are challenged by it, but they also have fun when we come together to learn new things.  This past week was no exception.

We spent a large part of our time talking about the resurrection and ascension of Jesus after his death on the cross.  Since last week also included Ash Wednesday, I decided to take my students to a service.  We went to a Catholic service that was held in English for local school children.  My students had never been to such a service, so it was definitely something they wanted to talk about the next day of class.

We spent about two hours going over what they saw, heard, did and thought about the whole thing.  They had many good observations and it was a good way to get them using their English in practical ways.  We spent time talking about and reading the Scripture passages used in the service.  We also talked about the things that are different and the same in a Catholic service compared to our worship services.  We talked about how being marked with the cross is an outward symbol of a spiritual reality.  When we choose to follow Jesus, our whole lives are marked by what Jesus did on the cross for us.  It was a very good conversation.

I asked them how this focus on the cross and our need for what Jesus did there went with our topic for the week.  We read and talked about 1 Corinthians 15:3-20.  The cross is a necessary part of our salvation and so is the resurrection.  The cross shows us the cost of our sin and the resurrection gives us the hope of eternal life.  

The movie we are slowly watching is called "The Hope."  The students watch part of the movie and we go over the words of the movie in simplified form and then the actual transcript.  They learn new English words to help them tell the Good News of the story they already know.  They spend time describing what they see in pictures from the movie, matching the story of the movie with the pictures, listening to words and putting them in the correct order to make sentences, and spelling English words. We play several games to help them remember the new words and phrases.

We also spent some time this week with the students reading from simple storybooks.  They read their stories to the class and did very well with their pronunciation.  They really liked this and asked for more stories to read.  So, one of their assignments for the weeks between class is to read another storybook to another English speaker and be ready to read it for class in March.  

So, that is a small description of a week of English class here in Turkana.  I hope your week is going well!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Marked By Thanksgiving

This past week was the beginning of Lent.  I attended an Ash Wednesday service with my English students and was marked by the Cross.  This marking reminded me how much I need the cross and resurrection of Jesus because of my sin.  This marking also made me immensely thankful for what Jesus did and marked me with Thanksgiving for the day.  Continuing to name the daily gifts of God that I see also helps to daily mark me with Thanksgiving to God.

3 gifts white
163. A gray and white go away bird making his distinctive call.
In the center of the picture.

164. A white breasted chicken seen wandering around free.
165. I missed the thorns - didn't step on them on my walk.

166. My students read their storybooks well in front of the class.
167. Ash Wednesday service with my students.
168. A prayer in English by one of my students that just rolled off his tongue without him having to stop and think of the correct English words.  YAY!
169. A good class discussion about the cross and resurrection in relation to the Ash Wednesday service we participated in the day before.
Gift of tin, glass and wood
170. The tin (?) chimes that sway with sweet melodies outside my window in the wind.
171. Ice cold glass of tea after a hot walk outside.
172. A wood dinning table that serves as a desk, a creativity centre, mess holder :), a cooks table and of course to hold food or friends and me.
173. A good end to my class for the week.
174. Money found that I thought was stolen - just misplaced by me :(  :}
175. Woodpeckers seen on the termite mound around the corner from my house.

176. Found the butchery in town that I didn't know had moved.
177. The internet was down all day, so I got some chores done that I had been putting off.
178. Watched an old VHS movie - the player still works!
179. Chewy kisses and chocolate chip cookies made today.
180. Christ's joy reflected in people's faces this morning as we praised the Lord.
181. Seeing kids play in the sun with great abandonment to the fun of the moment.
182. Enjoying a day of quiet rest and worship.
3 Ugly - Beautiful gifts
183. Hazy dusty day all day - ugly, but beautiful because it is another day to serve and count his blessings.
a normal day
today - same view - no mountain can be seen but it is there!
184. Messy table - beautiful when cleaned off as it joins friends hearts together over food.
same table as #172
185. Road works sign - ugly because spelled wrong, but beautiful because it means they will work on the road. 
Gravellin  :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Giving Thanks - Eucharisteo!

Eucharisteo is the greek word that is used in Scripture and is translated to mean "give thanks."  That is really what I am doing when I count the gifts that God has given each week.  It isn't an exhaustive list.  Who could really do that.  God gives so many.  It is just a small list of the ones I have taken note of each day.  

I was again in Nairobi part of this week.  Enjoy my list.

140. Another good working meeting with people I love and respect.
141. Zech. 3:17 - God delights in me, dances a jig, and sings over me!  His love is amazing and I celebrate it on this day set aside as the day of love.
142. Seeing happy, small kids giggling and playing well together.
143. A fun dinner out with Cara while her parents were out for the evening.
144. I found a window A/C!  There was only 1 choice and it is big, so I hope it fits in my window.
145. Watching a high school soccer (football) game.  I don't understand it all, but it is fun to cheer Cara on!
146. Fresh fruit and veggies to take home to the desert.
147. Planes that fly over in 2 hours what would take me 2 days to drive!

148. People glad to see I have returned.
149. Having frozen, precooked food I can thaw and not have to cook the first day home.
150. Smiling face of Abu and Harold at the duka (shop) where I buy vegetables.
Picture of Harold taken in Nov.

151. An idea for my English class next week - straight from God.
152. A day of mostly rest before jumping back into lesson planning for next week.
153. Ichwa's giggle and him sitting in my lap.  I really love this boy!
Also taken in Nov. '12
154. Akiru saying the ABC's with me as prompter.
155. Ichwa(6) and Akiru (4) chanting "Who let the Dogs Out?  Who? Who? Who, who, who?" Where do they hear these things?  So random and yet pretty funny.
156. Sermons over the internet - a real blessing of voices from home with good messages.
157. A free cookbook still blessing even when it is falling apart from use!
158. Sir Gibbie a book by G. MacDonald - on obedience to whatever we see God asking us to do.  A really good novel from the late 1800's.
159. A new family come to serve in Turkana with Share intn'l.  Yay God!
160. A walk with "my" Turkana kids and their smiling faces.
161. My new A/C partly in place and working.  I get to sleep in my own bed for the first time in weeks!
note the board holding it - it is too heavy for the chains alone.
162. Sikuma for lunch.  My favorite :).

I hope you have enjoyed my list this week.  Are you keeping a list?  I'd love to hear from you.  Have a great week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A week of Thanks!

I am a day late in posting my counting of God's blessings for the past week.  I have been in meetings the last two days and just did not have time to get this typed up and posted.  This past week I was home in Lodwar for a couple of days and then I was in Nairobi.  Just FYI :)

118. Beautiful bird song outside my window.
119. Baby Boniface Ekidor Longok.  So, thankful he came on his own when we thought his mom was going to have to go to the not so good hospital in Lodwar!
3 red gifts
120. Fuchsia flowers over a wall.

121. Seeing an old college friend in Nairobi and sharing a meal to catch up - he has red hair :)
122. Bright Turkana women dressed for a politician's visit in red, green, blue and yellow beads.
123. Hospitable friends who open their hearts and homes to me whenever I am in town.
124. A vehicle I can borrow while I am in Nairobi to get around town.
125.  A chance to see a movie in a theatre - Warhorse - good, but a tear jerker.
126. Playing cards with friends.
3 gifts of Laughter overheard
127. Laughing over God's sense of humor with a teenaged friend.
128. Hearing people laughing and bargaining at an open air handcraft market.
129. Hearing people laugh at other tables while in a restaurant.

130. Nostalgic moment at finding a book I read when in grade school.
131. Not feeling well, but able to easily get the medicines to treat what ails me.
132. Family movie night with the Caziers.  Fun, popcorn, and a movie.  What's not to like?
133.  Being able to see the hustle and bustle of Nairobi and not feel like I have to take part in it.  A very peaceful day shopping and resupplying for my return to Lodwar.
134. Praising Jesus in word and song in an English worship service.  What a Joy!
135. Lunch, laughter and fun with friends after church.
136. Seeing the movie "The Help" after reading the book and being saddened and challenged by both.
137. A home full of friends and teammates for a meeting (blah) - but so good to have the feeling of being in each other's presence and sharing His work!
138. Great news about Hope Partnership starting a centre in Lodwar!  300 children to be sponsored, schooled and their families transformed through the hope of the Gospel.
139. God's peace in the midst of many questions.

I forgot to bring my camera with me from Turkana so I don't have many pictures this time.  Hopefully, the words will suffice to give you an idea of the blessings of my past week.  

I enjoy comments, so leave one and tell me a thing or two that you are thankful for this week.  If your interested in finding out about sponsoring a child contact me and I will get the information.  I really am very excited to see what God is going to do through Hope Partnership in Turkana!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Book, a quote and thoughts on life

While shopping in Nairobi this last week, I stopped in a bookstore.  If you know me at all, you know I love books.  So, I wandered the aisles just looking to see what was new and what looked interesting.  I found a book in the kids section that I remember reading when I was in grade school.  It made an impression on me because I remember reading it.  I remember thinking it was a great book.

Well, I had a bit of a nostalgic moment right there in the bookstore and decided to get it and maybe share it with "my Turkana kids."  I needed to read it again (just for fun and) to see if my kids would understand it.  I think it will be a little hard for them, but I do think they will enjoy it.

I found this great quote that makes reading the book again after all these years so worth it.  Here it is.

  "But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything.  And you can feel it inside you.  If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you.  You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them.  It's hollow." 

Our everyday lives can get very busy.  We get caught up in the doing and forget about the being.  When I do this for very long, I do begin to feel empty.  I have all the facts and I am getting things done, but I still feel disconnected in some way.  I get so busy doing all the things that need to get done.  I check one thing off my list and two more take its place.   

I need - not should, but need - to take time to reflect and pray about what is going on in my life.  I even need to take time to let my Faith and all it means to me fill me up until I can feel it inside me when I begin to get that disconnected feeling.  I need to take all the facts and events in my life and reflect on them.  I need reflect on God's Word and how it is making me into the person that I am each day.  I need to do this so I don't feel hollow or burnt out or whatever else you might want to call it.  

Am I doing this?  Are you?  Most days I do spend time in God's Word and pray about the day.  But, there are days when I get to thinking I need to cut this short 'cause there is so much to do.  If I don't, I'll feel guilty about the time spent here.  Do you think this way sometimes too?  I think it is good to be reminded that this reflecting on the facts, on our faith, on our day, and on His Word -  this is what we need to do.  The other things on our lists will get done and probably be done even better if we will take the time to do this.  Otherwise, we will make a lot of noise - like a trumpet or a cymbal - but we won't be full.  We won't BE.

I just wanted to share this quote and this thought with you.  I thought it was a good reminder.  If you are curious about the book, it is called From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  You can find it online here: 

Any thoughts from you?  I love comments!  :).  Have a great week and remember to take the time to let all of life fill you up until you feel it so you don't walk around making a bunch of hollow noise.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bountiful Bonanza of Blessings

It's counting time again.  I had fun this week looking for and recording God's blessings.  Have you been counting too?  I'd love to read a little of the ways God has blessed you thus far this year!  Share the Joy and keep counting.

Gifts found on paper, in a person & in a picture
96. The joy of reading words on a page!  Such a blessing.
giving a test to a new reader
97. lunch with Turkana friends at a "hoteli" in town :)
98. A picture of helpfulness in words - a big brother helping his little brother with homework under my carport.
99. 11:30 gift found in Nehemiah's leadership Bible study
Turkana Nehemiah
100. 2:30 - a helpful ticket agent for a flight I'm taking next week.
101. 6:30 - Nachos for dinner - Yum!
Gifts over heard today
102. "This shortcut is Stinky!" said by laughing children as we walked a narrow path sometimes used as an outhouse at night.  I know - kinda gross, huh?

103. 4 year old Akiru singing church songs with her Mom in my kitchen.
104. About 30 kids surrounding me on my walk and asking over and over "how are you?"
Gifts found in writing
105. An old letter from my beloved but deceased Grandma found today.
106. Connecting online through comments and posts!
107. Writing His Word to hide it in my heart.

108. Skype made distance between oceans fade for a short time - Yay technology!
Gifts seen when bent down
109. My small cactus has grown arms.
This appeared in Sept. after some rain.  It has been watered and now has arms.
110. My guard dogs who wag tails and implore with eyes for attention.  I'm not much of a dog person.  :( Sad for them.

Batman (black) & Robin (brown)
A gift stitched, hammered & woven
111. Grandma's hand stitched pictures to remind me of home.
I love winter!
112. My messy bookshelf hammered together by my carpenter friend, Lazarus.
113. Church prayers from hearts woven together through Christ's grace for this hard Turkana place and for "sisters in Christ" suffering in parts of the world never seen by them.  The sisters are loved because they helped to bring the Good News to this hard place.  They are prayed for because they are very ill and God has woven their hearts to ours here in this place!
Gifts found outside
114. Monkey with a baby seen on my walk by the river.
Do you see the baby in mom's arms?  She didn't want me taking the picture!
you put the maize in here
115. A posho mill - it grinds maize into coarse "posho" or cornmeal.
the posho comes out here.
116. Termite mounds - a beauty and yuckiness all their own :).

117. decent internet tonight - it only took a little over an hour to upload these 11 pictures!

I hope your week has been grand!  I love comments so feel free to leave one here :).  Thanks for reading through my list and giving thanks with me for the ways God has blessed me this past week!

January ESL class


The week before last, I had my first english class of the year.  The students had been out of class for eleven weeks.  That is a long time in between classes!  Because of meetings in November, we had to have our class very early.  December is a school break all over Kenya and for our TBTI and english students.

I decided that we needed to spend the week reviewing.  My students have never been to formal school.  So, they really do not have study skills and don't know how to study.  I have tried to help them by giving them homework and schedules for what to do each day, but usually, they come back to class without much study time on their own.  So, a review was definitely in order.

We spent the week reviewing vocabulary and sentence grammar.  I did re-teach them about the article as I knew they didn't quite get it the first time.  We also worked more on alphabetical order.  This has been a hard concept for them and I wanted to give them some Turkana to English and English to Turkana dictionaries this week.  So, we spent a couple hours going over and doing exercises on this until I was sure they understood it.  The dictionaries have some mistakes and are based on a mixture of Karamoja and Turkana (same root language but different borrowed words), but I still think they will help them.

We reviewed vocabulary by trying to use as many english words as we could.  I read them a story called 14 Cows For America because it had many words they knew and was about the Maasai.  They know several Maasai men as our churches are associated with churches planted by CMF in Maasai.  Several of them have visited in Maasai-land.  This is a wonderful story about 9/11 and how a small subset of the Maasai tribe gave cows to help comfort America.  We talked about their memories from that day and what the Turkana might do to offer comfort.  It was quite funny to me when one of the men very honestly said they wouldn't do anything.  The Turkana tend to tell people to "get over it" when they are grieving.  Just surviving here is very hard, so people don't really have time to grieve very long for a lost loved one.  This can sometimes be very hard to witness.  They do still grieve of course, but not publicly for long.  I also gave them time to read two easy to read children's storybooks on their own during the week.  For homework, they will read one of them to someone who knows english in their home areas.
reading their storybooks

For sentence grammar, we played some games.  We played a game called Silly Sentences where they had to make sentences that were grammatically correct but maybe not completely sensible.  This game was a bit easier than the second game as the words were puzzle pieces that would not fit together if it would be incorrect.  So, an adjective would fit to a noun but not the other way around.  These pieces also had pictures of the words - so that helped with vocabulary review.

We also tried to play the game "You've been Sentenced."  This one did not work so well.  It was much harder and they did not know many of the words.  So, we ended up stopping that one.  The many words on one card confused them.  So, we decided to stick with the silly sentence game.  Even teachers can mis-guess their students abilities sometimes :).
These cards are too hard!
The silly sentence game actually helped them to better understand articles as well.  At least now they can tell me where the articles are in a sentence.  When I wrote sentences on the board that they had made, I asked them for the parts of the sentence.  I underlined each word part with a different color of chalk as they identified it for me.  This helped them get things straight and they enjoyed sharing the sentences they had made.

That is the class in review.  Sorry it is so long!  We will have our next class the week of February 20th.  We will go back to the movie ESL program I have been using.  I hope to finish that movie completely in March.