Friday, March 21, 2014

A glimpse and some unexpected encouragement

Sometimes I do a lot of work and don’t really know if I am accomplishing much.  During the February Bible Training Institute class on the second half of Mark, I got a little glimpse from the Lord to show me that some of what I am doing is working.

Let me start at the beginning.  The picture below is a model of the Temple as it might have been during the days of Jesus.

It looks really nice, but it took me many hours to put it together.  I found it while I was in Israel and thought it would be really good to have to show students what the temple might have looked like during Jesus' lifetime.  I thought it would also help them visualize better the parts of the temple and who was allowed to go where.  So, I bought it and thought it would be fun to put together.  I have revised that thought!

 Did I mention that I am not very good with spatial directions?  This is what the directions looked like for putting this 3-D puzzle together.

There were three sheets of semi-cutout puzzle pieces that did not have any numbers on them.  I had to look at the “map” of the sheets that had the numbers on them and then look at the directions and try to figure out where and how to place each piece and do it in the correct order.  UGH!  It took me over five hours spread over two days to put it together. 

I then wanted to figure out the size of the platform that the temple sat on.  The temple was on the top of a mountain.  So, a platform was built up so there would be a flat area for the temple and all its porches and porticos to sit on.  I wanted to make the platform the right size in comparison to the temple that I had.  I’m pretty sure I got the dimensions incorrect.  I needed a mathematician to help, but there wasn’t one handy.  I did the best I could, but I still think it is off.  If anyone wants to help me with the challenge I’ll send you the information and maybe you can help me figure it out.  Then I can re-do the board and have it all ready for the next time the class is taught.  As you can see, I took my numbers and had a friend cut out a large piece of plywood to set my temple puzzle on to show the students.

That went fine, but I do think the platform was too large.  When the teacher got to the point in his teaching when he wanted to explain the temple he asked me to come to his class and show them.  I went and gave them my description of the temple.  I explained it all in Turkana so the students would understand.  I also had some coins I wanted to show the students when the story of the widow’s mite came up (Mark 11:41-44).
I promise, I haven’t forgotten how this story started.  This is where the glimpse comes in.  Remember I was teaching in my English class (in English) and being called out to teach a short bit to the TBTI class (which is taught in Turkana).  The teacher of the TBTI class that week happened to be one of my intermediate English students.  So, I finished my place in my English class and had my students do some in class practice while I went to the TBTI class to show them these really cool coins that are the same type of coins that the Widow would have put in the offering.

two widow's mites
I entered the classroom and took out my coins and started talking.  The teacher kind of laughed at me.  Have you ever been laughed at while teaching and you didn’t say anything funny?  It is a bit disconcerting!  I couldn’t quite figure out why he laughed until he started translating my English into Turkana so the students could understand what I was saying. 

Yay!!!!!!  My English student heard my English and was able to translate it to Turkana!!!  I kept speaking in English just to see how he did.  He only needed a little help from me on one or two words.  Granted, it was a subject he has studied and was teaching and he had seen these same coins in his English class when I showed them in January, but he did it!  That was really exciting and had me smiling for days.  I’m even smiling as I write this now, almost a month later.

Simon, the student in the multicolored shirt was the teacher
Mercy shown in a glimpse of what God is doing.  Many thanks go up from me to the Lord for letting me see in just a couple of minutes that my students really are learning even when I don’t think I see progress.  WAHOO!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Identity and Household items

I will be teaching my next round of ESL classes next week.  Before I do that, you need to know about last month’s classes.

four of the five students and teacher Shadrack closest to the whiteboard

My intermediate students met the week before my beginning students.  We needed to hold the ESL class early so one student could attend class and then teach the next week for the TBTI class on Mark 9-16.  We held the class at the other house in my compound since there were just a few students.  The number of students varies in this class, but I usually only have between four and eight, so it is easier to cook at my house than to set everything up to cook at the school.  This week I had five students and my teaching assistant, Shadrack.

now all of them matching words with pictures

The students were learning about Identity.  We played the “who am I?” game to help them identify the various characters in the story of Peter’s early time with Jesus as a review of previous lessons.  The story for the week was about Jesus asking the disciples who people say that he is and the story of the transfiguration.  These are found in Mark 8:27 – 9:10 if you want to refresh your memory.  It was a fun class and the students were able to identify several people through the course of the week.  At the end of the week they wrote a simple reference letter (from a form) to recommend Peter as a pastor at a local church.

The next week, I taught my beginning students about the things found in a house.  They had a lot of new words to learn.  We covered things found outside the house (on it and around it) as well as the things in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room.  As you can imagine their houses don’t look like a typical American house.  So, we got creative in naming the parts of their houses.  Their rooms are found outside the hut but inside their fence.  We drew the hut with the various "rooms" around it and they labeled what they had in each room.  

I took them on a field trip to my house and to the Morden’s house so they could see some of the things that they don’t have in their own houses.  I had written a short rhyming booklet about the things found in a house square or round.  The students had to take the booklet and read it to someone in town and then ask them several questions.  I think they enjoyed the exercise.  They got to take the booklet home and will come back next week ready to read it again in class for review.

They also had to learn about some prepositions.  I used two boxes and a ball to explain the meaning of the prepositions in, on, under, next two, between and above.  We did several fun exercises using these words to make sure that they understood the meaning.  Part of their homework is to look at the pages of their books from this week and write some sentences telling where to find different objects using these prepositions.

"Write 1000 above the circle and your name in it."

Is that next to or between???

In the midst of learning about things in the kitchen, one of my students asked the names of some kitchen implements that are common here in Turkana.  Here are the pictures of these two items.

this is used to form corn meal once it has boiled dry

this is placed around the lip of a pot to take it off the fire

It looks like this when you have it around the pot

I gave them a guess as to what I would call them and then turned to my facebook friends to see what they might name them.  It made for some very interesting comments.  What about you?  What name would you give to these two utensils?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Disappointment and hope

Disappointment filled her eyes.  Cindy Ikai had scored well on her eighth grade test.  She was so excited about her high score that she called me in Nairobi to make sure I knew.  She had been going back to her primary school every day to see if her high school calling letter had come.  We were expecting that she would get called to a national school.  These are the better schools, but they also tend to cost more money.

She was hoping to get called to the Turkana Girls' National School.  It was her dream!  It is the best girls' school in all of Turkana.  Instead she got called to a new school in Lodwar that did not have boarding facilities.  Most high schools in Kenya are boarding schools.  They provide structure, lights and three meals a day so that the students can learn better than they might at home.  I knew it was bad news as soon as I saw her walking into my gate.  Her head was down, her steps were slow and the disappointment was clearly visible in her eyes.

Cindy was the first student I sponsored to a local private elementary school.  I sponsored her to that school because I found the local schools had close to 100 children in a class and often a teacher that taught several classes at once.  Consequently two of her three older sisters were unable to read and they were already in the fifth and sixth grades.  At least at the private school there were only 40 - 60 students in a class and every class had a teacher.  When she entered first grade, I decided to see if I couldn't help her have a brighter future.

I was also very disappointing for Cindy.  It wasn't a school she chose, so we tried to see if other schools would take her instead.  They were all full.  We managed to get her on the waiting list for three girls' high schools in Turkana.  It meant that she had to wait until all the other students had reported and then find out if any did not show up so she could have their place.  We went and visited Turkana Girls' National School to try and get her on the top of the list.  There were a couple girls who had scored higher than her on the waiting list, but it was a good possibility.  There was hope she could still go to her dream school.  Even so, we wanted to make sure she got in somewhere, so her father visited two other schools to try to plead her case and get her on their waiting lists.

The week came for the other students to report.  We called Turkana Girls.  All the girls had reported so there were no openings for Cindy.  Another school was also full.  She was told to come to the third school, Katoboi Girls' High School.  Hope sparkled in the static of that telephone call.  In order to come, she had to bring a desk so that she would have a place to sit.  The headmaster at the school has a very kind heart and allowed her and a few other girls to come even though the school was really over capacity.  It took a bit of time to get all the requirements together.  Cindy would have to work hard to catch up with the other girls.  She had missed almost two weeks of classes.  She had a chance though and she had hope!

Katoboi Girls' High School

The school is off the main roads.  She had more than a trunk and mattress that needed to get to the school.  Transport was hard to find.  I ended up taking her and her parents to the school.  Paulina, her mom, wanted to see where she would be staying.  Cindy's older sister Willamina is a junior at this same school and Paulina had never seen the school.  So, she wanted to go if she could.  One Sunday afternoon we piled in my truck and made the two hour drive to the school.  The good news is that the school is close to Lake Turkana.  Williamina says the girls have some free time every Saturday and they can go swim in the lake.

When we got there, I spoke with the headmaster.  The school was really full.  He didn't want to turn a student with such a high score away from school.  Plus, he knew her older sister and she was a good student and a prefect.  He wanted to give Cindy a chance.  We found out that the dormitory is also very full.  There are not enough beds for all the new girls.  So, Cindy will sleep on her mattress on the floor in the same area where Willamina has her bed.  Even so, she is happy to have the chance to go to school!  The Headmaster is working on finding more bunk beds.

Happy Cindy at her High School
So, the story was closed and I was happy to have her in a good school!  The Lord had turned a disappointment into a hope.  Then, last night her Dad brought me a letter that he had just been given.  It was a calling letter from Turkana Girls' National High School for Cindy.  Someone had pled her case to a senator.  I don't know who it was, but the Senator got the school to send her a calling letter three weeks after they had told her there was no place for her.  At this point, she doesn't know about this letter.  It isn't easy to pull her from one school and send her to another.  School fees would not be refunded, uniforms would be different, the requirements would be different as well.  The Headmaster at her current school was so nice and wanted to give her a chance even though there wasn't really room.  And yet, a senator had spoken for her and gotten her a place, but it was late.

Could you pray for Cindy?  Pray for her to have wisdom in deciding what to do about this new letter.  Remember this was her dream school!  She may not know about it until the end of March when she comes home at the end of the first term.  She could switch schools at that time, although it would mean extra expenses to get new uniforms and other requirements.  It would mean having to make new friends and catch up again in classes.  We aren't sure if Turkana Girls' will let her come if she doesn't come right now.  That would have to be determined.  It is possible that she could finish this first year at Katoboi Girls and try to transfer to Turkana Girls' starting next year.  We don't know if they will allow that.  It is a hard choice and I don't know enough about the system here to give her advice.  So pray for her, for me and for those we might seek to give us advice!