Friday, October 31, 2014

Learning dependence

Our school for missionary kids here in Uganda, is anything but "traditional" in terms of American education. We have students in Pre-K through 12th grade. Older students often have opportunities to help teach younger students. Since there are at most three students in any grade level, there are many opportunities to work in small groups both with those in their own grade and in other grades.

While all of our students have different personalities and gifts, it has been good to see how they have grown and been stretched by opportunities to work together. Some students have a tendency to just want to get their work done on their own as quickly as possible. I have been praying that God will use this unique educational situation to provide opportunities for us all to learn about working together and how we can help one another grow, both in school and in life.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)
I have seen some practical examples of this verse in our little school. Last school year one of our students broke his arm. He was unable to write for several weeks. During that time, he worked together with another student in his grade level on all of their daily math assignments. As they were forced to work together and discuss how to solve the problems, I found that they both began scoring higher on tests (which they took separately). While they were working on their daily assignments together they were able to help catch each others mistakes without much conflict too. :) Praise God!

In recent weeks Elijah and Hayden have been working really well together on their math assignments. I often find that they don't need much supervision or instruction from me because they are able to help each other. (They are also both pretty quick to understand new math concepts.) As I was reviewing my student's progress I realized that these two boys are making great progress in math, and I attribute much of their success to the way they are working together.

I was talking with the 4 high school girls about this issue during our hour long class together which we have recently renamed "Algebra-Discipleship." During this hour I get to do some of my favorite things, talk about Algebra 1 and Algebra 2, and talk about living life to glorify and enjoy God with teenage girls. It is easy for many of us to want to be self-sufficient and independent. But God reminds us that it is "not good for man to be alone." (Genesis 2:8) It is often hard for us to admit that we need the help of others and even of God. When I find myself trying to solve problems on my own rather than praying or asking for prayer or help from others, I realize that I am falling back into the trap of the pride of self-sufficiency. It is a grace when I find myself to weak to accomplish something on my own. The joy of the Christian life is not that I am able to do it all and accomplish it all. It is that my Saviour has accomplished it for me. I can rest in Him and learn to run to him each moment I find myself weak and insufficient.
 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

In my relationships with my friends in the village, I have realized that they do not need to see me as the person who has it all together and can help. Instead I want them to realize that I am a weak broken sinner who has much to learn. It has been great to have them help me learn Luganda. These new friends find great pleasure in my weak attempts at learning their language. They are helping me and teaching me. They are also teaching me about Ugandan culture. I have often received gift from these neighbors, but yesterday their gifts were large. Elijah was with me and they gave us several large sugar canes. I was not sure how I would carry it all home. They amazed me as they used banana fibers to tie the canes together and banana leaves to make a circle to cushion the weight of the canes and help balance them on my head. They also lent me a scarf and wrapped it on my head. I was told that I am now a real "muganda." I enjoyed learning from them and trying to balance the canes on my head. I still need to use a hand for balance, at least for now. It seemed like the whole village was watching and laughing as I was trying to learn how to do something that all of their 5 year old girls can do.
I am learning that it is good to reveal my weakness, to ask for prayer, to confess my sins, and to ask for help. It is good to laugh at myself when I make mistakes and fail to balance sugar canes. It is good that I begin most days feeling like I am not up to the tasks of the day and desperately feeling my need to pray and read God's Word. I still struggle with many of these things, but I can see that God is graciously reminding me that I need Him and the body of Christ. Please continue to pray for me and my family that we all would learn to depend on Jesus more each day.

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