Friday, August 19, 2016

First week field trip!!!

I know that it is a bit unusual to plan a field trip for the first week of school, but we did. Since many of our students were new to the school, we wanted to plan an activity to help build relationships and unity and have some fun too! On the other side of Jinja there is a YWAM base with a low ropes course. One of our teachers, Cody Fox, has experience leading challenge courses and doing team building activities. In the photo below he is on the right giving the students some instructions.

Cody planned some great ways to encourage the students to work together in order to make it through the course. We were divided into 2 groups. The first challenge was working together to agree on a name. There were some interesting compromises.
Above is Group A: "The Infinitely Mighty Popcorn Warriors"

And here is Group B: "The Ponycorn Eagles"

The stated goal was to work together to get the younger students, a heavy backpack, and an adult who was functioning as a robot following only one step instructions through the entire course. It was great to see the older students helping the younger ones! Here is Emma doing a split in order to help Zeke reach the next tire. 

I also loved how the students had to work together to catch one another and get their team across the rope swing. 
They enjoyed problem solving together and helping each other as they completed all the obstacles. Sometimes our group had to wait a bit. Here I am, the "robot" for the Infinitely Mighty Popcorn Warriors, waiting for further instructions. 

In the end, after completing the course, we got to ride a long zip line! Zeke was pretty nervous, but in the end he decided to ride with Mama. He had so much fun! 

We wrapped up our first Friday of school with lunch in town along with all of our students. I am blessed to get to work with such a great group of kids! Ezra is definitely posing for the camera. 

As soon as lunch was over, the adventure continued as our family drove straight from Jinja to the east and then to the north for an introduction, but that is a story for another day....

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back to school!

Today was a great start to our new school year! This year I have a separate math classroom and more than half of our students are new. It really felt like a first day at a new school! I didn't sleep much last night as I was very excited! When everyone arrived we took a school photo. 

One student was absent because she was sick and another was shy about being in the photo, but you can see how our school has grown! Here is a school photo from just last year.

We can't fit everyone in the same location of our traditional first day photo anymore, so we had to shift to the other side of our school building. 

It was fun getting to know our new students a little bit today! I'm thankful that we are still able to have small classes and time to build relationships with each student. This year I feel like I have the best of both worlds, I get to teach just one class at a time most of the day, but my classes are still small enough to be personal. 

I always enjoy starting the school year by talking with my students about why we study mathematics. My students today had some great thoughts that they wrote. Some of the returning students have heard my thoughts on this topic before, but it was great to see them explaining why it is important rather than me trying to convince them!
Here are some of the things they wrote:

I am excited about the year ahead with this group of students! I am also excited about working with the rest of the teachers in our school! David is a wonderful teacher who helps students study and enjoy science and the humanities. Cody Fox is a great Language Arts teacher who helps our students love literature and grow as writers. Miss Vicky is probably one of the sweetest women I have ever known. She was so great managing many groups of students and making them all feel loved. Here she is with teaching science to most of our elementary students. 
We are so thankful for the way God is growing our school! We love our work teaching missionary kids here in Uganda! We are praying that God will use our school to help each of these students better know Him and be more equipped for the kingdom work He has for each of them! We are also thanking God for all of you who are praying for us and supporting our work here! 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

An answer to prayer!!!

Since we have been teaching in Uganda, we have been looking for teachers to work with us. We have had several exciting possibilities, but each time, for one reason or another, it has fallen through, often at the last minute. Recently we had another similar experience.

After we had to take our dear friends back to the airport and said good-bye, we  got an email that another potential teacher was not going to be joining us. When we received this message, David and I were both very discouraged. We are both juggling many classes along with other ministry opportunities. As our students are getting older, we are needing to offer more higher level classes. This year David will be teaching high school Human Anatomy and Physiology and Biology, middle school Physical Science along with Omnibus 2 and 5 (a literature, theology, history course). I will be teaching 5th - 7th grade math, Pre-algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Health and Physical Education and supervising/grading Pre-Calculus and Calculus. Without a separate elementary teacher, we would both be taking on even more classes! We were feeling very overwhelmed!

Thankfully I had received an email that week from one of the parents of some of our new students about a Ugandan woman named Miss Vicky who has been teaching missionary kids in Jinja for many years.  I was intrigued, but since I thought we had someone joining us, I decided to wait until our visitors left to get in touch with her. When we heard the news about the other teacher not coming, we contacted Miss Vicky the next morning. She was very kind and easy to communicate with one the phone. I had recently spoken with several people who highly recommended her and she was available and willing to come interview. As we met with her, the main thing she mentioned is that she is most comfortable teaching younger students. I was thrilled since that is exactly our need! As soon as the interview was over the teachers all agreed that we need to invite her to work with us. Miss Vicky is truly an answer to prayer! Here is a photo of our four full-time teachers!

There were details to work through as we realized we would now need to be paying a salary. That week another family from Jinja asked if they could come visit and see if their two boys might be able to attend our school. Since our primary ministry is teaching the children of missionaries here at Good Shepherd's Fold, we raised the support to cover those expenses. We met with the missionary families here and agreed that is we were to accept students from other ministries, we would need to charge tuition to cover expenses. We realized that these two new students would help us cover the cost of hiring a teacher and would also help with the ratio of boys to girls. Before this new family, we were going to have only 2 boys and 12 girls in our 6th-12th grade. Elijah was thrilled to have another boy his age joining us!

This past week we have been preparing for the start of school, organizing new classroom space, planning a schedule, organizing curriculum, and working on lesson plans. It is exciting to see our school grow. Our first day of school is Wednesday and we have 27 students enrolled in Pre-K through 12th grade. As more than half of our students are new, we are praying that God will bring a spirit of unity and love among our students. This year will be a transition for all of them. Most missionary kids have experienced a great deal of transition in their lives already, and we want our school to be a place where our students know they are safe and loved while they learn and grow. Please pray for us all as we work toward creating this culture in our school. We are thankful for many of you praying for us and our students. Please keep us in your prayers this week in particular! And thank God with us for sending Miss Vicky as an answer to our prayers!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Follow up to Elijah's village visit - Generosity

Elijah wrote a great blogpost about our day visiting an elderly woman who was very close to the end of her life on earth. Here is a photo from the day we visited.

A detail that Elijah did not include is that the caregivers for this very sick woman were two of her grandchildren who were about 8 and 15 years old. These girls were staying home from school to care for their grandmother. After the grandmother passed away, many members of our Bible study group went for the burial. Our family was out of town, so I was not able to attend. 

The following weekend, the 2 granddaughters came to our Bible study. They told the women that they hadn't been in school because they were caring for their grandmother, but now they didn't have the money for school fees and the supplies they would need to bring. I asked the women what they thought these girls needed. They all replied, "They need to go to school." We prayed for the girls. Then I asked the women, "What should we do? Who can help them?" They each began to offer what they thought they could contribute. Some asked if they could sell me an extra bead necklace this week in order to use the money for school fees for these girls. After the woman had all given what they could, we added up the contributions. It covered their expenses! I was so encouraged to see that the bead making skills these women have developed not only made it possible for them to care for their own children, but also to provide for the needs of others in the community. I was also very happy to see this small group of women serve together as the body of Christ. 

As I think about the little that these women have, I am blessed and overwhelmed by their generosity! Some of them were saving money to buy a mattress to sleep on at night. But they still gave to provide for these two girls! While I may have some things I am able to teach these women from years of studying the Bible, they teach me much more through the way they sacrificialy care for people in need. I am blessed to learn from them!