We are heading into October (our hottest month in Zambia!!) but have already experienced some reprieve the last two days with surprisingly cooler weather. This hot-weather hater is VERY thankful for even one day of cooler weather!
Our latest team came from Ransom Church (South Dakota). They spent time every day going to a few youths’ homes and getting to know them on a deeper level. They also spent several hours a day praying for our Poetice team members, our property, and select people we partner with in ministry. It was a restorative week with them, and we are excited to see how our ministries will be diving off a springboard because of Ransom ministering to us. We are officially done with teams until next year! While we LOVE our church partners, it will be nice to get into a regular and consistent rhythm.
One of the hindrances to our ministry here is definitely the language. Many kids who come to our weekly ministry and people in the community speak limited or broken English. There are 72 dialects in Zambia, but the most common one in Choma is Tonga. Four of us on Poetice staff are taking Tonga lessons from our good friend and former intern, Chris. We seek to equip the Church, and we love it especially when they are able to take what is already “in their hands” to support themselves. By paying him for our lessons, we are empowering him to live and support his siblings through school. He certainly has a teacher’s heart and is pushing us hard to be learning grammar and vocabulary. We figured out that we had learned 165 words by the first month! It has been fun to see the smiles of the locals when we are able to interact with them in their own language. My ambitious hope is that in two years, I will be able to teach our youth in vernacular without a translator!
As you may remember, I have been tutoring Inness for the last several months. She has a new teacher at school, which I believe is the cause for her immense academic growth. It has been a huge cause for excitement and many high-fives! I have been singing a lot of songs/chants with her when we talk about the months, numbers, and colors. For the past month, we have been working on a song for the color red. In the past, she did not associate the written word with words that you can actually read. Last week, I asked her to identify where the word ‘red’ was in the song. She was able to do that AND write the word! Praising God for her progress!!! I would appreciate your continued prayers for patience and creativity as I take things step by step with her.
Just recently, another colleague (Brad) and I started visiting surrounding schools to assess how we can best support teachers and students. Both of us were teachers in the States, so we are excited to have the opportunity to analyze and attempt to problem solve! So far, we have been able to talk to the head teachers (equivalent to principals in the States) from three schools. We especially want to see how we can partner with schools in the communities because a large number of our kids are students there. At this point, we are not giving out material goods or money and are hoping to find other creative means to encourage the teachers. It can sometimes be disheartening to hear from the teachers and students about what they need, because at first glance, it seems like money or material goods would just solve their problems. However, during my early morning musings, I realized that our Savior demonstrated the perfect example: He never gave people money or things, because that was never the root issue. Please be praying that we would have discerning hearts and minds to see the true needs of people and that our hearts would not be hardened to hear the cries of these teachers and students. Thankfully, not every place is full of despair; a couple head teachers speak of their job with smiles on their faces and they talk about their students and teachers in a positive light. Seeing their example has encouraged us that we can see true educational reform when administrators and teachers’ hearts and attitudes change.
I’m thankful for a community who continues to think of me and pray for me even though I am a world away. I wouldn’t be able to do this without you!