This trip has been such a beautiful gift from the Lord! I am overwhelmed by His love and grace, and feel so humbled to walk faithfully in His plan for me!
Yesterday we hosted the teachers at our guest house (about 75 minutes from the slum) for a seminar on music incorporation in the classroom, then had a beautiful lunch and fellowship. Afterwards I was able to have one of the most authentic conversations I've ever had with one of the staff members of KDS, Grace. We shared so much together - triumph, challenges, why I love Kenya, the community and the destructive environment the school is surrounded by, as well as the daily injustices the children face. So much of what I've been trying to convey to my Haiti team with is coming to fruition here - life is truly all about relationships. As an American culture, we want a product, visible progress, etc. and will sacrifice friendship, family, love and mercy for it. I am wildly guilty of forever being busy - something I am actively working on - and this trip has been such a tangible demonstration of what is really important.
I am so blessed to share genuine friendship with the teachers. God has absolutely been teaching me about slowing down to indulge and invest in this way. One of the songs we learned yesterday was a Kenyan proverb: haraka haraka haina baraka - there is no blessing in hurrying! So once my whirlwind world tour is over, yall have full permission to remind me of this!
I woke up this morning to the sweetest email of praise and encouragement from one of my students. She asked me what I have been teaching, so I thought I would share with all: I've taught addition with and without carrying and growing place values to the first graders, reading comprehension and writing (YAY!) to the third graders, Christian Religious Education to the fifth graders, perimeter and area to the fourth graders (I even taught them the perimeter song that we sing in the US!), story problems in math to the second graders, handwriting to the fifth graders, higher order thinking skills, incorporating multiple intelligences and learning styles into the classroom, and how to have two groups in one class (differentiated instruction) to the teachers!
Another sweet friend asked me about some of my most meaningful interactions with the kids so far, so I thought I would share that too: Some of my favorite moments with the kids are when I can see that lightbulb turn on! It might be for being praised - like Leonard, who had handwriting that was somewhat legible...on a good day. To see him smile, clap, and cheer for himself after he was finished working was amazing. Another student, Steven, and I connected as I was able to challenge him. That is where my strength is in the classroom - enriching, challenging, higher order thinking skills, etc. (not so much remediation) - so once the kids finished the classwork on the board, I would check their work, then give them harder problems. This continued with Steven, and I could see it was the first time where he really had to start "flexing" his brain muscles rather than always being done first, and getting a 100% every time. The look of pride and accomplishment on his face, as well as the excitement to continue with harder problems is a blessing and an inspiration for me. The same thing happened in another classroom, and it was awesome to see a whole group of kids being pushed rather than just playing, being a distraction, etc. because they were done and the work was too easy for them. The classes are around 45 kids each, and only have 1 teacher, so any time you have an extra set of hands to work with the kids, it is a huge help. It's in those moments when I am happiest - truly connecting with a child and helping him/her realize they are valued, talented and can succeed. It's what we all strive for as teachers!
Today we worshipped at KDS with Pastor Ochien and some of the community of Dandora. This is a shout out to all of my Passion City Church/Grace friends - you would have LOVED worship! Run the race with endurance? You know we were literally running. Hands in the air, dancing, praising the King of Kings in the same way 8,000 miles and an entire cultural boundary away. Ginger taught today on 1 Samuel, and two women accepted Christ - HOW amazing!!! I was also able to connect with some of the eighth graders, who at times, can be resistant to visitors. As the kids get older, the excitement of visitors wears off. It is also difficult to invest in a relationship with someone then he/she never returns. That was one of my fears this past year when I didn't return in 2011- I wanted them to know I am dedicated to them, love them dearly, and continue to pray for them.
This has been on my heart all week. It's for this reason that I am going to add another child, a 7th grade boy, Samson, to my African family. The small amount it takes to sponsor a child per month ($38) is pennies in comparison to the life he leads and the battles he faces each day. My conversation with Grace yesterday reignited a passion for me to fight the injustices that the children are unwillingly facing each day. Without God first, then an education, the vicious cycle of extreme poverty will never end. Samson lives in a rented room with no running water - it really makes you consider what our lives look like in America, and what we complain about daily.
Another gracious friend asked about it, so here is the link if you are interested as well: http://kenyachildrensfund.org/sponsorship/
Things I am thankful for today: waking up!, knowing Jesus, liberty, health (I have not been ill here at all except for headaches which come from the heavy fumes in traffic!), the freedom and accessibility to read the living word of God, my growing ability to kill flies, random acts of kindness, encouragement, sweet children, an amazing team, cake for dinner (not. even. kidding.), joy, family and friends that love and support me, a heavenly Father that is sovereign and has it all figured out, afternoon tea in the garden, worshipping God in Kiswahili and English, God's protection and provision, especially while we are traveling through some dangerous places, and curling up safely into bed.
Another praise: I memorized the Lord's prayer in Kiswahili, and actually can pronounce the words pretty well too! I love answering your questions, so feel free to ask!
What is the Holy Spirit showing you today?