Monday, April 18, 2011

"A,B,C, easy as 1,2,3..."

As I become more and more experienced in teaching English as a Second Language students, I think I get more frustrated with the English Language. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE teaching kids how to read, but there are times when you feel like a fool.
There are many sets of rules. And there are exceptions to all of them!
I tell you, I would not be able to learn English if it were not my first language.
For example:
-A rule states that if there is an "e" placed at the end of a CVC pattern word (like mat), then the "e" tells the first vowel to say his name (making the word mate). However, try doing that to the word "have". It doesn't work! But...if you add the word "be" in front of "have" and you get "behave", where the rule does work! There are many other exceptions to this rule sadly, but it works so well many of the times.
-the word pronounced "so" has 2 different spellings, so & sow. Why not soe also...just to throw it in there? and then there's the mix up of that simple word, "so" and why the end does not sound the same as the word "do"...noo....that would be "doe"!
-as I am trying to teach the difference between the "ch" and "sh" sound...the kids come across the word "chef"...need i explain?
-why is it that when the letter y is at the end of a word it has to make different noises? eg. why & really
-...and then there's words like "weigh". now really...why not just simplify and make it way???

I am so appreciative of the simplicity of Swahili and how easy it is to read, even if I don't understand everything! There are no weird spellings, everything is exactly how it looks! So if you are reading this and understand everything that I am writing, count yourself blessed!

Math on the other hand, is quite easy for my newest student. After entering my class one week ago, knowing only how to say "hello" in English, he is fully capable of competing with the other children in addition problem games and can figure out patterns and number sentences quite simply. At least Math is a universal language!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Behold the Man upon a cross, my sin upon his shouldersrs

I think I have a new favorite sound. Every time we have Communion at KIU, right after people are told to drink the "wine" there's a steady clinking sound. It's people placing their cups back on the desk in which they are seated! I know it might not seem like a special sound, but each time I hear it I smile, and with hundreds of these tiny cups being placed on wood, it's so symbolic. The wood brings a whole other aspect to the picture- in a sense, we were the ones nailing Christ to the wooden cross. It was our sin that held him there, just as the great hymn "How deep the father's love for us" affirms. We are the ones whose blood should have been shed on that wood. But Christ took that for us. Each one of those cups stands for someone who is accepting Christ's sacrifice and willingly saying "Lord, help me, a sinner". There's such beauty there.

"I never leave your hands, Your hands that shape the world are holding me, they hold me still..." ~JJ Heller

Friday Heritage held their annual International Day at school. During the day classes did various activities to celebrate differences in nationalities. Last year 1st grade discussed farms around the world. This year we discussed clothing. I had a few different centers set up. One group colored in fun outfits of kids dressed up in their cultural outfits (including India, New Zealand, China, Native America, Scotland, etc.). Another group worked with Miss Agnes to look at actual clothing and jewelry from around the world. I took the last group of kids around the campus and we collected things that Adam and Eve might have used to make their clothes after eating the fruit. The kids had a blast glueing huge leaves onto paper to uniquely make a dress, a top & skirt, and lastly a pair of trousers and shoes.
That night, we had our International Dinner! Parents and Teachers brought in all sorts of food for hundreds of guests. Everyone also dressed in their Cultural dress. After eating, each country had the opportunity to present something. I was asked to sing the American National Anthem. Some Canadians taught the gist of Hockey. The Indians spoke of the World Cup Championship. The Germans sang. The Koreans did some hard core Taekwondo. Overall it was a huge hit and a beautiful night!
This week I got a package slip in my mailbox at school. I was very excited to be getting a package, so Saturday morning I woke up early to go into town to pick it. I began walking down the road to find a matatu going towards town. I found one going the opposite way, but knew that it would soon be turning to go back to the taxi park, so I hopped in. As we were going along, I noticed that they were letting everyone out, but no one else was getting in. I didn't say anything, and was happily sitting in the front seat so that I could get out if I needed to. Soon it pulled off to the side of the road and the driver told me to get another taxi. Apparently it must have needed some maintenance. I eventually got another matatu and went happily into town. Right before we got to the taxi park we heard a huge explosion and the man next to me ducked down into my lap. With hearts pounding we soon realized that the matatu in front of ours had their back tire explode. Praise God everyone was safe! We slowly pilled out and made our way to our various locations. I quickly walked up the hill and made my way to the post office. I asked around and finally found the window to pick the package. I handed them my slip and drivers license, then they went into a back room and quickly found it (shockingly). Then I signed some papers and they gave me back the license and package. Turns out it was from my dear friend Jill who taught Grade 2 last year! I had a meeting with someone in 2 hours which was somewhat downtown and had to find something to do. I started walking back towards the main road and remembered that Nakasero market was somewhere near by. Nakasero market is the fruit and vegetable market downtown. I'd never been before, but heard that you could get really unique things there, and normal things for super cheap. I found my way down and walked along the outskirts as people tapped me and whispered in my ear and called out mzungu. I eventually stopped at a stand as I was making my way deeper into the market and bought some okra, cauliflower and french beans. Then I started seeing strange things. Some looked like green fingers, others looked super juicy. At one stand I saw something that looked like miniatrue apples. I asked the woman what they were and she told me that they were indeed apples! I asked if they were edible, and she said yes. I asked if they were sour, and she said no. So, for about 40cents I bought a bag of about 12 of them. I had been seeing grapes, which for 1 kilo in a supermarket would cost you no less than $13, and the deeper I got into the market the lower the prices I was finding. Finally I found one who was offering them at 8,000/= (~$3.25) for a 1/2 kilo! Imagine. Less than half the price than the supermarkets! So I bought a few boxes for different people and continued to make my way out of the market. After being grabbed and hugged a bit too closely a few times I got out and made my way back toward the taxi park. I decided to stop in the supermarket along the way to check out the prices there of the food I'd just bought a few blocks up, and grab some snacks for the week. Happily situated, I boarded a taxi going back to the part of town in which I live. Unfortunately, it wound up turning a direction I had not expected, so I got off and made my way to the boda (motorcycle taxi) stage. It seemed my regular boda driver from that stage had been waiting for me. As I got closer, he hopped on his boda and motioned for me to get on. I got home, dropped my things, then headed back out to meet a friend. A few hours later we had worship practice at school. It was a blessing to sit with fellow believers and prepare for Worship night, which will be held on Maundy Thursday. That night my roommates and I headed home, prepared dinner, and watched a movie, then headed to bed.
This morning I woke up early again, this time to go to Church. I took a boda there, hiked up the stairs and enjoyed watching my friends dance their hearts out to African Music on African Sunday wearing their tribal outfits. It was a blessed service with communion and a great message. After greeting a few friends after church, I picked up a drum, hiked back down the stairs, up the hill and crossed the street to the Palace (the house that is used as a sort of community center for the KIU church which I attend) . As I opened the gate to the Palace I braced myself in case a herd of children came at me. Luckily because I had the drum in hand, only two pounced on me. I put the drum by the garage and walked back down to tent for Sunday School. It started out well, despite the lack of chairs this week, and even as I activly told the story of Balaam's Donkey, many of the children listened intensively. Some of the kids were able to act the story out to re-tell it even. However, the little ones started to rile the others up, and before I could start the game, we had to stop Sunday School all together. The other teachers were not there with me, so it was hard to control children who don't speak the same language. The older kids tried to help, but things went down hill fast. By the time I told the children the game was canceled a few other teachers mingled in. We told them that next week if they want to play a game they need to listen to the rules and behave. The kids left sadly, but as the teachers stood around to meet, they all came knocking at the gate again wanting to come in and apologize! How good of them! The came in a squatted and one by one stood up and said "I am sorry. Please forgive us." It was so cute. I just pray next week when they come, they won't run around like wild animals picking things up and throwing them or running away. I was pleased to see that they had learned not to beat each other from the Bible story at least (it's really a great one- check it out in Numbers 22).
I walked home, partly with some of the other teachers, then on my own. I was even greeted by someone who used to attend Sunday School with us while walking on the road. It was a beautiful morning until I heard someone calling out to me. I usually try to ignore people calling out to me, as I get a lot of marriage proposals and "hey babies". I've felt convicted lately of not showing enough love to the people around me, so I decided to stop and at least say hello. Apparently a bad move. Soon the driver was out of his car following me, asking for my phone number, e-mail and physical address. I tried to explain to him that I am not allowed to give out that information to people I do not know (it's true, I'm not), but he just didn't get it and kept following me. I lovingly told him that I am happy to greet him when I see him on the street and pray for him, but that I can not help him any more than that right now. He still didn't get it. At this point I just tried to ignore him and I ducked off into someone's driveway. I waited there probably 5 minutes until I finally heard the car start and it drive away. I waited another minute and peeked out to see that he was indeed gone. I arrived home safe and sound, and thankful that I have a guard should that man have continued to follow me home.
I do so love the people here, but being a single white girl gets a lot of unwanted attention. Praise God for his perfect timing and wonderful protection. Some of the events of my weekend might seem a bit scary, and in a way they can be, but I know that no matter what is going on around me, I am in God's hands. And right now, I'm right where he needs me, and thankful for His love that he gives us, to give to others. For the next few hours I shall take some much needed alone time, then have a prayer meeting and host someone for dinner.
So, if you've ever wondered what a weekend looks like for me, there's a pretty good snapshot.

Below you will see my roommates and next door neighbor with things not normally found in Uganda:
Christina with Oreos!

The tiny apples I got at Nakasero Market!
Karli enjoying the apple! It really did taste like an apple, but was super sour.

Jessie with Ice Cream!

Emilee with Ritz crackers.

Me with the grapes I got at Nakasero Market! They are SOOO good :)