i want you all to know how grateful i am for your faithful prayers and encouragement across the miles. it’s an incredible feeling knowing that there are so many people committing this ministry, these people, my teaching, and me to the Lord. in addition, thank you so much to those of you who have taken the time to email me! your emails provide much joy and i cherish each one. may God continue to be glorified in and throughout my time here, and THANK YOU for extending your love, support, and prayers to these beautiful people of ethiopia.
last thursday (oct 21) was a big day for all of my students—i gave tests in both grades 3 and 4. it’s not your typical testing experience like back home, so let me explain what it looks like here. i informed my students earlier in the week that they were going to be tested on thursday, and we spent much of wednesday reviewing. on the day of the test, each student receives a small piece of paper (about ¼ of a page...paper is used sparingly here) that is provided by the school. they all go outside and write their names and class number on their paper as i remain in the room and proceed to write all of the questions on the board. the tests are 10 questions long, usually consisting of multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank, and so on. for this first test (in all my classes) i chose to only have multiple choice questions. once i finish writing the test, all the students come back in the room and i read each question to them and repeat them 2-3 times. the students write down their answers then turn in their test and we call it a day! having had time to finish grading the tests, i can see that i have students all across the board (no surprise with 95 in one class!) so we will continue to work on specific skills to enhance their overall understanding. i really care for these kiddos and want to see them succeed, but i know i won’t be able to reach every single one of them (and that is a hard thing to come to terms with). i also have realized that i cannot read MANY of the names of these students (often because they only wrote their name in amharic...oops) so i will have to get together with some of the other teachers so that i can properly record their scores. so that’s my first test-giving experience here in ethiopia!
on sunday (oct 24) a medical team arrived from california!! they are affiliated with the menlo park presbyterian church in the bay area and are serving here for a week and a half. there are twelve adults in the group, with nurses, physical therapists, doctors, and dentists being represented. three large unicef tents are set up here at the school where they are providing clinics for the students. last year when they were here they gave physicals to students grades 1-6, so this year they are finishing up the student body, as well as having their teeth checked out. in addition to providing assistance here at the school, a few of the doctors are working up at the hospital and performing surgeries—way cool. it’s an incredible process (very organized as they are keeping record of each student) and such a blessing that they are here using their God-given abilities to provide comfort and services to these children! one of the team members was so kind to bring me a few treats from my lovely family—peanut butter m&ms, skittles, sour patch kids and some dvds. it was like christmas in october! ☺
this past saturday (oct 23) zondra and i were not able to travel to butajira for internet access due to lack of transportation. the PM van was in the shop in addis (it still is there), so our only other option was walking the 7 miles there. being the obedient and compliant foreigners that we are, we knew we would have to ask a couple high school guys to escort us for safety reasons...but the longer we thought about this, the more we realized that this was rather selfish to ask them to take us that far. so no connection to the outside world for us that saturday! ah the simple things we take for granted back home—reliable transportation and internet access just to name a few! despite this, something rather out of the ordinary and extremely pleasant has surfaced now that the medical team is here. one of the nurses from addis brought her laptop with her and has a device that allows her to pick up internet connection, even here in yetebon! you have no idea how excited zondra and i were to hear this. she has graciously allowed us to use her laptop and that is why i am able to update you all this time around!
the volleyball net got brought out this week! the kiddos were very excited about this, as were many of the teaching staff (including myself). we had quite the games going on which was a blast, and basketball and soccer are still enjoyed by many. my computer classes with the juniors and seniors are off to good beginnings. the majority of the juniors have never used computers before, so we are still trying to gain confidence in using a mouse and opening and closing programs. with the seniors, their knowledge is greater and we are beginning to work with microsoft excel. i’m really enjoying working with these older students, as it is apparent that they possess great motivation and desires to succeed beyond their high school experiences.
here’s a fun story from school on tuesday (oct 26): in 4th grade we were working on reading a passage where a boy and a girl described the physical appearances of their siblings—not a very exciting passage i might add—so i decided to add a little twist to the exercise as i brought some pictures of jack, sam and myself with me to class. before i showed the students the pictures, i explained that i wanted them to pay close attention to the physical appearances of my brothers so that we would be able to describe them using sentences later on in the class period (i had to explain my purpose in sharing these pictures right away or else they most definitely would have lost focus ha). i proceeded to walk around the room and show them the pictures and boy did they love seeing them! they kept asking if the pictures were from america, as well as wanting to know who was jack and who was sam. after they had seen the pictures, i asked for them to describe jack and sam. essentially here is what they came up with:
• jack is tall. he has short brown hair and is thin.
• sam is tall. he has big white hair and is thin.
not too bad huh? ☺ we had a lot of fun.
things i’ve discovered...
- there are around 70 different languages in ethiopia with over 360 dialects. all i have to say is wow.
- for most of the students, english is their 3rd language. the language spoken in this area is gurage, and then they learn amharic and english at school. i try to continually remind myself of this in order to keep things in perspective!
- the surgeon at the hospital here, dr. abraham, does work that is equivalent to 3 physicians back in the u.s. he performs general and gynecological surgeries, as well as urological procedures. he is on call 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. may God bless this servant-minded man.
- head, shoulders, knees and toes is a song loved by students here.
- even though they are multiple choice tests, it still takes a long time to grade 372 of them. wowzers.
- there are 1552 students here K-12.
- a class size of 30 seniors seems extremely small compared to my usual 95 kiddos. it’s a nice change of pace.
- these house kids have extremely hard work ethics—they hand wash dishes, help in the kitchen, sweep and mop floors, hand wash their own clothes (yes, even 3rd graders!) and study, study, study! i’m so proud and encouraged by them.
-at church two sundays ago (oct 17) there were many baptisms! there were probably 20 children baptized, and ten of them were house children (3 of them being my students), as well as two other students of mine. the children wore teal blue hospital gowns and took turns getting into the small pool and an evangelist from the church and a choir member did the baptizing. it was such a beautiful depiction of the hearts of these children and their faithfulness and desire to serve Jesus. praise and worship took place throughout—it was evident that the joy of the Lord was radiating throughout the congregation and that He was being worshipped and adored.
-a high school graduate named taylor from yakima, WA has just arrived and will be here for the month! she is a super sweet, cheerful and encouraging girl and i’m so looking forward to getting to know her better and spending time with her. God continues to demonstrate His goodness and faithfulness!
- for the medical team that is serving here. may they be strengthened, encouraged and blessed by the Lord for all the amazing work they are contributing here.
- that i would better understand and be able to live out Philippians 3:10, “My determined purpose is that I may know Him—that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly”.
something to consider...
“Whenever you feel you should do something for someone else, you should do it. Because you may never have another chance.” --Seeds, A Memoir by Sasha Vukelja, M.D. (I had the privilege of meeting this incredible doctor and her husband during their short stay here at PM and was moved by the incredible journey God has led her on)