Monday, May 13, 2013

First YMCA class: The verdict

Last Wednesday was a big ol' day: I completed my first two-hour class session at the YMCA for their prospective teachers. Around fifty of the one hundred ladies showed up.
The verdict: I was really encouraged. God was so faithful to hear those of you who prayed, and my own prayers that kept squeezing out of my heart in the last handful of months.
It helped that many friends and my husband had advised me to anticipate many things going wrong. Thus, I wasn't flagged when the department head showed me to my classroom late, or when no one was there, or when I figured out I would be in a large cafeteria-style room teaching my conglomeration of students at the same time as two or three other teachers in other corners of the room.
I also just got a little chuckle when I asked them if they wanted to guess what country I was from. (There are a lot of mzungus here from the U.S. and U.K.) Spain? No. (I've been told I can have a Spanish accent when I speak to Africans...?) Germany? I can see it in the ancestry. But no. Japan?
...Maybe I should just tell you where I'm from.
This week, we began class discussing verses about God's workmanship, and His plans for each of their lives (the teachers and their students). Did that apply to the student with HIV? The student who was poor? The student who was rude or stupid?  Successively, their answers got louder and more confident. We talked about the power of the tongue, and the power these teachers had to shape students toward God's plan for their lives. Or crush it.
Then, we built more on the concept of why to teach creatively--different learning styles, multiple intelligences; you get the idea. They looked at me like the crazy mzungu I was as I made them get out of their chairs and move to different areas of the room based on their own learning styles and intelligences.
This week's area of focus for teaching methods was phonics and reading. So we sang songs to introduce letters and letter sounds. I yanked out blocks and trays of maize flour and games from a plastic sack. We made a "sound train" of ladies holding up letters that formed words, chugging faster and faster. Basically, we had a lot of fun, laughing and cracking jokes at the little mistakes I made (kicking the toes of the students in the front row, pointing at the wrong group, pronouncing words with an American accent that they couldn't understand). They split into small groups, and each was assigned a pre-reading task--like learning the first sound of a word--along with a creative method to use, like a game or music. I'm curious to see what the groups will present next week.
Afterward, the students were so encouraging--and even the faculty, who'd received word about how things went from the others who taught in my massive room. The latter recommended that I prepare for more students to attend next week. I was humbled. And just so thankful. I'd prayed that God would steal the show, and it seemed He did. I'm praying as I type that He will help the concept of grace and His craftsmanship of each woman, each student, to percolate down to their souls. I'm praying He does greater things than what I can see. This verse has been scrawled in  blue dry-erase marker on my glazed kitchen tiles for the last few months:
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant... (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)
This Wednesday, we're making playdough together--a recipe you don't have to cook (no stoves except charcoal), but a recipe all the same, which Ugandans typically don't use. So we'll make it together, then roll wobbly little letters and etchletters and images in flat slabs of dough.
We’ll see what next week looks like. So far, I'm still just amazed that this class has become a reality. It's not all the time that God somehow allows us to play a visible role in the big things we pray for. And only He knows the end game here.
But for right now, I'm excited for Wednesday.


mhutsell said...

You are just too perfect for this role! Your creativity is wonderful and your ability to laugh at yourself and enjoy life is equally wonderful! Way to go friend!

anna w said...

You are so inspiring to me Janel! The way you work to use the talents God has given you is amazing. Thank you for encouraging me through communicating this work that God is doing around you.

John and Janel Breitenstein said...

So grateful for this encouragement, ladies, especially in light of the last class :). Thanks for praying, and for seeing God's hand in all of this.