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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Life and Times of Louis & Amber

Since we've moved to Africa, many people have asked us, nay, even encouraged us to keep a journal. Up until now, I have remained heedless of their advice. It's not that I didn't want to keep a journal, it's just that I've never been all that excited about writing "Dear Diary". I never put it that high on my priority list. Hopefully starting now, I will attempt to make all of you my diary subjects, allowing you firsthand looks into daily life here at The Pines. Unfortunately, many of you may find it's not as glamorous as one might imagine. So, here is the first installment of The Life & Times of Louis & Amber.

So today, Friday, August twenty-second, in the year of our Lord 2008, the duty fell on me to assist the children with homework. Since many of our children came from vulnerable situations, most of them are a few grade levels behind in their studies. Because of that, we attempt to push them to excel and do more homework than required by their teachers. Recently, we had 5 computers donated, the process headed up by one Bruce Hall. These computers have become excellent motivation. Not only are the kids learning valuable computer skills that will help them in the future, but their love for the computers motivates them to work harder and faster on their homework.

We have set specific rules they must follow. One is that each child must read a book at their current level before being allowed to use the computer each day. By so doing, we hope to improve their reading skills, grammar, and vocabulary. We also ask the older children as they read, to take one of the small ones with them. This keeps the small ones busy and out of trouble, and also allows them further exposure to English and its accompanying advantages.

Anyway, all that to say that our 4 oldest girls just this week graduated from Dr. Seuss and other such entralling volumes, to what we call here "Chapter Books". Since I personally know many of you who may read this blog, I will explain: Chapter Books are books that have chapters. Now, while we have many children that have shown an aptitude for learning, I must emphasize again that none of them have won any awards in the classic Pizza Hut Book-It program. Reading for themselves is something relatively new. We don't have to worry about stocking up on Preparation H because our kids are spending too much time reading on the john.

Well, today one of the older girls came to me with a new book. I saw she was reading chapter 1, when she had just started a 10 chapter book on Wednesday. Surprised, I asked her how she finished the first book so quickly. She looked at me like I was stupid and said, "It was only 5 pages". It was then that I realized she didn't know that a book with chapters is actually one long story divided neatly into sections. It took about 5 minutes and a translator to help her understand why exactly she needed to read the whole book from front to back, but I'm happy to report, I think we made progress.

I say this just to give you an example of some of the day-to-day experiences that make this such an enjoyable work. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to see a child learn something for the first time. Just recently, one of our girls-age 14- saw her first automatic hand dryer in a bathroom. Of course, I wasn't there, but to hear the story told, she was flabergasted that you just wave your hands underneath and it turns on by itself. It is also so fulfilling to be able to see firsthand their hunger to learn about God. Our twice-weekly Bible Studies are supposed to last for one hour, but they would sit for three and ask questions. I just can't believe God has called us to a work like this. It seems like it is too much fun to actually be classified as "ministry", but I'm here to tell you there is nothing better in life than living for God.

Signing out,
Louis