Monday began our teaching training and as I write this we are on our last day of teacher training and we are overwhelmed with mercy and love.
Our days have been filled with questions, excitement over learning a new skill, and laughter. These teachers have been so wonderful and we are learning more and more about their world of teaching. It's difficult to leave because the need is great. There are simple things that we take for granted like the ability, to teach math while a doing reading lesson, the ability to make copies for students, to have designated play/reading areas in our classrooms, the availability of special teachers to assist struggling children and the knowledge that children can learn through physical education, art, and music. All these and more are new concepts for the teachers BUT here's the thing; what they are currently doing and using is working and in some instances it is better. It is a paradox that only God fully knows and understands. It is too much for our human minds. As a team it is our prayer that we have laid a foundation for the Suubi teachers to build and grow upon in their own environment. We also pray that these teachers have felt our love for them and this will carry them in their teaching.
Because so many good things have happened in the three days we will try to highlight a few...
Jonelle's devotion of HOPE was a great way to begin our training.Each teacher wrote down in their notes H-hope O-open your bible, P-pray E-encourage one another. The teacher's smiles as we sang silly songs like Hickety-Pickety and using silly words like ooga-booga to teach a new skill were better than an A+ on a paper! The joy and expression on their faces as they read stories and modeled good read-aloud practices.The joy they expressed when they learned all books were staying at Suubi. Recorders!!We were able to bring over 50 recorders to Suubi. The lesson that the teachers learned in playing recorders was priceless and many were excited to have this new way to teach. American stereotypes were broken.The teachers at Suubi thought we were all rich, all married, and all have 'perfect' students.We shared with them our personal struggles with money, relationships and even our profession of teaching is difficult for us too.The teachers also learned that we have pain and trauma in our classrooms and in the lives of our students. We see the strength and resilience of the women.The women are hard workers and often times value the education of their child over the men.
On Monday four of the team members were part of a parent panel. There were about 30 parents of Suubi or the church in attendance. It is an overwhelming thought to think that we can offer any advise on parenting or marriage when we are culturally very different. However, God is big and provided a way for us to share our story of marriage and parenting to these African parents. One thing we noted during this time is the power of imbalance in men and women. The women are angry at the men for having many wives (polygamy is legal in Uganda) or not working. The men are angry at the women for speaking ill of them in front of their children or feel like they are always being yelled at. The concerns they have regarding parenting are the same as ours. They are worried about health, nutrition, being able to learn, keep their sons and daughters pure in heart, having their daughters dress modestly and the list goes on. Our panel was compassionate towards these brothers and sisters and we shared from our hearts gracefully that we don't parent or do marriage perfectly...only God does that for us. As the conversations and questions were continuing our time was running shorter and shorter. Those in attendance wanted us to come back to share more! A definite need is here among the church and school community to build strong parents and marriages. Our panel received some gifts of mango and sugar cane as a thank you. Oh. My. Humbled.
On Tuesday four team members visited the homes of students that are sponsored through Suubi. We were welcomed into these humble homes like royalty. Floors made of dirt and cow dung were swept and the best furniture was brought out for us to sit and they took the floor. This act in and of itself is very humbling. Other children and adults gathered just to see what the Muzungu's (Africa's word for white people) were up to. At one home they were shocked to know a Muzungu was in their home! These visits are not only important to the community but also to Suubi so that others see they care about them. Once again we were given gifts of eggs, bananas, woven baskets, and sugar cane. Our hearts are full already and to have these care givers give out of their own food source...well there are no words.
On Wednesday we had a celebration in the afternoon for the teachers. We acknowledged the teachers with a certificate of completion for our three day training. This is a B-I-G deal to them as they don't get training often and to do so is expensive. We also had the privilege to commission the first classroom in the new building! 50 Suubi students showed up in uniform and walked into their new space for the first time; with big smiles! It was wonderful to pray over them in their new space.
So many thoughts, so many stories, so many pictures but very few words to tell you the love and growth in our hearts and minds. One of many favorite prayers and take-aways was from a Ugandan teacher. She simply prayed..."Lord, if they didn't know you and your love they wouldn't come." She was speaking about us. Our team is the 'they.' We leave Suubi with full hearts, minds that are still processing, and pray over them Philippians 3:12.
Thanks to you dear reader for your support and prayers.
🇺🇬☺️ Team Uganda