Before coming on this mission trip I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought that I would be spending all my time with children – teaching them, sharing the Gospel with them, and playing with them. Little did I know that God had something totally different in mind. When we arrived in Uganda, we were told that we would be helping out in a school. “Yes,” I thought to myself, “this is totally my element! I’m so excited!”
Later, we were told that we were also going to lead a staff development for the teachers. Being one of two teachers on this team I was signed up to take on this task alongside our trip leader, Sarah. At first I wasn’t sure if I would be much help in this area because I had only just finished my first year of teaching. But after a week of helping Sarah facilitate the staff development, I’m taking on a completely different attitude.
I’m very thankful for the opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge with the teachers at Hephzibah International Primary School. I’m very thankful for what I’ve been learning from Sarah. And I’m very thankful for what I’m learning from the Ugandan teachers as well. There are things from them that I’m definitely going to use in my classroom back in California!
“Bravo…ba ba ba…ba ba ba…for Uganda!”
This is the title we have been given by all Ugandans. It literally translates to “white person.” Imagine being on the street by a shop and having someone literally address you as the name of your race! This is one of the hilarious culture differences we have experienced here in Uganda…
Truth be told, white people are a bit of a novelty here, especially at the school. Students are so surprised to see muzungus, that they don’t know how to act. Think back to when you were in school and had a substitute teacher… You were never on your best behavior then, right? Discipline was impossible to enforce and everyone in the class knew it was basically a free day. Now imagine having a celebrity as your substitute teacher. You would be way too excited to sit still in your seat and listen to them teach about your lesson for the day. Instead, you would want to take pictures with them, hug them, learn about their life that’s so different from yours, and marvel in the fact that they are sitting there with you. While we are nothing more than some young girls coming to serve the Lord through teaching them, the kids only see us as celebrity substitute teachers taking over their classes.
I have had the privilege of teaching both Top and Middle class, and it has been interesting. My class contains a total of 12 of the most adorable 4-6 year-old children I have ever meet in my life. They are full of a love for life, curiosity about the unknown, and limitless energy. I’ll be honest, it has been a challenge to teach these sweet babies, but it has been so rewarding at the same time. Watching them grasp a concept, such as the spelling of the suffix: -ing, or watching their eyes light up when they spell a word correctly has been incredible. But as rewarding as these little moments are, the most rewarding of all is every morning when we step into the school yard and they all sprint towards us yelling, “Teacher! Teacher! Teacher!” It truly makes all the chaos worth it.
Getting to love on these beautiful children and teach them in the few minutes of focus they allow us brings so much joy to all of our hearts. They show us the meaning of being joyful in all circumstances, they remind us what it looks like to love without limits, and they inspire us with their curiosity and creativity.
Teaching these children is an experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives as it will remind us to live our lives like these sweet children do.
This week our team has worked hard at the Ugandan school, and they have one more day of classes before the weekend.
Sarah and Tiffany have facilitated a professional development program for the school teachers and an administrator. They’ve worked hard to teach principles of classroom management and how to build relationships with students. They’ve also tried to share techniques for effectively teaching different subjects. The teachers have thoroughly engaged in the process and have expresses appreciation for how much they’re learning.
Meanwhile, the other girls have been running classes for all the students. They alternate between teaching them what the Ugandan teachers have planned for the day (acting as substitutes during the teacher development program), and running actual English camps.
During the English camps, our girls use all sorts of games, songs and hand motions to help students learn and remember. They also help to correct pronunciation and grammar that has been learned incorrectly. It’s a huge value add for the school to have American English speakers to help!
As you can imagine, each day brings something new in Uganda. For every great ministry moment, there’s also a surprise or a challenge. For example, what do you do when a little boy brings his goat to school??
Keep praying for our team, they have Friday and Monday in the school, and then they’ll return the following Friday for a big celebration.
During the middle of next week, the team will be involved in some additional ministries in Kampala (the big city, about an hour away).
Here’s a fun picture from one of their earlier trips into town…
And also an update on the painting project the girls have been working on at the school!
Finally, what post would be complete without a picture of Tiffany holding a sweet little baby?!
On a typical RIM trip in Central America or the Caribbean, we spend the first two weeks with our summer teams presenting the drama at school assemblies, 3-5 schools per day.
This blast of evangelism sows a lot of seeds for our contacts to follow up with after we’re gone. It helps bring visibility to their ministries and increase their reach into the community.
With the DR, one challenge we anticipated is students being on summer vacation during the month of July (unlike other countries, they have a similar school calendar to the US).
So far, we’ve had an awesome time taking the Gospel more directly out into communities, and our host contacts have worked really hard to strategically place us for the greatest impact.
One of our main contact’s friends has a church and a school nearby to where our team is living this month, and he saw RIM’s drama when another team visited the area last March. When he found out about our team, he requested us to spend a whole day at his church–performing the drama and doing children’s ministry.
Initially, we felt skeptical that he could gather up many kids during their vacation time, but WOW did he surprise us. When we arrived yesterday, more than 100 children eagerly welcomed us and could not wait to spend the day with us!!
What a phenomenal day! We presented the drama and the Gospel, and children responded. We also broke into small groups with them to really get to know them, share our testimonies, hear about their lives, and minister to them.
In addition, we had a blast playing games, singing songs and building relationships in all kinds of creative way. God is so good, and we loved seeing Him at work in this community!