It seems to me that January flew by so fast; I have been here for officially two whole months!
And all glory to God, everything has been going quite well.
I mainly teach the youngest three; Isaiah (Gr. 4), Ezra (Gr. 2), and Anna (K). It’s been tricky being in a small space, trying to keep organized, and trying to keep everyone calm before another dispute breaks out. But this is truly a rewarding service.
When I first got here, Term 2 had just begun. All of them were just about halfway through their Term 1 curriculum. I actually found a couple of subjects that hadn’t even been started yet. The first week was pretty overwhelming; trying to find a fitting routine, how to get them on a schedule, how to contact their teachers, find out what work their teachers have and didn’t have, trying to make sure the kids weren’t crying from frustration, trying to find my missing highlighters, rulers, and pencil sharpener on a daily basis, etc. All of these have come to a bit of a quiet, although the finding the pencil sharpener and ruler on a daily basis part could use a bit of work.
All of the kids use the Abbotsford public school curriculum. The kids have teachers at the school in Abbotsford, who I communicate with by e-mail and Dropbox. My job is to teach the material, explain instructions, answer questions, give assignments, make sure the kids are understanding their work, give the Abbotsford teachers progress updates, and take photos of all the work each child has completed. The teachers mark their work, answer any of my questions that I have, help me find solutions to any blocks I come across, and give each student their official report cards. I am mainly in communication with Anna and Ezra’s teacher and Isaiah’s teacher. Both of them are a huge, sweet help; I don’t think I could get any better guidance, and even encouragement, as an inexperienced teacher’s point of view. It’s truly a blessing.
The two oldest boys, Kenny and Albert, are basically independent. All of their work is online, and they are in tight communication with their teacher. The younger three’s work are all paper based, which means I send quite a few pages of work every two weeks to their teachers.
This Tuesday, Ezra and Anna have a student-teacher, Skype conference. The purpose is for their teacher to assess their understanding, if they are ready to continue forward into the next Term, and if they have truly completed the requirements up to this point. I’m not in the slightest bit worried that both of them will do well. But I am nervous. I’m nervous in the fact that all that they are going to be questioned about is all of the things that I have been teaching them so far.
Am I doing the job well enough?
Am I teaching them right?
Are any of the things I am teaching sticking good enough, or is it too temporary?
Am I spending enough time helping them understand, or am I just rushing to get them caught up?
I am my own worst critic. I often ask myself these things, which I believe is healthy. But it’s hard to keep it from being unhealthy, when it consumes my every thought. I do admit it; I’ve gotten deep into that thought process through this past week, especially last Friday. It was to the point I was questioning whether my serving is even useful, and if I should change my flights back to early March.
But how could I listen to that voice, when I knew it was not my own?
Although it creeps and seeps in so subtly, I can easily recognize its rehearsed lies when the noise begins to really overtake me.
“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58
I can’t take all the credit for these kids’ progress; God has done a major work, and these kids have worked their stinkin’ butts off, although they don’t totally realize it. As I said before, they were about halfway through Term 1 when I first came. As of today, more than half their work is now in Term 3, and Term 3 doesn’t start until the end of this month. In a way, they make serving feel like a breeze with their hardworking attitudes, the desire to understand, the lightbulbs that go off on their faces when they finally get it. Isaiah, Ezra, and Anna are extremely bright, smart kids.t. And although we have had some tears, fits, and those long, hard days when Math seriously does not make any sense, their perseverance and my prayers of strength for the day are what keep me going.
Serving as a missionary teacher has been pretty challenging. But that’s the best time for growth. Since being here, I don’t believe I would be able to grow as I have here, so far, in the same way if I were to still be back home in Canada. Seeing God’s protection so prominently, seeing His beauty across the other side of the globe, experiencing His freedom and presence even though I’m not always in a “comfortable” place; I love seeing my God work. Especially whiling serving in a teaching position, He has really been teaching me to be thankful and find joy in the little things.
A couple weeks ago, I was experiencing some serious, dark discouragement while teaching. I was trying to help Isaiah understand his new unit in geometry, and neither of us were getting the right answer for the same question we had been working on for twenty minutes. We were both frustrated. I finally said to him, “Ugh, I’m sorry; I’m not very good at explaining this right now.”
That’s when Anna put her pencil down, turned to me and said, “You may not be very good at that, but you’re a very good teacher.”
Apart from teacher life, I have recently joined the worship team at our church, Acacia Community Church. Pastor Brian and I are alternating on drums and singing every two weeks until I fly home. What a beautiful worship team! I don’t think I have ever worked with such genuine and talented team members (no offense, Dad 😉 ). I will also being attending a women’s conference this month; IF:Gathering in Jinja. This will only happen as long as conditions stay safe during the time of the elections.
Elections are in a week and a half. Please, please pray for safety and protection. I would say that is my number one prayer request. As a person living in Uganda during election time, the air is quite tense as loud, campaign trucks are consistently driving by. But as a white person living in Uganda during election time; it’s a bit of a game changer. You seem to be more of a target during this tense time, which can be pretty sketchy. It definitely strengthens my faith in God’s protection over me. However, I would prefer to not get into any aggressive, or violent, situations that do break out so often here.
Being away from my family has also been very hard, especially when I know a birthday is coming up, or news of something that happened filters through our family, iMessage thread. I miss each of them so much; my dad’s hugs, late-night-couch-conversations with my mom, niece cuddle sessions, sitting at my sister’s counter and talking about our day. But I know that this is where God has lead me to be. It is for His cause; for His glory. There’s no place I would rather be than here in the midst of His will, even if that does mean the temporary sacrifice of earthly things and people.
I will admit it; knowing Sydney is leaving before I am is making me feel a bit anxious. Not in a safety sense; I’m able to handle transportation, bargaining, and all that by myself quite well. Rather, I am anxious in a sense that I am nervous to be alone. It’s been a beautiful privilege to spend my weekends in Iganga with Sydney, as well as Fiona, the girls, and the babies. I have already promised them that I will still be going to see them, even after Sydney leaves. Sometimes, it has been throughout the week when we get together for lunch, and share another crazy adventure where we end up praising God for our lives. Seeing that Sydney is my only friend here, I’m scared of the loneliness I’m going to experience after she goes. There’s no doubt that I will still be taking breaks and going to town on weekends to get out of the house, but I’m really going to miss my company; my little piece of home.
Even since moving to Summerland last year, I have found it very hard to find a person to have a good fellowship time, and enjoy their company. This past year has felt extremely lonely to me. I do see the beauty in finding God through the lonely, beautiful silences I so often find myself to be in; but I have been longing to find that common-grounded fellowship.
And now she’s going, as God is relieving her of the emotional, physical, spiritually, and mental hardships she has had to endure here for so long. I am so beyond excited for her to go home, in the sense that she needs the rest God has awaiting for her. But I am selfishly distressed to see my friend go.
And that’s where I ask for another prayer request; please pray that I may be blessed with a friendship during the rest of my time here. Although I am willing to accept the fact that that may not happen, it would still be a great blessing to my heart.
Life has been treating me swell. God has been so gracious, so good, so faithful to me. These two, full months have been intense, overwhelming, exciting, scary, and full of adrenaline. And I am excited to see what the three months ahead of me hold.
Let the adventure continue.
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him.” – Psalm 91:2
“For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone . . . The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in My name. When they call on Me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them My salvation.'” – Psalm 91:11-12, 14-16