Thursday, October 17, 2019

Celebrating and Mourning

Paul loading guava.

Performing for Mother's Day.
At the schools there have been a series of special events beginning with Mother’s Day back on August 15th.  My English students did skits and read poems to express their appreciations for all the daily work moms do. They also gave the audience a laugh with a silly children’s rhyme about the clothes in the washing machine.

The Ping Pong Ball Race
The first Monday in September was Children’s Day. I organized some cooperative games like "The Ping Pong Ball Race" for the children to play and we practiced English by “going on a panther hunt”. Another teacher dipped marshmallows in chocolate with the kids and the cook made a special lunch with arroz con pollo (rice and chicken) and ice cream cones for dessert. 
Independence Day
Then on September 15th Costa Ricans celebrated the 198th anniversary of their independence from Spain.  In 1821 a man on horseback came from Guatemala the night of September 14th and brought the news of liberation.  Everyone took to the streets with their lanterns to tell their neighbors the good news.  So, every September 14th students make lanterns and everyone, young and old alike, come to the school at 6:00 pm to sing the national anthem, light their lanterns and make a parade through the community. The next day torches are run to all regions of the country to begin Independence Day celebrations at the schools.
Lantern parade has many colors and symbols of Costa Rica.

Bridget visits Mariela's school.
October 12th there are special school and community events for Culture Day.  Here, much like the USA, there are a variety of indigenous people groups and people from many parts of the world who call Costa Rica their home.  Their different traditions, languages, and foods are highlighted today. We went to a special event at a one room school and sampled food from Costa Rica, the USA, Germany and Nicaragua.  We can thank Christopher Columbus for beginning an era of exploration and trade that impacted cultures around the world. 
Sampling food from around the world.
Making sailboats.
Paul always makes new friends.
The Local Cemetary
In the last month there were also reasons to mourn. Our friends’ 20-year-old son died because of a hit and run accident.  No parent ever expects their child to die before they do.  Relatives, friends, teachers, and students came to the funeral and burial to support the family.  The next week I saw a black banner on the school gate and was told one of the teacher’s parents had died.  It has been a difficult time for these families.

This makes me think of one of the many things Paul challenged the Roman church to do to demonstrate their Christian love: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

Grace and peace,
Bridget and Paul

Friday, August 9, 2019

Sharing Talents and Time

Our visitors from Texas.
The fourth week of July went by in a flurry of activity mainly because of our 12 visitors.  Who were they? They were grandparents, married couples, single adults, and college, high school, and grade school students. Their backgrounds included pastor, contractor, mechanic, entrepreneur, professor, accountant, homeschool mom, receptionist, salesclerk, teacher, relater, massage therapist, athletic trainer, nursing assistant, guitar player, photographer, and more. They came from two churches to form one mission team that managed to apply themselves in a number of ways. 

Time for crafts and bible study.
Their trip and activities revolved around ICDI’s development projects in Costa Rica. Before they came, they collected baby clothes, prepared crafts, and raised over $10,000 for the dental clinic expansion. They brought from the USA donations of exam gloves, yarn, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Expanding the dental clinic.
Friday evening, they arrived at the mission center and unpacked. Beginning Saturday morning and throughout the week they:
·       built the dental clinic annex which will double their size and expand their services.
·       hosted volleyball, kickball, and soccer clinics.
·       participated in the local soccer academy.
·       offered a craft and bible lesson to women.
·       went on home visits in the reservation with the maternal and infant health promoters.
·       harvested, cleaned and packed bananas to ship out of the country.
·       were assistant English teachers.
·       assisted our mechanic (at his shop) with an engine removal (not one of ours!).

Playing volleyball is so fun!
There was also time for fun and encouragement when they:
·       led devotions for the team and missionaries.
·       visited neighbors and our dentist.
·       hiked in the mountains and swam in the river.
·       prayed for fellow team members and missionaries.
·       played cards and boardgames.
·       washed dishes.
·       talked, joked around, and got to know each other.
·       drank lots of locally grown coffee and took some home.

Perfect weather for hiking.
Who were they? They are a part of the extended family of the Body of Christ.

Waiting for the coffee to brew.
Jesus is the hero!
Paul and Bridget

Saturday, May 25, 2019

TEFL Training

Time flies when you are having fun or when you are up to your eyeballs in homework for a four-week intensive teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course.  Last Friday I (Bridget) completed my third week and I have learned so much in a short amount of time.

That Friday, I took the bus from my host family’s home to the school as I usually do.  Our morning classes are held on the patio. Our instructors are all seasoned TEFL teachers themselves so everything they teach us they first model.  During week one we learned basic greetings and how to introduce ourselves in Czechoslovakian. That convinced us that our students can learn if we only use English in class. 

We have a break for lunch about the time it starts raining so we move inside for our afternoon classes. We might have a lesson on teaching grammar, for example modal verbs. (I never heard the term modal verbs before, but we use them all the time!) We started by reading a story about someone giving advice to a friend who was going on a trip.  Then our instructor explained that modal verbs – must, should, could, can’t – are used for giving advice. We practiced using modal verbs and then wrote an advice column in the newspaper. 

After our afternoon class on Friday part of our group went to teach classes and the rest of us wrote lesson plans, did some reading in our book, took the matching quizzes, or reviewed grammar for our upcoming exam. I had a night class to teach on Friday, so I headed out a little early since it was my first time at this language school. On the way I was praying that the Lord would help me to connect with the students, that I could encourage them and that we would have fun learning how to extend an invitation and accept or decline an invitation.

There were three women in this beginner’s class and from the get-go we were having fun and laughing as we played a game.  Then I showed them some photos of my family and that made the connection between us as they were all moms also.  I explained invitations using flash cards and writing on the board as they followed along, then we went through a couple of practice activities. The further down the worksheet they got the more confidently the ladies gave their answers and I knew they understood the concepts.  I introduced a game and let them play it on their own and they did great.  We wrapped up the lesson with a review of invitations and they corrected some errors I wrote on the board.  Then we said good night. 

Afterwards I was struck by two things. The first was that it was a privilege to be with these ladies for an evening and to be their teacher.  The second thing I realized was that after three weeks in this course I am a different teacher.  I taught that entire lesson totally in English and they got it!  Everything I did throughout the lesson was focused on them being able to extend and respond to invitations and they did it.  In the three years I have been teaching English I have never taught my students a new concept and had them using it 45 minutes later. 

All that to say thank you to all of you who have supported me in this endeavor.  Thank you for your generosity, your prayers, your words of encouragement, and your advice.  I am looking forward to getting back to my students in June and putting these principles into practice with them.