"Another good day at Providence!" That's what I always say on Monday afternoons. We've been in the Providence Home Educators co-op for nearly 2 years, and I haven't had a single bad day yet. There are few things that I enjoy more than teaching English or history, and today I got to do both again, since I was subbing the history class for the teacher who just had a baby.
Further down on this blog you can see my post about last week's co-op. Today, for the 5th-6th grade history class, I had been planning to continue with a lesson on Russian history from the A Beka textbook. But at 4 o'clock this morning I woke up with the phrase "Bible translation" in my head. Now that isn't as random as it sounds, because by "divine coincidence" I had met a couple at church, John and Carole Orr, who have just finished their training with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and they had been sharing with me about cluster translations. Also, one of the moms in our co-op has just organized a field trip to Wycliffe's WordSpring Discovery Center for next month. So I figured this would be an ideal time to teach the kids a little about Bible translation to get them so psyched up that they would go home and pester their moms to take them on this field trip! Anyway, I went back to sleep, but when I woke up again I started raiding my book shelves for any and all resources about Bible translation, including Pass the Word (a history of Wycliffe missions), another Wycliffe book for children called From Akebu to Zapotec, our totally dog-eared copy of Missionary Stories and the Millers by Mildred Martin, a video of the Jesus film, etc. When I got to the teacher's lounge this morning, I mentioned my plans to Jeannette Walti, who is the 3rd-4th grade history/geography teacher. She jokingly asked if she could bring her class in to join us -- and I took her up on it! The more the merrier! As it turned out, we were able to team teach the class, since Jeannette's husband Lee had worked for years at the Jesus Film Project for Campus Crusade, and it has been one means of spreading the word of God in countries that have little Christian witness. (I don't know how many languages it has been translated into, but it's a whole bunch!) She also shared about how she and Lee have applied to be missionaries with Saints Equipped to Evangelize in Italy. While she was teaching her segment, I was able to use her computer and the church's wireless Internet service to pull up an audio version of the Arabic Bible at Bible Gateway and play a portion of John 1. We were also able to encourage the children to not take for granted their own Bibles, but instead to read them every day. Oh, and at the beginning of the class, following a suggestion from free downloadable curriculum at the Wycliffe web site, I had brought in a container of homemade wheat bread left over from our Easter dinner. I offered a piece of it to just one student, and asked the rest of the class if they thought that was fair. Of course, they all wanted some, especially since it had some honey on it. So Jeannette served the bread and honey while I related this to how the rest of the world needs the Bible, too. It's not fair for us to be able to eat the "bread" of God's message to us when the rest of the world doesn't have it. Think of it: there are over 2000 language groups in the world which don't have any book of the Bible. That is 193 million people! As the children ate their bread and honey, I pulled out a Spanish-English Bible I had bought for Mary before she went to Bolivia a few years ago, and read a portion from Psalm 19 about God's word being sweeter than honey. Of course the kids couldn't understand what I was reading in Spanish, but that was the point. We each need the Scriptures in our own language. So I read it in English, too. (I thank the Lord every day for the gift of his word. It truly is food for my soul, and like other food, I try to make sure I get more than one meal a day. I love to sit in my rocking chair and read my Bible, with notebook in hand to copy down meaningful verses and reflect on them. What a treasure!) Finally, we read a story from Missionary Stories and The Millers called "The Talking Tortilla" about how missionaries learned to use hand-cranked record players to share the Gospel stories with those who could not read the Scriptures.
The day didn't stop there. After lunch, the entire co-op had the privilege of attending a session presented by the students of a story telling class led by my friend Doreen Morgan. (These home school students are not from our co-op. We just made a really nice ready-made audience for them!) So for my 7th-8th grade English class later in the afternoon, I decided to capitalize on this and let that be my topic for the day. We talked about what makes effective story telling. I whipped out my little note pad, where I had jotted things down during the story telling session, and showed them how important it is to always have a place to record things that we need to remember. We talked about elements of story telling, including descriptive words, our voice (volume, pitch, rhythm, pauses, etc.), our gestures (including mime), etc. We reviewed that stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, with appropriate transitions along the way. The plot builds and eventually there is some sense of resolution or wrap-up, unless it is a cliffhanger installment or unless it purposely leaves you "unresolved" to make you ponder the message. The purpose of stories can be to inspire, entertain, persuade, teach facts (such as history), or to express ourselves -- or any combination of the above. Finally, we read a short story about World War II that one of my students had written for one of our recent creative writing assignments. During the class, I also reminded the kids how important it is to LISTEN to the stories of others (and even draw them out), as a way of communicating care and ministering to others, and as a way to build their own wealth of knowledge and understanding about the world, and how we deal with various situations that life brings, etc. As always, I encouraged them to think deeply!
I am so thankful for how each of these classes turned out today, and I know that the Holy Spirit helped me along the way as I tried to share with my much loved students the subjects that I am most passionate about.