Tuesday Aug. 5: Today was an awesome day. We got to spend the entire school day at NCA Matagalpa. We split our team into two groups, one more concentrated on teaching, and one more concentrated on manual labor/work. It was very evident that God used each of our individual skills in great ways today.
The work group (Ralph, Bobby, Meredith, Gina and Tab) spent all day outside in the hot sun. Their main job was to clear the top of the hill of branches, bricks, grass and rocks to make a large parking lot for the school. NCA is hosting a school festival next week, and the whole town is invited, so they will need as much parking as possible! While clearing the space the group found many treasures, including geckos, scorpions, and a tarantula!
While working in the parking lot many people passed by the group. The father and sister of the school receptionist stopped by and talked with Ralph about the work they were doing. They were so appreciative of our time and willingness to work.
Bobby got to work closely with the grounds keeper at the school, Mario. Mario speaks only spanish, yet, through interpreters, they were able to work well together and accomplish a lot, work that would have taken Mario weeks to accomplish alone.
This group also got the chance to join in on some PE classes and play dodgeball with the students. In the afternoon Bobby, Justin, Barb and Will (VanZoest) also helped clear rocks from the school's new soccer field. NCA is hosting a soccer tournament in a couple weeks, and so they need to clear the field of the large rocks to make it safer. During this time Mario needed help with moving one more large pile of bricks. Tab and Ralph were elected for the task. Feeling very exhausted, Tab was very worried about finding the strength to keep going. But, after a prayer asking for God's strength, Tab was able to take 20 more loads of bricks down the hill with the wheelbarrow! (And he has the sunburn to prove it)
During lunch time all of us got the chance to hang out with students and staff to develop relationships. We of course, played more soccer (gringos win again!) and held many conversations with people one on one. It was great for us to practice our Spanish, and the students to practice their English! Meredith got to have a great conversation with a woman named Noxie. Her mother is one of the lunch ladies at the school, and Noxie was in Matagalpa on vacation. Noxie and Meredith are now facebook friends. Gina got to teach the younger students how to jump rope during lunch as well.
The teacher group split up and had many tasks today. Barb spent most of the day meeting with teachers who had signed up for prayer. She reviewed the prayer requests teachers had given to the River Rock group that came down earlier in the summer, updating the Prayer Journal we have. She worked closely with Alma to translate and pray with staff. The staff was so happy to feel supported in this way. It was obvious that this was a huge blessing to them.
Gordon got to meet with the administrative team for NCA:Matagalpa over lunch. They had some great conversations about vision for the school, and organizational structures that the school could use to move forward. Gordon really felt like God have him clarity on how to share his passion for professional learning teams, and Christian schools. He also spent a lot of time talking with Dan VanZoest about NCA as a whole.
Shea, Andrea and I got to pop in and out of lots of classrooms today to observe and help in any way possible. Shea spent most of the day in first grade with Professora Suyapa. She had some wonderful conversations. With her about how to manage her classroom. But Shea's highlight of the day was during English class, where the teacher asked Shea to read a story with the kids! They loved it and were acting it out as she went.
Andrea got to spend some time with the second grade teacher Prof. David. She was able to give him various tools he could implement with a few students of his that are particularly hyperactive. Before the conversation David seemed very flustered and at a loss of what to do, but by the end, Andrea was encouraged to see the peace that filled his face.
I got to spend most of the day in Kindergarten with Professora Annette. It was so fun to practice letter names and sounds with them, as well as assist during English class! I also got a chance to work with some first graders on double digit subtraction with regrouping. Talk about a challenge with a language barrier! #spanglish.
At the end of the school day Andrea and I met with a group of middle school teachers who had some concerns with a couple students with learning disabilities, particularly in math. We got to encourage them by giving them some strategies to use in the class to help include and encourage those students. We also got to pray with these teachers for patience and strength for them and their students. It was a very emotional and beneficial conversation. It was great to see God use Andrea and I's love for math and students with disabilities.
After school Gina joined the track practice with the 2nd grade. They are training for a 2k coming up in a couple weeks. This presented Gina with an opportunity to talk with and encourage two of the girls in the class. Gina felt blessed to be able to lift the spirits if the girls.
It is clear God brought all of us together for the differences we have in our gifts and talents, but commonalities we have in our goal to live for Christ.