Language

The library at the Diospi Suyana School will have books in at least three languages.  The books below are in Spanish, and I think they are coming from Germany.  I have watched my kids reading their school book assignments in spanish, and they do surprisingly well.  Excelling in language still is a challenge for them and for me, but I can see that they are starting to zoom past me in their oral comprehension, and I think their reading comprehension is not far behind.  Just yesterday we were talking about how to say we went camping, and I was saying how I would say “we went camping” in basically a word for word translation into spanish.  David stated he would say “Hemos hecho un campamento” which directly translates “we have made a campsite”.  Right when I heard it I knew that sounded more like what a Peruvian spanish speaker would say.  We would never say it that way in English, but we are not trying to convey the message in English, but in Spanish.  In this way my kids are passing me by, in that they speak with a grammar that sounds right to a native speaker, while my grammar is spanish put into an english grammar structure.  And they will just get better rapidly while I will get better slowly.  Oh well for me, and way to go kids!

Reading expands the mind

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The school library in the making

On June 10th, we set up our web page for the school library. We would like to thank the 25 people who have already donated 52 books. The first box is already in the mail to its destination, and the second charge can be seen in the image above.

Reading is good, especially with the flashlight under the covers. We’ve all done it a thousand times.

Easter

Interestingly and possibly a little sad for our family is that this is our third Easter away from family and away from our home culture in the United States. We did not dye eggs last night. We did not hide them and seek them today. And perhaps the strangest part is that our kids did not mention it a bit. They did not talk about egg hunts or candy. I don’t know if they even remembered, and they certainly did not miss them. I think I missed it all, and I think I was a little sad that they did not. What we did do is have a breakfast with all the missionaries. Then the mission invited all the local (very small) churches in our town to come together for an Easter service celebration at the school. The service ended with a foot washing as the missionaries washed the feet of the people we are here to serve. This is indeed a symbolic act, as most of us are not looked on as servants. We hold a place of esteem in our community as teachers, doctors, and frankly “white” people. It is an undeserved honor, but it is the way it is. So the missionaries washed the feet of those we came to serve. It is not the step down of humility it was for Jesus. He truly was more than his disciples while we are equal with those whose feet we were washing; yet hopefully it was picture of who Jesus was and is. And hopefully if demonstrated how we want to be seen in Curahuasi.

Easter service foot washing.

Easter service foot washing.

Education and Faith

Educating your kids in the mission field is for many of us a battle within ourselves to trust our most prized possessions to God.  Some missionaries homeschool, but then their kids don’t learn the language or assimilate into the culture as well.  Others send their kids to national schools, which can be good, but are often terrible.  Bullying can be a real problem.  Others send their kids away to boarding schools.  There are many great boarding schools, but I cannot imagine how difficult that is for both parents and kids.  Others build school that serve the local missionaries as well as the local population.  That is what we are doing here.  Our school is 90% Peruvian, and 10% missionary kids.  For that reason we follow a Peruvian curriculum, not a German curriculum nor American. And it is so hard for us as parents to trust the curriculum.  We are used to our cultural way of doing things, and honestly some of the ways they educate here seem crazy.  There is a class called “Math Reasoning” that seems like a complete waste of our kids, their teachers, and our personal time.  It is not an exaggeration to say that sometimes when I am helping my kids with this bit of homework, I want to quit being a missionary.  Nothing makes me want to go home more than this little bit of curriculum.  It sounds crazy, and to type it also makes me feel totally wimpy, but it is the truth.  I start thinking about this wasted bit of educational time, then I imagine what else they are not learning, and then I think about the PSAT and SAT or ACT and I start to lose faith.  God help me, a person of so little faith!  But then we have these moments of light, when a school activity or science project goes well.  Or we hear our kids speaking Spanish with their friends, and we realize how much they are learning in so many other ways.  And I pray and I try to trust a little more.  Bringing your kids to another country, especially a poor part of another country with few resources, is a challenge.  It is hard for them, and it is hard for us parents.  Please pray for us!  Enjoy also this article from the Diospi Suayan Hospital website sharing a moment of light at school.  The first picture has one of our favorite students!

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Bright Minds

In the forth grade class of Colegio Diospi Suyana, the bright minds were asked to perform their own experiment and explain their findings.  The school kids had soon finished their projects, which showed their great ingenuity.

Abigail used food to create a volcanic eruption.  Bruno and Omar astonished their fellow students by demonstrating the floating differences using different salt solutions.  A real problem in Curahuasi is the drinking water.  Luis and Cesar were inspired by this to create a natural filter that turns murky soup into crystal clear water.  However, Edy’s project created the greatest attention.  He had built a miniature table saw, driven by the crankshaft via a battery that even cut wood sticks.

Teacher Jaquelin beamed with pride while looking in the faces of the student inventors.  Everyone had a lot of fun while learning the practical aspects of the laws of nature.  The natural sciences are an enourmously important department of a school.  Through experiments and research projects, students can discover for themselves how awesome God created this world.

By the way, our growing school is urgently looking for a well-trained biology, chemistry, or physics teacher who is able to use experiments and practical demonstrations to teach our young researchers.  We are looking for a true pioneer, because he/she would invest several years in the classroom, developing and guiding the Peruvian colleagues.  Pray someone will find and sign up with us! /C.B.

Why does salt water cause the egg to rise to the top?

Why does salt water cause the egg to rise to the top?

Water filter made with cotton, wool, and soap.

Water filter made with cotton, wool, and soap.

Secret messages painted with lemon appear using a candle.

Secret messages painted with lemon appear using a candle.

The vulcanic eruption

The vulcanic eruption

Wanted, A Few Good Men or Women; or at Least One!

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This is a picture of your future students with Allison and Elsa. Elsa was a volunteer from Germany that the kids loved. You will be a well appreciated help.

We are looking for someone who would be interested in living in Curahuasi for a year or two to help with teaching the English speaking kids at our school. This is not a job that requires you speak Spanish, because it will be an English curriculum for the American missionary kids as they are continuing their english education. Of course the opportunity to learn spanish while here will be provided.  There is no salary for this position, so if someone is willing to come they will need to raise support.  Raising support is a great opportunity to watch God provide for your needs, so don’t let that be a discouragement.  If you or someone you know would like to do something different for a year or two or even more, and if you want to be part of a great missionary community, let me know.

Taller de Cultura (Culture Workshop)

A couple weeks ago we celebrated a Cultural Workshop at Colegio Diospi Suyana.  For us parents with was a welcome respite from hours of homework every night.  The schedule for our kids is Peruvian classes from 7:45 AM to 12:50 PM.  Then they have an English speakers class, which is taught by Allison.  In this class they learn American and world history, English grammar and spelling (spelling is a real challenge for the kids learning in two languages), English literature, and Spanish as a second language.  They also have a devotional time.  That class ends at 3 PM, and our kids come home for a rest, and then start a couple hours of homework.  The length of homework is longer for our kids because of the translation work that needs to be done to do it in the first place.  Our kids do not get as much done at school because they don’t always understand what they are seeing on the page or the instructions they get in the book.  So they come home with more homework, and we sit down and try and translate and work through it.  There is a lot of Spanish / English dictionary work during this time.  Well, during the Culture Workshop week we did not have homework, so right off the bat we were all happy.  All the teachers of the school chose a topic area, and the kids were free to join whichever topic interested them for the week.  David joined a project on Chile.  There were some seminary students from Chile volunteering at the hospital, and they helped the teacher instruct the students in regards to Chilean culture, history, geography, music, etc.  David especially enjoyed creating a model of the topography of Chile, and he enjoyed doing research to create a PowerPoint discussing all the great things about that long, skinny country.

David and his friend John Paul in front of their display of Chile.

David and his friend John Paul in front of their display of Chile.

Annie and Peter were excited to join a group studying Sayhuite and Incan history.  Sayhuite is an Incan ruin about 30 minutes from Curahuasi as you ascend the mountain pass to travel to Albancay.  They enjoyed a field trip to the ruins, and then enjoyed creating a model of Sayhuite to show the parents on Friday night as we toured the school and saw all the work that had been done that week.  Annie especially enjoyed welcoming guests to the room, stating please enjoy the model without touching it.  “Bienvenidos a la maqueta de Sayhuite, sin tocar, por favor!”

Annie and Peter in front of their display of Saywite, an incan ruin just up the road from where we live.

Annie and Peter in front of their display of Saywite, an incan ruin just up the road from where we live.  Click on the pictures below to see them larger.

Poor Sarah was sick for half the week, so she did not get to participate to the full, but she chose a workshop on Austrian and German culture.  They did research on Austria and wrote letters to volunteers from Austria that had served in Curahuasi in the past.  Sarah especially enjoyed sharing some food from Austria with us on our tour.  Sorry, no pictures.  The night ended with a dinner where all the different cultures represented cooked food to sell in the lobby.  There was Peruvian food from all the geographical regions, as well as American food and German food.  We represented America with apple pie and chocolate chip cookies.  It does not get more American than that!  It was a great week, a lot of fun for the kids, and we were especially proud of the effort and progress that the school is making for the sake of our kids, the town of Curahuasi, the mission of Christ in Apurimac, and especially for the sake of the education of the children of Curahuasi.

Serving dinner.  They like boiled oats in the Apurimac and they eat them with lots of water a little water depending on the meal.  This is with a medium amount of water, and it is basically like a rice pudding or oat pudding desert.

Serving dinner. They like boiled grains in the Apurimac and they eat them with lots of water a little water depending on the meal. This is with a medium amount of water, and it is basically like a rice pudding or oat pudding desert.

Identity

I have been thinking on a post discussing our kids and what it means for them to grow up in a country other than the United States of America. I cannot relate to what their life is like as kids thrown into a school in a foreign language with a different manner of teaching the core studies. It is hard to imagine how they think about all of this. But I cannot get all the thoughts onto a page at this point. Maybe it is too delicate a subject to discuss. Maybe I have too many concerns about what affect it is having on our kids sense of identity. So as I scanned our photos looking for something that might be a good illustration for such a post, I came upon these of me with my two beautiful daughters, and it made me smile and think to myself that at least I hope they know their Dad thinks they are awesome! And I hope that they can find a center of their identity in knowing that their parents love them and even more that God loves them. Because the truth is that they will find their true identity in the love of God.

Our kids are rock stars!

As all parents know, this is what happens to kids when you have to be at the airport at 4 AM, which means leaving your guesthouse at 3 AM, which means getting everyone up at 2:30.  This was taken in Lima before we flew on to Cuzco.

As all parents know, this is what happens to kids when you have to be at the airport at 4 AM, which means leaving your guesthouse at 3 AM, which means getting everyone up at 2:30. This was taken in Lima before we flew on to Cuzco.

Everyone loves to say, “Your kids are going to do great.” “I think this will be so good for your kids.” “Kids adjust so easily.” Easy for you to say, I sometimes think. I am reading a book called Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds. It gives me a lot to think about, watch for, and pray about. Reading this book might make some people say, “I’m not sure if it will be wonderful for your kids, but I want you to obey the Lord and go.”

But the point is that everyone is right! Our kids are doing wonderful. They have skipped breakfast without complaining, climbed up the mountain many times in the dusty heat, made new Peruvian friends, eaten yet another peanut butter and pan común sandwich, taken cold and then scorching showers, tried new foods, suffered about 300 fly bites between the four of them, met dozens of new people, some of whom only speak German, and taken it all in stride.

Sometimes they want to watch Disney movies on the computer or make a big mess with Legos in their room. Sometimes it is hard to share their toys or they don’t understand what their new friends are saying. Sometimes a little Coke makes it all better. Sometimes a wind storm and the resultant eating by candlelight is an exciting new experience. Sometimes watching Dad burn the paper garbage outside is so cool. Sometimes helping Mom hang the laundry on clotheslines is a good time to talk. Sometimes they need a little extra attention, but they are a super encouragement.

David says that God has been reminding him of all of the ways that He is blessing us and that when he feels a little sad, he just goes outside and looks at the view and talks to God.

One day we had reached the top of the hill but we could not get the gate open. I realized that we would have to climb down, find someone in the hospital who could tell us how to make the key work, and climb back up. I was giving Peter and Sarah a pep talk: We can do this, we need to figure this out so we can open the gate before Dad, David and Annie get back and don’t know where we are, and we are tough enough. Sarah looked at me and said, “We are missionaries!” When she did fall, pretty hard, on the way down, she got up and dusted her hands on her pants without crying. I said, “We are missionaries!” and Sarah raised her fist in the air, “Yeah!”

Praise and thanks to God for fortifying our kids and for giving us such strong encouragement through our favorite ten-and-under crowd.

Signs of being a Third Culture Kid

We are starting to see signs of this already.  Our kids made all new friends this year, and now they are saying goodbye to all of them.  The following link is amusing and insightful.  31 Signs You are a Third Culture Kidenhanced-buzz-25089-1372704968-2