Thursday, June 27, 2013

English Camp

For the first week of this trip I am here with a team of people from Knoxville as we do English camps with some of the children here at SCH. Monday and Tuesday the school-girls came, Wednesday and Thursday the school-boys came, and Friday and Saturday the pre-schoolers will come (Yikes!).

Each age group arrives at English camp where they meet the members of our team- me, Haley, Deb, Kaley, Laurie, and Carrie. Each of us has planned a few lessons for the kids over things that parents of adoptive children have said would be useful. For example, one of my lessons is teaching the names of rooms of a house, so I show them pictures I drew of each type of room (bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom), then show activities (sleeping, brushing teeth, cooking, etc.) and they say which room that activity belongs in. Then we had them draw what the rooms in their home looks like. All the lessons are formatted in a fairly similar fashion with songs, games, or other activities that pair with the lesson.

What has been most surprising (though it probably shouldn't have been), is the range in English proficiency. All the students that come attend a public school, but since the ages, abilities, and special needs of each child varies, you get quite a sampling. Some have been able to serve as make-shift translators for us, while others we are unable to understand, even when they repeat what we are saying word-by-word.

A few short stories then to sleep because these days have been exhausting and we have pre-schoolers tomorrow!

With the school-girls (who Haley was foster-mom of for four months) I spent a lot of time helping Stephanie, who is completely blind in both eyes. One of our activities is singing and dancing the song "Love the Lord," which is based on Mark 12:30 (also found in the other gospels at various places). During the song I would move Stephanie's arms to the motions of the song as it played. Each time you could see a giant smile form on her face, creating huge dimples in her cheeks as she rocked to the music. It was beautiful.

Alesa, another school-girl with a mental disability, really took to the song, and was able to learn all the words and sing it on her own by the end of the two days. When we walked on our field trip to get ice cream on the last day she and I held hands and sang the song together the whole way.

The differences in boys and girls in America is not so different from the differences between boys and girls in India. With the girls we were able to do side-walk chalk, draw flowers, and finger paint pictures. With the school boys we had to break out the beach balls when they became quickly disinterested with the side-walk chalk and would finger paint words and entire blocks of color. They also ate many more snacks- which is a story I will save for after the pre-schoolers are done.

Sorry I haven't been posting here or putting pictures on Facebook yet. I have been enjoying being here with a group and have been kept busy with English camp, getting situated, and adjusting my sleep schedule. (I will admit I took a two-hour nap today, and woke-up thinking it was time to get ready for school.)

Continue to pray for our team's health and safety. I have been fine, but some other member's have not been feeling 100%. Pray also for the children we have worked with so far- that they would understand the verse and song we taught and know they are loved. Pray for my time after the team leaves, that my work would continue to be meaningful and that plans for my service routine after English camp is over would come together smoothly, that they would be suited to my gifts, and that God will give me a willing heart, whatever that service may be.


For those who did not get my initial email of why I have this blog, some introductions may be in order. Here are some details:

Where I am: I am in Ongole, India with an organization called SCH, which takes in special needs children and places them in family style homes, meets their medical needs, and teaches them about the love of Christ.

Who I am with: I am in the company of five other lovely ladies from Knoxville, TN. Haley, the trip leader, served here as a foster mother for four months last year, and she is doing a great job showing us the ropes and taking us all around town to get what we need, where we need, and in touch with who we need. I am so blessed by the team that has assembled and can't wait to get to know them even better (though the 50 hours of travel time did a pretty good job of getting us all VERY acquainted with each other!)

What I am doing: The other ladies and I will be doing a two-day English camp with three different groups of students starting tomorrow. While the official language of India is English, the spoken language of the state is often Telugu, and so many of the children are not proficient English speakers, which poses problems if they ever leave the state or when they are adopted to the English-speaking countries like the US, as many of them are. Tomorrow we are working with the school-age girls on introductions, body parts, emotions, and a few other useful communication tools.

How to pray: Thank Him for this opportunity, for safe arrivals, for our wonderful apartment, and for the existence of SCH. Pray that our lessons would go smoothly, that we would remain safe and healthy, that we would be patient and loving with the children, and ultimately that God would work through us, despite our sinful nature, to show himself to these beautiful children.