Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Continuing Education

On Monday, our "school bus" driver, Antoy, drove four of us to Tabanuk and Cebu. Our goal was to pick up an order of books for school at the publishing house. The trip was a success and we now have Filipino language and history books for each student. We also picked up some big dry-erase boards and other odds and ends for the school. Fyre (see below blog) came along to help with translating. Justin and Lauren stayed back with the school to assist the teachers and to implement some of our weekly improvements.

Speaking of which, we've devised a system of rewards for good behavior at the school... "Shofar Pisos"... Here's how it works: If a student follows a school rule or sets and example with good behavior, they may earn a Shofar Piso (piso=Philippino currency) at their teacher's discretion. The student can continue to gather Shofar Pisos and spend them at the Shofar Store, which will only be open during breaks on Fridays. The Shofar Store will have things useful for school, like Spiderman pencils, Hello Kitty notebooks, etc. We've just begun this week, and it should be interesting to see how the students respond.

Monday evening, the power went out for a while, so we spent some time on the front porch sitting in the dark watching distant lightning...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Week in Review

So what have we been doing for the past week...  Well all of the gang except for me, Erik, went to jail in Toledo City both Wednesday and Friday.  Wednesday Lando was busy and so they had one of the youth, Fyre, do the interpreting.  The ladies played some of the JFB worship from a few years ago for the women in jail to do worship. 

Things have been in full swing with the school this week as we work to get things going at Shofar Learning.  The kids are having to get used to working on the computers and learning more English as they do so.  The second level classroom is being used a lot for both History and Language classes.  The language classes are using Rosetta Stone software.  We could use prayer to continue to move in the right direction with the School.  We also did some testing and interviews this week for a few new students at Shofar Learning.  Starting on Monday we should have three brand new students.

Today, Saturday, we had a teachers meeting and software training at Shofar in the morning.  There will be a lot for the teachers and aides to learn before we leave for the summer so they can be comfortable using the computers.   This afternoon we did some painting in the living area behind Freedom in Christ church where one of our teachers has been staying during the week.  A few of the youth helped out and we got to hang out with them after the painting was done. 

Sunday will be busy with disciples class in the morning, followed by church with the girls doing kids church and then we will wrap up the day with the youth disciples class in the afternoon.  Hope everything is going well at home.

Monday, June 21, 2010

School's back in session

First of all let me say that the weather here is the same as it is in Menomonie right now; Rainy and cold- but as always still humid. Life here seems to be starting to become normal, like for example its normal to have a gecko fall out when you open the refrigerator door or to be referred to as "Joe" anywhere you go. But besides all the differences in the culture we are all starting to really like it here more and more everyday.

On Sunday we went to church at Freedom in Christ. This week Erik taught the discipleship
class before the Sunday service, we are going through the Story of the Kingdom, which is a look into what the Kingdom of God really is. We are using the same material in the Toledo Jail as well. In the afternoon we use the same material for youth group but we go into the subject matter deeper with discussion orientated questions. Yesterday the ladies had the privilege to go into the church's kid's ministry and sit in on the lessons. Next week we will get to go in and teach in the children's ministry. It was fun to see the similarities between the Kid's ministry here and in the US and we are looking forward to the opportunity. Yesterday we also improved our Cebuano vocabulary with a game in the afternoon with the youth group. The game consisted of passing an object to the person sitting next to you and telling them what it is, it gets pretty crazy when there are several objects being passed around. You can ask Tiffany what bandana is in Cebuano.

School's back in session today after the weekend, Saturday and Sunday were noticeably quiet without the sound of 30 little feet running upstairs so we are glad they are back for another
week. We started using our Rosetta Stone curriculum for English language learning today. It was fun to watch the students adopt it so quickly! They have to stand at the microphone and say the phrase and they even have to pronounce it correctly for it to count. Eventually they will be using Rosetta Stone for Filipino (Tagalog-the Philippines national language) language learning.

Well thats all I got right now... keep the school in prayer as we continue to hammer out the details of how it is going to work and just for wisdom for all of us. We are praying for all of you back home and for those of you who are heading out to Cornerstone in a few weeks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Plans for tomorrow, tasks for today...

Wait! It's been how long? and we only have how much time left? That's all I could think about today as the six of us sat down for a while long meeting discussing the to do's and plans for what seems to be little time left here. We have priorities and projects, one will be the building of the playground for the school as you see the barren ground in the picture. Another will be that we are going to redesign the fire escape on the third floor also shown here. On the third floor, vinyl curtains were designed and started by Becky, Jess and the gang to help with keeping the weather out. Three of us took on finishing that most of the day/night today, seeing that it isn't a fast process and why would any place have a grommet tool? That would be too easy! We were able to get the kids into the lecture room as you see with the TV and Computer which is full of fun curriculum activities and courses. Busy busy mission, closer relationships and fun, staying close to God and having faith we pray that we finish strong. Thanks for all your prayers! Maayo gabii!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Maayong Buntag ug Babay

There are now so many faces to say good morning to. Beautiful, excited, mischievous, kids, all waiting to settle into their desks for another day of school. It took a lot of work to get this school up and running and at first it seemed overwhelming. God, however, can handle anything. So He made it happen, we just got to be a part of His action. Two jeepney routes picked up all the children from local towns and brought them to Shofar. The kids walked up to the 3rd level of Shofar for their first day of school Tuesday June 15th, 7:45am.

First thing in the morning started off with devotions (some scripture/ short teaching/song/prayer). They sang "Father Abraham" and 30 little voices with 60 stomping feet echoed through the building. After devotions was introductions, rules, and other information. Then they were taught how to use the computers and their curriculum. Some had never touched a computer, some were apprehensive, and some knew a little too much about computers. After lunch, they practiced more of their curriculum and then the teachers (Jane and DinDin) taught on Filipino History and the teachers aide's (Junrey and Erline) had M.A.P.E. Music, Arts, and Physical Education.

These children are excited to be here and we are excited to have them. I can't wait to see what is in store and the changes that will happen in the lives of these kids. God is good.

We said good morning to many new faces this week and we said goodbye to the 9 short term team members who were serving with us to get this school started.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bands and bugs.....

Shofar sho good!!! We've just ended our weekend tour with "Skul of Fish" pronounced school, a ska band from Cebu City. They've got everything from drums, trumpet, saxophone and more. We picked them up on Saturday for the first gig in Balamban which turned out to be a real good show. No problems or friction of any sort. Then they played again on Sunday night in The Barba Sports Complex in Toledo City. This was the larget venue yet.

Near the end of both shows we presented a short video by Francis Chan about living life in the sight of God our Creator and Redeemer. Lastly we handed out free "Libre" radios tuned specifically to our Shofar Radio station. It's all an effort to get the word out about Shofar Radio and most importantly the Gospel message of Christ.

Other than the concerts being done, we've been working steadily on Shofar Learning Center too. Most everything is complete with only a few finishing touches left to accomplish. I've been really getting to know the new Shofar school bus firsthand. It's the new jeepney that we recently bought, repainted and detailed with new Shofar school decals. She's got a few rough edges but overall its a real sound vehicle. I've learned that I need to "think like the Filipino" when I go to work on it. I'll let you figure out what that may mean.

Here are shots of some mammoth "varmints" that have crossed our path. One being a huge moth that we photographed at the Balamban show, and the other is what Tom calls a "gigapede" spotted in our yard. Yikes, he might carry you away if you're not careful.

We'll that's all I have for now. The short term team will be home soon to share our stories with you all. With all that in mind I'll just say that today is the first day of school and I can hear the children singing "Father Abraham" upstrairs....................a good start to a new day. -Mike

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mountain Top Experiences

The short term group has been very busy over here, helping get everything ready before we leave. With less than a week left, we all really want to make our time here count.
One of our biggest projects has been making curtains to go around the sides of the third floor and keep out the rain. Earlier this week we purchased a large roll of blue and white striped tarp material and 10 foot metal poles. We made them into 14 seperate curtains that go all the way around the room. When we are done, they will tie down at the bottoms, and they will be able to completely enclose the area whenever needed.

A few others projects we have been working on include graveling in the walkway to the outside CR's and putting up signs on the doors to seperate them into boys and girls rooms. We also made painted a banner for the TV station in Balamban which we will be bringing along to the concert tonight. Tomorrow we have a concert in Toledo City.

Other than that, we have been cleaning, cooking, and generally doing the behind the scenes work so that the long term team can go out and get things done. It's amazing how much there is to do in those areas when there are 15 people living under one roof. Everything seems to take twice as long as you'd expect it to, but then, that's the way it is over here.
It has continued to rain almost every night, and with the rain we have been getting cooler temperatures, which we are all thankful for. Another thing the rain has brought us is beetles dive-bombing us every night after the sun goes down. The geckos seem to be enjoying the increase in bugs, as they have also become more active. They really seem to like Tiffany's room too.

With less than a week left, it's hard to imagine that we are going to be back in the states so soon. I am really going to miss being here. I have come to love this country and its people more than I ever thought I would, and I hope one day to be able to come back. Until then, I thank God for all the opportunities that He has given me. Thank you all for your prayers.

As for the long term team, our time has been filled with various activities to open the school, as well as get us set up for the summer. On Thursday morning, we met with the 2 teachers (Din-Din and Jane) and the 2 aides (Erline and Junrey (not to be confused with Journey)). We nailed down the daily subject schedule which includes math, science, language arts and Bible (which are self paced and taught on the little netties), English and Tagalog speaking (which are taught through Rosetta Stone program), a Tagalog grammar class, a Filipino history and culture class, and last but not least, every kid's favorite- MAPE: Music, Art, and Phy Ed. We talked about how the first day (June 15th) would go, which will probably Erik doing a basic computer skills class.

On Friday, we taught in jail for the first time. Jonah taught the guys and I taught the ladies. It was awesome to see the 2 ladies I met last year and meet one more. Sasha and Lauren both gave their testimonies too. After jail we did some poster hanging around Toledo and did some quick shopping for both food and misc school stuff like notebooks, pencils, rulers, etc.

About Heidi's gecko comment above: I have yet to kill a spider in my room- so I welcome the mongo size geckos anytime!

I wish I could take the time to write more, but we are starting to get ready for lunch and packing for the concert...so until next time,

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It's All Happening!

We've had an exciting week here in the Philippines. One of the most exciting events was the Orientation of the Shofar Learning Center. The parents and students who will be attending the new school came to see the center and find out more details of the curriculum that would be taught. To be able to see this dream and work of God come to realization was a sight to be hold. Now we are working on finishing up small projects so that school can start on June 15th!

After the orientation we met up with the band Ramoth Gilead. They played two concerts in Sin Sin andUling. This picture to the left is an acoustic set they played for us Sunday after church!

This next photo was the band playing in Uling. We also showed the short film Most. We were truly blessed to get to know this band and see their hearts for God.

Thank for all of those who have been praying for rain. It has rained every night night of this last week. The rainy season is now upon us.

Until next time,
Mandie & Karla

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Vegetables, eggs, bread...chicken feet

The short term team finally made it! After a long journey arriving at Shofar, Evelyn showed us all how to make lumpia for dinner. Lumpia is similar to a pork spring roll. We were in a jet lag induced haze, but we had a really good time.

The next day the short term team had the chance to help with the last of the placement tests for the children. They were extremely well behaved! On Saturday there will be an open house for the new students and their parents to see the new school.

We also did a little shopping on the streets of Lutopan. Stopping at different vendors for vegetables, eggs, bread, etc. That is all for now,
Jess and Becky