As the school year moves into its fourth quarter at the Institute of Foundational Learning, I am at the two-month point in the mission trip. The fourth quarter also brings increased activity at the school and a ramp-up of my tasks since I only have a month remaining.
Competitive activities are part of this foundation of Christian schools, so last week brought the national competition for schools from a number of provinces. The main auditorium had 1300 people the first day and a thousand the second. I was one of the group of judges that are asked to come by the director. We got to know each other during the two days of work, having to judge children in a variety of levels in both academic and arts competitive activities. The first picture is one scene from one team that was performing an interpretive dance, which is a popular time for the delegates to watch their children.
I joined a Filipino pastor (former engineer, also) and his wife as we listened to children recite Hebrews in the Memory Verse competition. It may sound easy, but it is pretty intense as the judges usually have to deal with varying children’s voices, allaying nervousness, and encouraging the contestants. The process takes about 4 hours, so we stay busy. I may look calm in the picture, but dealing with quiet voices and checking the “script” requires a lot of concentration. I just happened to interview one young girl who recited 10 chapters (minus one small group of verses). Later I got to meet her Mom and encourage them both. It was a poignant time, as they had lost the father of the family a couple years ago.
In the end the judges and the director give awards for every category of the competition. The picture shows Ma’am Len on the right, who is the choral director for the IFL founding school, where I am doing mission work. A second older group actually tied for first as they performed an African song that brought back memories of being in Uganda.
Ma’m Len and her husband, Christian, are also helping oversee a college bible study group, where I am teaching a quick course on biblical creation. Those sessions are fairly intense also as they are grappling with naturalism and the contrasting biblical view of how things began. Their questions are good, and often come in rapid-fire. The average session is over two hours.
I have only been able to accomplish about 20% of the task of writing the high school curriculum on biblical creation, so the remaining month is divided between writing tasks and those associated with school events or other assigned teaching opportunities. Meanwhile, this is the warming month, so nights are warmer (hot by US standards) and days without clouds more frequently reach the upper 90s F. This weekend is a break in the routine as I am the primary speaker for graduates of two grades at a retreat center for a couple days.
In closing, there is some humor here also as we tell stories or I do things that draw some laughs. I have played “street” basketball on two occasions with boys a quarter of my age. Seeing white legs among these strong young Filipino men, who could dance around me with a basketball, drew some comments, but I did manage to get a few baskets and deny some free shots by doing a little guarding. I have not hurt myself so far.
I often eat in the evenings. with Pat (Tita Pat, the director) and her young boys (she has raised several, has two young ones normally, and just gained another who needed some help for awhile). Morning coffee with my staff house neighbors starts most days. We have become good friends. It is home away home.
All for now. My tasks and friends await. A month is a short time for what needs to be done.