Saturday, November 29, 2008

preschool graduation

Isaac 'graduated' from preschool this week. We were aware that it is a full cap and gown affair and were ambivalent about the whole thing. Not only did they pay for the party and the 'academic' wear but they were expected to have specific clothing to wear with it. They marched in and sat through many hours of speeches. When the time came to graduate, each approached the dignitaries, had their hood put on, received their certificate, and knelt while the cap of a former graduate was placed on theirs. Ridiculous charade? Yes. But on the other hand, if getting started is the hardest part, why not celebrate beginnings? These kids overcame early social anxiety and parent separation and made their way in their own world for the first time. If these formalities will inspire a lifelong desire for learning and accomplishment, then it will have been worth it. And we truly are proud of Isaac. He went into this world in which he was the only non-Xhosa kid and made it his own. Our shy kid gave his speech to the dignitaries just like every other kid. He spoke his lines in the Christmas play with perfect clarity and right on cue. So, for us, it really was a celebration.

Isaac and his friends admire each other in their formal wear

The graduates wait to march in

Moses and the other kids who are not graduating wait for the entrance of the graduates

The whole graduating class with teachers and guest speaker


Isaac gives his speech

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BBS Graduation

We end each school year with a weekend of teaching and celebration of graduation. Students who have participated in 3 of the 4 conferences that year receive certificates. This year we added a terminal degree of 24 modules which will take 6 years of quarterly attendance to complete. A new requirement with this certificate is annual oral examination. Students come with a range of basic education from none to having completed high school. Many were very timid about coming to test but grew in confidence as their interview went on. Here a group of students sit to answer questions on what they have learned this year.

Four of the testing committee discuss issues with the students.

Rev. Reuben Mgodeli was elected to deputy chairpersonship on friday night. He has been a very enthusiastic and bright student and we had hoped to see him on the committee but feared that it would not be so. Others with similar gifts have not survived within our tenure; the combination of their arrogance and others' felt inferiority drove them away. The following day Rev. Mgodeli stood in the place of honor as emcee of graduation ceremonies.

Moses, Isaac, and Levi had a great weekend running around with their friends. Here Isaac and his friends, Siyanda, Siyamthanda, and Mihla crawl with Levi.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

his time is coming

"Sometimes I just cry," the pastor said, "because I am not doing what I know God has called me to do."

To feed his family, the pastor drives a truck that delivers building supplies to orders from across the region. It takes a significant amount of time--time he wishes was used in a full-time teaching ministry.

"I want to do exactly what you're doing," he said.

I went on to say that yes, indeed, I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to do: teaching the Bible in the midst of the Church. That I can do so, as I explained to him, is a testament to the place in which I grew up.

"I was set up to succeed. People here are not set up to succeed. But your time is coming."

"My time is coming," he said.

I continued,"I want you to have my job. Take over the Bible School! But things don't work like that. There's nothing I can give you that can give you now what you've always wanted. It's only hard work. Your time is coming."

He knows all this. And he wants to work. And I hope that I actually believe my own dictum: "your time is coming." (In my mind I was also thinking, "well, maybe not your time, but perhaps your children's time.")

Until his time comes, we are giving him our company, our support, our prayers, some teaching in the midst of his congregation, and some scheming about a potential micro-finance and self-help saving project. Is it enough?

I had to wonder at my words. Once upon a time, a group of white clergymen told a black preacher named Martin Luther King to wait for the justice of the kingdom he sought. Was their "wait" my "your time is coming"?