Teaching here on the Palawano Project has had its ups and downs, but so far the ups have made up for the downs.
One experience that stands out in my mind happened a few weeks ago. I had been reviewing with my English 1 class in preparation for their quarterly exam. We had gone over everything from the quarter and still had some time left, so I asked if they had any questions. Sirla raised her hand and asked the English word for spirit. I realized she was trying to pair it with the word “good” to say “Good Spirit,” the literal translation of Holy Spirit in Pelawan. I told her how we say it in English, and then she asked for a few other words—such as “help” and “forgive”—and began forming sentences. By the end of the class period, with a little help, she had composed a simple prayer in English. Moments like that are among my favorite in teaching—when students take initiative in their learning, and I’m able to help them learn the things they want to know.
A less enjoyable experience, but amusing in retrospect, involves adapting to life in the village. I’ve done my own laundry for years, and I thought I would continue to do so here. Of course, with no washing machines, that means doing it by hand. The problem is that the time it takes to wash clothes thoroughly by hand is more than my schedule can afford, so I was rushing the process. I was getting my clothes clean as far as my nose could tell. Other people, however, thought differently. I became aware of the problem after about three months when someone else offered to wash my clothes for me. I was assured that I wasn’t the only one. This seems to be a common problem among newcomers here. After giving my clothes the Jacobian censure of Genesis 34:30, “Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land,” I started paying locals to wash them. I don’t think I’ll ever hear the end of it, though. Right before break, the combined elementary and high school had a Christmas gift exchange. I got soap.
The time is coming when I need to decide whether I will stay here to work a second year. I’m seriously considering it. I’ll be much more effective the second year, since I’ll start out already knowing the language and how things work here. It helps the project a great deal to have some staff carry over from one year to the next. I also would like the opportunity to learn more of the language and culture and to implement the lessons I’m learning for another year of teaching. I also want to continue being, as 2 Corinthians puts it, “the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
Thank you all for your continued support! I’ve enjoyed reading the messages some of you have sent. May the year ahead bring many blessings to all of you.