We've been in a city in East Africa for three weeks now. Last year, I reflected on some of the lessons we learnt in rural West Africa. Here, life is very different. Rather than the sounds of the African night, we hear loud music at all hours, traffic and horns around the clock and just occasionally, a ciccada. Rather than having abundant space for boys to run and climb and jump, we are living in an apartment block with a small concrete forecourt and walking on the roads requires close attention for traffic, uncovered manholes and other hazards. Personally, I think we prefer wide open spaces, abundant nature, mountains to climb, rivers to swim in, being able to walk everywhere we need to go; yet for now, this is where God has brought us. And three weeks in, we can see different, but equally precious opportunities here.
10 things which have been helpful educationally are:
1) The markets. Uganda has been termed the 'fruit basket of Africa'. I can see why! It is great for the boys to see seasonal fruit in different stages of ripeness, and to bargain and negotiate for prices. We begin to form relationships with some of the sellers as they laugh at this crazy Bazungu family who visit so often. There are many lessons which are somehow richer than those gleaned in supermarkets (although I think a supermarket trip is also packed with learning).
2) People. Our ultimate goal is to share the gospel with people, and in order to do so, we need to build relationships. When we are living in close proximity with others, such as in the apartment block, it is easier to build a relationship than in the UK where we all tend to live in our 'castles' with the drawbridges pulled up. And reflecting on this, I can see why God might want us to spend time in a chaotic, densely populated region.
3) Entomology. The first morning, my eldest was delighted by a cockroach. He can now describe several different types and tell me how their wings are beautiful colours. They enjoy looking at a whole range of insects and creepy crawlies under their magnifying glasses, and their descriptions are astonishingly accurate.
4) Few resources. The other day, they saw a boy having a bath in a dirty storm drain. They couldn't understand why at first, but we were able to explain how access to fresh water is actually a privilege and something we should be thankful for. We have a very poor water supply in our apartment, and it makes them realise just how amazing the resources in the UK are. Water is one example, there are many more.
5) Realising how big God is. 'If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me and your right hand will hold you fast' Psalm 139. They are beginning to understand this.
6) Internet! We've been astonished! The connection is reasonably stable and fast, far superior to what we knew 4 years ago when we lived in a nearby country. This opens up certain opportunities, and as we consider how we might home educate if we come to live here for a longer period, it enables things that I would not have imagined possible.
7) That God changes your heart. We are coming to like the loud music, the humidity and the bustle. He is helping us to be 'content in all circumstances', and the boys similarly are adapting rapidly. We worked out that our four year old has lived in five different countries (three in African, two in Europe). We've read quite a bit about 'third culture kids' and know that there can be challenges that are faced; yet at the same time, there are many rich opportunities.
8) Family. I've reflected on this many times, but we are thankful that God has enabled us as a family to have one parent home whilst the other works. Overall we split it 50:50, but there are times when one of us does relatively more. Currently I am working more like 80%, and my husband is home. It is exciting for me to come home and see how their writing and drawing is progressing, and see the stability in our methods of education. I am extremely thankful to have a husband with whom I share my vision for our family, the desire to see the children grow to know and love God, to make stability in the home a priority and to educate them in a gentle, child-paced manner embracing the opportunities of daily life.
9) God's family. We met a friend of a friend the other night, and she also knows several other mutual friends and although we had just me, we were able to share a meal and encourage one another in Christ. The boys do not see this as special or unusual because to them it is just 'normal'. But we seek to teach them about how amazing God's plans and provision are, and to demonstrate to them that 'all men shall know that you are My disciples if you have love one for another'.
10) Attending different churches. Different music, different songs, different people, different styles, but the same Bible, the same truth, the same God. One day, every tribe and tongue will worship together. And here, we have another glimpse of that truth.
- I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure.