Our island is regaining GREEN as trees and plants regrow their leaves. The streets and school grounds still bear the scars of the hurricanes from September. Our electricity is reliable – because we are on a large generator supplied by FEMA with daily deliveries of diesel. We have moved our classes to the school chapel which is powered by the FEMA generator (the classroom is on a small generator for which we buy the gas and oil and take care of maintenance).
With all of that still happening around us, we are trying to embrace CHRISTmas – the celebration of Christ’s incarnation, the promised Saviour born to a virgin at last has come! I say TRYING because, with all that was happening in September and October, as a teacher, I got behind in my planning ahead for Christmas. I failed to order supplies for Christmas crafts and activities. I have been otherwise occupied with LIFE such that I was not thinking into November and December.
But God, in His goodness, provided through YOU who sent and are sending parcels of supplies. Suddenly, when someone asked, I thought, “Please send some Christmas crafts for the students. I have nothing planned. I lost a few months!”
And so the Christmas craft supply boxes have arrived from Wisconsin and Florida and Maine just to name a few. We started last week by putting a few Christmas lights in the school chapel to brighten our days. (We have solar powered Christmas lights outside for our evening enjoyment. And some friends have sent more so that the students can take home some solar powered lights for their homes!)
The students and visitors are enjoying making origami stars, candle holders, wee Christmas trees and various painted decorations. TWO people sent us JOY ornaments (see above). I think God is reminding us that even with the changes we have experienced and continue to live with, His JOY is always available. With Nehemiah, we can say:
We had one student. The other three were at appointments or simply had difficulties arriving in a timely fashion. Nonetheless, we were blessed by the Palmas Community Church as they brought backpacks for our students and their siblings. (picture on left below)
August 15 – second day of school!
Everyone was present! We kicked off the first day of full attendance with our Science emphasis focusing on the eclipse that will be happening on August 21. All week (well except for Day 4 which saw only one student again as the others were flooded away from the school) we have been talking about galaxies, sun, rotation, revolutions, stars, planets… It has been a fun week in the classroom. While speaking of creation and God’s workmanship, we visited the apartment kitchen above the classrooms to see the workmanship of new cupboards that took place during the summer (center photo above).
We have explored the age of the universe by reading the Bible, created models of the sun, earth and moon to walk through what is a solar eclipse and had a guest speaker who has an interest in astronomy. Our chapel is decorated as if we are walking in outer space (see backgrounds in the photos above and below)— heads in the stars and hopefully provoking the imagination of the endlessness of our universe as well as the endlessness of God’s love.
We created our own stars by making constellations of nails and then wrapping string around them in patterns or in arrays. We read articles about the solar system at readworks.org
We have downloaded various apps to our devices so that we can “view” constellations in daylight and watch as the moon moves closer and closer to the sun. Excitement is mounting as we await the eclipse on Monday at 2:11 our time. We have had some RAIN this week so homework assignments of “observe the stars” were incomplete but we are hopeful that Monday will bring sunshine and blue skies for the event we have been hoping to witness.
Friday afternoons are often a little messy here as students go home early and our adult handbell ringers arrive for practice. This Friday, the students asked questions they had been formulating all week – Aliens? Diamond planets? Blue stars? – which we looked up on the Internet and youtube. How wonderful to have access to those resources! We also had art class and drew very inaccurate representations of the solar system.
All in all, the school year was kicked off and celebrated well. We are thankful for the students we have and prayerful about the staff we need to be able to reach more Deaf children for Christ. The task is daunting as we meet Deaf adults and children with very limited understanding of signed and printed languages… there is the need to begin with the basics of WHO? WHAT? WHERE? before we can begin to speak of GOD and SALVATION. Pray with us for the continuing ministry among the Deaf here.
Too often recently, I have heard a complaint that a governmental entity has not called for an interpreter for a Deaf person in need. Too often recently, I have seen video of such interactions. Too often recently, I have received a phone call from an agency asking WHY an interpreter was needed…
And so to have this at my fingertips, here is a PDF of a model letter for a Deaf person to give to an agency or office explaining the law and requesting an interpreter be called. I did not write this. It was given to me by someone who knows more about this than I do. Yet it is so needed. It is in Spanish.
While I know each school week is 5 days, some feel so FULL! Last week was a full week! We are doing more “silent” reading this year – trying to get in at least 15 minutes of independent reading daily and it’s fun to watch the students examine the bookshelves and find hidden treasures. Also sweet to watch the more able to read students introduce books and love of reading to the ones who are not able to read on their own yet. Pray that literacy will be a skill they love and each student will exercise a passion for WORDS and sharing God’s Word!
We were excited to see Nathan and Deborah visiting from Canada! This lovely Deaf couple stopped by with their three hearing daughters. We always love seeing them and enjoyed some games and relaxing time together.
This year, we are making cursive writing a priority. Every afternoon before we dive into our learning logs, we do some structured writing. Betsy, our only teacher this year, has developed this framework for teaching cursive – using the data projector to shine guidelines onto the white board and then writing on them. The students love showing off their skills too though they still do better on paper than on the board.
Thanks for praying along with us for the ministry of our school and chapel. We look forward to next week when we will be practicing conversational skills and learning how fractions work.
Friday, June 3 was our monthly scheduled Social Night. We love having people over and sharing games, growing friendships and seeing some of our ‘once a month’ visitors.
This month, we celebrated two birthdays – Maria who is now 15 and Irma who is at an age we don’t advertise any longer – though if you look at the photo, you will see her age :-).
Irma was a student here between 1988- 1991 and is active in her local church. Her husband Valie volunteers with us daily helping by advising as well as in maintaining the property. Irma and Valie are cherished members of our ministry community and we were thankful to be able to celebrate her _0 birthday with her.
Maria is a present student in the school. Turning 15, celebrating her QUINCEANERA is a big deal. One of our staff drove to Orocovis to bring Maria and her sister and parents to the school for an overnight. We celebrated her birthday and another staff member drove them home the following morning.
The party times were sweet with cakes, games, friends, and conversation. We were super happy to see Chris Monahan, our CSCD Board President back with us after having been sidelined by a stroke in late April. He is doing well – improving with physical therapy and a patient family who help him.
Continue to pray for the summer activities around the school and throughout the ministry. We will be carrying out the basic office work that needs to happen, doing grounds work, and spending time in prayer and preparation for the school year that begins on August 8, 2016.
We are still praying for teachers who are familiar with the Deaf and who know ASL. In our planning meeting, we have discussed
a 9 days every two weeks school schedule, the 10th day to be kept for taking our students to visit Deaf people in remote areas of the island with the intention of befriending, evangelizing, assisting in any way that is needed. We have also discussed
further ministry with the Santos Family – what do the parents need and how can we encourage them spiritually, emotionally, and materially? We want to continue
the ASL Silent Workshop teaching and outreach to interpreters and workers in Deaf ministries.
Pray with us for these ministries and for hands to grow the ministries so that more Deaf can be reached for Christ.
For many years, the staff of our ministry has been praying about beginning Interpreter Development Workshops. We see the struggle of many interpreters in churches (and in paid positions) and want to come alongside them, encourage, develop their skills and see them communicate as effectively as possible with the Deaf people they meet.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14
This year, our principal found herself surrounded by people who had the time, energy, ideas and desire to help to launch this ministry. We had 12 people who attended all three days and several others who came for one or two days of the three day event.
It was fun to work together to develop the schedule for the workshops – to see how each person had a different angle on the classes and time frames – and then to see how God brought it all together from paper to action.
We were able to have lots of small group interactions to complement the group teaching sessions. Many of the participants attend churches where there are Deaf members and while they are not interpreting, they simply wanted to learn how to communicate better – both in understanding and in expressing themselves.
Our third day was all about the fluidity and artistry of signing. Various groups and several individuals prepared songs to show the things they had learned and could incorporate in their signing. It was great to see them incorporating new ASL skills into their songs and their conversations.
38 days remain in the 2015-2016 school year. The students have been enthusiastic learners and recently we had seen fruit from their labors:
Maria has learned to smile and say “Please” when asking questions. Mizael noticed that the hours of sunshine are lengthening and explained the tilt and rotation and revolution of the planet. Juan has begun to work faster on his written work and is telling amazing stories (truth and fiction mixed). Larimar is increasing her vocabulary and holding onto the words. The teachers are all excited to see these fruits in the lives of the students.
Paying attention IS a job skill and seeing the students give their undivided attention during class time is also an encouragement.
Of course, we continue to include hands-on learning. After reading Mr Ferris and His Wheel, Juan and Maria built a k-nex ferris wheel as part of their science class. Learning to work together, to follow directions, and to trouble shoot difficulties are also great skills to develop in life.
Pray for the next 38 class days – that the students will continue to grow in knowledge and in application of God’s Word in their lives.
So far, 2016 has been a wonderfully peaceful year. Students are learning – on all levels of learning – academically, spiritually, emotionally, physically. We love to see this.
Below, you will see Larimar working in class and also hanging out in a hammock. One day when she was the last student in the classrooms, we tried out the hammock lounge under the new deck. Larimar enjoyed hanging out with the new workers, sharing jokes and stories and enjoying some relaxed time.
In the other photo, Larimar is working on story telling by creating a “quadrama” (like a diorama with four open corners). She is such a creative young lady and we are so pleased to see her using her talents in ways that honor God. Continue to pray for her and our other students as they learn and grow in His grace.
The student handbell choir performed EIGHT times in the past three weeks!
Our NEW Adult Deaf Handbell Choir also performed TWICE in the past week.
Our school Christmas party was lovely – the children signed songs, the bells rang, the parents cried at appropriate times, the food was massive in quantity and in flavor, no one hurried away and the cleanup happened.
We thank God for each of you and your prayers for our ministry to the Deaf here in Luquillo. Look forward to seeing you again in January 2016! Happy Holidays (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Epiphany/Kings’ Day) !!