Trampolines, Proverbs, Beach Balls and Letters of Gratitude: God’s Grace Experienced in the Classroom

This past Friday our beloved high school teacher, Miss Ligia, was away from the classroom during the morning hours to attend an appointment in the nearby city of La Ceiba, so we searched long and hard to find a suitable substitute teacher…

Well, we found one, but her teaching methods were a little off-the-wall (sometimes quite literally as her inflated beach ball bounced off the walls…)

 

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Where’s the ball going next?

 

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15-year-old Sandra, the newest addition to our household in February 2016,  eyeing her crazy substitute teacher…

 

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Heads up, kids! It’s comin’ your way!

 

Each student had to be ready to drop whatever they were doing  to catch the roaming beach ball when their name was called, stand up, and declare the Biblical statement I had scribbled on the very, very full whiteboard.

 

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Our 15-year-old daughter Dayana, one of our two live-ins who study in our new discipleship-based high school program

 

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14-year-old Messy, a local student in our program

 

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18-year-old Exson, Messy’s older brother, who is in my twice-weekly prayer group and who has begun to ask the Lord to grant him wisdom above all else. Every time we ask who has a prayer request, he always says with a smile, “Wisdom.” We give thanks to God for Exson’s participation in our program because truly a large portion of the young men in our rural neighborhood who are his age are involved in gangs or drug-trafficking or simply roam the streets and engage in utter purposelessness.

 

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12-year-old Dariela, an exceptionally bright student from our rural neighborhood who is in the beginning stages of being transformed by her knowledge of God’s Word and His love for her

 

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14-year-old Arlen, whom we’ve known consistently for two years now and who is acquiring a very precious maturity, wisdom, and love of God. He used to be extremely childish and lazy, but in the past few months he is emerging as a leader in our Bible studies and is being transformed as a son of God in a very real way.

 

Here’s the good news: if you’re really talented, you get called upon to come shout out the declaration with the beach ball and jump on the mini-trampoline at the same time.

 

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We all enjoyed an incredibly blessed morning together on Friday. I implemented a partially-Montessori-style learning environment geared toward older kids while including hands-on stations such as “architecture” (blocks/Legos), painting, and Chinese Tangram puzzles.

 

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14-year-old Rolan, a very artistic young man from our rural neighborhood who has fantastic questions about life, God, what comes after death, etc. He is very open to hearing God’s word and is one of our better students academically.

 

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For the majority of our teenage students, something so simple as playing with blocks is new to them because they never did so in their early childhood. As much as we are moving forward with our students, much of our work with them is also going backward with them and providing what they didn’t receive in the beginning stages of their development.

 

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Rolan, Charlie and Exson enjoying a painting project on the tile floor after having finished their desk work

 

The sit-in-your-chair stations were: an independent study on several chapters of Proverbs, written thank-you letters (one to Father God and one to any family member or person who supports them in their daily life), and a discussion-based study guide of questions based on chapter 13 of Ted Dekker’s novel “30 A.D.” that we are currently reading as a class.

 

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13-year-old Charlie, another student who is undergoing a very surprising transformation. He came to us in early February as a little jokester, constantly making fun of others or turning everything into a big joke, but as of late he is very active in Bible study, is becoming a much better student academically and is truly finding his niche in our hidden little discipleship center in the foothills of the mountains. Please pray with us for his continued transformation, salvation and protection as seeds of Life and Truth are being planted in his life.

 

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13-year-old Elalf and 12-year-old Sindy working on their letters of thanksgiving

 

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Reading several chapters from Proverbs and writing on index cards the verses that impacted them most

 

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This is 12-year-old Cristian, one of our 7th-grade students who has had many struggles with constancy and work ethic in his first several months in our program due to the general indiscipline that reigns in our neighborhood and undoubtedly defined his education and outlook before arriving at our front gate. In these past couple days he has begun to work a bit harder after a very productive meeting we had with his mother. Please pray with us for him as he continues to be exposed to the liberating Truth of Jesus and the purposes that God wants to involved him in.

 

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Seeing as the 12 students had spent the first part of the morning in their socks after having been instructed to leave their shoes at the door (to protect our little mini-trampoline from dirt clods, etc), after an hour or so had passed it was time to rotate stations.

To shake things up a bit and ensure that no one fell prey to boredom or restlessness, I informed the students that on the count of 10 they would jump up from their seats, find and put on their shoes as quickly as possible and then run 2 laps as fast as they could around our little schoolhouse before returning, taking their shoes off again, and sitting down in their new stations.

 

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Go, go, go! Get your shoes on!

 

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Here come Sindy and Dayana! They’re on Lap 2!

 

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Stampede of young men!

 

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Who knew that running laps would be so much fun?

 

I definitely didn’t think it would turn out as well as it did; everyone came in laughing hysterically and panting.

 

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As each person collapsed in their seat, I informed them with a huge smile: “I liked that so much, that you’re gonna do it again. 1, 2, 3 — 10! Go!”

Eyes wide and still panting hard, everyone jumped up again and repeated the whole process!

 

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Do it all again!

 

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Oh no! Elalf cheated! He’s carrying his shoes rather than wearing them!

 

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I think Sindy’s tired!

 

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Go, Sandra, go! She’s heading back to class after having completed her two additional laps!

 

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Well, the lap-running had the exact effect I had hoped for: it canalized their energy enough to persevere a few more hours with our focused activities in the classroom. Worship music continued to play from our little CD player in the classroom as each student worked independently at their designated station, the entire morning marked by such tangible peace, gratitude and joy as can come only from our good Father who is beyond this world of ours that is stained by just the opposite. Truly we thank Him for granting us a morning of such grace as we continue to grow together, fervently seeking the One who holds all answers, all hope, all joy.

 

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Amen!

One thought on “Trampolines, Proverbs, Beach Balls and Letters of Gratitude: God’s Grace Experienced in the Classroom”

  1. What a great morning! Your news always warms my heart. God bless everyone at the Living Waters Ranch!!

    On Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 11:03 AM, Hidden Treasures: Seeking the Kingdom of God

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