Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Lord Provides...

It is hard to believe that another whole school year has passed us by! Somehow time really got away from me this year. I will do my best to give you a little glimpse in to our past school year.

As a teacher I like things to be organized by unit themes and then lessons that teach about that theme. As I look back on this last school year the "unit theme" that I see is The Lord Provides. So I thought I would organize this summary in the ways that I saw and learned about this theme throughout the year.

Lesson One: We began our year with a class of 13 with age ranges of five to eighteen and we ended the year with a class of 14 with an age range of four to nineteen. Around Christmas time the four high school boys that had been in the school for a couple of years decided that they would prefer to be back in the Angolan system so they left just after Christmas. However as soon as they left the Lord brought four new students to us which was a wonderful blessing. We were sad to see our friends go but we are very happy to have our new friends as well.
Class at the beginning of the year.

Lesson Two: With the addition of the new students I really needed help and the Lord provided. My younger brother Daniel decided to give a year and a half of his time to invest in the children at the school and we are so excited that he has decided to do this. He arrived in January and finished the year with us. It was wonderful to have an extra hand. With the addition of four younger students it means the day is busier and more action packed so Daniel's help is GREATLY appreciated. The students all really look up to him and he is a wonderful role model for them.
Daniel teaching

Lesson Three: As many of you can imagine adding new students to a class can change the dynamics of things especially when they are young students. One of my new ones turned four three weeks after he started with us. Having students this young has its own special challenges so at the beginning it was rather overwhelming however The Lord foresaw all this and provided even more help in the form of short term volunteers from North America who gave their time to help us. They were able to work one on one with a several students. With their help the children were able to see the Lord's love in action as well as help them figure out how they could fit into our class family. We are so thankful for their help. The children still ask when they are coming back!
Bethany Mudde, one of our volunteers, reading a story.

Lesson Four: In May and June we began making preparations for next year and as we looked ahead we realized that in order for the school to keep running and support itself as it has been we need a few more students. As soon as we realized this we had several new parents knocking at our door asking if we have space for their children next year. So exciting to see how The Lord provides!
Reading a story to the class that they wrote

Summary of what I Learned: I know that The Lord is not done teaching us to trust Him to provide for our wants and needs but it has been neat to look back at this last year and see his Hand working in wonderful, marvelous and mysterious ways. Just like with Abraham in Genesis 22 when The Lord asked him to do what seemed like something incredible and completely crazy and sacrifice his only child. Abraham was faithful and The Lord provided for him in more than one way. Genesis 22:14 "So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.'"

As we look forward to next year I am excited to see how The Lord will work and teach. His lessons aren't always easy to learn at the time but if you can wait, learn and see often you can see Him working in ways that you never imagined possible. Sometimes you can't see the lesson until you are at the end of it but you can always trust that He is right there with you.
Class at the end of the year. (we are missing a couple of students that were away that day.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

More Little Bites...

Every morning we end our class devotional time with prayer. The students all love to pray and take turns praying each day. A typical prayer is, "Dear Jesus, Thank you for today, my family and my friends. Thank you for food on the table. Please help all the people in hospital and who don't have food. Please help us not to be lazy in school today. Please help me to earn more sticks in school so that I can have a pencil or ruler on Friday. Amen." 

One of the families in the school are expecting a new baby in the coming weeks. The brother of the new baby was talking with some classmates about babies and why they had to stay in their mothers for so long. The result of the discussion was that mothers had to have babies in their stomachs because mothers need to look fat!
My six year old boy was asked what his favorite story is and the answer without hesitation; "Joshua and George Washington!" I think I might have some more work to do on the Bible and American History end of things!
I am very blessed with my class because we aren't very big we are all quite close to each other. The kids love to help one another with their work. I have noticed over the last few weeks we have been talking about thinking about others and serving one another. The other day I looked up and my six year old was helping one of my older students read his work and understand the problem. He was explaining it just like he had heard me explain it to him! Very encouraging and uplifting!

A typical shout in my classroom. "Mrs. Helena! I flushed the toilet!" Apparently this is not easy to remember and must be announced to the world when it is remembered!

The Bible story for our class devotion was the Last Supper. I was asking the kids what a supper was and the immediate answer was "The Last Supper was like Pizza night!" I am not sure where that came from. As far as I know we have never talked about pizza night and I certainly didn't mention it in conjunction with the Last Supper. It is amazing how kids minds work!

After P.E. each week I give the kids a cup of water after all their hard running around. One of my younger students took the cup and filled his mouth and then it “spilled” all over another student. When I asked him what happened he told me that his mouth was too full. I then asked, “Why was your mouth so full?” His answer? “Jesus filled it.” I then explained that Jesus had created his mouth but He did not choose to overfill it! I was just so surprised by his answer.

I am using an American curriculum for my younger students which means that we learn about some key figures in American history, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. One morning my first grader was working in his language arts book. He looked up at me and said, “I want to meet George Washington.” I looked up rather surprised as it had been a few days since we had read and talked about him. “Well, that might be kind of difficult because he died a long time ago.” I explained. He looked right at me and said, “But Mrs. Helena, he was a man of God, I will see him in heaven.” Oh!!! Silly me!!!

Lil' Bites

"Why are the people in the story wearing dresses?" asked one of my 10 year olds as she looked at the picture for our Bible story. Before I had a chance to answer, another of my 10 year olds answered. "Those aren't dresses. Those are robes. Men only wore dresses in the 80's." And he was dead serious. Needless to say it took a little while for me to be able to explain that one.

"Is this right, Mrs. Helena?" asked one of my first graders. She had been having a great day at school. She was focusing on her work and really trying hard to do her work and it was paying off. Whenever my kids are having a great day and really doing well I tell them that they are "On fire!" So because this student was doing so well I of course told her that she was "On fire!" She went back to her desk and a few minutes later I heard her talking with the other boy who is in the first grade with her. She was trying to help him with his work by explaining how to do one of the activities that they were working on. After a couple of minutes of trying to help him she came to my desk and looked me in the eye and said in a very serious voice, "Mrs. Helena, he is not on fire today." I almost burst out laughing but instead I asked her to call him over because maybe I could try and help him.

"Mrs. Helena, guess what?" asked one of my six year olds. "You saw a purple hippopotamus." I guessed. "No." He answered with a smile. "I stayed up to midnight last night!" he exclaimed as proud as he could be! Needless to say I was not nearly as proud and wondering now what kind of day I was going to have. A couple of hours later, he came back to my desk, "Mrs. Helena, I am tired!"

It is towards the end of the day and several of my younger students were in the library room reading quietly together. They were being so quiet that I had almost forgotten that they were down there. Pretty soon, I heard sweet little voices coming from the library room singing quite loudly "London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my FAIR LADY!!!" They then went on to sing "Baaa Baaa Black Sheep" and "Mary had a Little Lamb". So I went down the hall to see what was going on and two of my three students who were in there had a book between them that had these songs in them and they were "reading" and singing at the same time. Their faces were so happy and they were having such a great time I couldn't make them stop. 

A few weeks ago one of my little boys came up to my desk singing, "I roll up, I roll up." He had stuck a pencil behind his ear as he danced over to me. " I am Mr. Daniel." He explained to me as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

I thought that it would be a good idea to have my students write Mr. Daniel a letter. I figured that it would be a good way to practice writing in English, also letter writing is a good skill to have and to practice not to mention that Mr. Daniel would really love to get letters from the kids. I asked one my first graders what he was going to write in his letter. "I am going to ask Mr. Daniel why he dances in school." That was not what I was expecting to hear at all! "You are going to ask him what?" I asked again, thinking IJ must have misunderstood. "I want to ask him why he dances in school, because you say that the classroom is not where you should dance but Mr. Daniel used to dance in the classroom, so I want to ask him why?" Well, I couldn't really argue with that, I guess. I did try to explain to him that I don't want him dancing in the classroom because he bumps into people and or their desks and he might hurt himself. He seemed to understand that but he still asked Mr. Daniel anyway...Daniel just laughed and laughed...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Long, Long Overdue Update

The first thing that I must do is apologize for not updating this blog for so long! I just realized that the last time that I posted anything was May! I am so sorry. There have been some major events going on in my life since then so I will do my best to keep it brief but get you all caught up.
The biggest event of all is that I got married in August to an MAF pilot, Brent Mudde, who lives and works here in Angola. (I don't' know if any of you noticed the name change or not:) .) We have been in and out of each others lives since 2004 when he first arrived in Lubango and moved in across the street from me and my family. Since then he has remained a close friend of the family but last March we began dating and in May got engaged. We were married the beginning of August in Greensboro, North Carolina at my home church. It was such a special day, surrounded by family and many friends! We feel so blessed that the Lord made our day so special for us.
Another major event is that I have changed mission organizations. Brent is with a mission organization called Mission Aviation Fellowship and it seemed to make sense that I join his mission instead of both of usbeing part of different missions when we ultimately have the same goal of furthering the Kingdom. So in July I officially joined MAF. Brent was due for his home assignment in August and it seemed a perfect time for me to go with and meet his friends and supporters as well as for him to meet mine. So we spent from mid-August to mid-November in the United States and Canada traveling around and meeting with as many friends and supporters as we could. Once again the Lord made it a wonderful time of refreshment as well as encouragement as we met and talked with people who are excited about His work all over the world. I think at times we can get so busy with just every day life that we forget that we are part of a bigger picture and that there are people all over the world who are excited and are doing their part with you. So thank you so much if you are one of this people! Whenever I feel overwhelmed by life
and work and I remember that you are there with me, praying and encouraging me along! You mean a lot to me!

My younger brother Daniel, came out to Angola
to fill in at school for me. He had just graduated in May and was looking for something to do. So he very graciously said that he would fill in for me for a few months while we were in North America. He did a fantastic job and the students and their parents all loved him. He went back to the States in January to see what the Lord has for him next. My students and I are all praying that the Lord will call him back here!

Brent and I arrived back home to our "new home" in Lubango in November. Brent before we left in July, worked on renovating our house that was right next door to his old house. He made the living almost double the size but he only had time to move his stuff in before we left. So when we arrived back we finally got to set up the house like we wanted.

In December we had to move from our classroom at the seminary because they needed it back for a previous contract. Fortunately there was an empty house at Mitcha, the missionary gated community that we live on, so I asked if we could rent that for a school. It needed to be cleaned up and a new paint job but nothing that was really that serious. We obtained permission to rent it and spent the we-
ek between Christmas and New Years painting and cleaning and building shelves and moving so that we could be ready to start school January 9th.

There was an old shipping container here on the compound that was full of all kinds of books and magazines. However the container was very rusty and musty and had holes in it so it was leaking. It also was home to several mouse and rat communities! Needless to say many of the books were ruined however we were able to save quite a few! Brent took apart all the shelves that were in the container and moved them to the new school that now has four rooms, three of which are classrooms and one that is a library room. It is such a blessing to have shelves and not have to have books in boxes anymore. The compound manager was able to find all the old furniture from the old school
house and he moved it all to the new school so we did not have to buy desks and tables, which of course was a huge help as it seems that everything here costs a lot of money!

School started on the 9th of January with 15 students and a couple new faces in those 15. The students were all very excited to be in a new location. I am pretty sure that most of them have never seen so many books in one place before! So learning how to take care of books is one of the most important lessons we are learning. It never occurred to me that I would have to teach children who are 2nd and 3rd grade how to put books away on a shelf! They all love to come to school each morning and are excited about learning not just their school work but also during our class devotion time. They are all engaged and asking questions and they all want their own turn to pray each and every day! Absolutely thrilling! The children are also very excited by the fact that now they have swimming lessons once a week with Brent! Brent is also helping my high school boys with their science course.

Our biggest need at the moment is another teacher. I have new parents coming to me each week asking if I couldn't possibly find space for their child in the school. However I am very much at my maximum capacity. I can't take on any more students but at the same time I don't want to miss out on help these children and their parents. So if you could please pray with us about staffing and what our next steps should be to grow that would be very much appreciated.

Once again, I apologize for taking so long to update you all.
Thank you so much for all your prayers! They are most certainly not unappreciated!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reading a story

Our recent trip to the zoo

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,

“Miss Helena, can I pray today?” asked Marson (one of my five year old boys) as we have just finished reading our Bible story and I usually end that time of our day with a prayer.

“Of course you may pray, Marson.” I answer, more than a little surprised. We all bow our heads and wait in expectancy. I am expecting Marson to pray in Portuguese.

“Dear Jesus, thank you for Miss Helena. Thank you for Honey, Thank

you for Kiara, Thank you for …” My heart is pounding as he prays entirely in English and thanks Jesus for each of his classmates! It was so thrilling! I wish that you all could have been there to see it personally. Since then several other students have been asking to pray and for the most part they each pray in English, sometimes it is a mix of English and Portuguese.

These last few weeks have been in

credibly busy and tiring but also incredibly

rewarding. The students are all making lots of growth and progress in their academic work, their language and also their personal growth. I have been blessed by having a friend and colleague who is a MAF Canada pilot come once a week to do a “Science Group” with my four boys who are doing the eighth grade. He goes over what the boys have read during the week and then they go out and do some experiments and experience the scienc

e. It has been wonderful for the boys because not only are they learning but they are also talking more and practicing their language skills. It is so thrilling to see how excited they are about what they are learning and applying it themselves.

At the beginning of March we were informed that we would most likely have to move from our classroom at ISTEL because they would be need it for a university that had requested it several years before but ha

dn’t started yet. So I spent the month trying to find other options and figure out another solution. Two days before the end of the month I receive a message from the director of ISTEL that says not to worry we can have the classroom until December! It was such a huge relief and an answer to prayer. However we are fast outgrowing our space so I am continuing to look for a new place and I am also discussing with the church leaders about maybe building a school. I would really appreciate your prayers as we seek the Lord’s guidance in this matter.

Looking Ahead…

Our biggest challenge is finding a new space by at least December.

Our goal is to finish our scholastic year by mid-August so the students have lots of work to do in order to reach this goal. Please pray for the students as they work hard to finish and that the Lord would continue to work in their lives.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. It means so much to me and the students. I know that I could not be here doing what I am doing without you all.

In Him,

Helena Foster Fabiano


Phone number: +244936896649

Mailing Address: C/O UIEA

CP 33

Lubango, Angola


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some More Little Bites

A conversation that I overheard on the playground between my one five year-old boy and my other five year year-old boy…

Boy A: You date don’t you?

Boy B: No, I don’t date. I just have lots of girls who like me. It’s just my life. You wouldn’t understand.

Boy A: Oh, okay.

Then both boys run off to play on the swings with the rest of the young kids, who are all girls!

This happened a few months ago but it cracked me up so I thought I would share.

We had been in school almost a month and the kids were in a pretty good routine about what to do after break: put your bag at your desk, line up at the door, go the bathroom, wash your hands, line up at the door again to get your little squirt of hand sanitizer and then go in the classroom and either go to your desk and get to work or get a game or a puzzle out.

I only have two or three young boys and they were done in the bathroom quickly and were back in the classroom. I was at the door making sure that the girls were doing what they were supposed to so I had my back turned for about a minute. I all of a sudden noticed that it had gotten remarkably quiet without any reminders from me about what volume our voices should be when we are inside. So I turned around and what should I see but one of my five-year olds with his shirt off trying to do push-ups in the middle of the floor!!!

My first reaction was to laugh but I managed to curb that and tell him to get up and put his shirt back on and go to his desk to start the work that I had set out for him. After a little bit I went to him and asked what he thought he was doing in my classroom without a shirt on. He told me that he couldn’t possibly exercise with his shirt on and he had to show his friends how to do push-ups!

The other day it was just me and my older kids and I mentioned a song that had been playing in my car when the baby was born in the back seat. I happened to look at my fourteen year-old boys face right when I said “…the baby was born in the back seat of my car…” and he made the most disgusted face that you can imagine! I hadn’t realized that it would be quite so traumatic for him to hear about it!

We received a new student when we came back to school at the end of January, a little girl who just turned four. We had only been in school a couple of weeks and the classroom was pretty quiet (a rarity around here) when all of a sudden I noticed that someone was humming the theme from Star Wars. I looked at all of my older students and they were all hard at work and not humming. So then I looked at my little girl and sure enough she was lying on her stomach putting a puzzle together and humming away to herself. I don’t know where she heard it but she had it exactly right and then I spent the rest of the day with the song going around and around in my head.

Yesterday, I was working with my one kindergarten girl and I asked her how her weekend had gone and if she had done anything exciting. Without blinking an eye she looked at me and said that she had a good weekend but that they had a wolf come to their house.

I said, “Oh, really? What happened when he came to your house?”

“He blew our house down.” She stated rather matter-of-factly.

“He blew your house down? Oh no! That is terrible.” I answered her.

“Yeah, and then he bit my father on the leg, my mother on the leg and then me on the elbow!” she exclaimed; now really getting into her story.

“When did he do all this?” I asked.

“While we were napping.” She said.

“Wow, it sounds like you had quite the weekend!” I told her.

“Yes, I did and then a monkey came and knitted us all trousers.” She told me.

“A monkey? A monkey knitted you trousers?” I asked, trying to keep a straight face but not really succeeding very well.

“Oh yes, he didn’t have a bed at his house or any toys so he came to our house.” Was the explanation that was given as if she couldn’t understand why I hadn’t thought of that because what other possible explanation could there be!

I had to end the conversation there because it was getting too hard to keep a straight face, but the next few months should be very interesting. I can’t wait to hear what is going to have happened this next weekend..