What an amazing day! It started early, way too early for me who stayed up late with the teenagers for the third night in a row, but I coped. We met at the Jubilee Centre for morning devotions at 8am where I shared Luke 5:12-13 about the leper who Jesus healed. These verses have really spoken to me whilst I've been in Zambia; it's about the willingness of God's people to enact change and go where needed for good, and it's about the open asking for help and trust that it will be fulfilled. We then spent the day in a community school run by Bread of Life church in Mapalo; which reinforced all the passage again.
We had absolutely no idea what we would see or do at the school today and I could never have dreamed how amazing it would be. We spent two hours going round each of the five classes allowed to do whatever we liked with them.
We started in Grade 6 where they were having a maths lesson about how to calculate the Area and Perimeter of a rectangle. The kids were shown an example and then were set a problem to complete themselves. We were thrilled to see that the kids had exercise books and pencils or pens; and we were amazed by how neat and careful their handwriting is. I asked the teacher whether we could help and he let me mark the text books which the kids lived; for a few minutes I was a superstar who they wanted the signature of. I then asked if I could get them to do something practical to explain the learning to the kids and he jumped at the chance. It was a good job there were six of us available because there were 70 kids in that grade (aged between 8 and 18 years). We got then into groups of six and gave them string and rulers to measure the dimensions of a desk and calculate the area and perimeter. They adored this challenge, you could see the enthusiasm they had for learning anyway, but this was Practical and a lot of fun. To conclude I told them they could now all solve Zambia's hunger because with these skills they could buy a plot of land, calculate its area and work out how many seeds to plant; they loved that.
After half an hour it was time to visit Grades 4&5 where we sang songs woth the kids, accompanied by the saxophone, received songs from them and talked about our lives. We tried to explain where England was but completely forgot we had inflatable globes with us; something to leave with the Jubilee Centre staff for them to give to schools.
By this time school had officially finished but all the kids wanted to see us and weren't worried about going home, so we headed to Grade 2. Most kids were aged 7 and 8 in this grade and this was the class that Rachel and Lynette's class will become pen-pals with. Another 60 kids were here so we broke them into groups. The first 10 received the numbers made by a school in REinspired; the next 26 received their letters, lots of gifts to decorate their classroom The rest made streamers to decorate their classroom even further. It was a huge amount of fun and it's amazing to take photos back to the UK to the kids who provided the decorations.
We thought that was the youngest class, but we were then taken go see the four to six year olds in Grade 1. Here we told the story of Jesus and children and gave the kids pictures if children to stick on a poster and crayons to colour it in. Ten kids at a time got to do this with Lynette while others of us played and sang and chatted to the kids who were waiting.
You may have wondered what happened to Grade 3; we did, buy they arrived from the church into a classroom and we sang with then and taught them a song they sing at Rachel's school. It was a fantastic joy to share with them.
Lynette and Rachel's teacher had made a pack of postcards from each child in their class to give to a class here. The kids drew themselves and wrote their names and ages and hobby on each card. With a photo of the class on the front they were made into a book for the school at the Bread of Life. We asked the teachers to select 30 of the grade 2 class kids and Lynette read them the postcards and helped them make their own to go back to the school. Right there and then a link has been made between 30 English and 30 Zambia children; what a joy for our kids and what an inspiration for the kids we met.
The head teacher, who is also the leader of the choir at the church; told us that no one has ever visited their school or offered to write to the kids; she was so happy for this to be happening. She was also blown away by the gifts of crayons, paper, toys, rulers, pencils, games and other things we had brought. She told us that this was a huge encouragement for them and would make a massive difference to the teachers and children.
Over a cold drink and biscuit at 2pm we managed to have time with the teachers and this was when we were truly humbled. These teachers are ALL volunteers; teaching the next generation purely out of passion for them and hope for their future. They are amazing women and men who see a need in their community and make it happen; what a lesson for us all.
Never has scripture felt so real, alive and relevant; thank you God.