Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Reading Program

The girls love books! They love to read, they love to be read to, they love to pretend they can read and make up stories for the pictures...

Those who can read LOVE these books:

They are chapter books about a little girl in preschool who gets into allot of mischief. The girls would sit there reading and suddenly burst out laughing. I decided to see what was so funny, so I started reading them to the little girls. And those girls sat through the entire 2 hours, listening and laughing through these books!
Those who cannot yet read are well on their way. One of the girls (who is in third grade, and 9 years old, but still didn't even recognize the letters of the alphabet) just put all the letters of the alphabet in order with some cards at her counseling appointment! The tia is charge of the reading program was sooo excited to tell me that! She should be proud because she is the one who taught Mira the alphabet. 

Playing Memory is a good game to help prepare to learn to read. You learn to recognize and memorize. 

I was on Renee's blog again (http://bakersdozen.typepad.com) and came across another idea which I adapted with what I have. She has these Montessori sandpaper letter cards. Each letter of the alphabet was made from sand paper, and the idea was for the child to use his index and middle finger (the two fingers you use to hold a pencil) and trace the letter while saying the sound that letter makes ("Buh" for B). So smart!

I printed off some letter cards on card stock:

Then I colored them in (in the same colors as the alphabet chart I made so they could see for example, the red Aa just like on the chart, or the blue Pp, etc.). I don't have sand paper here, but I did have some glitter glue I brought for  card making. So I carefully put the glue on each of the letters, and let dry. Then I had the idea of writing the letter in the corner along with the lower case or upper case equal, to help them know it goes together. They turned out really cute:

I hope this helps put the letters and sounds in their memory! In my opinion, once they know the alphabet, teaching them to read is a piece of cake. It's trying to teach them the letters that is hard! In the schools they are taught by repetition. The teacher shouts "A!" and the kids repeat "A!". The teacher shouts "E!" and the kids repeat "E!". So they can say all the letters, but if you put the letters in front of them and ask them to find the letter "S" they look at you clueless. It's hard, but I know God is giving us ideas and we are already seeing them "getting it". 

Teatime Treats

Before coming to Mozambique, my little siblings and I started a tradition of having a Valentine's Day tea party. We invited some friends from church, and would all dress in red and pink, and make heart shaped scones, and salad, and of course yummy desserts. One of those is from the wonderful "American Girls Party Book". It was part of Samantha's tea party:

I wanted to make a special snack for the girl's for Valentine's Day, so we pulled out the party book, and made heart shaped 'jam tart cookies'.
First you mix together the ingredients (we made a double batch). Aidinha will show you how:

Roll the dough into little balls, and press your thumb in the cookies twice to make a V shape (heart shapes). Fill the hearts with strawberry jam.
I love how the girls were sooo very careful with this part:

Bake them in the oven, arrange them pretty on a tray, and serve them to your friends! (in our case, the 47 other girls in their dorm)

Serina and Aidinha did a fabulous job. They really did the whole thing themselves, all I did was tell them what to do, and make an example. After dinner they passed the cookies out to each of the girls.

As we baked Serina was saying how she made a cake with her mom once (her mother died). She said, "I learned from my mom how to make cake. Now I learn from Mana Anna how to make cookies!" It is a privilege to mother the girls whose mothers have died. To carry on that role in their lives. I know her mama would be proud of her!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Quality time in the kitchen

I am always trying to find ways to have quality time with the girls. Sometimes it is easier to just do things myself, but just to ask a few girls to come help me gives them the opportunity to learn, and for us to have quality time together. With 50 girls in the dorm, it's not always easy to spread out quality time with each one. This week I had some things to do in the kitchen so I invited a couple of girls in, and they had a blast.
Making and Baking a chocolate cake:
Mana Cheila is 25, and has lived in the girls dorm for about 10 years. She is handicapped, and used to run away to the streets. She has settled down so much, and hasn't run away in over a year. She's very sweet. Rosa, age 2, is not in school yet, so when all the girls went to school, I invited Mana Cheila and Rosa to come help me make a cake (for the wedding, see a few posts back). We measured out each ingredient and they took turns dumping them in, and mixing.

The finished cake! And 2 very happy bakers!
This is the first time I ever got Rosa to smile for the camera.
And a brag moment, my sweet little Rosa can now count to ten on her fingers, and when I asked her "How old are you Rosa?" she responds "I'm two!" in her sweet munchkin voice, and holds up two fingers. I'm so proud of her!

Friday Night Snack:

Every Friday night I do snack and movie night in the girls dorm. I usually give them something healthy (hard boiled eggs, pop corn, fruit, peanut butter). Sometimes I make them cookies or cupcakes. Last week Eliza and Fatima (2 of the new girls) helped me prepare peanut butter on crackers for all the girls. They were so impressed with out kitchen. Refrigerators, a stove and oven, plates, cups, silverware. "Mana Anna, you have everything in this kitchen! Plates, cups! You thought of everything!" is what Eliza exclaimed when she walked into our kitchen and took a look around her. Fatima pointed to an apple on one of the other missionaries shelves and said, "You even have an apple in here!" :-)
Now compared to America, our kitchen is pretty basic. I mean we just got our first counter top put in, and have been surviving for a few years without a counter. But these girls have probably only ever seen a cooking pot over a wood fire, and a few mismatched plates to eat off of! They both came from pretty poor circumstances. It was a reminder to me where they come from, and how much it is for them to take in all that we have here! Even having beds, instead of sleeping on grass mats on the floor must be a big deal to them.
They spread peanut butter on 50 crackers, and even washed up the plates and knives afterwards.

Sometimes I can get really busy doing "good things", but neglect the whole point I am here. To be a mother to these precious girls, and to give them God's love. God has been reminding me to take time to create special moments for the girls. And as I bless them, I feel so blessed!

Mail for Me!! Yippee!!

I am a very lucky girl, I am. A friend came back from a trip to South Africa the other day, and had brought back my mail. LOTS of mail. Lots of very good mail. My brother and sister-in-law sent me a package for Christmas!! Woo hoo!!

Here I am with the picture they sent me, Bethany and Gregory! 
(I miss you guys)

Oh how fun, everything was wrapped. I got to unwrap each gift, it was Christmas all over for me!:-)

I got 2 boxes of candy canes (it's been like 3 years since I have had candy canes I think), some rug yarn for crocheting dish cloths (something I love to do), pretty note cards with fancy envelopes, really pretty silver earings, and a silver cross necklace with foot prints on the front, and the back says in tiny letters "It was then that I carried you". The card attached has the poem about foot prints in the sand. And last, and definitely not least, peppermint crunch bark! Oh my goodness, savor every moment of the flavor of Christmas on my tongue... YUM YUM YUM!
Thanks so much Greg and Bethany for sending me this package!

Also in the mail I received 12 letters from my mom, and an envelope full of letters from my dear friend Jessica! 
I am so loved...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The importance of marriage

(First of all, this was not my original idea. It came from my friend Laura who lives here and is responsible for a dorm of 5-10 year old boys. You can check out her blog at http://clearlyliving.blogspot.com . Thank you for your creativity Laura!) 

That is the topic we are about to cover in discipleship with the older girls.
Being pure in God, living lives to glorify the Lord, becoming pure through His cleansing us and molding us into His likeness.
To start off our topic, Rachel and I decided to have a wedding, and clear up a common misconception here, that once you have kids together, you are considered husband and wife. Never mind the marriage, the covenant before God.
     In Mozambique, in order to get married, most couples of many expenses to consider. The groom will have to pay the "Lobola" (the bridal price, set by the Father of the bride). This could include several crates of refrescos (pop/soda), money, cows or goats, and capalanas (the traditional fabric here, used as wrap skirts, baby slings, blankets, and many other uses). They will also have to afford a wedding, and a celebration feast. The feast will not just be for the wedding guests, but any neighbors or people that want to come could show up and must be fed! Because of lack of money, often people just live together, sometimes for many, many years, but never make the important commitment of getting married.
       We had a wedding to explain what marriage is, and the significance of different parts of the wedding. 
Please join us for the wedding ceremony!...

Fiona and Dito were our pretend Bride and Groom!
They did a fantastic job. Fiona borrowed a real wedding dress, and Dito wore a tie and dress shoes!

Some of the wedding guests (i.e. the girl's discipleship group).
They LOVED the wedding, and participated in singing and making it a real African celebration!

Dito presented the Lobola to Fiona's "father", Estevao. Age 6. 
We asked if he approved of Dito marrying his daughter, and he said Yes. What a relief!

Fiona and Estevao, waiting for Dito to present the Lobola.

They exchanged rings, said their vows, cut the cake, and everyone had cake and punch to celebrate! 
Dito made sure the girls understood this was NOT a real wedding, and they were NOT really married! :-)

"But for Adam no suitable helper was found...
then God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man,
and He brought her to the man...
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother
and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
Parts of Genesis 2:20, 22, 24