Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ecuador Day 16: The Fourth Day of Classes

Today has been a very long day. We had to be at the Seminary by 9:00 because Karen had a meeting and Cindy had to meet with a couple of students in the class. I spent the time going through a large stack of books for the seminary library that needed call numbers looked up for them. I made a spread sheet of all of the books I needed to look up so I could actually look them up once I had some time and access to an internet connection. There's about 60 books that will be added to the collection. Some of them looked fairly interesting. Unfortunately, I couldn't read them since my knowledge of Spanish leaves a great deal to be desired.

Jon Lambert grading homework

Once I had plowed through all of the books, I finished re-reading over the material I was planning to teach today. This has been the first time that I've had to write new lectures for every class time. At the museum and at the zoo, I had a limited amount of material I could teach. That's because there's only so many science demonstration we could do at the museum, and there's only so many animals in the education collection at the zoo. Granted, I was continually teaching different programs, but they were mainly variations on a theme. It's been fun to research different topics and then be able to teach on them. There's certainly more variety this way. It's also a much more work. I'm just thankful I've had good classes on the subjects I'm teaching, and have good written resources to consult. It's made the going much easier.

After this, I still had some time to kill, so I went downstairs to see how Cindy and her shoe sorting were going.
Mariano, one of our students. This man truly has a servant's heart

Last week, we had picked up the 346 pairs of shoes she had raised the money to purchase.

Karen had put together a list of how many pairs of shoes we would be sending to each church, so now the shoes needed to be sorted by size and then by church. This took Cindy, Mariano, and Rodrigo more than an hour to do. I was quite impressed at how quickly they had accomplished their task.

Finally it was time to head back to the house to eat and change clothes for the upcoming classes. We ate lunch quickly enough that I even had time to take a power nap before class. I went to bed earlier last night than I had in quite a while, but I was still exhausted when I got up. I'm going to chalk it up to the thinner air up here, but that's really just an excuse. It's a good one though.

Cindy and a giant stack of shoes

My lecture today was on Jehovah's Witness. This is the one I was the most nervous about. The reason for this is that it is a tricky religion. They use Scripture so much, and their arguments are so polished that they can really pull you in if you're not well grounded in your own beliefs. It's not a terribly big religion here, but they're growing faster outside the US than they are in it.

I feel like it went fairly well. The students did have a couple of questions I did not have an answer to. One student was able to answer a question because she has friends who are Jehovah's Witness and she's even been to a party they hosted. I was surprised when she said they served quite a bit of alcohol there. It did show me that they have made it here though, and that they may be growing.

One problem I ran into today is that we've now gone through all of the material I had planned to cover, and even a bit that I hadn't. I realized during the first day of class that this might happen, so I had been looking for something to do on the last day. I found an article written by Watchtower that list six "myths" of Christianity and why Jehovah's Witnesses believe we're wrong. Luckily, they've also published it in Spanish, so we're going to go through that tomorrow and see how students would respond to this, and why they disagree with the arguments made in the article. I hope that they find it's helpful.

I sat in on Cindy's class again tonight. She finished up talking about conflict resolution and started on addictions. This will be probably the longest section she'll teach on. It seemed to really hit a lot of the students close to home because many of them have friends and family members who are addicted to something—many to alcohol. In fact, almost every one of our pastors sitting in here were raised in a family where at least one parent was an alcoholic. It is very prevalent here. After class, Cindy spent at least 45 minutes answering questions and then talking with one student.

During this time, I sat in the library and was reading a book on my iPod. Mariano came in and asked me about it. He knows some English, and I know a little bit of Spanish so we can communicate somewhat. We spent almost the whole time listening to music on my computer and looking at pictures of his family on his phone. We mainly listened to Fernando Ortega because he has some songs in Spanish. Mariano told me that he loves music, but he's not a fan of television. He said one of his favorite things is to sing at church. It was so sweet and interesting to see what really speaks to him. He has a son named Jericho who is just two months on. He's very cute. He also showed me pictures of his older children, two of which are attending seminary this week. I recognized them, but had not realized that they were his children. I got to see pictures of his class at school and his teachers. He's working on finishing high school. He takes classes in the evening. I really admire him for working so hard. Having his high school degree will allow him to get a better job in the construction field.

As he was showing me pictures, he came upon quite a few pictures of work campers. He knew some of them by name, but he kept referring to everyone of them as his brother or sister. After we looked through his pictures, I checked my computer to see if I actually had any pictures of my family. Because I've only had this computer a few months and I mainly got it for travel, I haven't put many pictures on it. I did have a few pictures of my parents, sister, and nephew. Mariano took one look at a picture of my dad and got really excited. He exclaimed that this was his brother and pastor. I knew he knew who dad was, but I had been pretty sure that he had not made a connection between us. Almost everywhere we go, Jon introduces me as the son of Pastor Jim Todd. Some people make the connection, but not everyone. Once Mariano realized who my dad is, he gave me a big hug and told me to give dad his greetings.

Spending some time talking with Mariano is definitely one of the highlights of my trip. I've been working near and with him for almost two weeks now, but this was the first time we were able to spend more than a couple of minutes communicating. He truly has a servant's heart. Serving along side him this week has truly been a pleasure. He's also been one of my biggest encourages in class this week. Even when I feel like I've given a lousy lectures, he's been encouraging.

It was about 10:00 before we made it back to the house. We sat down to eat supper and talk for a few minutes. We ended up talking and joking for more than an hour. It was a great way to blow off some steam. We certainly need it. It has been a very busy and stressful week. I did not appreciate how much work seminary is. Granted, I only had to teach one hour and fifteen minutes today, but there was always plenty of work to keep me busy. By midnight, I could barely keep my eyes open and was ready to head to bed. Tomorrow's the last day I have to teach a class!

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