I feel like I start every library article this way, but... things are really exciting in the library program. I wanted to write an article on all that is going on so that you are well-informed when I come in for furlough. I have several things to share.
1. I went with the CUDA staff to talk with the directors of the education and psychology departments about our program. My job is to model for the teachers reading comprehension strategies that they can use across the curriculum. But what I have found (among the third grade classes where I am working) is that many of the students we are serving cannot benefit from learning the strategies until they learn to read fluently. In order for the children to work on fluent reading, they need daily one-on-one attention. We went to Alas Peruanas (one of the major universities) to ask for student volunteers to come and read to students. I hope to see this paired reading program kicked off by the end of this month before I leave. The directors were excited about the opportunity, and gave us permission to advertise the need among their student body. Please pray for this program, and pray for open doors to share the gospel message with university students.
2. Along with one-on-one attention, we need to know exactly what reading level these children are on. I feel immensely blessed that God has brought a fellow missionary onto the field here in Arequipa, Neil Cantrall, who is equipped to train us in the ways of evaluating these students. Neil just recently moved here with his family. They are looking to partner with other NGO's and Christian groups where they can be used. Neil taught 4th grade reading in a bilingual setting in the US. It really does seem like God knew exactly what we lacked in the program and sent Neil our way. There really is no other way to describe it. What is even cooler is that Neil will be working with the classes and training my good friend, and sister, Nadia, in the evaluations. They are taking over for me, and they will be leading the volunteer program while I am gone. Please pray for their work, and pray for the evaluation component of the program to help us serve the students' needs even better.
3. The program has some really exciting opportunities in the near future. Greg and I will be talking to different Rotary clubs to raise awareness and initiate a discussion of applying for grant money to go toward our library program. The grant would come from an international partnership between a US chapter and a chapter here in Arequipa. For those of you that don't remember, Alfredo, the executive director of CUDA, is a past president of the Arequipa Rotary Club chapter. Pray for our presentations, and pray for open hearts of Rotarians to see the needs of the Peruvian school children that we serve.
4. I am in contact with the directors of education at both Harding University and Abilene Christian. I am scheduling times to meet with faculty and students in the area of education to plan for future internships, a possible education campaign, and just to bounce ideas off of professors that are more knowledgeable than me. I am very excited to share about the program and meet new contacts to further the good work God is doing among us. Pray for all of those things that I will be discussing.
5. And finally, working in these schools has opened a door for us to become more active in the school culture. We will be offering a series of talks on different topics for parents. Schools want to offer education to parents. We are blessed in our Peruvian church family with many who are experts in different areas. So please pray for the planning of that series, and the ones that will share with others that may have never received the opportunity otherwise. Now do you see what I mean? It is overwhelming to me to think of the potential of this program and where it is headed. God is in control, and he has blessed the work immensely. Glory to his name!
Some of you may have already been thinking this way, but something new struck me the other day. We are serving in Arequipa, trying our best to live out a holistic ministry– serving the whole person. I have reached a conclusion for one end goal of the library work. We are teaching children to read fluently. We are teaching children to use comprehension strategies to better understand and delve into texts. If those children can master those things, what can stop them from picking up a Bible and understanding the gospel story? So many Peruvian adults cannot read well or comprehend the passages we read with them. It is my deepest longing that out of this program, Peruvians will be equipped to read the Gospel message for themselves and proclaim it among their family and friends.