a blog for the summer missions training team from Bethel Baptist Church

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bridget's Bunia Blog 44

From my desk at the window of the library I could hear someone singing "She's a young thing and cannot leave her mother". How gratifying. The lyrics and melody had been absorbed and reproduced. Success. It was the latest song in the Tuesday morning folk singing repertoire.

Every Tuesday morning the resident native speaker-singer tootles on her recorder to teach folk songs to the student teachers in the hope that they in their turn will teach them to their secondary school pupils.

Much has been written in EFL literature about the value of using songs to teach English as a foreign language. Some teachers still think it's a waste of time, too difficult or inappropriate - particularly in a western classroom. But it finds a natural setting in a Congolese classroom where everyone sings unashamedly and many compose songs weekly.

So the Congolese were learning about Billy Boy seeking a wife in the pioneer days of the USA. Appropriate? I had originally used it to accompany a text on marriage when teaching the 6th year class at Institut Luru at Rethy. We had extended it to express the cultural values when wife-spotting in Congo, arriving at two verses that have survived the loss of my pre-war teaching materials:

Can she receive guests?
Yes, she can receive guests. It's the thing she does the best.

Can she dig a field?
Yes, she can dig a field and she always gets good yields.

OK, it's rather sexist to teach such a song but with a 90% male student body we survive the political incorrectness.

The 'Pioneer Unit' includes 'When I First Came to this Land' - great for rhymes and idioms; 'She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain' - for concord of tenses to express future action; 'Home on the Range' to accompany a 4th year text 'The Elephant Hunt' (Now, that's political incorrectness!).

Ideas for additions to the repertoire come from various sources. A mobile phone rings in class. Annoying. But the ring tone is one that can be exploited: 'Oh, my darling, Clementine'. A Bible Interpretation class studying the vision of Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones brings 'Dem bones, dem bones,' tapping to my toes. Great for body parts vocabulary along with 'Head and Shoulders' and 'If you're Happy and You Know It'.

The canon 'I Hear Thunder' accompanies Lesson 14 'A Storm in the Country'. The spirituals 'Standing in the Need of Prayer' and 'He's Got the Whole World in his Hands' are useful for the names of family members. Wanting to teach the names of animals? 'Old MacDonald had a Farm' and 'I Know an Old Lady' are good fun.

So I introduce songs as vehicles for teaching vocabulary, phonetics, grammar, rhymes, idioms, natural language, subject matter that relates to the lesson content, and culture of English-speaking societies. It doesn't necessarily hasten to school my 5-voice quorum, but even if we start late, the students enjoy the musical hall experience. It does stretch my theology a little when the students thank the Lord for the nice experience of learning folk songs and the opportunity to praise him!

But by far the best experience was teaching a spiritual to close a 3-hour Bible class on the Pentateuch on a Friday afternoon. 'Go Down, Moses' became a slow, plaintive, black male-voice choir in 4-part harmony. It could have been the genuine article. The tune still haunts us.

"Are any among you in trouble? They should pray. Are any among you happy? They should sing praises." James 5:13



Sunday, May 20, 2007


English teacher at the Institut Supérieur Pédagogique in Bunia, which prepares students to teach at secondary schools run by the CECA-20, AIM's partner church in Congo. She first went to Congo when the country was still called Zaïre to work as a teacher at Rethy Academy, where all of Gregg's children were students.

She is a regular blogger whose anecdotes and insights have been posted here to get a feel for daily life in Bunia.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Continuous Revival (Cups Running Over)

Remember that we have been (slowly but surely) studying our way through the concept of “continuous revival”. First we adopted the definition that REVIVAL is simply the re-viving of dead areas in our lives—bringing to the light areas in our lives where we have come face to face with sin unobserved before and bringing them to the cleansing blood. We began with the idea that rather than placing the emphasis on the ‘big’ moments of decision, that we would need to focus on our day-to-day WALK. Then we spent a great deal of time (the last two months, indeed) looking at the concept of walking in BROKENNESS, which is expressed in the heart to God and by the mouth before men.

We will now turn to the first chapter of John’s first epistle to lead us further in this walking. Verse 3 speaks at the beginning of a two-way fellowship, “so that you too may have fellowship with us,” and “indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Then it goes on in verse 4 to say that he writes to us “so that our joy may be complete.” Fullness of joy is to characterize this daily walk. Or as David said in Psalm 23, “my cup overflows,” not only full, but running over! And this brings us to our third major point. Walking with Jesus, brokenness, and now CUPS RUNNING OVER.

We all can recognize that as a beautiful description of the abiding presence of Jesus in the heart, His peace, joy and presence filling us to overflowing, with no shadow between. We can see the clear sparkling water of life welling up within and flowing over the thirsty souls around through look, and word, and deed. But here comes the point of it in this message of revival. We are to recognize that “cups running over” is the NORMAL daily experience of the believer walking with Jesus, not the abnormal or occasional, but the normal, continuous experience. But that just isn't so in the lives of practically all of us. Those cups running over get pretty muddled up; other things besides the joy of the Lord flow out of us. We are often much more conscious of emptiness, or dryness, or hardness, or disturbance, or fear, or worry than we are of the fullness of His presence and overflowing joy and peace. And now comes the point.

What stops that moment-by-moment flow? The answer is only one—Sin. But we by no means usually accept or recognize that. We have many other more convenient names for those disturbances of heart. We say it is nerves that cause us to speak impatiently—not sin. We say it is tiredness that causes us to speak the sharp word at home—not sin. We say it is the pressure of work which causes us to lose our peace, get worried, act or speak hastily—not sin. We say it is our difficult or hurtful neighbor who causes us resentment or dislike, or even hate—but not sin. Anything but sin. We go to psychiatrists or psychologists to get inner problems unravelled—tension, strain, disquiet, dispeace—but anything which causes the cups to cease running over is SIN.

What proof have we of that statement? Quite a simple one. What are “cups running over”? Of course, the Spirit witnessing to Jesus in the heart. He is our peace, joy, life, all, and it is the Spirit’s work never to cease witnessing to Him within us. What then can stop the Spirit’s witness? Can nerves, or tiredness, or pressure of circumstances, or difficult people? Paul’s cry was, “Who or what can separate me from the love of God? Can tribulation or persecution or things present or things to come? No!” he says. Only one thing separates us from Him—“your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” Thank God, the great separation has been replaced by reunion with Him at Calvary, but still the daily incursions of sin in the heart bring about the temporary separation from the sense of His presence; we all know that. The cups do not run over.

Now this is an exceedingly important point. By far the largest number of us, including myself, have not been accustomed to regard it as some form of sin if the cups cease to run over, and that is just why they do not quickly start running over again; for where sin is seen to be sin and confessed as such, the blood is also seen to be the blood, praise God, ever cleansing from all unrighteousness; and where the blood cleanses the Spirit always witnesses—and the cups run over again. But the blood never cleanses excuses—sin called by some more polite name!


Memory Verses (Cups Running Over)

Here is the third set of verses to work on for the meeting on Saturday, 02 June:

  • Psalm 23:1-6
    “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
    He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
    You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
    Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

  • Isaiah 59:2
    “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

  • John 4:13-14
    Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bridget's Bunia Blog 43

What is teaching?

The students seem to think it's a stage play and they are the actors. They come to the classroom stage with their carefully prepared script of a lesson plan: 'Teacher asks pupil such and such...' 'Pupil answers such and such...' But the pupils don't have a copy of the script! The students expect to execute a clear, non-interrupted presentation from the time of the curtain-rising bell to the time of the curtain-falling bell, and even if they don't receive applause at the end of their performance, they don't expect catcalls to follow their exit from the classroom. Gradually, these students are being disabused of this notion. They are learning that a teacher cannot stay distanced from the audience, and that the audience has a mind of its own.

No, teaching is more like going on a journey through a forest. You have to be at a destination by a certain time but apart from that certainty nothing is definite. You're taking some teenagers on a journey. Teenagers who are reluctant, bored, listless or - joy of joys - enthusiastic and focused. Sometimes they take you on trails where you get lost and it's time-consuming to find your way back to the main path. Sometimes they want to stop and examine the flora and fauna. Sometimes they find notices nailed to trees that they don't understand. As the journey leader, you have to keep moving them along the path to the destination while making sense of their questions and comments. But sometimes it's they who teach you things; they surprise you with their perception and knowledge; it's they who get you back from digressions.

Every Thursday morning I wake up with the lightness of knowing that I don't have to teach morning classes. All I have to do is observe four students teaching an English lesson. But at the end of every Thursday I'm wrung out from the emotional energy expended as I wince at wrong pronunciation, or cringe at strange understandings of English grammar, or agonise over an inadequately constructed lesson. It’s a stressful, painful experience observing a non-native speaker teach your mother tongue. It's an ordeal for us all but it’s the only way that the student teachers will be able to translate the theory into practice.

Three down and one to go. We have a break of an hour before the final lesson (performance? journey?) of the morning. The staff room of this school is very small and we are eight students and one supervisor. My house is a three-minute walk away. So we repair to the house for refreshments and feedback: How do you feel your lesson went? What have you learned? What did the pupils learn? What comments have the other students to make? The students are critical of the transgressions and omissions of their fellow students, but they're also kind in their encouragement of the other members of their teaching team.

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4: 2



Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Medical Requirements

  • Yellow fever is a viral disease against which it is required all travellers to the Democratic Republic of Congo be immunized. You will need to get a shot from an authorized provider, such as Passport Health (see contact details below).
  • Malaria is an infectious disease which can often be prevented with personal protection measures and medications such as doxycycline. You will need to get a prescription for this from either your personal physical (less likely) or during your visit to Passport Health (more likely).
*In the event that the funds received for this trip exceed the costs incurred in course of regular ministry, you may submit your expenses for these two only for potential partial reimbursement.

The travel doctor will tell you all about all the diseases which you might catch, and will want you to get shots for everything on the list, including Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Rabies, and Cooties. This is a decision that you should make with your parents, your primary care physicians, and/or the people who pay for your health care.
*None of these extra vaccinations will be reimbursable unless the CDC deems them required for travel.

You should be up-to-date on all your regularly scheduled vaccinations (See the schedule for adults and the schedule for children.)
*None of these vaccinations will be reimbursable in any event.

Passport Health
  • 620 Stanton Christiana
    Metroform Medical Complex - Ste 101
    Newark, DE 19713
  • 2002 Foulk Road Office Plaza
    Wilmington, DE 19805
  • Phone: (302) 633-5782

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