Sonidos Serranos

Sonidos Serranos: Sounds of the Sierras...
Reflecting some of my family's interests: God's wonderful creation (especially mountains and hills!), music, and language...

Psalm 121:1-2 (NASB)

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

26 March 2015

“Education Update”

¡Saludos! We’re enjoying the first few days of fall here in Montevideo. The weather, amazingly, dropped almost 30 degrees (Fahrenheit) from one day to the next – just in time for the “official” First Day of Fall on March 20th! And we’ve been enjoying cooler weather ever since...

Life picked up speed here in Uruguay with the start of the school year on March 2nd. This is the beginning of the second year of the (FEBU) Bible College project, so there are real challenges as we all learn. JM is teaching a music class twice a week, helping with general administration of the college, teaching a section of the Philosophy of Ministry class now and then, and co-teaching the “research writing” class with me; I teach two evenings per week. The biggest challenge continues to be the lack of resources; this semester I’m (again) having to translate (or otherwise author) the material I’m using for the writing class. (Right now, I’m especially thankful for Purdue University’s online articles!)

On the same day the college classes started, Elizabeth started 4th grade. Shes getting acclimated to the increasing demands of learning how to study on her own – in Spanish! While the road can be rather bumpy at times, I know from experience (growing up bilingual) that the benefits will eventually far outweigh the challenges.

The school year got off to a great start...

To add to the excitement, later that same first week of March, DJ started K-4 – also in Spanish and an adventure all its own! He wants to “go to school” (because he gets to paint and play with other toys and do lots of other fun things that make “school” special), but he wants Mommy to stay with him. (Sniff! Sniff!) Let’s just say that the last two weeks have been a major adjustment, interrupted (thankfully?!) with a runny nose and cough. I say “thankfully” because I see the “cold” as one of God’s ways of providing a respite for our family in this process of “adapting” to the new demands of preschool.

To give some background: In late summer, DJ was very excited about “starting school” (counting the days until March arrived), and the first three days went fine for him. However, halfway through that first full week, we ran into some very rough sailing! Thankfully, two days ago (for the first time since that first week), he did not cry when JM dropped him off. We’re hoping that this is the beginning of a new trend. We certainly would appreciate your praying specifically!

So... Why are we proceeding as we are with E’s and DJ’s education? The answer is undoubtedly rather complex! Uruguay has traditionally had a high level of education (public education included) – a fact of which they have understandably been very proud. And a recent development for those immigrating here (our family included) is the fact that the Immigration Office requires proof that all school-age children (now beginning with age 4) be enrolled in a “recognized” school.

Implications for educational institutions (both public and private) include the requirement that all teachers hold the recognized “teaching license/certification” (very similar to requirements for public schools in the USA, if I’m not mistaken). The implication our family was not expecting when we arrived in late 2013 was the fact that “homeschooling” (even with a supervised program like the Academy of Home Education offers) is not “recognized” as a viable option for meeting that educational regulation. So, at the moment at least, while we work on obtaining residency, our children have to be enrolled in “recognized” schools here. We would appreciate your specific prayers for this ongoing (and more involved than we anticipated) immigration process.

Once we reach the (more challenging!) high school years, we may look into putting together “a small private school” where families could work together, teaching some extracurricular classes but allowing each to choose their own (but obviously competitive) curriculum for the main learning. This type of idea has worked in the past (at least for expats) and may be an answer for us down the road. Or maybe we should pray for personnel (etcetera) to start a truly biblical (bilingual?) high school by 2018!

A very bright side to this whole story is that the school day here is only four hours long! Both E and DJ go only in the mornings and are home for a late lunch – a definite blessing for our family! We’re thankful, especially because JM is “on call” for the college most evenings and I teach two evenings.

A positive “ministry” aspect of having to enroll both kids in schools here is the opportunity to meet and interact on a long-term basis with other school parents. We’re praying for opportunities to form friendships and share the message of salvation in Christ as a result. Please pray with us to that end! Already, both E and DJ have each been invited to a birthday party for a classmate. Birthday celebrations are culturally a big deal here in Uruguay and give natural opportunities to meet the families of classmates.

The cotton candy was a real highlight at that party!

The Jesus Storybook Bible is our gift of choice for E’s classmates...

In the midst of all the uncertainties, we’re convinced that our Loving Shepherd has led our family to Uruguay. And we know He is always faithful! And we believe that He has made His leading clear regarding schooling in the immediate future – with the immigration office now enforcing attendance at “recognized” schools. That said, I often feel, as a Mom, that I’m groping my way along. But I know that God will give us grace for every moment – and there are definitely challenging moments. But these are the challenges my Uruguayan sisters and brothers in Christ face every day!

We would definitely appreciate your specific prayers – not only for E’s and DJ’s education and our involvement in the developing college project but also for the success of the Truth here in our beloved Uruguay!

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