Monday, September 3, 2018

First Day of Class!

Wesley College is on the fourth floor of a new office building in downtown Mwanza. 

The fourth floor. 

108 steps. 

I climbed those steps today for the first time as a guest lecturer (yesterday I climbed them as a guest preacher), and with my computer and books on my back, it was quite a haul. I'll be doing this everyday for the next two weeks. Is it just me, or are African staircases steeper and longer than those in the US? 

The good news is, I should be in pretty good shape when I get back. Might even lose some weight!

Each day at Wesley College begins at 8:30 am with student-led devotions for the entire college. This morning was a great time of worship even though I did not understand it all. But I sure do love the call-and-response singing, a capella harmonies, and vigorous hand clapping that I get to experience here!

At 9:00 I began the first class in my week-long course, "New Testament 1--the Gospels and Acts." We began with getting acquainted. It started off slowly, but as trust levels grew, the atmosphere lightened and we all began to enjoy ourselves. 

I started the teaching portion by doing a quick synopsis of the Story of the Bible. I think it's important to get a feel for the whole story so that you can understand the context of the Gospels and Acts. It's also important to see that everything leads up to, and is centered on, Christ. 

Then we talked about why it's important to understand the historical/cultural/linguistic background of the New Testament.  I demonstrated this by taking the class through Matthew 2:1-12 (the story of Herod and the Magi), and Luke 17:11-19 (the story of the ten lepers). These stories mean so much more when you have some background: Who is Herod? What was he famous for? Who are the Magi? Where did they come from? Why did Luke make sure to point out that the leper who came back to give thanks was a Samaritan? And why did Jesus call this man a "foreigner"?

I think it went well. The questions the students asked let me know that they were tracking with me and that they were learning important concepts. 

An exciting moment for me happened after we broke for lunch.  I dismissed the class and walked down the hall, and then as I walked back past the classroom, four of my students were standing around the whiteboard, talking to each other in rapid Swahili, and pointing to things I had written on the board. It was a pretty animated conversation.  I think part of what was going on was that the better English speakers were explaining the concepts to the ones who didn't quite understand everything I said. I think they were also just sharing their thoughts about what they had learned--processing it together. This was wonderful to see--it was like they were taking ownership of the class--making it their own. 

After lunch we talked about the world of the New Testament--the merging (colliding?) of Jewish, Greek, and Roman cultures. Finally, at 3:30 it was time to stop.  A long, busy day. But necessary if we're going to cover all the material in one week. 

Another exciting moment: After I dismissed the class, they insisted on taking pictures! All together ... the class including Lorie ... one-by-one with me and Lorie ... selfies with me ... what fun! I was honored by their excitement and interest.  You can see one of the pictures on my Facebook page. 

And speaking of pictures--Why am I not posting any on this blog? It's an internet thing.  The connections are S-L-O-O-O-W. I can't seem to get the pictures from my phone to the computer in order to post them on the blog. I can post on Facebook from my phone, but I can't do blog posts on my phone. (Did you get that?)

I have plenty of pictures I'd love to show you. Maybe after I get home. 

If you've read this far, thanks for hanging in. As you probably know, this is the fulfillment of a dream for me. Thanks for your interest, and thanks for praying!

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