You could call today just another day, but I call today special. There have been quite a few special days in the time I have been here, and I could even claim that every day has been special. Today, though, had a certain special quality that I will remember for always.
I was up at 4:15am due to the light in my bedroom coming on. The power had been out for 48 hours and counting, and apparently the light was still on turn, so when we got the power back the light came on. Unfortunately that happened early in the morning. I was unable to completely fall asleep again, so when Leona and I headed off to Aphiwe I was feeling a bit tired. She debriefed me on our schedule for the day, and I went through the material I was going to be teaching at the creche course later that morning. We stopped at Aphiwe to pick up two graduation gowns for the Grade R kids at Solid Beginnings (one of the about 200 creches Leona is in contact with), and then we were off to take pictures of the preschoolers that were graduating, and take class photos. We were in a rush since the creche course started at 10am, and we arrived at the preschool at 9:15. It is a 15-minute drive from the preschool to Aphiwe, so that meant we only had 30 minutes to take individual photos of 50-60 four-to-six year olds. Talk about a time crunch. So I go into my “plow ahead” mode, but soon realized you cannot make a kid smile if he or she does not want to. So we were settling for them at least looking at the camera, and if we got a genuine smile, wonderful! So, imagine me, sitting there making silly faces and strange noises trying to get these kids to smile, yet stressing over the time, when in walks this little albino girl. She was visibly apprehensive, did not want to sit, kept getting easily distracted, and could not seem to be able to talk. So we moved on to the next kid, hoping she would see that the others survived, and so would she. Soon, though, it became apparent she had a disability. I realized God was using this child to get me to slow down and stop rushing. When her turn came again, we got a few great photos. Sure, she was not looking at the camera or smiling, but she was finally comfortable enough to sit and look at the book we gave to her. We wrapped up the session, and yes we were running quite a bit behind schedule, but after that girl I knew we had to slow down and make each kid feel special. As we walked out I looked back and saw the girl peek around the edge of the classroom door and smile at me. My heart grew I think. She gave me a gift AND taught me a lesson. She gave me happiness and taught me that people are more important than time. She taught me that age-old saying, “Stop and smell the roses”.
That was only the beginning of my day. After the photo session at the Solid Beginnings, we headed back to Aphiwe for the creche course. This is a course specially designed by Leona to teach preschool teachers how to teach their children in a practical application way, instead of by rote memorization. Last Friday, I taught my first class. It went wonderfully, and I was looking forward to today. Little did I know what I was going to experience. Leona taught the first hour, and then I taught the second hour. We taught about concepts such as color, shape, height, time, and movement, just to name a few. My job was to teach the ladies how to take those concepts and make them fun, yet give their students a tangible way to understand them. We went outside and did very simple things such as arranging in groups of 8, then 5, and then 10. This taught subtraction and addition without even mentioning the word “math”. I also had them arrange themselves in groups and line up shortest to tallest, then change so that the shortest is in the middle, and the taller ones on the ends. This is supposed to teach children how to know what the words “tallest” and “shortest” mean. We did many other exercises, and ended with a fun song that had movements to go along with corresponding words such as “jump”, “swim”, “hop”, “fly”, “run”, and “walk”. We ended the session laughing over the difference between jumping and hopping. Afterwards as the ladies were leaving, one woman came up to me and told me that I had made her day happy, and thanked me for teaching her so much. The feeling of joy in my heart that I had due to just having fun and teaching those ladies expanded into some other greater emotion. I cannot quite say what it was, because I, myself, do not know the word to describe the feeling I had. But, I do know this. Today I was blessed beyond measure.