Wednesday, August 12, 2015

School Daze

Fourth Grade. Did you read that? FOURTH grade! How is it possible that we have a rising fourth grader in the house? Not to mention his brother a rising first/second grader. Wasn't it just yesterday that they looked like this...

Well, I guess I remember now...

Kindergarten in the US....1st grade in Brazil....2nd in Mozambique....3rd split between the US and Tanzania...and now 4th in Tanzania


Pre-K in Brazil...Kindergarten in Mozambique...1st split between the US and Tanzania...and now 1st/2nd in Tanzania (age-wise Nathan should still be in 1st, but he is doing a lot of second grade level work already, so naming his grade is kind of complicated.)

So that is what happened and how they ended up looking like this...

And that is how I ended up spending the last week planning for the new school year which starts for us on Monday. I did quite a bit of pre-planning before coming to Tanzania in January, bringing many of our books with us...but have decided we needed to add and tweak somethings. (Thank goodness for curriculum in ebooks and for Nana and Papa mailing us the rest!)

So what will the next year look like for us in school? Something like this:

Bible: We will finish up our last few lessons of Community Bible Study which we brought with us. Then we will study Jesus' miracles using ScriptureAdventures. In November, we will do a special study using hymns of thanksgiving. In December, we will start Scripture Adventures Life of Jesus Study (pretty handy that the life of Jesus starts with the birth of Jesus). We will continue with the Life of Jesus till we finish the study.

Math: We continue to use Math Mammoth, supplemented with math apps and games. (Nathan is our math whiz and is already half way through MM 2nd grade. Instead of moving him up when he finishes in the next few months, I will probably do another math program such as MEP.)

Language Arts:
Caleb: Rod andStaff Grammar, Writing and Rhetoric and All About Spelling. (We have seen VAST improvement in his spelling using this program. I cannot tell you enough how much it has helped him!)

Nathan: Rod and Staff Grammar, Writing with Ease and continuing to learn to read using All About Reading (Another great program!)

History: We will continue using Story of the World and its activity book. We are now on Volume 3 and will be learning about the age of Colonization, Empires and the race for the new world.

Science: This year we are trying something new with science and will be studying Astronomy and Zoology 1 using Apologia Science and the Jr. Notebooking guides. I am excited about this change and have wanted to take the leap into Apologia for awhile now. The books are in the mail (pray for a quick and safe arrival!), so we will actually start our year with a study on plants as we wait for them to get here.

Fun Friday: This is also a new addition to our school this year. I am hoping to save Fridays for all the things we don't normally get to during the week... Art, Music, Geography, Engineering, Logic...just to name a few. We will probably do Bible and Math plus as much as the others as we can.
In Art, I am excited to use this program since my art skills are nil. For geography, we will be using this program from Simply Charlotte Mason once the books arrive in the mail. Til then, we will do a brief overview of each continent. For the STEM related stuff, I am pulling from this and this website.

Oh! And we are learning cursive with the worksheets from this great resource.

So that's our year in a brief nutshell. I am looking forward to it and am praying that it will be a complete year without any major transitions (refer to the list of four countries in four years above for the motivation behind that prayer).

Maybe we can hope that our biggest transition will be as this one (who loved playing with her alphabet as she "helped" plan school for her brothers)...

...starts to do this more often...

...getting mobile, dropping her morning nap and joins us for school,

....but that will be an entirely different blog post to come.

*Links are provided in case you want to know more about any of our choices for the year. They are not affiliate links.*

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cow wrestling, a necessary IT skill? (Newsletter Update)

  • "This is what we need!," a reminder of the importance of Bible translation.
  • We are settling in well to our new home in Mbeya. We even have a couch!
  • Cow wrestling, a necessary IT skill?

Dear Friends and Family,
The three Ndali men gently stroked the books, passing them back and forth amongst themselves.  Smiles lit up their faces, thankfulness beaming from their eyes.  They had traveled many hours by bus, from a neighboring country, seeking these books written in their mother tongue.  Excitement burst forth with their words, Our people will welcome and celebrate these books like the birth of a son! This is what we need!” 

The Ndali people group is just one of the people groups with whom we work. The Mbeya Cluster Project is one part of the Uganda-Tanzania Branch and currently serves over 10 people groups.  (The pictures shown in this update are of a community test with the Sangu people group. Community tests are just one tool our translators use to ensure a clear and accurate translation.)

The people groups with which the Mbeya cluster works represent over 3 million people in southwest Tanzania.  That is over 3 million who yet do not have the adequate access to the Scriptures in their mother tongue.  As the Ndali man said, this is what they need and this is why we do what we do.
Currently, the Mbeya team has around 80 people working on the different aspects of Bible translation and they have kept David very busy.  Since arriving, David has issued and repaired laptops, configured servers and worked to maintain a functioning IT system in the office.  He very much enjoys this work and is thankful to be able to use his skills in such a way.

Part of his responsibilities also includes shopping for supplies for the office at times.  While this might seem a simple task, this is Africa and the unexpected can be expected.  Recently as he returned from one shopping expedition, a large cow was grazing and blocking the road.  David got out of the car to encourage it to move along.
Grasping the cow by the horns, David pushed and pulled at the cow.  The cow either wanted to stay where she was or was very happy to meet David. She showed David by shaking her head, lowering her large horns at him and taking a step toward him.  As all you Texas fans know, “Hook ‘em horns” can mean a couple of things.  Instead of taking the risk of getting gored, David returned to the car and used it to gently nudge the cow out of the way.  Cow wrestling, a necessary IT skill?  At least in Mbeya!

While David is busy at the office, Wendi and the children have been busy at home finishing up the school year, hoping to have it completed in the next couple of weeks. They will then take a short break before diving in again. 
The boys continue to thrive.  Most days you will find them building something, whether it is a goat pen from scrap wood or a Lego castle. (They are both lobbying for a goat, but mom and dad aren’t quite ready for that yet.)  Esther is growing like a weed.  She loves to stand up, hates being on her tummy and enjoys all kinds of food.  Both boys love to make her laugh and she is sleeping much better in her own room these days.

As we continue to work on getting settled in Mbeya, our house is starting to feel more like a home.  Furniture is slowly coming along.  We now have a couch and a coffee table (answered prayer!), but there are a few more pieces we would like to add in the future.  Home is far more than a place, but a community as well.  We are also thankful for friendships that have begun to form and for the amazing welcome to the Mbeya community. 

One of our biggest struggles still is finding a church home here in Mbeya.  Worship here is very different from what we are used to.  It is incredibly loud, which has resulted in headaches on many Sundays.  On top of that, our Swahili needs lots of work and we rarely understand what is said at the churches.  Still, it is our desire to join in worship with a local church.  Pray that we find creative ways to work through these challenges, that we are able to connect with a body of believers and that we would begin to build eternal relationships at church and in the community as a whole.  
It was just over six months ago that we came to Tanzania.  As we look back over the past six months with the multiple transitions and the many large expenses (hospital bills for Esther’s birth, plane tickets, orientation and language school costs, furnishing a house), we praise God for you because we know we could not do it without you.  As we look forward, we know that God will continue to provide faithfully through each of you. 
We are truly thankful for your faithful prayers and financial partnership.  There is no doubt that God is using each of you to bring His word in the heart language of people throughout southwest Tanzania. Thank you for your willingness to be used by Him to bless our family as well as bring forth His Kingdom work here in Tanzania!
In His Hands,
David, Wendi, Caleb, Caleb, Nathan & Esther Richards

Praise God for:
  • The translation work being done in Ndali and the other languages of our region.
  • Our house becoming more of a home.
  • New friendships taking root.
  • The formation of a good school and work routine.
  • God's abundant provision.
  • A wonderful time of rest and restoration at the recent branch retreat.

Pray for:

  • Opportunities to continue improving our Swahili- for us to find a language tutor and for time to study.
  • Creative ways to connect with a Tanzanian body of believers.
  • Us to build relationships that point others to Jesus.
  • Health. We all picked up a small cold during the retreat.
  • Blank Bibles throughout the world to be filled.
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