Sunday, 27 May 2012

Rowland Bingham

I'm still reading a lot of missionary biographies (primarily from the "Christian Heroes Then and Now" series, which I highly recommend). The one I just finished was about Rowland Bingham. I had never heard of him, so I was curious about what he had done.

When Rowland Bingham was 20, he wanted to go to the Sudan to be a missionary. He joined another young man who was in England, looking for a mission board to sponsor him; they were joined by a third young man. No one would send them to the Sudan. Africa was "the white man's graveyard" even for those who stayed on the coast; anyone who went inland was going to die. Anyone who had tried had either died or been brought home seriously ill.

The young men were determined to go anyway. They formed their own mission organization, Sudan Interior Missions (SIM) and went to Africa. Rowland became ill and stayed near the coast to send supplies as needed and the other two men went into the interior. Both of the young men died before reaching their destination. Rowland went back to England and then home to Canada.

So it seemed that everyone was right: there was no way to evangelize the interior of Africa, no way to get to the Sudan, and trying would result in certain death. But Rowland Bingham did not give up. He raised money, he recruited people to go, and he tried again. This time he stayed in Canada to oversee things and other men went. They eventually turned back because it seemed impossible. Rowland didn't give up. More men volunteered and were sent to learn the language and the culture and then go to the Sudan. This time they made it. Still, many people died bringing the gospel to the Sudan and the interior of Africa. And yet still more people volunteered.

By the time SIM reached it's 50th anniversary, there were 350 missionaries from around the world serving with them in Africa. There were thousands of believers in the Sudan, in Nigeria and Ethiopia, who would not have heard the gospel if Rowland and the later missionaries had given up because it was too hard.

Today, more than 100 years later, SIM has changed some. Different groups joined together under the name SIM (and in fact the name has changed a couple times although they kept the acronym) as the mission spread; there are now more than 1600 missionaries serving in more than 50 countries, evangelizing, ministering, equipping, and discipling.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Sleepover Weekend

This was a sleepover weekend. My Sunday School girls were over Friday night and the junior/senior high girls were over Sunday night (actually, it's Monday morning as I type and they are still getting picked up (side note; the parents are great about picking up the girls by 11:00)). It was a good weekend (thanks to some good naps). The younger group only had 3 girls and they were pretty low key and asleep by 11:30. The older group had 8 girls (a smaller group than last time; no one had to sleep under the dining room table or in the entryway).

It was a quieter sleepover in many ways. We've started doing crafts at sleepovers; the girls enjoy them and it keeps them more settled. Last night included some rock animals, painting, and a lot of friendship bracelets. We did watch some movies: RV and The Princess Diaries. Later, when they were starting to fade but wanted another movie, we put on The Sound of Music; by intermission they were almost all asleep so I turned it off.

When they decided to start talking about boys I took control. It actually started with them talking about what they would do if they had a baby when they were teens: raise it or give it up for adoption (which actually came from one of them mentioning that her cousin, who had a baby at 17, was pregnant again). From there we moved to how to avoid teen pregnancy (I had to convince them that "only date nice Christian boys" was not a guarantee). They I steered them to what they should be looking for in a potential husband and then to what they needed to be as well. We talked about fear of the Lord, wisdom, discernment, and integrity as well as the negatives: not abusive, not quarrelsome, not a gossip. There was a lot more as well. (I relied on God's Wisdom in Proverbs as a guide because there was no way I'd remember everything on my own and I wanted them to think about this Biblically and the Proverbs book conveniently provides Scripture references). Anyway, it was a really good talk, one that I plan to repeat as often as possible to keep them thinking properly about relationships (and not just dating; we talked about what these characteristics had to do with  being a good friend and child as well).

This morning they cleaned up (and they are very good about doing most of the tidying up; there was only a bit left for me, plus things like taking down the garbage and then vacuuming). Then, after breakfast, we watched Tim Hawkins and they all went home (they're all gone now). One mom brought me coffee from Timmies, so I'm happy. The only thing left to decide is whether I should vacuum before or after nap time!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Definitions

I had a grade 1 student in this week. We were doing expressive vocabulary (I give him a word, he gives me the definition). Here are 2 of his answers...

A sheriff is like a cowboy and says "There's only room for one sheriff in this town." While he was explaining, he stood up in a proper cowboy stance: bow-legged, swaggering a bit, with his hands in place to draw his six-shooters.

Later: A janitor is the mayor of the United States.

No one can quite figure out that one.

Friday, 11 May 2012

A Rough Week

Last Sunday morning the phone rang. My phone rarely rings at 8:30 am since everyone in my world knows that at that time I'm either gone, getting ready to go, or asleep. It was my sister, calling to tell me that my Uncle John  (my mum's brother) had been found dead the night before. He was at home, he lives alone, he's retired, and the neighbours had not seen him for a few days and called the police. He was wearing his jacked and the dog had his collar on and they were by the door. They figured that he had been dead for 2-4 days before he was found and the autopsy showed that it was a heart attack.

Most of this came out over the course of the week. All we knew last Sunday is that he was dead, and had been dead for some days before he was found. That's all I knew as I left for church and tried to push it out of my mind so I could concentrate on my Sunday School class and then the babies in Junior Church. It would come back to strike me at odd moments during the morning and I would push it away until I could think about it.

My uncle and I were not terribly close, although we loved each other. He lived in Ottawa and we exchanged the occasional email (he would send pictures of the dog) and we'd have dinner together whenever he was in town. I wish now that I'd made more effort to stay in touch; I'm thinking about visiting my mum's other brother and his family sooner rather than later (I've been planning to visit "some time" for a long time now). I miss my uncle even though I hadn't seen him for several years now and it feels strange to miss someone I would otherwise only think about occasionally. It's strange, those family ties, and how they can fray without breaking and how much it hurts when they do break.

And added to that is knowing that he died alone and wasn't found right away. I live alone and I will tell you the truth: I've always wondered what will happen if I die, how long it will take for people to notice, if I will die alone. It's the one part of living alone that I really, really hate. And I know, logically, that between work and church and other stuff, someone will notice that I'm not around. I also know that when I'm dead, I will be with God and it won't matter to me if no one finds my body.

So it's been an emotional week.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Update

Life is crazy (that's my excuse for the once-a-week posting)! It really has been a wild week at work with a couple very, very long days. I've also been doing a pile of homework which will go on nonstop until June 28th; then I will have a week off, a week of school, and then more work until October 27th. I may post more regularly after that!

Work hasn't been all bad. We're a franchise, so sometimes corporate comes to make sure we're doing things properly. I'm pleased to announce that my centre pulled off a 97%, so no worries about us being shut down! I also have some ideas about how to do some things better or more efficiently (the corporate lady who came to check was really nice and willing to answer questions). We also had a sale; the goal for each centre is 20% and I exceeded that. It means that my boss is happy with me, I'm happy with me, and my students are learning.

It hasn't been all work, either. Friday evening I had my Sunday School boys over for Lego, pizza, and a movie. We watched Courageous and talked a bit about responsibility, being men, and how if they grow up to be bad dads they'll have to deal with me. We also laughed a lot (mostly at each other). It was a fun evening and I'm glad I had them over. Usually I have the girls or the smaller children and my boys were starting to feel left out.

Today I taught Sunday School and Junior Church (a small class this week; there were only about 11 of them) and then I came home for a nap!

That's about it. Next week seems a bit quieter at work, but still insanely busy with homework. I'll try to find time to write!