Since the academic year here corresponds to the calendar year, last Saturday was the preschool’s opening ceremony for the year. It also served to inaugurate the recently-constructed building with two new classrooms. Many parents joined the teachers and administrators for the occasion, along with a number of local dignitaries.

Bonifácio, the preschool’s coordinator, used his speech to confront several parenting errors common in this culture. He said that a child growing up in a closed room, with only his food and no human interaction, would not develop properly, pointing to the importance of parents talking and interacting with their children. He cited research indicating that even very young children are affected by the words they hear, so parents should speak to them kindly using their names, rather than angrily referring to them with pejoratives. He discouraged the practice of burdening children with too much responsibility for their age, such as leaving a five-year-old in charge of a four-year-old for the day, or sending youngsters to buy ingredients and cook their own food without supervision.

Others also spoke during the ceremony. Parents of last year’s students shared how the preschool had benefited their children, and local officials praised its impact in the community. The school’s head teacher requested the parents’ cooperation in their children’s education. The pastor of the church that sponsors the preschool taught about parenting from Deuteronomy 6:4-7: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (ESV)

When most of the guests had left after the ceremony, I attended a preschool staff meeting. Bonifácio, his wife, the pastor, and I all shared messages challenging the teachers to be faithful in their God-given role of influence in the lives of the children. Please pray for the preschool’s workers: Oseias, Ernesto, Eunice, Laura, Afonso, Madeteu, Tarsinia, Leonora, Albertina, Domingos, Calton, and Nito.

Afterwards, I went home with a teacher who lives near me, which involved 75 minutes of walking to where we could catch public transportation on a Saturday afternoon. I arrived home at 3:30 p.m., hot, tired, hungry, and thirsty, but grateful for the taste of authentic African life afforded by the journey on foot, and for a strong body which can bear such experiences without a problem. I especially thank God for the great blessing of being involved in the preschool.

Would you please pray for the academic, social, emotional, and especially spiritual development of the preschool’s students? The four-year-old class consists of Amélia, Alimo, Anastacia, Ancha, Andenani, Beladia, Danilo, Domingas, Edmilson, Esmenia, Gelzia, Gonçalves, Herson, Ivam, Ivanildo, Janete, Josina, Josué, Laurinda, Liloca, Lino, Lucas, Melo, Merci, Nickson, Olívia, Otília, Rosmim, Susana, Vania, and Vitosa.

The five-year-old class consists of Agira, Albertina, Alilenani, Alzira, Belito, Beluja, Carmina, Cidália, Cidane, Cristiano, Edu, Enieta, Ezequiel, Faustino, Gloria, Hortencio, Lito, Nalda, Neide, Nelza, Rachinde, Razaque, Solida, and Zinha.

And last year’s students, who are invited back to the preschool for afternoon classes following their mornings at public school, are Anifa, Arsenio, Cidane, Cristiano, Delicia, Denisa, Diamantino, Ector, Edson, Geito, Idalecio, Josafat, Maiquel, Maira, Maliva, Manuel, Maria, Naisa, Nalda, Nelfa, Nelita, Rachide, Salvio, Selito, Shakila, Tania, and Zacarias.

To God be the glory for the work that He is doing in the lives of the children and their families by means of the preschool.

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