Each weekday for nearly four months, just as the light breaks over the ridge of mountains to the east, we have heard an exciting sound – our neighbor across the airstrip pounding on his hollowed-out tree trunk drum, calling the literacy students to class. The class started in early October with fifteen students. While one man was too busy and decided to drop out, the remaining fourteen faithfully showed up, even on dreary, rainy mornings when they normally would not have left their houses until the fog had cleared. Each day they learned to associate written letters with the sounds of the language they have known all their lives. Some students excelled; others struggled. But no one gave up. The older students who learned the slowest are the ones who showed the most determination. “As long as you will teach me, I will keep trying,” said one of the older men.
February 2nd was a milestone for those fourteen students, our missionary team and the community as a whole. It was graduation day for the very first Amdu literacy class!! After some speeches by various community leaders, each student was called up to read something demonstrating what they had learned in the class. The slower students had a much shorter and easier selection, but we were so proud to hear them read in front of the community. They each then received their coveted certificate. Having a special piece of paper that like is a big deal in this culture! Even though they officially graduated from the course, they all still have more to learn and will now move into the post-literacy course to improve their reading speed and comprehension. A few of the best students from class one will also be helping our teammate Benjamin teach the twenty new students who started class today (Feb. 5th).
Bart and Benjamin with the first Amdu literacy class following graduation
As this second class starts, it’s fun to remember back to the beginning of the first class several months ago. The students were excited and eager to learn. Even basic things like how to hold a pencil and learning that you read from left to right, top to bottom needed to be clearly explained. Skills that most of us learned as young children are not as easy for older students who have never done it before. Associating written letters on a page with familiar sounds can be taxing on the brain – especially as the number of new syllables grows. But just like the first class, this new group is motivated and eager. We are excited for them as they embark on the adventure of learning to read!
Praise the Lord with us for these milestones happening here in Amdu! The Lord is faithfully teaching and sustaining our team as we continue to move forward with literacy and translation in preparation for the time when we will be able to clearly share God’s Truth with our Amdu friends. Keep praying for us!!