This past week I was in Villavicencio, working with the children at Peniel Christian School. An unusual amount of work had piled up. During my first month in Colombia this school semester the road had been blocked by an earthquake and the massive landslide that resulted from that event. Then Paul Odham arrived in Colombia for our teaching seminars on learning disabilities. While those were extremely important and very well received, I was not able to spend much time working with the kids at the school.
Immediately following that, Dewayne Liebrandt arrived for two and a half weeks where we were intensely involved with getting the new deaf church established. While we made a trip to Villavicencio, again I was working in other areas and could not spend much time at the school. We did get the deaf church started, but I did not get much work done with the school kids during that period. This week I made up for lost time.
I drove down to Villavicencio on Monday morning and went right to work at the school. I taught and worked with children and parents all that afternoon. In the evening I had a conference for the mothers of the school children. For the rest of the week I arrived at the school around 5:30 in the morning, as our school day begins at 6A.M. each day. My first interest was to greet each child as he or she arrived for classes. Then I would handle the devotions that launch each new day at the school. By 6:30 the kids would head off to their classes and I began my work with individual children.
Whenever teachers have problems with students, either in the area of behavior or academic achievement, they give their names and a short description of the problem to our academic coordinator. He often makes an initial attempt to deal with the problem. If the problem continues, then the child is referred to me on one of these trips to Villavicencio. I work with the child to understand what is going on in his or her life and try to help them deal with the matter. I would work with the children up till 1 oâ€™clock in the afternoon when the school day ended.
Often their problems are due to difficulties in the home and in that case I call in the parents for a conference. After I had worked with children all morning then I would work with parents in the afternoons. We would go over the problem the child is having and try to develop a plan on how they could help their son or daughter improve. These conferences would usually last till 6 or 6:30 each evening. Then after that the evening was used so we could have a conference with different groups of parents. We called in the mothers one night, the fathers another evening, and then the parents of students with a child sponsorship. Remaining nights were used for parent conferences.
Each day lasted until all scheduled appointments had been met. On two nights I did not get done till 10. Other nights ended between 8:30 and 9:30. I put in an average of sixteen hours a day for my entire time there in Villavicencio. As there was no time for lunch or supper, they would generally bring me a sandwich or something into the office where I was working. We ended the work with the school on Saturday about 1 in the afternoon. That afternoon I visited the town of Restrepo to check on the deaf work there. Sunday I preached at the main church in Villavicencio and we had one baptism as a former student of mine came forward. Then in the afternoon I preached at the new church in La Reliquia, a poor section of town that was originally a land invasion. We were done there by about five in the evening. I then picked up a couple of college students that were heading back up to Bogota and we headed up the mountain road in the dark. I normally do not drive at night due to the increased risk, but this time I needed to get back up here to get on with other work. It had been a very long and very tiring week, but a very rewarding one as well. I enjoy working with the students and work to make sure my efforts are evangelistic as well. Even though I returned to Bogota exhausted, I was very happy to have been about my Fatherâ€™s business.