Each year Paul Odham, a recognized specialist in Learning Difficulties gives up his spring vacation and travels to Colombia to help us in our school in training our teachers and in working with at risk children. He has generously offered to teach not only our own teachers but to offer that help to teachers in the public schools as well as a service of our church to the educational community. I contribute from my knowledge of Colombian cultural and the educational system here and serve as his translator. In the past five years we have trained more than 3,000 teachers and 75 school psychologists in the recognition of and in the development of accommodations to help these children. This morning, I said goodbye to Paul as he concluded his time here in Colombia and boarded a plane to return home.

This year we did something very different. Instead of simply dictating conferences we spent our time working with students in our own school, Peniel school, to identify children who have a Learning Difficulty, properly diagnosis the problem, then develop an intervention and accommodation plan for that child and his or her teacher. I had my assistant, our Colombian school psychologist working along side of us so we can better train her in this process and soon pass much of that responsibility on to her. In the course of six days we met with students, parents, and the teachers as we worked long and intensive hours to cover all of the possible cases in our school.

On Wednesday evening, we invited all of the parents who were concerned about one of their children to a conference. We spoke about the nature of learning difficulties, how to identify them, and then how to help the child overcome them. We had more than seventy parents show up to the conference and they were most attentive and appreciative of what they learned. Considering it was a week night and a voluntary conference, we were pleasantly surprised by the turn out. Many stayed to express their appreciation to Paul.

Over the weekend, and on the following Monday, which was a holiday here in Colombia, we met individually with concerned parents. We shared what we felt was going on with their child and how they and how the school could help them. We took as much time as each parent felt they needed so that no one would miss out on all available help. Once again these parents were extremely grateful to Paul for coming and helping them out with their child. While it added to our already intensive schedule and heavy workload, ti was well worth it as it involved the parents in the understanding and treating of the Learning Difficulty of their child.

After a long week of intensive activity, both Paul and I were exhausted but we were both very content with the results; as was the school administration. It had been a very beneficial time and our teachers and administrators; as well as the parents, were already asking when Paul would be back again. Brother Paul, we thank you so much for taking your time, money, and vacation and sharing it with us in this very special ministry!