Sunday School Lessons

Layane’s sitting in the roped off section of the Galpão where we’ve hung a picture of pigs. She’s playing the part of the prodigal son, pretending to munch on cornhusks while lamenting the fact that all of her friends, Nadine, Cassio, and Manoelhio abandoned her when her ten reais inheritance was gone.

When the prodigal repents and comes home, Layane kneels in front of Rita, playing the father, who promptly tells her to stand up and wraps a robe (a blue towel) and a beautiful ring (one we borrowed from Caroline) on her finger.

For our English lessons this time around, Stephanie and I decided to focus more on the Bible stories. Instead of just telling the story in Portuguese and then having the class learn twenty new English words, we had them act out the story. This was much more engaging and entertaining for the kids and they were able to remember the story and the message in greater detail.

To start, we asked volunteers to come up to play the parts. Then Stephanie read the story from the Bible while I went around passing out the props and the lines for them to read as it went along. Even the shy kids were surprisingly enthusiastic, going so far as to vigorously throw the net over the side of our makeshift boat in the story of the disciples and the catch of 153 fish. After performing the little “teatro” we would go through the worksheet with them and practice a few English phrases that went along with the story for the day.

In the story of O Filho Perdido (the prodigal son) they learned the words run, spend, come, and forgive as well as how to use them in a sentence. For O Bom Samaritano (the good Samaritan) they learned hurt, help, and heal. For each lesson they also learned a corresponding gospel verse. By the end of our final week many of them were able to recite multiple verses from memory. We even offered five reais to someone who was willing to try and they all shouted “não quero, não quero cinco reais. Só os versículos!” They didn’t want the money. They just wanted a chance to try reciting the verses!

Again, we’ve been amazed at how receptive these kids are to listening and learning from the Bible. They see the truck coming through the main road in Aningas and five minutes later they’re all lined up on the benches ready for the lesson to begin. Some of the kids who were coming to the lessons last time we were here brought the little notebooks and paper to classes this time. They keep all of the worksheets and even some of the older kids (around 15 and 16) tuck the coloring pages away for later.

This month has flown by and it seems like we haven’t had enough time to spend with the kids in Aningas. Despite our looming departure in two days, we’re looking forward to going back one last time to say goodbye and to give the kids individual picture collages of memories from our time together.

These are smart kids, kids that hope to leave Aningas and do big things. Some of them want to come to the United States someday. But for right now, we have the chance to share our love of Christ with them. Please pray especially for some of these older girls who have shown an interest in the lessons and in learning more about the gospel on Sunday nights. We hope the lessons have been entertaining, but more importantly that they might bring spiritual blessing through the messages and verses they have learned.

The English lessons continue to grow…

We drive down the bumpy dirt road, avoiding the massive holes, crumbling edges of the bridge, and a bicyclist. We pass the mud huts, the small cement houses, and the abandoned church on our way to the Galpão. Natalia and Layane wave from behind the shade of a green tree. Nadine and Janaina stand by their door, peering out to see who is coming down the road. By the time we pull up in front of the building, the kids are piling up around us ready for their next lesson.

Each time we have a lesson the crowd of kids seems to grow. We started splitting the class up into two parts. Anyone ten and under colors pictures from Bible stories in the back of the room while the older kids stay up to participate in the lesson. I’ve never seen such excitement over a few printed coloring sheets and boxes of pencils. Today midway through the lesson ten more little kids poured in to join in the fun. Greens, blues, reds, and yellows spread out all over the table, some spilling on the floor. Content little faces, proud of their work, proud to hang them on the wall.

Yesterday four of the girls recited their verses in Portuguese. Natalia and Layane each said three, and Lizandra and Maria each recited one. They hugged their prizes for a picture, cuddling the beanie babies like precious treasures. We have another lesson planned for Friday Lord willing with the story of Joseph. We’ll have to print more coloring pages for the little kids…I ran out today when they kept pouring in, peering shyly around the corner of the door, wondering if there were pencils and paper enough for them.
Sometimes between coats of paint, Mark’s guys will wander from the other half of the Galpão to listen. They hear the group repeating the verse, first in Portuguese, then in English. They stop to watch the kids color and tape their pictures on the wall. Then sometimes when Stephanie and I are done we get to see their handiwork. We wander over to check out their tables, chairs, and their most recent project- bunk beds. Yesterday they were sanding them when we left and today we came in to find them primed for painting.

The Galpão is more than just four cement walls. It’s a place for learning, working, and creating. The kids, the guys, the women who come in to sew- they’re proud of what they do here. They’re excited to see what they can learn next, create next. Stephanie and I just wish we had more than one week left to be here with them.


Above: One of the guys’ finished products

Above: Advertising for Aningas furniture

Above: Building the bunk beds

Above: The girls who recited the verses

Above: Taking their first quiz

Above: Girls with the highest quiz scores

Above: Proud little artists

English For Aningas

“Errrfah” she says slowly, her little face pouted in concentration.  It feels funny on her tongue so she tries again, “Earfeh.”
“Earth,” Stephanie says. Slower. “Ear-th.”
She laughs at the way it sounds and tries again. 
Tomorrow is the third English lesson Stephanie and I will have in the little village of Aningas. When we told the kids about the classes they were thrilled. There were eight older kids (14-16) in our first class and few younger ones. By the next lesson we had eighteen kids. We’ll see what tomorrow brings…
We plan the classes kind of like Sunday School lessons. We’re just as excited as the kids are that we can help them learn a few words in English, but more than that we want them to learn about a Savior who loved them enough to die for them. 
So far, we’ve read through the stories of Noah and Jonah. Stephanie (who is studying Portuguese at school) reads through the verses in Portuguese so we can be sure they understand the story. The kids applaud her valiant efforts at tackling their language every time she finishes. I draw little pictures to go along with words that we pull out of the text for them to learn. We say the words aloud in Portuguese and then in English.
Their pens move quickly along the lines of the makeshift notebooks we gave them as they take diligent notes. Nadine comes up to ask specific questions. “Why do you use “we” here and then “us” over here?”
Evanoel is a quick learner. He listens, leaning toward us in concentration as we say the words slowly in English and then repeats them back to us. “Hain-bow.”
RRainbow,” I say.
“Rainbow,” he says smiling and then laughing at his own mistake.
After going over the words we play a few games. The kids start off sitting in a circle around one of the big wooden tables in the sewing room of the Galpão. By the time we get to the games they’ve all moved closer, abandoning their chairs to get a better look at the tic-tac toe board.
“How many people were in the ark?”
Then they remember that Shem, Ham, and Japeth were married.  “Ooh ooh! Oito!” Maria blurts out, “Oito!”
“Eight. That’s right!.” Cheers erupt from the winning team.
To end the lesson we go over the verse of the day. Some of them recognize the scripture in Portuguese. They copy the words down to see if they can memorize it for the next class. They’re still struggling to remember the English words in the verses, but a lot of them can rattle off the Portuguese. As long as they’re remembering the verse we don’t really mind that it’s not in English. 🙂
Tomorrow we’ll be jumping in with David fighting the Philistine giant. We have pictures to go with words like “sword, “ “stones” “helmet,” and “valley” and prizes to hand out to the guys and girls that participate and really listen. We have about five more lessons to go and we’d appreciate your prayers that these kids will not only continue to enjoy learning, but that they will recognize the truth in the stories and verses that we read with them and accept Christ as their Savior. 
Above: Classroom front on our first day: rules of the class, the story board and the verse of the day.
Above: English words for the kids to learn.
Above: Some of the girls in class, left to right: Maria, Natalia, Lizandra.
Above: Manoelhio taking diligent notes.
Above: Copying the verse.
Above / Below: At the lake on Saturday. 
Above: Photo break during the 20 minute walk to the lake.