Of Presidents, Bishops, Government Officials, Nurses, Teachers and Kids!
The rains have finally stopped on the Bobi Reserve, and in fact today the weather has cooled down and we’re experiencing some relief from high temperatures and humidity. For the last few nights the moon has been beautiful, full and bright against a deep purple sky, almost turning night into day! These cool, moonlit evenings have brought the children out in droves to play hide and seek, and chasing games around the compound, to dance in the light of the moon! It’s great to hear the children having so much fun; the parents give them permission to be outside as long as they like on nights like this!
The children in Alhaji Buba’s compound are very special to us! All of them attend the nearby primary school we call Bobi 1; even little Abu, who has Down Syndrome, is often in class. They are learning to read and write at a surprising pace! We give much credit to the system of phonetics brought by our friends Jan Novak, Judy Hildebrand and Carol Barrett, now in full use by our primary school teachers.
Recently in a visit to the classes at Bobi 2, I came across one teacher working with the children on spelling and sounding out words. He had three little ones stand in the front of the class, each holding a phonogram – one held the letter ‘c’, the next the letter ‘a’ and the last the letter ‘t’. After making sure the class knew the sound of each letter, he then directed them to read the three in sequence…and, lo and behold, they were reading ‘cat’!
I think I mentioned before that Nursery 2 and Primary 1 classes and reading and writing three and four letter words now, without memorization! Our teachers tell us that in government schools, even Primary 6 pupils cannot read in this way. They ‘cram’ or memorize words by repeating the spelling over and over again; they do not know how to read by sounding out the letters. What a gift the system of phonetics is to our school district here on Bobi Reserve!
Besides rejoicing over the progress of our school children, we are also celebrating the commencement of the building of the new maternity clinic! We visited the State Director of Health and the Permanent Secretary for Livestock, (in charge of the grazing reserve,) and were given permission to build! The clinic is small, just an office, exam room, labor and delivery, and recovery rooms, but I believe it will meet our needs. My big prayer now is for a qualified and dedicated nurse to run the clinic.
Some of you may have seen the film my dad, Victor Macy, made years ago in Mozambique, ‘Beauty for Ashes’. The film tells the story of Julia, a young Mozambican girl who, after her husband died, trained as a nurse and cared for her people until her death at a very old age. She died as she had lived, saving lives. A rabid dog had entered her clinic compound and was attacking children; Julia rushed around gathering up the children and taking them to safety, but was bitten herself several times, dying shortly afterwards.
I still remember Mamani Julia, whose little clinic was near the Nhaloi Mission, north of our mission station at Inhamachafo. When we would drive to visit our missionary friends in Nhaloi, more often than not there would be Mamani Julia standing by the roadside, waving and welcoming us with her beautiful smile. This is exactly the type of person we need at the new Bobi clinic! A Christian woman, tender-hearted, committed, dedicated, in it for the long haul. Please pray with me that God will send us another Mamani Julia for Bobi.
If you haven’t seen ‘Beauty for Ashes’ you can watch it online at the Marston Memorial Historical Center website under Missionary Films.
Click here: http://fmcusa.org/historical/missionary-films/
Besides visiting the State Director of Health and the Permanent Secretary for Livestock, I sat down yesterday with a personal advisor to Governor Bello, one Alhaji Mohammed Ahmed. I had gone with Halliru, a young Fulani man who has many government connections and who had told me that we might get farther with our proposals for the reserve if we met with Alhaji Ahmed. Alhaji and I discussed many things at this meeting, including the letter written by the Fulani leaders of the reserve in which they expressed their dismay at the continuing encroachment by farmers into their grazing lands. Alhaji concluded the meeting by picking up the phone, calling the Permanent Secretary for Livestock, (a very powerful man in the government,) and directing him to call together representatives from ministries of agriculture, livestock, education and health for a meeting early in November, where I would present our case for training of herdsmen in planned grazing and marketing of their cattle and the necessary oversight of these activities. Let’s hope and pray that this time, rather than endlessly talking over the problems, we will come up with favorable and lasting solutions for the herdsmen and their families and PUT THOSE SOLUTIONS INTO PRACTICE! Well, let’s see what will happen! We can only pray and keep moving forward!
Our schools are becoming very well known in and off the reserve! Which is sometimes good and sometimes not so good! As in what happened today! The Head Teacher of Bobi 1, Mr. Haruna, who lives off the reserve in the town of Durgu, brought ten additional children for enrollment, children from Durgu who had been attending the local government primary school! Well, the Fulani leaders here on the reserve were not happy at all, saying that siphoning off children from government schools outside the reserve is just going to cause problems between the Fulani leaders and leaders in the town. So, as much as I understand that parents simply want the best education possible for their children, we must maintain the peace, and so had to turn the children away.
We do love our teachers on this reserve – they are doing such a great job. Next week, Shane is going to post their pictures and names for you, so you can get acquainted! I know you’ll love them too.
It appears that the President IS going to visit Bobi Grazing Reserve…..we just are not certain of the date! But it’s obvious that he’s coming, because the State Government is now hustling to put things in order on the reserve in preparation for his visit! They are grading the main road through to Bobi 1, and are building another classroom block right next to ours! I’m not sure of the protocols, having a Schools for Africa primary school and a Nomadic Education building on the same compound, but I’m determined to make it work. Maybe now that we’ll be working this closely together, the State will subsidize our teachers’ salaries! This could be a real answer to prayer!
Speaking of dignitaries, Bishop David Kendall and his lovely wife Lavone, who have been faithfully leading the Free Methodist Church Nigeria for many years, will arrive this coming Tuesday to hold annual conferences here! I always look forward to their visits - they are wonderful leaders and friends. Pray for us as we travel up and down the country, pray for the Church and the conferences that all will be done according to God’s will and for His glory! Pray too for Shane and his team as they hold down the fort at Bobi, direct the clinic project and school maintenance projects and deal with the many issues that seem to crop up on a daily basis! It’s not easy dealing with all these personalities: government officials, Fulani leaders, headmasters and teachers at the schools. But the children, oh, the children - they make it all worthwhile! There’s nothing sweeter than a big hug from Abu, or the sound of Alhaji Buba’s children as they shriek with laughter, playing hide and seek, dancing in the light of the moon!
Until next time!