Tuesday, March 21, 2017


"Jesus' interactions with people rarely left them unchanged. He stirred things up and shook people's wrong ideas of God. He made heroes out of the most unlikely people and challenged thinking and lifestyles." - Nancy Ortberg, Looking for God

The past couple of weeks, a couple different classes of mine have been looking at parables. My K1 class has looked at the Good Samaritan. My CE3 class has looked at the Prodigal Son. Jesus told parables to teach people about God, but there's a lot we can learn about how we're supposed to act while reading them too. 

Along with looking at Who Will Help? my K1 students have been acting out the story of the Good Samaritan in a very simple way. And they love it! Four students come up to the front, and today, I barely had to prompt them on what to say. The student sitting on the stool is the "man" who was robbed and is hurt. That student starts the little skit... 

M: Oh no! Who will help? 
S1: (walking up to the student on the stool, crosses their arms and says) Not me! (and goes and sits down)
M: Oh no! Who will help? 
S2: (walking up to the student on the stool, crosses their arms and says) Not me! (and goes and sits down)
M: Oh no! Who will help? 
S3: (walking up to the student on the stool, points at themselves and says) I will! (and takes their hand and both students walk back to their seats)

K1 students are still pretty young, so we keep it simple. God helps us, so we should help others.

Meanwhile, the CE3 students have been looking at the parable of the Good Samaritan. After reading the story last week, each of the students was handed a piece of paper with part of the story on it, which they then had to illustrate. Tomorrow, the students will read the story with their illustrations as review of last week's class. Here was some of my favorite artwork:

We all make mistakes. But, if we go to God and are truly sorry and want to change, God always welcomes us into His family. He loves us all and wants us to be with Him.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Stories of the Wind, the Tide, and the Moon, Courtesy of my Fifth Graders

The past two weeks, two of my four fifth grade learning center groups have been reading "Story of the Sun" by Ned Jessen. It's short (as all learning center readers are), telling about a curious young boy who is worried about what would happen if the sun didn't rise one day. In search of an answer, he goes and talks to a wise old woman, who informs him that the sun is a result of the local people in her village dropping wood and coal into a fiery mountain every day. The mountain spits out the sun, which flies across the sky, landing in the ocean. The people from her village do this every day, and therefore, the boy has nothing to worry about.

We read each book for two weeks. The first week we looked at this book, we talked about the different parts of a story: introducing characters and setting, problem, coming up a with plan to solve said problem, resolution. This past week, after reading the story and reviewing the parts the parts of a narrative, I had the students write their own story about how some natural thing came to be. I suggested that they could write about: the moon, wind, the tide, or day/night; but I was open to their suggestions too.

Most of them exceeded my expectations, and I was impressed by the creative answers that they came up with! So, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites...

Long ago, there is a castle in the sky. In the castle, there are two princess and there was one witch hide in the castle, too. The witch is bad, she make wind change hot. Every people in the world is hot, many place have fire, and many people die. King in sky want to catch witch, but, witch run away. Every one in sky was worried, but, two princess have plan. Big princess make rain, and small princess make wind. In world, there don’t have fire anywhere, but the wind is so small. So, big princess help her sister make wind, too. There don’t have not wind in world. Every one was happy. Everyone thank two princess so much. (Sophia H.)

Long ago, in the big land. Have one boy who lived in the land. 
At that land have a magic thing in the sea. But that smart boy wanted know how have this. So he go to asked the old man. That old man live in the city. The city was near the boy’s house. 

First he asked where the magic thing came from. “That is called tide. You go to the sea and you will know.” So the boy go to find the tide. In the sand. He saw a dog who drink the water. And he said, “I know it!” And he happy to go to his home. (Andrea)

Five thousand years ago, there is a young boy living in Egypt. The boy name was Ethan. He believe that if the moon gone, the Earth will gone too. One day, there was many cloud in the sky. He can’t see the moon. So he is very worried. Than he went to tell other peoples, “The moon was gone!” So everyone at Egypt is really really worried. When King Pharaoh know the moon was gone. He want to know who shoot the moon down. So King saw that Ethan’s home has a moon, but it just a model. So Ethan goes to the castle and do the chores for King. Than t rain for one week. Than the moon comes out. So now that King knows: “If the moon was gone, didn’t mean the Earth will gone, it just mean it will be rain.” Last, Ethan’s work is being the people who will write the news paper’s weather part. All peoples were happy now. (Enoch)

Long ago, a crazy fish was living in the sea. To the east was the hell. To the west was heaven. Everyday he was thinking about something. Some are: Why I’m a fish? Why fish was living in sea? One day he was thinking: Why have tide? So he went to ask the smartest people in the world, “Sam!” Sam tell him, “There was a giant lived in the sea. In the day it is hot, so he drink a lot of sea water. At night he spit it out.” Last, the fish know why have tide. He was angry, because he want to kill the giant! (Sam)

The Story of Moon (Charles, E5B)
Why do we have moon? Is it a banana? Yes! Is it. In long long ago, a curious boy live in the beach, to east was sea, to west is mountains. His name was Eric. Eric like to play, and he want to know where the moon came. He is smart, but he worried about it only have sun, don’t have a moon, so he go to the village to see the old man. Old man said that will all light, no dark, so bad, so he created a moon, he use a banana to below to the sky. And it is what the moon came from. 

Why We Have a Moon (Eden, E5B)
Why do we have moon? Because long long ago sky don’t have. But many people play soccer. One day they play soccer again. But this time have one people kick the ball harderly, so the ball go to the sky. It a ball on the sky. And is turn to a moon, so we have a moon. 

Story of Wind (Vivian, E5B)
Long ago, there was a man. He want to make sky get out of the ground. So he use his hand to push the sky and stand on ground. Then he did it. But he dead. So his body become the mountain. He breath become the wind. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A New Year, A New Semester, and a New Covenant: the First O.S.F. of the Semester

Although classes have already been back in session for almost a month, tonight included the first O.S.F. gathering of second semester. Six students showed up, and although numbers were small, we were glad the kids that were there came!

Before the meat of the evening, Hannah led us in a game of charades/Pictionary. Whoever was up could choose to act out or draw whatever action was on the slip of paper that they'd drawn. Students and teachers alike took turns and joined in both guessing or acting/drawing. Everyone had fun guessing actions from doing homework to running and crying to falling down!

Then it was time for the topical part of the evening - New. Barb led, and she pointed out that we had started a new semester, and that back in January we'd celebrated Chinese New Year. She went on to explain that - excluding when it talks about new moons, new wine, and new grain/wheat - the Bible uses the word "new" twenty times. In both the Old and New Testament, the Bible talks about many things that God makes new. God is always the same. He has made new songs. He has made a new covenant, and through Jesus, He gives us new life and makes us new. He has given a new commandment: Love. He will make a new heaven and a new earth. God makes all things new. When we looked at those twenty verses and all the things that God makes new, one of the common ideas is that through Jesus God made a new covenant with us (His people).

This got us talking about: What is a covenant? What was the old covenant? What is the new covenant? 

A couple of the students had ideas about what a covenant is. They likened it to a promise or an agreement, but the answer that really stuck was Fred's. He said that a covenant is like a deal.

Once we'd established what a covenant is, we moved on to what the old covenant was. After all, for there to be a new covenant, there had to be an old covenant. Barb talked about the 10 Commandments that God had given Moses, and how God has promised to take care of, save, and provide for the people if they followed His commandments.

But therein lies the problem: no of us can keep those 10 Commandments perfectly. However, God loves us and He wants to save us and provide for us, so He found a way to establish a new covenant: Jesus.

In Jesus we find the new covenant. Through His perfect life, death on the cross, and resurrection we are reconciled to God. All we have to do is follow Jesus.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dear Taiwan... From, Wisconsin; Dear Wisconsin... From, Taiwan

Petrea and I served and taught together at C.E.L.A. My first year in Taiwan was her fourth year here. My second year in Taiwan was her first year teaching at a small Lutheran school in our home state of Wisconsin, and she has been teaching there ever since.

Almost, if not, every year since then, her class in Wisconsin and one of my classes in Taiwan have exchanged pen pal letters.

Usually, her students write first. Back in the beginning, we used to actually mail the letters, but we've since taken to using Google Docs and/or email to exchange them. (It's quicker).

This year, her students letters arrived in my inbox a week or so before our Chinese New Year holiday. The kids in Wisconsin wrote wonderful letters where they introduced themselves, talked about their families, and shared Jesus with my students!

This year, it was my CE1 (first graders) who received letters. In class we talked about WI (where their pen-pals are from), and then the students started working on their responses. Being first graders, their writing is still relatively basic, so many of the students opted to draw pictures to send along with their letters to illustrate things they wanted to share about themselves. Some of the students also drew pictures about Christmas, since they started working on their responses towards the beginning of January and Christmas was still fresh in their minds.

With the holiday break and winter camp falling shortly after the letters arrived from Wisconsin, it took us a little while here in Taiwan to get the responses written and emailed back to the States. But, the kids finished their letters last week, and I got them all typed up with pictures added this week and emailed back to the States.

It's a neat experience for the kids! And for years now different groups of students have enjoyed hearing from Petrea's class on the other side of the world in Wisconsin. :)