Mailing Address: 352 A Winnacunnet Road • Hampton • NH • 03842
Birthdays: Leela - December 6
Leela has been on staff with CCC for the past 16 years. Over the past four years she has focused on the development and training of new staff and interns, their coaches, and emerging campus leaders. Additionally, she has been co-directing the summer Yellowstone Project. The project focuses on student leadership development as well as outreach to the other summer employees. This year, in addition to Leela's ministry responsibilities she will be taking classes at Gordon Conwell pursuing a MA in spiritual formation.
Update from August 8, 2012
Thank you again for your prayers for me and for my team in South Africa! We got home a little over a week ago. It was definitely winter when we left too. We were safe the entire trip and certainly felt God answering your prayers for physical strength and spiritual discernment. Also we made great progress in solidifying more connections so that the tutoring program in Mamelodi Township eventually becomes completely sustainable locally through the work of South African college students and other local volunteers. There are also exciting possibilities for the tutoring program to expand into other townships! Here are a few takeaways that I'll share with you:
--There is great disparity between the education available for black township students and white students in South Africa. There are some exceptions but generally it's true that black township schools are severely under-resourced and low-functioning. Consequently, very few township students score high enough on their college entrance exam to go on to university. The tutoring program we are building is a partnership between the United States Embassy in South Africa, the University of Pretoria, local Pretoria churches, and Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) in the Northeast. University of Pretoria enrollment statistics are telling:
Two years ago, only 40 students from all of Mamelodi's 18 high schools had scored high enough on their college entrance exam to be accepted into UP. By contrast, just one very small high school in a white neighborhood in downtown Pretoria had 200 students accepted into UP!
It was very sad for me to hear our Grade 8 and Grade 9 learners' stories about their schools, and even more sad to see the reality of their current school performance. Thankfully, our team this trip included a math teacher, a data analyst, and several others with experience in curriculum development. So we were able to track the students' academic growth during the 3 weeks of their program. In just that short amount of time we saw noticiable (documented) improvement in their grasp of basics in English and Math. I never would have expected I'd some day be helping 13 year olds understand negative numbers and fractions but I did, and I'm so proud of them too.
(top row: Ernest, Nqobile, Prudence, Jessica, me, Christina;
bottom row: Precious, Rorisang, Tlhokiso)
--These under-resourced students are the future of South Africa. As the Mamelodi Initiative grows, I'm hopeful that more of these students will go on to college and start down a path leading out of poverty. These students are very motivated to learn and they do work hard. With just a little extra input from us teachers, they made great strides very quickly. As part of the program, they also have alot of Gospel input, in class and in informal conversations with their teachers (us). Many Grade 8 and Grade 9 Learners did trust Christ through the program this year. Others (like Prudence in our Horses class) will continue to process their questions about Christianity in their new relationships with local friends who are believers and they'll keep coming to the tutoring program every June and January break. Learners who are already believers and want to reach out to friends at their high school were also trained in how to start and lead Life Groups at their schools throughout Mamelodi. Please pray for the new Life Groups these 13-15 year olds are leading at their schools now that their Winter Term has started up. Please pray for Prudence to continue asking her excellent questions about Jesus and to find the truth about him. Pray for Ernest and Rori to grow in their faith and become spiritual leaders.
--These students are very attuned to the spiritual realm. Spiritual things are an ordinary part of these students' lives, whether or not they are believers. I talked with many students about their beliefs and they all have a strong and real spiritual belief. They are all over the place--some with witchdoctors "helping" (or hurting) their families, some combining Christian ritual with African ancestral religion, some involved with Bahai or Jehovah's Witnesses, some are very solid Biblical Christians. It is very natural for them to talk about spiritual things in class, in their journal responses, at lunch. I was really amazed by their openness and by their spiritual questions.
--These students desperately need the love of Christ. Our Cru Summer Project team prayed regularly that we would love the South African learners with Christ's own love in heart, word, and action. Nqobile showed up to our Horses class a few days late and was immediately disruptive in every possible way. Her behavior threw me off because it was so different from all the other kids'. After a couple of days, I realized she was way, way behind the group academically and was trying to divert attention from that. My co-teacher and I made a special point to help her solve some problems successfully each day. Every time she got one, she would beam this beautiful smile. It was amazing how just a little bit of affirmation and personal attention began to change her. The next week she told me more about her family, which is complicated, but partly involves an aunt who uses a witch doctor to keep Nqobile away from her 6 year old sister. The thing Nqobile wants most is to see her little sister again and she asked me to pray for that. She also apologized to my co-teacher and me for "being such a nuisance the first few days." The last day of class when it was time to go home after our final celebration, Nqobile had tears streaming down her face. Alot of the kids were sad, but not nearly as emotional as she was. Her heart was definitely changed. Please pray for her.
Thank you again for joining me in this mission! I'll try to post more photos on my blog soon.
Campus Crusade for Christ--Northeast Region