Day 6: Teacher Training, Parent Meeting, and More Painting
Today was an important day for our teachers. When the Agape Special Needs program was started here in Nicaragua, teachers volunteered to take on the task of learning about special education. There is no formal school training for special ed here, so they have learned everything from teacher training days and hands-on experience. If you’ve ever worked with students with special needs, you know how huge a task it is to teach them, especially without training. These teachers were hand-chosen by God, though, and they do an amazing job. They’re hungry for more knowledge and are always looking to improve. We were able to train them on several communication strategies for non-verbal students as well as on several new behavior strategies. They asked question after question about their students and seemed genuinely interested in learning how to handle various situations in their classrooms The exciting part about working with these teachers is that it was far more than just training on classroom issues. We spent the day building relationships with them, sharing stories with them, and just being present with them. Special education in this country would not exist if it was not for their willingness to say yes to God. . It is so obvious they are passionate about what they do, they love their students, and they want to make a difference in the lives of those they work with.
While the teachers did their trainings, the rest of the team spent the day finishing the painting in the classrooms and bathrooms. We were able to paint more than anticipated and enjoyed being together. They also installed a misting cooling system at the clinic.
Another amazing part of the day was the parent meeting. I’m told there are around 200 students in the Agape program, and 110 of the parents showed up, in the middle of the day, to learn more about parenting a child with special needs and to be encouraged. They received training on Creating Positive Relationships, they listened to Alec sing his Spanish song, and heard Francois share about their journey raising Alec. A few others from the team shared encouragement as well. At the end of the service, Pastor Oscar presented them with encouragement through an eternal perspective. It fit right in with our devotional topic the previous night about how Nicaraguans are constantly saying, “If God allows” and are constantly thinking about an eternal perspective as their hope for life outside of poverty. Pastor Oscar explained that every person in the room could relate to raising a special needs child, that it’s hard work, and that it can be very challenging to watch your child grow up without the ability to walk or talk or play like other kids. He went on to say that in Heaven, those kids will have no more pain. They’ll be able to run and jump and play with all of the other kids. He encouraged parents to be ready for God, so that they can also spend eternity with their kids in Heaven one day. He ended by having everyone find someone else to pray for, hug, and encourage, and you could really feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the room.
Bottom line: we had to be super flexible today, but God did amazing things in the lives of both parents and teachers, and we were encouraged!