Starting a new semester
Last week classes started here for a new semester, Isaac's second semester teaching. Last semester he started with one class to figure out the system of teaching here, cross culturally, in a new language, and with widely varied educational backgrounds among the students. This semester he is not only doing a full class load but also accelerating the schedule so that he can be done early and accompany the rest of us back to the US to deliver this baby.
It's pretty cool to see the growth over a semester. At the beginning of his first semester Isaac was essentially writing out his lectures to be well-prepared, and he ran every thing by his language helper. Now, Isaac is more excited than nervous, jotting down class outlines and comfortably winging his lectures from there, freely using Indonesian without any nerves at all.
Isaac's first class was theology of the Old Testament, which it turns out was a really amazing class to teach here since so few of the tribes around the island have the Old Testament in their language. This semester he is teaching the follow-up to that class with the same students. What a privilege, to teach deeply in the Law and the Prophets, to show the ties to Christ, the shadows of the New Covenant, and to move beyond moralistic interpretation.
As a stay at home mom, it's so fun to watch my husband doing what he loves and know that it's something important for the local church and culture as well. I love that Isaac comes home on a teaching high and practically repeated his whole lesson to me in talking over the class. I sat in on some of Isaac's last class and watched him ask, “And so, is this fulfilled?” And the students say with him, chuckling because they now know some of his oft-repeated lines, “Yes, already fulfilled..... but also not yet.”
Because education here in this culture is usually transmissive and involves simply reading off lectures or papers and imparting information without teaching to the mind and heart, Isaac sees one of his primary tasks as helping students think and analyze for themselves. After finding that so many students quote extensively from external sources without understanding (or referencing – plagiarism is rife!), Isaac has asked his students to read a short book of the Bible repeatedly and think about it, analyze, and respond to it themselves, without any external help. In class he asks questions, plays devil's advocate, tries to push them to wrestle with things themselves, so that one day as they face new issues they know how to come to a good conclusion themselves.
This semester Isaac is also teaching a class on the church and teaching English. One class is freshmen, one is sophomore, and one is juniors, so by next year he will know all of the theology students except the incoming freshmen. What a gift it is to teach and serve the growing church here. Thanks to all of you who support and pray for us and allow us to be here, doing what we are doing.