There are many things we are doing to prepare for the field while still here. I am sure over the next few months we’ll share many of them, but in light of it being the beginning of summer I decided to tell you a little about the school experience our children got to have this year.
Last spring, with the confidence that God was leading our family to ministry in Berlin, Germany, we looked into the possibility of sending our children to the German Immersion School in St. Paul, Minnesota. They had openings in Kindergarten (for Leah) and second grade (for Isaac) if we would do the work with Isaac to help him transition well. Every immersion school teacher I talked
with before the fall said their schools never allowed non-fluent children to enroll in their schools after 1stgrade, TCGIS was willing to make an exception for Isaac. We had him take a summer camp taught completely in German by his future preforming arts teacher and enrolled both of the kids in a tutoring program.
I certainly expected this year to be hard for them, but I figured it was better for this year to be hard for them while they still were surrounded by familiar things like their home, family, friends, and English speaking church. On the first day Denny and I drove them to school and dropped them off nervously at their classes. I was certain that when I picked them up from school there would be tears because they would not have understood anything that happened that day and they would be returned to me overwhelmed. No tears, just joy and excitement to return for the next day. I cannot imagine spending my entire day trying to learn from someone who only speaks a language I cannot communicate or understand much in, and to be the only one in the classroom with that problem (my time will come, I know).
The first few weeks Isaac and I spent every night translating homework and struggling through it together. In the mornings Isaac and I would go into his class and work his morning board together deciphering the words we could and guessing at what the question was asking us. The majority of Leah’s class came in not knowing the language so she was at no disadvantage, but is leaving her class this year able to communicate mostly in German.
The year is over and nine months later we finally have the tears. Saying good-bye to the teachers who spent a year intentionally preparing our children for the years to come abroad was difficult. This school was a thing we chose to do for our children to prepare them for their future in Berlin. Even in our desires to prepare them God blessed us with great teachers, a place that teaches in a language the kids will be learning for much of their scholastic careers, wonderful friends, and a support system that understands the culture we are moving into. An amazing gift for us.