Last week we only held school two days because of Thanksgiving. I used this story to teach the boys about America’s national holiday.
How odd then, that the very next week, we fast-forward to modern times across the ocean. Nelson Mandela died on Thursday. South Africa mourns. I want my boys to be aware of this historic epoch that they happen to be living in the midst of. Next week, we will take a break from ancient Rome to explain (a bit of) modern-day Africa.
So it also seems odd that this week we have begun thinking of Christ’s birth with trees, parties (today was our first party of the month with the teens), and daily advent devotionals. This is our first year as a family to do some sort of daily advent build-up to Christmas. I hope it will help us honor Christ more in our traditions.
In history we learned about Jesus’ death and resurrection, Augustus Caesar, and Nero. We ate latkes and played a Jewish Hanukkah game to experience some Jewish tradition dating back to the Maccabees. In Bible, before moving on to accounts from Acts, we reviewed Jesus’ birth and life with The Very First Christmas by Paul Maier and Jesus by Brian Wildsmith. Friday we read about Pentecost and how God changed fearful people into joyful evangelists!
In science, Caleb learned about the respiratory system, and for nature study this week, we caught and drew a grasshopper. We’re hopping along in math and language arts. Since we are subscribers to World magazine, we now receive the children’s e-versions for free; so I downloaded “Early Edition,” the magazine for 1st-2nd graders, and Caleb was very excited about that!
We started two new items in fine arts this week. For drawing, we are using Draw Write Now books, which are easier for me to implement than the book I was using, Drawing with Children. For some music appreciation, we are using Say Hello to Classical Music by My Father’s World. My kids had lots of fun doing both activities this week!
This time of year keeps us hopping in our ministry as well, but not so much because of Christmas. The schools are done for the year, and children and teens are swapping places of residence all over the country, visiting family distant or near for lengthy visits of more than a month. This usually decreases church attendance. College students and workers from Johannesburg also come home sometime this month either for Christmas or just for a visit, so our church members who live far away drop in for meals and fellowship.
Tuesday evening we hosted three people for our supper, and a couple more people dropped in during other suppers this week. Thursday I cooked for the young men who were digging the foundation for our church building. It was rainy, so the men quit work early; but that didn’t mean I got off the hook with cooking! I had to quit homeschooling to finish the meal that I had already begun preparing earlier (which caused a late start to homeschooling!) This time of year requires a lot of flexibility on my part, and I’ve tried to enjoy that instead of being frustrated.
So this week was a great example of the mixture of life: some usual (homeschooling and ministry), some unusual (Mandela’s death and certain ministries), and the busy, predictable unpredictability of December in South Africa.