A Tale of Two Camps

 

A Tale of Two Camps

            In the summer of 2009, our mission team from Houston, Texas traveled to Taiwan to host two separate English camps for elementary school students. In these camps, we incorporated English with Bible stories to help spread the Gospel. Although each camp was uniquely challenging in its own way, God allowed us to take part in planting the seeds of the Gospel in the children's hearts.

            During the English classes, we focused on specific vocabulary words from the Bible stories and Vacation Bible School (VBS) songs with movements. The songs that we performed had messages about morals, good behavior, and good character traits for children to learn and apply to their own lives. To help them remember the vocabulary, we used methods such as repetition and vocabulary games.

Playing games with the new words helped the children to memorize the material and have fun at the same time. They really enjoyed the games and had a competitive spirit because of the reward incentive. Having the vocabulary games after each lesson was the most effective method. In the older classes, games proved to be a challenge because they were harder to entertain.

In each camp, the children grew up in different school environment, and as a result, they have different behaviors. The difference between the two areas was apparent in the school facilities because the second school located in the city looked more modern compared to the first school. We worked with kids from the countryside at Yuemei Elementary in the first week. These children were more active and enthusiastic; many needed special attention from the teachers. Sometimes it was a little hard to keep their attention on our lessons, even with multiple teachers. In the second school, Neipu Elementary, the children were more reserved and easier to control, so we were able to teach them more English; however, the students were not as open to play with us.

When camp first began, we and the students both were a little apprehensive. The first VBS song was just the dance team performing for the children. There was very little response and excitement, but once we encouraged them to participate, they quickly warmed up to us. As the week progressed, the amiable connections between the students and teachers quickly grew.

In the first grade, there was one boy who would hit and disrupt the other children during English lessons. When the teachers told him to be quiet and participate, he would backtalk or run away. In the middle of the first week, he even climbed the school gates and attempted to leave. Although he put up such a rebellious display, he was not a "bad" child. When the teacher, Anne, walked after him and spoke with him through the gate, he willingly returned to the classroom. The child was talented and sweet; he simply needed someone to care. Anne realized that he would give his best to pursue a reward but would rebel when scolded. This incident was proof that "problem children" are not bad kids; they are simply kids that need a different type of nurture and care. Teacher Anne, the youngest member of the team (14), also recognized that the 1st grade students were very weak in their ABCs so she quickly adapted and taught them ABCs instead of the prepared English lesson and even played musical chairs using the ABCs as a tool. 

Throughout these two weeks of camp, it has really been extremely tiring but rewarding. We earnestly wish the best for all of the children, hoping and praying that God will work in all of their lives. All of us have grown very fond of each child, even if they are not our students. Leaving Taiwan without watching them grow is very hard on us, but we know that God will stay true to each and every child.

Formosan Presbyterian Church Mission Team of Houston, Texas, USA

Wilson Hung, Maria Yang, Marie Fang, Michael Lin, Tony Shen, Anne Shen

Rev. Michael Chen, Elder Andrie Chen, Deacon Rickey Crews. Tammy Crews,

Sandy Jong, Monica Lin, Maggie Tsai

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