I think people would be more tolerable to change in their routine, if it didn’t inherently call for that transition period of sheer madness. For our last month of transitioning to full-time ministry at Doulos Discovery School, that madness has looked something like washing and hanging school uniforms in the backyard at 10 p.m., while making stove top popcorn for kids’ lunches and putting a stack of napkins on the toilet tank lid because [the proverbial you] has been too
tired busy to go to the supermercado to buy proper snack food and toilet paper. But the madness is beginning to die down. We are learning the how-to’s and culture of our new ministry. And we are loving every minute of it.
It all began in August, when we sent our kids to Doulos because we were so excited about the quality education that they would receive through this expeditionary learning school. What is an EL school? Glad you asked. Basically, that means that the kids learn through themes of real-life experiences in tangible ways. While chatting with a girlfriend from back home about the cool stuff going on, she asked me if we were “full-hippy” and did the kids go bare-foot at school and do all of their work on the floor in leu of desks, and of course, I told her yes.
But I definitely think the staff will be open to her ideas.
But seriously, today I met with three lead teachers and their administrators as they presented their plans for their class expeditions. They call in experts, plan relevant field trips, service projects and biblical integration all within a theme. Emily’s kindergarten class’ current expedition is “insects,” and they’re not just learning about bugs. Soon they’re going to serve the community in a tangible way by educating others on the dangers of Dengue Fever, a common mosquito transmitted disease. We brainstormed ideas like taking the class on a walk through town and handing out PSA posters to the community, or even a fundraiser for mosquito nets for those in need. Service learning is in every fiber of Doulos.
Luke’s first graders are learning about eating healthy foods because we are good stewards of our bodies. He’s not just responsible to himself for his choices, but now he’s responsible to God! What if we all learned that sooner?
Fourth graders go to the city dump to learn about recycling because sometimes its not enough just to see, but to smell. Ninth graders hike for an entire week up and back down the highest peak in the Caribbean- over 10,000 feet! Can you imagine the unlikely bond that is formed between adolescents from opposite sides of the tracks on a treacherous journey like that? And are we not called to unity?
What would the world look like if every class of 20+ kids around the world from age 3-18 served their community on a regular basis and serving others was not something they do once in a while because it feels good, but was actually a part of their core belief system? What kind of generation would be harvested? My hope is that the Plankenhorn family looks different from the rest of the world, because by the power of God we are raising two little servant leaders that are slowly learning to move from an inherent selfishness toward a Jesus-loving selflessness.
And while it might seem like the parent pick-up line of a school like this might be filled with BMWs and Range Rovers, half of these kids would be happy just to have bicycles. 50% of Doulos kids come from some of the poorest communities in the world. Kids that once had no future, now have a hope.
I love the staff’s earnest desires to give God our best. It would be easy to say, “well, anything we give them is better than what they had.” But no one does. Real life change is taking place every day- from the inside-out. But let me be clear, that it’s not because of any fancy education model or even because kids are fed a healthy meal. It’s because everyday we are pointing them to Jesus. Every change can be traced back to that.
And the part I am most excited to share– He wants to change you from the inside-out, too! Jesus is not just a baby in a manger. He’s our Healer. He’s our Helper. He’s our Peace. He’s our Saviour. He’s our Living God. All you have to do is tell Him that you need Him to change you, too! Tell him that you’re done trying things your way, and you want to try His way. Tell Him that you want to live your life with purpose–His purpose. Tell Him that you’re sorry for not believing, but you want to believe now. Not sure how to start? Take a cue from five-year-old Emily, and close your eyes, bow your head and shout, “helllllllllllllll-oooooooo, God!” Life is not boring, but fulfilling. Not limited, but limitless. It’s been nine years since I did, and the life change is incredible. Not instantaneous and certainly not complete but a slow-steady-build. Being a Jesus-follower doesn’t make life easy. It makes it worth living for.