13.1.19

Nativity Play (video)



by Julie Banks

We took down our Christmas tree today. For me it’s always kind of a sad day. It’s the end of a season I love. But as I look back over the Christmas holidays here at Kibuye, it was really a special time, and we had so much fun not only with our families, but also in the local community.

This is the third year in a row that the children rehearsed and performed the story of Jesus’s birth. In the Western world it is very common for children to dress up and do a Nativity Play. But that is not the case here in Burundi. This is a new experience for our Burundian neighbors. For many who saw our kids' Christmas production, it might be their first time watching the Bible come alive in this way. They smile, they laugh, they whisper to each other each time a new character comes on, which really adds a fun dynamic to the performance.



This year we even added a set, or backdrop, to the production. The kids, working with our teammate Lauren Chudnovsky, who is an artist, painted 4 different scenes, and Jonah Watts built a moveable stand for it. Each scene looked amazing!



In addition to the Nativity, the kids also put together a chime performance. Michelle Wendler arranged a version of “Carol of the Bells” which she taught to the children during their music classes at Kibuye Hope Academy. The children performed the chimes and the Nativity in two locations at the hospital, as well as at the local school and the local church.



One of the places we performed was at the outpatient malnutrition clinic. These are children who had previously been admitted to the hospital for severe malnutrition. After they are released from the hospital, they are allowed to come back twice a week to be weighted, and receive a sack of Busoma (a nutrient-rich porridge) and a hard-boiled egg.

As the performance ended, I asked one of the chaplains to translate for me as I shared the good news of the Gospel with the children and their mothers. Christmas is not just a story - it happened! And it happened for a reason. God sent his son as a gift to us so we could be forgiven, and all we have to do is receive the gift.

As the pastor translated what I was saying, I noticed a majority of the group stood up. The pastor leaned over and whispered to me that he had asked who would like to respond to this good news, and who needs prayer. There were so many standing! Kibuye Hope Hospital is filled with people in need, not only for physical healing, but also for spiritual healing.


And that right there made it all worth it. All the rehearsals and costumes and sets. It wasn’t just a performance. We shared Jesus’s story. A story of grace, love, and forgiveness.

Please continue to pray not only for our team here at Kibuye, but also for the three chaplains who have a huge job at the hospital. The needs are massive. Physically and spiritually. We pray that everything we do is wrapped in truth and grace. Even a performance like this, that is new to their culture and can be a bit of a spectacle, we pray that the light of the Gospel would shine through all we do here.





Cast:

Madeline and Zeke as Mary and Joseph


Alma, Ella, and Seija as the Angels


Anna was the Kirundi narrator, Piper was the French narrator


Micah Watts and Abi Fader as the Shepherds


Liam Banks, Biniyam, and Kaden as the Three Wise Men




Toby John, Liam Fader, and Tracy (Dr. Alliance's daughter) as the Sheep





10.1.19

Two Graces for the First Day Back

(from Eric)

Our family returned back to Burundi last week, and Rachel and I restarted work in the hospital on Monday.  I had been seeing my hospitalized patients for a couple days, but yesterday was my first day in clinic.

The day starts out with Alyssa sharing at hospital devotions.  She leads the hospital staff through a small gratitude exercise, passing out sheets of a yellow legal pad for us to write down those innumerable gifts that God has given us that we are so apt to forget.  We close with a prayer and a few announcements, and the day starts.

The medical student who is working with me (and serving as Kirundi translator) walks with me to my clinic office, where an old man is waiting outside the door with his clinic sheet.  She exchanges a few words with him, and tells me "I think he has Parkinson's Disease, or something like that."  I start with surprise and then recovering, ask them to come inside.  Sure enough, this old man has come all the way from Tanzania because of a tremor which seems consistent with Parkinson's.  I have not yet found any real treatment options for Parkinson's in Burundi, and I doubt his rural outpost of Tanzania has better options.

I grab a bottle of Sinemet out of my office drawer, and I say to my student in French, "I don't make a habit of bringing medicines from the United States, mostly because we want to support Burundian supply chains.  But, you see, my grandmother passed away a couple months ago.  She was a wonderful and lovely woman.  My grandfather asked me to go through the medications she left behind, to see if any would be useful for Burundi.  The only one that seemed useful to bring back was this medicine for Parkinson's.  This bottle won't last forever, but I hope it will help him feel better for a while."  Turning to the man, I continue,  "I don't see that many patients with Parkinson's, and I wondered whether I would find any before the medicine expired, but lo and behold, you are my first patient back, and it's precisely what you need."

My student gives me a look that says, "Do you want me to tell the patient all that?"  Yes, I do.  I watch my patient's face light up with joy and profound gratitude on hearing the story of his medication bottle, and I think about the beauty and the probability of this moment.

A couple patients later, I see a 50-year old woman with heart failure.  She is a village lady that I diagnosed a couple years ago.  "She's only taking this one medicine now?" I ask.  "How is she doing?"  My student and the woman chat for a few sentences.  "She says that she feels very well.  Before, she couldn't even walk, and everyone told her that she would never get better.  Now she thanks God because she is even able to work in her fields, though she does get tired sometimes."

I smile at my student.  These cases can seem so rare sometimes.  I pick up my folded sheet of yellow legal paper from the morning hospital devotions.  "Did you hear what Dr. Alyssa said this morning?"  My student nods.  I say, "I'm going to write this lady down on my paper."

***

The thing is, since returning to Burundi, my most frequent prayer has been that I would be able to see God's hand at work in my life and in the world around me, day by day.  Kicking off my first clinic day with these two stories seems to be Grace to me in the form of an answered prayer.

Many other days are just discouraging.  Today was much more that way.  My patients are mostly sick and none of them seem like they're getting better.  Is God at work?  Do I just need eyes to see it?  Walking home through the gate, there is a vivacious chatter of a flock of weaver birds who have taken refuge in one of our tall eucalyptus trees.


It's a thing of beauty and of joy.  But is it really just a tree and some animals?  Or are these small wonders windows that peek into God's work in the world and his glory?  On one hand, I'm not interested in rose-colored glasses, but I need not exchange them for blinders either.

I think the answer to such questions always requires some kind of faith, in the end.  Either faith that it's just a coincidence or faith that it's something more.  Either faith that it's just a bird, or faith that it's a glimpse of the light of the world.  I'm not talking about faith as some arbitrary choice.  We reason and we discern, but there does seem to be some irreducible element of choice that remains.  How will we see the world?

I really do hope to see the world with gratitude for all that God does.  And at least for today, it seems like a reasonable approach.

***

(for those interested in slogging through this question with the great Blaise Pascal, here is a quote that is most rewarding is you can persevere through the tangle of double negatives:

“The prophecies, the very miracles and proofs of our religion, are not of such a nature that they can be said to be absolutely convincing. But they are also of such a kind that it cannot be said that it is unreasonable to believe them. Thus there is both evidence and obscurity to enlighten some and confuse others. But the evidence is such that it surpasses, or at least equals, the evidence to the contrary, so that it is not reason which can determine men not to follow it, and thus it can only be lust or malice of heart. And by this means there is sufficient evidence to condemn, and insufficient to convince; so that it appears in those who follow it that it is grace, and not reason, which makes them follow it; and in those who shun it, that it is lust, not reason, which makes them shun it.”)

10.12.18

English Can Be Fun!

(by Michelle Wendler)

This last year I've had the privilege of teaching English to a small group of local village children 3-4 afternoons a week.



They normally show up after school around 2pm, dressed in their Sunday best, all smiles and ready to learn. First they wash their hands (using a sink with running water was a new experience for them) and then they each get a small snack or treat. Apple juice is a favorite (apples don't grow in Burundi) as well as cookies or banana bread, (treats that are very rare to come by here as the normal house doesn't have a stove or oven).

Then we work on learning some English words or phrases. These kids are raised up to be very quiet and respectful around adults. During the first few weeks of class they started out whispering the answers and it was like pulling teeth to get them to talk louder. But they are eager to learn and please and have an amazing ability to memorize and retain information. I guess that is what the lack of being able to look something up on a smart phone will get you!



They have really improved over the year. Check out these thank you letters written to a girl in the States who gave some school supplies.



After around 45 minutes of English we usually end with an art project or book reading time.

Recently they learned how to watercolor, and for their first attempts I think they did great!



And check out this picture drawn by one of the boys. I think he's going to be an artist!



Last week they encountered bubble wrap for the first time. Check out this video of all the joy and smiles.

They came a few weeks ago bearing baskets of potatoes and beans as thank you gifts. So sweet of them!

As we get ready to depart on our first scheduled furlough I'm going to miss this group of kids! 

6.12.18

Holiday Giving: the Kibuye Feeding Program

(from Eric)

As we wrap up our time in the United States, several people have asked us about special needs for Kibuye during the holiday season.  Though you can give to many projects and missionaries that can be perused at serge.org (all of which are tax-deductible and will be used to a worthy cause), we'd like to highlight the Kibuye Feeding Program.

Burundi is arguably the hungriest country in the world per the Global Hunger Index.  They didn't have data to include Burundi in this year's ranking (though they have recently topped it), but they still note Burundi as the country with the highest rate of kids who don't reach the full height potential due to nutritional "stunting".  We learned early on that malnourished patients don't heal, and thus, in 2015, Kibuye became the 2nd hospital in Burundi to feed their patients, a move which, thanks to dedicated staff and generous donations, transformed our ability to bring health to our population.

Also included in the Feeding Program is a twice-weekly Busoma (the multigrain nutritional porridge manufactured on the hospital campus) distribution program for identified malnourished children in our community.

These programs combined cost about $6500 per month, which purchases about 20,000 patient meals and supports the nutrition of about 250 children and their families at home.  So, please pray for provision for this program and consider giving to it.

You can easily turn this gift into an alternative Christmas present by dedicating a gift to someone.  Here are a couple ways to put the numbers together:
  • $8 feeds a hospitalized patient for a month
  • $10 feeds a malnourished child in the community for a month
  • $56 feeds the pediatric ward (and their moms) for a day (during the busy season)
  • $135 feeds all the hospitalized patients and their caregivers for a day
  • $312 feeds all the malnourished children with Busoma on a given day who come to the twice-weekly program
  • $1700 feeds the pediatric ward (and their moms) for a month
  • Be Creative and mix these numbers as you will!

Burundi Feeding Programs three logos: Serge/Hospital/Friends from Radio Friendly on Vimeo.

24.11.18

WhatsApp: The Community Communication Cure

by Jess Cropsey

You would think that people who live right next door to each other would find it relatively easy to communicate.  Indeed, it is usually easy, but people are busy or not at home and it can be time-consuming to wander from house to house looking for that onion that you need to finish making dinner.

"Back in the day" (meaning 5 years ago when our team first landed in Burundi), we communicated the old-fashioned way:  face-to-face.  Our internet was almost non-existent at the time and texting by phone was the only other decent alternative.  Once our team began to grow (and after internet became more reliable), the wise Susan Watts proposed forming a WhatsApp group to help us communicate more easily with each other.  Plus, it seems to be the preferred method of communication for many Burundians since you can get a 30-day package of unlimited Facebook and WhatsApp for a mere $1.30.    

This is now our go-to method of disseminating information and there are at least a dozen different groups of various combinations of people (Kibuye Hope Academy faculty, various committees, doctors, ...).  Here are some excerpts from these groups that will give you a sneak peek into our daily community life in Kibuye.  

The "Kibuye Core Group" was our first WhatsApp group and includes all missionary adults on the team.  It can be used for any variety of purposes, most of which you are unlikely to see on a WhatsApp communication chain in the USA.



And with the team Thanksgiving feast coming up on Saturday, you can expect the "Exercise Group" to be buzzing.  (Frankly, this group needs to be renamed since it includes all women whether they exercise or not :-).


Other frequent texts on this group include...
If you see Child X, please send him/her home.  
Anyone want to run at 4:30?



























We even have one called "Milk" that lets us know how much we owe each month for the fresh cow's milk that is divvied out and delivered to our doors every day (thanks to the amazing Susan Watts).  And if you're looking for someone to take your milk because you'll be out of town for the weekend, this is the place to go!

























The very best part of WhatsApp is that it makes communication to North America so easy.  We (the Cropseys) have a group for each side of the family and can easily send & receive quick pictures or texts about what's happening in everyone's lives.  One little way to help us stay better connected.  Thanks WhatsApp!


  

15.11.18

Learning Eggs-perience

As a history teacher, I enjoy telling stories. Fortunately, my students at Kibuye Hope Academy love to hear a good yarn. Tales of my youth in Appalachia garner some special interest. Accounts of a little Uncle Scott being chased by turkeys and horse-sized dogs always produce some snickering. However, their reaction to hearing of how my family slaughtered chickens on my grandparents’ farm was received with slightly less enthusiasm. Hearing these stories is educational in their own way, but nothing can replace the hands-on learning of a KHA learning experience day. 


Aunt Julie T. orchestrated an in-depth study of chickens that took us from the classroom, to the chopping block, and into the kitchen. Elementary students learned about the use of informational texts as they put together presentations on how to raise and care for chickens. The middle schoolers researched their questions about chickens online (which came first the chicken or the egg?).  We learned that chickens are attracted to red and the fear of chickens is alektrophobia.

The term, alektrophobia comes from the Greek myth of Ares, Aphrodite, and Alectryon. After Alectryon failed to deliver a timely wake-up call to Ares and Aphrodite, he was turned into a rooster and cursed to announce the coming dawn forevermore. You can learn about this story and so much more at www.chickensinliterature.com (it’s a real site). 

Once the students had gathered some general chicken knowledge it was time to apply it in the field. With the purchase of several local chickens, some hot water, and a couple Burundian guides, the students learned how the chickens get from running along the paths of Kibuye to our dinner tables. A few moments fraught with stomach churning for those of us with weaker constitutions quickly passed into a fascination with feather plucking. Every student was engaged in the following dissection (even if not everyone was strictly hands-on during this hands-on activity), and pointing out the different organs, naming their functions.




After a large dose of hand sanitizer, the kids were off to the kitchen to learn about eggs. The middle school baked quiche and frittata while the younger students made deviled eggs and omelets. We feasted together as we listened to the presentations from the different grades prepared earlier in the day. It was another successful KHA learning experience day, where students and adults delighted in learning together.   

Although we never solved which came first, the chicken or the egg, we did learn what to call a chicken that stares at lettuce … chicken sees a salad. Get it? Chicken sees a salad, chicken caesar salad. One of the consequences of being a middle school teacher is that jokes like this become hilarious, and this was by far the best chicken joke in day laden with many egg-cellent puns.  

8.11.18

Love One Another: An Exhortation for US Election Day and Everyday

(from Eric)

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love another, for whoever loves has fulfilled the law."  Romans 13:8

One of the frequent questions we get here in our time in the US is "What's it like to walk into this moment of America's political culture?"  It's a complicated question to answer, but I do feel like there is one Christian exhortation I can unequivocally add to the discussion.

Love one another.  If you cannot love your brother that you see, how can you say that you love God, whom you haven't seen?  And loving God and loving one another are the two greatest commandments.  All the law and the prophets hang on these commandments.  Without love, I have nothing.  (These are all direct citations from the New Testament.)

How does this normally play out in life?  Mostly, we are concerned with being right.  If I'm right, but I'm not necessarily loving towards others, then that's not ideal, but at least I'm right.  The Bible stands in stark contrast to this, saying effectively, "That's impossible, because love is the fulfillment of the law."  If I am not loving, then I am wrong, in the deepest sense.  I haven't just missed it a bit.  I haven't lost style points.  I have utterly missed the mark.

But, I say, making right and wise choices is a means of love.  For example, as a parent, my love for my child insists sometimes on difficult, right choices sometimes.  That's true.  But I can use it as an excuse to prize my rightness over love.  Just as in the parenting example, though a right decision can be a manifestation of love, I can still be right without loving.  In which case, Jesus says I have utterly failed to be right.  Love is not secondary.  When love is subordinated, we have run off the tracks.

Read James 3:13ff about wisdom.  Read 1 Peter 2:19ff about unjust suffering.  One cannot divorce justice and righteousness from these ideas, but the unexpected feature of them both is how selfless love is the foundation.  There is no starting place besides Love.

***

Every aspect of our lives needs this exhortation every bit as much as America in the wake of Election Day.  My marriage needs it, as does my relationship with my children.  My church needs it as they interact with each other.  Our team in Burundi needs it.  For, as an old friend of mine says, "the only people without issues are dead people".

I may often be loving.  But I am also quite focused on being right.  Both of these things have to do with why I am in Burundi.  However, as I interact with others, my strongly held opinions can make me unloving as well.  Thus the danger is always there.  So the persistent drum beat of love is always there in the Bible, to remind us of what we all too easily forget.

The Romans quote above says that love is the debt we always owe to each other.  Why?  Why are we indebted to one another?  Because we are indebted to Jesus for his great, underserved love for us, and he calls us to pay it forward.  He sacrificed for us.  Then he calls to sacrifice for one another.  This Sacrifice is the key, I think.  Love will call us to sacrifice.  It will call us to bear one another's burdens.

We cannot subordinate love, neither towards each other, nor towards the world around us.  We cannot build good systems, administer good medicine, teach correct practice, and not love each other.  Correction:  we can probably do this, but we cannot do it and fulfill God's mission.  We cannot come close.  For this is the core of the mission.  This is our continuing debt.  This is life in abundance.

***

So, for all of us who struggle to love, here are a couple questions for self-examination that I hope are helpful.  I hope that they will be helpful for me as I write them:

  • Is my first thought as I read this "Yeah, people aren't loving towards me!  They're too concerned about being right!"?  May God show us our hearts and lead us to repentance.  
  • Am I curious what God is doing in the life of the person (or people) that I see as obstacles to what I think is right?  Can I imagine that my love for them for them might be more important in God's eyes than me getting it right?
  • Am I hoping for genuinely good things in the life of the person that I see as an obstacle?  Can I pray that God will truly bless their lives with good things?  Can I thank God for making them and for loving them?

6.11.18

Burundi missionary history

(By Alyssa)

Jess recently wrote a post about hidden talents from our visitors and how they encourage us. I'd like to add another visitor to that list. We recently welcomed a visitor who was born here in Burundi in 1948! We learned so much from her about Burundian missionary life decades ago. Here are some snippets of stories that might interest you, too:
  • Several of her missionary aunts and uncles attempted to come to Burundi in 1941 on a ship named the ZamZam. While crossing the Atlantic in the middle of WW2, however, the ship was bombed and sank. The missionaries were rescued and one of Faith's aunties even was able to rescue her typewriter! Here is the gravestone for one of her missionary aunts (about 2 hours away from us in Kibuye): 
  • World War II was still raging when Faith's parents came to Burundi in 1943, so they traveled through the South Atlantic instead. That meant taking a ship from California around the Southern coast of South America and on to Cape Town in South Africa. But unfortunately their passports arrived two days after the ship left California! Their colleagues went on the ship and her parents were able to arrange a flight from California to South America. Then they waited for a month in Uruguay before a freighter could take them across the South Atlantic to South Africa. From there they traveled north on trains and boats to Burundi. The entire journey took 6 months! 
  • Their first child died in Burundi in 1944. 
  • Faith was their third child and she was born at home in 1948, though a doctor from Kibuye Hospital came to stay with her mother for one week. 
  • Her father helped build and lead a church in a place called Kayero. The church is still being used - they were having a meeting there when we arrived! And they are building a new one, too, so the congregation seems to be thriving there.
    The church built by her father at Kayero
    The field where she used to play as a kid outside the church
    Her childhood home still being lived in by the current pastor's family
  • In those days, Burundi was called Ruanda-Urundi and was under Belgian rule (the Belgians had taken over from the Germans after WWI.) Faith remembers when the king of Belgium came to visit. A fellow missionary kid was asked to clean up the outhouse in case he should need to use it. In the process, the child lit a match which caused the outhouse to go up in flames just as the king arrived! (The child was ok.)  
  • Faith remembers being in 6th grade when Burundi gained their independence. 
    The scenery is gorgeous around Kayero
    This is called the German Cliffs - there is an old German outpost here from before WWI
    And Karera falls are not far from her childhood home 
  • She was in school in Mweya for several years (currently a Bible training college with the dorms still in use.) 
    Visiting Mweya (about 45 minutes from Kibuye)
    Barb and Wayne Vibbert, who currently live in Mweya, first arrived in Burundi in 1976, so they knew Faith's parents but she was already grown up by then
    Exploring Mweya
    Faith with her dorm in the background
    Faith's old classroom - she's pointing to where the class of students being actively taught sat while the others did work on their own (one room schoolhouse). As the oldest child in the school her 8th grade year, she was responsible for teaching the younger ones how to read! 
  • For 10th grade, Faith's family was in the US. Midway through her 11th grade year, her parents returned to Burundi. She didn't see them again until she was midway through college! 
  • Faith's parents retired from Burundi in 1979. 
  • Faith began working as a laboratory technician at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya nearly 40 years ago and she plans to retire in 2019, so she wanted to take this opportunity to see her childhood home for the first time since the 1970s! We first met her and Annette (Canadian respiratory therapist who traveled with Faith to Burundi) when we worked at Tenwek from 2009-2011. Both Faith and Annette offered helpful expertise and teaching to our staff and students in their respective areas. 
It's so interesting to me to learn about the Burundi of 70 years ago. But I'm thankful that it only takes me 24 hours or so to get to the US rather than 6 months! Burundi was as beautiful as Faith remembered. Some things are the same such as the colorful Burundian fabric and the traditional farming tools, but she noticed great improvements in education and healthcare from her day, so that's encouraging. I wonder what Burundi will be like 70 years from now when our missionary kids come back to visit! 

26.10.18

Translational Research

by Carlan

Translational research is the phrase we use (or formerly used, I’ve been out of that world for a while now) to describe how something discovered in a Petri dish could be made relevant for patients. It is about getting from theory to practice. Now before your eyes glaze over and you scroll on to the next post in your feed, let me assure you that no boring science or statistics will appear in this article. Rather, I want to tell you what happened to me the other night with three Burundian pastors and elders in our house.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been working through a curriculum called Fundamentals of the Faith with a group of hand-picked men from the community here. They are two chaplains, an administrator, a nurse anesthetist, and a schoolteacher. All are leaders in their respective churches. This curriculum has been translated into a bunch of different languages (at least nine) but not into Kirundi. So our plan has three phases:

1 - go through it together in French
2 - translate it into Kirundi
3 - they teach it in Kirundi to others and perfect the translation

We are well into Phase 2 and every Monday night we drink tea, eat some snacks, and talk about how to convey timeless biblical truth in their native tongue. I’m largely superfluous to the technical work that these five guys are doing, but occasionally my amateur language-learner status comes in handy. This was one of those rare helping moments.

Firmat, Luc, & Silas pore over a translation question
We need some background to start. The word for “spirit” in Greek (pneuma) is neither masculine nor feminine. However, every time a pronoun is used in reference to the Holy Spirit, the masculine personal pronoun shows up. This is a little linguistic nuance not lost on Bible translators and theologians across the ages - a place where grammatical rules were broken in service of a truer expression.

English carries this through pretty well. For example, in John 14:17, clearly talking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, “You know him, for he dwells with you…” Not “it,” “him” and “he.” French likewise respects this understanding, using “le” and “il” for the pronouns. But Kirundi doesn’t have gendered nouns or pronouns like students of European languages are used to thinking. There are sixteen noun classes in Kirundi, so it’s complicated, but there is no “masculine” pronoun to be used. How to translate the exercise that asks students to read the passage and identify the pronouns?

Well, the Kirundi word for spirit, mpwemu, is in a particular class (Class 9, for those of you counting at home). This class includes, as far as I can gather, mostly farm animals. (Scroll down for a list of Class 9 nouns.) But interestingly enough, the pronouns from that verse are from Class 1 and are actually found as infixes within the conjugated verbs. (Yep, you knew about prefixes and suffixes already, but Kirundi also has infixes - in the middle of the word.) Class 1 is exclusively used for people nouns, though some people nouns fall outside of Class 1. So even though Kirundi grammar would call for one pronoun, the translators wisely chose the one that makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is personal rather than animal. Way to go!

Class 1 and 9 nouns
But I titled this post “Translational Research” because a wonderful metamorphosis is happening as these brothers work the principles from French into Kirundi: their eyes brighten and their hearts come alive. It is fun for me to watch as this task takes what might otherwise remain cold and intellectual and pushes it to the warm, beating center of their understanding.
Part of the the Gospel of John in Kirundi


18.10.18

KHA Archaeology Day

*Written by KHA Middle School

The topic for Kibuye Hope’s Academy’s (KHA) first learning experience day was archaeology. It was a great topic because we knew so little about it, but were interested and wanted to learn more. 

First, we were asked the question, “What is archaeology?” and found out that it is a branch of anthropology, which is the study of people. More specifically, archaeology is the study of human history through objects.

Archaeologists must be curious. They often do not have much information about the objects they find. Sometimes they find artifacts (things that you can pick up and move) and sometimes they find features (large structures or things that cannot be moved). Technology helps them to ask good questions and to know where to look. They use satellite pictures of the earth to locate unusual dips or rises on the surface.

Our first activity was what the archaeologists would normally do with the artifacts at the end of their long search. We went down to our local trash pit and talked about how in hundreds of years, archaeologists might find our junk. Archaeologists often look at garbage from the past to learn about the people who lived at that time. We then divided into groups.  Each group was given a piece of modern day rubbish (a plastic soda bottle, an empty matchbox, Styrofoam packing panels) and we pretended to be archaeologists. Even though we knew what our objects were, we pretended they were mysterious and asked questions that archaeologists ask when they find an artifact. We asked ourselves, “who, what, where, why, and how.” One group was given a Styrofoam tray and after many observations we decided it could have been used as a make-your-own hat. You could stick feathers or flowers in it and it would sit nicely on a bun. 

Between our first and second activity we had recess. It was fun to play and eat the homemade archaeology-themed cookies provided by Aunt Julie B.

Next, we got to become archaeologists ourselves. There were mock dig sites where we could excavate ancient (or two day old) pottery and puzzle pieces. The digging process showed us how patient and precise archaeologists must be. It also called for a lot of teamwork.

When we got back to the classroom we wrote letters to our future selves. We placed these letters and a few extra items in a time capsule. At the end of the school year we will get out our time capsules and read the letters that we wrote.

After lunch, we planted a garden with Uncle Carlan. He did a wonderful job of having us work together to make something beautiful. God was the first and very best gardener. We enjoyed thinking about gardening like that as we divided into classes to some gardening ourselves. Middle school sectioned the garden into plots, 4thgrade got manure and seeds, and 1stand 2ndgrade picked out where we were going to plant everything. Everyone got there and planted the seeds, watered the garden, and had fun. It looked amazing when we finished. 

All of the kids walked out of school a little smarter. We got to learn so much about archaeology, but we also got to explore outside our classrooms, and spend time together as the whole school. Archaeology day was a blast!