All I want for Christmas is to Read!!

Bolu in his school uniform

The past few weeks have had its share of frustrating moments. Poor internet, malaria, and temperatures rising to the 100’s. It is safe to say we are now out of the “honeymoon” phase of mission life and are now experiencing the realness of our new home! However, when times of doubt and frustration hit, God never ceases. He comforts and brings us joy even through less then “happy” circumstances. Our new life may not be as “easy” as the life we once knew, but we can say with ease it is one we LOVE!

Bolu and I during Saturday tutoring.

This simultaneous feeling of disbelief, sadness, and love especially hit last Saturday during a tutoring session with the orphans enrolled in CARE Africa. As we were busy working through advanced math problems, preparing for test in computer science, and checking through homework one of the boys, Bolu, pulled me aside. He said, “my grandmother told me not to come home, until I could read.” Bolu enrolled in JS3 (equivalent to 8th grade in US) had earlier told Patrice, Emma and I he struggled with reading. He had gotten in trouble during class read aloud time because he read too slowly. Subsequently, causing him to be picked on by classmates. Well, after our normal tutoring session time ended, I allowed him to stay. I asked him to read out of his english book, and my eyes became wide with disbelief. He could not read at all! We closed the book and I just began to go through the alphabet asking for names of letters and sounds-he knew nothing! He could not even recite the english alphabet! Wow, my heart broke! You could see the pure embarrassment and horror in this young mans face. Here he was trying desperately to keep up in school when he had never even received a primary foundation of learning. Now thrown into upper grades, ill equipped, he was desperately trying to stay afloat. I immediately comforted him and told him it was going to be okay, I am glad he told us this, and we would get through this together. By Christmas I assured him, you will be able to read!

Bolu and his Grandmother who he lives with.

He stayed for an extra thirty minutes that day, and left asking when he could return for more help. He since has been walking to the compound every day after school asking for time to practice reading. We work and then I send him home with letters, sounds and easy books to read. We also take time to draw. His dream is to be an artist one day, and I think this is a realistic vision. His drawings are beautiful and its a great chance for rolls to reverse. He teaches and laughs at my attempt to copy his work- it doesn’t come close! Never in my life have I taught a student so hungry for knowledge. He tells me he stays up until eleven o’clock each night studying his sounds- which I am sure is without light. In just two weeks time, I have fallen in love with this young boy. Experiencing the feeling Jesus must have felt when the children came to him in Matthew 19. The feeling inside when you want so much more for that other person then yourself. Pray for us! That Bolu will continue to improve and as I struggle to teach a 15 year old boy to read through a southern North Carolina accent. All we want for Christmas is to read!

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Please e-mail us about ways you can be involved with CARE Africa and other opportunities to provide Egbe kids with education.