LIVING BY FAITH - I thought I was done with Sunday school
Oki! As I sit here, I wonder what I should share. Should I share my current thoughts, feelings and fears? Or should I go the safer route and share more from my first few months?
I know the purpose of writing this column is to share the challenges I face, in addition to the culture, but the challenges from this month are still problematic and still too close to the surface. Instead of the current events, I think I will take you back in time to when I first moved here.
When I moved, I not only had to say good-bye to family but also friends and my students. You see, as soon as I graduated from Panther Valley HS, I started to help with Sunday school at my church. I started out in the nursey and moved up to the primary class a year or two later. In that room, I went from being the helper to being the lead teacher, even though I still shared the tasks equally with my partner.
When I left my church in Tamaqua, the primary class included kindergarten to the end of third grade. In the class were kids I had taught for four years and saw almost every week. They had been praying with me that I would find a full-time job. Of course they were hoping it would be in their grade at their school, or at least locally. I also taught them in VBS when they were 5 or 6 years old.
My move to Montana started July 28. VBS, which I had been crazy enough to teach that summer, ended on July 21. I say that I was crazy because I was still packing my things, planning for the move, had a new pup, and needed to spend time with my family. Then on July 23, I taught my last Sunday school lesson, turned in my church keys, lesson books and said good-bye to my class.
I have heard from them since. They sent a signed card for my birthday. At times they preform special music during service, and it gets recorded and sent to me. When I left my church in Tamaqua, I decided that due to the stress of the last few weeks there, I was not going to volunteer again. I was done teaching Youth Group, Sunday school, VBS, Children’s Church, and serving as a secretary. That changed on Palm Sunday 2018.
I’ve had a lot of time to think lately. I am back to staying home most of the time. I go to work, church and try to get to the store once a week. As I was thinking, I remembered the lessons I taught leading up to Easter. Week 1: Why did Jesus celebrate Passover? What is the history behind it? Week 2: Who is Jesus? What makes Him special? Week 3-Palm Sunday: What happened when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time? What is Palm Sunday? Week 4-Easter: What is Easter? I had to handled this carefully, for most of my class still believed in the Easter Bunny. Still, this lesson was always fun. I would hide a dozen eggs, with small trinkets to remind the children of the story, and they would have to explain to us what the trinket had to do with the story. Why was there a donkey? What does a spear, a piece of linen, a stone or an empty egg have to do with Jesus? I would read them verses from the Bible, but the trinkets were things they could hold, touch and feel.
On April 1, 36 weeks after my last lesson in Tamaqua, I helped in Children’s Church in my new church for the first time. I was given the option of teaching but chose to just fill and hide the regular Easter eggs and assist during the lesson. In time, I will learn the names of the children at church, and then teaching will be easier.
As I stated in a previous column, each month we teach our Native students about a part of their culture. We teachers have been rotating classrooms so we could focus on one part of the culture and learn it well. I mentioned to my class that I would be teaching them for the last lesson of the year, and they informed me that they didn’t wish to learn about the iinii (ee-knee), buffalo, again.
I agreed with them and said that I would come up with something else. They requested, quite quickly actually, to learn more about the roles and daily life of the children in the tribe, so I started to do research. I am sure that I will know more things by the next article I write as I am just in the preplanning part of the lesson plan right now.
While I’m just gathering ideas for the lesson, I’ve found out that the children would help the family. The sons would go hunting with their fathers; the girls would help cook and tend to the babies. The older children would watch out for the younger ones. My, doesn’t that sound like families in the early colonial days of our country?
Children would also play games that promoted agility, hand-eye coordination, good sportsmanship and humbleness. For example, there is a game in which they would try to get an arrow through a rolling hoop. There is a game in which they try to guess which hand is hiding a small rock. The lesson plan for this game on the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) website ends in a tournament in which the winner passes small trinkets to the other students, ending with the last item on the blanket being for the winner. Classmates must be rewarded for their hard work before the winner can receive the last prize.
If you are an educator and would like to teach the history of Natives from Montana in a different way, I recommend the OPI website with lots of resources for teaching Indian Education for all grade levels. Do use caution. The lessons on Columbus are quite violent and concerned me until I found I didn’t need to teach it the way it was presented.
For now, Nii tak ko to mat tsi no, I will see you again.