Yesterday we left the place we had come to call “home” for the past five years. Indeed our family can testify to the truth of this verse from the gospel according to Matthew: “Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 10:29) When we decided to go on mission as single missionaries and then later on as a couple, God truly made this verse come true in our lives. Having and raising kids on mission further re-affirmed this – not only did God give us a lot of things “one hundred times” over as individuals, but moreso our children! 🙂 They have gained families from all over Timor Leste, and from Brunei and Singapore as well.
In fact as I write this post, we are savoring our TRULY RICH AND BLESSED life, our stopover in Singapore (SG) as a preview to our NEW BEGINNING, a new journey with the Lord, as we return to the Philippines. We are enjoying God’s abundance and blessings through our CFC SG family, particularly the Cercados. We are taking the time to rest and look forward in hope to the new life God is preparing for us in Manila. Although yesterday’s departure was full of sad goodbyes and tears, it was also full of HOPE and FAITH and LOVE. HOPE for the community we would be leaving behind, FAITH that God would be true to His promises, and LOVE overflowing from and for God, our families and our community.
We continue to wait with expectant faith and grateful hearts, waiting on the Lord and knowing that He has a big bright beautiful future in store for us! THE BEST IS YET TO COME! Praise GOD! 🙂
We will be leaving Timor Leste soon. It has been a meaningful mission for our whole family. We started out as an engaged couple in 2005, came back as newlyweds in 2006, I gave birth to our eldest in 2006, and then our second child in 2009. So far, we’ve spent the most of our life as husband and wife, and parents, as mission partners too, in Timor Leste. It will be difficult to leave. Too many memories, too many friendships, too many “things we still could do” (and perhaps too much luggage too, hahaha).
But despite all these, we WILL be leaving. In less than 2 weeks. It is an inevitable fact that I have to face.
And so, this morning, at 4.00 am Timor Time, I surrender.
I SURRENDER LORD.
To Your will. To Your plans. For myself. For Anthony. For our kids. For our family. For our mission. For those who will be left behind. For those whom we will be going home to.
May Your will be done.
Today, I let go and let God. I recall again my lifeverse:
24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)
Lord, may I testify to Your gospel wherever I go. May our family be a living testimony of Your grace. Amen.
The term homepreschooling is not mine to claim. I first heard about it when Susan Lemons commented on my WordPress blog. I was astounded that a complete stranger actually took the time to comment on one of my posts, and after I had read Susan’s blog, I was actually honored that she did. Her blogsite has given me lots of information and encouragement towards making the decision to homeschool preschool.
In this post, I want to comment on the 4 R’s of Homepreschooling as described by Susan. These are described in details in the links below (so I will not describe them anymore but provide a brief summary about them):
Susan encourages parents to help their children “grow strong, loving relationships—first with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and next within our families.” I totally agree with this!
In our Catholic community, we encourage families to be rooted in Christ. I firmly believe in the concept that every home should be a domestic Church, and so we parents have a very important role to play. Especially the fathers, they become the “pastors” of the family. The mothers become the “light of the home” (among many other things!) I have my imperfections, believe me, TOO MANY for me to share here for now (count impatience, impulsiveness among them!), but I can say that I do my best to be the “light” in our home. It is a daily, sometimes seemingly losing, struggle, but with God and Mama Mary at my side, I know that I am doing the best that I can.
Susan recommends that every preschooler should have a regular daily routine to follow. She says: “A regular routine gives preschoolers security, and keeps them on an even keel emotionally.” Being the mother of two young children, our preschooler Kuya (Tagalog for Big Brother) Tim and turning-one-year-old-next-month Rysse, I can testify to the fact that ESTABLISHING A ROUTINE is one of the keys to happier, healthier, and yes, even HOLIER, children. 🙂 Of course, there are days when the routine isn’t followed, and that is perfectly okay. (Though I do confess that I obsess about this sometimes! OC OC OC!) But overall, we are able to stick to a fairly routine daily life. (Though I don’t know if this will still apply after next week, when we finally leave Timor Leste for a new mission in our beloved Philippines!)
Quoting from Susan’s quote:
“When we instruct children in academic subject, or in swimming, or gymnastics, or ballet, at too early an age, we miseducate them; we put them at risk for short term stress and long term personality damage for no useful purpose. There is no evidence that such early instruction has lasting benefits and considerable evidence that it can do lasting harm.”
-David Elkind, Mis education: Preschoolers at Risk
This is a great reminder to all parents everywhere, especially those with young children. Let us let our kids BE kids. Because before we know it, they will already be off to high school, hanging out with friends, preparing for college, looking for a job, getting married, having children of their own… LIFE IS SHORT. So let us enjoy it with our kids and let’s let our kids enjoy themselves as well! They’ll figure out this learning thing on their own and sometimes even shock us with how quickly they pick things up!
(Check out my photos here to see how Kuya Tim shocked the life out of me when he started writing his name, after I had asked one of his playmates to write her name. I knew she could because she’d been attending preschool/playgroup. Tim said “I can do that too!” Then I said, “No you can’t. Mama hasn’t taught you how yet.” BUT then lo and behold, he starts writing the letter T all by himself! My mouth dropped open in disbelief and amazement! Thank You GOD!)
Here is what Susan Lemons has to say about this:
“One of the most important things you can do to help your preschooler learn is reading aloud to him. When you read aloud to your child, you are teaching language, vocabulary, speech, pre-reading skills, pre-writing skills, and more. Reading aloud also builds your child’s attention span, and of course, teaches him about the world.” (More on Reading Aloud here.)
I myself grew up in a home where reading was encouraged. And I am deeply grateful to my parents for that. Although we were not read aloud to that much, the love of reading books, comics, magazines was instilled in us at a young age. Even before I read Susan’s post about Reading Aloud, hubby and I had already been in the habit of reading aloud to the kids. It’s always a fun, relaxing time for us all. Even 11-month old Rysse has her favorite books, one of which is “Baby’s Peek-a-boo Book” from Sassy. She breaks out in smiles even before we turn the first page to read it.
Based on Susan’s 4 R’s, I’d say that overall, we’re doing pretty okay with homepreschooling. Although it’s been a long time since Tim has actually wanted to have some formal “learning” time, hubby and I can be assured that he (and Rysse too!) is learning through our everyday encounters (waking up time, prayertime, mealtimes, storytime, playtime, DVD time, helping with some of the chores time, etc etc).
Indeed it is a HUGE blessing to be a missionary family because our mission office is also our mission house. So we can have more time for the kids than most parents do. However, we will be leaving Timor Leste for home soon, and it will be a whole different situation. We will have to commute to and from the mission office in Manila. We will have less time for the kids. More traffic to deal with. Etc etc. I only pray that our desire to homepreschool the kids will become a reality somehow despite the new challenges. After all, with God all things are possible right?!
In the meantime, hubby and I will make the most of our remaining days on mission to spend time with the kids, our co-missionaries and our community members, whom we have come to call “family away from family.” It will be a challenge to take the next step God is calling us to, but with faith in His plans for us and our family (claiming Jeremiah 1: 29-31 here!) we know His love will see us through! 🙂
I first felt the Holy Spirit’s stirrings to homeschool when I attended our community’s first major Pro-Life event way back in 2006. We had a speaker from Human Life International, Brian Clowes, and it was a truly inspiring, eye-opening event. Back then I was pregnant with our first child, who will be turning 4 in October. Hubby and I were so privileged to be part of the Pro-Life event/training back then (we were even chosen as models for one of the creative presentations!). Little did I know that Pro-Life and Homeschooling would eventually become two big passions in my life!
When Joseph Meaney of HLI came to Timor Leste in 2007 for our Family Life Conference, he spoke again about homeschooling and presented briefly the differences in kids who are homeschooled versus those who aren’t. His presentation really made me (and hubby too!) start to seriously consider homeschooling as an option for our children.
The conviction to homeschool our kids continued to grow (perhaps God really planted it in our hearts) and was further strengthened when we heard about Bo Sanchez’s homeschool catering specifically to Catholic Filipino parents like ourselves.
For my part, I have come to believe that homeschooling may not be God’s will for some families, whom He may call to doing mission by sending their kids to public or private schools (even Catholic schools nowadays need a LOT of revival and renewal and are prime mission fields!). Indeed it is challenging and perhaps a bit frightening to even consider teaching one’s children at home. “I’m not a qualified teacher!” “Will I have the discipline and time to do this?” “How can we afford to live on one salary?” “Will my kids be anti-social?” These questions are usually the first that come to mind when one starts thinking about homeschooling.
Thankfully, if one does enough research (thank You Lord for the internet!), one can get lots of answers to these questions, and also find encouragement and draw inspiration from countless homeschoolers who truly believe that teaching your kids at home is THE way to go!
As for our family, we are still in the process of making the final decision to homeschool (when to “officially” start i.e. with a structured curriculum, which curriculum to use, how to deal with the financial and practical aspects, etc etc). For the meantime, we just want to make the most of the time God has blessed us with, especially by having our kids on mission with us. This includes “homepreschooling” our kids.
To be Catholic in this day and age calls for a firm belief in defending our faith, our families, our homes. If I call myself Catholic, then I should be Pro-Life. I firmly believe that homeschooling is pro-life, and that the pro-life work should involve advocating homeschooling.
When we homeschool our kids, it is easier for us to pass down our Catholic faith and life to them. We also get to choose what influences them and in turn how they will live their lives as good Catholics and responsible citizens. We get to be there for them during the critical, crucial stages of their development in all aspects of their lives. We get to teach them about things that are not normally taught in schools, especially the lessons of life.
Homeschooling is PRO-LIFE.
If you believe that God is calling you to homeschool, do not be afraid. There are many men and women, families out there who are doing the same thing. Because they are CONVICTED, not just convinced, to do so. Let’s pray for one another that we will be able to act upon all that God is calling us to do, especially in the best interest of our children.
“As for me and my house, will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Listed below are some books that may help you discover the richness of homeschooling 🙂