Wednesday, October 25, 2006

what got us thinking about homeschooling

Tim and I were married almost a year when we went on a missionary trip to Jamaica. A friend of his from med school had gone down to an orphanage in the middle of the island the year before and asked us to accompany them.

It was an exciting two weeks: looking out the window in the morning at the dozens of people lined up to see a doctor or dentist, likely the only one they had seen in many years. Some days I assisted the dentist, sucking out spit while he extracted black, rotting teeth from villagers, some not any older than me and some from children. They didn't have enough money for adequate food, much less flouridated toothpaste with exra whiteners. Other days I worked in the primative pharmacy, handing out medicine for worms, and infections, but mostly lots of Tylenol.

The fifity children in the orphanage were bright, happy, and well-fed. They were cared for by an elderly Baptist couple from Florida who had given up the easy retiree's life to minister to these children. Our friend's two girls (6 and 9)fit in with all the others and spent the two weeks playing, reading, eating exotic things like pig's feet, and just being good sports. I was impressed by them and even more so after we were dropped off at the airport to return to the States.

The plane was broken.

We could see a bunch of Jamaican men out on the tarmac with wrenches and knew it wasn't a happy scene. We prayed that they would fix the plane and it would stay fixed. Well, hour after hour dragged on and eventually we were all put up in a cheap hotel with pink walls and smelly bedspreads. Early the next morning we returned to the airport and resumed our wait. The girls drew pictures, played UNO, and stayed cheerful. This was a sharp contrast to the boozy Americans from the resorts who complained, argued with each other, and yelled at the pretty ladies at the counter. They yelled into their cell phones and acted like, well, children. And the only children waiting were acting much more mature.

Guess what? They were homeschooled.

Eventually, by that afternoon, it was evident that the plane was permanently broken, there was no replacement coming and all the passengers would have to be put on other flights. It looked like we were stuck and all of us had jobs to return to the following day. I was starting my student teaching in the projects and getting a bit ansty myself.

The girls saved the day. They had drawn pictures for the ladies at the counter during our lengthy wait and the girl's model behavior had caught their attention. One of the representatives from the airline beckoned us over and whispered, "there are 6 seats on this flight, leaving in an hour- I saved them for you. Thank you for being so patient and having such nice children."

I spent the flight asking their mother about homeschooling. Later when we started having children of our own, the story of that trip stayed with me and when it came time for Will to begin Kindergarten, I knew that I would follow in my friend's footsteps. I called her and asked what program she used.

Four years later, I can't say that my children are the most patient children around. I can't say they would eat pig's feet willingly- actually I know they wouldn't. But they are happy, loving, helpful children and I am so grateful that that plane "got broke" so I could learn about homeschooling.


Tracy said...

Welcome to the land of blogging! I loved reading you!

God Bless!

Kerri said...

Thanks for your post. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Maya & Miguel, a show on PBS in the afternoons -- -- that emphasizes cultural diversity and language learning but I’m reaching out to talk to parents about the program as part of a marketing project I’m working on with Scholastic.

I found your post and thought I’d reach out to say hello and ask if you’d like to receive a free Maya & Miguel DVD. If you’d like to receive the DVD just email me at Kerri at with your address and I’ll have it shipped it out to you.

If you do choose to blog about Maya & Miguel show or episodes on the DVD, please make it clear how you received the information. Our goal is to be open and honest with everyone we reach.

Kerri Roberts, BoldMouth

Janet Sedano said...

Loved reading your post. It reminded me of our story on how we decided to, I wasn't in Jamaica. But meeting some a family with very sweet children who impressed me, left me with the desire to homeschool my children when it was time. We are still friends with this family, though we are in different states.
Thanks for sharing.