Friday, October 12, 2012

Literacy Training with the Owas

By Karen Hopping

Teachers, Students and Karen

My heart and passion for Solomon Islanders is that they will know God through a living relationship with Him and God will change their lives to be more like Jesus! We can know God is through reading of His word the Bible. Many Solomon Islanders cannot read and have not had the opportunity to go to school in their life. I am so blessed to be able to serve these beautiful people in teaching them to be able to read and write in their own language so that they have access to read God's word and know Him! This photo is the class of 9 illiterate (but slowly becoming literate!!!) women and the 6 women I trained how to teach Bible-based adult literacy classes in their language, Owa! After only two weeks of classes all 9 women can now write their name on their own and know most of the sounds in their language! Some are able to read small words in their language. The class is continuing now that I am back here in Honiara and the teachers I have trained will continue teaching through the literacy book until they finish sometime in October. Please pray for all the teachers and the students as well as the community as a whole. Their eyes are opening to the gift of reading and they are thrilled about it! Praising God for all He has and is continuing to do in their lives!
The teachers I trained in Gupuna village and I taught one afternoon and 4 evening reading classes while I was in the village. These classes were specifically for those adults and youth who could read English but could NOT read their own language, Owa! We had from 40 to 80 people attend each class and they LOVED learning to read their own language! We sang language praise songs while the teacher pointed to the words on the chart. I taught them the sounds in their language and they laughed and enjoyed this part greatly. We then led them in everyone reading aloud together some verses in their Owa Bible and answering comprehension and application questions in groups. The first evening when I asked who could read Owa language only 4 or so hands went up! After the 5 classes together when I asked the same question (and actually checked them individually too) all except 2 new ones could now read Owa language, some slower than others!! I was thrilled and so were they! Pray that those who have now learnt how to read their own language will continue to read their Owa New Testament Bibles and God will speak to them through His Word!

After teaching a group of people in Gupuna Village how to read their language, Owa, I noticed that some women were starting to take their Owa New Testaments to church each morning for morning service and for Sunday church! I encouraged this dear lady when I saw her with her Owa Bible and she stopped and chatted with me for a while. She thanked me for coming to their village to teach them how to read their language! She said she believes God had a plan for me to come now as her village needed to learn to read! She told me that she could read English but she didn't understand what she was reading as it was in a language that she doesn't speak and doesn't really understand! She told me that Owa is her language and she has spoken Owa all her life but no one had taught her how to read her own language! She said that she had to wait until she was at church for the Pastor to read from the English Bible and then "chew it up" and explain it in Owa language for her to understand and feed from God's Word! She told me with great joy that she is so thankful that I came and taught her and others how to read her own language as now, any time and any day, she is able to read her Owa New Testament and feed from God's word herself!! This is why I love doing what I do here! Praying this dear lady continues to read and feed from the living Word of God and may God change her and make her more like Jesus!

Meet Dorothy from Gupuna Village Santa Ana! Dorothy is a beautiful lady who has never been to school before! She has dealt with a lot of fear and shame due to not being able to read and write! Dorothy was quick to come to our Owa Bible-based literacy class as she was keen to learn to read! After doing an initial test on Dorothy, we learnt that she could not write her name, knew no sounds in her language and could not read any words at all. After only 2 weeks of classes (2 hours a morning 5 days a week) Dorothy could write her name on her own and knew all the sounds in her language! She was also able to read some small words in Owa and read half a sentence!!! Dorothy's huge smile each time I walked past her leaf house spoke volumes to me!! One day I was walking to a friend's house when I saw Dorothy sitting down on the ground (the village is totally covered in sand, not grass and dirt!) and she was writing something in the sand! I looked and there she was sounding out some words in her language and writing them in the sand! I saw her baby grandchild playing in the sand beside her and was thrilled to see that Dorothy chose to practice reading and writing while also looking after her grandchild that day! Pray for Dorothy - she has not been to church since her husband died. Pray that as she continues to learn to read that she will read more and more of her Owa Bible and God will draw her to Himself! Such a beautiful lady!!
Karen Hopping is passionate about helping illiterate people learn to read and have their lives changed through reading and studying their translated Bibles. She is teaching and training in Bible-based literacy work to build capacity in local churches and literacy agencies in the Solomons. She also ministers to a group of street girls and aside from the challenges, she loves speaking truth, life and love into the lives of these girls.

Owa New Testament Dedication
For more information on the work in the Solomon Islands, click here.

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