Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just a Bowl of Bottle Tops

It was just a bowl of bottle tops. It would look like garbage to anyone else. But to me it was the most memorable moment of our Nicaraguan Medical Mission trip.

But let me explain.

The previous September I had joined a team to present a Teacher’s Workshop to the instructors who taught in the schools that are supported by Mision Para Cristo in Jinotega, Nicaragua. The team decided to present a Math Workshop. I searched my mind for some sort of math manipulative that I could use in this workshop that would be low cost and that the Nicaraguans could continue to replicate after the team returned back to the states.

 I hit upon the idea of bottle tops. They were on the ground everywhere we visited in Nicaragua. The teachers could easily have their students collect these if they needed them. Problem solved.

I asked my home congregation, the Las Cruces Church of Christ, to help collect 1500-2000 of these tops to be used in the initial workshop. Which they did.

I then asked Danny Dearest to paint all the tops one of four colors, blue, green, orange, or purple. Which he did.

I then packed up my bottle tops and returned to Jinotega, Nicaragua, and presented my ideas for using them as math manipulatives at the workshop. And I thought that was the end of that.

Until this June.

We had set our clinic up in a school for that day. Miss Emily was helping with the VBS in a different classroom from the one where I was having the eye clinic. Then she came running up with a simple bowl of bottle tops.

These were not the pretty painted ones I had brought in September, these  were better.  These were ones that the teacher had taken on herself to collect and use.  She had taken my idea and made it her own.  

Which was the point to begin with.

Sometimes you feel like your efforts mean nothing,  that the need is so great that you are just spitting in the wind.  But sometimes the news that you are making a difference comes with your granddaughter holding a simple bowl of bottle tops.

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