The Right Perspective & School Problems
Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
October 18, 2003



A hundred years ago brave men and women came to this continent of Africa, knowing there was a high chance they would not return home alive. Many have paid the price of giving not only their possessions and friends/family and comfort up, but giving their very life. The blood of those martyrs has covered the ground of Africa, crying out to the Lord for mercy, salvation and redemption.

Today, I have a nice apartment with electricity, water (even though that's whatever the temperature outside is), now a telephone and therefore even internet connection (praise God!). I have a little gas container I'm now cooking on (the electric cooking plates don't work well), yet no fridge which means what you buy you eat. I have my books here (even though I just found out the transport of my stuff from the US here cost twice as much as I had thought it would), and had shelves made by a carpenter around the corner. I have a nice desk made by the same carpenter, who will also make some more furniture, like chairs.

What a difference! What comfort I have today! How small a price I pay compared to them! Thinking about it, wouldn't you think we should have many, many more missionaries today than back then? Where are the workers? Where are those who will go where there are no Christian witnesses?

I feel so weak, so incapable, so small, yet I constantly have to remind myself of who the God is who lives in me.


It's all a matter of perspective; I've been saying that for two years, and I have to remind myself again and again. I told you my sound card stopped working, which meant no worship music or teaching. Well, I've been greatly enjoying my guitar which I had missed a lot in Vienna. And God has given me a voice to worship Him - though I can't use it right now because of the cold I'm having. Yes, I started having a cold yesterday, including cough and fiever, yet I have a place to rest and even when it's just me here, unable to read or write, Jesus is at my side, as well as the angels He has sent to look after me. Yes, I'm in immediate need of finances in the US as well as Austria, yet it is another chance to prove that He takes care of me. I have always lived according to the motto, when He calls, He provides. If He didn't, I'd leave Mali.

So, it's all a matter of perspective. What's YOUR perspective on YOUR situation? Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil 4:6)

The enemy will heap things upon you, and me, to discourage as much as he can. When I later used the SAME method to take care of my sound card problem, it suddenly worked.


This has been the greatest frustration as I've told you. Let me tell you a bit more about the school today.

Alassane Maiga is the founder and director of three schools - two elementary schools and one high school. He has been the one emailing me and taking care of everything. Every one of this school also has a director/supervisor. And then there is a guy under them, who is the one I always deal with at school, unless it's very serious, which is the present situation (more below).
The "Ecole Biya" is a private school which means students pay and classes are smaller than in public schools (50 instead of 150 kids). This is the first year white teachers teach at the Lycée Biya (which is the High School) - which is a major reason for all the confusion, turmoil and inexperience. I now have two white colleagues from France - Alice and Jean-Louis - who are also my neighbors. It was interesting to find out that my email asking Alassane if he needed a teacher, prompted him to put an add on a French website which is how the two other teachers came here. He soon realized that we would not be able to teach 18 hours a week, or have a salary of 75Euros per month (my rent is already twice that). So, I now teach 9 hours a week, and am paid per hour. This month I will earn 100Euros - unless recent events...
I teach three different classes. I teach the final class with focus on language & literature, which means they have 5 hours of German per week. This is their third year of German, and at the end of the school year, they have their big final exam to graduate. They are the ones I'm having all the trouble with.
The other two classes are two hours per week each; one is first-year German (42 students) and the other second-year German (only 20!). After two-and-a-half weeks of school, I'm still waiting on the book I'm supposed to teach. "The book is the syllabus."
For the 17-20 year olds (many take this year for the second or third time), I was given a handwritten paper with the syllabus, which read something like "prepositions, TEXT: the Miller family,..." That's it. After asking several times, I finally found out that there IS a book with the texts on that syllabus which I've now got. That book is from the seventies. One of the texts I'm supposed to teach is on Berlin - east and west, talking about Eastern Germany. I mentioned that but was told that all schools in Mali teach the very same syllabus, and I had to teach that, in the present tense. For the grammar, I simply have to prepare that myself - whatever "prepositions" might include.
So, I've spent much time preparing with the little material I have for German. Last Thursday - I was already not doing very well - I had a rebellion in my classroom. Reasons: * I wrote down latecomers. They are used to coming 10, 15 minutes late. I told them class starts at 10 and not 10:10. One girl came half an hour late and was surprised when I asked her why she was so late. * I give them homework every time. * I also SPEAK the language and ask them questions in German without writing them down. * I do interactive exercises. They don't work because of having 38 students in the class, who are incapable of listening to others without speaking themselves.
After that very frustrating class I spoke to my immediate supervisor and also to Alassane. Partly, the students think they can do what they want with the foreign teacher who doesn't know how things work here. They ARE supposed to get homework, and to be in class on time! Partly, they are unwilling to have things done in a different way, immediately rejecting everything they don't know. So we talked, talked about what to do - e.g. about them talking in class all the time - and I prayed and decided to have a talk with them the following class. Well, Friday morning the whole class decided not to come to my class. I had an empty classroom, while the other half of their class, who takes Arabic, was there learning Arabic. Since I was already sick with the cold, it gave me a chance to go home. I was very frustrated. All my three superiors were shocked at what the students had done.

I suggested to switch classes. I'd rather have a first-year class where I can lay a good foundation of German, and where they are more curious to learn a new language. The younger students I already have have been excited, always greeting me in German on the street (which is what we started with). I guess they will talk to the students also. I have that class again on Tuesday.

Teaching, preparing, correcting homeworks etc. has been quite consuming in every way. Please pray for the Lord to lead everything going on. Am I supposed to keep the class? Am I supposed to have another class? Should I leave that school altogether??? I keep thinking about the word "rearrangement" somebody had prophesied for the time after my arrival in Mali.

Since I've been asked: All students have notebooks, but those who are supposed to by a textbook, can often not afford it. They are also all supposed to wear school uniforms, which many don't right now. The class rooms have simply desks and benches and old blackboards. For some reason, several classes share a sponge to clean the blackboard, and it's never there when you need it. The teacher's desk is always covered with chalk and water from the sponge, and there is no chair. It's extremely hot, sweat running down while you teach. Some classrooms have no doors, and the street is just outside the window, which means there is always a lot of noise going on, and the students in the back have a hard time hearing you. In addition, I have two blind students in that difficult class - how deal with that (I just want to pray for them and see Jesus heal them!).

Please pray for guidance and wisdom. Teaching at the high school is not what I came for, and I know it's temporary. May His will be done!


Adama is Alassane's driver, and has been an extreme blessing, as Alassane has allowed on several occasions that he'd drive us places to get things or take care of things, like the visas. Yesterday it was just him and me. He was eating bread and suddenly halted in pain. He told me he had had toothache for two weeks. I asked him whether I could pray for him. So I prayed a simple prayer of healing in Jesus' name right there in the car, so that he would know the love of God for him. Please pray that God would do the miracle of taking care of that tooth!


Check on my website soon for pictures I'm gonna upload.

Finally, since I mentioned it a while ago, the ministry trip to Uganda didn't work out for me.

Thank you so much for your prayers and your friendship. I will keep you updated! Send me a few lines when you have a time. Or give me call - that would be great.

May the Lord pour out abundant blessings upon you!



Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance. (Ps 2:8) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
s/c Ecole Biya
BPE 2165

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