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LitNet! Newsletter March, 2016
posted by David & Sharyn Curtis on 2016-03-31 13:12:18
 
Dear Friends and Family,

This month we can share a love story that has given birth to several happy endings. It began in 1994, when David and Sharyn fell in love with the nation of Uganda and its people. Much later, and with God’s help, in 2002 the first LitNet! School in a Briefcase was born.
The book of stories in that learning-to-read program was popular among teachers and parents, so the first publication of East African Alphabet Animal Stories was birthed several months later. It has a distinctive tawny lion-cub cover.
Alphabet Animal Stories (AAS, as it is affectionately called) has parented a U.S. version in English that displays a zebra face, available since 2006. In 2013, the first copies of AAS became available in a bi-lingual edition: Czech and English.
THIS MONTH, LitNet! is happy to welcome the latest member of the family— a version of AAS that can be used in homes and schools and churches where people are more fluent in Luganda (a vernacular language spoken by over 5 million people in Uganda).
The birthing process was not an easy one—the labor came long after the conception— but it has been a long-awaited addition to the LitNet! family of books! WELL DONE, UGANDA TEAM !!!

LitNet Uganda is in the air and on the move again next month...this time, destination: Zambia!
Annie Mugisha and Bibian Musasizi will fly to the Livingstone airport on April 3, to train teachers and Sunday School teachers at Ebenezer Children’s Village (Google: Ebenezer Child Care Trust to learn more about the place). We can hardly wait to hear their reports and to see their pictures!
We met Ranji, director of Ebenezer Children’s Village, last November when we attended a missions conference hosted by River City Church in Lewiston, Idaho. She expressed interest in our LitNet! materials and in the LitNet! vision of teacher training. Leaders from River City had visited Uganda earlier in the year, and had seen School in a Briefcase classroom practices in action. They were impressed. As a result, they were eager to send our LitNet Uganda team to Zambia to train Ranji’s teachers!
Our Uganda team was eager to respond with any help they could provide. Ebenezer is a name taken from Hebrew words meaning “stone of help”; it refers to a commemorative stone erected after a great victory.
One of LitNet!’s primary goals has been to connect people, to connect supply with need. It is with great joy that we see this happening: sometimes in small ways, sometimes in really BIG ways.
Our U.S. version of Alphabet Animal Stories (and its accompanying CD of songs) continues to be offered online at our website.
Shipping is included in the asking price; proceeds from sales help keep connection happening in Africa and beyond. Perhaps you know of someone young-at-heart who would like to meet a talking zebra or a monkey who plays too many trick for his own good…
We are glad you are interested in LitNet!, and can share our joys and our journeys.

Love and blessings,
David and Sharyn

LitNet! is a registered nonprofit organization.
Donations are tax-deductible.
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LitNet! Newsletter January 2016
posted by David and Sharyn Curtis on 2016-01-23 18:46:46
 
Khuka (Grandpa), why do you have a picture of the Karamojong stealing cattle?”

Dear Friends and Family,
Christmas came a week or so early to the Curtis household this year. We were blessed to have Shem and Catherine Mabongor and their three lovely childen (Kakai, Kana, and Andy) stay with us. The Mabongor family are Ugandan missionaries and our lives have happily intersected with theirs several times in the last five years.
As Kana and I were passing from my office to the kitchen, she looked at the batik we have hanging in our hall. She asked me what I have quoted above. I was seriously taken aback by her thoughtful question...
Honestly, when Sharyn and I bought it while in Uganda, we were thinking: “colorful design, interesting composition, original art, and a good memory”. From Kana’s perspective, she sees an image of a neighboring, marauding tribe member who is notorious for stealing cattle! [Incidentally, the lattice-work on the right side could be the edge of a thorn “kraal” (corral), an enclosure where cattle are kept at night.]
So the innocent words of my-ten-year old companion totally changed my perspective on what I was looking at and experiencing. I am reminded how vitally important it is, when we minister in other cultures, other nations, to maintain close ties of friendship with the nationals and to keep open ears, open hearts to their insights on how to navigate within their community. —David
[see page 2 for a brief annual LitNet! report]

LitNet’s goal has always been to put practical tools in teachers’ hands. The curriculum is helpful, but the training these teachers receive at the seminars impacts every day they spend in their own classrooms. We believe good teaching is strategic and effective; our trainers help teachers learn how to grab students’ attention, how to create an environment that stimulates learning, and how to manage children without shaming or beating them.


Thanks for joining with us in this exciting adventure! ...can’t wait to see what 2016 brings...
Thank you for partnering with us.
 


LitNet! Newsletter October 2015
posted by David and Sharyn Curtis on 2015-10-31 13:36:52
 
Dear friends and family,

It was a feast.

Six wonderful, whirlwind weeks flew by. We arrived back in Kalispell October 22 after our time in the Czech Republic, and we are still digesting all that happened.

Yesterday was “put the garden to bed” day; I spent a good share of today scrubbing and sorting the bounty. As I stood at the sink, I thought of how similar a “missions” trip is to planting and harvesting a garden. We cultivate and we plant, but we can’t anticipate (or take full credit for) the final results. A few small handfuls of seed somehow produce an astonishing amount of nourishment if given the right conditions. We went to Znojmo with a pocketful of seed; we may never be able to quantify the results.

We were able to meet with those who continue to work with us toward publication of the children’s book Stories from the Shepherd, and we are moving forward. David and I spent many hours editing and revising the animal stories after our initial meeting; Iva completed additions discussed during our times together, and Ema continued to translate stories into Czech. We are hopeful about publishing next year. Writing a book is a little like gardening, too!

In addition to “bookwork”, each of us spoke in church on different Sunday mornings, and we were able to meet with high school students in Jarek’s classes for conversational English practice. Most of our time, however, was spent enjoying the precious relationships that have developed with our Czech friends.

If the trip was a feast, these times together with friends were the dessert! One sweet highlight was a surprise. David turned 70 during our second week in Znojmo. He had asked me to keep quiet about the birthday; we celebrated quietly at a local restaurant after church on Sunday.

We were invited to Michal and Zorka’s home for a visit on Monday, and David was surprised with a birthday cake and lots of giggles of from the girls. The cake displayed seven “decade” candles and lots of love.

Our last week was an amazing banquet of experiences. Through Kathie’s business connections in Vienna, we were able to rent a flat and spend two wonderful days touring that grand old city. Kathie and Eva shared this time with us, and we walked miles together: cathedrals and artwork, posh shopping boulevards and lovely parks, architecture and great food—we devoured it all. See the next page for a sampler
Our last week in Europe was a beautiful, memorable blur: a kaleidoscope of experiences. We took a train from Znojmo to Vienna on Friday morning, toured for two days, then we returned Saturday evening to pack for the trip home.
After church Sunday, we boarded a bus for Prague, stayed overnight, and flew to Amsterdam the next day.

We spent most of three wonderful days in the Amsterdam area. Having never seen the North Sea, we took the bus .....
... to the seaside community of Noordwijk. We enjoyed the sights, a glorious fall day on the beach, and lunch at a seafood restaurant that was recommended by friends. Delicious!
Art museum, walking tour, lunch and gourmet dinner rounded out a perfect last stop before we were homeward bound.

Thanks for the prayers and the encouragement. Now, let’s hope we planted good seed!

Love and blessings,
David and Sharyn

David and Sharyn Curtis for LitNet!
P.O. Box 913
Kalispell MT 59903

LitNet! is a registered nonprofit organization.
Donations are tax-deductible.
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LitNet! News September, 2015
posted by David and Sharyn Curtis on 2015-09-23 14:40:58
 
Dear friends and family,
We are here in the apartment in Znojmo, enjoying every moment of every day, it seems. The flights from Kalispell to Prague went without a hitch,
and we had a wonderful three days in Prague exploring the oldest part of this beautiful city. Walking is the best way to start to make sense of the winding cobblestone streets and great stone and brick masonry buildings. While we were there, we explored parks, watched the famous mechanical
figures in the old town square, ate some delicious meals, and marveled at the architecture of magnificent churches, synagogues, theaters, and public buildings.
On Saturday, we took the bus to Znojmo (about 3 hours), where our friend Jarek picked us up at the station. With three suitcases and two bags, we appreciated the ride! Since then, we have spent our
time settling into the apartment and visiting with friends.
On Sunday afternoon, we went for a short hike with friends and built a bonfire to roast sausages. I brought home some apples and plums from the
orchard (natural forager that I am).
Monday, we mostly set up housekeeping. I love our cozy little kitchen with its poppy red wall and sunny window overlooking the central courtyard.
It was a perfect day to wash bedding and towels and hang them out in the windy sunshine. In the courtyard there are clotheslines and flower gardens
with fruit trees behind them. To the back of the yard is a low stone wall with trees above.
Behind the trees and a fence is a school playground.
We love hearing the sound of children’s voices as they play during recess! Wednesday, September 23
Today was cooler and threatening rain, so we went for a long walk through the old town, down past the castle wall to the path that leads to the river below the city. It is always amazing to us that just
a ten minute walk leads to a place that seems completely remote. Except for the sounds of birds singing and calling, and the occasional swish of squirrels, it is peaceful and quiet. The path is steep, but the switchbacks are well kept; there is
a remarkable absence of litter. Last year, we took these paths and ended up far from our original destination! This time, we had a better idea of when and where to turn. I am always aware of these paths having been traveled by countless feet over the centuries: milk, vegetables and fruit being carried to market stalls, children sent to search for nuts and berries, lovers meeting, hunters pursuing birds and wild pigs, and later, tourists tramping under the leafy boughs. In earlier days, apparently the lovely valley wasdevoid of trees to make it more defensible… invaders couldn’t sneak through the undergrowth to surprise the city.
The area has been inhabited
since Stone Age times, and received a grant to be
incorporated as a city of the king in the 1200’s .
Above the walls in these pictures is a rotunda
(round church) that has been there for over a
thousand years! It’s one of the oldest of its kind
remaining in the Czech Republic.
The trail follows the brook at the bottom of the
valley, and the brook flows into the River Dyje
(say “Dee’-yah”) just below a massive dam that
provides flood control. In years past, the town
was frequently plagued with massive floods.
The footbridge at left leads across the river to Kravi Hora(Cow Hill), where the livestock used to be
taken daily to graze. Our friend Eva fills in as a shepherd on this hill occasionally during the summer months. Now, the road leading up is mainly lined with garden houses.
The bridge provides a lovely view of the Znojmo skyline (above), and the railroad bridge (below). We were marveling at the engineering skill involved in the construction of this bridge as we listened to fish and frogs plop in the water, and watched a family of ducks swim by.
The hike back up was invigorating...the location of the town (as you can see) is high on the stone bluffs to ensure its ability to ward off attack. Most of the people we see here are really fit!
Well, I wanted to give you a little picture of our lives in the Czech Republic for the month. On our walk, we picked out the restaurant we will go to for David’s 70th birthday on Sunday.
***
(The preceding narrative is an excerpt from a letter to my parents in Nebraska)
While we were in Prague, we were most impressed, I think, with the Jan Hus memorial (Google for images and info). We were housed near Bethlehem Chapel, which was his main place of preaching. He has been associated not only with a Reformation that preceded Martin Luther by nearly a century, but with Czech nationalism and the Czech struggle for independence.
Truly inspiring. Check it out.
We are happy to be here; we are moving forward with the completion of this book; we are thoroughly enjoying renewing and deepening relationships with our Czech brothers and sisters.
Meanwhile, in Uganda, Annie and Bibian are traveling north to Gulu to do training and to hopefully find teachers who are willing to join us for at least a year to do School in a Briefcase teacher training in that area. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, please.
This will stand in the gap as a LitNet! newsletter for the month; August was a crazy busy month! We send our love from afar. We enjoy getting email!
Sharyn (who wrote)
and David (standing by)
[traveling the road less traveled]
“The journey is the destination” —Don Burleson
 


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