Hello Friends and Family!
We hope and pray that you are doing well. We just finished our first semester of school of the 2022-23 school year and there is SO much to be thankful for. Everyday life in Manila is pretty much back to normal with mask mandates being dropped early in the school year. Our students were able to attend fully in-person classes and enjoy many extracurricular activities. It was encouraging to see so many students discover more about themselves and pursue their gifts and passions by playing on sports teams, performing in musical concerts and plays, showcasing their creativity in art exhibitions, joining Bible studies, attending retreats, and being a part of clubs and activities. Overall, we are thankful to be living full lives alongside others again. In this newsletter, we will update you on our ministry, and we will send out a newsletter early in the New Year to give you a more personal update.
A semester of fully in-person learning confirmed for us that we both love teaching. Although we really enjoyed it last year, we knew that we were not receiving a full experience due to the pandemic. Even though we only have one year of experience under our belts, we felt so much more comfortable prepping, teaching, and grading. Upon reflecting on our time here so far, something that we did not plan, but are thankful for, is that we get to teach many of the same students, and how that facilitates the relationships that we build with our students. Grady teaches all the 10th and 12th graders and Britt teaches all the 11th graders. Several students have told us that they felt more comfortable to open up to Britt if they had been taught or coached by Grady, and vice versa. Furthermore, the Bible courses that we teach ask the students to be personal and vulnerable, and so we are grateful that they feel safe with us. Praise God for orchestrating this dynamic and for how we can work together as a team, even though we are teaching and coaching independently from one another. One student that Britt had this year that Grady also taught last year said,
“All in all, I want to thank you for allowing this class to be a safe space for me and everyone else. In the first week of school, I asked Mr. Fleming if it was really okay to be honest in this class and whether it was safe. He reassured me that it would be beneficial for me to be honest and that I could trust you (Mrs. Fleming). Over the course of this class, I felt really safe and that has made me courageous enough to ask questions and discuss difficult topics with my classmates.”
Apart from teaching, the entire Faith Academy staff team is currently reading a book called Beyond Biblical Integration by Roger Erdvig. The book is about how educators can create an immersive environment where a biblical worldview is “caught” by students rather than “taught” by teachers. One of the key principles behind the book is that in order to do this, educators need to be continuously developing their own biblical worldview.
This book has challenged and encouraged us to “love Jesus with all of our minds” as we have reflected on the powerful reality that we are shaped by what we love, not necessarily what we say or what we do (another book for non-educators that we would recommend on this topic is You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith).
We have enjoyed engaging in conversations with our colleagues about how we can create an environment where our love for Jesus is evident and where the students can see and feel what it is like to live a life dedicated to Him, not just hear about it in a lesson or a chapel message. We are blessed to work alongside and be led by Kingdom-minded people.
We did not need this semester to know that we LOVE coaching! It honestly feels like a part of us (and our athletes) come alive in a special way through sports. We are both so proud of the improvements that we saw in our athletes this season, and thankful for the unique ways that we got to connect with them through volleyball and swimming. Since many of our students had never been on a sports team before, this year was important for us as coaches to lay a good foundation and teach what it is like to be on a team. Through sports, we were able to teach a variety of life-long lessons such as, fulfilling commitments, managing time, taking care of your body, sportsmanship, winning and losing with grace, showing up on time, and being prepared to work hard. We tried to introduce and build some of those habits this year, trusting that over the years, a culture of excellence will be formed on our teams.
Prayer for continued growth, protection, and unity in our marriage.
Prayer for a restful and rejuvenating Christmas break.
Thank you so much for your prayer and support. It really means a lot to us! Please let us know how we can be praying for you and stay tuned for another mini-update in the New Year!
Merry Christmas and much Love, Britt and Grady