Friday, October 31, 2014

An evening on the swing

The view from the swing at nighttime.

It was the eve of a school holiday. As my custom often is when I have a bit of free time in the evening, I headed down to the orphanage to see who I could find to hang out with. There's almost always someone to talk to, and it's almost always a different person. You just never know, which makes it a fun adventure.

This night, I considered talking with a certain one of my students from last year, so I went to his house. But he was out fishing, so I talked with the other girls from his house for a while, and then went out to find someone else. As I walked along, I heard a voice call me from the swings. " 'Cher!" It was a couple more students of mine. We chatted for quite a while about all sorts of things, and other kids came and went during our conversation. Then those two decided it was time to go home too. As I was getting ready to leave, yet another of my students (an older one this time) sat down on the swing next to me and said, "I want to talk with you now!"

We'd never really connected before, other than time in class, so I was happy that she wanted to talk. She'd shown some rebellion in other teachers' classes recently as well, and I was curious as to what might have been the cause. We started talking, and immediately she began to ask me spiritual questions. Stuff she wasn't sure about from Bible class, and questions she seemed to have been thinking about in her heart for a while. She told me of her fears of ghosts and demons; fears that she wouldn't go to heaven because of all the bad things she'd done; the times when she didn't really believe in God - or that He is love. She explained that her relatives sneer at her for being a Christian. She shared with me how she hates the favoritism she experiences in her orphanage home, and the hypocrisy she sees in the "Christian" adults around her every day.

I was eager to answer her questions and show her the path to true happiness, but I felt so inadequate. As she tried her best to translate her thoughts into English, I prayed silently. Lord, give me Your words. I'll mess it all up if You're not here with me.

As our feet shuffled on the ground underneath our swings, I answered each one of her questions, sharing my own stories of experience, and even thoughts of fear and unbelief I've had before. I tried my best to point her to Jesus as a God of love, and encouraged her to live like Him, even amid the hardships she faces every day. I can't say I gave all the right answers, or complete ones at that, but it was special to be able to connect with her and encourage her to follow Jesus and spend time in His Word.

She told me a story, after I'd reminded her of God's greater power than Satan, about a time when she was so afraid of the demons. I don't recall if she had actually seen them or not, but as she was lying in bed one night, she had an immense fear of these evil creatures. She wasn't sure what to do, but then she remembered that she had a Bible near her. She picked it up and hugged it to her chest. As she did, peace filled her heart, and she knew for a fact that God's Word has power. She'd forgotten all about the experience but our talking about these things had reminded her.

Before we parted ways (late in the night!), I prayed with her.

Please pray for this special girl, and that God will continue to work miracles in her life. She still has a long way to go, but she seems to be searching. Pray that God will give me the time I need to be able to connect with her - and the other students who are open to encouragement.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bury My Heart

Photo credit: HistoryMakers

A friend recently shared this song on her blog, and I thought it was beautiful. So I'll let you read it too:

Bury My Heart

A young girl weeps in a far distant land;
She has no one to show her God’s love.
No mother or father to wipe away her tears,
She cries out in the night alone.

Bury my heart on the mission field, Lord;
I’ll go to dry that young girl’s tears.
I’ll serve You no matter where the path may lead;
Lord, please bury my heart.

A mother grieves for her starving child;
She has no shelter from the cold.
Earthly provisions will ease their suffering,
But who will feed their empty souls?

Bury my heart on the mission field, Lord;
I’ll give the gospel to the suffering ones.
I’ll go wherever You want me to go;
Lord, please bury my heart.

Will you ignore these lost souls in the night?
Can you hear their pleading cries?
They’re begging for someone to show them the way –
We must go before another one dies.

Bury my heart on the mission field, Lord;
These distant voices won’t fade away.
I’ll do Your will whatever the cost;
Lord, please bury my heart.

I’ll do Your will whatever the cost;
Lord, please bury my heart.
Lord, I give You my heart.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Top 7 Things a Teacher Can't Live Without

David (grade 12 last year) and his new group of students in Mondulkiri Province.
Over the last year and month or two, I've discovered some things that teachers (especially those in the mission field) must have in order to be successful, or at least to survive in a crisis. I'll share some with you...

Whiteboard marker. Even if you have nothing else in your hands, this is an essential. Whether you are following the textbook or teaching from off the top of your head, the kids will listen so much better if you can write things out (simply) for them to see. You can play word games with them, or review for an upcoming test. It's definitely a must-have.

Clock. Pretty much anyone needs this, but it's for sure on the teacher's list. Maybe the grade in charge of ringing the bell forgot to do it, or you need to determine how much more time you have to talk or do work. If you don't have your own, make sure at least one of the kids has one so you can assign them the task of timekeeper.

Extra pens. Someone's bound to give the excuse that they can't do the assignment because they don't have a pen! This is easily remedied if you have a good supply at hand. You don't have to have a whole box, but just a few will be helpful.

Paper. It can be fresh paper, scratch paper, or the kids' notebooks, but paper is a necessity! Kids can work by themselves or in groups to write, draw pictures, or make a poster about one of the things you've been studying about. Or - if the printer and copier are functioning properly - the kids can do a worksheet.

Flexibility. Without this, you'll crash. You could be asked to do anything at any given time. Maybe the science teacher has to be away for a week, so you need to teach a few periods of physics. Or the power's out during your two computer class periods. What to do? Be flexible and figure out a way to learn something and make it work!

Sleep. You can go without sleep for a little while, it is true. But sometimes you just need to put away the books at 8:30 or 9:00 and go to sleep even if you're not finished with everything you wanted to do for tomorrow. The next thing on my list will help you through this quandary (it has been proved). In order to stay cheerful during the day, you need to get enough rest at night.

Absolute reliance on God. Above anything and everything else, this is something a teacher can not live without for even an hour. All your plans will fail if you do not recognize your need of God, and trust Him to give you your lesson plans. I've experienced this firsthand for an entire year and He has proved faithful every day that I have trusted Him. Don't ever leave home without His presence! Don't let your classroom be without Him there!

Two of my boys from last year, at Angkor Wat. 
Sunrise at Wat Preah Yesu.
Photo credits: David, Ro, and Francis.