Snickers and giggles come from a group of boys as Brandon introduced me to the class. I guess some part of my name was funny to them, but I have yet to find out why.
I currently teach the younger 14 kids (5-10 years old) with Jourdan, Chuck, and Steven. I am surprised by their eagerness to learn. My favorite moments (which have been caught on camera) are when the children share the memory verse of the day.
Day 1 – “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:3
Day 2 – “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you cannot take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” – Ephesians 2:8
Day 3 – “God so loved the world, he gave his one and only son, so whoever believes in him will never die but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (We sang this one)
Day 4 – “But God showed his love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” – Romans 5:8
Everyone wants to try, even if there is no candy involved. The level of English known in our class varies from those only speaking english for a few weeks, to those who can perfectly recite the memory verse. I have personally enjoyed working with Aysema. She has only been a part of Bring Love In for 2 weeks. She knows her numbers and her alphabet, but struggles with the rest of English. Earlier this week I worked with her on colors, and the joy the both of us shared through her success is incomparable. Yesterday, she was doing so good and I could see the confidence she had as she asked “May I borrow your brown crayon?” (Which is a common phrase in our room). Working with these children has changed my heart in so many ways. Today we said goodbye to the younger kids, and there were hugs and kisses all around. We will see them again next Friday as the older kids perform a play and I am so excited for that moment. Within 4 short, fast, and long days, my heart has grown so much. They have filled it with love, hurt, and patience.
The love has shown me that there really is no limit to God’s love. I have received numerous hugs, kisses on the cheek, and learned many new handshakes. All of these moments are engrained into my brain and stamped on my heart. The children have taught me how to love education more than I have ever known. Each morning their smiles and excitement fill the room. Their bulging beautiful eyes lock on “Mr. Chuck” as he shares the bible story of the day. The love I have learned from these children is more than earthly love. It has to be coming from God. I know that each of these previously orphaned children have experienced much more hurt and pain that I have, yet they still live on and love Jesus. I know this because of a song they sing, “I love Jesus, yes I do. I love Jesus, yes I do. I love Jesus, how ’bout you, how ’bout you?” Of course as I sing this song in my head I hear their sweet accents, but I also picture the numerous children that point at me in those moments. As they ask, “how ’bout you?” They lock eye contact with me and I can’t help but want to shout that I do, because they show the true love of Jesus and their faith is an inspiration to me. Today we decided to bring a guitar that was at our guest house and play it for the younger children. Brandon played Beautiful Things and Only You. Hearing them sing Beautiful Things brought joy and love to my heart!
Along with the love, I have experienced hurt. Honestly, I thought that this would hurt a lot more. But I have a feeling that the hurt will come when I am back in America. The hurt I have experienced here has been from seeing how little the children have, yet how much they want to give. Speaking with Nazarwit, she shared a general description of what some of the children have gone through and it breaks my heart. I cannot imagine my life without my parents and all they provide for me, and these children spent time in orphanages where all of their relationships were shared with only peers. The other hurt that I have felt tug on my heart has been how much the children want to give. Each and every day, during snack/lunch, they ask for us to join them, and they always offer what they have, which most of the time is injera, rice, or pasta. Along with giving food, they have given prayers. During the first day we did a prayer activity and many of the kids said that they were going to pray for us. This really spoke to my heart, because the kids have so many more needs than I do, yet they are praying for us.
Lastly, I have learned patience. Patience with our team, the children, me, even those around us every day. It has been so amazing to work with such God-loving people and I am so glad that we all share that in common and can get along and share what is in our hearts. The patience I have learned from the children has forever changed me. Trying to communicate with those speaking in another language can be very difficult on both ends, and the patience I have seen from the children has helped me. Lastly, the patience with traffic has been amazing to see. There seems to be four lanes of traffic where in America there would be two. At one point in traffic I reached my hand out and touched the car next to me easily. I am surprised by the mutual respect of everyone. We have only seen two car wrecks so far. The best moment was when we drove past the little kids as they drove home on the bus. They were so excited and shouting our names.
The biggest thing God has taught me on this trip is the importance of being open to others – that creating relationship is the most important thing you can do in this life.