“Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16 23-24
God has been blessing my team in such sweet ways this past week. He is working in the hearts and situations around us in mighty ways. Once precious way has been seeing God answer prayers before they have been prayed.
Early last week I messaged a friend and asked her to pray for community as that was something I was really hurting for. (While I have an amazing team, we are a small group and everyone has been so sick we have hardly had any time outside of work together)
I was working at a coffee shop and closed my computer after sending that email. Coming back to the hotel my roommate messages me to come down to the big room downstairs where she was hanging out with new friends.
These new friends are an amazing group of people purposed on creating Christian community wherever they go. They are here on a survey trip to see if the Lord wants them to begin an outreach in Lesvos. Sent from a community in Maryland and stationed in Germany, God brought them here the day I asked for prayer about community. And they just happen to be staying at the same hotel as we are! They have welcomed my roommate and I into their time of worship and prayer. I see the Holy Spirit present and moving among them and it is bringing fresh hope to this island!
There were other prayers spoken by me and friends around me that have been answered before they were even uttered. It has been so sweet seeing God work, hearing our prayers before they are even spoken.
A week ago our learning center held a parent meeting. We invited the parent’s to join us after school. After serving tea and the students performed several songs for their parents, we went upstairs to meet. Doris and I went over our daily schedule, and share our core values and expectations for the classroom. I shared how we desire for the classroom to be a space where the children can come knowing they are safe and can have fun. We want learning to be exciting and enjoyable. We want the children to treat one another with respect and love, creating a safe and happy environment.
We then opened up the floor to questions and comments. One request was that we offer a field trip (something our team had talked about just that morning!). The parent’s shared their desire is for their children to be outside of the camp. “Moria no good.” They shared and we eagerly told them about our hopes to visit a museum and big playground downtown!
Another request was that we offer homework. The parents told us that they would like their children to have something to do in the afternoon. We had just purchased some notebooks and worked out a plan on how we would send assignments back in the notebooks and then the students would bring them back for us to check.
Another parent wanted to share a story. She told us she has been asking her daughter if she likes going to school and her daughter’s response was “Oh yes, my teachers LOVE me!” Everyone burst into laughter including myself but I was so touched. Touched that this little girl could see how valued she is!
A father raised his hand and waited for a quiet moment to talk. He stood up and started speaking fervently in Farsi. Doris and I looked at each other with a little trepidation. Was he going to criticize something we were doing? Or command we change something?
We waited until he was done and turned to our interpreter who said. “He wants to say he has so much respect for you teachers, and for what you do, he is not a teacher, and he does not know what to do to help his child but you can help them learn, and they love coming to school! It makes him so happy to see that they can come and learn in a happy and safe place and he is very very grateful.”
I looked to the back of the room and saw my team lead wiping tears away from his face after this declaration. I was close to tears myself, so moved and encouraged by the fact that we are making a difference. That our love is seen, these kids are learning and growing.
We thanked the parents for coming and for their support, I nodded to the fathers and was kissed by the mothers on the cheek.
When we went downstairs one of the students’ dad asked if he could take a picture of us with his children. They are moving on to Athens soon but they want to remember us. Sadly I didn’t get a copy of the picture but it was so sweet being remembered by them!
The girls showed up to school the next day with precious thank you cards for me with their skills learned in school on display!
I had noticed another student’s dad taking pictures throughout the meeting. The next day his son came to school with some drawings. I was a bit confused by the interpretation but I believe the father and son worked together on making these drawings of the school staff!
Friday we passed out notebooks for homework. The students were so excited when they found out they were taking their notebooks home with them. One of the boys shouted “YES!” and another girl cried “Oh teacher! Thank you very much!”
Best reaction to homework ever!
Monday we collected their notebooks to grade and to add new pages to. We told the students that they had the day off and would get homework again on Tuesday. All of them groaned and cried “No we want homework today!”
Teacher friends in the States, has that ever happened in your classroom?
Art class on Wednesday made me think about why I went in to teaching. My reason for becoming a teacher was to see children grow, to give them a space where they can relax, have fun, know they are safe, and feel cherished. It is an environment of peace that generates joyful growth. Where minds can ignite, and spirit’s learn to soar. Today I saw a little bit of that fulfilled in art class. I gave the students a simple color wheel cut and paste project. My sample is on the upper right of the picture. You can see they got way more creative them me and added a lot to their designs!
I was so excited to watch their creativity come to life as they designed their own pieces. No two were alike, but they beautiful representations of the hearts of their creators.
I know I am just a part of the journey for these kids, however it is such an honor to walk with them for how every long God puts them with us. I am so blessed to be serving the displaced in Lesvos. It’s hard some days but I believe it is worth it.
Just the other day I had to chance to skype with my aunt and uncle (the same ones I served with in Bangladesh). My uncle is currently battling infections on top of cancer and I would ask for prayers for strength and healing. My uncle has not wasted this time battling cancer but has sought after the Lord in inspiring ways. It was so sweet talking with and learning from them. They reminded me that burn out only happens when we try to take on tomorrow. We are not given strength for tomorrow but strength for today, just as the Lord says his mercies are new every morning. So it makes sense that people in service work who try to take on figuring out the months to come will end up burning out. when the day is long and hard it can be scary to look at tomorrow. Tomorrow feels like too much. But we aren’t called to live in tomorrow, we are called to live in today. I’ve been rereading the book Jesus the King by Timothy Keller. In his book, he quotes George MacDonald who says “The one secret of life and development, is not to devise and plan, but to do every moment’s duty aright…and let come-not what will, for there is no such thing- but what the eternal Thought wills for each of us, has intended in each of us from the first.”
And in that will of the eternal thought I am given all the strength I need. 2 Peter 1:3-4 states “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature…”
I, as a human in this broken world, cannot face tomorrow without fearing burn out. But if I trust that God has called me, and act upon his will, he gives me what I need. There is no need for burn out when I’m resting in His promises and moving in His will. So as I continue to step out in faith, I rest in his promises that he is making me more like him.
God has been so good providing moments of refreshment amidst the busy work. Tuesday my roommate and I were able to hike up Mount Olympus, the highest point on Lesbos. I was struck by just the wonder in the beauty of God’s creation, a sweet reminder of His beauty.
Praises and Prayers ( or glows and grows as my new friends call them)
*Praise community is being built. I am refreshed and encouraged and empowered to continue building even when our visiting team leaves next week.
*Praise supportive and appreciative parents of students.
*Pray that we will finish strong; that in our last couple weeks here on Lesvos, though short in time, will have an eternal impact.
*Prayer- Continued planning for my next placement in Jordan setting up a schedule with volunteering with the church’s refugee outreach and language school.
I am so grateful to be walking this journey with you my supporters. Thank you for all your prayers!