Monday, March 30, 2009

Things that make me smile

I love my job.

As a teacher, I have the opportunity to participate in many 'unusual' events. Sometimes these events involve dressing up. Sometimes they are just an excuse to have a party. Although every day and every 'unusual' event is different, they all have a common thread - they usually make me smile.

An event that never fails to bring laughter into the academy is Spirit Day. This is a monthly academy event that is used to encourage unity and a sense of team spirit. These days require all teachers and students to dress according to a theme. In February we had to dress up in something that would represent our home country. I wore a South African rugby jersey, of course.

Last Friday it was time for spirit day again. The theme was 'Time Periods'. I was inspired to dress as a cavewoman - it was liberating (in a weird sort of way).

On Friday we had a poetry party for the elementary school. I don't think I have laughed like that in a long time. It just so happened that all the classes wrote poems over the last few weeks and a poetry party was a perfect opportunity for students to read their poems. And of course, it isn't a poetry party without cookies and hot chocolate.

My favourite poem was presented by one of the students in a lower grade. His couplet was surprising.

The number eight

has a plate

Needless to say, it made me smile. I just had to share it with you.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chances are...

Children make me laugh. I have heard some real gems in my class. This week, I was witness to another.

In the Grade Four Mathematics class we were discussing what the term 'probability' means. We also spoke about the terms certain, likely, equally likely, unlikely and impossible'.

I was struggling to find an example that the pupils in my class could relate to. Until one of the boys in my class intervened. He didn't seem to struggle...

'The probability of you becoming pregnant is impossible," he said confidently.

I was slightly shocked but covered it well. At least, I think I did.

'However,' he says 'The probability of you becoming engaged is very likely."

Evidently Mathematics is on my side.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pride's nemesis

Since my last post a lot has happened.

God has been stretching me and revealing things to me in unexpected ways. Sometimes good. Sometimes not so good.

One of the prayers that I had since my time on the ship was that God would humble me. When people hear that you are on the Africa Mercy they shower you with words of admiration and tell you how brave you are. I am sure that many people on the ship are brave and have sacrificied a lot to be obedient to God. I don't dispute that.

But the truth is that I don't feel brave. I feel blessed. My basic needs are met. And then some.

More recently though I have felt humbled.

I am ashamed to admit that being on this ship has at times given me a false sense of 'I'm good with God. Nothing can touch me.' Perhaps that was the first indication that God was preparing to show me something (I really should be able to read the signs by now).

Through interactions with others, God has shown me that I need Him as much as the people we are serving need Him. I am worth no more and no less than anyone else on or off the ship. I am His child and He loves me. Warts and all. I am humbled that God can use me, a sinner. Even though I judge; even though I have moments of pride, He trusts and loves me enough to allow me to be an ambassador for His Kingdom.

Last week one of the patients in the hospital experienced complications after surgery. She was fighting for her life downstairs in the ICU while I was complaining about the fact that my mango hadn't ripened. The start of another humbling experience...

We prayed for her healing; for complete restoration. We sang worship songs to her by her bedside. We held her hand. We prayed for a miracle. We had invested in this woman's life. At about 19:30 on Tuesday evening, while we were praying for her, she passed.

I didn't understand. How could God let her die when she came to the ship in search of an opportunity to improve her life? Why didn't God seize this moment to perform a miracle? Was it a lack of faith on my part? Was there something in my life that stopped God from not answering our prayers for healing?

Then it hit me.

God does not make mistakes. I am in no position to argue with our Maker. He knows what to do and when to do it. While I fixated on what I was doing wrong, God's plan was falling into place. He didn't need me to fulfil His plan but He was gracious enough to allow me to be a part of it.

I thank and praise God that He God continues to answers my prayers for humility daily.

'Therefore, as God's chosen people, Holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.' Colossians 3:12