April 18, 2008

If Only They Knew

My high-school English class wrote letters back to our pen-pals last week and they did quite well. Many of them even managed a complete, grammatically-correct sentence, without a spelling or vocabulary error. But what really struck me as I watched them write was how diligently they were applying themselves to the task. They were clearly invested in the task and our room fell quiet as each began composing a reply.

No one is forcing them to attend my classes. There’s no consequence if they miss a day. The only thing I have to offer them is a snack and a friendly smile. But they continue to come and they even seem to enjoy what we are doing.

I wish we had enough vocabulary in common so that I could tell them how much their attendance and positive attitudes mean to me. I’ve been searching in my time here for a way to make a positive and substantive contribution to this community and in these students and in this English class I have found it. And it feels GREAT! Just by showing up, they validate my thought way back when that I should go to Africa to “help out,” a thought that ultimately led me to YASC and then to Itipini.

It’s too early to tell if my efforts with these students will have any impact on their grades and I am continually fearful our efforts will yield little discernable effect. In the meantime, though, I give thanks for the impact these students have had on me and what a continual encouragement they are in this constantly frustrating business called mission… even if they don’t know it.


Anonymous said...

You're paying attention to them. You believe in them. You believe that they're intelligent and worth spending time with. And that makes all the difference. You sow the seeds. God will take care of the harvest. - Jane