The Hole in Our Gospel
The Hole in Our Gospel
The story I am about to share occurred a few weeks before Christmas break, but at the time I was too overwhelmed with the situation to write about it. I want to share this to show the reality we face here as missionaries; there are many difficulties and most days don’t go as we planned, but that leaves room for God in our lives. I have found that when I am out of my comfort zone, I am able to trust God fully. It started off as any typical day. The kids were excited about the upcoming Christmas concert, and after lunch we headed to the chapel for rehearsal. The rehearsal lasted for most of the afternoon, so we returned to class with just 30 minutes to clean up and write the homework. Earlier in the day, two of my girls had gotten into a fight and they now sat in my classroom full of anger towards each other as tears ran down their faces. I had a pending conversation with both of them, so I told my class to copy the homework assignment and clean their desks as I went outside to talk to the two girls. I left the door only a crack open so that the other students couldn’t listen to our conversation (some of my students are quite nosy haha). One of the girls involved had had a similar incident earlier in the quarter with another one of her friends, so I knew she had a problem controlling her anger. I reminded her that when she got angry she had to walk away, pray and cool down so that she didn’t say hurtful words to the person she was angry with. The conversation lasted quite a while because both of their feelings were hurt over the other’s words and they did not want to forgive each other. During this conversation I was interrupted a few times from students who had questions or just wanted to catch a glimpse of the conversation. Suddenly, the door swung open and one of my girls ran out of the classroom and I heard other students yelling for me to come inside. I rushed into the class and was shocked at what I saw. There stood of my boys with a chair over his head as he slammed it to the floor. He had tears running down his face and he was yelling things in Marshallese as he grabbed everything he saw and threw it across the class. One of the boys tried to grab him to calm him down, but he just shook him off. I said a quick prayer in my head “My God, I don’t know what to do! Please help me!” and then I called his name and told him to breath and calm down. I told all the other kids to back away and give him room. Then I went over and wrapped my arms around him to stop him from throwing things across the class. He just shook me off and kicked a bucket full of water. I followed him and once again wrapped him in my arms so that he could not move. I told him to calm down and that everything was going to be ok. This time, he slowly dropped himself to the ground and just cried in my arms. It was over, or so I thought. I questioned my other kids about what had happened to make him so angry, and they told me that two girls had hit him. One girl had started choking him and the girl who had run out of class, in fear, hit him with a book because he would not be quiet. I dismissed everyone in the class, except the three people involved, and was so thankful that no one had been hurt (although a few were scared). Then, I took the boy out to the hallway and we began to talk. I asked him if this was something that had happened before and he began telling me stories of other times it had happened to him. In second grade, he took a knife to school and almost stabbed a kid. In fourth grade a kid hit him and challenged him to fight, so he pushed him down a flight of stairs and broke his arm. Each time, they had to move to a different school. He began telling me how he had promised his dad he wouldn’t do it here, and how his dad always prayed for him but he couldn’t stop. I prayed with him for a while and told him that this anger problem was something that he had to pray for everyday. I also gave him some advice on what to do next time it happens. The next morning he came to class looking sad and ashamed. Since some of the kids had gotten scared the day before, I decided that we should make a circle on the floor and talk about it. He actually began talking and apologized to the class about what had happened. But he kept talking… telling the students about other times this happened; the things that he had revealed to me the day before. I could see the anger fueling inside him again; anger towards himself. I interrupted him because I did not want the other kids to be afraid of him and see him differently after hearing these stories, but he kept going and the anger kept growing and soon he was in tears again. I told him to stay during recess and we talked again. I had sent a letter to his father the day before explaining what had happened in class and I was surprised that his only response was to tell him that he was gay for fighting with girls. How could this father ignore the fact that his son has a problem? That his son needs him to be a father to him? His son needs him! I could see the pain in him. I could see the guilt and anger towards himself. So I told him that these were things of the past. I told him about his Heavenly Father who loves him so much and has forgiven what he’s done. I told him that he had to let go of the past and start new. Each day was a chance to be different. After recess, the devil struck again. A different student, this time a girl, was fighting with one of the boys. I told them to stop fighting and to stop interrupting my class and she just put her head down. After I had finished teaching and the kids were doing math problems on their own, I walked over to her and asked her what had happened, but she just got up angrily and moved to a different desk. I followed her once again and told her that running away wasn’t going to fix anything and I hugged her. This time she just got up and yelled leave me alone! Then she began throwing things all over the class room like the boy before. I grabbed her and called her name but she just kicked at the air and wiggled herself free. I yelled for one of my students to get Mr. Manning from next door and told the rest to go outside before anyone got hurt. She just lay on the ground kicking and screaming and crying. Mr. Manning came in and had to carry her out kicking and screaming and calm her down. After this, the students had P.E. so I had a chance to talk to her alone now that she was cooled down. I asked her why she was angry and what had caused all this, and she told me the kid had called her a name she hated… wanna-be. Then, she told me that she couldn’t even remember what she did; it was like her anger took over her. So I told her detail by detail what had happened and gave her advice on what to do next time she felt like this again. She apologized to me for what she had done. I asked her how things were at home because she had had problems with her sister earlier in the year; I knew there had to be a root to this anger she was feeling. She told me things were going great with her sister and that her sister had actually apologized to her for treating her the way she did. Then she began talking about another time this had happened to her before. Then, she talked about her father who had passed away. She asked me if she would see him again and I knew there was the root of the problem; she was angry that her father had passed away. I reassured her that one day they would be reunited and we prayed and cried together. After talking to her, I went straight home, laid on my bed and cried. I cried for my children. Why were they full of anger? How could I help them? How could I take their pain away? I just wished I could take them away… far far away. My roommates came in and their words were so soothing. They told me that maybe we aren’t going to change everything here. Maybe we won’t even see the end results of our work here, but we are here to plant seeds in their hearts. Seeds of love, seeds of hope, seeds that will one day grow.
I spent part of this morning out on the rocks crying and facing the cold truth: Some of my kids are being abused at home. The past 4 months I have spent convincing myself that my kids have a happy home life. I unconsciously (or maybe deliberately) placed a veil over my eyes to hide the signs. The truth is that knowing that my kids are going through abuse terrifies me. What will I say to them? How can I help them? How can I teach them about a God who loves them while they are being abused at home? But yesterday God finally decided to remove the veil from my eyes since I couldn’t do it on my own. Before going to lunch one of my girls asked me if she could talk to me about her family. She reminded me about our Student Awareness Week last week and how we told them that if their parents hit them very hard and bruised them, they should let us know. I knew where she was going with this, so I quickly said a prayer to God, “God please help me! I don’t know what to say. Please speak through me!” She began telling me about her sister beating her for the most insignificant reasons. The sad part is that her mother knows but does nothing about it. I asked her why she thinks her sister would do this to her and she told me that her sister has not been able to cope with her father’s death 3 years ago. She’s angry and she takes it out on her. She is adopted; her mother passed away so her aunt adopted her. She told me she feels guilty that her father is still alive but her sister’s isn’t. Her sister not only beats her, she also tells her she’s stupid and ugly and tells her bad words. As she told me I could see tears forming in her eyes. I hugged her and told her how special she is. I told her that she needed to be strong and that whenever her sister told her these things she had to tell herself that her sister is wrong and remember that she is special to God and to me. If she lets her sister’s words bring down her self esteem, Satan would be winning. I reminded her that God has a great plan for her and that one day all this will end. We ended by praying for her sister and the situation. We agreed that she is going to talk to her sister this weekend about what she is doing and how it makes her feel. If she does not stop the abuse I’m going to speak to her mother. It frustrates me that I can’t do more than give her hope that one day this will all stop. This is their culture; abuse is very common. The police won’t do anything, so these kids are stuck in this horrible cycle of abuse. I wish I could take them all home with me, away from their suffering.
She is a strong girl, so I know that if she came to me it is because things are really bad at home. I know it took her a lot to come and ask me for help. As I sat on the rocks, I realized that she had left me a hint earlier this week; she had tried to tell me before but I didn’t realize it at the moment. How could I be so blinded? Earlier this week she had told me about how her sister got mad at her for accidentally kicking her while they were walking; her sister insisted she did it on purpose. Yesterday when we talked, she told me that was the last time she had beat her. Then I began thinking about my other kids, are they giving me hints too? Another one of my girls is always telling me that she doesn’t like her Mom because she’s mean. On her tests she writes that if she doesn’t do good her mom will murder her ( by murder they mean beat up). One girl wrote on her spelling test “I need help! I think they’re going to kill me” because she didn’t have her notes to study. When I first read these I thought maybe they were exaggerating, but now I can’t live with assumptions. I don’t want to leave Majuro knowing that I could have helped them, but I didn’t. I may be the only person they can turn to for help, so I can’t continue pretending this isn’t happening. This girl is moving soon with her mother and sister. I’m scared that the abuse will continue over there and I will not be able to help her. For now all I can do is ask God to open my eyes to see their struggles, and to show me how to help them. Friends, please keep me in your prayers. I need strength and guidance. Most importantly, please pray for my kids! May they find hope in Jesus.
Today I decided to return to my class in the late afternoon. This is something I never do, because the sun was already setting, and the high school building is very scary at night. But once again I felt an unusual urge to go to my class and clean up a little. As I was cleaning my desk, I found a carefully folded paper with the words
To: Ms. Natalie
Inside it read:
Dear Ms. Natalie
I will miss you so so much and I like you because you a good teacher I ever meet. Every night when I go to sleep I pray for you and all your family.
I couldn’t help but to automatically burst into tears of joy. I walked over to my classroom window to see the moon shining brightly over the ocean. I exclaimed, “My God! Why are you so good to me!” I was in awe of God’s great love for me! It is evident everywhere I turn. I have never been happier in my life than here in Majuro. For once in my life I can say I have a true relationship with God and I trust him completely without lying. Today, after reading this letter, it finally hit me that God sends love letters to me from above through my children. It is His way of reminding me that He is with me. It is his way of showing me His love. It is His way of encouraging me and letting me know I’m doing a good job. He sends them right when I need them the most. Oh, how I adore these love letter sent from above!
A few Sabbaths ago I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep so I read my Bible and wrote in my journal. As I was writing, I kept thinking about how fast the time seems to be passing here on the island. In just 5 weeks, we will reach our half way mark!! As I thought of this, my mind turned to my 21 kids. It brought tears to my eyes knowing that I will not be able to see their faces every morning. I’m not going to lie, in the beginning they were just students, and I could not wait for 3 pm to come so that I could finally go home. Now they have become like my own children; I’m a mother of 21 :) As I’ve spent more time reading my Bible and building my relationship with God, He has shown me how to be patient and how to love like Him. My love for my kids is unconditional; even though they make me mad and drive me crazy, I can’t stop loving each and every one of them. Even my most troublesome students have a special place in my heart. God has given me eyes to see beyond their flaws and into their hearts. I know God chose these 21 kids especially for me. Each child was carefully chosen by God and placed in my class to help me grow in some way. One day I will have to leave them, but while I’m here I want to love them like they love me. The love they have for me is so great! Every day my desk is bombarded with letters of how much they love me and how much they will miss me. One of my girls, Aana, is already crying because she doesn’t want me to leave. Oh how I want to love like they love! It is this kind of love that God wants us to have for everyone. So as you face a new day, go out into the world and spread God’s love :D
I’ve been reading this devotional book called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I really recommend it! It has helped me so much in my walk with God, and I feel God speaking to me every morning through this book. I will be posting some of my favorite ones. The book is written as if God is speaking to you. Open your hearts, and let God speak to you :)
NO MATTER WHAT your circumstances may be, you can find Joy in My Presence. On some days Joy is generously strewn along your life-path, glistening in the sunlight. On days like that, being content is as simple as breathing the next breath or taking the next step. Other days are overcast and gloomy; you feel the strain of the journey, which seems endless. Dull gray rocks greet your gaze and cause your feet to ache. Yet Joy is still attainable. Search for it as for hidden treasure.
Begin by remembering that I have created this day; it is not a chance occurrence. Recall hat I am present with you whether you sense My Presence or not. Then, start talking with Me about whatever is on your mind. Rejoice in the fact that I understand you perfectly, and I know exactly what your are experiencing. As you continue communicating with Me, your mood will gradually lighten. Awareness of My marvelous Companionship can infuse Joy into the grayest day.
Psalm 21:6; Proverbs 2:4
Sunrises in Majuro. Even Nature speaks of God’s great love for us!
This is my second sermon I did for Vespers on October 19. It’s amazing the peace that God gave me. This time I didn’t feel nervous or shy because I knew God would place the words in my mouth. So don’t be afraid to speak to others about God. You may think ” I don’t know what to say,” or “I am too shy,” but God will give you peace and the words to say. He can use you to show his glory and love to others!
It was one of those days. Everything seemed to be going wrong. My kids just couldn’t understand word problems and it frustrated me. As the day continued, they payed less and less attention. The boys picked on the girls and the girls cried and fought back. Numerous times I tried to speak over them, but I was tired. I just wanted to give up! The devil was quick to remind me me of my weakness and insecurities. He loves to take God out of the picture by making us worry instead of trusting God. He announces his presence with authority. He is always lurking, waiting to strike. His voice is loud and persistent. God’s voice, on the other hand, is a gentle whisper that soothes and comforts us. That day, when I was at my lowest, I heard God’s gentle whisper. As I was cleaning my classroom after school, I saw a crumpled paper in our class library. Normally I would just throw it away, but this time I felt an unusual urge to open it and read it. Inside I found a letter to God that said:
I just want us the 6th graders to listen to our teacher Ms. Natalie, cause some of us don’t listen to her. Please.
At the bottom of the letter was his or her favorite memory text:
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." Revelation 22:13
I don’t know who wrote this letter, but I know God used this child to show me that he is in control. Many times I take God out of the picture by taking life in my own hands, but the burdens of this world are too much for me and I am reminded that I don’t need to do this alone. The creator of this universe, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end is with me. He holds my life in his hands. Satan’s attacks may be strong, but our God is stronger. Our God is greater. If he is with us, who can be against us?
Right now, the burdens of this world may be heavy on your shoulders, but you are not alone. You have a great support. God is your helper. You do not have to feel uncertain or concerned about your future because God has promised to deliver you. If your life is in chaos, be still and know that He is God. Some days you may feel like giving up, but Psalms 27:15 tells us ” Stay with God. Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again. Stay with God.” When we stay with God and depend fully on him, we will not be toppled over when storms come. “For blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat come; its leaves are always green, and it never fails to bear fruit.”
The Bible gives us the perfect example of a man who tried to take things into his own hands instead of trusting God. This man’s name was Jonah. In Jonah 1, God commands Johan to “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against its wickedness.” But Jonah was too afraid and ran away. He went to the port and found a ship headed to Tarshish. While out at sea, a violent storm arose and the sailors were afraid and cried out to their gods. Jonah was below the deck sleeping. When the sailors found out that the storm was caused because Jonah was running away from God, they were afraid and asked him what they should do to calm the storm. Jonah told them to throw him off the ship and the sea would turn calm. They did not want to do this, so they tried their best to get to land, but the storm turned more violent. Finally, they prayed to God and asked Him not to hold them accountable for his death, and they threw him out into the sea. God caused a huge fish to swallow Jonah and he was there for three days and three nights. While there, he cried out to God saying:
" In my distress I called out to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listen to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the sea, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again towards your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit."
Jonah was literally facing a storm in his life after he took matters into his own hands instead of trusting God. When he was at his lowest point, God heard his cry and calmed the storm. So next time you’re facing a storm, be still and know that God is with you. You do not have to face your problems alone, for the Lord has promised to be with you every step of the way.
"This is my command, be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9