We just finished teaching today in one of our schools and I felt the need to sit down for a few moments and write some of the thoughts tumbling around in my mind and heart.
We have been back for a couple of weeks now and it has been a bit of a struggle trying to transition back to life here. Not sure why. Perhaps a bit of homesickness. Missing things. Missing family. Especially Jacob. It’s been a little difficult getting back into the groove, back into what was our regular routine. It’s been raining a lot so it has not always been possible to get out for a run or take the dog for a walk. We’ve been fighting fatigue and sickness…coughs that won’t let go.
But there have been some truly bright moments. Moments that have made us laugh and moments that honestly we will probably always remember. Moments like last week when we were teaching our last class of the day. The grade six class. This class in this particular school has always been kind of tough. The kids are rather rough around the edges and sometimes we wonder if they are even listening. They can be disruptive. On that day though…Rossy, one of our bible teachers and I stood at the back of the classroom with a certain group of boys. Dale was talking about how when God comes into his life he is no longer Diego but Diego, son of God….( The kids know him as Diego because Dale does not translate so well). One of the young men Rossy and I were standing with blurted out..”Go, Diego go!” in English. It was funny and made us all laugh. And I thought atleast he is listening. Kind of. This same young man made Rossy a drawing with her name in Graffiti style, surrounded by flames. This is the same boy who last year was so disruptive in the Seedlings class, who actually tore the book to shreds, and wanted no part of the Bible. His heart was hard. We’ve seen a change in him. It’s a small change, but such a glimpse that we know there is hope. I guesss we should not be so surprised when we prayed for him so much. We prayed that his heart would change. His friend in turn made me a similar page. My name in Spanish Carolina, surrounded by flames. I plan on colouring it, but it is something I will always treasure and remember. Always. It made my day because up to then I had been feeling so sad with being homesick. And this simple gesture touched my heart.
And then there was today. This is the part that gets kind of hard to write because it’s about something that I rarely if ever talk about. It’s too difficult. Too raw I suppose. It makes me feel vulnerable. I would rather just pretend it doesn’t exist. But the fact is it does and there is nothing I can do about it.
When I was 21 I was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis. Or NF. It’s a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on your nerve tissue. It can be disfiguring. It can be painful. So far I have not had any pain with it. I am thankful to the Lord for that because I know people with NF that have considerable pain. It is something that can be dormant for a while, and then all of a sudden it can spread like wild fire. And in recent months I feel like that is where I am at. I have noticed more and more of them cropping up and I hate it. There is no pause button or way to make them stop. And I have prayed that God would take it away or stop more from showing up. It’s something that makes me feel self conscious. Ugly. It’s the reason I don’t like going to the beach or being seen too often in a bathing suit. And with the weather here, it is not like I can go around in long sleeves all the time. I will never forget the time another missonary asked me ” why don’t you do something about it? There are Doctors who can help with that, you know.” As though I should be ashamed. Although that is probably not how she meant it. She was probably just trying to help. Truth is in Canada a few years ago, I was trying to have some of them removed and did, but the Dr could only remove one at a time. Pointless, really when there are so many.
Anyway, I am not telling any of this to make people feel sorry for me. It’s a part of who I am though even if I don’t like talking about it and it leads up to what happened today. There were these three girls at recess. They are always girls to give the biggest hugs. They hold on tight like they don’t want to let go. One of them I have always felt a special bond with. I couldn’t have moved even if I wanted to. They were surrounding me, hedging me in. They began to stroke my arms gently. For about five minutes. They asked me things like, “Do they hurt?” “Are you going to die?” “Why?” They were inquisitive. It made me feel a tad uncomfortable if you want to know the truth.. But you know what? In their brown eyes I didn’t see what I see when I look in the mirror. I didn’t see disgust. I didn’t see rejection. They were not mocking me or recoiling from what they saw. They were curious of course, and that’s only natural. But you know else what I saw? I saw compassion. I saw their care and concern. And as they ran off and gave me one last hug, I felt completely and unconditionally loved by them.
1 Corinthians 13 :11-13
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childess things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever… Faith, Hope, and Love …and the greatest of these is love.