This has been on my mind and heart for a long time now. I suppose it could be because this group has been all over the news, and everyone, I mean EVERYONE is talking about it. One of the things that God told us was that we WILL get persecuted for the sake of the cross. Luke 21:10 “Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” Persecution will come (an absolute) no matter who we are because we are living in the world, even though we are not of the world. Therefore, what is happening to our brothers and sisters all over the world, regardless of race or color, is a tragedy, but they are giving witness to the cross of Jesus Christ, and they are holding the faith under those strong persecutions. What they are enduring is what Jesus foretold long ago, but they will receive many blessings for staying strong through that, just as we will when we endure our own persecution.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
God’s heart is for His children. It’s for His children to come to Him, humbling themselves before the throne. His heart if for every tongue, every heart, every nation to proclaim His name and sing praises to Him always. If this is God’s heart, then I want my life’s mission to be, “Set the captives free in Jesus name.” I want every waking moment to be filled with the desire to proclaim His praises to the nations and show every person in every nation the truth of the Gospel.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” -Galatians 5:13
So today marks an important event in my life. This was the last day of my first year of teaching. It has not been an easy year for me in the slightest, and it was nothing like I imagined it to be, but I wouldn’t trade this year and experience for anything in the world.
To start out the year, I took a leap of faith with my husband and moved farther away from my family than I have ever been before. We moved to a place, while still in the United States, felt every bit like a foreign country to me. The culture, the religion, the environment. Everything was so vastly different than I had ever been exposed to before. When we made this journey, I was pregnant with my first child, and that experience in itself was not the greatest for me. I was depressed for half of it, and continually sick for the rest. So having the motivation to get up and teach every day was often a struggle. The first seven or so months into the school year I constantly wanted to go home to Michigan. Each visit left me on the bed in tears, not wanting to come back. But through all that, God comforted me and showed me the purpose I had here was far greater than I could ever know.
Slowly but surely, I was able to learn contentment with my circumstances and fall deeper and deeper in love with the children I was blessed to call my first students. Their character, quirks, demeanor, is all the perfect recipe for children who I love so much, and am struggling having to let go of for next year. They have challenged every little bit of me, in so many amazing ways, and they have loved me back even on my hardest of days.
So I give praise to God for allowing me to be involved in this community for the short amount of time that I was. I thank him for giving me such wonderful kids to mold and shape throughout the year. I thank God for giving me 16 wonderful “teachers” in return. Zuni New Mexico, you will always own a very special place in my heart, and I will be back to visit… SOON!
“To the world, you may be a teacher, but to your students, you are a hero” -unknown
On top of working in the missions field with the Zuni people, Ryan and I have joined ship with the Brocks on the Navajo Res to the north of us in a village called Chichiltah starting a church plant there. Ryan is helping as the “Youth Pastor” while Joseph Brock is the Head Pastor, and Leah and I are the support team 🙂 We are all working to bring the gospel to the people who reside in that area.
We met the Brock’s at a dinner we had in Zuni last summer. They are a couple our age, and coincidentally they married on the exact same day and same year as us (but because of time zone difference we have a whole 2-3 hours more wisdom than them when it comes to marriage. Haha, just kidding.) They are amazing and we can’t imagine life here without their awesome friendship with us.
Church planting has been a topic of conversation in our household for several years now, and I just think it’s crazy how God works and weaves together different situations to fulfil His plans for us. If you want to know more about Oakview Bible church follow us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OakviewBibleChurch/timeline.
Here are some pictures of our adventures in Navajo land.
Hagoonee (Goodbye for now!)
I was just prepping my berries and bananas for my frozen bags of smoothie mix after work today when I decided to turn Pandora on my iPad on. I was listening to the 1girlnation playlist when a song came on that I have been hearing frequently throughout the past few months, either on Pandora, or the radio. I feel like this song, in particular, God has been playing for me. He has been sending a message deep within my heart.
Before I went to Haiti two summers ago, I was introduced to the song by Audio Adrenaline called Kings and Queens. This song quickly became my theme song for my mission trip. The girls and boy all over the world will become the Kings and Queens in the kingdom of God. God won’t overlook them, and He is sending us to bring Him to them. This song was originally written for Haiti and the music video was even filmed there with the orphans of one of its cities. However, I feel deeply that the message applies to everywhere in this big world. God is not only making the children of Haiti kings and queens. But He is making every “child” (both young and old) of EVERY nation a king and queen in His kingdom.
Like I said earlier, this song popped up today on my Pandora list, along with many times on the radio for me throughout the past several months. God is showing me that I am in the mission field right now. Here in New Mexico on this little reservation, there are so many people who have been “forgotten” by the world. People don’t even know they exist. But I do, because God has placed me here, and opened my eyes to the desperate need there is here.
Soon the young boys (many of which will be my own students) will be going through a religious practice that many young boys go through. I don’t know if any amount of preparation will get my eyes, and most importantly my heart, ready for what will take place. But I do know that just knowing about it will show me even more how much need there is for me to show my children the love of Christ, and the freedom that comes with the truth of the cross. God will make these boys into kings in His kingdom, and I am to be used as His tool to reach them. Freedom will come to this nation, I need only to do as my Great God, Father, and King has called me to do.
My challenge to each of you is to recognize the great need for the kingdom there is in your own community. Recognize the abilities and gifts that God has equipped each of you with. You are not an exception to His gifting. He has done, and is doing great things in and through you. Once you recognize the gifts you have, and the need there is to be met, go before your King and ask Him to send you forth to meet that need. Ask Him to use those gifts, even the ones you don’t know about yet, to reach out to the “future kings and queens” and show them the love of Christ. Imagine the impact we can make if each of us even reaches one person. Imagine the rejoicing there will be in heaven. Imagine the tears of joy that will come from our Father when He children come home to Him.
Listen to the song Kings and Queens to get some more motivation for your call to be the hands and feet of the one who created each boy and girl, young and old, throughout all the world!
My experience working in New Mexico has been an emotional rollercoaster ride. I had many moments of doubt as to why I chose to come teach here, or even why I chose to teach in the first place. But then I had many moments of joy for being here and joy for having the opportunity to shape and mold these young minds. I am beginning to feel contentment for my calling to teach at this school and work in this mission field. It’s amazing to see how God is working through these young children each and every day.
The culture and environment of a Native American Reservation in the Southwest is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. They have their own customs, their own religion, and their own way of handling things. I listen to my students telling me about how they stayed up all night the night before for a religious event, a wake for someone who has passed, or the medicine man who came to their house. Many of my kids will also come to school hungry because they either don’t eat breakfast at all, or their breakfast consists of a tiny jerky stick, or a bag of hot cheetohs.
The environment is equally different and took a long time to adjust to for a Michigan born and breed girl. There are no lakes that you can just walk down the road to swim in. In fact, there are hardly any bodies of water at all. The climate is so dry that I need a humidifier just for a little moisture in the room. My students are continually amazed at how big the trees are in Michigan and how many colors there are in the fall when I show them pictures of my trips back home. They think the snow is the coolest things ever, and they wanted as much as Buffalo got this past November.
I am learning more and more each day that my children are precious jewels created uniquely in the image of God. They have purpose and have a powerful story that is just waiting to be told. They are to be the light to this dark community and will lead their people to Christ. I am equally learning that it is my job, as their teacher and their sister in Christ, to not only mold and shape their young minds in the curriculum that is set out for them, but also lead them to the Light of the World. He is waiting there for them to grasp onto Him and never let go.
I’m not going to lie, teaching has been a struggle for me. I’ve had to find out what works and what doesn’t with my students. Having a class of students who are mostly all behind by a couple grades in their reading levels, has been difficult to adjust for test taking, teaching study habits, teaching critical thinking strategies for writing essays instead of just multiple choice answers, as well as reading and the language arts in general. My school has a language arts curriculum, but doesn’t have a set book or material that is used to teach that curriculum. So one of the tasks I had and still have is to find something to use to teach grammar, spelling, writing, reading, and all other categories that would work for my kids. For a person who graduated with a science major and not a language arts major, that has been especially challenging for me. I tried writing prompts at the beginning of the year to get them thinking and help them formulate something to write about. But then I found that the prompts that I had, they couldn’t relate to all that well, and were challenging for them to understand what to talk about. I also had a difficult time figuring out how to teach them sentence structure, spelling, and grammar through their writing. I eventually found a DOL (Daily Oral Language) set that is having the students correct incorrect sentences. While they correct them together in class, I have them explain why they need to make the corrections that they want to make to the sentences. Then they have to re-write the sentences correctly. This seems to be improving their writing for other things that we do in class as well.
One of the most frustrating aspects of teaching for me is that I teach a concept a hundred different ways (I may be over exaggerating a little bit) and my students still don’t understand it. I want so bad to stay after school with each one of them for hours and hours just so I know they are practicing it, but I am only one person, and I have to remind myself that I can’t do it all. I know in the back of my mind that when they go home, no one will sit down with them and help them understand the material, and it gets so frustrating to know that they could do so much better in school if they would only get that little extra help at home.
One of the biggest things that I have been learning through my experiences teaching, is that each child really is different. I always knew that, in fact it’s even in my philosophy of education, but I don’t think I really understood just how true this statement is until I started teaching. Some students work really well on their own. You teach them, give them a task to do, and they do it really fast and correctly on their own. It just clicks for them. Then there’s the other students who you teach them a concept, give them a task, and then they raise their hands with a million different questions. There are still some who won’t understand, but they either don’t want to ask, or they don’t know to ask questions, and just get everything wrong.
Then there’s the few students who are brilliant, and I really mean brilliant, but they just can’t sit still long enough to focus on the tasks they are being asked to do. These are the students who my heart breaks for the most. I know how much potential they have, and I know all that they are capable of doing, but I can’t get them to write their names on their paper, stop disrupting the other students, or stay in their seats when I’m trying to teach them something. They get so excited so fast that they fall backwards out of their chairs or jump up in the middle of me teaching something. They have to be separated from all the other students because if I put them next to anyone, they will disrupt themselves and the others, and they just can’t help it. These are the students that you beg the parents to get them checked out by a doctor to try and get some help for them, but they refuse because “there’s nothing wrong with their child,” or, “they don’t believe in medicating children.” I am finding that differentiation in teaching is always important, and when differentiating doesn’t work, try it again in a different way.