There were a lot of things I meant to do this morning. And here I find myself at 10:30, drinking yet another cup of coffee, still in my pajamas.
It is hard to believe a week has come and gone. School started on Monday, and I suppose all we could say as we locked the classroom door on Friday was, “Well, we survived.”
The most trying three-and-a-half hours of our day happen between 8:30 and noon, when 7 high-energy and strong-willed kiddos are ours to teach. I’m pretty sure we tried all the bribes in the book, every reverse-psychology method known to man, and any kind of consequence-and-reward system we could think of. And they all backfired.
To be totally and completely honest, on more than one occasion this week we were ready to say we were the wrong people for the job, pack our bags, and pray until our knees blistered that God would send us back to the States. But we are still here. Our bags are still unpacked. And we are still inadequate.
We take each day as it comes. Somedays, this means staring blankly at the wall while we eat our lunch and try not to think about the summer of normalcy we left behind. Other days we revel in the rain that thunders on the tin roof, we chase children around the yard until we are out of breath, and our joy overflows as laughter rings loud from the boy who lays in the hammock every afternoon. Each day holds its own. And we are along for the wild ride.
In the afternoon, Stephen has spent a lot of time helping some of the boys fix their bicycles. The depot is a mess of tools and parts and little boys here, there, and everywhere. Carl and Stephen spent a good 3 days fixing up Carl’s bike, and no sooner did they have everything working when Carl broke his bike, yet again. In the same day, 3 hours after Stephen helped Abel fix the chain on his bike, I found Abel walking his bike back to the depot. After asking him what happened, he showed me the massive rip in his tire where he ran over something in the soccer field.
As people, we long to see progress and evidence of the fruit of our labors. But if you do that here, you will quickly find yourself in a place of deep discouragement. We talk about it as the night grows dark and the mosquitos bite at our ankles. How can we make a difference here? The spelling words, the broken bicycles, the math lessons… Everything you do feels like emptying the ocean with an eye dropper. And that’s on a good day.
It takes a morning of coffee, classic hymns, and 3 hours of sitting on the dirty cement floor at my Savior’s feet before I can realize… If this labor is in and of myself, it is in vain. But this labor is for the Lord. And though we know not His purposes for it all, there is a peace that comes when you surrender it to Him. We can rest in knowing that this labor is not ours. It is His. And whether we see the fruits of it or not, He will use it.