On Spiderwebs and Perseverance

Over the past 6 years, the Lord’s been teaching me a lesson. Using spiderwebs. A couple weeks ago, I finally stopped to take a picture.

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Before Freedom owned the land where our buildings now sit, we traveled to the villages to do school. In batey Lima, we borrowed a small, hot, metal church building where our 30 preschoolers would kneel at wooden pews to learn their alphabet. In 2013, our numbers grew to 90. I worked with our 30 kindergarteners, and Toni taught the 60 preschool babes.

As a mom who had just moved to a foreign country with two young boys, I felt like our days were so very long. Every morning, we’d send missionaries out at dawn in their personal vehicles to prep our “classrooms”. They’d lug heavy benches out of the buildings, and they’d drag in totes full of workbooks, school supplies, laminated letters, chalkboards, and more. They’d screw together makeshift desks to prepare for a morning full of learning.

At the end of each 4-hour day, everything was taken apart. Desks and chairs were stacked and organized. Ropes and number lines were dismantled and packed away. Outhouses were cleaned. Around noon, we’d drop our students off in their villages. Then we’d eat our packed lunches on the back of a safari truck. By mid-afternoon, we were home and cleaned up. With the remaining hours til sunset, houses were cleaned, clothes were washed, and dinners were cooked. Some missionaries homeschooled their own children; others spent time prepping lessons and activities for school. This monotonous routine was our “normal”.

For me to get up at 6 am and head out to the villages on the back of an open-air truck – hanging on to my 3-year-old son so he wouldn’t bounce off the seat – was fairly draining. But even on those early, frigid mornings, God was an ever-present help and strength.

I had lots of time to think on those long truck rides. There were certain parts of the trip that were actually rather pleasant. I loved watching the world wake up. I started to notice certain aspects of the landscape. I knew when the really big bumps were coming on that washed-out, dirt road. I could soon close my eyes and tell you our location on the route based on the sounds, smells, and swerves. With each trip, I’d catch some new feature of my surroundings.

It was always fun riding through one particularly wooded area – it had a jungle feel to it. After being in that shadowy, foresty region for several minutes, the world opened up into a sunny, vast expanse of sugarcane. The fields stretched for miles. In the distance, one could barely make out the grayish, purple mountains.

One dewy morning, I remember looking out across the grassy fields, and I noticed something new. Spiderwebs. Hundreds and hundreds of translucent orbs. They were all around. Every few yards, there was another intricate structure that some tiny, eight-legged creature had spent her entire night working on. I could only imagine the amount of time it took to make those complex, interlacing works of art.

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Interestingly enough, by the time we boarded the truck for the afternoon ride home, the spiderwebs were gone. They no longer glistened in the sunlight, veiled in morning dew. I can only assume that the wind and rain of the day destroyed those fragile, beautiful masterpieces.

I started to compare our long hours to the time those little spiders spent creating their webs. Were we really so different from them, toiling day and night? We sure experienced “windy” times. For me, those days were mostly characterized by feelings of discouragement, exhaustion, and frustration as we worked with rowdy, raucous kids who rarely showed signs of change and growth.

As depressing as all this may sound, there is some beauty to the tale. Each afternoon the spiderwebs were gone. But every morning, they were back! In the night, the spiders had set to work again – spinning, spinning, spinning – until their condensation-covered creations were complete again.

Those spiders and their webs represented something to me. Perseverance. I often woke up thinking, Lord, I don’t know if I can do this again. It’s so early. I’m so tired. These kids don’t want to learnBut then I’d see those webs, and I’d think, Well, Jesus, if those little arachnids can get up to spin their webs, then I can too!

The miraculous thing? I don’t have to spin alone.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning!
– Psalm 30:5