The little stuff (or maybe it’s the big stuff after all)

Sometimes I feel like I only write about the big things going on in our lives – the difficult struggles, the huge joys, the deep pain, the answered prayers. I thought I’d just share some little stuff from the week – things that have made my heart happy in the midst of the ‘daily grind’.

The kids are starting to lead out in prayer! I almost cry when I hear one of their little voices sounding out the typical “Señor Jesús, Te damos gracias…” that starts their conversations with Jesus. Marcia, Sonia, Chiquito, Nika and Yeanny have all volunteered this week.

Yeifrey has been exceptionally “roller-coaster-y” recently. I feel like I walk on eggshells with him – that he may explode at any moment. This week, I’ve really seen him searching for some extra love and attention. Each day during writing practice, he grabs my arm and says, “Miss Angela, please just stay…”

Sonia led her entire small group during center time today! We were short-handed when we first started centers, so I just gave her the little worksheet and told her what I wanted. I asked her to explain to the others how to match the color names to the crayons. I’d look up every once in awhile to check on them, and they were staying on task better than any group so far – without a teacher there! Sonia is one smart little gal. So proud of her.

I’d be lost without my helpers in the classroom. Our Dominican teacher Mery seems to know the days I have no strength. She leads the kids with confidence and creativity and energy. Kurt interacts and plays with the kids – he’s recently taken on the task of helping struggling students learn to write their names. Gabe has been great about doing whatever I ask him to do. And Katie fills in all of the gaps to keep things moving throughout the day. Prepping notebooks and pouring juice and dishing out hand sanitizer and talking with kids in the corner aren’t the most splendid of ways to spend one’s time. But in my mind, those humble jobs are the very ones I imagine Jesus rewarding someday as we stand before Him.

Recently, I’ve just really felt the presence and closeness of the Lord in the classroom. I don’t know who all is praying for us, but I can attest that God has been helping me personally as of late. Days are still chaotic, emotional, and draining. But through the struggles, I can feel my Savior’s gentle leading. He is so very faithful – even in the little stuff.

Mud and a Sticker

I love being able to take part in our pre-school days – no matter if it’s helping a student with his work, subbing for a teacher, or riding on the truck with the kids to and from Lima. Yesterday our whole family made the trek out to the batey. We didn’t help much in the classroom since we had our boys with us, but I did have the opportunity to just “be”.

I exchanged a few words with wide-eyed Scarlette as she greeted me from across the room. I got my bear hug from smiling Reina Belle as she waited patiently for the trash bag to come around during clean-up time. I snapped a picture of Alejandro meticulously drawing his trees and gluing his sun onto the craft page. I listened to the kids’ bubbly laughter as they watched Pam brush her Sammy’s teeth to show proper dental hygiene techniques.

But there was one moment that especially touched me yesterday morning. It was an exchange between two 4-year-olds that I don’t know well – Yeifrey and Yilena.

Since it had rained on Thursday, there were quite a few mud puddles and “dirt mines” around Lima come Friday. Each time the kids transitioned to another activity, the classroom had to be swept due to the mud deposits on the floor. During circle time, the children moved to their usual spot on the letter mat to listen to some stories featuring some angry ants and some adorable little puppy dogs. The kids stared in amazement at the colorful pictures and listened in wonder to the strange-sounding English words streaming from Pam’s mouth. I was sitting near the back of the room, helping students who got “off-task”; I’d quietly try to move their attention back to the story.

That’s when I saw Yeifrey and Yilena. They were hunched over, apparently talking or messing with something on the floor. I was getting ready to “shush” them and point them up to the ant army that was marching across apples and around aardvarks.  But instead, I paused and watched as a beautiful picture of friendship and love played out in front of me. Yilena had some mud caked on her ankle from the messiness of the day. And Yeifrey was leaned over, wiping it off with his bony little hand. After his attempt to clean off the mud, he saw that her leg was still dirty. He licked his skinny, muddy fingers so he could rub off the rest of the dirt. And then it was over. They both moved their attention back to the story and continued with the daily routine.

It was a simple thing. A moment that came and went quickly. Yilena didn’t hug Yeifrey or verbally thank him for his help. And Yeifrey didn’t seem to expect that from her. He saw a need and quietly took care of it.

As I was going through my photos later, I found one of Yeifrey and Yilena. Again, my heart was touched. I noticed something on Yilena’s shirt – a sticker! At first I was confused. She hadn’t answered a question in class in order to receive a prize. I looked more closely and realized that Yeifrey had again shown love to Yilena in a sacrificial and heartfelt way. The sticker that he had been given for answering a question correctly was ripped in half, one part on his shirt and the other half placed on hers.

Our pre-schoolers are slowly discovering what it looks like to learn, obey, and love others. What a joy to see love in action in the heart of a child.  A little mud and a ripped sticker were the mediums this time.  So excited to see the continued growth in these precious little boys and girls.