The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

May is a crazy time. Maybe not for everyone, but especially for teachers. It’s alumni season, so my previous students are stopping in – and some even come join class discussions which is a total blast. I also have ripple effects of senioritis running through my class. As the year 12 students are completely over the whole high school learning environment and just want to have fun until grad, I am still responsible for covering the remaining objectives in my class with year 11 students who are so ready to be done for the summer and come back as the top class on campus. Sometimes it’s frustrating to have to deal with keeping rowdy students on task, but that’s why I have friends who keep me sane.

Givorgy has been my best friend for over a decade and a half, and it sucks that we’ve not lived in the same country for most of that time. It’s been nearly three years since we’d been face to face, but he finally managed to work a stop in Kandern along a long string of traveling he’s in the midst of.

I was overjoyed to get to spend time with him in person four days in a row. He was a much needed encouragement when my legs were disappointing me yet again. I can laugh with him about things like God’s weird timing and how specifically I need to pray for things. He has the context and the history to say to me that if I’ve prayed for someone for two years, then I can pray for twenty-two if that’s what God puts before me. That was a hard conversation, but important for me as I toil in some things that I don’t see the fruit of. I’m frustrated that my feet are spending more time spasming than

walking, but I make do with what I have. I’m disheartened that I’ve covered less of the usual enrichment content in my curriculum, but I got a special note from a student this past week that encouraged me to carry on even when I think my class isn’t listening. I love working in an international context, but I will say that sometimes I could use the nudge that American teachers get in the spring with Teacher Appreciation Week gifts flooding their desk. Instead of a week of Starbucks cards, I got this note, though, and it’s worth a year’s supply of coffee to me. Some days are harder than others to show up and pour out my heart into these lessons, but according to one kid, I’m changing lives. By the grace of God, I have a couple extra stories of the work God has done through me, and I had the rather unique experience of hearing it this week from two different parents. One told me a story of the positive impact that the advisory program I coordinate had on her son as a new student, and another sat at my bench and asked if I would share the honour of baptising his daughter.

That conversation was a particular blessing because this is the senior who shouts random affirmations at me in the hallways and peeks her head into my room to say, “Daily reminder that you’re awesome, Ms. Hewett,” on a semi-regular basis. I’d never met her father before Friday, but he’d asked if he could talk to me about what it might look like to make a baptism happen in Kandern with me involved because that’s what his daughter had requested. This kid is incredibly special to me, and baptism is one of my absolute favourite things, and what an honour that she would include me and that her dad (who is the pastor of her church as well) would invite me to share that. I got to spend about an hour with this dad, and he blessed me with a bit of his testimony – he’s also a PK, so he gets his kids’ situation a bit more, but he also said how important his Bible teacher was in his story. His Bible teacher was the one to call him out for faking his faith in high school and encouraged him to be honest with God.

Wow. I thought of Mr. Weber having such a positive influence on me – and he never knew I’d end up following in Mr. Felton’s shoes to end up in Kandern. The web of people all knit together in the body of Christ is pretty incredible. I have some key players in my life who invested time and prayers over me plus some significant people who dropped in for just three Sundays as a locum visiting from York to deliver powerful encouragements at church. I don’t always know who I’m impacting, and Givorgy and I talked about that too as we contemplated where my prayers have made the most impact because I certainly love all people better despite not seeing any softening of the heart I’m praying for. My students have had more insightful lessons, and a couple have even followed up for spontaneous teaology conversations. Others schedule dinner and Hamilton singalongs at my house and read me their collection of Mr. Elkins quotes. It’s a team effort because I promise you Harrison Elkins did not expect to be a repeated example in my class when I reference the Gospel allusions in Moana, but I know he cares deeply about his students seeing God’s creative power at work in nature. I also know we both are highly complimented to be “blamed” for a graduate becoming an environmentalist. That same graduate and I texted last night while we watched the live stream of a beloved former staff member get married in Canada.

Life is wild and crazy, and one of the difficulties of expat life is not being able to attend every wedding I want, but as I watched Emily and Robbie exchange vows, I thought about that thunderstorm in Kandern a year and a half ago – the night Emily, Robbie, and I watched the live stream of an alumni’s wedding – the same night the Lord spoke to me so clearly about prayer and my healing. I can’t wait to someday dance in the rain, but there will be more weddings to live stream, more baptisms to plan, and more crazy, wild adventures I haven’t even dreamed up yet.

If you’re the praying type, ask the Holy Spirit to come in peace and move in my legs. I want to walk again, and I believe in a God who heals. Ask also for peace in the final weeks of school that I can finish well with this group before our summer madness.

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