Still, there are times when it doesn't quite feel that way. There are days when full-time ministry is exhausting--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. There are times when life in a foreign country is lonely, when nothing seems to be going right, and the presence of God seems miles away. And there are times when it really tough and really ugly and packing up and going home sounds like a good idea...
Then, there are days when all of the tears, the pain, and hours upon hours of prayer is finally worth it.
Today was one of those days.
I was asked to teach P6 R.E. (6th grade Religious Education) As the substitute teacher, I grabbed a hold of the teacher's guide and skimmed over the curriculum to see what was planned for the day.
The topic: Jesus fed the hungry
It was suggested that the teacher use John 2:1-11 (Jesus turned water to wine) and Matthew 14:13-21 (Jesus feeds 5,000) to teach the subject.
I began with John 2. The students were somewhat familiar with the story, but reading and understanding the words in the Bible often proves to be difficult for them--it can be tough, even, for a native English-speaking person to understand scripture...even harder if English is your second language...that you can't hear. So, we spent some good time transforming the words on the pages into a tangible picture for them to see and better comprehend.
After interpreting the first story into Ugandan Sign Language, we moved on to the second story. I first let them read the passage of scripture...determined that they didn't understand...and began to interpret it for them.
We started with the events leading up to the story and discussed the issue of John the Baptist being imprisoned, which later lead to his death. Slowly, we made our way through the whole story. And what happened from there...my goodness, my heart is still smiling! Before I could ask them a single question, their hands were being thrust into the air. I immediately began getting questions like, "Did John the Baptist go to heaven?" "Why didn't God save John from being killed?" "Did Jesus go to secondary school? or college?" "Did Jesus have brothers and sisters?"
I was in awe of how their young, inquisitive minds had been able to see beyond the words on a page and begin to interact with the people, places, and events withing the story. John the Baptist was not a story character to them. He was a real person and they were concerned for him and his eternity!
One question would lead to another, which lead to even more. I found myself in the middle of such an amazing conversation! At one point I was answering a question and telling my students that God knows the number of hairs on each of their heads; that God can hear (and see) everyone's prayers...all at the same time! I could see the bewilderment in their eyes and I smiled as one of my girls sweetly replied, "Wow, God must have realllllly big eyes!"
Their body language began to change as they became more and more captivated by the conversation. I repeatedly had to tell them to take turns; that, unlike God, I could not see all of their questions at the same time. But they were all so curious and eager to know more that questions overlapped and comments were being hurled at me from multiple directions.
They asked about the disciples and I was able to tell them that many of the disciples didn't have an education, but God still used them in a powerful way. And similarly, they might be deaf, but GOd has made them that way and He has plans to use each of them in a unique way too.
The conversation eventually flowed into the miracle of creation. We talked about how God created everything, from the smallest baby bird to the largest of elephants. From the littlest fish in the sea, to the giant sun, moon, and stars.
"But who created God?" one of them asked...Oh, to have the heart of a child. The innocent, unblemished perspective of God and all His glory. What an unbelievable blessing it is, that God has called me here for such a time as this. I can't imagine NOT walking this journey with Him.
I will be the first to admit, life over here is not easy--for me, or for the people God has called me to serve. This road all-too-often becomes messy and uncomfortable and down-right scary. But I am learning to be thankful despite the circumstances that surround me. I am learning to trust Him when the road I am walking isn't clearly marked. And I am learning to wait on Him. Because at just the right time, He gives me days like this--reassuring me of His presence and reminding me that these kids, their hearts, and their eternities are worth it. They are worth every tear, every busted toe, every heartbreak, every sleepless night...
They are worth it to me.
And they are worth it to Him.