There are more and more days in which I find the words, "I have the coolest job in the world" coming forth from my mouth. This morning was another one of those.
After our two Saturday morning classes, Jimmy and I started out on our walk home. As usual, we have several students who walk with us, as they live in the same direction. They usually straggle behind, doddle on the sides of the road talking, or run ahead. Today, however, the kids were a bit more clingy and eagerly grabbed our hands and walked beside us. We usually go around the alley they all live down and take the main road, but today, with the insistence of the kids, we walked with them into their neighborhood.
Small, poor homes and rickety shops opened to the narrow alley sandwiched between old, small apartment buildings. This alley lead to many others, each branching off in it's own mystery and level of poverty. It felt like we were a small parade. Here we were, 2 tall white foreigners, and 20 Chinese children walking, talking, and laughing. Adults looked up from their work, poked heads out doors, peeked around doorways, to see us coming. We passed a massive, old, vine covered tree where several kids had gone before and were already playing. They eagerly jumped from its mighty branches to join our little band. I held the hand of several girls, but one stuck by the whole walk. Her name is Mary.
Mary is a 5th grader and probably one of the smartest kids at the school, in her English as well as other studies. She is a little lady, very responsible, always watching the world around her, loving, and eager to learn. She, I believe, is the oldest child in her family and therefore has had to grow up much faster than most kids her age. She cooks, cleans, does housework, homework, and looks after younger siblings while her parents work all day. Though Jimmy is her teacher and she loves him dearly, I've always felt this little pull in her to be near me, to talk to me, most likely because I am female. As we walked and she talked of her home and neighborhood with her limited English, I couldn't help but smile. What a beautiful opportunity I have been given this year, to love these kids. As we came to the cross street where she lives, she tugged on my arm to go home with her. "Not today," I said. I do so hope someday though...
I am learning perspective in China. Many people here have asked why I would come here; to a busy, dirty, traffic congested, industrial city to teach poor kids. I always smile. Yes, I am getting paid and with that am able to pay off some student debt, yes, I get to see the world and live abroad, but there is so much more than that. It's all about perspective. I have been called this year to live and to love these people, these kids. Seeing the joy on their faces, watching them learn, understand, and apply their learning, watching my often frugal attempts to teach them a language and give them hope for a brighter future - it's priceless. It's about who I serve, who He is my life, and how that flows forth. That is why I am here. I daily am reminded of that. On days when I don't want to teach, I'm tired, or discouraged, the old motto from my summers at Indian Hills Camp rings through my brain, "This may be your 8th week of camp, but it's these campers' first!" Well for me in China its, "This may be your 3rd English class today, but it's their 1st - make it the best one ever!"
Perspective. It changes everything. He changes everything. He changes how I live, how I love, why I love. I truly do have the coolest job in the world.
In my life be lifted high
In my world be lifted high
In my love be lifted high