Sunday School in the basement, at Laws Mennonite Church. An extra kid this morning. Kaleb — who has been one of my favorite people ever since he was born. I remember teaching him back when he was in Kindergarten at Vacation Bible School (back in 2006, I think!).
Kaleb is the one in the middle — flanked by two more of the children who made that class not only memorable, but enjoyable. I REALLY loved these kids! We had a blast! He brought life and laughter to our class, and in doing so, he made my job so much easier way back then. It felt so good to have him in class again this morning. He has matured, and his life is stretching him away from us. If plans carry, he and his mom will be moving to Tennessee. I hate to see it happen. It feels like our church (and especially our class) needs Kaleb.
And then we have Sarah. She feels like one of my own grandkids, to be honest. Her Mama has been a part of a Thursday morning Bible study that met at our house pretty much ever since before Sarah was born. I love this picture of her — taken a long time ago when the Bible Study Gals took their kids to a park for a picnic.
Okay, all you people that belong to our church family. Don’t even try to tell me that this is Victoria instead of Sarah!!! Actually, I wouldn’t believe that it was Sarah if it weren’t for the fact that pictures taken that day have the following picture of Daniel (and a picture of that Victoria girlie in an infant seat)! This really is SARAH!!! Sarah is my student that knows all the answers, and is able to keep a step ahead of everyone else. I can’t really do prizes for the one with the most answers right because she has an unfair advantage!!! I’m about to make her my personal assistant. She is an incredible asset to our class. I am so glad to have her there.
And then there’s my little man, Daniel. He has grown up so much over the last couple of years He has a chuckle that makes the rest of the class laugh. We love to hear him laugh. He usually sits on my left, and when I have something for God to say to Jonah or whatever, it is so nice to lay my hand on his shoulder and get down on his level and say something really deep and serious and have him look first surprised and then break into his infamous laugh. For some reason, whenever I use him as a story prop, he finds it funny! I love it that he laughs instead of crying.
Like he was doing here. Probably because I was taking his picture. Back then, getting his picture taken was one of his most unfavorite things to do. Ah, my Daniel-boy! He’s another one in my class that I would very much hate to be without. We need him for the many insightful comments he makes and the quiet way he contributes to the discussions with the unexpected.
And then there is our Emmy-girl. Emily really is one of those youngsters that belongs to the whole church family. She loves to help, and she has keen eyes that never miss anything. This morning in class, she was the first to volunteer to pray. Her mama was sick, and she was so worried about her. Her sister and brother in law have a new baby, and her sister has been having a rough time health wise since the baby’s birth. Emmy worries and worries about the people she loves, and her prayer this morning was a fervent plea that God would help her mom and her sister, and it warmed my heart so much. Emmy is the fourth one in the class that I have been privileged to know since she was very small, and I am so thankful for her presence in our class. She is a willing helper and adds a dimension that is reality for this class when it comes to courage and love and acceptance. Emily knows no strangers and she jumps in with both feet when other people would probably feel a sense of restraint.
Case in point:
There really aren’t very many of us who would take it upon ourselves to push Dave Hertzler around on one of these gizmoes. We love Dave to death, and appreciate his contributions as part of our church’s Leadership team, but even when I was Emily’s age (at the time of this picture) and he was my highly regarded fifth grade teacher, I can promise you that I wouldn’t have been brave enough to push him down the hall of Greenwood Mennonite School on a “seater scooter” (or whatever it is that you call this thing!) Emily lives every moment to the fullest, and in that living, she is granted a whole lot of experiences the rest of us are too reserved to try.
And then there is Bethany.
Here she is, running a water relay at the church’s fourth of July picnic.
She is the one who is always making me feel like I am doing something really important. She acts like she thinks I’m a good teacher. She answers questions, and tries so hard to figure things out. She wants to give the right answer, and she has a beautiful voice that gets hesitant when she wants so much to answer but isn’t quite sure of herself. It has been a broken road that has led her to our church family, but she has hope and enthusiasm and a future. She has people who love her, and are making sure that she is safe. She doesn’t know the Bible stories, and it is fun to tell the old, old stories and see them through the eyes of someone who isn’t dulled by their often telling. She loves her fellow classmates, and is tender with them. She was the one who did the “class report” for the congregation this morning without being coerced or begged. She is willing to try almost anything. At least once. And she has a tender heart, even towards people who have wronged her.
This morning we had the second half of the story of Jonah. We talked about caring for people who have been mean to us. We talked about how God wants us to treat people who have mistreated us, or people we love. We had a map of Iraq, and we looked up the city that is closest to the place where Ninevah was. The lesson plan called for a snack that would have been “Middle Eastern” in nature, and even though I wasn’t sure that the class would be up to it, I decided to at least try. The teacher’s book promised that if they could make their own snacks, they would be inclined to eat it. I wondered about that, but plowed ahead.
I bought the flat bread. I bought raisins. I thought that maybe it would be better to have them in the little snack packs so everyone would get the same amount. I had a package of cream cheese, and a honey bear full of honey. Certain Man looked at my collection a little dubiously, but we got everything packed into the little playmate cooler, and off to church we went.
When the lesson was winding down, I informed the kids that our snack today was just a little unusual. They were immediately at attention while I began upacking the cooler. I explained that they wouldn’t have bread quite like this if they were in the Middle East, and that the cheese would probably be made from goat’s milk, but the raisins and the honey were pretty authentic, and so we got to work. We took the Pepperidge Farms whole wheat flat bread and cut each round disc in half. The kids were interested and actually anxious to make this. They each had a table knife to spread the cheese with, and they slathered the cream cheese on each side of the bread. Then they drizzled honey over that, and then put raisins on top of that, and put the top layer on. I tasted my own little sandwich that I had created while I was instructing them and was pleasantly surprised. It was very, very good! One by one they finished putting theirs together and began to tentatively taste their unusual snack. They LOVED it!!! All of them ate every morsel. Kaleb went and fetched napkins for us, and I had apple juice to go with it, and they finished up just as the last bell rang. We made a mad scramble to clean up our mess, but the kids had been exceptionally neat. In fact, I had a bigger sticky spot than any of them where the honey had run down. A damp rag from the kitchen and all was clean and back to normal.
And then it was up the steps and back to the assembly of the Saints. I listened to some of the reports from the various Sunday School classes, and considered the fact that, even though I miss that adult interaction so very much, the payoff is phenomenal. I’m so enriched by these little people. And my heart is full.