Friday, October 5, 2018

Don't Give Up

This English lesson that Gem teaches on the tortoise and the hare shares about having determination and not giving up

I often get asked whether or not what I do here really makes a difference. It’s only one week, how much can we really impact the children in such a short time? Can we really build the relationships necessary to change lives in just a handful of days? I remember early on in my time here in Taiwan one of the public school teachers talking to me after her students had spent a week at the Hualien school. She said, “I can see a difference in their lives. They really have changed.” But sometimes after watching camp after camp come and go it is easy to feel like the cycle never ends. I, too, start to wonder: does one week really make a difference?

This semester has had a difficult beginning. We started with two weeks in a row of challenging students (very active, very disruptive, very many after class talks about not talking in class, not leaving the classroom in the middle of class without permission, not fighting, etc.). We had hoped the third week would be what we call an “angel class” week, but it was not to be. In the camp meeting to prepare for the third week of camps, I noticed a notation in one student’s bio that had been translated “he takes people’s things.” I asked my coworker if the notation meant he was a thief. She wasn’t so sure as the Chinese version of the notes was equally vague - she surmised that probably he would teasingly grab something and hold it out of the reach of the person trying to get it back.

Near the end of the week, a pen went missing. It was later found in that student’s pencil case. Willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, the teachers asked if maybe he had borrowed the pen and forgotten to return it. He chose to be honest and admitted that he had stolen it. Apparently the pen was way cooler than any of the pens he owned and he really wanted a nice pen. The teachers talked with him, discussing with him not only why stealing is wrong, but also helping him plan strategies of how to resist the urge to steal things in the future. After the discussion, the pen was returned to the other student.

The teachers asked the other student if he would be willing to forgive the classmate who had stolen from him. He thought for a brief second and said, “The foreign teacher is always saying ‘Don’t give up’ and ‘try again’ so I am willing to forgive him and let him try again.”
This is Gem with one of the kids who attends Sunday school at the local church

Every week I get a new batch of students to pour His love into - and the week may not seem long enough to make a difference, but He knows what He’s doing. Sometimes, like in the case of the stolen pen, He lets me see a glimpse of what He’s doing. The five days are short, but it is plenty of time to sow the seeds of truth that He would have me plant. As they leave, I may or may not see them again, but He is still at work.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9


Originally from Chicago, Gabrielle Martin currently lives in Nantou, Taiwan. She has served with VOICE Missions for 4 years. She loves teaching English and entertaining her students with stories and songs. Her personal blog, sharing her adventures and things she's learned, can be found at