Today was our last full day of English classes. Tomorrow we will cram in a few more words and phrases, we will hand out balloons and pencils and bouncy balls and stickers, and we will stand up and perform, with our age group of children, a skill or song or combination of words we have been using this week. It's the big finale of ESL.
After all the lesson preparations, all the nail biting over whether it would work or not, all the excitement and terror...its hard to believe this first week of "missions work" is drawing to a close.
Our students are so smart, and so intent on learning English. They are competitive with one another, desperate to please us, and filled with laughter. Our hearts will never be the same after this week with them.
I can't pronounce many of their names, the same way they look at me blankly when I tell them my name. Instead, I am simply "teacher." And I melt inside every time one of them says it.
I know their faces, though, and each of them knows mine, and they race each other to hug me and sit beside me and hold my hand. When we say goodbye tomorrow, I will be heartbroken.
A trip outside the comfort zone, out into the world where the Light is unwelcome and the darkness is all that is known, has a way of exposing all our weaknesses and flaws and sins, so that all our rough edges are beginning to be visible to everyone. I don't know if that makes sense.
Think of it like this. Our spirits are like the wick of a candle, covered in wax. As it is held up to the heat, the wax begins to burn away. And as it melts, we see that there is dirt and grime and ugliness hidden beneath the outside veneer of the wax. And the only way to remove it from the wax is to hold it closer to the heat, so that it melts into a puddle, and all that is left is the Spirit at the center.
That's what it's like here. That's what missions is always like. That's what every day SHOULD always be like. We should crave being held up to the flame, so that all our ugliness and unkindness and selfishness can be burned away in the Light of Him, until only the Spirit remains.
But while the heat radiates, we are uncomfortable and edgy and all our nerve endings are exposed.
There is so much more in front of us, so much more exposure to the LIGHT, so many more things to melt off our lives. Pray for us. Pray that we can bear the heat, and stand beside each other in it, and come out on the other side as only the wick, only the Spirit.
Understanding Your ways is too much to fathom. To witness a woman coming to salvation, despite our flaws and failures in sharing and reflecting You, is more than we can comprehend. We can only weep out of grateful hearts. We can only ask to be Your vessels again, and again, and again, until the whole world hears of Your greatness and love.
We are in awe of You, Lord. Help us to know You better and show You better. Every day.