Thursday, October 18, 2007


This morning I woke up feeling sick for the second time this month. I feel like my immune system is definitely lacking. My hair hasn’t stopped falling out since I got here. I feel weak. My legs have to really fight to make it up the stairs at the end of each day. No amount of sleep ever seems to be enough.
I read Genesis 22 this morning. This is the story when God tells Abraham to sacrifice Issac. As he is about to kill his son, an angel appears and says these words, “Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn’t hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me.” As a result of Abrahams faithfulness to God, the angel of the Lord continues, “I swear- God’s sure word!- because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I’ll bless you- oh, how I’ll bless you!”
I thought to myself, “Geez I would love to hear those words from God at the end of this experience.” THAT would make it all worth it! To hear God say, “Heather, because you have gone through this painful experience and have not refused to dedicate yourself to me- oh, how I’ll bless you!” Which brought the thought: What am I willing to place on the altar for God? What will I have to endure this year? It scares and exhausts me to think that there is no guarantee that the hardest part of this year is behind me. I have no idea what lies ahead of me.
I have been talking about the prayer of Jabez with my 8th graders. Some mornings I read to them about it. I have been daring them to ask big things of God. I tell them that they will only get big results if they ask big things of God. Vitya said he wants a helicopter. This is when I started talking about God’s will. We can pray for anything, but God know what we really need.
I don’t think I am asking enough of God. I pray with desperation, “Please get me through today!” or “God, just get me through this meal. I don’t want to eat.” So I started thinking more specifically about what seems like an extravagant request of God. What would seem silly or ridiculous to ask God for? I quickly thought of three requests.
First, I want to leave this eating disorder in Cambodia. I can’t continue my life this way. It is easy for me to imagine ED always being a part of my life because it is familiar to me now. Too often I imagine fighting this all year and having lonely night, after lonely night crying myself to sleep. “I can’t do this alone Father. I have tried. I’m not getting anywhere. Please take this away from me. I have hopes for such a better life. But I can’t have it without you.”
Second, I want people to care about me. I need to feel support from someone, anyone. “I can’t get through this year feeling like no one cares that I am here. Please, send someone. Send anyone who will care.”
Lastly, I want to know there is a purpose I am here. I want to matter. I want to know that I am doing something important. “God, I need to know that this is all worth it. I need to know that there is some reason you have brought me here.”
I am being bold with God. What if He has just been waiting for me to ask for these things? I will pray and do my best to make the changes I can along the way. But, the rest is in His hands. I cannot do this alone. “Please come through for me God. Please.”
Thursdays are my busiest school day of the week. Some days I have a period or two off. But Thursdays are non-stop. Mornings are generally cool. So my ride to school is doable. I like the cool mornings, it is still probably 70 degrees, but my kids pile on the layers and talk about their goods bump! Today I had an English class or two, 7th grade PE, Geography, Drama, and a few others.
My third period class everyday is 1st grade Reading class. The 7th graders and the 1st graders are probably tied right now for the “most difficult class to teach” award. It is hard enough teaching 1st grade anywhere, but only 2 of my students speak understandable English. They know some words like: teacher, bathroom, finished, and their own names. They are perfect little parrots! They can repeat anything I say to them. But understand? Oh that would be too easy? Today I wrote on the board “On your paper write the word “man” three times.” So as I collected papers, many of them had written “Man three times”, all over their paper!
As I walk around the class room, each and every student says “Teacher Heder” as I walk by their desk. They don’t have a question. They don’t need anything. They just say, “Teacher Heder”, grin, and usually point to a picture they are coloring. I reply, “Oh, how pretty Sohkapol! Keep coloring!”.
There is a student in first grade named Lassa. He is the tiniest little boy. He hardly fills his, already small, plastic chair. His head just barely peeks out over his desk. All Cambodians have dark black hair. Lassa’s hair is dark brown. The principle tells us this means they are malnourished. She says it is the best indicator they know of to tell which students are the poorest. He always seems so tired and weak. It is hard to help him focus and I feel bad asking him too. Most mornings the students don’t get breakfast, which explains why they are so irritable and ravenous all morning. If we see students without a lunch, we are in for an even tougher afternoon. Of course, they are difficult to teach. Some of them may very well be starving.
It is so overwhelming to know I can’t possibly help all of them. It is heartbreaking to realize some of my students haven’t eaten all day. It is exhausting watching my students with learning disabilities struggle through class everyday. It is hard to see them sit in class feeling hopeless. I see students slipping through the cracks.