It has been over a month since we have begun tutoring three of our Group Home boys from our compound. For those who are new to the term Group Home, these are the foster families that take the older children from our Baby Home and put them into families that replicate a typical family they could be adopted into. They have a mom and a dad, at least four other siblings, and live their daily lives in this environment until the Lord blesses them with a more permanent family.
For the first few months that we lived here in Beijing, we longed to have some sort of relationship with these Group Home families and finally, the Lord gave us an in. We each were given one student to work with for about 45 minutes a day, 4x a week. My little one’s English name is Alex and he is 6 years old. For anyone who has taught a Kindergarten or 1st Grader, you know the difficulty in keeping their interest, explaining new material, and being patient in all circumstances- I respect you so very much. I, too, experience these difficulties but also have the added variable of trying to find ways to explain basic vocabulary in English using the Mandarin that I know. Praise You, Lord for this challenge! It honestly has required a lot of prayerful preparation of material and creativity in order to be an effective teacher for my little Alex.
After much trial and error, we now have developed a routine. We always start with the Our Father in Mandarin and then start on the material for the day. Then, we end class with the Hail Mary in Mandarin and a hug. Enough time has gone by that he now expects this routine and even pulls out my prayer book in preparation each time. He even puts his finger over each character as I recite the prayers, guiding me through the proper pronunciations and tones- so precious. During our class yesterday, as I sat watching him complete worksheets covering upper and lowercase letters, Alex sat up, celebrated his victory of having all correct answers and simultaneously slammed his elbow onto the table. Since his little sister was asleep in the room, he silently writhed in pain while both of us trying to contain our silent laughter. In the middle of this ordeal, instinctively, I asked for his arm and kissed his elbow. After I realized what I had done, keep in mind this is a culture where saying I love you, kisses, and hugs are infrequent, even between family members, I expected him to pull back in horror! Shockingly enough he looked at me square in the face, smiled sweetly, and went back to work. Then about a minute later, he started pointing out other injuries on his arms and legs that he had obtained over the past week. 🙂 Too cute.
Through precious moments like this, God reveals to me how He truly needs me to work for Him. Although I am helping Alex to learn a language, I am there first and foremost to show him love, care for him as a member of my own family, and watch to see how the Spirit desires to work through me. So despite times of frustration, like when I had one day to have him start and finish his English Science Fair project, or that after a month he still calls me Teacher, this little one has captured my heart and given me the challenge of communicating my love with my actions and very few words. Please pray for him, his health, and his family!
Gifts of God: Yesterday I yet again had the beautiful blessing of bringing another baby to the faith. Let us all joyfully welcome Ignatius to our Church! May he continue to grow in Christ’s love, be strengthened by His spirit, and know only what is true, good, and beautiful. I pray that Ignatius may know the love of God through an adoptive family in the future. Please pray for this little one’s health as he is premature and may have a heart condition.