07 February 2011

A Morning with Me

I admit it: I had a bad attitude in the car this morning. Bumping down the road, running a bit late, I found my mind wandering...your mind really shouldn't wander when you drive here. Because if your mind wanders, you won't notice the people wandering...out in front of your car.

I'm teaching two English classes at our church, and I really love it. It's my first foray into teaching adults, and it's proven to be a different kind of challenge. For one thing, there's no classroom management--if they talk over me or choose to ignore me or fall asleep (which is actually quite common), it's not my problem. That takes a surprising amount of pressure off.

But today, my attitude needed adjustment. I was tired. The circus tent I teach in gets oppressively hot, but the fan is obnoxiously loud. My new yard guy, O, was scheduled to start work today in the afternoon, and I was stressed about it. I was preoccupied by rumors of protests while we have a visitor. (I like visitors, but I do worry about them.) I breathed a quiet prayer as I pulled into the soccer field to park. Ducking into my section of the tent, I found five or six students already waiting for me.

"Good morning," I greeted them. I was genuinely more cheery now that I'm here and I slung my big bag over the folding chair next to the TV. Inside my bag are my essentials: Creole/English dictionary, Nalgene with filtered water, an orange, hand sanitizer, dry erase markers, a handkerchief to wipe off the sweat and dust, and mace. "Good morning, teacher," they chorus back. I sigh. I keep telling them it's okay to just call me Christine, but they can't seem to manage it. Still, there's a definite camaraderie growing...they feel more free to ask questions, even if they're not sure how to phrase them. They make jokes. They correct me if I make mistakes or go too quickly.

The time goes fast. English III learned to make introductions and practiced reading and using the sounds "c" and "wh" and "j." English IV was supposed to listen to a podcast I'd downloaded for English learners, but I forgot to bring my speakers. So instead, we talked. We talked about the orphanage the church runs...they have ten boys and one girl. We talked about marriage, and I found out that women usually marry between the ages of 18 and 25, and men usually marry between the ages of 25 and 35, because they need to find a good job first. (They thought I was nuts for marrying at 20. Second-best decision I ever made.) We talked politics a little...the rumors of protests were true and had to do with the current president, who was supposed to leave office today. M said the streets had been too quiet on her way to the church this morning, and she wanted to leave early to pick up her girls from school.

We decided to wrap up the conversation and start our Bible study. We're (slowly) working our way through 1 Thessalonians, and today's verses focused on how Paul loved and exhorted them as a family, because in truth, they are. I had to chuckle (inwardly) at the part about nursing mothers, because one of my students breastfeeds (uncovered) during class, and it doesn't bother anyone. I would never discourage it, because a lot of babies here die of malnutrition, and breastfeeding is essential to a healthy start...but I still chuckle.

I checked my phone as we parted ways until Wednesday. Eight missed calls. Oops. Not good. It was David, concerned about protests, wanting to see if I'd made it to class, wanting to see if I was going home. I was. After a very garbled phone call, in which I said "CAN YOU SAY THAT AGAIN?" about two hundred times, I canceled O's first day of work. I took it slow on the way home, watching for signs of trouble, but things were very quiet on the shortcut I take. I find out later that the main roads I would usually take were blocked with burning tires...thank God for back roads.

I returned the car to another MAF house and only had to give one guy the brush-off before I arrived home. B was still here, and I told her to hurry up and go home, not wanting her girls to be alone. She grinned. I asked her if she's been giving Gracie extra food, and she laughed. "We're friends now," she said, "and she always looks so hungry." That explains a lot...if dog food wasn't $60 a bag, I might not care so much. "Well, she's getting fat, so quit it," I said with a smile. I make myself a sandwich and pull out the orange I forgot to eat.

And it's only 1:45...

1 comment:

  1. I know what you mean about the whole "teacher" thing! My students all call me teacher. They know my name, and can say it if I ask them, but still "teacher". I started calling back "student! student!". They pretty much always burst into laughter when I do that.