Learning Patience

School is fun but challenging.

School is fun because I love the students, many of the students are very loving, and the entire teaching staff is committed to help these students in school, in life in general and most importantly in knowing God.

I loved these students the first time I saw them in November 2015. They are full of life. Most of them have joyful attitudes. All of them have a need for Jesus at some level as do all of us. Some know Jesus but their sin nature gets in the way at times. Others don’t know Jesus and need to keep hearing God’s word. I have seen students grow.

One student that had severe anger problems last year now has occasional bouts of anger that are so much less severe that it is miraculous. God is working in his life and it is obvious. Many other students demonstrate varying levels of increased responsibility and work ethic. A few have made professions of faith and committed their lives to Jesus. Even more miraculous, God is doing this amazing work through teachers and staff that are also fallen and broken, but now restored in Jesus.

Many of the students are loving. They enjoy hugging their favorite teachers. They beg for my lunch at times and other times they like to give me food. One girl sprays water on my face when it is hot. Oh, it is always hot. The expression of love I appreciate the most from students is completing their work.

Some of the biggest challenges in school is overcoming cultural differences as this is only my second year living and teaching in Mexico. Normally, you would not want to try too hard to overcome culture, but in this case, there is a culture of cheating and copying work. There are many students (not all) that avoid doing work in school so that they can copy from their “friends” that evening. I am learning to juggle the amount of homework and am having more success than last year keeping them on task, Praise the Lord.

My lovely wife and I are going to build a house, Lord willing. He has provided more than sufficient and it appears that construction work will actually begin on or about Monday, November 27, 2017. We are excited and know that God will give us what we need in our new house. We are looking forward to moving in in January or February if that fits in God’s plans.

God has been teaching me patience through all of this. I pray for help with patience but not too fast. Learning patience is not an easy task. God knows how much I need patience and how much learning I can stand without cracking. He has been very good to me.

-David Coulter, GEM Missionary

The Vineyard and the Young

I’m a teacher…. I love teaching young people. It’s amazingly difficult, frustrating, and rewarding all at the same time. As I’ve grown up in my faith and in my love for teaching, I’ve also come to believe the best way for a Christian (teacher or not) to spend their life is by pouring into children. Shocking statement…I know. But I believe it to be true!!

Sometimes seen as a stepping stool for greater ministry work, the reality is that working with children is the greater work. Jesus makes this abundantly clear in the way he teaches about children and what he teaches in parables. In one parable, the owner of the vineyard who calls workers throughout the day, highlights why we should be excited for the opportunity to work with those called in the first hour of the day (read as…those who become Christians at an early age).

Here are a couple reasons:

1- The best work of the day is done early in the morning. Those who were called by the owner of the vineyard in the first hour are able to work for the master the longest. They start earlier and have the chance to accomplish more. When the master is God, and the work is for the kingdom, while difficult and painful, the work is always to our benefit! The master doesn’t need us to work for Him… He lets us work because He knows it’s for our good. The things that we do for the master bring him glory and they also benefit us. So, in the simplest terms…the more opportunity to work for the master, the greater the blessing is for us. Those who come in at the 11th hour…the end of the day…still receive the same reward at the end, but they can never make up for all the missed opportunity to work for the master. They sit idle and are not blessed by their labor for the master.15036631_10211392631517272_651217627833953239_n

What an opportunity it is to be able to work with young people, who are still in the first hour of their lives. If our focus is glorifying God and advancing His kingdom, we should be actively pursuing those who have the greatest opportunity to commit themselves to the master’s work…. none better than those in the first hour of life!

2- Those who join the work in the first hour will have greater potential for more long lasting impact on the vineyard. Not only are they able to do more work for the master, but the quality of their work will, at the end of the day, be better. A worker who has been trained up from the beginning will become skilled and useful. Their habits, thoughts, and efforts will be tailored to maximum effectiveness for their master. But the laborer who joins at the end of the day, while still being able to contribute, will be limited and hindered.

Not only do they have less time to work and develop the necessary skills (maturity) to contribute in the same ways as a worker who came in the first hour, they will be hindered by all the extra time committed to tasks that aren’t from the master. All the idleness won’t be useful in equipping them or preparing them for the task. They will have to unlearn bad habits, laziness, and unproductive thoughts to commit themselves to the real work of the master. Of course, God is wonderful, and even the lazy worker who has come in the last hour will be rewarded and can be useful…in spite of missing the benefit of working for the whole day and the usefulness that comes with training and growing up in the task.

A real life practical example I’m living through is…. Learning Spanish! I can learn new languages…. I’m sure of it! But I’m hindered by two primary things that will never allow me to learn a new language as well as a child. Numero uno… my pride inhibits my ability to practice enough to learn quickly, and numero dos… years of training my mouth to move in certain ways will ensure that I’ll always have an accent. My son, as he learns Spanish, doesn’t have these same problems…at least in the same way I do. He practices freely because he hasn’t let his pride grow like mine, and his pronunciation is better because he’s only spoken his first language for a few years. I think the same principle is true with the effectiveness of the worker in the vineyard. How much better it is to come and be trained up in the work in the first hour, instead of the 11th hour!

It seems like it would be much better for the master to gather all the workers in the first hour, but who are we, as servants to question the plans and generosity of the master, who always knows what is best. Although not explicitly stated in the parable, research has shown that most laborers for the Lord, those who are chosen and called to the work, come in the first hour. In fact, an overwhelming majority comes in the first hour, while only a small percentage comes in the last hour.

No matter when we come, a few truths are important to remember. We come because first, the master came to us. Regardless of the hour, we stood idle, doing nothing. Our impulse to join in the work came from the call of our master.

Secondly, when we come, regardless of the hour, early or late, we are to come as those who come in the first hour. Come like children – “unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of God.”

I believe the best way to spend our lives is by pouring into children, but it’s also the most difficult for many people. Probably impossible to prove in any quantitative way, as I’m sure it is difficult to minister to unreached indigenous populations, and others entrenched in sin and damning religious traditions, etc. But many languish in the work with children and look for greener pastures – ministries that are more fulfilling.

It’s true that most Christians come to saving faith early in their lives, but as those leading children to faith we often don’t value it as much as leading an adult to faith. The angels may rejoice over one sinner that repents, but often times for us, if that sinner is a child, its viewed as a half victory. But if our grown neighbor came to faith then we’d be more inclined to let loose and celebrate with the angels in heaven. I’m guilty of it and I believe many more working with children are as well. Its wrong, and its prompted by sin.

There are a couple reasons why we fall into this sin:

1- We doubt the sincerity of their faith. We look at their youthfulness and their simplicity of thinking and think about all the things they don’t know, and then we judge them. With their lack of wisdom, intelligence, experiences, and lack of everything compared to us, can they possibly have the same saving faith that we have??? Of course they can!!

The master calls to work many in the first hour of the day. Additionally, scripture supports the reality that our intelligence and world wisdom doesn’t somehow increase the likelihood of finding true saving faith. If anything, it hinders it (1 Cor 1:19). We aren’t to look at young believers who have supernaturally been given saving faith, and judge them. We are to look at young believers, and simply be like them – humble, obedient, and believing. Who is more likely to profess a faith that isn’t true and genuine, a child or an adult? Scripture paints a clear picture that it’s the latter not the former. See the life of the Pharisees.

2 – The second reason we fall into this sin is because, often, we don’t get as much satisfaction out of a child coming to faith as we do an adult. We value a lost soul differently than God. The angels rejoice over the repentance of any sinner, regardless of the hour they’ve come to the vineyard, because they know that God values every soul with unlimited and eternal worth. It is no greater victory to win an adult to Christ than it is to win a child. As I mentioned before, while the souls are of immeasurable value, there is clearly no comparison in which can potentially contribute the most to the work of the kingdom.

What a blessing it is to be a teacher, to work with children, and to every day tell them about Jesus!!

– Casey Herring, founder of GEM

case and megCasey and Meg Herring met overseas in Brazil while serving as teachers. They fell in love, got married, and now have two precious sons, Oliver and Elijah, and a baby girl Adelyn Grace. Casey received a B.S. in Secondary Education from Western Oregon University and an M.S. in Global and International Education from Drexel University. He has 13 years of teaching and leadership experience. Casey is currently serving as the CEM Director in Mexico. 

No Place I’d Rather Be

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a teacher is, “one whose occupation is to instruct.”

I am here to tell you that after only three days as a teacher (most moments I still cannot believe I am actually a real live teacher now), I know for a fact that this definition barely scratches the surface of what being a teacher entails.

No amount of planning, college instruction, watching teacher movies, or hearing testimony, can prepare one for the moment when the first student enters your very own classroom for the first time.

Mine just happened to be the cutest little boy…who spoke no English. My first procedure was teaching my students to answer a Question of the Day when they first entered the room. So, with a perplexed look on his face, he followed my hand motion instructions to copy the question on his paper. After that task was complete, I tried to explain what the question, “What was your favorite summer moment?” meant…using the limited Spanish words in my vocabulary. His confused smile made me switch tactics and try to explain that he could just draw a picture instead. I pointed to the painting of a tree in the classroom and mimed drawing on his paper. He smiled and nodded, proceeding to draw a tree on his paper. My next three students all spoke only Spanish, and so they too copied the unknown words on the board…and drew trees on their papers. Hey, I love nature too.  🙂

A few unforgettable moments:

~A mischievous boy tried to grab the pencil case on the girl’s desk next to him, causing it to fall and scatter across the tiled floor.  I looked at the mess, and responded with, “okay, let’s pick it up.” A boy stared at me and replied, “Miss Quigg, you have a very patient face.”

                    “Lord, help me choose patience in every moment with my students, so they might know you more.” 

~As the class was lining up for lunch I looked back to see if everyone was lining up correctly and noticed busy hands writing, “I love Miss Quigg” on the white board.

                    “Lord, help every student see your love for them through my love for them.”  

~After lunch I was at my tree position, monitoring the soccer being played. These kids could outplay most adults, the ability to move with the ball seeming to flow from their souls. The same mischievous boy, who has added much fun and challenge in the classroom, was trying to get the ball from one of his buddies. They were past the tree, which is no soccer territory, and I tried to explain using hand motions that they could not play over there. A few minutes later the ball was kicked past the tree again, and he ran to challenge the student who had arrived first. Then, as if sensing my eyes, he turned, flashed me a smile and walked back. It’s just the little victories sometimes.

“Lord, help me to focus on the good in every child.” 

~We played a get to know you game: two teams with a sheet being held between as a barrier. One person from each team sat near the sheet, and as it dropped whoever said the other person’s name faster won the point. In one particular instance, a boy said four names before guessing the correct girl’s name on the other side. By the time the name was guessed every child was laughing with such a free abandon, I wanted to live in that moment forever.

“Lord, help me show the freedom in joy that can be experienced through a relationship with you.” 

I love hearing “Miss Quigg” as it comes out sounding like, “Miss Quick,” or “Miss Queek,” or teacher, or maestra.

I love being told by a student that he told his Mom, “I can’t wait to go back to school tomorrow.”

I love being the one that my students run to when they need help.

I love having the responsibility and challenge to meet every student’s needs.

I love watching their natural and talented soccer skills after lunch.

I love sweaty hugs goodbye and Buenos Dias as they come into school.

I love knowing I am right where God wants me to be.

On Friday, I had never felt so emotionally drained, so physically exhausted (when do teachers sit down?!), and empty of all creativity. On Friday, I had never felt so overflowing with love, excited about seeing my students again, and filled with an unmistakable peace.

I know that I am young, naive about the amount of hard work and time-consuming labor that it takes to prepare each night, and lacking experience and wisdom in many situations. But, I will choose to remind myself why I am here, why these students were placed in my life, and the way God worked all things out for me to be in this place, in this moment in time, with these particular people.

Miss Quigg, 5th-grade teacher

More of Sarah’s thoughts and stories can be found at her personal blog, “How Missions Ruined My Life.”