Monday, May 28, 2012

A Minor Miracle

Lyn, one of my fourth graders, is a delightful little girl.  In class, I always spell her name, "Lynn," which is the only way that I have ever seen that particular name spelled, but whenever she sees her name spelled with two n's, she is always sure to correct me to be certain that her name is spelled with only one n.  She is a girl that is sure of herself, and her identity.

Lyn is always confident in her ability, and she always speaks assertively.  During the reading or sentence making portion of the lesson, she is usually one to speak up, as she always wants to go first, but unlike some of the other students that are her age, she is not one to get upset if she is not chosen.  She has a wonderful attitude.  

I remember the first time I called her for a required telephone interview upon joining my class as a third grader.  Upon answering, she gave the me the standard Korean telephone greeting the same way all young Korean girls do, "Yoboseo..."

"Hi!  May I speak to Lyn please?"

Again, she responded the way most young Korean girls who are on a similar level of English do by simply saying, "Teacher, me."

"Hi Lyn!  How are you?!"  

"I'm fine, thankyou."

"Very good!  What are you doing?"

"I'm watching TV."  

"What are you watching?"

"I'm watching music video."

"Music videos?!  That sounds like a lot of fun, Lyn!"  When students are listening to music, I like to take the mundanity out of the telephone interviews by attempting to get them to sing over the phone.  Normally, I am never able to get them to do so, and I am certain that no amount of money would ever be able to bribe most of them to sing.  Nevertheless, as I always do when the situation arises, I asked, "Lyn, can you sing the song that you are hearing now?"

"Yes," she replied confidently.

I was so surprised by the response, that I was sort of taken aback, because normally, they start laughing, and slightly embarrassed, they respond with, "Teacher?!"  And as they continue laughing, they answer, "No."  

Then I will respond, knowing that they will never agree to sing over the phone, by upping the ante, "Such and such, I will give you x amount of stickers if you sing the song that you are hearing right now."

They continue laughing slightly embarrassingly, and respond with, "No teacher..."

Anyway, again, I was taken aback by Lyn's confident response, so I responded with, "Really?!?!  You will!?"


"Okay, Lyn...  Go!"

This is what she sang...

She proceeded to give me the best rendition of "Roly Poly" that I ever heard.  It was so good, that I began bobbing my head to the rhythm of her singing. I was speechless for several seconds after she finished.   

"Lyn...  That was amazing..."

I said it several times before finally hanging up, and each time, she responded with, "Thank you, Teacher."

A few weeks ago, on a normal day, Lyn showed up in my class wearing a black baseball cap with the bill worn in such a way to cover her face.  I looked closer, and noticed that she had a large bandage that was saturated in blood completely covering her little chin.  The bandage was unable to cover her bottom lip, so I was able to see the large scabs that covered it.  It looked horrible.  Normally, I don't allow hats in my class, but I made an exception for that particular instance.  

When it came time for the reading portion of the lesson, this time, Lyn didn't assertively speak up, and when it came to be her turn to read, she refused with a simple, "No," as she looked at me, and shook her head.

I mistakenly did what I normally do as a teacher, and insisted that she read.  "Come on, Lyn.  You're next."

She gently replied again, "No."

I pressed further, "Come on, Lyn. It's your turn..."

Lyn put her head on the desk, and began to sob.  

I felt terrible.  My only instinct was to stop the class, and comfort her.  

The class was silent.

This happened on a Wednesday, and I felt absolutely horrible for the rest of the day.

That night, during the prayer portion of my daily quiet time, I prayed for her.  Not only was she hurt physically, she was also hurt emotionally, so I prayed for the miraculous healing of her chin, and a quick healing of all the emotional anguish that she suffered because of it.    

I'm never able to see the students in Lyn's class on Thursdays, because on that day, I teach a different class in a different area of the building.  So I saw her the following Friday, and she wasn't wearing a hat, and neither was she wearing a bandage on her chin, and she seemed to be her same confident self.  

She came to me, and upon seeing her, I got down on my knee, and examined her injury.  Her bottom lip was completely healed, and only a small scab was left on the bottom of her chin.  Maybe her wound was not as serious as it appeared that Wednesday, or maybe God healed her.  That was the first instance where I earnestly prayed for the miraculous healing of a person, and I believe God answered.  

From that particular instance, I learned a lesson about prayer.  God will answer if you pray in the name of Jesus on somebodies behalf, provided the prayer is honest, and the request is truly made out of love, steadfastly believing that the circumstance can be changed.  It's comforting to know that God gives such a capacity to love, and the capacity to believe that circumstances can miraculously change.

Before going to school every morning, my TV is running on silent as the music on my itunes is playing on shuffle over my computer speakers, while I am getting ready for the day.  One thing that always catches my eye on the tv are the weather reports...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Two Dreams

I am a believer in the notion that God speaks to us through dreams, and I frequently have vivid ones.  I don't like to think too deeply into their meaning, because, many times, I've made a fool of myself making decisions based on such dreams, but there were also instances when I've made the correct decision in following them.

I had three interviews for three jobs in three different towns/cities in Korea.  My first interview was one for a hogwan in a rural town in the northeastern portion of South Korea.  The interview went as well as it could have, and I was offered the job.  

I believe when God opens doors for people, he makes the circumstances perfect, and on the surface they certainly appeared that way, which was why I felt sort of an internal pressure in my own mind to accept it.  I am extremely intuitive, and most of my major decisions are based on my intuition, and for some unexplainable reason, accepting the job in that rural town simply didn't "feel right."  It was a gut feeling, and this particular feeling seemed so ominous that it gave me a pit in my stomach.  I am not saying that rural jobs are inferior, because I have friends that work in rural areas who have had wonderful experiences.  It simply didn't feel like the right thing to do for me.  

A personal rule that I have for myself is to never make major decisions in haste.  A required immediate decision, for me, will always be a "no."  I always allow for at least one night of sleep before coming to a final decision, and in this particular instance, I did so hoping that I would feel better about accepting, and I didn't.  The internal pressure to take that job became stronger, and at the same time, so did the pit in my stomach.  I decided to sleep on it for another night, and as I fell asleep, I had a dream.  It contained nothing visual, as it was merely a voice that spoke to me, and it said, "It's okay to wait for something different."  

Upon awakening, I felt better.  I immediately emailed Dan Henrickson, my recruiter, to inform him that I would not be accepting the job.  

I don't know what would have happened had I decided to take the job in that small town.  It probably would have been a good experience, but I know it wouldn't have been as good as my current situation, which is perfect, so therefore, I have no regrets.  I have a feeling that I belong here in Gwangju, and nothing beats having that satisfaction and contentment.  My city and my job have been a source of immense blessing.  

As I stated earlier, I prefer not to think too deeply into the meaning of the dreams that I have, but some of them can be so vivid, emotional, and memorable that I can't help but think about them.  Upon merely making the decision to pursue jobs teaching English in either Korea or Japan, before starting a blog, and even before beginning the process of looking for jobs, I had one such dream on the couch of my parents' home in Louisiana.  It was so vivid that soon after, I felt compelled to write about it.  And this is what I wrote:

On a random night, I fell asleep on the couch at around 7pm.  It wasn't a deep sleep, but it was one that was deep enough for me to dream.  And in that dream, I saw her.  There was no mistaking her.  She was Asian, attractive, and in her early to mid twenties.  She wore her hair down.  It was long, well kept, and black.  She had the eyes, facial structure, and skin tone that is unique only to women of that race.  She was tall and slim with the feminine build of a model.  She was wearing a green t-shirt, and was standing in a green field.  The grass was long, and above her waist, but I knew she was wearing jeans.  
And then I looked closer, and I noticed her mouth, her nose, her facial expressions, and her mannerisms.  They were also mine.  She had managed to possess all of my quirks to go along with all of her beauty.  There was no mistaking her.  She was my daughter.  And the love that I began to feel for her was unmistakeable, and unexplainable.  She looked into my eyes, and it was as if I were looking into a mirror, and I immediately felt all the emotions, both good and bad, that she felt towards me.  And then I immediately awoke. 

It was such a powerful dream that I began to weep upon awakening.  Again, through experience, I have become one who doesn't think too deeply into them, but dreams like this particular one do nothing but compel me to ponder the possibilities.  This particular dream happened so long ago, and the reason I write about it is that I have never forgotten it, and for some reason, lately, I have found myself thinking about it more frequently.  So much so, that I've felt compelled to share it.  It could be prophetic, or it could mean absolutely nothing.  I guess we'll eventually find out with certainty.

I've had dreams, such as the first one, that give clear instructions.  I've also had ones, like the second one, that were merely visions that left me dumbfounded, and sometimes hoping.  I've also had some that have left me feeling like a fool.  It says in the bible that God spoke to Jacob and Joseph, the father of Jesus, in dreams, so obviously some have merit.  I find myself relying on my intuition and experience in discerning which are worth following, and which aren't.  It can be difficult.