Life Lessons

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While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

I am always amazed by what I learn from the children here. Throughout my time in Rwanda, the many children in my life have helped me to accept myself for who I am and I am grateful for their unconditional love that has given me the confidence to live so far away from home. They have taught me how to make soccer balls out of trash and patiently listened to my Kinyarwanda while offering me support and praise, even when I butchered just about every word. They have helped me to be more appreciative of what I have, how to truly enjoy the little things in life, and how to share- even when I really don’t want to.

The past few weeks have been difficult in the classroom so the biggest lesson lately has involved building patience. I read a book once that described how the art of prayer works. It said that when you pray to God for something like patience He doesn’t simply give you patience but instead provides you with opportunities to be patient. I have been blessed with many (maybe a few too many) opportunities in the past few weeks to develop this skill!🙂

Even when they are making me want to pull my hair out (which would be awful since it already falls out here at an alarming rate) they always find a way to surprise me. After a long (and frustrating) day of teaching last week I was really looking forward to climbing under the bug net for an afternoon nap. I had just changed my clothes and crawled under my quilt when one of my nuns came to my door to tell me I had visitors. The temptation to stay in bed was incredible but I reluctantly climbed out, threw on an acceptable outfit to greet visitors, and headed to the main part of the convent. When I arrived I found two of my students, Divine and Giséle, waiting for me with a giant bag of bananas. Written on the paper sack, in Divine’s meticulous handwriting, was a small note that said, “This is your gift.” It was so precious of them to bring me a gift when I know they don’t have very much money- I am continuously humbled by the generosity of the people in Rwanda.

I am doing my very best to keep a positive outlook when it comes to teaching but it is a much harder job than I had originally anticipated. Many of the problems that influence their school performance and attitude are issues I have no control over which is frustrating. I cannot change the fact that some of them walk 90 minutes to get to school or that they are constantly hungry and tired. It is frustrating to feel powerless. I am doing my best to keep them engaged during class with fun activities but I still have students who never take notes, sleep in class, and never study. One of the life lessons I am learning is how to persevere when things are hard. When I start to feel sorry for myself (when my best lessons crash and burn, the electricity has been out for 3 days, or the mice manage to climb my shoe rack and chew off the straps to my fancy sandals) I try to remember the hardships that my students face and how they continue to attend school despite these obstacles. For the most part this strategy works well although sometimes I just have to take some time to wallow in self-pity before I can move on- such is life. To end this blog I have included some pictures of the kiddos at the orphanage. I borrowed these beautiful pictures from the orphanage’s blog and hope you enjoy them!

 

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