Lessons a Teacher Has Learned

Five years ago I followed my heart and made a trip with Dream for Africa to plant gardens in South African villages.  I thought…I’ll just go this one time.  Our Lord thought otherwise!  I was so moved by the whole experience I knew I had to go back.

Doris, from my first trip, is a beautiful young woman I’ll never forget.  She showed me her church.  It was a small, very small wooden structure with gaping holes between the boards.  A dozen or so cheap plastic chairs were the only things inside.  As we said goodbye, tears filled my eyes, having seen a glimpse of the beauty and richness in her heart in sharp contrast to her extreme poverty and lack of possessions.

For trip two, I traveled to Malawi.  By now, Dream for Africa had transitioned to the leadership of Ian and Janine Maxwell and had been renamed Heart for Africa.  On this trip, I had the privilege of visiting a school for orphans and vulnerable children  As a 1st grade teacher in California, I couldn’t believe the eagerness to learn despite the lack of school supplies, hungry bellies, and untold stories of tragedy.  We had so much fun singing silly songs, and they sure got a kick out of me trying to dance.

For my third trip, I traveled to Kenya to help move the children of Merciful Redeemer Children’s Home into their new home.  Lots of physical labor was well worth the effort and discomfort as joyous children saw their safe and beautiful new home well stocked with food.  Their angelic voices immediately started praising the Lord.  Oh, such faith!

For trips 4 and 5, I traveled to Swaziland.  In 2009 I was able to see firsthand all of the wonderful tinges I had heard about El Shaddai Children’s Home.  In the summer of 2010, I taught Bible School, went on community visits, attended a church service at Project Canaan and helped with Litsemba.  How exciting to help bring HOPE to the thousands of children and adults who attended Litsemba!  It’s even more exciting to consider how Project Canaan will be able to save and enrich untold numbers of Swazi people!!

In my small way, I wanted to do more.  So this fall I told Janine I’d help raise money for Project Canaan Goats.  Then it was up to family, friends, and work associates to respond to my letter.  It was not a good time to involve my school families as I had in the past.  On the other hand, I was delighted when the health tech at my school organized a grade levee and office staff donation challenge.  Thanks to donations from $5 to $600, the total to date is 42 goats.

Since I began my amazing journey in 2005, I have to say…
It’s the little things
a smile, a wink
a hug, a thumb’s up
a laugh, a tear
a song, a dance
a word of encouragement, a word of compassion
an open mind, an open heart
Along with God’s guidance and grace
That truly unite us as one
And offer us hope now and forevermore.
Praise to the Lord of All!

~Linda Olson is a first grade teacher from southern California

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