Underground, Overground – learning from a wombat

I foolishly responded to someone who asked where in the bible it talks about taking in refugees…. their point was it wasn’t a biblical principal.  I disagreed and still do!

As I answered their question directly to me, I shared verses from the Old Testament, New Testament, Jesus’ own words and the fact that He was a refugee both in terms of the Divine and Human.  I then came across this article about wombats who have been found to have taken in and allowed other creatures into their tunnels and homes during the devastating wildfires.  The reporter states she hasn’t found one single burnt wombat but in the rescue effort has seen many other species coming from their tunnels.

I think the bible has plenty for us in terms of hospitality, care and compassion but even if you don’t want to go there all of nature tells us the same – it didn’t hurt one single wombat but saved many others.

Be more wombat!

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Parents Evening TCK style

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Parents evening, the name (or whatever it is called locally) still strikes a fear in my heart.  It’s not that I doubt my children’s behaviour or ability – I know they are more than a school grade.  It’s memories of confusion, misunderstanding, frustration and sadness – and I’m the parent.

As the first teacher arrives he tells my son to sit in his chair and he joins me, the other side of the table and he tells him to begin.  My son is confused but also amused and so asks the teacher how he thinks he has done.  They swap back around and I hear reports of the ways my son helps hand out books in class, he gets distracted at times, generally works hard and is a good student.  Presentation is an issue, I explain it always has been and the teacher says he used to have the same problem and it’s okay, he’ll get there.  I ask my son if he has got anything to ask or say to the teacher?  “Thank you.”  My tears well up and the teacher is taken aback, humbled, amazed and appreciative – in all his years….

With that word – presentation, my son and I were both taken back to his overseas school where ‘parents evening’ was held with students and parents all together in a class.  The only foreigners the first barrier was that usual one of what happens here?  Trying to understand the fast speaking teacher whilst rushing through your head the search for the norms and expectations of this setting.  The teacher began picking out the best students and praising them, how wonderful they are, how beautiful their hair, how well they are doing (often they were paid to like this child).  They would then go around the class and pick out the faults of the others, not good at this, bad at that, not trying, no hope, waste of time.  The aim was humiliation – it worked.  As the only foreign child in the class he got no favours, he is disorganised, untidy, his writing is atrocious. There was no use trying to explain dyspraxia and it’s effects (I did once try) or explaining he was really left handed but not allowed to use that here (yep, tried that one too).  There was no mention of his friendships, the things he was good at or his kindness such as the time he took some paper and sticky tape from home and covered the broken window that had been blowing freezing winds and rain into the unheated classroom.  When he left the school after four years all his teacher could say was the general greeting of ‘safe roads’.

That was why his reaction was ‘thank you’, someone who had seen his messiness and untidiness but saw more and focused on that.  A teacher who first talked of his character and then discussed his academic life.  Every time we sit down I feel the need to explain to the teacher first that he isn’t really English, he hasn’t been through the system and has only been here for two years.  My son rolls his eyes at me but they see the funny blonde haired, blue eyed, gangly teen and don’t realise that he’s never learnt those grammatic rules or writing style – but he could do it in another language!  When they do they understand him a bit more and can take the time to explain, maybe it’s just the mum in me jumping to his defence.  But I see the miracle of his determination in sticking at school to become a student who is achieving and enjoying the experience which demonstrates the resilience of so many TCK’s.  Laughing about their history, which to others is a horror story but to them is part of who they are, and also the challenge of what sets them apart.  With his ‘thank you’ I again realise the richness of how he values and sees beauty in simple things that others would take for granted.  How easy it is to focus on the wrong things, to find criticism first or not see the full picture and yet how powerful when we touch a heart by seeing the fulness of who they are.

As a mum, I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the dread of parent’s evening,.  But just as I did as we walked down the dust road, we walk across the concrete play area and I tell my child how proud I am of them.   Each time I say it I see the fullness of their journey and it means just that bit more.  How grateful I am for a God who sits by me and listens as others declare things about me, who stands for me, who sees my mistakes and failures but also sings over me with delight.

(just to add we did also have an amazing teacher at the same school for my other son and both of them learnt well at the school – in the fullest sense).

Searching for the Cross at the Second Hand Market

Today we went to the market and there was a stall with second hand bits of jewellery, beads, necklaces, rings.  Think plastic, not gold!  The boys wanted to look through things, I felt so blessed, they were looking for a little gift for me.

No, they wanted something themselves. 

Timmy quickly came across a metal cross necklace
Timmy : Look at this mummy
Me : Oh that’s nice Timmy, really that is nice, if you want it though, you have to ask how much it is.
He asked and is told it is 100 leke (about 70p)
Eden is disappointed at this as apparently what Timmy has found is exactly what he wanted.  A cross necklace, but that’s just what he wanted.  So we all start to look to try to find Eden a cross necklace.  Suprisingly we come across quite a few but they are all crucifixes, with Jesus on them.

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Eden : I don’t want one with Jesus on it, he isn’t on the cross.

The man and lady at the shop ask what we are looking for and we explain we would like a cross necklace, they pull out several, all with Jesus on the cross.  We explain that we would like is one without Jesus on it.
Wait, wait they tell us, we have lots of crosses, wait there.  The man disappears, a few other customers come along, interested by what we are looking at.  They start to look for a cross necklace for Eden too.  No, we repeat time after time, not with Jesus on it.  We are Christians we believe Jesus didn’t stay on the cross, he rose from the dead.  Now there are at least six, seven people around this little table/store, the man has returned with a carrier bag with several crosses and crucifixes in it and again Eden begins to look for what he wants.
He find a cross, a wooden cross, he also finds a silver cross.  Both plain, without Jesus on them.
We pay for our items, 250 leke or about £1.50 and leave the shopkeepers, the customers, the crucifixes and the other crosses behind, with the words clearly spoken.  Jesus is not on the cross, He has Risen.

Thanks for that great sermon boys.  Words, actions, heart and searching for the cross… that’s Easter.