January Is Trafficking Prevention Month

January is Trafficking Prevention Month. It is estimated millions of women and children are trafficked around the world. It is an evil that needs to be combatted.

When I think about what Jesus said about those who harm children in Matthew 18:6

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

it shows how strongly Jesus feels about protecting children. Looking out for those who cannot defend themselves is a theme we see throughout the bible.

Tragically there are powerful forces at work in the trafficking of women and children. CNN producers are under investigation for trafficking, G Maxwell found guilty etc but what concerns me is what is not being done. Who are the men who flew to Epstein’s Island? Nothing has been done to them so far. These are just a few examples that are from headline news, but it is a pervasive evil around the world.

The least we can do is demand of our elected government officials to make stronger mandatory laws and penalties. We can also donate to organizations that rescues victims, intercept victims, or provide help to victims when they are freed.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Her Tiny Hand in Mine

This morning one of the ELL, English Language Learner, teachers was not in school due to celebrating her daughter’s birthday. Her classroom is next to mine, so I get to know the children in her class. One of them is a little girl in 2nd Grade who is the size of some Preschool age children.

She was late and did not know where to go because her ELL teacher was not there. I told her, vem conmigo, come with me. She put her tiny hand in mine as we walked to the ELL team leader class across the hall. We found out she would spend the day in her homeroom teacher’s class, so we went down to first floor to her 2nd Grade class. All the way, she was holding my hand, her tiny hand in mine.

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I thought about that. She trusted me because she knows me. I often greet her in Spanish in the mornings. She sees me talking with her teacher almost every morning. She also sees my ID Badge, so she knows I am a teacher. She trusted me to guide her and not hurt her tiny little hand. Her hand is maybe 1/5th the size of mine.

We talked in Spanish as we walked to her classroom. I spoke the language she would understand putting her at ease. We got to her classroom. Her homeroom teacher smiled and welcomed her. She ran to her teacher and hugged her.

I thought about how that is a picture of Jesus guiding us. He has all power and yet he is gentle with us. He won’t crush our hands that are so tiny compared to his. He is the way and guides us on our way.He speaks our languages whatever they are, so we can understand.

We can know him and his voice. He wants relationship with us. The more we know him. the more we can trust him.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

Her First Day of School in America

Yesterday morning when I came to the entry door for the school, there was a mother and daughter sitting on the step. I greeted them in Spanish, so the mother began to talk with me. They are from El Salvador. It was her daughter’s first day of school in the USA. So here was this little girl in 4th grade about to begin school for the first day in a place completely foreign to her where everyone speaks a language she doesn’t know.

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I helped them go to the front desk and found out her classroom. I asked her if she was hungry, “tienes hambre” because she could have had free school breakfast. She ate breakfast at home she told me in Spanish. Then I looked at her and said, “El Salvador. Pupusas. Te gusta pupusas?” Pupusas is a delcious food from El Salvador that I love. She answered yes but in Spanish. Then I asked her-“puedes comer ocho pupusas?” can you eat eight pupusas. She giggled and answered no. When I told her, “yo puedo comer ocho pupusas” I can eat eight pupusas, she giggled some more.

I introduced her to her teacher in Spanish and went to my classroom. Later when I was in the teacher’s lounge and her classroom teacher was talking about it, another teacher said, “can you imagine how she felt that someone spoke to her in her language her first day.”

It seemed like a small fun thing to me, but after the comment of my colleague, I realized what seemed like a simple small thing to me was perhaps huge to a little girl who was perhaps nervous about her first day in a strange place.

Children need blessings. Jesus blessed children. It is simple logic. If Jesus felt and feels it is important to bless children, we should too.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Batman Doesn’t Let Anyone See The Batcave

Yesterday I wrote about an unexpected snow in October 1997 that shut down my city for days. I thought I would be stuck at home, but some friends told me they would pick me up to spend the day at their house.

We had fun playing games, eating lunch and dinner, and talking. In the evening, the whole family got into the SUV to take me back home. I could not drive my small car on the streets due to the roads being so bad.

Now mind you that though I am not a messy person in the sense of dirty or grimy, but I must admit to clutter as in books everywhere and papers here and there. Organization in the home seems like an alternate universe to me.

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So when we pulled up to my place and the two little girls said to their mom and dad, “Can we see Matt’s place?” quick thinking was in order. My friend’s home is very organized and I thought the children should not see my place. The best I could come up with on very short notice was:

“Batman does not let anyone see the batcave.”

The little girls asked their parents if I was really Batman. I got out of the SUV to my friends laughing a bit.

Whenever I visited them after that, the little girls would ask me each time, “Are you really Batman?” I would tell them it is a secret.

Children are fun and their imaginations are fun. I enjoy talking with children. I don’t usually tell stories such as the Batman claim, but I love being around children. Children are precious to Jesus and we need to treat them as such.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My Fall Break Plans

The schools where I live have fall break starting tomorrow. The children will have no school tomorrow and next Monday and Tuesday. For us teachers, we have a planning day tomorrow and have next Monday and Tuesday off. I definitely have big plans.

The first part of my plan is sleep. I plan to take some naps. My bed is insisting that I take naps. 🙂

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The second part of my plan may come as a surprise. I plan to hang out at my favorite coffee shop. There is something about hanging out at a coffee shop that stimulates my writing. Seeing the different kinds of people sparks something in my brain for writing. The coffee helps too.

My other plan is to practice my Spanish some more by watching some shows in Spanish. Speaking of Spanish, the classroom next to mine is an ELL classroom for Level 1 students. They are beginning English Language Learners. One of the little girls got lost her first week, and I helped her find her way. Each morning I greet her in Spanish. When I greet her in Spanish, she giggles. She is so cute.

Of course as always, I plan to spend time with Jesus. In fact I have a study in the Book of Acts I want to start.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Passing Out In X-Ray

One night when I was 20 years old, I started feeling nauseous and had a lot of pain, It kind of came on suddenly. I went to the emergency room and the ER doctor called a surgeon. The surgeon wanted x-rays done before he got to the hospital.

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I weighed 200 pounds at the time having worked out with weights a lot. A small young woman came into the ER with a wheelchair to take me to x-ray. She was maybe 5’2″ and weighed maybe 100 pounds. The sight of this petite young woman with a wheelchair caused my pride to kick in. I told her I could walk.

In the x-ray room, I had to lay down for some of the x-rays. When they were finished, I sat up and then stood up to go back to the ER. Then it hit me. I passed out and fell into the arms of that poor petite woman. Somehow she managed to guide me into the wheelchair to take me back to the ER.

I had my appendix out that night. As they wheeled the hospital gurney from the ER to the OR, I apologized for waking every one up and apologized again in the OR. I was a bit loopy from the meds.

Fortunately for us, no one is too big for Jesus to catch when we falter in life. He has all power. He is more than capable of catching us and taking care of us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless

Story Time- Kids Talk- Well At Least This One Did

The week before school started. I sat in on Kids Talk. It is a time for teachers to meet and share insights on children for example Kindergarten teachers meeting with 1st grade teachers. As I sat in, I remembered my childhood days in school.

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Each year whoever my friends from the previous year were I was seated away from them. I think I got a bad rap. Okay so I may have been a bit chatty, but in my defense, the work was a bit easy.

I would do the in class assignment quickly and then proceed to do the homework problems quickly. I always had good grades. So perhaps I would make friends with the kids sitting next to or behind me. I wanted to know things like what they were doing after school, did they have a dog and other pressing matters for a boy.

In my mind as a child, the reason the other children were there was for me to be friends with them. Sure the teachers thought they were there to learn, but why should that have been my concern. Child logic- fun is important and I wanted to make school fun not just for me. In my childhood mind, they needed someone to talk with. lol

As an adult and a teacher, I can now appreciate the problem I presented to the teachers in my school. I was above level in all skills, bored in school, and was perhaps a bit of an extrovert. They would give me extra work, and I would view it as a race to finish to talk some more with my friends. 🙂

What are some fond memories you have as a child in school?

As children return to school. let’s remember to pray for their safety.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A 5 Year Old Versus 2 Adults :)

I helped with Kindergarten Jump Start at my school a few weeks ago. It gives incoming Kindergarten students time to experience what will happen in school. I survived a week of Kindergarten. 🙂

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One little girl pretended that she did not understand English. She acted shy and would not join in. I spoke Spanish to her and she became clingy with me. My heart went out to her as she seemed to struggle with understanding simple things like where to sit on the rug.

The information for the children who had been in preschool the year before was not uploaded until Friday of Jump Start week. When it was, the classroom teacher for the little girl noticed something. The little girl had been in preschool the year before. There was a note- she is defiant at times with following directions.

So this little five year old girl had fooled the classroom teacher and me. We had a good laugh.

Children are a blessing. They keep life interesting. They can be quite amusing too. But they are vulnerable. I came away from that week with more prayer concerns and a fresh perspective on Jesus blessing the children.

During this time of COVID and concerns in various places, lets remember to be praying for the little ones. They need it now more than ever.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Back to School? Well for 1 Week

How do we view children? Do we see them as ones that Jesus loves deeply? Do we see potential in them even though they act out?

This past week was a fun week with children who will start Kindergarten in a few weeks. The school where I teach in the mornings had Jump Start to give children coming into Kindergarten an opportunity to see what Kindergarten is like before all of the school returns.

It was such a blessing to interact with the children and hopefully I was helpful for them preparing for their big change. Helping with the program also gave me the opportunity to get to know a few teachers better and to meet parents. It was a great week.

One of the little girls made this drawing for me.

She also asked me how she could write my name.

There was a little boy who told me he was nervous the first day. I told him it is okay to feel nervous. He talked to me some more and told me he lives with his grandma because his mom and dad live somewhere else. I noticed be was being a good friend to a boy who has a prosthetic leg, so yesterday morning I told him I was proud of him for being a good friend. At recess he would not let his new friend out of his sight.

As I interacted with the children whose families are from other cultures, I was able to help the teachers understand a few things that might help the children in the classroom, for example why some of the children would see the letter i and it is e because in Spanish and Portuguese i makes a long e sound.

Spending time with little children always makes me think about two things Jesus said about children. In Mark 10:

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

Jesus wants the children to be free to come to him. Notice what Jesus did when the children came to him. He took them in his arms, hugged them, and blessed them. Children need blessings from us.

Matthew 18

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

For those who harm children, there will be a day they come before Jesus and be judged. This shows how strongly Jesus feels about children being protected.

Yesterday I told the teachers I will miss the little ones and they told me to stop by anytime. I think I will do that from time to time.

Now if I could just get that song I Can Follow The Rules out of my head. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Other People’s Trash Was A Little Boys Treasure

The things that little boys think as being valuable can be amusing. When I was a boy, I had a collection box filled with things like cool rocks I found, bird feathers, and baseball cards among other things.

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But the 4th of July topped them all for amusing things this blogger collected when he was a boy. It was actually the morning of the 5th of July that my treasure hunt would commence. I would get a red wagon and pull it behind me as I went up and down both sides of my street to collect the used fireworks still on the sidewalks. Sure they had already been lit and fired off the night before, but in my eyes they were gems waiting to be collected and played with.

I would get home with my red wagon full of spent fireworks and then reenact the night before pretending to light off the fireworks along with making the sound effects. I am sure it was a slightly entertaining site for my neighbors. But those burnt out fireworks were a boy’s priceless discoveries.

As I think back on it, what was trash to the adults was a little boy’s treasure.

In the eyes of Jesus, everyone has value. Each person is a treasure to Jesus. We might feel burned out in life, used up, but in the eyes of Jesus, we are worth so much that he came and died for us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.