Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Hai Cô Gái (Two Girls)

My devotional entry tonight is written by Jenny Ngo with an introduction by her Bible instructor, Casey Lankford. Jenny, a junior, is from Vietnam and one of the most delightful young ladies you will ever meet. She is typical of the kind of  student who make Westbury Christian School unique. Recently, Jenny told me she hoped to be my translator in the future on one of my trips to Vietnam. After reading her paper, you'll see why I consider this such an honor.

Good evening:
In my 11th grade Bible class about a week back, we were studying from 1st Timothy 4. In this chapter, there is a verse many people know by heart. 
Verse 12; 
"Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." I told my students they should take note that Timothy was likely much younger than the people whom he was about to teach.I also paralleled this teaching to what Jesus told His disciples about who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. 
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven."
Both Paul's and Jesus's teachings were very counter-cultural, during that time and even today. Today, we are taught that we can gain much wisdom by listening to those who are older than us. I agree, but I would also like to point out that we can learn just as much from little children. After explaining this to my class, I gave them the assignment to learn from little children for the remainder of the class period and write about it. My students went and played with the 1st grade class outside on our elementary swings and playground. Jenny Ngo, one of my students, did an excellent job of explaining and describing what happened during her time with the little ones and what she learned. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. Casey Lankford

Today was a special day, when we got the opportunity to hang out with the first graders. They are all such precious little angels with their pure, clean hearts. There were two kids who made a big impression on me today: Traci and Cindy. I've come to realize so many things I didn't know before  from interacting with these children.

Traci is a lovely little girl. Whe I first sat down next to her, it didn't seem she liked me very much or the fact that twenty big high school students were invading the tiny space they had. She spoke very softly, and glued her eyes to the picture she was painting. We named the robot she made "Sylvia," and its task was to pick up trash. I asked her why she did that, and Traci told me the teachers always tell her to pick up the trash at school, so she wanted a robot to help her do so. After figuring out the spelling for "Sylvia," we continued on correcting her other (adorable) spelling mistakes. Suddenly, she asked me, "Why are boys in your class so rough?" I was a bit surprised to hear her asking that because I've never seen them as being strong and well, "rough." I told her that they're older, so they seemed bigger; and boys like action and sports and really rough things sometimes. After such a terrible response, I felt really bad and I asked her why she asked that. Traci then told me that she wishes boys wouldn't be so rough because they could hurt girls, and girls don't like getting hurt. I smiled and reassured her that I would tell them to be more "gentle" (a word Traci suggested) from now on. I didn't know kids her age would notice little things like that. And then I learned that every one of the small things I do is observed by younger kids, and they record it in their minds. I reminded myself to be more mindful of every action so that I won't be a bad influence on them. As I was about to leave, Traci ran towards me and gave me a hug, thanking me for helping her with her painting. This girl, who a little while ago seemed like she disliked my presence, now hugging me and thanking me? I was surprised, happy, of course, and a little proud of her and of myself. It's all about the little things, the small actions that take up the most space in one's mind.

The first person I tried to approach was actually Cindy. The reason I chose her was because she's Vietnamese, too, and I know her family. As I walked towards her, I saw that she seemed shy and somewhat sad. I tried to talk to her, asking her questions about herself, but that little girl was stubborn. She refused to answer any of my questions or anyone else's questions. She wouldn't stop staring down at the grass and avoided everyone's eyes. I asked her to look at me for a minute, she lifted her head up, and I caught a glimpse of her bright, pure eyes. Trying to make more progress, I asked her to give me a hi-five. I sat there on the grass for what seemed like a good five minutes persuading her to do such a simple act, but she just wouldn't listen to me. After a time of  hesitation, she started to finally move her hands, and I told her that I wouldn't leave until she gave me a hi-five. As soon as I finished saying that, she quickly touched my hand that had been held out since the beginning. I felt a sense of great satisfaction, even though it was something so simple. Later on, when I was leaving the campus, I saw Cindy swinging by herself.  She looked so different from before, from when we all were clumping around, waiting for her to talk. She still kept the same expression, still had that straight face, but at least now she's doing something instead of just sitting there all by herself. When I looked at her, I see myself. In the past, Cindy and I weren't much different. I was always shy and afraid of everyone. But nobody ever cared enough to stay, to make an effort to comunicate with me. Therefore, I learned that sometimes you just have to push through it. You have to persevere and do the things which seem impossible. The real Cindy isn't like that. When she's with her brother, she smiles and laughs and acts like every other child. And I realized that people appear stiff and distant but not because they are arrogant or weird. They just need time to adjust and to be comfortable with their environment. Similarly, in faith, there are those we meet every day who refuse to believe in the same thing we do, in God. And if we push through, if we persevere, if we go the extra mile, they can see our effort and maybe they will open their hearts and eyes to a great God who not only created us but inspires us, as well.
Jenny Ngo

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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