Monday, September 21, 2015


Hard to believe I have written this devotional blog for ten years now but this is the first time I have directly linked two entries together quite like this. The previous one I penned more than nine years ago. There are several themes uniting the two; exceptional students, family ties, ethnicities, ....... and me. On August 20, 2006, I wrote about Sarah, a young lady whose family had moved to another part of Houston making it impractical to attend WCS any longer after eighth grade. Sarah was a hopeless romantic. There was a boy she liked at the Catholic school across the parking lot from us and when the last bell rang, Sarah would gaze out my window, hoping to catch a glimpse of her boyfriend as he departed for the day. Young just can't beat it! Sometimes, my students say things that are very profound, often simply as observations on life. My most enduring memory of Sarah came from a conversation we had one day after class. Like many of our WCS students, Sarah was born in the United States but her parents were immigrants from The Philippines. Sarah was relating her experiences in going out to eat in Houston when she stated the following:
"When I go to a Chinese restaurant, the people speak to me in Chinese because they think I'm Chinese. But, when I go into a Mexican market or restaurant, the people speak Spanish to me because they think I'm Hispanic."

The point that I made about Sarah's statement was that Sarah was accepted wherever she went- the people just assumed she was one of their own- and what a blessing it would be if Christians were more willing to do this.

That brings me to 2015 and Annaliza. You see, Annaliza is Sarah's aunt technically but they treat each other more as cousins. Like Sarah, Annaliza is  one of my all-time favorite students and as I'm now teaching Bible to her for the third time, I am well qualified to make that statement! In class, I often kid about my ethnicity; one day, I'm part this group and the next week, my mom was from another country. The kids giggle- I'm just trying to get a reaction. (No one bats an eye when I disclose I'm 1/4 Danish with my great grandparents not speaking English when they immigrated from Denmark, which is true.) But Annaliza and I have kidded about my being Filipino for several years. Last year, we joked along with Lyanne, whose family situation is like Sarah/Annaliza's, that there was talk of banning women from The Philippines in international beauty pageants for a year to give other countries a chance. Annaliza was part of one of my most cherished classes ever two years ago when we had a one year ESL Bible class where the American kids teamed up with the international kids to help them with notes which in my class can be voluminous. A child of immigrants may understand language barriers in a more empathetic light.

I'm not sure when but Annaliza started writing HERO in her notes to me on the bottom of our daily quizzes/memory verse/tests along with her prayer requests. At the end of last Friday's Gospel Test # 3, this is what she wrote:
Hero (smiley face) Favorite Filipino teacher
Today, after I asked permission to write about her, Annaliza  jotted this on her memory verse:
Hero (smiley face) Favorite Filipino teacher
Can't wait to see your blog, Coach!

You know what I like? You and me and Annaliza and Sarah all are aware that I am not linked to any DNA from The Philippines. And yet Annaliza honors me as if I am, in her own quiet way. I've never been to the native land of her kin, a country of tremendous national pride and culture, but she kindly accepts me in spite of my flaws. In Galatians 4, Paul reminds the believers in verse 14 that they received him or welcomed him, depending on the translation, as an angel of God, is spite of his weaknesses. Paul wasn't one of them but they took him in. And that is what I appreciate about Annaliza and Sarah. Although I don't know any of the other family members, it has to be a family trait, passed down through generations, to teach the children to be inclusive when it's called for. Annaliza thinks I fit into that category- and what an honor for me.

Applicable quote of the day:
I would rather die a meaningful death than to live a meaningless life.
Corazon Aquino, former President of The Philippines

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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