Twice during each school year, I attend our WCS Lower School chapel service. The first is always in late January when I announce the beginning of our Honduras/Haiti project where our school family collects loose change to help build and sustain Christian orphanages in the two poorest nations in our hemisphere. The second is late in April when I remind the kids that it's time to bring their bank bottles back in to me so we can began putting the coins to work. Today was my second visit of 2016. Since their chapel time is in the middle of our basketball practice, I took my squad with me and introduced them to the little ones. But as I did back in my January visit, I brought Cristina along. A sophomore in her second year at Westbury Christian, Cristina loves our school and is one of our Student Ambassadors. Cristina sat with me as we joined in the Pledge Of Allegiance and the singing of You're A Grand Old Flag and a short devotional led by Sarah Adams Romain's first graders. I was so proud of Sarah, my former Bible student! Cristina got into the devotional songs, especially Roll The Gospel Chariot Along! But she didn't come to help the children sound better. She came to translate for me. Many years ago, I started bringing my teacher's aide, Nancy Barrera, with me when I talked to the kindergarten through fourth graders about our work. Nancy would translate my words into Spanish, the language of Honduras, giving a sense of realism to my message. Since then, I've tried to replicate Nancy's presence when I could find a good translator, not always easy. With Cristina, I hit a home run. She might be the best interpreter I've ever worked with.... and she's only sixteen! As soon as the words came out of my mouth in English, they came out of her mouth in Espanol. I've been translated thousands of times in China and Vietnam as well as Honduras and here at home but Cristina's ability is just tremendous. And our little ones love her. We've got perceptive kids in our lower grades!
When my part was done and the chapel turned to Wordsmith Guild Awards with our librarian, Diane King, my crew and I hurried back to our building from the church auditorium where lower school chapel meets. My players scooted off to their chapel while I walked Cristina back to her last classroom to retrieve her backpack and laptop. I bragged on her, saying how proud I was of who she is and how her ability to seamlessly transform English into Spanish is a gift. Cristina's reply was something I won't soon forget:
"Coach, I believe I have many gifts I haven't discovered yet!"
WOW. She didn't say it in a boastful way or self-promoting way. No, she said it in an expectant, almost jubilant way! Teachers live in a world of emotional swings of the pendulum and enough self doubt to fill easily several galaxies. Teenage angst is symptomatic of so many youngsters but Cristina is having none of it. She is a daily breath of fresh air, a ray of undiluted light. She is blessed and knows it and does not back off from the responsibilities which are the price tag of those gifts of which she waits. You remember that song, "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades?" That defines a certain young lady's outlook. We live in a gloomy world of pessimism and believe me, I see adults sucked into its vortex all the time. Truthfully, I wake up some mornings and wonder what will go wrong today. But when you realize the tools to change the world will be at your disposal as you find them in your repertoire, the sun shines a little brighter. All of us have been given talents and abilities by our Father in Heaven. Cristina simply has the gift of realizing it. That may be the greatest gift of all.
Applicable quote of the day:
Work while you have light. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.
Henri Frederick Amiel
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org