I used to make lists all the time but now I'm down to basically one per year. In nine days, in fact, from this moment, I take off for Can Tho, Vietnam by way of Manchester, Singapore, and Saigon/HCMC. To get from POINT A to POINT Z requires, in my case at least, a list. I'm at 143 with more to come. Some are easy- set dates, buy ticket, get a VISA. Some can only be checked off on the last day- clean the apartment, no food left in the refrigerator. Others are in between- stop mail, pay rent for July, wash the car. You can see from the shot above that I'm sloppy in penmanship and that some entries would only make sense to me. Some you can't see are advice to myself- less time on the laptop, read good stuff every day, etc. and some have nothing to do with the trip but have to be done before I get the airport like oil changes and car inspections. I actually re-read the lists from the past several summers to make sure I haven't forgotten anything important. Life has to go on while I'm preparing. No life is lived in a vacuum. All of us have numerous story lines we're acting upon each and every day so in a sense, we are all actors!
Which brings me to # 118 in the picture. For the past several weeks, I've transported campers between our WCS camps which are held on our two campuses, several minutes apart. Invariably, when I would come in the front lobby, Betsy would be seated at a table right in front of the door handling the children in our ASAP program, making sure they were signed in and dispensing the required name tags. I've known Betsy for less than two years. She came here to teach third grade right out, I think, of Harding University in August of 2016 and was recently married. I saw early that year she was FACEBOOK friends with my cousin Hannah, the kind of connection I always find fascinating. Over time, I grew to deeply appreciate Betsy, and our other third grade instructor, Jackie. For two years, and I don't know how it started, my afternoon junior's Gospels class has adopted our combined third grade sections. We've colored Bible artwork and designed Honduras/Haiti bottles and sorted pennies and shared snacks. I've watched Betsy love on her kids unconditionally, and that sometimes is the tough love variety, and seen the resultant growth from still little ones who face battles I've never fought. Much of the success we've had the past two years in our fundraising efforts for children in Haiti and Honduras can be traced to the untiring efforts of Betsy and Jackie. My schedule is easy to manipulate to create these special times but it isn't for third grade teachers. But they did it because they love their kiddos and by doing so, they love me and my classes and differences were made.
Betsy gave me the bad news last week. She and her husband have bought a house and are moving to The Woodlands which is technically in Houston but might as well be in Louisiana, I was taken aback. Changing jobs and leaving schools is part of the education landscape, maybe even more in private schools than in public. I know from experience. Twice, I've left schools and moved to other states and it's never easy. Some miss you and some don't and you start a new chapter in your life, regardless. I guess I just thought Betsy would be here a very long time and I'm sad for the children who will miss out on her gifts. She's got a new job and will bless her new kiddos and colleagues immeasurably..... but we will miss her. That's why she showed up in my Vietnam list. I've got another week but leaving without saying goodbye would make as much sense to me as leaving without packing. The old Civil War song mourned, "We will meet but we will miss him, There will be an empty chair." I wonder if the apostles set an extra place for Jesus after He went back to heaven? Knowing Betsy, she'll be back to visit and hug the children she nurtured for two years and it will seem in that moment like she never left. That's the way the Lord made us, with traits of loyalty and memory and the ability to re-establish the ties that bind. Those kind of ties are unbreakable and praise God that they are.
Applicable quote of the day: