I received my packet for sweet Angeles in the mail yesterday and I was so excited! I’ve already sent her a couple emails, so this isn’t my first letter, but I’m sending my first handwritten letter in the mail to her. Not a ton of goodies this time, but in a week or so I’m going to be sending a special batch of letters to each of my kiddos with some goodies, so this will be good for now, plus I designed my own stationary for the letter- hope she likes it!
While my current position in work is far from what I want to be doing or where my heart is, and I’m facing a lot of adversity and negativity day in and day out, the one thing that I don’t hate about it is the sweet little kids I work with, and some days like today I’m reminded that I am still making a difference, albeit a different one than I’m used to. The students in the classroom I work with in the morning are from families that come from Mexico, have Spanish as their first language, and are learning English, although most of them can talk to me in English by now with no problems, which is good, because my Spanish is very limited. As a bonus part time teacher in the classroom, I work with 2 students who need extra help especially, but I work with all of the students too. Having been moved to this position in the middle of the year, it took me some time to get to know all the faces, names, and personalities. One little guy I remember as one of the kids that stood out to me early on, though.
I guess you could say that if I was looking at a page of children waiting to be sponsored, he would be the one that I would be drawn to. Something about that face has such innocence, but wears such a burden on it at the same time. In the beginning of the year he barely talked, and even now he can be very quiet sometimes, but he has started talking more. And when he smiles, I can’t help but smile too. He’s been struggling a lot in math lately, as we’ve been progressing further. It’s not for lack of working hard, because I see how hard he works and tries, it just takes him longer than the majority of the class, and because he’s so quiet, he can easily slip through the cracks. I’ve taken him under my wing since I’ve started there, spending time many days kneeling by his side, guiding and encouraging. When I see the despair on his face through math, it breaks my heart. I give him extra high fives and have him “move his clip up” when he completes a hard problem or I see him giving it his all. Sometimes just a look and a smile goes a long way. I’ve seen the chance in his disposition when I do all of this.
Today as the children were working independently in math and I walked around the room checking in, I saw him with his head down on the table. I kneeled down beside him. He had shut down, at first not answering my questions at all. Completely overwhelmed at what he had to do, feeling hopeless. I patted him on the shoulder, gently, to let him know I understood. Slowly, patiently, I continued and he started to answer me, not with words, but by pointing cautiously with his pencil. I’d encourage him each time, and was so proud to see as we continued to progress with the problems, he got the answer correct each time. I made sure to give him lots of “good jobs” and smiles along the way. When we got to the end, I held my hand up and he gave me a big high five while I told him how awesome he is. “See,” I said, “you did it! You’re smart, ____. You really are smart. You know how to do all of this. You did it.” His face lit up as he beamed with pride, and I was busting in pride inside for him. If nothing else, if I can instill confidence in this little guy, if I can make him believe that he can do anything he sets his mind to, I will have done something meaningful.
I then looked at him and noticed what he was wearing today, which brings me to where this story connects. He was wearing a thin white turtle neck, just like my Elvis is in his picture. Looking slightly disheveled as well, he was also wearing navy blue pants with it.
I realized how easily this little guy in front of me could be Elvis. And they’re only a year, maybe a year and a half, apart in age. I thought about how my prayers and dreams for Elvis have been that he believes that he can do or be whatever he wants, without feeling any limitations. I can’t be there to hug Elvis in person, or to high five him, or share a smile. But hopefully through Compassion and through my letters, I can still have that impact on him.
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