I don’t remember what day it was. Maybe it was the evening of Sreylee’s birthday, or after I’d visited Ounnang with her broken leg, or after inviting Sreyian to the school’s Christmas program and hearing she couldn’t go. Or maybe it was after a normal day teaching at school, when nothing out of the ordinary had happened. I’m not sure. But I do remember, after dark, riding my moto to my favorite spot atop a hill on the edge of town. I stopped, and turned the key. The noise of the engine stopped, and the moto’s headlight went black. What remained was only the lights of town and the darkness, infinite darkness, beyond… and the stars twinkling overhead. It was quiet. The breeze and the noise of distant traffic were broken only by the faint, distant music of a wedding, somewhere in the town below. I dropped my backpack at the edge of the hill and sat down beside it. I had come here occasionally before when things were burdening me, to pray, as I did now.
“Why are we still here? Why are there so few who go, and serve, and share?”
I’d asked that question before. No answer yet.
“I want to go home. And my students, my kids… I really want them to go with me. But what can I do?”
Silence. I sat for awhile, thinking, watching the lights below.
Have you prayed for them?
The thought came suddenly. No, I hadn’t. Not much, anyway. I’d tried to show them Jesus’ love, to teach them Bible stories, but never really prayed for them. I was trying to save them myself.
But I can’t save them. Only God can do that.
Then I received another thought. Parents have the responsibility to train their kids to follow Jesus: to teach them, and to pray for them, daily. Maybe I can do that! I can’t teach them like a parent would; I’m not their parent, and I don’t live with them. But I can pray for them like a Christian parent would.
Over the next few days, I created and refined a list of the kids who were the closest to me. And I covenanted to pray, daily, for those kids like a Christian parent would. Since that day, much has changed. I’m a student now, not a teacher. There’s an ocean and a sixteen hour flight between me and my kids. I certainly am not perfect, and sometimes I forget to pray for them. But I’m doing my best, and, God willing, will continue to progress. My phone boasts a wallpaper photo of a few of my kids. My heart still aches to think of them… but the ache is good, and it reminds me of my purpose.
A few weeks before I left Cambodia, I wrote a poem about them. It’s really a prayer… a prayer of Thanks for God’s infinite love for my kids, and of faith, that one day, in Heaven, I’ll be with them again: this time, forever. I’ll let this poem be the last word.
Glimpses of Glory
I prayed that this morning would be shining and bright,
Full of heavenly glory, sparkling with light;
It’s hard to be left in the clouds and the rain,
In the forests so gloomy under skies so plain
I prayed that my students would come to know You,
That you’d sweep away their clouds and let Your love shine through;
That after seeing Your love, they’d love You too,
And give their whole lives, as a gift, back to You
Father, I’m leaving soon and I don’t yet see
The glory I’ve prayed and have asked there to be,
And yet I know You haven’t forgotten my pleas,
And after all… You love them more than me
And You’ve showed me glimpses, along the way:
How one listens in worship when others would play,
And another who makes sure I remember to pray,
At the beginning of class, at the start of the day.
Father, it’s cloudy in the jungle, still, ’tis true
But thanks for the moments when glory shines through;
I know that You love them, and I trust them to You
Until the day we meet again, this time with You.
So thanks for these moments, for the glimpses of glory,
’til the glory’s made whole, in heaven, with You.