It goes like this:
It only takes a spark
To get a fire going...
And soon all those around
Will light up in its glowing.
That's how it is with God's love--
Once you've experienced it...
It's fresh like Spring
You want to sing
You want to pass it on.
Remember that song? It's a cute little song, but it's the message of the song that really hits home--the message that one little act of love can be contagious, spreading and growing into something really big and amazing.
That's what this blog is really all about for me. God is here in Haiti, making Himself known to me in so many ways, through so many experiences--experiences that make me want to sing on some days and swear on others. But good or bad, I want to pass them on. I want others to share in these experiences and maybe get a spark of God's love going in their lives.
So, when I receive letters like the one I received this week, I realize that that is JUST what's happening! God is the spark who lit a fire in me, and people all around are lighting up, too...and spreading His love in their own corners of the world...
As a fellow teacher, I felt so moved to do something to help make the students at your school smile! I have included pictures of my 5th graders holding some of the books that we are sending and we are sending letters they wrote. Your story moved me so much that I found myself wanting to share it. So, I reached out to the school where I teach and asked my co-workers to help donate. During that process, I realized that some of my co-workers know you and many were as excited to help as I was. One teacher in particular, who has done missions in Haiti herself, helped with a big donation and was so thrilled that it would be helping kids.
My students overheard what I was up to and expressed interest in helping out as well! Before I knew it, almost every one of my kiddos was bringing in quarters and other spare change from their own money at home to help your students in Haiti. I received e-mails from some of their parents, wanting to know how to help. It was amazing! All in all, I am thrilled to be able to send you 6 copies of every title you requested, and a few extra Amelia Bedelia books just for fun. Some are used copies, but most are new. We really hope your students enjoy them!
My students really wanted to write and send letters, too. Some of them wrote in really big print because they thought it would help their letters be more legible. One student was telling the class about his trip to Haiti and how many kids there love to play soccer, so many of the letters make a reference to soccer.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I think what you and your family are doing is amazing. You will continue to be in my prayers as you inspire people daily just by being yourself. I hope to meet you sometime!
God Bless, Janelle Mendiola
Here are my six second grade students with copies of "Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia"--
the first book they picked from the box to read.
And, here are a couple of the pictures Mrs. Mendiola sent of her 5th graders.
That's her on the far left in the first photo below.
Before we started reading the first book, my students and I read each letter aloud. I marveled at the looks on their faces as they listened to the letters. I could see what they were thinking--somewhere, far away, there are people who care about us and want to help us learn to read better!
There were giggles ("Haha! The boy named Hunter likes to go hunting!),
smiles ("That's my dog's name, too!),
and lots of questions (Q:"What's a hamster?" A:"A type of rodent, like a rat." Q:"They keep rats for pets?!!!").
"Can we write letters back to them?" they asked. So, you can guess our next class project, right?!
This story from Mrs. Mendiola is just ONE example of how friends and family at home have been moved to play a part in God's work here in Haiti. My students at Cowman International School have received MANY book donations from many different people this year, and have been blessed by them all!
It's a gift that will keep giving, too. My students are developing a love of reading that will help them gain knowledge, expand their vocabulary, improve analytical thinking abilities, improve speaking and writing skills, and help them exercise their imaginations and creativity. Future classes at Cowman will get to read these books in years to come.
The God we serve is awesome. It gives me chills sometimes to think about all the fires He's sparking around the world in the hearts and minds of those who love Him. Just that little spark is all it takes...
"Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything."
1 John 3:18-20