Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jesus Take the Wheel!

Jesus Take the wheel! I was driving on Saturday night at about 9:45 PM going maybe 70 Km per hour on the paved "highway" between Carmelita and Orange Walk. I had three children with me who I had taken to see their sister's new house. It was dark and there weren't many cars on the road. Just as I passed the road to the sugar factory, the right front wheel blew up. It exploded. Immediately the steering wheel was yanked out of my hand because I was driving on rim. But surprisingly, I didn't lose control of the vehicle. As I was saying "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus," as in "help help help help!" I was able to quickly pull the car off the road to a stop. In my mind, it was as if Jesus took the wheel.

I remembered that my jack and tools had been stolen from the van, so even though I had a spare tire, I couldn't change it. I turned around and said to the children ages 9, 11,13, "Now what do we do?" They looked at me like, "Hey, you're the adult here." So we prayed. We prayed for someone nice to drive by and help us. Someone we know.

We waited about five minutes and white jeep pulled up behind us. Immediately the girls jumped out of the van while I was saying... stay in the van. I couldn't see who was in the jeep. I didn't want them hurt. But they shouted, "We know him. He's our friend!" He was about 20 years old... and works with their brother-in-law at the auto mechanic shop across the street from their house. Amazing. So he got out of his jeep and he had tools and a mat to lay on and seemed to know what he was doing. Until... we couldn't get the spare off the rack under the van that holds it. It wouldn't come lose. I asked him to take the children home and me to my home where I could pick up my phone that was charging (and not on me) and call....TOMAS! He always comes to my rescue.

It was now 11:15...Tomas answered his phone saying, "wrong number" (smile)...then woke up enough on the second try to recognize it was me. He and his wife Roxanna picked me up and we went back to that dark, isolated piece of road. He knew how to get the tire off, but his jack was too small...it kept sinking into the soft, rain-soaked ground and couldn't lift the car high enough to accommodate the 15 inch tire. He tried to flag down a car hoping for a bigger jack...right away a van stopped and lent us one. But it still didn't raise the van high enough at the maximum that it would go. It was getting late and we all were yawning as we walked around van trying to figure out what to do. Tomas thought to get a board or cement block, something firm to set the jack on. He walked across the street and there was a thick 4 foot board. Amazing. Why would a four foot long, one and half inch thick board be lying on the highway right where I pulled over?! God is so amazingly in the details.

It was a few minutes later that we were rolling back to Orange Walk. I asked Tomas what would make the tire blow like that. He says the heat here is rough on the rubber. It just disintegrates them. Oooh. The tires were the ones that came on the van, making them 3 years old. I am definitely mechanically challenged...didn't know. How could I not know? ARGHH! Maybe I need someone to send me email reminders of what I should be doing to maintain the van besides regular oil changes. Anyway, it was an opportunity for God to remind me that he is in the details, and he's got the wheel.

Thank you to everyone who prayed with me about teaching next year. I got the courage up to visit the principal. When I told her that I am considering not teaching next year, she smiled and said, "Fine." Hmmm. Wow, that was humbling!

That afternoon at about 2:00 a child came to the classroom with a message that said I needed to go to the office immediately to talk about an important matter. I got the "sent to the principal's office" butterflies in my stomach. She said that she had prayed and prayed about my resigning and wants me to know that what she is going to tell me she thinks is from God.

She said she thought I was being selfish to quit now. That I came to train a Belizean. For reasons beyond my control, that has not happened yet, but she went through a variety of channels to get this job for me with that goal in mind and I need to fulfill that responsibility. She doesn't want the new teacher to re-invent the wheel. She likes the procedures and strategies that I use for teaching Language Arts and math and doesn't want the new teacher to reinvent the whole system. She says everything would be lost. It's not fair to the kids.

We went back and forth a little more. The principal had tapped into what I had also thought about...needing to train a Belizean, not walking away and dumping it in her lap, leaving her to sink or swim on her own.

So I started to try to visualize what it would mean if I was a mentor. I want to have a mentor role job description. I want to work that out in writing with the new teacher so that we agree on what would be the best way to transfer the system to her. In the past I had visualized it similarly to working with student teachers from Bloomsburg, I begin and gradually fade out all of the responsibilities to the intern. What Mrs. Briceno is talking about is more of a friend and coach. Some demonstration, lots of encouragement.

I was concerned about not having enough time for the Deaf Church, but this role will free me from having to write lesson plans that take a huge chunk out of my Saturdays. Maybe Olive and I can meet during the week to discuss and brainstorm where the lessons will go the following week without my spending weekends doing that.

So I've flip-flopped on this whole topic. I agree with the principal and respect that it would be good to teach Olive strategies for teaching deaf children, until she can do it on her own. Regarding having too much on my plate, this role will be considerably less paperwork and home work than if I was the teacher. So I think it is "do-able".

If anybody has advice about working in a mentor role, a job decription, or walking the fine line between giving advice and being bossy or controling, please send it this way. Thanks!

Hope to see many of you in Maine June 29-July 8 or Lancaster July 9 to 14.
Keep Praying!


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