The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. – Isaiah 50: 4
There were sixty to ninety children in each class! I visited a school on the island of Boracay in the Philippines. The principal gave me a tour of a series of dilapidated, cement buildings without lights or air conditioning. She kept warning me not to trip on broken stairs and crumbling asphalt. Four children shared each battered desk and as many as eight passed one piece of paper and pencil between them as they practiced their lessons. The weedy overgrown playground boasted a rusty slide and a few swings. A pump with mud puddles all around it was where a thousand children washed their hands and drank water. The washrooms were three wooden stalls with splintered doors. The principal’s office also served as the library and medical room.
Yet the students were smiling and polite. They sang and laughed and played energetically. The teachers were friendly and kind, even though they worked in difficult conditions and made less money in a month than a North American teacher makes in a day. The principal told me children hang around the school till they close the gates at 6:00 pm and are waiting at 7:00 am when they open them. “Their homes are crowded and full of worries”, the principal said to me. “School is a happier place for them.”
As I read Isaiah 50:4 I thought about those teachers on Boracay Island who sustain and uplift weary children with their kind words. Despite primitive facilities and meager supplies they have made their school a place of happiness for their students.
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