My last day of being in the classroom was yesterday.
I thought it would've been today, but turns out that the teachers let all the students loose to study where they would for the day. Which I can't say I minded.
Sharon asked if I was going to go down to the school building and be there--you know, for the kids to come find and ask questions and whatnot. Sure, I can do that.
I headed down around 8:40 or so, checked out all the classrooms, and decided to situate myself in the 6th grade classroom. As I walked in, Heh Nay Saw Moo lit up like a firefly. I sat down up front and Saw Eh Soe gave me his usual "happy to see you" grin and said, "Wah luh ghay, tharamoo." Saw Yo Hsu looked at me, grinned and looked back down at his book.
I was in there for maybe an hour. I wrote in my journal, answered a couple of questions, loaned Saw Yo Hsu my pen. It was quiet, the boys were all either very studious or sleeping, and I was...well, a little bored.
Loud noise from the room next door tried to pull me out of my chair, but not before Thara Dah Bu entered the classroom. He noticed me and came right up to the front. "When do you go home?"
"Next week. Next Sunday, I go to Mae Sot, get on bus, go to Bangkok."
"Ohhh. You come back?"
"I do not know. I want to, but I do not know."
He smiled. "Ah. God's plan?"
Now I smiled. "Yes, yes."
Thara Dah Bu exited the room, and curiosity aroused me. Camera slung around a shoulder, I removed myself from the room and started walking down the sidewalk, toward the other end of the school building.
I passed the first door to a classroom that was entirely closed. Windows, doors--just shut. However, one door was ajar a little, and as I walked past I heard, "Teacher!"
I stopped. I cocked my head. I listened.
That would be me. I walked back and poked my head into the 7th grade classroom.
Five pairs of eyes stared back at me. And a grin lit each face.
"What?" I asked.
They didn't seem to have any real agenda. They just wanted to talk. And talk they did.
Saw Ku Hsee and Saw Pa Noe were pretty studious most of the time, but the other three were a riot. Shaw Nay Moo, Tee Nay Too, and Saw Day Day: all asking me about the boyfriend I don't have, my friends and family, and a million other things.
..."Teacher, you have sister?"
"Yes. Two of them."
"Oh oh. How old is she?"
"Teacher, you give me?"
"Are you kidding? Of course not. She's taller than you--taller than me even!"
"Oh Teacher, no problem."...
... "Teacher, you go America?"
"Yes. Soon. Next week I leave."
"You come back?"
"I do not know if I come back. Maybe not."
"I do not have money. It cost a lot of money to fly on airplane."
"No problem Teacher. I give you money."
"Saw Day Day, you don't have that much money either, I guarantee it."...
..."Teacher, I hope you come back."
"Teacher, grade seven all miss you..."
"Teacher, grade seven cry very much when you go..."
I spent all morning in that room. Maybe I distracted a few of them from studying. Maybe they would've done better on their exams if I'd stayed out of the room. Maybe...
But I wouldn't trade that time for anything.
They did study, for certain, after the novelty of me being in the classroom with them wore off. I finally sat down on a bench, not to move until leaving the school building. Tee Nay Too asked me a million questions, and on inspiration, I set up my camera to video our conversations. I have almost an hour of footage, just of us talking, misunderstanding each other, clarifying, and laughing.
"Teacher, how do you say?"
"Acute angle...this is obtuse..."
"Teacher, you know dreary?"
"Uh huh. You say it like dreary..."
"Teacher, I want to eat picture..."
"You want to what!"
"Oh no Teacher! I mean I want to take picture, eat at picnic..."
Teacher. Teacher. Teacher.
I never thought I'd be called "Teacher." Especially not by someone as precious as these kids. Not by a Karen child.
Not by anyone. Let alone creatures that have settled themselves in my heart.
"Teacher, you go America, I think you forget grade 7."
"Ha... not a chance. I remember you forever."
"You think about all the time?" Big smile of hope.
Will I ever forget?
Rest assured, boys. This teacher will never forget your antics, your laughs, your smiles. You. Never.
What a strange thing is this.
"Teacher, I want to take picture with you."
"Teacher, I need your picture."
"Teacher, will you miss me?"
"Teacher, I miss you very much."
Someday, I'm going to walk through a massive set of gates. They glitter and shine, sparkle and glisten. Around me, voices raised in triumphant song, in victory's cry, in melodious harmony. Before me, a paved street, glowing gold in the myriad lights around me. A crown on my head, a smile on my face... Heaven at last.
I'll be standing just inside the city, looking at the glory, blown away by the beauty, enraptured with the enormity... and that's when I'll hear it.
Above the song of life, above the raised voices, above everything else...
This is Heaven.
This is glory. Love. True life.
In all its fulness.
Wrapped up in a simple word that conveys attachment, influence, love, trust.
Oh, may I never cease to be....
And God help me... for these last few days will be hard.
And God help me... for I must...must...see these kids again someday.
In Heaven, if not on this earth.
Even if I never set foot on Thai soil again...
I've been given a title worthy of bearing.
And I'll wear it til my dying day, into infinity... and beyond.
A studious Saw Eh Soe--who, by the way, is getting baptized tomorrow...
Shaw Nay Moo
Saw Pa Noe
Some of the results of the IMM students gardening efforts...corn!