When people ask me “how’s life in Georgia” my response is usually “life in Georgia is interesting to say the least.” I think that the reality that I am half way around the world, living in a completely different land, with people I don’t know and whose language I don’t speak is finally starting to set in. Today was a tough day, not because of any one thing in particular but rather a compilation of many very small things. Although beautiful and chock-full of immensely hospitable people, Georgia is, in every sense, a developing country. The need here is great.
I’ve finally begun teaching and now that I am in the classroom, I realize just how much work is needed in Georgian public schools. The system is broken and the needs far exceed anything that one volunteer can match. As an educator by vocation, I’ve learned the importance of the condition of the physical space where learning takes place to children’s motivation to actually learn. I teach at a school in the rural village of Simoneti here in Georgia. The building is in very poor condition with no running water nor indoor plumbing, cracked walls, broken windows and floors with loose and broken tile. No posters with inspirational messages nor bulletin boards with content relevant to subjects studied in classes adorn the walls.
Many students do not have school books and even a considerable number of teachers lack the necessary books to teach their classes and regularly borrow books from one of the few students who bring books to class. Teachers regularly fail to thoroughly plan lessons prior to class and although homework is sometimes given, I have yet to see a teacher collect completed homework to take home to actually evaluate and grade. Students frequently come unprepared to class with neither books, paper, nor pens- seemingly without any consequence. I work with English teachers who are native Georgians and speak very little English but are responsible for teaching students a language that they themselves do not have command of. The situation is quite daunting.
I’m American and to many Georgians that means that the things that I can do are boundless. Everyone who knows me on any real personal level knows that I have a difficult time saying “no.” This is really problematic, as I am asked to do a lot in Georgia. The school where I work asked me to teach 5 different grades- 6th grade, 7th grade, 9th grade, 10th and 11th grade- facilitate two after-school clubs that meet for an hour, each twice a week, totaling an additional 4 hours after school a week, and create and facilitate a club to teach the teachers English. Last week, I was asked by a teacher whose daughter is permanently bedridden due to a car accident if I have any friends in America who work with bad brains, her words. When my answer was no, I was asked if I knew how the teachers might go about finding someone who does. Days later, I was asked if I could go to this teacher’s house and sit with the daughter and bring my computer so that she can play with it. Today the teachers wanted to know if I could devote another day a week after school to help the English teachers prepare for national teacher exams. Additionally, I entered the staff room after my lessons today and the teachers were waiting for me to ask if they could use my laptop to go onto the internet and find the preparation materials for teacher exams and if I had some way of copying the material for them.
Everyday, there is something that someone wants me to do and I obviously can’t do it all.
The feeling is overwhelming. Although I’m a grown woman trying to make grown-up decisions, at heart I’m just a big girl trying to live out the dreams of a little black girl to one day see the world and to do her share of good in it. I just want no longer to stifle the dreams of a little pig-tailed caramel child whose imagination forced her to believe that the world the Lord created was vaster than her reality on the west side of Chicago, even grander than all that glitters in her country of America, and full of people beautifully different from herself but remarkably similar when it’s all said and done. There is so much that’s needed, so much that’s desired of me and the reality of it all is a bit heavy for the little girl looking out at the world through my eyes.
And so, today was tough- not because of any one thing in particular but rather a compilation of many very small things.
As I began the 20 minute walk home from school in the Georgian sun, I talked to the Father about it all. And step by step, I thought of the God who tells his children to cast their cares upon him because he cares for us. I’m just one person, in one section of one very small part of the world and I am being pulled in so many directions because of the amount of need in this place alone. As I continued to walk, I became overcome with the thought of the vastness of the God I serve. He exists everywhere and at the same time and is connected to each of us, able to number the very hairs on our heads. Can you imagine the enormity of the need of the WORLD? I just barely can; I’m exhausted thinking only of the need of Georgia, a very small place in comparison to the world at large. And, I know how overwhelmed I am when a few people ask me to help meet the needs they have here. Can you imagine tallying up the needs that everyone who exists in the world has. We ask God about things that we need on a daily basis but rarely stop to think that everyone else is doing the same thing, and amazingly God is able to handle that. Wow, he absorbs the needs of us all and tells his children not to bother being worried about how to meet our own needs. The book of Matthew waxes poetic in its concession that God says to us if he could take lilies and adorn the grass more splendidly than Solomon in all of his glory, would he not do much more for us. Imagine that.
So, as I walked home feeling a little beat down, reflecting upon my day, as I thought more about the God I serve, rather than remain overwhelmed by the needs I obviously can’t meet, I became overwhelmed by the new realization of just how dope God really is. And you know, none of us really deserve that kind of love nor consideration from him but he still doles it out. Now I might lose some of you here (we all should communicate with God according to our own personalities), but God’s love and immense concern kinda remind me of the iconic Meth and Mary collabo “You’re All I Need.” I find myself thinking, man, he didn’t have to mess with me but he did and because he did, I gotta go all out. Now there are some words I just don’t use, but there are sometimes when such words are so inappropriately appropriate, lol. With that, remember when everybody was claiming that Jesus was their homie? Well…my heart says to him “I got mad love to give, you my…” Y’all who know the song, you know the rest 🙂 Peace!