As I am writing at the desk in front of my apartment window, the sun’s rays are warming the room. It’s cold outside. The snow has lingered for several days. As I sit here, I notice my neighbor’s yard. The side of the yard directly in the sun is a beautiful green. The side of the yard sitting in the shadow of the house is snow-covered.
Schools are closed today, so I am in my “empty nest”—trying to multi-task. A few moments ago, I put banana bread in the oven to take to my neighbors. I shouldn’t do anything else when I’m baking, though; I’ve taken enough black-crusted bread out of the oven over the years to know that by now.
But here I sit writing lesson plans and thinking about people I love who live a long way away—in America.
Every day, I walk down the streets of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Ten years ago, when I came here, this was the flashpoint city between two cultures that were separated by a river, a bridge, and broken hearts. Today, a young, vital population is moving on. Walking among them are future leaders. “Someday,” I have said, thinking about my students here in Kosovo, “someday one of them could be the prime minister . . . or the mayor . . . or the administrator of a new school.”
“Teacher,” many of the kids who run up and down the streets call me. Some because they’ve been my students and others just because that’s how I’m known. I do have a name, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m the American teacher who lives here, organizes crazy game nights, takes kids on skiing trips, makes them study really hard, and asks them to leave the room cleaner than they found it. You could be known for worse things. And some call me their second mom. You could hardly do better than that.
I didn’t come here because it was a country where I always wanted to live. I started out on a journey of faith. The steps were by grace, as God gave me one good gift after another . . . although I didn’t always see it at the time. But I love being part of life here. Most of all, I love the people. I’m home now.
I look out the window at my neighbor’s yard—half green from the sun and half shadowed and covered with snow. And I think that it’s easy to live in the shadow of our problems—the hard days, the misunderstandings, the tragedies. This country has been scarred. Devastation is still a matter of short-term memory; civil war a decade ago killed 10,000 people. But it’s a new country. It needs leaders—leaders who have a vision for more than revenge, more than survival.
They need to know how to live in the light. We all do. —Nadine Hennesey
Taken from When You Don’t See His Plan, © 2011 by Nadine Hennesey and Rebecca Baker. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids MI 4950l. All rights reserved
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