I am Present for the Lord

July 3, 2016 - South Asia

On my first morning of site placement, my site team (Ryan, Mark and Trent, and I) followed M, our site director, to the train station. Usually I would ride in the women’s car, but M told me that the train cars would be empty at this time and that I would be able to ride in the men’s car. It was my first time riding in the men’s car, but not my last. As the train started off I stared at the changing scenery, the tall banana trees, the colorful apartment buildings, and the small one-room slum houses clinging closer to view from the train tracks.

Once we reached our stop M directed us through what seemed like a maze of small streets. On the first street we passed a chicken vendor with his cage full of plump, white-feathered chickens; the next a black goat lingering outside a green doorway; the next a child staring at us from his window. We passed a small, elderly woman in a purple sari sitting on the side of the small road washing her dishes. After many twists and turns M lead us into a small one-room building made of brick, the door already opened.

Once inside, my gaze was met with fifteen pairs of little eyes staring back at me. The building was a schoolhouse for pre-school aged students around 3-4 years old. The children were so tiny and sat on benches around a table set low to the ground. The teacher was excited to see us and so was R, the other site director. They pulled out an extra bench from a stack at the front of the room and invited us to sit and listen to the lesson.

The children were all so cute, their little flip-flop covered feet barely reaching the ground. They wiggled around in their seats and those sitting closest to us would turn around to steal glimpses of us. The teacher asked them to sing songs for us. At first they were nervous but then the teacher helped them along and soon they all were singing the melody. Most of the songs they sang were in the local language and their sweet little voices carried out into the street.

As they sang I observed the room. The floor was cement but had potholes where water had probably leaked in and created indents. They had one small bookshelf, which held early reader books in English and notebooks for drawing; a small desk, which the teacher used and the children placed their water bottles on; and two old TV’s at the back of the room. The ceiling was covered in cobwebs, but the ceiling fan carried a nice breeze into the room.

The children began to sing another song, but this time in English:

I am present for the Lord, I am present for the Lord
I am present for the Lord everyday
Yesterday, today and tomorrow
I am present for the Lord everyday

My eyesight became blurry as tears rolled down my face. All I could think about was how fortunate I was to have been able to share this moment with these children. The children continued to sing and I tried my best to compose myself, since a few of them had taken notice of my crying.

I had traveled so far to be in this country and for the first time since I got here, I felt the Spirit’s presence amidst the singing of children, in a small schoolroom, in a maze of streets, in small village, in South Asia.

Written by Anna