11/29/2016: Helen-Class Cruiser

11/29/2016: Helen-Class Cruiser

5:08pm – 5:55pm  edited 10:03pm

Sometimes, in the war-games that I play, I liken my life in the spirit to a fleet of ships. How I seek Him, how I love Him, how I pursue and follow and obey Him, is reflected on the condition of my ships. When I am weak spiritually, my fleet is, naturally, very weak. However, there are other ships, and technologies from others, that I incorporate into my fleet to make it stronger.

Throughout my life, there have been people and organizations who, in the spirit, influenced me greatly, whom I admire, and whom I spent a lot of time with. Those people or groups may come through my life and leave, but the memories of them, the influence they have on me, is imprinted in my life for at least a very long time.

I admire those people or groups, and I begin to copy them, to emulate their strengths, their personalities, their desires and will, from what I know of them. I build a cruiser, a destroyer, using their technology. Some people and groups have stand-alone ships, some are incorporated into the rest of my fleet, and others have both.

In the Army, one of the people I admired spiritually was Endora. I saw her as someone who loves God, who has a passion, a deep love for Him. So I began to seek God using, to the best of my knowledge, of her worship to God. I jokingly told myself that I have an Endora-class cruiser.

Now, before I continue, I want to let everyone know that the root of all cruisers is God. The root of all Endora-class cruisers, Helen-class cruisers, Bethel technology, is God. To worship anyone else is idolatry. But each of us have different spiritual strengths of seeking Him and it is learning from others, of how they worship God, their mindset, their knowledge, their learnings, that I get to grow and enrich my experience with God and to help me to be closer to Him.

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Many times, when I struggle in my faith, it is those ships, those special classes of ships, that can effectively fight against the enemy. Just like in the Bible when God ordered that Judah go first to fight against his brother Benjamin, sometimes it is those ships, that go first to fight against the enemy, because the rest of my fleet, the ones mostly built by me, are too weak or they lack the weaponry that these other ships have.

When I’m weak in spirit, sometimes I think of other Christian heroes and they inspire me to continue or fight on.  The songs from Bethel, Hillsongs, and the many artists from K-Love, the preachings from Ignite, the leaders and disciples that I get to mingle and grow with, all gave me their influence, their technology, their knowledge and wisdom, their passion, their mindset, their reasons, to worship, love, and seek God.  I would not get far in my relationship with God if I were to just seek Him alone, using my own mindsets and technology.  As Christian brothers and sisters, we need to learn from each other, to share our discoveries with God, so we can collectively be empowered to fight against the enemy.

 

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3/28/2013: Daily Happenings: New Way to Foster Learning and My Experience in Donating Blood

3/28/2013: Daily Happenings: New Way to Foster Learning and My Experience in Donating Blood

S: 8:41pm
E: 9:34pm

Today I found a new way to foster learning differing opinions in groups. During class in Social Work, my professor had our class stand in the middle of the classroom. Then, she asks a question and if we agree, we move to the left side and if we disagree we move to the right side. For example, one of the difficult questions she asked is “Your parent is 85 years-old in the hospital with a coma on life support for the last several years. What would you do? If you choose to have your parent off life-support, move to the right, if you decide to keep your parent on life support, move to the left.” It’s kind of interesting because everyone varies. On some questions, almost the entire class chooses a position while, other times, the class is split. The instructor then picks students by number (we were given numbers before the activity) and have him or her explain why he or she chooses the position. Maybe I can do this for my youth group. It’s fun, interactive, organized, and encourages thinking.

Yesterday, I saw a blood donor truck in UTEP but I was too tired to give. I told myself that I will give myself a good night’s sleep and donate tomorrow. So today, I “saved a life.” I don’t know why a lot of organizations equate donating blood as “saving a life.” A doctor saves lives every day and it takes a lot of people, probably a village, to save one life. By donating blood, we help or increase the chances of someone living but we don’t really “save a life.” Like the classroom debate I just had, I was debating whether blood transfusions are really necessary.

In my ethics class the previous semester, my professor covered a topic on blood transfusions. Some religions, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, don’t allow its members to have blood transfusions. Partly because of that, new technologies developed. Beaumont Army Medical Center, for example, has a blood reclamation machine which, during a surgery, can recycle the patient’s blood back into the bloodstream. The video also showed a study comparing American and European hospitals and the amount of blood they used during surgeries. They found that in hospitals that limit the amount of blood given, the patients there actually recover faster and with fewer complications. Why? Part of the reason I heard is when the patient receives blood, it depresses his or her immune system. Due to a weakened immune system, the patient is then more prone to sickness. The hospitals that use the most blood tend to have the worse recovery rates. The narrator asked the viewer a question: Are we using blood unnecessarily? In other words, many hospitals might actually be wasting blood. Blood should not be the preferred method because most of it has to come from willing donors (limited supply), has a short self-life (3 months), and causes complications. The medical approach advocated in the documentary suggests hospitals to focus on minimizing blood loss and enhancing the patient’s ability to produce its own blood.

Despite these arguments, which I thought the United States is wasting blood, I decided to donate. Even in an ideal situation, where the focus is on minimizing blood, there will still be a need for outside blood. If everyone thinks like me, then no one will give blood. And I don’t want to hurt someone because of a nation’s mistakes.

It’s ironic that despite me donating blood numerous times, the staff there still ask me “Is this your first time?” Every time I choose to donate blood, I always get nervous no matter what my experience. I’m afraid they would reject me because of the fact that I breathe too much or my blood pressure is not right or misc. I know that if I were to act honestly, they probably would be very concerned. And I’m also a bit afraid of needles. I remember in the Army when I donate blood, I still get nervous that I might get rejected. I have a minor breathing problem and I’m afraid these observant nurses can see it.

And, I almost didn’t make it. When the nurse (I think she’s a nurse) checked my blood iron level the first time, it was 11.4 (about). The minimum requirement is 12.5. She asked if I want to do a recheck. I said yes. I changed my hand (not the hand that underwent three blood pressure tests b/c the machine couldn’t detect my pressure) and my iron level in that hand is 13.4. Yes! I passed that one. Next, of course I feel tired but I try not to show it. Me trying to save energy by closing my eyes and taking deep breaths can be seen as a sign that I’m unfit to donate. Oh yeah, she also asked “When is the last time you ate meat?” To optimize my finances and maintain health, I reshifted my protein intake from meats to beans and diary. So, I told her about two days ago (it is actually four days ago, on Sunday, but I wasn’t given much time to think on the question). I added that I don’t eat meat every day. But, I told her I take a multi-supplement almost daily. That should be enough for iron, right? So.. I’m a veteran in donating blood but, at the same time, I’m not a veteran; I’m a recruit. There are times in life that no matter how much practice and experience we have, we still feel like newbies.

In the interview the nurse asked me “What is your blood type?”

I told her “A positive.” and I added “It is the best blood type.”

She chuckled. I hope my blood type means I can do well in this semester. : )

My Happenings for Today and an Interview from a Social Worker

3/26/2013: My Happenings for Today and an Interview from a Social Worker

S: 11:07pm
E: 3/27/2013 12:42am (edited)

One of my old-time favorite songs is “He Keeps Me Singing.” I remember when I first heard this song. I was in my barrack room and I was fishing for Christian songs. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to find this song.

I try to write everyday so I may be able to continue my blog. Some of my entries have been too private so I did not share them. I’m planning to post my diaries in retrospect so I can be encouraged to continue writing. If I post it fresh off the press, I may be too self-conscious to write well.

It’s late now but I am reinstituting my one hour close-out time. This gives me time to get ready to sleep. I can’t just do what I’m doing and then the next minute be sound asleep.

I have a whole long chapter to write about investing but I’m going to put that off until later. I want to continue to refine my learning and my strategy.

Yesterday was a difficult day. As much as I tried, I didn’t get much done during spring break. I had a test from social work and although I did half of the test during the break, I’m surprised at my slow progress. If this test was in class I would probably do poorly. Then again, most of my time is spent reading. Even in a graded class, I think most students have a choice to make. They can either read the book and do whatever just to get the answers or they can take the time to learn the material and save it in their life. I chose the latter and although it is slower, it is worth it in the long-run.

A class I am having trouble in right now is Spanish. All my other classes are in English so I can find ways to fight it, but this class is a different foe. Part of it is my fault. It is more than just a 3-credit class to me. For me to actually learn Spanish through that class and not to just get a passing grade on it, I need to treat it like a 6 or even a 9-hour class.

Honestly speaking, Psychology I have my study guides which I can do at the last minute and still get an A in the test (and turn in my study guide for an extra five points!). For my Social Work class, I can take the test in my room. For my Technical Writing class, I just take copious notes and use that to work on class projects. But for Spanish, there are no shortcuts. I have difficulty even understanding some words in the PowerPoint. This class will just require in-depth planning and hard work. I’m glad the rest of my classes are relatively easy.

I was going to volunteer at Community Solutions but when I reassessed myself, I realized I need to prioritize my time more on my studies. I feel even my extracurricular activities at UTEP which includes Intervarsity will also need to be cut. The only thing extra I’m focusing on is my church work. I’m like a country. Because my time budget is in trouble, I am forced to make cuts. Heh. Of course, I can also work on my efficiency which I am also doing, but that is not easy, too.

Today, before I forget, I want to share some information presented from the guest speaker in my Social Work class. One good thing about keeping a journal is I can record the day’s events. However, I did not write everyday and I forgot many precious gems that previous guest speakers have shared. Writing a journal is very similar to saving a game.

I want to start by saying that having guest speakers to share about their jobs and themselves has been very beneficial to our class. It allows us to know more about the field of social work and to learn more about life. Many of the students thought they already know what they want to do but after hearing a real-life social worker speak about what they do in their field of work, they start to have second thoughts. Me too, it’s a life opener.

Today’s guest speaker is Angie [last name omitted], LMSW. She currently works at Hospice El Paso. She is an administer or a director.

Typically, according to her, if you complete your masters within three years of graduating from your bachelors, you may be considered for a management position.

She calls herself a “baby” because she recently graduated with a Masters in Social Work and she is already in management.

First, what is hospice? Hospice is a place where terminally-ill people go to.. die. It is special place, with specially-trained professionals, so they can die with the least amount of pain and with the most peace.

The place she works at has people of all ages, not just the elderly. To be placed in a hospice, a doctor needs to verify in the orders that a person has less than six-months to live.

She said that dying is a very private moment. It is unlike the birth of a baby. In that case, the family is happy and wants to tell everyone.

The hospice she works at treats patients’ free-of-charge. If they can pay, the center will charge the insurance, but if they can’t, they will still accept that person.

She shared about a case. There is a, I think 45 year-old man who was admitted into the hospice center. He had been abandoned as a child. He was homeless and living on the streets when he was diagnosed with cancer. The hospice center, thankfully, took him in. As social workers, we are to find resources to help our clients as much as possible. We are to keep trying, even if the situation looks bleak. His “dying wish” is to be buried. He said he fears cremation. However, in this hospice center, that is very difficult due to the lack of funds. Many people there get cremated instead. But this social worker didn’t give up. She called multiple funeral homes for help. Fortunately, this hospice center has the foresight to have a few plots for patients just in case if cremation doesn’t work out. The cost of a burial is about $6,000 and he had no funds. Yet, somehow she was able to put it together. There was also about a $1,000 fee for some service but she spoke to the funeral director about his sad story and was able to get the fee waived. This dying man got his wish come true.

She also, because he had no family, tried to locate his family. He called all the homeless shelters about him. No leads. She then remembered he came from Las Cruces and he was in prison for a time (something along those lines, not 100% sure) so she called their police department. They ran a check and found a few matches, but, they told her the police cannot give her their contacts due to privacy issues. They suggested her to try looking for him online instead. So she went on people search and found like 100 similar names. Because she doesn’t have the time to call every one of them, she narrowed the results down to only those that are in Texas (I think) or New Mexico. She called each name asking if they know this person. Some of the people she called thought she was crazy, others don’t know, but there was one (I think) that said the name sounds familiar. That person told her that he/she will contact his extended family to see if they know. Well, sadly, that person never called back. The search was futile but what matters is that she has a heart of stone to try.

There is also another case where a girl of fourteen said her last wish is to have a quinceañera. Well, the social workers got together and managed to plan a quinceañera for her. All the staff and (I think) her family attended. It was great for her.

Sometimes I wonder. What is my dying wish? Okay, I’m getting off-topic so let me continue.

This is taking too long so I’m going to skip to an important part. Towards the end of her interview with our class, one of the questions was “What is the most important skill for a hospice social worker?”

She replied that the most important skill for a social worker working in a hospice setting is to have a “heart of stone.” That social worker needs to be tough, he/she needs to have a “cold mind.” When the family is crying and collapsing that worker needs to have the heart to also cry with them but not fall down to the floor like them. That worker needs to be strong because the family looks to that person to make decisions.

Second, she said that person needs to have good “begging” skills. That worker will have to contact various agencies to serve his/her clients.

Third, the social worker needs to be “very comfortable with yourself.” Self-care. That helper needs to know themselves, their strengths and limitations and to take care of his/her heart.

As social workers, we know families have a grieving process. So, this particular hospice also offers the family a year of emotional support.

Angie ended her presentation by giving our class a case scenario. We are to tell her what we would do. It is:

You have a 33 year-old female, US citizen, has 4 children, raised in Mexico, came to the US recently but don’t know the language, single mother, has breast cancer (last stage), has minimal food, her only support is her mother whom is legally blind. (There is a bit more to it but I can only write so fast..)

What would you do? What would Jesus do?

I told Angie that I would use both the problem-solving strategy and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to help that person. By using the problem-solving strategy, I meant I will split her problems into many and solve them one by one. And I will solve the most urgent ones first. Her aside asked me which one would I solve. I told her the problem of food and shelter. She concurred.

After a while, I thought about this hospice and about needing a doctor’s order to be placed there so I was just about ready to raise my hand again when Angie told our class, tearfully, that the person she described is her mother.

She was twelve years-old at the time. Her mom, although a US citizen, did not choose to receive any public assistance. She said it’s a shame to rely on food stamps. Her family lived in a garage. Angie was the only one who cared for her mother. She cleaned her wounds. There was no social worker or medical professional to help her. When her mother died, she remembered going door-to-door to collect money for her funeral. Our whole class was touched and I almost cried.

That, she said, was the reason why she wanted to go into social work. She wants to go into social work so that those who are struggling and dying don’t have to clean the wounds by themselves; that they can have a place and professionals to help them. She told us that we should choose this profession not just to get a steady paycheck but because it is in our heart to do.

I spent a lot of time writing my happenings but I feel, even though at times I may disagree with myself, that it will be worth it in the long-run. If I don’t write, I will mostly likely forget 99 or 100% of what happened day-by-day. My goodness.

I remembered the first time I entered my Intro to Social Work class. The professor had us sit in circles and asked each one of us to take turns sharing why each of us want to be a social worker. I was nervous at that time because my relationship with God wasn’t as close as it was but I still need to the truth. I told the class that the reason why I want to be a social worker is because God helped me so much in the Army. And I feel, thanks to Him assisting me that my passion is also to help others.

I think in a way, God is like a social worker to me. His Words give me comfort and strength. His Words give me wisdom to know how to live life. I still mess up; I still make mistakes, but I know that if I seek the wisdom that comes from God, I will see my faults and change. There are times when life was just too hard for me and I prayed to God for a miracle, for a change of surroundings, and guess what, my situation became bearable. It was never easy and God only gave me (for the most part) just enough to survive. I’m glad that when hard times or any times come, I can always talk to God in prayer. That is my main motivation to being a social worker. I see so much need and so much injustice in this world that I want to, with God’s wisdom, to change it.

I see the low pay that social workers get as a different transaction. The income doesn’t all go to me; it also goes to the person I’m serving. By empowering that person, I am increasing his/her income capacity and even if that’s not the case, oh well, I can have treasures in heaven.

Ok, I need to go to sleep now. I hope tomorrow can be another adventure, too. I doubt it though.

1/20/2011: My Father’s Garden

1/20/2011: My Father’s Garden

S: 8:37pm

E: 8:55pm

小小花園裡,紅橙黃藍綠,每朵小花都美麗,

微風輕飄逸,藍天同歡喜,在天父的花園裡,

你我同是寶貝,在這花園裡,

園丁細心呵護不讓你傷心,

刮風或下雨,應許從不離開你,

天父的小花成長在他手裡,

別擔心,你的成長在他手裡

Father’s Garden

 

I’m tired and it’s getting late for my bedtime but I want to make a last attempt to write something that is meaningful to me.

I want to learn about other people’s lives and experiences (by reading blogs) because all of us are like in our Father’s garden. It’s not just my flower that counts but every one of the others. By learning about other people’s lives and experiences, I can make my flower that much prettier. People learn a lot from learning about others. I learn so much thanks to the stories in the Bible. I learn about Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joshua, David, Jonah, Daniel, Solomon, Jesus, Paul, and many others. Knowing their stories and their struggles have greatly enhanced my life. The Bible, however, is the only book we need in this world. It’s biographies, autobiographies, and teachings taught me “the way, the truth, and the life.” However, learning about other people, about their struggles and their lessons in following God can also help me grow spiritually, and it’s interesting! (I hope more interesting than computer games, but that remains to be seen).

That is what brothers and sisters in Christ should do. We should help each other, love each other, and learn from each other. In my Father’s garden there are many flowers just as in “my Father’s house there are many rooms” (John 14:2).

 

11/26/2010: M16 Range

11/26/2010: M16 Range

S: 5:36pm

E: 5:51pm

Today, our battalion went to the range to qualify on our M16A2! Wow, praise God! I haven’t shot a gun for over a year now and I’m unsure how I would do. When I qualified using paper targets on a 25 meter range, I got a 31! And that is despite the fact that my last two rounds wouldn’t fire. To give a quick overview, there are two ways to qualify a M16A2. The first way is to qualify using pop-up targets. You would need a vast field to do that. Green silhouette’s as targets will pop up at various distances, usually every 50 meters. So, there will be a 50,100,150,200,250, and a 300 meter target. If you hit it, the target automatically goes down. A shooter has to shoot at least 23 of 40 targets to pass. Paper targets, however are different. It is used when space is limited, such is the case in Camp Arifjan. All the targets is on a large sheet of paper 25 meters away. The targets will be of different shapes and sizes depending on the distances. To pass this method, you would need to hit 27 of 40 targets.

But, before you can qualify, it might be a good idea to zero your weapon first. Zeroing is basically like calibrating. Since every shooter sees differently through the sight picture, every weapon has to be adjusted to the shooter. I had a hard time zeroing my weapon, but praise God, the extra time spent shooting means I get more practice! I’m not there to pass, but to learn. I know that the horse (me) is made ready for battle, but the battle belongs to the Lord (Provb. 21:31). I think going to college should also be the same. I’m going to college not necessarily to get a good grade, but to learn and grow to help others. I will write the essays not to satisfy man, but to satisfy God.

I’m happy, despite the fact that my life is hard and I’m tired. 主的喜樂是我力量! The joy of the Lord is my strength!

10/14/2010: My story as a teacher

10/14/2010: My story as a teacher

S: 8:13am

E: 8:33am

S: 9:35am

E: 11:08am

To start, writing this is difficult for me. I really wanted to do something else, like playing a little bit of computer games. I’m still struggling, but I am getting closer to freedom. This is a long, and I think happiest, chapter of my life. My spirit is telling me to worship God, to spend more time with Him, while my body is telling me to play games and enjoy myself. I may do both, knowing that I cannot worship both God and games. This discovery, or story, will be reedited and will have many add-ons as I remember my memories. Thus, it will take a while to get this published, or maybe I can just publish it and edit it if I have a newer version. In computers, this is called patching, in journal writing, maybe it’s called revising.

After my failure at nursing school at East LA college, I told my dad that I now wanted to be a teacher. I find that as I grow in God and experience new things, I learn and see more about myself. I grow more confident of my abilities, more aware of myself, and things I previously thought impossible is possible. Before, I thought being a social worker, although it is very appealing to me, as impossible. I can’t speak very well, I stutter, I’m not very conversational, I don’t have social skills, I don’t have friends, I don’t know enough of this world to help people or myself :(, etc. So, I crossed out “social worker” early in my life because I felt diffident about my abilities. Now, as I grow more in God and life, I grow more confident (Phil. 4:13), and decided that being a social worker would be more perfect for me. The more I know about myself and the more I trust in God, the closer I get to my dream job, my career bull’s-eye.

My dad believed it is always important to not only get the education for the career, but also to gain some practical experience, if only to look good when applying for a career-related job. Before I joined the nursing school, I volunteered at a local hospital, the San Gabriel Valley Medical Center. Then, I went to PCC and took the nursing assistant class so I can be certified as a CNA. As I wrote in my last story (my story as a nurse), I didn’t finish the class because I was too afraid. I didn’t have a solid enough relationship with God back then to carry me through life. Now, since I wanted to be a teacher, my parents encouraged me to find a teaching job so I can gain more experience and see if it really is a job for me.

This time, my mom helped me out. My mom noticed an education center just a block away from my house called “SINWA Education Institute.” Wow, my mom is a lot more aware of her surroundings than me. All this time I’ve been living here, I never knew an education center behind Papa John’s. We planned for a day to come in, impromptu and all, and the day came.

I remember my first feelings. I was afraid, nervous, and scared. I’m afraid that whoever the manager is would reject me outright. I’m glad I didn’t go in alone; what I feared might actually happen. One thing that comforted me and gave me courage is that my mom is going with me and I know she’s excellent with people. She calmed me down and told me to just trust in God. “God will take care of everything,” she said. I remember praying with her right before going in. Getting out of the car (my mom suggested walking, but I was too nervous to show myself to the world), ringing the doorbell, and getting inside the classroom is equivalent to the invasion of Normandy for me. The principal, Mrs. Wu, greeted us and my mom exchanged friendly greetings. I said “hello” and smiled. I can be very warm with people, but it takes time and at that time, I was afraid to show myself completely. I never been to an interview, the one at McDonalds doesn’t count because I had 100% confidence I could land the job, anyone can get into that job, right (that was how I thought back then)? Now, in this proper interview, I had no idea how to act, so I acted reserved but friendly. I think I remember being a little more relaxed after the prayer. I felt a new sense of confidence and assurance, but, I was still nervous.

My mom and Mrs. Wu connected almost immediately. They started talking about their lives, experiences, as well as my life and experiences. Then, they started talking in Taiwanese! I had no idea what they were saying. Are they talking bad about me, etc? I remember myself talking to Mrs. Wu, too, and telling her why I wanted this job. I forgot what I said though. I also met Mr. Wu, her husband and the assistant principal. From their first impressions, they were very nice and cordial to me. Mrs. Wu told me I should volunteer first to get some experience. I agreed immediately. I’m just so happy to get experience working with children! She told me she would have to conduct some background checks and other clearances before I can actually start my job as a tutor. I had to go through the same when working as a nurse, so I understood the concept. I think from her first impression, she saw me as a kind, although a bit nervous, trustworthy person. I am to start next Monday, so I have the rest of the week to prepare myself. When my mom and I walked out of the education center, I beamed a smile at her and told her thank you. I was so happy at the success and miracle. It was much better than my best expectations. God is such a wonderful, loving God, the God who gives me second chances.

The day as a tutor-intern came. I am to come at 2:45pm. As always, I was scared, shy, and nervous. What will the children think about me? How many will there be? Will I be able to get along and teach them effectively? I walked in the noisy classroom. Mrs. Wu was at the door and greeted me. I looked at the classroom and was surprised to see that there is no tutor. All the students were just doing their homework by themselves. Mrs. Wu’s office desk is at the south-west corner of the room, so there was some control at the noise. I see mostly elementary school level students. Some of them are doing their homework; others are talking with their classmates. When I first walked in, I was expecting an “all eyes on me” type entrance. However, I was relieved when only a few looked up at me. After a brief discourse, Mrs. Wu then announced to the class that I would be their new tutor. “Okay everybody [clap] [clap], here is your new tutor, Steven, and he will help you on your homework. If you have any questions, raise your hand and Steven will come and help you. Steven, would you like to introduce yourself to the class?” I was taken aback at her sudden introduction and wasn’t prepared to be discovered yet. While slowly walking to the front of the class, I smiled, waved my hands at everybody and said, “hello everyone. I’m Steven Yeh and I will be your new tutor. I am 19 years old and I finished high school.” Seriously, I didn’t know what to say and I stuttered a bit at first. I’m not used to having people, even children, stare at me. I became very shy, but nice and polite to everybody. I also, for the first few months, never stopped smiling. After a while, the kids told me why am I always smiling? A girl told me I was scaring her. I told them I am just very happy to be with you guys and help. Being with children always seems to make me very happy. There is something about the innocence and naturalness of children that I’m allured to. Maybe I have it too. I think if the whole world were like them (the good side), the world would be a much better place. The kids convinced me to stop smiling so much because I was scaring them, so I tried to look normal. However, throughout my job as a tutor, I would frequently go to a private place and just smile broadly because I can’t help it! I just feel so happy to be with children and to help them. I am just so happy to be with God’s people, my reference to children (Matt. 18:3, 19:14, 18:10).

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

In the beginning, I just stood watching kids do their homework and waiting for a hand to come up. Then, I would ask the students who were talking to do their homework. They looked at me with fearful eyes and obeyed. Initially, they would be fearful of me, naturally, because I am a stranger to them, but after a week, the children start to warm up to me. They became less afraid. A few took a month, and I remember a girl, in third-grade, who never really trusted me. S (first initial of her name, to protect privacy) would always be silent to her peers and to me, quietly do her homework, and ignore everything else. Even if she made mistakes on her paper, or doesn’t know how to do something, she wouldn’t ask for help. She would just sit there, head down, looking at her paper. I have to make my rounds and observe that she needs help. And, when I explained the concept to her, she wouldn’t ask any questions! She would look at me with her fearful eyes, make a slight nod and get back to her work. I checked her work afterwards and many times, she actually understood what I was telling her. After a while, I wouldn’t go so near her if I wasn’t checking her work because she tenses up every time I was close. Personally, I believe she might be a victim of child abuse. I saw her dad (her parents divorced) and he looked scary, with a full beard, grey-white hair, wrinkled skin, and other complexion. It seems strange, but at that time, I didn’t take any action. I was afraid and what if I was wrong? Every time I talk to S, as with most of my students, I would kneel down to her eye-level, and talk gently and softly to her. She’s afraid of people, so I need to gain her trust first, but, I never did. I remember praying for her and asking Jesus to heal her. I don’t remember if I ever talk to her about Jesus or not. There was a few times when she actually talked to me and asked questions, but that was rare. And, lastly, I never remembered her laughing or even smiling.

After a few days of volunteering as a tutor, my boss, Mrs. Wu, told me I am spending too much time with the wrong students. She took a blank sheet of paper and wrote a list of children’s names starting with those that need the most help. She told me if I were to become a teacher, I need to have a plan. I need to identify who needs help and who doesn’t. She wrote about sixteen names and I used it as a guide. Later on, I used the list as a prayer list and added new names when new students come. My original plan was to use the list to pray for my students every day, but after awhile, I never sticked to the plan. I would start to pray for them and then I became lazy and stopped. I only prayed for my students from time to time, not daily, and it was a mistake I made. Had I prayed for my students daily, many of them would have gone closer to God.

Mrs. Wu told me that once I start teaching summer school (I started volunteering in May), I will get paid. To be honest, I was going to tell her that it’s fine, that I’ll do it for free. Teaching and helping children is so fun that I’m willing to do it for free. In fact, I may even consider paying to do this. I finally found a job where I’m not working, but playing.

I thought at first that teaching the kids would be one-way: they raise their hands, and I give them the knowledge. What I discovered later on was that the kids are teaching me too. In fact, it seems every day when I go to teach, they are teaching me more than what I’m teaching them. I may teach them math, English, science, etc, but they are teaching me life skills: how to get along with people, the experience of being and talking to people. Plus, when teaching them, I also learn some of these basic subjects, too. I remember opening up a student’s algebra book and reading the content and “reviewing” myself before actually teaching him. I just look at the examples and quickly remembered what to do. I don’t want to look dumb in front of my students, so I would just quickly go over the lesson and teach. If I still don’t know, I would tell the truth to him but tell him that I would get back to him on this tomorrow. Sometimes however, the truth is too hard because it makes me look like a dumbass so I would be mean to cover myself. It’s sad, and looking back, I should have just told the truth 100% of the time. I would also take pictures of the algebra book (I still have them!), page-by-page, and then look through it once I get home. That way, for his next math lesson, I would know what to do.

Back in that lonely time of my life, I had no friends. No friends in college (PCC), no friends in church (I mean no close friends), just, no close friends in my life. So, when I began working, and throughout my short career, they became my friends. I would joke with them, make them laugh, talk about my life when I was a child, etc, and they would tell me their stories, and their “secrets.” One girl, C, in first-grade, would always raise her hand just so she can talk to me. For the longest time, I though she really needed help, but then Mrs. Wu told me, “Can’t you see, she’s using you. She knows how to do her homework. You help someone else,” and she came up to C and scolded her about wasting my precious time. In truth, although she may pretend to not know how to do something (she seems she really doesn’t know), I still enjoyed teaching and talking to her. Often, she would gesture with her hands for me to come forward and then, making a cup with her hands and holding it to her mouth, she would whisper in my ear a “secret.” I would listen attentively and tell her I won’t tell anyone. I never did, and, now, I forgot all of her “secrets.”

As I continue teaching and tutoring, I began to grow afraid because I am becoming like them. I’m not sure if other elementary or middle-school teachers have this problem, but I feel myself reverting to a child again. If I were to go back in time, to fifth-grade, but with the same brain, I would more likely than not act like I was in fifth grade. If I took the pill Detective Conan took, I may actually act like a child. It would be hard for me to go against the flow and resist.

I feel, looking back, that me being with children and teaching them is a wonderful gift from God. My childhood has been altered and messed with due to my ADHD Ritalin pill. I don’t remember most of my childhood life. Now, at 19 and working at a tutoring center, I feel God is healing my childhood by giving me experiences with children that I never had. Their memories and experiences became part of my memories and experiences. For that, I am very grateful for the wonderful gift God has given me. It reminds me that He is faithful and does all things well.

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11/18/2010

S: 1:27am

E:

You know, from now on, I’m going to share my stories not chronologically, but individually, through each student. Every one of my students has a story to share.

Right now, I am on guard duty with Sgt. Rivera. Normally, I would feel tired, but I feel the Lord giving me some additional strength lately. Praise the Lord. Sgt. Rivera is currently taking child psychology and writing her final essay. Curiously, I decided to skim through her textbook. The book is filled with theories and viewpoints. Inside me, I already know a lot about children because the Bible teaches me about people. I feel the best theory, no, the truth, comes from the knowledge of God through His Word. With my Bible, I understand almost everything. I skimmed and saw one topic that interested me: “Morality, Altruism, and Aggression.” I looked through the chapter and especially Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. In it, I found that conscience comes from God, and those who learn God’s ways tend to be in the later stages. I immediately remembered my method of teaching children about morality during my tutoring years. It was then when I wanted to tell my story as a teacher through the stories each of my students gave me.

When I discipline my students (I call them my “children”) or teaching them right from wrong, I tried to invoke their God-given conscience. I believe that every child, deep inside, knows right from wrong. I have a seventh-grader at that time, named Brian, who always gets into trouble by hurting people. He’s very smart; he’s taking algebra at that time; but he also does evil things. He would cuss, make fun of, and insult at fellow students, especially students younger than him. He would throw stuff at them, or do evil pranks that make other students cry. For a time, I asked Mrs. Wu to remove him because he’s being such a troublemaker, however, probably due to money and her mother being involved in transporting students to our center, my boss resisted. This is sad. Every time he gets in trouble, which is, in my memory, everyday, I would always try to appeal to his conscience. I remember despite his evil, I am always still loving, kind, forgiving, but also just to him.

Every time he does evil, I always ask, “Brain, why are you doing this?”

“Because it’s fun,” Brain would reply.

“I know its fun. It’s fun for you, but it’s not fun for them” I said.

Sometimes, then, he would say that I’m wrong; that the other party also has fun when he’s doing things to them. To that, I ask questions. I want him to see that the other side is not having fun.

“How is he having fun?” I asked. “Look, he’s crying” or “See, he’s sad. He doesn’t want you to bother him.”

That usually is enough to stop his self-justification. Then, I would continue.

“Brain, you know hurting others is wrong. You need to do the right thing.”

And then he could complain, even try to dispute that he’s wrong, but I feel deep inside, he knows what’s right and wrong.

I try to teach my children stage 6 of Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. I dislike punishing them like giving them time-outs, being mean to them, withholding love, etc, because these methods don’t teach them the real reason to do good. They should do good because it is the right thing to do. And, I call them my “children” because God has entrusted me these kids for a period of time. They are my children from 2:30 to 5pm.

There’s a cartoon from my SOG’s (sergeant of the guard) textbook that I want to share with you:

Principle: [Sitting and angrily pointing his finger at kid] Ira, you will be punished if I ever catch you cheating again!

Kid: Yes, sir.

[Next scene]

Kid: [to teacher] Mr. Grimmis wants me to cheat more carefully.

Ha! Lol. I think it’s funny, but I think it also teaches an important lesson. If we don’t invoke their conscience, the real reason why to do the right thing, these kids will never learn it. They will learn not to do wrong things not because it’s wrong, but so they won’t get into trouble. Martin Luther King Jr. said in a sermon that our society is changing from a conscience-based society to a punish-based one:

“Midnight is the hour when men desperately seek to obey the eleventh commandment, ‘Thou shalt not get caught.’ According to the ethic of midnight the cardinal sin is to be caught and the cardinal virtue is to get by. It is all right to lie, but one must lie with real finesse. It is all right to steal, if one is so dignified that, if caught, the charge becomes embezzlement, not robbery. It is permissible even to hate, if one so dresses his hating in the garments of love that hating appears to be loving. The Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest has been substituted by a philosophy of the survival of the slickest. This mentality has brought a tragic breakdown of moral standards, and the midnight of moral degeneration deepens.”

If we don’t teach kids right and wrong, the real reason why to do good and the real reason why not to do evil, then kids will eventually adopt the survival of the “slickest.” They can do evil as long as they don’t’ get caught.

For Brian, I wanted to change him to become a better person. Working hours is not enough time so I played tennis with him and gave him my number so he can call me in case he needs help on his homework. I want to be an example of love and kindness. I want to be a role-model to him.

I got some stories to tell. There are times when I talked to him on the phone for more than an hour helping him on his essay. I joked with him and talked nicely to him. I want to be a friend as well as his mentor. I remember going to my computer, helping him find information, going to my family’s encyclopedia collection, to alternating in the kitchen talking to him. After the conversation, my dad would often ask who called me. I told him I was helping one of my students. My dad, however, would rebuke me for wasting my time on others. I disagree, however. I want to spend my time to help others because it’s the right thing to do. My purpose in life is to help people.

And then there are the tennis games. Sometimes we would play at Washington School, other times at Garvy Park (by Hellman Ave.). Although I played better than him, I still suck too. I remember seeing his disappointment when I kept hitting the net when serving or taking my first or second shot. I remember waiting for a long time, with my bicycle and tennis racket waiting for him to show up. Once, he never did, but that didn’t stop me from trying to connect with him.

Brian’s mom, as I said before, helped to transport some of my students to the center. I told her many times about her son’s bad behavior but, in the end, she told me she tried to do everything to help him but failed. She asked me to help her by helping him. I realized their family is divorced. Brian doesn’t have a father and I was told that might be a cause of his aggression. Well, then, I will be a male role-model for him. Slowly, towards the end of my tutoring tenure, I sensed Brian is becoming a better person.

Unfortunately, I joined the Army before I can fully change him. The last, or second to last day in LA, I invited Brian to play tennis. He brought some of his friends along. It was there when I told him I’m joining the Army and I said good-bye. I tried to contact him once during my Christmas leave, but he didn’t answer. I hope he becomes a better person and I hope he becomes closer to God.

Work in progress….