The first week of school is coming to a close, and WOW what a week it has been! With 5 different classes to teach, I have been kept very busy, and Andrew has also been busy helping to set up the school’s IT systems after hours. With a small staff, everyone wears many hats – teacher, volunteer, committee member, detention supervisor, etc. – but we are very fortunate to have an incredibly supportive group of co-workers who not only lend us a hand but also envelop us in prayer.
Although I am one of the few new teachers with previous teaching experience, there are so many differences between Highlands and schools in the states! First of all, the class sizes are very small – no more than 22 students in each grade. Most of these students have been going to school together since Pre-K, so they are all very close. It almost feels like stepping into a little family rather than stepping into a classroom each morning. Secondly, I am the school’s only high school social studies teacher. This is nice in that it allows me a lot of flexibility and control over my own classes, but it is a big challenge because there are no other history teachers to bounce ideas off of or get advice from. Finally, the ability to bring Biblical principles and the name of Jesus into the classroom is a much-welcomed change! It has already been exciting to see the meaningful discussions that unfold in class, and it has been refreshing to be able to fully and honestly express my beliefs and opinions with my students.
The theme verses for Highlands this year are John 14:12-17. “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”
So many parts of that passage have been so relevant to me this week, and throughout this entire transition process. Jesus is clearly trying to point out the power of prayer, and that has been so evident to us here. Our easy adjustment to the altitude, and even more than that, the sensation of peace that has constantly been with us during this seemingly stressful and turbulent time have proven that prayer works! While this passage is so comforting, it is also challenging. “If you love me, keep my commands.” Is there a more challenging verse in the Bible?! On the mornings after I was up late lesson planning, it is hard for me to keep the Lord’s commands. It doesn’t come naturally in those moments to love my neighbor as myself, let alone love my enemies! Jesus, however, is very clear; if I don’t do those things, in that moment, I am not loving Him. If Jesus stopped there, this passage would be a disheartening and guilt-inducing one indeed. Luckily, the passage doesn’t stop there! Jesus goes on to say He knows we cannot keep His commands on our own, so He has given us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to come alongside us and live with us and in us and give us the grace and the strength to love and obey. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! These theme verses have been running through my mind all week – when I am stressed and tired, or frustrated with technology, or feeling defeated when trying to communicate in Spanish – I draw on the Spirit of Truth. He is comforting, He is forgiving, and He helps me to respond in love.
As we move into week two of the school year and beyond, here are some things we are praying for, and we would appreciate you joining with us. We pray with hope because Jesus has promised that we can ask anything in His name, and He will do it!
- Our school’s director, Todd, had surgery today. Please pray for a quick and painless recovery for him so he can get back to doing what he does best – being Highlands’ fearless leader!
- Praise! Two students gave their lives to Christ this week at the first chapel of the school year! We are so excited to not only spend the year with them, but eternity in heaven with them as well!
- Over 50% of our students are non-Christians, and even more are un-churched. Our deepest prayer is that these kids would come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Please pray for their hearts and minds to be opened to the Gospel in new ways this year! Many have heard about Jesus for years at Highlands, but we pray that something would click in their hearts this year and light a fire for Christ!
- Please pray for our continued health (mental, physical, and spiritual) as we continue to transition and learn how to handle the new schedules and stressors in our lives.