We saw family today…..not our flesh and blood family, but spiritual family. It was so refreshing and we felt so at home with them. Our good friend, Susan, moved to Miami about 7 months ago. Many of you have met Cassy, Susan is Cassy’s mom. Two of Susan’s four children moved down here with her—Manny and Jon. Cassy is still in Philly living with Jason and Christy. She’s going to college and working at Starbucks. We have a long, long history with this family. It was so great to connect with them and see God at work in their lives. Manny is 19, he was one of the seventh graders in my class when I taught at Julia De Burgos Bilingual Elementary School. That is the year I really got to know his family.
Manny was a really smart kid, one of the most intelligent in my class of 34. But this kid would not work, he was lazy. I would hound him over doing his classwork and homework. I’d call Susan all the time, I’d visit their house all the time just to get him to do his work. He just wouldn’t….and he failed. He did summer school and got to go to 8th grade. In 8th grade, Brian spent many an early morning going to Manny(and several other guy’s houses) to wake them up to get them to go to school. Almost all of that clan that he did that with dropped out…..the legacy of the inner city. Manny did start up again in an accelerated school, but dropped out again. He’s now motivated to get his GED, mainly because of this girl he met. He first met her because she’s a manager at a clothing store and she interviewed Manny. He didn’t get the job, but got another one in the mall. He’d stop by to talk to her and they started dating. Manny wasn’t living for God then and this girl just so happened to be a believer. He found out she was going to church and went with her. He’s been back on the path the last two months. He told Brian he wanted me to meet this girl. It is all very sweet to me….because Manny never resented me for that school year and seems to still think highly of me. (I’d say that was the worst year of my life. I had two miscarriages, Brian lost two brothers. I felt like I was going crazy and the whole world was going down with me.)
So, we(with Sam) drove down to Miami and had a sweet little reunion today. We me Paola, Manny’s girlfriend and her mom. They had a cook out for us. The boys were a little crazy without a nap, but the company didn’t care because they love our kids. We then went to the mall where Jon works. It was great to see him too. He’s the one who first started going to UHTC, then Manny followed and several years later Cassy and Kristina followed. This was a family we spent a lot of time with. Susan relayed today how Brian would come over and “lecture” them all the time. One of the times he “lectured” Jon on helping his family out by getting a job, he didn’t like what Brian was saying and bit Brian’s thumb. We had to make a trip to the ER. Kristina and her two boys are moving down this week. We are hoping to get to see them next weekend before we take off. I spent many hours with Kris, and two babies later she’s moving back in with her mom. Susan says she’s going to be tough, I’m praying she will be. It was a blessing to spend the day and reminisce.
Manny gave me some hope about that year. I’ve always thought I would never teach again because I had such a horrific year. I hated who I had become. I just wanted to be a good teacher and care for my students. He communicated how he knew I cared today. He mentioned how this class had gone through 6 teachers/substitutes in 6 weeks. I came in 6 weeks into the school year, changed the desks around and decorated the classroom(something the others hadn’t done) and I stayed with them the whole year. I always get really discouraged whenever I look back on that year of my life and wonder if I had any kind of positive impact in any lives. Today, for the first time in five years, I felt like it was all worth it.
The boys in a jungle of a back yard with palm trees, avocado and mango trees.
This is Susan.