A Little trip…..A lot of Hope

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.

Manny, me, Brian, Jon and Susan

(Don’t have time to redo this one)  This is me and Paola.  Really great girl.

Sam, Brian and Manny

Manny is a great photographer—in 7th grade he had his photographs exhibited in an art gallery and sold some. 
He took several of us today.  Fun to have some of just me and Brian.

6 thoughts on “A Little trip…..A lot of Hope”

  1. I love that last picture of you and Brian- it’s really cute.  What an awesome day for you.  I’m happy for you that you have this feeling now that teaching that difficult year was worth it.  I bet you made a huge impact on a lot of your students that year.

  2. Okay, the story of finding out that that year was worth something made me cry. What a really great time of being with people and seeing the impact you had on them.  I love hearing your stories of your time in Philly.  You guys are awesome.

  3. Wow.  I got a bit teary myself.  I’m sure that was an amazingly wonderful day.  You ARE an wonderful teacher and you never give up.  It’s true that you don’t have a classroom of kids now, but you’ve got three boys that will be telling you later how much they knew you cared.  

  4. What an absolutely wonderful day!   It really sounded and looked like a great visit and was so fun to see everyone in the pictures.  You really are a PHENOMENAL teacher–I remember my heart breaking for you so much that year.  I’m so glad you could have a little taste yesterday of the impact you’ve had on the Avilas and so many others…God’s used you guys greatly in so many lives already and I can’t wait to hear how He’s going to use you in Argentina=)  Thanks for sharing your heart.

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