Confession #138: First Day of School Letter
To my Emmaus friends on your first day of school:
This morning you will put on your newly pressed uniforms. Never been worn. Hand stitched. Made just for you. Your dress shoes will be new to touch the dirt roads you will walk. Never again will they look this clean. Your backpacks are filled with books not yet read, pencils not yet sharpened, knowledge not yet learned.
Today is filled with the new. A new year. A new start. A new chance to take new steps forward.
For three of you, today is the first day of the last. Lord willing, this year you will finish secondary school, something only a handful of your neighbors accomplish. This year, you will define the odds, rise above. You three have worked so hard to get to this day and I am so proud of you. I know this year will be challenging. The education system here in Haiti is tough. I know some days you will have doubts. I can’t do this you will think. But you can. You will. Of this I am confident.
For some of you, this year marks a season of change. You are moving on into professional schools and university classrooms, taking the next steps into your futures. Next steps are always scary. Change is risky. Making big people decisions for your life (like what career you will choose) is difficult. But know that you are not alone. With every step you take, know that I am right behind you, cheering you on. This is what you’ve been working for, planning for. You are going to do great!
But no matter what classroom you will be sitting in tomorrow- driving school, nursing school, math class, or Biology- there are three things I want you to remember:
- Don’t take this blessing lightly. In a country where education is not free and poverty is majority, you are blessed to be sitting in a desk. So many in your own neighborhood will never get the opportunity you have been given today. Be thankful. Even when it gets difficult, be thankful. And girls, in so many countries around the world, girls do not get to go to school. But you do. Freely. Please never take that blessing lightly. God has chosen to give each one of you the gift of education. Take His gift, be thankful, and realize everyday when you put on your uniform and slip on your slick, black shoes, you are blessed. So incredibly blessed.
- Be the light. You are a child of God. You belong to the Creator- the one who is full of grace, mercy, peace, kindness, and love. In your classrooms, you will have friends who doubt your God. You will have teachers who don’t speak the truth. Temptations will be all around you. The father of lies will roam your hallways. Be on guard. Be a witness in your school. Stand out. Be different. When others are fighting, be peaceful. When others are mean, be love. When others tell you there is no way your God can be real, stand firm and proclaim truth. In your schools, be the light.
- Remember the greater purpose. All of you have goals. Since you moved to Emmaus House we have been working on them- tailoring them after your unique talents, cultivating them into your everyday lives, making straight the paths for your future. School is just the beginning for many of you. It is a stepping-stone. It is the precursor to professional schools, university degrees, dream careers, independence, and the chance to give back to this country you call home. I know some days in the classroom will seem mundane, but you don’t have room to slack. Your future is on the line. Give this year your all. Go the extra mile. When you teacher says read two pages, read four. When Jonathan tells you to study for two hours, study for four. This year, don’t aim for just passing. Aim for doing your personal best. All excuses aside. You have a greater purpose.
We’ve had a great summer together. We’ve been busy. And I have watched all of your grow. But the season is changing and it’s time to return to your classrooms. I am so proud of all of you. Really. I can’t say that enough. You all inspire me. So tomorrow, wear your uniforms proudly. Say thanks to God. Commit your work to the Lord. And SHINE!
I love you all. See you after school.