Deans List.

I can’t remember the last time I have ever received straight A’s on my report card. In fact, do you still call them report cards in college?

As most of you know, this past January I returned to college for my second attempt at it. Not because I didn’t finish the first time, but because I wanted to become a high school math teacher. Well I got my final grades from my first semester and they were all A’s!!! Apparently that means I’m now on the deans list?

My whole goal for posting this is not to make myself look good, but just to share with you that school this time around has a completely different purpose. Not only am I in a different “stage” of my life, as I’m now married, but this time’s I’m much more focused.

Since my freshman year in college (the first time) I’ve had a heart for high school students, and really all kids for that matter. I desire each and every kid that I meet to succeed in life. I want them to seek and find their passions and pursue them with all of their heart. I want them to find jobs and wives that they’ll love each and every day coming home. And ultimately I want them to find out who Jesus is and who He calls them to be and how they can live that out on a daily basis.

So this time around in school, it’s not so much about my grades or the classes I’m taking, but how this education will help me to impact lives of high school students once I’m finished.

There’s a young gentleman in our church who’s name I will not share with you, but we can call him “J”. “J” comes from a family where his parents are divorced and he lives with his grandmother and father and he doesn’t seem to have that much money, but he loves coming to church every weekend and always has a joyous demeanor about him. Susan came up to me about mid-semester and told me that I’m going back to school, so that one day, “J” will be in my classroom and I can have an impact on his life.

This is why I’m going back to school.

This past week I started my new job at a place called Mathnasium. On my first day, a car pulled up to the building and a young gentleman stepped out of the back seat, and slammed the door shut. He came into the building and went to the back of the room and found a seat and put on his headphones. I let him sit there for a couple minutes, then walked over to him and when I got close to him, he said, “Don’t look at my paper!” To which I replied, “Hi, my name’s Matt,” and reached out my hand and gave him a handshake. At first this kinda caught him off guard, but then I began to ask him which school he attended and what sports he played and then I said, “If you need help, let me know.” As I turned to walk away, he said, “Can you give me some help?” We then spent the next hour going over some of his homework and getting to know each other a little better.

I know that God has given me some amazing gifts to reach young people and meet them where they are and I can’t wait to be able to become a teacher on a full time basis.

Now I just have to keep getting those A’s!

My Africa Recap

First off, I can’t thank everyone enough who gave to my trip, which allowed me to go.

I’ve been back for about 2 weeks now and I am still dealing with some left over jet lag. I’m sure it’s because my trip was so short, but with finals this week, I’m going to need all the sleep I can get.

Before leaving for Africa, I sent an e-mail to a couple of my close friends and asked them to be praying for me, as I’ve grown a little anxiety for flying and I was about to jump on a plane to Africa and back home. Some people may have thought I was crazy, but I know there were a lot of people praying for me, and I did not get sick at all on any of the flights!

The week was jam packed with 3 sessions of worship per day, 2 sessions of speaking by a Pastor from South Africa, and 1 session a day leading worship for the kids. There was also some free time for soccer or volleyball or a nice nap for those who needed it.

The Pastor spoke on a wide variety of Scriptures, but his overall message was about finding strength in the Lord. Some of the missionaries there were burnt out of constantly giving to others and not taking time to focus on themselves.

One of the biggest realizations about the trip actually hit me before I even left. One day while reading through the Scriptures, it hit me that these Scriptures take on a whole different meaning for these missionaries than they do for me. For instance, the Pastor spoke on Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Now for me, circumstances right now mean living in a house with air conditioning, warm water, a nice bed, and an amazing wife. For some of these missionaries it includes over 100 degree days, taking showers in a stream and drinking water that is barely purified, a bed made of leaves and maybe sometimes just sleeping on a thin mat on the floor, and most of the missionaries there were single.

One of the songs we played is called “Mighty To Save.” The lyrics go, “My Savior, He can move the mountains, My God is Mighty to save.” I’ve always read that Scripture in the Gospels about having faith like a mustard seed, and being able to tell the mountain to move and it would move, but I’ve never had an experience like that before. And here I am sitting in front of these missionaries who shared with us testimonies of having malaria, and typhoid, and being put in jail for 2 weeks and doing nothing but singing praises to God with joy.

This trip taught me a lot about what it means to find strength in the Lord and what it means to be content in my circumstances and know that I now have friends who spend each and every day giving their lives for the Gospel to reach the people of Sudan.

On a side note, I ran into two high school teachers from America on the trip. One is a former teacher who is now teaching at a seminary in Africa, and the other is currently a history teacher in California. Both of them had some great advice on preparing myself before I go into teaching. One of them really struggled with getting along with the other teachers, and discipline in the classroom, and students cheating on his tests, and being accused of various things because he wouldn’t let a girl play on the softball team. And the other let me know a little bit about the public school system with it’s flaws and it’s qualities. Both of these gentlemen really helped me to prepare myself a little better for my next profession.