October 11-14, 1970
Our J.O.Y. Sunday school class was growing. Apparently word was getting around that we had lively discussions, and curiosity was bringing people in.
This week Martin shook things up again with his debating. Nate was a good debater, too, having been the captain of his high school team, and I found myself keeping score — first in my head and eventually on paper.
The class was never dull, and Pastor Ralph made sure to faithfully interject Scripture. But something about the argumentative mood didn’t seem right for Sunday school. After class Nate said, “I want to talk to Ralph for a minute, OK?”
As we drove home, he told me he and Ralph had concluded that what Martin really needed was loving acceptance, not counter-arguments. Apparently he wasn’t a Christian, and Ralph was concerned he not be driven away from the church by verbal sparring. He hoped Nate and the others would work to keep things calmer. No more trying to “win.”
I felt like a bratty kid in the car when I said, “Yes, but he started it!”
Gradually, though, I came to understand the situation as Ralph (and Nate) did, and we decided to act better in class – and even pray for Martin when we thought of it. We were living and learning.
On Monday, Columbus Day, I was disappointed not to be heading back to my Danville kids, but we had the day off. After missing Friday with poison sumac, I was looking better and wanted to explain my absence, proving it with the leftover rash. My students would love the whole story.
When Tuesday finally came and I did return, they fawned over me like I was a celebrity, each talking over the others to share their weekend stories. One little girl jumped up and down saying, “I feel good today, because mommy said I don’t have to wear an undershirt anymore!” As she was pulling her dress up to show us, we quickly moved to the next story.
“What ‘s that?” I said.
“You plant a whole bunch in a little pile, and that will get you an apple tree!”
The girl next to him nodded. “I already know that,” she said, “because I did it once.”
Another boy said, “I saw where my dad works.”
“What does he do?” I said.
“The dirty work.”
To add to the gaiety of our reunion, I’d brought Nate’s and my Super 8 movie camera to school, a wedding gift from Mary and Bevin. During recess we created a mountain of leaves, and I recorded the kids jumping and leaping into the pile.
Both the morning and afternoon groups starred in their own movie, and I told them that once it was developed, we’d get permission to show it on the big Cannon School screen.
Their great delight was also mine. Five year olds were just the best.
Jesus prayed, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth …you have hidden things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children… This is what you were pleased to do.” (Luke 10:21)