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I was called to do something different, and called to stay

I suppose I learned by example from my parents — always being active in my church. Whatever talents the Lord has given me, I’ve offered to Him. Teaching is one of the areas where I’ve always felt most comfortable. In fact, I have to stretch my memory to recall a time I haven’t been a “teacher.”

When Othel and I moved to Brandon and finally found a church-fit, I spent several months as a student and not behind the lectern. Then came a request to substitute-teach adults. It was novel standing in front of strangers, but I was at home in my teaching source. As a sub, I met new classes and made new friends — a good thing.

Last year a request for preschool teachers was posted in the bulletin — 4- and 5-year-olds needed a teacher. I could continue as a substitute for adults, following a transient style teaching or commit to an every Sunday role — stay with the same group formant. The Lord seemed to be nudging me to a new role in the preschool department.

My goody bag was packed and my lesson prepared for my first meeting with the large group. I’m not sure what I was expecting but ignoring me and rushing to the toy corner when they arrived wasn’t one of my expectations. They were loud (no surprise), full of energy (expected), arrived in shifts that usually ran late (disappointing), and eager to make something at the craft table (challenging).

I soon found out that every preschooler was different. They fell into categories of quiet, talkative, non-stop talkative, medicated, obstinate, very bright, not as bright, happy and somber, but all needed early memories of fun-filled, Jesus-centered Sunday School times.

Within 10 minutes I was questioning my quick response to the bulletin request. Twenty minutes after that I was formulating my resignation in my mind. Surely I had missed God’s will in this decision. Just as I lifted “Little B” from off the table and asked “Big B” to please refrain from tossing the stuffed animal and asked my assistant how long before the “cavalry” arrived, “Little E” began tugging at my skirt. Then she grasped me around my waist and said, “Please stay; don’t leave.”

It was such a simple gesture, but it sealed my commitment as I scrapped my resignation excuses. “Little E” and I went to the book shelf, and we chose a Bible story. She pulled her chair to touch mine and leaned into my lap. It was the beginning of a special bond. She needed me but not half as much as I needed her.

The year passed quickly, and we all adjusted to each other — and all of us learned. This month the preschool group lined up for Bible presentations as a traditional step of passage into the elementary department. Our future leaders marched across the stage — all with Gospel seeds planted in their young hearts. I praised God for them and that I had the blessed opportunity to be a seed sower.

Letters to Camille Anding can be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS, 39602, or e-mailed to camille@datalane.net.