For the last 2 weeks of July, I worked as a teacher at an English school called Honeybee near my home. The school was doing a special Summer School program called “Sonshine Kids,” which was open to more kids and more Bible-focused then the regular school session. We ended up having 40 kids, which was a bit tough considering how tiny the building is and how few teachers there were, but despite some stress and exhaustion the classes went pretty well each day. Aaron and I were in charge of ten students, who were around 8 years old. Our theme this year was the fruits of the spirit, and it was incredible to see both the lessons the kids were learning, and the less obvious, but still powerful lessons the teachers were stepping into without realizing it. Each day was not only a chance to share a spiritual principle with Japanese students while trying to teach them English, but it was also a time to radiate love to these kids even in trying situations, and apply those principles (love, joy, peace, patience...) to my own life.
When you have to take Biblical themes and simplify them enough to give a talk about them to small children, the simplicity is often just the kick in the pants we need to set our lives back into the right direction. These kids were loud, and energetic, and sometimes disobedient, but I loved them so much. They would do funny little rebellious things, and I would try not to laugh, because it would only encourage them to break the rules, but I couldn't help smiling, even when they hung off their chairs, cut out the wrong shapes for the projects, or ran in circles instead of walking in a neat line down the street.
One of the days was an art day, and each of the kids was given a bar of soap and tools and told to sculpt the soap into something, copying pictures given to them. I has to laugh when only 2 kids actually tried to copy the pictures of faces given. Makoto made the Tokyo Sky-tree, a recently built landmark that is the tallest tower in the world. Maika made a guinea pig, while her sister Momoka made a camera and walked around pretending to take pictures. One girl made an otter, but the head fell off so she tried to mash another one on. Yuuki was making a seal, but as he chipped away at it, it morphed into a self-portrait, which then morphed into a super hero. I loved seeing each of their personalities come out in the projects, walks, interactions, and lessons we did, especially since they are just at the age when their personalities and unique talents start to blossom.
The teachers and staff members at Honeybee were wonderful to work with, and so supportive of me as a rookie. At the end of each day, I would say goodbye to each of the teachers and walk down the long narrow stairs to my bike to go home and collapse with a sore throat and brain. I would catch myself thinking “English please” or “Let's sit down now” when with my family in the evenings. Everyday we dealt with some perpetual criers, some projectile vomitters, some incapable of sitting stillers, and some incessant gigglers, but they were wonderfully bright and eager kids, and my heart was always warmed by the talking, singing and laughing, no matter how loud.