A small flame

A small flame

Down Memory Lane - Seventh & Eighth Grade

This is the ninth post in a series of 12 posts scheduled by Mommy's Piggy Tales, which encourages women to record stories from their childhood for future generations to enjoy.

Ministry Opportunities

When I was 13, my family drove a couple of hours up the coast every other weekend to a small village church. My Mom taught a literacy class to the women there who wanted to know how to read well enough to be able to read their Bibles. During their class time, Dad would meet with the men for a time of Bible teaching. The kiddos would just hang out and play during the meetings. It occurred to me that I could have a class time for the kids, and my parents agreed with me that I was ready to teach this kind of class. And that's how I started to teach.

my first children's class

From the time I was 13 until the time I left for college at the age of 18, I taught many classes in villages around PNG; lots of little kiddos in grass huts and under trees. In my largest class, a week-long family camp in Simbai when I was 14, I had 100 children! They were so very well behaved - I had no discipline issues the entire week. Don't think me racist if I say they were awed into compliance by my white skin; it's the truth ;o)

I have taught a lot of children's classes in the United States in the years since I left PNG, but none were so large - or so easily handled - as that huge class in Simbai.


My Dad often had New Guinean men travel with him on his trips to village churches. They provided fellowship for him and I'm sure it was a good training for them. Besides that, it was just safer for Dad to not travel alone. One of these young men, Gabie, became very close to our family. He spent a lot of time with us - often staying in our home for weeks at a time, playing soccer with us kiddos in our big yard, doing projects around the house for my parents. . . We came to think of him an older brother.

When I was in 7th grade, Gabie married a sweet, soft-spoken girl named Rebekah. We were happy to welcome her into our family, and excited when they were expecting their first child.

In PNG people rarely name their own children. Babies are named by relatives and friends - sometimes more than once! Growing up, I knew one man who made a point of being the first to the hospital after his friends' wives gave birth so that he could name the baby before anybody else got there.

Gabie and Rebekah's baby was due half-way through my 8th grade year. One day, they asked me if I would name the baby when it arrived. I was so honored . . . and a bit nervous! Choosing the name this little person would live with for the rest of his or her life was a huge responsibility. I spent the next weeks pouring over lists of names and their meanings trying to find the perfect one.

The baby arrived on the day after Christmas - a boy! It was a good thing, really, that the baby was a boy since I'd been unable to decide on a girl's name. As soon as possible, our family went up the road to the hospital to meet the him, and I proudly gave my nephew his new name - Daniel. Gabie was thrilled with the name, and Rebekah was pleased too, in her own quiet way.

Daniel shortly before I left PNG for college

when I visited PNG in late 1998

My Mom sent me this in 2006.

Rebekah with all her kiddos. Daniel is on the far left.

Daniel will turn 20 this year on the day after Christmas. That's hard to believe! Since my parents no longer live in New Guinea, I have lost contact with him and his family, but I still think about them often. Happy Birthday, Daniel, from Auntie Rachel!

the rest of the story . . . .

I fell in love with the name Daniel that Christmas and I decided right then that someday, when I was a mommy, I would give the name to my own son. Fourteen years later my son, Daniel, was born.



Zempel Family said...

How cool to think that someday, even if not here on earth, you will hopefully be reunited with your nephew. What a cool story!

And if you ever figure out how to keep 100 kids interested in your lesson, please give me that info. I can't seem to keep my 10+ SS kids interested!

scrapbookeasy said...

I always love your stories Rachel. They are so full of richness and experience. Thank you, always, for sharing!

ANS said...

nice memories. beautifully written :-)
group 1

Beth (Elizabeth) LaMie said...

That was an amazing experience to teach 100 children at such a young age. Good for you.