Moving Forward

I want to first thank everyone who has left comments on this blog page and on the online Guest Book.  I so appreciate the uplifting words for me personally from family and friends, and the wonderful insight and thoughtful words about my mother; how much fun you all had together in High School and how you felt towards her.  I’m glad we all got to share in her life. I had a strong and wonderful mother.

Moving forward, all the teachers and the teacher’s assistants got the opportunity a few weeks ago to visit the Elementary school which is located on Kwajalein. The Yokwe Yuk Women’s Club, which is located on Kwajalein, made all the arrangements. Since the beginning of Gem School, they have been supportive in many ways.  The school on Kwaj is run by the U.S. and the standards are very high.  It was such a great experience to get to talk with the principal, the teachers, and see all the different techniques that they used when teaching or dealing with behavior.  We got good online resources as well.  Everyone received abundant knowledge and we were privileged to be able to go.  It was only the second time the school has invited teachers from around the Marshall Islands to come to their classrooms.  We were the only ones from Ebeye. There was another small group from Roi Namur which is considered an outer island.  The teachers there have no running water, they bathe out of a bucket. We all got to eat at the Colonel’s home on Kwajalein – something I was told rarely happens.  Colonel Clarke was on one of the outer islands so we didn’t get to meet him.  We did meet his wife who was a wonderful hostess.  And the food was sooooo good.  I don’t remember the chefs’ names but we had bbq chicken tenderloins, lemon chicken, green salad with a tangy dressing, a yummy rice pilaf and buttery bread…(sigh, I miss food!)  Anyway, the whole front of the Colonel’s house had ocean view (the Pacific) and it was stunning, with windows stretching the full length of the house.  It was a refreshing day to spend with like-minded people, and good food along with it.

My class is learning how to tell time, multiplication and cursive writing this semester.  They love cursive writing!  ‘Slant your letters’ I tell them.  Slant. They’re quick learners though, amen!  And they find their way into your heart before you know it.  If I’m working with one of them, then another will inevitably say (with a pout I might add),“Ms. Ash-a-leeey, what about meee?”

With a smile, as my heart kind-of wells up, I endearingly say, “What about you Taylor?” and promptly turn my attention on him.  So much need, so few willing vessels that God has to choose from.  But His work in this earth will get done.  His kingdom will advance.  There is no stopping it.  Opposition, persecution, abasement; they cannot stand up to the only force that has been described as ‘never failing’.  Love is the force that never fails.

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Jeannine Gatewood November 19, 1942 – January 4, 2010

Jeannine Gatewood.  Yes, I’m proud to say, my mother, was one of the funniest people I know.  When she wasn’t worried about the weather, or why the mailman was five minutes late or why the politicians on CNN couldn’t get their acts together then she was laughing, joking and just having a good time.  She always seemed to have a witty comment at just the right time to crack everyone up.

She would sometimes get so worried about the weather that she would just pray all the rain away…and then inevitably, we’d end up in a drought and I’d have to talk to her about it, “Now mom, we’ve got to have rain!”  Finally she’d give in, stop praying for the storms to go away and then it would rain.

My mother was also one of the strongest people I’ve ever known.  The inner depths of her courage and her strength were known only to her and Jesus.  No one, not even myself, could ever really fully comprehend how hard it was for her to grasp the concept of living.  I remember how this was brought to such acute clarity for me when she once told me,
“Ashley, I’ve learned that whenever I can’t manage what is going on around me, however trivial it may seem to most people, I always say out loud to myself ‘I can count on Jesus and I can count on Jeannine’ and I always know it will work out.”
For that moment, I understood, however vaguely, just how determined she was to live a normal life.

I thank God that she is free of her worrying and all her earthly shackles!  She is now in the presence of Jesus, the Lover of her soul and I couldn’t be more happy for her.  In fact, it is the source of my joy during this time.  And knowing that we are not separated from her, if you as an individual know Christ as your Savior, and will be reunited with her again.  It’s hard to be sad for someone who is now free.  And I thank God for her life, for her laughter and for her determined strength and courage to live life and be the best person she could be.  And above all, I thank Jesus who came into her life and saved her, helped her and loved her with the love that only He can give – that Fatherly love.

Mom told me once that she wanted everyone to have a big party instead of a funeral!  That was just her heart and attitude about things.  One of the funniest things she ever said about it was when we were discussing if she wanted a visitation and she emphatically said “Ash, whatever you do, if it’s open and people can see me, make sure my eyebrows are on straight!!”

I always joked with her, “Now when you get to heaven, go check out what my mansion looks like up there” and we would laugh.  So she’s walking on those streets of gold, free to laugh, free to live, free to be Jeannine.

I love you Mom.

Ashley Gatewood

Back to School 2010

Today was our first day of school and it was good.  The kids were refreshed from all the Christmas activities and eager to learn.  I took about forty minutes at the beginning of class to pray for each one individually.  They love prayer!  If Ms. Ashley forgets to pray over them and the noon time ‘bell’ is about to ring, one of them will come over and whisper, ‘prayer Ms. Ashley’.  Oh yes!  I say, then they all stop everything they are doing (about the only time they are all still at once) and they extend their hands upward and I pray a blessing over them complete with angels surrounding and protecting them.  Then they yell out ‘bye Ms. Ashley!’ with big smiles on their faces.  It’s so cute.

God has really demonstrated His power over all things in that class.  Twice now we have been in class and someone has started a trash fire in the lot behind the school.  There is also the dump that is really close to our campus and they burn off trash everyday.  The wind almost always blows from East to West, coming off that Pacific Ocean, and this takes the smoke out over the lagoon.  But the fire was in the lot behind us so there was a steady stream of black smoke trailing right through our classroom windows.  It’s horrible too; I mean they don’t just burn wood and paper.  They burn computer parts, batteries, plastic, metal, rubber electronics, Styrofoam; really nasty stuff!

So the first day this happened, I put up with it for about five minutes and then finally I said, ’everybody put your pencils down’.  I turned toward the windows and declared the smoke to blow away from our classroom – anywhere but through the classroom.  In about ten minutes, I looked out the window and said ’hey, did you notice there‘s no more smoke coming into the classroom?’  It was blowing towards the south. They were all a little amazed about it.  We took a moment to praise Him for it.  Here’s the interesting part, the smoke from the dump, at the end of the island was still blowing East to West.  :)  God is too awesome.
The second time it happened, I had the kids stand up and repeat the prayer with me.  And for the second time, the winds changed.  This time, they were beginning to catch on.  Prayer is powerful!
In two weeks, we will be wrapping up our second quarter.  This month we also have prayer every morning from 4am to 7am.  And for this week we will be having church every night.  Whew!  Hello 2010!!  In Jesus name, amen.