He Hasn’t Forgotten Us

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Teacher, what day is it?” Sreyleng asked excitedly. I already knew what day it was — her birthday! She had told me several weeks before when it would be, and I had kept track. I had a plan, and so, for the moment, I played dumb.

“Huh? It’s Monday!”

“No, teacheeeerrrr! What happens today?” It was time to move on in the lesson, and I delayed answering her question.

A few minutes later, the students were working on another activity in their books. Sreyleng finished early, and after a series of pointed looks, she began pestering me. “What is today, Teacher?” I pretended again not to know. She gave up asking. I think she was losing hope that I remembered her special day.

Whenever we had extra time at the end of class, the students enjoyed playing games. One favorite was Hangman, a classic word-spelling game you may be familiar with. On this day, I made sure we had extra time, and then I picked a couple of students to direct the game, writing the letters in their proper places and completing the hangman when the wrong letters were called. These students came to the front, and after telling them not to say anything, I showed them my computer screen. I had typed the phrase: “Happy Birthday Sreyleng!” They both covered their mouths to keep from laughing. They started leading the game with huge smiles on their faces.

As the blanks started filling with correct letters, Sreyleng started looking more closely at the board where the letters were being written. I distinctly remember the moment she recognized the words being spelled out — for her — and a huge smile spread across her face. Her teacher had not forgotten her birthday.

We all sang “Happy Birthday” to her, and I closed the class with a prayer. We then exited. Standing outside, I noticed that all the students seemed to have left the classroom except Sreyleng. Several minutes later, she still hadn’t come out, so I returned to the classroom. Sreyleng sat still at her desk, a small cluster of girls around her. As they saw me enter, the students declared, “Teacher, Sreyleng cry. Sreyleng happy!” It was true. She was beaming. Her teacher had not forgotten.

Of all the moments during my two years of teaching, that is perhaps the most special to me. I had to say goodbye to Sreyleng and my other students when I returned to America, but I still pray for her often, and recently heard that she and her family attended church for the first time. I pray that someday I will stand beside her, both our faces beaming, as we look up and see our God returning and realize He has not forgotten us.

If you want to help other unreached people realize that God has not forgotten them, please connect with us so we can send you to meet these precious children. Email us at service@afmonline.org or call 800-937-4236.

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