Experiencing ‘Firsts' with the Students at TransformNation
I want to tell you a story about our second class of students at TransformNation, our signature city-based teacher and leadership training program. Some of our students had come to TransformNation from very rural places: think “I grew up hunting my own meat”; or, “It takes me 20 hours of walking through the jungle to get to a place with cell phone reception” kind of rural. Life in a city, the one they’d be at for the next four years, was a big, big change.
As dorm parents, my wife and I had the privilege of walking through life with these students. Daily, it afforded tremendous opportunities for discipleship. It also meant, for them, and for us many “firsts.”
Here are a few memories:
It was a couple of months in for Tirta. He got appendicitis, so we took him to the hospital and cared for him through his surgery and recovery. It was sitting at his bedside that I learned it was his first experience with a hospital. It was also the first he’d heard of appendicitis. He was grateful for the medical care and that the rupture had not happened while in the remote jungle village that had been his home.
I sometimes had other TransformNation students come with me to visit Tirta. On the drive over to the hospital one day, Harta, another one of our new students, became very excited. He pointed out of the window towards a moving object: a train. It was the first he’d ever seen.
On another occasion, I was spending time mentoring Harta. I encouraged him to make time for daily quiet with the Lord; something beyond the morning and night devotions we had as a dorm community. In a follow-up meeting, he told me that he had started waking up at 4 AM instead of his usual 5 AM. He’d done so to have time alone with God in the Word and in prayer. How incredible to work with students so open to someone speaking into their lives!
It was special to experience new things for the first time with these students. It was so fun to watch the amazement and joy on their faces the first time they walked into a hotel for a retreat or tried a new kind of food. However, I appreciated, even more, the opportunity to mentor them, to play a part in preparing them for a life of service to God and others, and to be challenged by their faithfulness and dedication.