That used to be an entire small loaf of the most delicious, cinnamony banana bread I have ever eaten in my entire life. Now it is just empty plastic ziploc bag. The women who gave it to me have done more than feed me physically over the past few years; (though they have done that as well!) they have been mentors to me.
Mentor number 1, whom I will refer to as Joy since this is the trait that is plainly evident in her life, has been in my life for a while. When she taught my sixth grade math class, she had a different last name, but she still remains the same bubbly, joyful woman.
Mentor number 2, whom I will refer to as Wagon (I’ll explain that in a minute), has been around for less time. She was never a teacher of mine, but she decided -along with Joy last year- to start a Bible study with the girls in our grade. Wagon has been dubbed thus because she is always ready for wherever God wants to pull her. I’ve never met anyone with more of a desire to be pulled wherever God wants to pull them. And He is pulling her, to Germany.
Joy and Wagon have been the source of many a laugh, a thought-provoking statement, a thoughtful compliment, a touching prayer. Every Friday, at lunch, we meet in Wagon’s classroom to talk about godly living, the Bible, and how God is working in our lives, and I always leave full. Like I was the empty ziploc bag before, but now I am full, full of something to share with everyone I come across.
There have been days where I just needed a minute (or thirty) to talk. So I would drop by Joy’s office, and she would always look up from whatever she was doing with a smile and offer me the chair in her office, without the air of psychiatrist or any awkwardness. I could share with her my struggles, my failures, my hopes, my sorrows, and they were always met without judgment, with helpful advice or stories, and an offer to pray, right there and then. She probably had plenty of work to do, and there were probably many times that I kept her from getting things done that she needed to do. Just the memory of those hours spent talking, inside school, outside of school, and in-between, make me smile.
Wagon would invite all of us over to her home, then begin making crêpes, homemade hummus, or some other dish, while we fumbled around the kitchen trying to help. We’d sit and eat for a couple hours, oh, sure I’ll have another crêpe. God has been teaching me… And spend at least ten minutes saying goodbye when the time came, where more promises of prayer were offered (and we had the full knowledge that it would happen).
As I spend my last week in school with these women, I’m feeling nostalgic. And like a little bird getting pushed out of the nest. They told us that they are praying that we’ll have great mentors in college, but I’m afraid that the standard has been set so high that none will measure up.
I was a ziploc bag, a nice one with the ingredients for bread in it, but now I have a loaf of bread. And these remarkable women are the ones who have helped me take what God has given me and bake it into something useful.
Thank you, Joy and Wagon, if you ever read this and can recognize the description of yourself. (I’m sure that won’t be difficult.) Thank you for your hours, your love, your kindness, and your prayers.
Because of you, I have a loaf of bread.