Teachers do get it pretty good ... sometimes. I have just spent the last week in beautiful Queenstown, New Zealand.
Now the fact I was one of four teachers in control of 36 grade 11 and 12 students may cause some of you to shudder. To spend five of those days skiing and snowboarding at Cardrona, Coronet Peak, and the Remarkables may lessen the 'shudder factor' somewhat. We shopped. We dined. We experienced the Shotover Jet, Maori culture and struggled through copious amounts of fine coffee, all topped off on our last day with a 'Mr Big Stuff' hamburger from Fergburger.
A couple of students had to visit the medical centre, but nothing major to really be concerned about.
My wife's week...
Day/Night 1: an Aussie great, the huntsman spider, decided to plant itself in kitchen the evening I left. One of Belinda's greatest fears: spiders. Our eldest son came to the rescue of his mum after being dragged out of bed. Cold showers for everyone as the gas had run out too.
Day/Night 2: Our eldest son develops fevers. He is burning up. This lasts for three days. The fevers cause him to faint, feel dizzy and in the middle of the night, vomit.
Day/Night 3: Eldest son looked after by grandparents. First day of school for everyone else in the family. Belinda has a restless night of sleep thanks to the scratching noises in the roof and then in the wall cavities behind our bed. The mice had returned!
Day/Night 4: Belinda finds mouse droppings in the kitchen cupboard near the bin. One of Belinda's greatest fears: mice.
Day/Night 5: Belinda takes our son to the doctor. The doctor is unsure what is happening. The doctor considers sending him to hospital, but decides to jab him with antibiotics first.
Day/Night 6: Eldest son getting better but wants mum so Belinda has to take a day off work. Dinner at the soccer club down the road becomes Maccas because there is no pasta night that night. Belinda still not sleeping knowing that the pesky mouse has still not been caught.
Day/Night 7: I let Belinda know I might not be home because at the check in at Queenstown airport we are told that as it has started to snow and the wind has picked up, the pilot on the incoming flight may not be able to land. Belinda informs me that the mouse has finally been caught in the trap. She sends me a picture. No one in the house wants to touch it or dispose of it. It will be waiting for me when or if I get home.
My role as a father and husband can easily be questioned over the events surrounding my family in the past week. What were my obligations to my students, my colleagues and my job? More importantly, what were the obligations to my wife and my sons? Belinda and I discussed the possibility of me leaving New Zealand and flying home if my eldest son was taken to hospital.
I slept very little. I was tired and wreckedâbut I was having the time of my life. I prayed with my colleagues. They supported and encouraged me.
She slept little. She was tired and wreckedâall while I was having the time of my life.
Battles are waged every day in our lives. Many times things can appear out of control and battles arise that can take our focus off God. Sometimes we forge ahead, do what we have to do, and not really see that sometimes these are actually spiritual battles. As a result, we do it in our own strength first and then turn to God in prayer.
This week away has made me realise that even though I was having a fantastic time in New Zealand, and I was responsible for these students, I was still responsible for my family and needed to ensure they were covered with prayer.
Being in another country meant that I could not physically help my family, who were having a tough time, but I could ask God to be their protection, support and strength.
When I returned Belinda was not as frazzled as I thought she might have been. She said she had incredible support and encouragement from my parents, Bible study life group family and friends.
God had looked after my family, and I know He was always there 'filling in the gaps' in my absence. He did this by putting people around my wife to help her through an annoying and frustrating week. She was supported through the statement 'I'm praying for you', but also got practical support and assistance which made the week much easier to handle.
It is nearly safe for me to show her the photos of my trip.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin's archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html