Monday, January 7, 2013

I took his breakfast in for him to eat as much as he could.
When Eli was in Memphis in December we had a flurry of appointments and testing that was all part of the “research” part of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Two long appointments were psychological testing to see where a boy his age on that protocol is intellectually. He tested average for everything but math, where he was behind. There was nothing surprising there except that he wasn’t behind on everything. The counselor, having spent several hours with him, was concerned that he would get left behind at school if special attention was paid to him because he was quiet. When I told her that we attend a private school, she frowned. “Well, that concerns me because they are not required by the state to do anything extra to help him,” she said. And, to be fair to her, this is someone that I liked. She was nice, I enjoyed talking to her, and she was always glad to answer as many questions as I had about anything, really. She made a special effort to have Eli on her schedule, was genuine in her concern for him, and had experience on which to base her opinion. But, I gave a half-grin, and thought to myself, “Well, you don’t know our school,” but not wanting to offend her or appear to disregard her experience which probably did lend itself to that line of thinking, I just said, “Well, I really think they will help us with whatever they can.” She continued to stress that “they have no incentive or requirement.” And, she is right; Athens Bible School is not required to make any special effort. But, they do have incentive and a reason. They love Eli and they want him to heal completely so that he is not just in his rightful place at home, but in his rightful place at his school. The school is participating in a program from Chapter 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, something of the government that is designed to help students that have a disadvantage to learning. There is a teacher assigned to that job, those students make up her “class”. A friend and I were talking with her today (do I have to keep saying “a friend?” You all know that that is usually Melissa, right?), about Eli coming back for his first day today. Melissa said something to Mrs. Raley like “Well, that’s great that they’ve got that, and Eli will get to be in it.” Mrs. Raley said “Well, it is, but I wanted him. I wanted him with me.” And, his teacher Mrs. Adams and his tutor, Mrs. Leatha met today on their own time to talk about the work he had done with her during his tutoring sessions. I couldn’t help but think about that St. Jude counselor and be sad for the experiences that she had witnessed and the kids that were involved. And these women are not doing this because they love me, although I have known them many years. And it’s not only because they love Eli. It’s in part because there has been an injustice inflicted by evil, and good people will not have it. People along this journey are standing by, waiting their turn, to put on their armor to fight this evil with their own weapons. These are true teachers, people with a teaching spirit and soul that want to see a student grow  and beat his offender. Sitting in chapel today, Mr. Graham finished his talk and said he wanted to say a special prayer because “somebody is back at school today.” Then he said, “Does anybody know who that is?” Watching from the back, a sea of hands shot in the air and there couldn’t have been more than handful that was not raised. He is their brother, and his chair has been empty. They have been diligently working to bring him back as they prayed, wrote cards, and held fund-raisers. They have been eager to see the fruits of their labor, and God is answering those little prayers and strengthening their armor as they grow into faithful workers for Christ. Eli had a great day at school. He is well taken care of and we are blessed. I do not, however, want to appear na├»ve. This was a personal experience and I do realize that ABS is not perfect or a great fit for everyone. It is not immune from common school problems that all institutions face today. But, I believe that genuine effort is made for a successful education of students academically and spiritually. Eli did have a good day, but we are going to have issues with eating and drinking, but he seemed to hear fine, keep up with instructions, and respond well to his friends. He has no medications and no restrictions beyond his own comfort of physical participation. It is truly a comforting sight to see God’s answered prayers. Please, remember Ryan. He has slipped in and out of a comma today, but is now awake and seems to be stable in Pediatric ICU. Please, remember Thomas as he fights seizure activity that is new. Hopefully, he will continue to improve, answers will come, and they will try to extubate him tomorrow. Please, remember Brittany as she faces her difficulties with the spread of her cancer. Also, on Wednesday, Kayla, is headed to St. Jude from California, I think, to have her scans, so remember her as she travels such a long way and that she continues to be NED. I’ve added many new names to the prayer page. There are no details because of privacy, but God will know.
I'm sharing a short clip of Eli's entrance into his classroom. Notice how he uses his sleeve to open the door knob, a trick he has learned to keep his hands clean. Then notice how he distracts himself with his drink, taking a sip, then looking at it, as he buddies show him some affection. In the background, a little boy can be heard  yelling "Give him some space, guys!" I think they have been schooled on the "don't get Eli sick" theme. They are sweet.

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