Written by: Marierose Hoang
“With God by my side, I do not need to worry about the long winding road ahead” this refrain of Lê Quốc’s song Tình Chúa Yêu Con kept resonating in my mind during my entire summer journey to Danang, Vietnam. There was no better way to celebrate my 60th birthday than being blessed with the opportunity to breathe the same air for 20 days with the nuns of St Paul de Chartres Congregation at Thanh Tam Center of Special Education, a treatment and education school for 250+ special needs children.
After spending 2 months (Fall 2014) learning about Montessori Education at my school, Children’s House Montessori School in Reston, VA, Sister Anna Tuyet Lan, Director of the Center had become passionate about it and invited me to come to Danang to share my experiences as a Montessori teacher to her staff.
The Montessori education is a philosophy, a way of living and not just a mere educational method. It is parallel with my faith. Other than teaching the children to be independent, orderly, coordinated and concentrated, along with the emphasis on peace education, the focus is how to become a helpful person to the world, to worship truth and compassion rather than material success.
However, God had a bigger plan for me. A charitable organization, Companions in Grace based in California, upon learning about my endeavor, provided sponsorship for a few nuns from 7 other congregations all around Vietnam to come and attend. Is it His intention to gather us all in unity to share in an education ideology based on virtues, peace and respect for the future children of Vietnam? Apprehension and worry started seeping in. I, a mere Montessori teacher from a small school, would now have to deliver a Montessori training program to 30 nuns and teachers: Educating myself about a year long program in only 10 days of training!
I realized that it was God’s guidance to me: “Don’t worry much, just go and start planting the seeds.” The 10 days of training were filled with God’s grace, joy, love and companionship. I started each day with a prayer filled of delighted anticipation to share my passion about Montessori education and I looked forward to what would unfold during the day. I had a training schedule to abide to, but I did not worry much about what to say or deliver because I was surely guided by the Holy Spirit throughout the entire time. I ended each day with a prayer filled of gratitude. I felt God’s presence in each person, whether she is a nun or a teacher. Love shone on everyone’s face. Happiness was all around and above all, God was really with us.
I ended my journey spending time in the classroom with 20+ hearing impaired children and their teachers. I can’t help but
be proud of this very first Montessori class at Thanh Tam Center of Special Education. The result was far more than expected. The classroom was so peaceful: each child was in total concentration with his/her work, and so involved to the point of even forgetting their snack time. They did not want to go home and wanted to come to school earlier the next day. “This did not happen before, they were often distracted and out of control but today, it was less stressful for me and I was able to observe, be more in tune with the children and enjoy my job,” said one of the teachers.
Yes, like the eyes of a servant
on the hand of his master,
Like the eyes of a maid
on the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes are on the LORD our God. (Psalm 123:2)
Through many positive feedbacks, I am assured that I have planted the seed as God has intended. I am now waiting for it to grow so that I can ask God to help me to tend to it.
Thank you, God, for showing the way and guiding me because I am a “nobody servant,”
Thank you, Sister Anna Tuyết Lan, your staff, and Companions In Grace for sharing my passion, believing and trusting me,
Thank you Children’s House Montessori School families for providing the Math materials’corner,
Thank you all participants for your enthusiasm and love of learning,
Thank you family and friends for all your prayers.