Pov Sophaneth – 10 years old
Ignite Class 11 – Team Cambodia
(written on 25.02.2017)
He is a cheeky little boy full of life and mystery. He goes about with independence and confidence in his step. Sometimes these steps can be a little too big for his britches, but beyond this face of bravery and the loud, silly faces lies a sweet, caring heart and a precious soul that sees beyond his years. This little boy, once being the biggest class clown and trouble maker, I have found to be a wonderful master piece made by our Creator that has etched his name onto my heart. This is Pov Sophaneth.
Everyone calls him Phaneth (pronounced Pa-net), fitting as it’s his first name, yet I like to call him my little rascal or jokester, since he tends to be one of my loudest and most talkative students in and outside of the classroom. Phaneth is 10 years old and has been a student at New Life School for four years now, currently being in the third grade and a student in my third-grade English class. His favorite school subjects are Khmer, math, and social studies. Math is no surprise to me on the list of favorites, as I have seen him many a time quickly do a math problem on the board in our math-in-English class, and I would love to sit in on his history class one day just to see the wheels in his brain turn. Yellow, the color of the hot, Cambodian sun, is his top choice and what a perfect color to describe his bright and partly toothless grin. When he grows up, he wants to be a cars salesman, and as shocking as it sounded to me when he told me, Phaneth has such tenacity and a bold personality, that yes, I think he’ll be doing just fine with his dream. Also, while I was talking with Phaneth the other day, it was to my great surprise and joy that I discovered his favorite thing to do is to help his mom sell things. . . truly, I learn new things every day, especially from the children I teach at school.
The life he lives at home is with his family: his dad, mom, grandma, his sister, and his brother. Praise be to the Lord that he lives in a home where the one and true God is the God of their lives, and his parents have taken such care to send Phaneth to such a good school with a good foundation. It was when he was in kindergarten that Phaneth heard about Jesus and accepted Him as his personal Savior when he was around five years old (as far as he can remember). He has known Jesus personally ever since then, and New Life School’s teachers have faithfully taught the wonderful truths of God’s Word to Him, and I have often gotten to sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and other songs with him, praising our Savior’s name together, in voice and in dancing freely before our King.
Oh Phaneth. . . truly what a work the Lord has done in you. Little do you know precious child that you have touched my heart in many ways. Although there have been times as a teacher where I have had to discipline you in love, it has been through these moments that the Lord has taught me many lessons about us (being His children) and Him (our Ruler and Savior) and our relationship with Him. Just as I as a teacher must lovingly discipline, correct, help, and guide my students in the way they should go in respect and in their education, the Lord has shown me how much even more so is He faithful to lovingly discipline me, bring correction into my life when I need it, help me when I’ve lost my way, and guide me when I start to get off course. Phaneth, it is through you that the Lord has been teaching me that it is through people like you, and children of God with your characteristics that will be mighty warriors for Jesus.
The other day you did something so sweet and yet seemingly so simple that I could never forget and that touched my heart forever. It was at recess time; I was busy playing lemonade and other games more than I could count, when out of nowhere, I felt an impact as though someone ran right into me as the hands of a child tightly clasped around my waist squeezing me as tight as they could. When I turned to see who, it was. Who did I find myself to see? I found you! You smiled at me with your bright eyes, your chubby cheeks lifted as high as your smile will allow showing your joy and happiness. As I smiled right back, you looked one more time with your bright eyes as you then ran off with all your joy and boldness, ready to conquer the day. . .
Phaneth! Truly, this little act of love and appreciation made a huge impact and imprint upon my heart and soul. My how you’ve grown since where you used to be. I remember the looks of, “Teacher, you’re no fun,” when I would have to correct you or the looks of frustration upon your face. Yet, I remember all those things dimly in comparison to the joyful you I see and know now. Surely, by the grace of God, consistency in lovingly disciplining you and helping you have paid off, and I am so thankful for the light that has grown even more so in your eyes. I see now why your favorite Bible story is about when the Lord used Moses to deliver the people of Israel out of Egypt; it’s because of Moses’ bravery and the justice from God in Moses’ heart to stand up for what he believes in and say to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” Phaneth, you too, I believe, are like Moses, and will be used by God to stand up and fight for what is right and speak the truth in boldness. Your prayer request for wisdom, strength for your family, and for concentration in class already shows the wisdom and understanding of God you have. . .thank you for sharing your boldness with me. Thank you for showing me how God loves His children faithfully, every single day.