Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: South America (02/05/09)
TITLE: Frank and the Volcano
By Judy Webb
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Frank Martinez was a man of integrity, but he hadn’t always been that way. Frank found himself in lots of trouble as a teen and a young adult. He grew up in Colombia, South America. His father was the owner of an international construction company and the Martinez family spent 15 years in South America. Frank was into his 30’s and living back in the states before he got his head on straight and began to mature, taking responsibility for his actions. The first 30 years of his life were years filled with heartache and disappointment, hurt and anger.
The anger in Frank’s life stemmed from a tragic event in November of 1985. Frank and his family were still living in Colombia when Mount Ruiz sent forth a volcanic eruption. The eruption was marked by columns of smoke and ash shooting high into the air. It ejected large amounts of pumice and loud powerful gas blast eruptions. Frank recalled that 23,000 people died in the mud-slides that followed. Among the dead were his mother and his sister. Frank had just turned 30.
Two years later, Frank came to realize that his life was out of control, he didn’t feel like he had any reason to get up in the morning and begin another day. His relationships were always short term. He did not have any friends and he really didn’t want any. He was a loner. This is where Frank was emotionally when Teri entered his life.
Teri Mitchell was a nurse at the county hospital and had just started her shift when Frank was admitted. There had been a car accident and the officer who wrote up the accident accompanied Frank so that he could arrest him. Frank had been drinking and caused the accident.
This incident was a turning point in Frank’s life. His DUI got him into a rehab program. He was assigned a counselor who Frank later looked on as a gift from God. This counselor helped Frank understand his anger, showed him how to deal with the hurts of his past and showed Frank how to move forward.
All the while, Teri Mitchell was waiting in the wings. During his hospital stay they talked and often she would stay beyond her shift to continue a conversation they started earlier. Teri share with Frank, her love for Jesus. Once Frank had been sober for a year he proposed to Teri and life continued to changed for the better. Frank went back to college, finished his degree, and received his teaching certificate.
Frank taught elementary school kids and he just loved it. He had truly found his place in the world; He was loved by his students, had a wonderful wife and he was delighting in his personal relationship with Jesus. For twenty years Frank taught the kids in his school how to be responsible adults. His love for Jesus was evident in his daily living and the anger he once felt had melted away. He used his past hurts to help the kids who entered his classroom every fall. There is no teacher like a teacher whose resume boasts “been there, done that”.
Mr. Martinez took the stage and the applause began. He had just completed his twentieth year teaching at Hoover Elementary. Tears were clouding his vision and as he looked out at the crowd he witnessed the wave of bodies as the audience slowly began to stand up while clapping excitedly. Mr. Martinez wasn’t the only person to struggle with his emotions; many faces were beaming back at him with eyes that were glistening. This was a monumental day for Mr. M, as his students respectfully referred to him. This event would mark the end of Mr. Martinez’s 20 year teaching career and the beginning of something even bigger.
Frank and Teri were packing up and moving to South America as members of the Peace Corps. They were assigned to serve in Peru: Teri working in the area of community health promotion and Frank was looking forward to being involved in youth outreach. Surely God had a plan those many years ago when Frank turned to Him. Frank learned that we can’t go back and undo our past mistakes but we can learn from them and give our best effort to today.
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