"The Little Engine That Could"

Ann ? December 2005

Being a child development major and a former preschool teacher one of the things that I loved the most (other than the kids themselves) was discovering all the great children?s literature. Now there are the classics that most are familiar with, fairy tales, Dr Seuss, and the above title but there are also incredible stories within the last 20 years and I am sure since I ?retired? from teaching in 1998 even more new, great kid?s books have been released.

If you want to be inspired, go to a public library and ask the children?s librarian for some recommendations on current selections. I bet she/he will have some good ideas. One of my favorite authors for big people and little people is Max Lucado. He has some incredible children?s books that we have used here in Russia to turn into skits and plays for the kids. You Are Special and You Are Mine are two of my favorites.

Lately in regard to my language studies I have reflected on the story by Watty Piper, The Little Engine That Could. It?s definitely a classic and if you haven?t read it you need to ? to yourself and to those you love that are struggling with something. We all struggle. We all struggle with self-doubts, with fears, and with the belief that nobody else struggles but us.

The story in a nutshell is about a little engine pulling a train full of toys for the children in another town. The engine has to go up an enormous hill and he just doesn?t think he can make it. But he begins to tell himself ?I think I can? I think I can . . . I think I can . . .? And, after much work he does make it, (bring up swell of happy music) and he ends by saying, ?I thought I could . . . I thought I could . . . I thought I could.? He arrives in the town with all the boys and girls cheering and waving and so excited that the toys have arrived! Hooray!

Well, after spending the first 3 months of Russian language school pretty discouraged and defeated (i.e. the first 2 stories I wrote ?Crock Pot vs. Microwave? and ?The Day in the Life of a Language Learner?) I want to report that I am doing better. By the grace of God, the prayers of many saints and continued hard, laborious work, things are beginning to stick and I am understanding more of the grammar. In fact the grammar part is actually kind of fun ? like putting a puzzle together. I kind of cringe at saying that because our class is just about to enter a new case in the Russian language that usually sets everybody back but for now I wanted to report GOOD NEWS.

Now, it?s not like my story is over, like in The Little Engine That Could. I have a feeling that I have many more mountains to climb during the course of learning this language. And my tendency is to say at first, ?what was I thinking when I thought I could do this.? Then I go to, ?I can?t, I am not capable.? Then to, ?I may not be able but HE is able and He hasn?t called me to something that He is not willing to equip me for.? And then I finally arrive to where the little engine starts, ?I think I can, I think I can.?

I am still not so sure that I will EVER be able to say, ?I thought I could,? and feel like the process is over. In fact our language school is a full 2 years of intense study and the teachers say it takes another3 ? 5 years of immersion to feel like you have a handle on the language and you may never fully get it. But that?s okay. Robert and I continue to have a peace that we are where we are suppose to be, doing what we are suppose to be doing (even though sometimes it is very difficult).

So here?s my inner dialog as I enter this new semester . . . ? Keep the prayers a-comin?Keep the prayers a-comin??. ?I trust You, Lord . . .I trust You, Lord.?