Hi! My name is Molly Gerdes. I am 18 years old and just finished my freshman year of college at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. My hometown is Wisconsin Rapids, WI where I graduated from Community Christian Academy. My family includes my dad and mom, Greg and Teri; my older brother Codi (22); and my younger brother Noah (10). After much prayer, God has shown me that I will not be returning to Northwestern next year. I don’t know what I’ll be doing, but I am trusting that God will clearly show me and direct me in the path I should go.
It’s so crazy to think that I have been in Opelousas for a month already—it went by so fast! I got here May 24—by a complete miracle! I had forgotten my driver’s license in Iowa—so I did not have any photo id. In reality, I should not have been able to get on the plane. But through God’s amazing provision and the crazy ways He works, I was able to get on the plane and come to Opelousas. There is no way I would be able to put into words all the things that God has done in my life and the things He has done while I have been here. It would take pages to even begin to try and explain! So, in this short blog, I am going to try and explain just a bit of what God is teaching me. Coming to Opelousas during spring break was a complete eye opener for me—and made me realize how incredible and big God’s grace is. And that was only for a week! Being here for a month, that realization has been even more imprinted on my heart. I have heard so many amazing stories of lives being changed by God’s infinite love that every day I see God working in ways I would have never seen before. His love has so permeated every part of every day that it’s hard to look at someone or something and not see Him. I have seen this especially in the kids. For two weeks, while I was here this summer, we did a summer skills camp, working especially with math and reading. Basically the purpose was to bring in new kids to Hope for Opelousas so they can be involved in the fall with the tutoring program. And God was definitely faithful in that! He brought almost 20 new kids to us! God was so evident every day—but there was one day in particular that He really showed Himself to me. So, I get up, only to find out that Kristina has a really bad migraine and can’t open her eyes—and Jeff called Loren to tell him that he was sick and needed to sleep. I was the only one that felt ok. This kind of threw my day off—since I was used to getting up and being able to spend some time with Jesus and everybody else before our day got crazy. So I talk to Loren and he says that we’ll just meet at 12 or so and see how things go from there. Eventually, Kristina feels better and we go and get Jeff and head over to the Hill House. There are already a few kids there, so of course we need to hang out with them for a bit. Then we realize we need to get snacks and drinks for the kids, so Jeff and Kristina do that, while Loren and I pray together. But of course while we are praying, the kids come in and start talking and interrupting. Even though this shouldn’t have frustrated me, it did—because things were not going the way I wanted them to. But, Loren, being the awesome and gracious man he is, invites one of them to pray with us—which in all honesty, frustrated me at first, but afterwards, I realized how awesome it was for that kid to see us pray and see how we get ourselves through the day. So Loren and I get done praying and Jeff and Kristina get back and right away Loren has to go deal with one of the kids. So Jeff, Kristina, and I sit down to pray—with kids yelling and playing basketball outside. Not the most quiet prayer session I have ever had, but it was awesome nonetheless. It seemed that day that all of the kids were wired—they were really high strung, didn’t want to listen to what you told them to do, and just didn’t get along with each other. And all of this built on top of what the rest of the day had been made for a very stressful day for me. My patience was cut a lot shorter than it normally was. My attitude was really bad. And my heart was definitely not in the right spot. The focus of the day was on myself—so when it came time for tutoring the kids, it was the last thing I wanted to do. I felt like I had nothing to give. And to add to it, the kids that I did tutor had such a horrible attitude towards what we were doing that day—math. They didn’t want to try. They gave up so easily. And there just didn’t seem to be a connection. I was so ready to just give it up—to be done—and I thought I was. But I had to tutor one more kid. I put the smile on my face, but my heart was groaning and very irritated that I had to do this. But, God knew what He was doing. Matthew Sanchez. 5th grade. He came into the room we were working in with a huge smile—his face beaming. The words that came out of his mouth are ones that I will never forget: “I am so excited to do this today! Are we doing math? I’m gonna get this. I was walking with some of my friends and I told them, ‘I have to go here so I can do better in school next year.’ I am gonna come every day this week! What are we gonna start with?” The 30 minutes that I spent with Matthew that day went by too quickly. We worked on multiplication flash cards the whole time—but his attitude never changed. We worked until he got them down like the back of his hand. And when we were done, he wanted to do them again—“Just to make sure I have it”. Matthew poured his whole heart into studying multiplication that day. He wanted to make sure that he knew every one of those problems so that next year he could do well in school. Never once did he complain. Never once did he give up. He gave everything he had. Matthew blessed me more than he will ever know. And that bond has continued even outside of tutoring. When we play basketball, I hear him cheering for me to make a basket. I hear him encouraging me—“Good shot, Miss Molly!” And the one that gets me the most: “I want her to win; she has taught me so good and helped me so much to do better in school next year.” Talk about God using kids! This is just one of many stories of how God has used the kids in Opelousas to bless me beyond what I could ever imagine. He shows Himself in so many unexpected ways—even through a boy named Matthew.