vegetarianHalf Vegetarian

For some reason, Pedro is discussing meat eating and vegetarianism with students while he patrols the playground after lunch. As I walk by on my way to my next class, I overhear a youngster declare, “I’m the only vegetarian in my family!”

“Really?” Pedro asks. “Everyone else eats meat?”

“Everyone but me!” the second grader declares.

“Guess what, Mr. Ojeda?” a third grader asks. “I’m half vegetarian!”

“Really!” Pedro exclaims.

The bell rings and I hurry to unlock my classroom door, disappointed to have missed the rest of the conversation.

The conversation tugs at my heart the rest of the afternoon. The half-vegetarian lives with another faculty family on campus. No one knows the whereabouts of the father. The mother dropped her two young children off with the faculty member ‘until further notice’ about a month ago. At least she abandoned them to the care of someone who cares.

Not Just a Job—But a Haven of Hope

I suppose the youngster claims to be half vegetarian because the faculty family eats vegetarian and the mother does not.vegetarian

This is where I work. A school for abandoned children. Very few of them are actually abandoned in a parental-guardianship sort of way. But most of them feel abandoned in other ways.

No one stood up for them when someone raped them.

Their parents spent grocery money on drugs or alcohol, leaving the children to forage for food or go hungry.

The bitter cycle of poverty has poisoned every relationship in their lives that should nourish them.

They have witnessed things in real life that most of us cover our eyes when we witness on television or in a movie.

And me? What can I do to counterbalance the abandonment that they have encountered in their short lives?

Not much. I can develop relationships; I smile and encourage. Before every class, I ask for prayer requests and we pray together. I can reflect the love of the one who loves them so that one day, they will find their true father. And never again will they feel abandoned.

Let Jesus reflect the light of his love on the abandoned so that they will know their one true father. Click To Tweet

Q4U: What can you do to light the way for someone who feels abandoned?


  1. Being a teacher is an honor, a blessing and so humbling. Loving kids is the easy part of the job. Understanding their home life and wishing for more for them is the hard part.

    I can’t wait to meet you this summer and hear more about your teaching job. I imagine we can share a lot of stories about teaching.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Five Minute Friday ~ AbandonMy Profile

  2. May God bless these abandoned children and you for your work with them! ..”Let Jesus reflect the light of his love on the abandoned..” yes to this!

  3. I hear your words proclaim truth. The Truth counteracts and calms my soul when I read things like this. I know some of the kids at my children’s school and clients I see at my office (I’m a pediatric outpatient SLP) have horrific stories lurking behind little faces/minds. I pray for my clients and our kids. I’m adding your kids to my circle of prayer. I work with little ones in preschool/elementary. You are working with the high school kids at the tipping point of life directions. I know how valuable my high school teachers and coaches were in speaking life into my heart and wisdom that still stays with me today. Rock on Anita…rock on. Never abandon what God calls you to do. I’ll try to do the same. FMF buddy, Jenn Cook
    jenn recently posted…Jubilation in July, A God Sized Dream Praise ReportMy Profile

  4. I love that you work with these kids and that you’re able to pray for them and with them. I’m sure the love and care you show them has a big impact.

  5. Being a teacher is such a privilege and challenge! I’m sure you’re doing a great job! I can relate to what you say. So many stories and lives and yet so little time and wisdom to care for all of them. Keep going! Keep looking at the individual.
    Lots of blessings from one teacher to another.
    Katha recently posted…No, You’re NotMy Profile

  6. You are ministering to them by loving them and being in relationship with them. That’s so important! I’m over in the 41 spot this week.

  7. anita, i love the work you do…and the humor with which you do it:) so glad the children have you and your husband in their lives at the school where you work…to bring them light.

  8. I was intrigued by your title of half vegetarian, so you definitely pulled me in 😉
    I think that one thing that so many of us long for is a sense of belonging. I can’t imagine how kids feel who know that they have they parents, but they aren’t able to care for them as they should. Their hearts must ache so. So grateful for your work that you are able to do in loving on them, and having families who have enveloped them as their own. I am sure that it is difficult.

  9. Dear Anita, I just knew we lived and worked and prayed in the same world! Growing up, then raising a family in whitebread land didn’t prepare me for serving in the hood. And I’m so glad it didn’t! For over ten years my heart was broken over and over again by the lives of desperation and hopelessness of my students.

    My Mari had been raped repeatedly by someone in her world, already, when she came to me in 3rd grade. Only if for people who walk in our shoes, can one understand the blessing at the end of the school year when Mari died as a result of encephalitis and its complications. Amid tears of sadness and remorse over a sweet life so stained, my heart praised God in knowing Mari was finally safe with Jesus.

    Now I serve down the street where more and more children, like Mari, are drifting into our small faith-based school. Now I write about and for our Maris. Thank you for choosing to serve and love and pray with those closest to the heart of Jesus!

  10. Anita, Thank you for sharing this glimpse into your life and the lives you encounter daily. I cringe whenever I hear people speak of the need for others to just “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and they’ll learn responsibility. Really? What a privilege to enter into the hearts of these kids-longing to be connected to someone. My sister helps out at her kids school-public school in the Christian hub of America and she encounters similar stories. They are indeed orphans and we are called to care for them. Looking forward to hearing more about your stories.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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