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Every graduation story is special

By Myrtle Virginia Thompson

Thank you, Suffolk News-Herald, for making so special the news about recent high school graduates. I don’t suppose high school graduation has ever been very different. As I read each article, I felt I was sitting in the group with them, sharing their excitement, celebrating their transition from the protection of parents and home life and their hopes for their future.

My first thought was their move is into an uncertain future, but I remembered the future has always been uncertain. It is not a given. We cannot be certain about tomorrow. We live in hope and, yes, “dreams.” I wanted to listen in and tell them my story. I prayed for them to find and use the talents and gifts God has given them. The “dreams” they have on graduation day for their future may change. They may even face the possibility of broken dreams, only to find by persevering the reality of something better. I thought of my own graduation from Deep Creek High School in 1945, a class with about 25 or 28 graduates. We had 11 grades in those days, no kindergarten or 12th grade, and I don’t recall any guidance counselors, but I think all our teachers were mentors of a sort.

During all four years of high school, 1941-1945, our future with the changes brought on by World War II was never far from our minds, but the war was winding down. It dawned on me commencement did not mean the ending of school, it meant beginning. I could be leaving the security of my home for another world or life that I would make for myself. I could not foresee the changes that would come about as I followed my planned course would also be the building blocks of my life.

The summer before graduation I had answered what I believed to be God’s call to become a missionary to China. I would need training, but there was no such thing as student loans. My parents had no resources for me to go to college. If my “dream” was real, I had to take seriously the words of Solomon in the Bible, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6.)

I prayed. I thought a Bible school was the best place for training. That was the first “change.” God made a way for me to attend a Christian liberal arts college, which for me turned out to be the better alternative. God answered my prayer when my Pastor John and Mrs. Taylor offered to give me $50 a month to attend Bob Jones University. The tuition and room and board were $59.50 a month. With a work scholarship, I could pay off the extra $10. I was able to study both Christian education courses and also prepare to teach in the public venue. That change made me an educator. I used my education as an English teacher in Pakistan, in Iran where I taught in an International School, in the United Arab Emirates and in the United States.

Suffolk Christian School may have had only eight graduates. Our daughter, Elizabeth Harris, was one of six graduates from the missionary children’s school in Pakistan. She has been an educator in this local area. Like our daughter, our four sons and my own experience, we all had to work to follow their “dreams.” Our oldest with a visual handicap succeeded in telecommunications, one son is a doctor, one a pastor and one a businessman. Four are retired or nearing retirement but have found new challenges and continue to work.

Mike Smith and his horse, Justify, just became Triple Crown winners. After the win, it was heartwarming to see Mike raise his hands in praise, thanking Jesus for the victory. How can I “justify” not daily giving my life into God’s hands when a horse like Justify, with Mike’s guidance, pushed ahead to become a Triple Crown winner! I do so with thanks and praise to God. I still want my life to count in this world.

Myrtle Virginia Thompson, 90, is a Suffolk resident, retired missionary and educator. Email her at mvtgrt@gmail.com.