A few weeks ago Abraham approached me and asked if I was willing to volunteer a few hours a week at one of the national schools in Porvenir. I was excited about the prospect of doing something with my limited Spanish and that would allow me to create and build new relationships and opportunities for sharing the gospel. I met with Abraham over lunch to discuss the details of working with the school, and then we visited the school, met with the director, spoke with the English professor, and agreed on times that I was available to come and lend my English expertise to the students.
The plan is for me to volunteer Mondays and Thursdays for approximately 2 hours, which covers three class periods. Due to scheduling conflicts on my part and school sponsored events, I have not yet worked with the Monday classes, however, I have gone several times on Thursdays and I am beginning to find a rhythm for working with the students, helping them with their language, and opening the door for building relationships. The Thursday classes consist of a block period with the 5th grade students, and a shorter period with the 1st grade students. On first learning which grades I would be working with, I was imagining young children, not fully understanding the Peruvian school system. I have since learned that there are two levels of school, primary and secondary, not unlike the separation of elementary and high schools in the States. However, unlike in the US where the grades continue upward from 1st through 12th. Secondary school begins over at grade 1. Therefore, my 1st grade students are 11 and 12 years old, and my 5th grade students are around 16.
I am excited about this opportunity because it is unique, most Peruvian schools would never allow a protestant missionary past their doors, let alone in the classroom to work with their catholic students. I also have found that it is a great opportunity to reach an area of the population that has been difficult to reach up to this point. Now, I am working on a plan to provide opportunities to meet with the students outside of school and plan to provide opportunities at the Porvenir library for them to build relationships with me and others, bringing more awareness of the library to the community, and providing a safe place alternative for teenagers to hang out. I am so thankful that God has provided this opportunity and pray that he will continue to bless the relationships that I am forming.