It has been a humbling experience to live in this culture and not exactly be able to communicate how I would like. I am a people-person. I love to talk to people. But with my poor language skills (learning Spanish has not been my gift), I know that I sound like a child to so many. This has made me feel inadequate in so many ways. There have been many times that I question if I am really cut out for this role, but God has a way of using us despite our inadequacies. I have always loved the stories in the Old Testament with characters that complain about their inadequacies. One that stands out in my mind is Moses. What was his inadequacy? Speaking. You know where his story leads.
I believe that God has a way of preparing us despite our inadequacies. Before Ana, Greg and I worked very hard to finish our masters degrees. I earned my masters in curriculum and instruction. I loved my job as a teacher. I always viewed my role in teach- ing as ministry, but when I quit my job with Peru in the future, I waved good-bye to that ministry (so I thought).
During the last 8 months, I have had the privilege of working with the kids at the various library locations. I have planned the curriculum for these meetings (character education), and I have enjoyed seeing these kids from week to week. Many times, I have gone to the kids events by myself. I tell you this, because I usually like for someone else to be there to help with speaking the Spanish. But even though I sound like a child, those children are so gracious to me. I refer to all of them as “mis profesores” (my teachers). And they take their job very seriously. It is a good thing I have experience with stage drama, because sometimes my communication is charades. I laugh so much with those kids, and many times they are laughing at me.
In the summer months (this past December through February), I have tried to do outside activities with the kids. I love athletics, and by participating in youth events and a youth internship in college, I have many “youth games” up my sleeve. I am an absolute hoot trying to explain the rules to these games in Spanish, but “mis profesores” help me along and we end up laughing our heads off and having the time of our life (it is also great exercise). I have also wondered what the neighbors think of “that gringa woman” running around like a fool with the neighborhood children. God has encouraged me so much in these moments. I still feel very inadequate during these meetings, but the smiles and encouraging words I receive from those children outweigh any thought I would have of not participating because of my inadequacies.
We have had a tough time reaching the adolescent age group here in Arequipa. It is my dream that we have formed a foundation for the relationships we have with these kids. They seem to love to come and participate. One day (for some very soon), they will be adolescents and we will have built trust with them.
It is my prayer, that the simple Bible stories and verses that I share with them now can turn into deeper conversations in the future. I truly believe that they are “precious in his sight.” It is also my prayer that as I converse with them “like a child” I can grow with them and be one to have that serious, deeper conversation one day.