Volunteering and traveling in Argentina to proclaim God's great love, and hopefully not getting sick along the way.

Friday, September 20, 2013

People before program

This is a common goal. The people come first, the program second. But now, after being much more involved in the creation of a program for an ongoing camp, I see how important the program can be. After all, the campers shouldn't be bored, and all of the activities ought to have more purpose to them. Or at least the majority should.

What I also find interesting is the constant cultural battles I personally face during an English Camp. Just examining my personal feelings, the week in which I worked with two people from the States felt much more "smooth sailing" than all the other weeks with non-States folk. Is it because we all have similar experiences in youth ministry?

Is it that I am not as flexible with the schedule as I should be?

Is it that I am forgetting the people come first?

Is it that I am not doing a proper comparison, because I must also take into account that there have been teen camps as well as kids camps in the mix?

Not to mention, that every week, the level of English changes, and from there we have to make the proper adjustments.

Some things I am learning. One, it's not always worth it to fight because in the end, the camp will go on. What's more important is that the students had fun (because then they'll want to come back and that means the business can keep going). Two, sometimes the higher level of English amongst the students isn't always the best, because then they don't feel the need to take advantage of the camp experience.

Third, sometimes you just have to let the students go. You can't please everyone. Instead of focusing on the troublemakers, correcting their mistakes, after awhile.. just focus on the good.

Or maybe, it's because those troublemakers are lacking love. And you know what love they need? Discipline. They actually love and respect you in the end for getting on their case. It reminded me of my dad, and how many people in our past church camps always left on him the burden of being the so-called "bad guy".

I believe, in the end, those troublemakers all loved him for it.

All of this is a crazy and complicated balance on how we treat the kids. I am trying to figure out how to love them best, and perhaps the worst realization of them all is realizing that I need to be more free with my love. Be patient with me, little ones, God will help me!!!

this was random. i don't know if you'll understand it all, but i needed to write it down.
love and chau!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Drawing with the girls

I have found an activity that, surprisingly, is one of the most successful with my girls at the institute. As many readers know, I have been making bracelets for over a year now, almost every Monday. What helps is that several girls come and go, and so there is almost always someone willing to learn, while many of the others work on advancing their skills.

But sometimes, they just don't want to, and to be honest, I can understand that.

I have mixed things up a bit with my other visiting days. On Wednesday, I try to bring a different craft. On Friday, weather permitting, we go for a walk, or perhaps we remain indoors to play cards. I have tried new forms of bracelets. Some with a different material. The girls learn them quickly, but then can't seem to always sell what they make, which can be discouraging.

Then one day, I looked around my room and found some paper and looked for a simple drawing. To avoid printing, I free-handed. Then when we were all gathered in the institute, I showed it to them, asking if they would like to color. I bought two packs of colored pencils just in case two wanted to use the same color. I bought a ream of paper to have a fairly inexhaustible paper supply.

For a month now, I've found that these young teens love to color, and sometimes the most simple of objects. Take this bear that I prepared for them this Wednesday. As an extra, and perhaps Spirit inspired, I added part of Psalms 13:5 to the blank space. Once again the girls gasped in excitement. "How cute!" they said, and many made more than one copy.

One of the girls talked about how she has a Bible and plans on reading more of the verses from Psalms.

These are small ways conversation can open to deeper things. To be honest, it's a constant struggle, but I am constantly encouraged by the simple things that make them happy. I had, after all, tried a couple of basic art classes, but to no avail. Not everyone likes to draw, and the attention spans of many of the girls is lacking.

Perhaps it's because with coloring, you don't have to think as much. You just fill in the page with your favorite hues. And maybe that's the key. These girls have had it hard enough. They don't want to think anymore about the reasons why they are in the institute to begin with.

Just hypothesizing. love and chau!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Extending generosity

I understand the hoarding mentality. After all, you can't predict what will happen in the future, so good thing you held onto that extra tube of toothpaste or else your teeth would really be suffering right now.

And Sheldon got it right about buying certain things in bulk. It's cheaper and means less awkward trips to the store to buy tampons. (More awkward writing about it?)

Don't you find too, that every time you give something away, the next week brings a situation in which you really could have used whatever it was you gave away?

I like to think of myself as a fairly generous person. The tithe almost always comes out of the paycheck (missionary paycheck? ha.) first. I try to constantly be on the lookout for ways I can help someone out, especially when it comes to a ministry. But there are those moments when it's just not very convenient.

The challenge came a couple months ago when a pastor talked about money being a paintbrush. Something poetic was said about how it paints the life you live, or the person you will be. Perhaps the more memorable moment came when he talked about how he and his wife ALWAYS tithe, and more than the regular 10 percent. Sometimes, he said. Sometimes we are then financially blessed, but in other moments, we are spiritually blessed. Specifically, in how many people he (as the pastor) has been entrusted with. He is able to reach more people with the gospel then ever before in his life.

A truer blessing than any financial gain could bear.

So I've been experimenting with giving even more recently. I don't exactly want to tell you about it all, because I don't want to brag, but I do want to share as a form of encouragement.

1. Recently, a woman who has been a missionary for over a decade was passing through. Recognizing her integrity after hearing the stories of her work, I gave her money.

2. Someone was in need of money for food. Even though I don't know this person very well, we all need to eat. I have no guarantee that this person used the money on food.

3. For our children's day (a major national celebration), I paid for some of the candies that were given away as prizes.

Around the time all of this was happening, Cristian's brother donated money for our childrens' ministry, covering the cost of the candies, plus some. When Cristian wrote me a letter the other week, there was 100 pesos inside. I asked him why, and he said he didn't put it there and that he did not know where it came from. It is obvious to say that money NEVER makes it through the mail here.

I have been given the opportunity to work more camps this year, where I am able to make some side cash to sustain other wants or needs I might have.

But even putting finances aside, more camps equals the possibility to know more campers, teachers, and the places they live (ranging from any one of the 23 provinces in the country). In these camps we are stressing the need to be compassionate, sharing biblical principles in how to be so.

In short (and more because I'm off to my next camp tomorrow and I need to sleep!), be more generous. Give till it hurts, and just watch how God opens doors! Love and chau!