This year has brought some shifts in the work I am doing here in Guatemala. I seem to be moving from a role of direct services, to one of supporting those providing the direct services.
I still work with kids, but the focus of what I am doing is changing. A few years ago when I worked on a church staff, our senior pastor constantly admonished us that our job, as staff members, was to “equip the saints to do the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4). I think I finally learning to live that out now.
At the school in Santa Maria, while I’m working with the kids, my main goal is to model for the teachers new and different ways of working with students who have not made progress—who don’t “get it” from the traditional Guatemalan teaching methods. None of what I do is rocket science, but it is very different from the way things are taught here. None of it has to do with sharing “theory” or “philosophy.” It’s all based on showing what works.
I have been led to watch the teachers at the school, and learn from them, and then build upon what they are already doing well. And it seems to be working. I know I’m learning a lot, and understanding more about how all people learn. I’m challenging more of my ideas about what is important and how to do things, and learning more to problem-solve with what is at hand. And the teachers indicate that the students are making progress, and asking about what and how I do things. Why is not important here. . .if it works, they’ll do it. (So different from how we do things in the States.)
I’m also working at my church, Iglesia del Camino, helping Maria Dolores, the children’s ministry director. Again, I’ve had to learn how faith is communicated to kids in this country. Again, it’s very different from how we do it. But again, we are learning from each other. She has a good handle on what the kids need, but she is young and does not always know how to do it. I’ve learned that, while quite often I could come in and TELL her how to do something, we both benefit more if I ask the right questions to help her figure out what needs to be done and how to do it.
I still work directly with the kids, too. My favorite groups has turned out to be the pre-teen boys (who would have figured?). I get to test out what we think will work first hand.
I spend a lot of my time, though, on the computer. Researching activities, constructing them, translating lessons, record keeping and a variety of other stuff that I don’t particularly enjoy but frees Maria Dolores to do “the work of the ministry.”
It’s harder, perhaps, when doing the “behind the scenes” work, to feel as if I’m doing what God brought me here to do. It’s harder to feel like I’m doing anything that matters. But, when I pull back and reflect on it all at the end of the day, and bother to ask God about it, it seems pretty clear that this is where He would have me at this time.
But every orchestra needs a second fiddle for balance. I pray I play mine well for His glory.