The realization that I am not just here for the kiddos has recently invaded my thoughts. These last two weeks have been difficult, exhausting and have made me cling tighter to the One who is in control. God has been pruning me, shaking me out of my comfortable way of thinking and asking me to look beyond my little scope of the ME world. There is a great big world out there, as evidenced by these kiddos I see everyday. So many different countries represented! And not just by the kids, but by their parents as well. I am learning that I not only have to adjust my worldview to better understand the kids, but I need to do so to understand the parents as well. And it's not always easy.
I am one who likes routine, likes a task-oriented lifestyle, and wants to complete a neat little check-off list. However, I have been thrown into a relationship-driven culture and am constantly being challenged to let go of some of my rigidity in "getting things accomplished". Now, building relationships with the students has not really been a problem for me...I seem to be more open to them...even with hugging and the way they love to hang all over me. I'm okay with that....which people witnessed yesterday as two kiddos clung to me as we walked down the hallway. But then, I'm beginning to realize that in order to reach their parents and build rapport with them, I need to be more willing to be open, transparent and at times even let an occasional hug (and with some cultures - a kiss on the cheek)...occur. And that's hard. And it scares me. To me, allowing someone within my little bubble, makes me feel vulnerable...and usually the only ones that have ever been allowed in are ones with whom I have a deep trust for.
But, if I am to reach out and show Christ's love to not only the students, but the parents as well...then I need to learn to be more open, more transparent...and...let go of my little bubble (I just shuddered a bit at that!). And over the last two weeks I have really had to work on this as I've been dealing with a difficult situation at work. It's been hard. And instead of trying to fix it myself, I was open and honest with my director and our human resource director and asked them for help. I need their help to learn to balance my need to get things done with building rapport, trust and relationships with the parents. This South American culture is built upon relationships and I need to learn to adapt, change and grow in this area...especially if I want to show them the love of Christ. This job is not just about demonstrating the love of Christ to the kids, but it's about sharing it with their parent's as well. This is not just about me, but it is about them. It is about the truth of God's love reaching their hearts and changing their lives...not just mine. And if I need to embrace them (sometimes literally)...then so be it.
Baby steps first....as the human resource director noted when he hugged me the other day. His comment..."See, you aren't shying away from hugs anymore". Now it's time to work on letting go of myself and really pouring into the kids and their parents during my last three months here.