Monday, June 25, 2012

Real vs. Ideal

When I arranged to stay in Peru for two and a half months to learn Spanish and be an assistant English teacher at a Christian school, I never dreamed of how it would turn out. In my idealistic mind, it would be a beautiful union of Christy and Anne of Green Gables. The children would be a little rebellious at first, but then I would win them over with my gracious spirit and we would sing and dance through fields of flowers. (Well, I didn't quite expect that, but I didn't expect a room full of running, screaming, hyperactive six-year-olds) I also expected to pick up the language in two weeks and be fluent by the end of two months. After looking at twenty-five chattering, bickering children, and glancing over the endless pages of my Spanish-English dictionary, my expectations have taken a serious beating.

After numerous failures of controlling my tongue around disobedient students and struggling through grammatically incorrect sentences, I've taken humility off the shelf and given it a good dusting. However through realizing that I'm not a child-charmer and I'm certainly not a fluent Spanish-speaker, I've learned that when things seem impossible, it's because I'm measuring my goals against my own abilities. It's not my own abilities that will give me the gentleness and patience I need to teach first graders, and it's not my own abilities that will help me memorize a Spanish-English dictionary. It's God's. When I try to do things in my own strength, I will always fail. Only through relying heavily on Christ can I know that even if the children scream and fight, and my brain won't absorb what I study, I can make a difference in one child's heart, and I can learn, word by word, to speak another language with the Lord's help. This is what gets me through every day. The knowledge that I don't have to do things in my own strength, but in the strength of Christ working through me.


Shyla said...

Dear Catherine,

May the Lord richly bless you for taking on this challenge. And despite the walls of difficulty you must scale, I pray that the children still are touched by your gentle spirit - for His sake and in His name.

God's peace alone,

Catherine said...

Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement, Shyla. God is certainly using these challenges to stretch and grow me. If with every trial I can emerge a little bit more like Christ, everything will be worth it.