The Onward Journey II
A week full of interesting experiences and awakening reflections. Sharing the experiences of last week with classmates in EFM, the challenges I enjoy resonated with one of my friends. He, thus, began volunteering this week using his engineering/math skills to help our young friends begin to grasp the concepts of geometry and algebra that are really way beyond my ability. At the end of day one Gary told me he didn’t get to do math work with the student as “she forgot her math book”, but that they were able to work on her vocabulary assignment. The joy Gary experienced will keep him coming back to tutor and he is hopeful that he will have the time to assist in the pickup and distribution of food, as well.
I had the pleasure to work with a young man with his reading assignment, Henry and Ribsy, a story about a boy and his dog. The story is a fishing adventure that was full of new words. The student needed help to grasp their meaning and to understand the story better. While the young man was reading his very old and tattered book, without a cover, a few of the pages came loose from the binding. The look of Sadness on his face nearly brought a tear to my eye. When I suggested to him that it was not his fault, he looked me square in the eye and said, “It is my responsibility to take care of the school’s book”. How many of our children and their children would have that level of concern? I excused myself, found tape, and the two of us repaired the tear and helped the book look better than it did before. This young man was so appreciative, it brought home that little things do mean a lot.
I’m not very comfortable with computers, some of you reading this know that oh too well, but when my new young friend completed his reading assignment he advised me that he had work to do on the computer. Yep, the anxiety grew and heightened when he could not get access to the Internet. Being resourceful, I located one of the other volunteers who had that gift and was willing to share. I did learn how to make THAT correction the next time. If, and only if, it is the same problem, I might add.
My young student, Peter, introduced me to “Moby Max”, a computer online vocabulary program that provides the students with the opportunity to work on definitions of new words, synonyms, antonyms and word use in sentences. Peter went on to explain that his class is having an ongoing competition and he is in the lead by a few points. This young man was so happy working on his language skills and was actually disappointed when it was time to go home.
When I walked Peter and the other students out to the van for their ride home I had the pleasure to run into a homeless man who was looking through a trash bin nearby. The man, Owen, and I had a lovely chat about where the children were from and what I was doing. He was very concerned about how difficult life is for people in other parts of the world. This man never mentioned the difficulty he is experiencing in his life, but rather the concerns for others. Loving and caring people cross our path all the time, and how great it is, when we recognize that God is at work in all of us, and sometimes we are open to it. May I always recognize and be open to the fact that God’s grace is all around and comes in many different packages. Owen headed down the road with a bottle of fresh water I had shared. I headed home with the light of Owen’s concern for others stamped on my brain.
The week proceeded with the opportunity to work with two Sudanese youngsters of the Dinka Tribe. We spent the first hour working on basic math, or I should say basic multiplication. I have found that schools do not teach the memorization of the multiplication tables the way I learned. This old dog will try to learn new tricks but I really think the multiplication table method has value.
I was then given the opportunity to work with two fourth-graders (female) and three fifth-graders (two female and one male) who had experienced an episode (or more) of bullying and wanted to write a play about the subject. Why do people treat others in ways they would never treat themselves??? These young people were hurt by what they had experienced, but were more interested in communicating through a play, and “teaching others how to respect one another and just get along”. I was able to capture a lot of their thoughts on paper and challenged them to think about how they want to demonstrate, in their play, a better way to solve problems and help one another learn to appreciate each of our uniqueness. As I reflect on the subject of bulling and the terrible effect it has, it is obvious that I and others must demonstrate and live, as best we can, the love that Christ taught us to have for our neighbor.
I’d like the reader to imagine a hall full of children, ranging in age from 7-11, being asked to give their shoe size, and pants size, address and phone number. We had some fun with this, or at least the kids did. Fortunately, someone had the foresight to bring a foot measuring device and I tell you the kids had a ball “putting the left foot on, then take the left foot off, then the right foot on and the right foot off” or maybe it was my attempt at singing the song that got them giggling. This activity was to gather information so proper planning can be done to provide new shoes and personal and school supplies for the next school year. My new little friends were not very interested in hearing about the upcoming school year, but were absolutely thrilled with the idea that they would get a new pair of shoes.
The time spent with the students has helped me appreciate that “the harvest is plentiful but the labor is few”. I am bound and determined to help the organization increase its volunteer resources to meet the needs of the current students and those on the waiting list. We will recruit more volunteers, maybe one or two with a pick-up truck, to allow the “Network” to increase their capacity to pick up and distribute more food for these beautiful people. School will be out soon and the program will continue during the summer months. The “Network” plans to provide regular tutoring with time devoted to FUN (walks in Balboa Park, soccer, art projects, etc.) mixed in. I promise I will share more on what that will look like as it unfolds and welcome your ideas and feedback!!!
As I close this post, I ask you to keep the people, who have not yet been placed in welcoming communities like San Diego, in your thoughts and prayers. We are thankful for the protection offered to them in the Refugee Camps where they are being protected from all kind of evil. May we, as a global society, give more attention and thought to those less fortunate then ourselves…