By Eman Vivas (Year-Long Intern)
It’s not only for the kids.
You go to your site for the first time, you try your hardest to remember the names of the children – which can range from 15 to 50 depending on which site you go to – because you know you’re going to be spending the next few months getting to know them and acting as a leader, a role model. You lead them in games, in cooking, crafts, but most importantly you share with them the gospel.
It’s hard at first. You spend a week or two getting used to how things run, familiarizing yourself with the things around you. Then you get more responsibilities. You begin to lead. Your first day trying to teach the kids their bible lesson? Hah… well at least you have a few months to improve right?
After a while you DO get better. You know the kids better, you’ve formed relationships, they look up to you now and are willing to listen to what you have to say because you’ve shown them your commitment to them by showing up every week. It’s not like school, you’re not teachers. You don’t have to be there because it’s your job. You’re there because you want to be there, you want to be part of their lives. And they can feel it.
As you spend more and more time with the kids, you get attached. You become a “favorite leader” to some of the children. Who knows maybe you have a few favourites yourself (though you shouldn’t let the kids find out). But this leads you to the next part: the struggle.
Your kids are growing, they’re changing. They have family problems, problems at school, problems with friends. It’s infectious too. One kid is upset they somehow all get upset. One day you’re more than happy to get to know the children at your site and build relationships, the next you wonder what happened to your once happy, easy-to-get-along-with children.
You pray to God, asking Him to help you, “God what happened to these kids? Why are they like this now?” only to be confronted with the fact that God’s plan to bring you to the site wasn’t just to change the hearts of the kids, but yours as well.
He shows you how to manage the situations that seem to arise all the time now: the fights, the time outs, the crying. He gives you patience, wisdom, love. He’s building you up just as much as them. You start to see the improvement once again and you thank God for humbling you, helping you to see His plan in all of this.
But then it happens again. And again. And again. And again.
God’s work doesn’t stop, the struggles won’t stop, the need for God’s help won’t stop, but the awesome thing is that God’s love doesn’t stop either, and by the end you’ll know that it was all worth it because He refined you.
I’m here to share Jesus with these kids, but they’re here to show me who Jesus is as well.