Monday, March 30, 2015

Corner School

It's been a while since I've updated as per usual. A lot has been happening since then which has kept me busy. Teaching remains as busy as usual, and I've added a couple of personal blogs that keep me busy in my off time, PLUS my roomie and I started up a little ministry which we call "Corner School."

Corner School happens at the intersection by the mall where a bunch of street kids (and a few homeless guys) hang out. It happened one day that on our way out of the mall, we decided to buy baleadas (my favorite Honduran food) for the handful that were out that day, and while we waited for the women to make them so we could pay, we discussed what we could do for these kids to sort of make them work for their food.

So, I asked them if they went to school. One of them was in school, another had gone to school through 3rd grade, and the other two were not in school. We asked if they wanted use to teach them since we were teachers. The one who had gone through 3rd grade asked in English or Spanish and I said whatever they wanted. He was eager to learn English, so we agreed to teach them starting soon.

A couple weeks went by before we were able to actually get started, and the day before we planned on starting was a Sunday. We were walking to meet a friend at Denny's when we found about 10 of the boys hanging around the corner. They gathered around us at the urging of one of the older boys and I made the announcement that we would be teaching English and Spanish starting the following day at 4pm.

And so it began.

We now go Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 4pm. We have 15 notebooks that we carry to and from the mall each day, but rarely have more than 6 to 8 kids show up. Most of them work in Spanish with me, and a few of them work with English with Dana. She now has a guy our age who sells fruits in the streets who wants to learn English that she works with.

I don't know how much of a difference it's going to make in the long run, and I don't know if these kids will ever be able to read or write fluently since many of them don't come consistently, but I know that some of them are starting to learn and they are eager to learn and work hard when they do come. But what is more important than teaching them to read and write is the time that we're investing in them that will hopefully show them God's love.

One day, my star student Walter got hit in the side by an older boy as we arrived. I didn't really see it happen, but I did see Walter sitting on the ground, crying and upset. Knowing that the other boys would do nothing to comfort him, I went over and sat beside him. I put my arm around him, asked him what happened, and gently rubbed his head and back as he vented about what the other boy had done to him. Since the boys don't really have supervision and there's not really anything I can do about it, there was nothing much I could say, but I was able to comfort him.

The thing is, even if years from now none of them remember me, I will remember them. Even if I don't end up doing anything for them, they did something for me, probably more than they'll ever know, and probably more than I'll even realize.

You see, my Spanish sucked up until a couple months ago. Sure, I understood a lot and could even order food for myself, but when it came to having an actual full conversation in Spanish, it just didn't happen. I have some social phobias, and because I knew my Spanish wasn't the best, I tended to get super fearful when it came time to talk in Spanish and whatever Spanish I did have suddenly disappeared and I couldn't come up with any words and just felt more embarrassed.

So, I never really spoke in Spanish which meant it never got any better which meant I still got nervous when I had to speak it. I had also been teased about it by a guy, which made me feel even more incompetent... But because I was in a teaching environment in which I was comfortable and talking with kids that weren't judging me on my Spanish or making me feel bad about it, something clicked. It was like all the Spanish that was locked up inside me had become unlocked and I began to speak it more freely and without fear.

One day in particular stood out to me. It was the only day (so far) that I've gone to Corner School by myself, but my roomie had a massive migraine and I wasn't going to let the kids down. That day, a young woman approached me and asked me about what I was doing with the kids. I told her and invited her to join us anytime, but she worked until past the time we usually started. Another woman stopped in her car and asked about what I was doing, and I sent my phone number to her (via one of the kids).

Then, on the way home, a guy who had seen me on the corner was coming out of his business and asked me about what I was doing with the kids. We ended up talking for nearly 5 minutes about it, and I only tripped over my words a couple of times, but just kept going. I exchanged names with him, became Facebook friends, and started hanging out with him.... He's now my boyfriend. He speaks virtually no English.

No no matter where I go or who I'm talking to, my Spanish just flows more freely and I don't worry that much when I don't have the words right because it doesn't matter as much. Sometimes I stumble and fall in my words, but I just keep getting up and plugging along. I definitely have those kids to thank, who were willing to open up to me to allow me to teach them. I hope that I can continue working with them and maybe someday I can repay them for what they've done for me.

Please be praying for me in these ways:
- I have a HUGE decision coming up as to where I might be doing ministry next fall. Please pray that I make the right decision based on what God would have me do, not based on what I want to do.
- Pray that my new relationship continues to bring glory to God and that we continue to seek God's will in our lives.
- Pray for the kids that come to Corner School, that they would recognize that we're there because they love them and that we love them because God loves them.
- Pray for the older guys we've met at the corner who want to get clean but don't know how (I am talking with a friend about getting them to a rehab center).
- Pray for the kids at Eagle's that they would continue to work hard in the final semester and that God would continue to give me the patience I need to get through the rough days.
- Pray for traveling mercies as I am currently in Costa Rica renewing my visa and will be traveling back to Honduras tomorrow.

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