Have you ever stopped to wondering how much you've changed over time? Do you think your former self would recognise who you are now? I (Amanda) had a week which really highlighted to me how much I've changed, not in good or bad ways, but I saw how I was now different.
On this week fell Day of the OANSA Leader -- OANSA is the Bolivian version of the AWANA children's and youth programmes, which originated some years ago in the USA. I'm not sure about which day specifically because I don't actually care about these things, but being the OANSA youth ministry coordinator in our church, I was supposed to be celebrated at some point this past week. The OANSA ministerial team for Trinidad organised a dinner for all OANSA leaders on Wednesday night at 8pm. Craig and I looked at each other, and I decided to bite the bullet and go on our behalf, thus allowing him to stay in, because he might die a slow death if forced to actually celebrate a Hallmark holiday (he made an exception for Mother's day this year, me being a new Mom and all, but we've become quite unromantic with Valentine's Day, it being overly corporate).
So a whole pile of leaders from our church went to this organised dinner, where we arrived on time, and proceeded to wait for almost another hour before anybody else showed up from any other church. Even, our own church members were getting antsy about this time. And then there was still a whole programme to get through before we could eat. The food came out about 10:40. I don't think we left until 11:30, and we still had to drive some of the youth home to the village of Maná, about 20 minutes away.
The most revelatory aspect of this evening to me, however, was the fact that I had fun. I suddenly remembered that when I was younger I liked going out and being in large groups, laughing and joking, but that due to business, tiredness, and a lack of a social group in our stage of life [you can start playing your violins around now, folks -- Craig] we just don't do that any more. And I had fun! It was fun! And I got dropped off at my door in a large carpool, just like when I was at Uni coming back from a youth event. I felt young again... until I realised it was past midnight and I was about to turn into a pumpkin. Seriously, I remembered why I had changed: my body is falling apart and I am old. Okay, I'm only 30, but it is true -- my body is falling apart and I am old. So, great to be reminded of who I was in my glory days, but I think I get more excited now about early bedtimes than a long night out on a the town. But thank you, Trinidad OANSA Ministerial Team: the chicken was lovely!
This week we finally organised another FT staff training morning. The Board had been meaning to organise one since June, but people kept scheduling surgery over the mornings I had fenced off, apparently thinking that emergency surgery was more important. As if. Okay, maybe it is. But finally on Thursday morning we got all the staff together in one place and made them say nice things to each other. In all seriousness, that was the first activity Mariana pulled out of her bag of tricks. Everyone had to say something positive or something they were thankful for about the person sitting on their right. The activity was supposed to highlight how much easier it is for us to think of negative things to say about each other, and to really force us to try and be positive. It was generally a success, with a few minor hiccups. One person ended her positive comment by saying, "But I would also advise her to try harder with her personality." Someone else started by saying, "Well, he's a lot better now than he was at the beginning." And finally, someone said, "I like how she wants to do everything right. People may think she has an ugly and hard personality, but it's because she wants to do everything right." My jaw hit the floor when that was said. Obviously the PC brigade never got this far into the Amazon jungle.
But being the HR Director, these staff mornings are generally my show, so I chaired the morning and led people through the activities. Our morning GP, Dr. Vargas, organised a seminar on the purpose of and how to properly put together a Procedures Manual, because FT doesn't have an updated one. We need to get it organised by the end of the year and most staff looked at me funny when I asked people to write in point form how they go about their jobs. So, we had a training morning. And Dr. Vargas did a really good job. Even I feel more confident about sitting down and writing out the details of my job (which I haven't started to do yet).
But as I was sitting through the seminar and my mind started to wander to other things (hey, I said Dr. Vargas did a good job, I didn't say the material was gripping), I kind of thought about how I would never have dreamed of being able to do my job when I was in University. My insecurity always killed my confidence, and while I never shied away from standing up in front of people, I always had intense nerves. Now, I just do it and move on to the next thing, and sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and say, "Who are you? And where were you in grade 7 when I was supposed to be Patty in Charlie Brown's Christmas play?"
Our new volunteer arrived this week, Roseanne Sanders from England. And she's really nice. We're going to be friends. And right there is another change. I have never made friends really easily. I have always been too insecure and worried about what people thought to really give myself to friendships easily. It has always taken time with me to really becomes friends with someone. But it has become easier and easier to just give myself to people and make friends in recent years.
So, Rosie and I are going to be buddies for the next three weeks. I mean, she brought shortbread for everyone to share at FT. Who doesn't want to be friends with someone like that? And she is up for anything. I'm sure there are some things that she didn't come out her to do, like intense manual labor, but she hasn't said no to me yet...I wonder what else I could get her to do. I wonder how she feels about babysitting. Can you say 'Date Night'?
And I have never seen anyone less stressed and polite after losing their suitcase, which did not leave Brazil when she did. Thankfully, she has her suitcase again. I'm pretty sure I would have lost my cool at some point, but she was really relaxed about the whole experience.
We're all looking forward to spending more time with her over the next three weeks and I know that Odalys and Maye, in our Speech Therapy and Audiology Department, are especially excited to have the extra help.
Craig mentioned that we had attended a one day conference on mentoring while in Sucre by Rick Lewis. Rick highlighted that the purpose of mentoring is identifying and promoting the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And he asked us all to think of the ways that we knew that the Lord was currently working in our lives, possibly convicting us of specific sin or challenging us in certain circumstances. Yet he said that mentoring had to do with all the ways in which God was working in us, but that we couldn't specifically identify. That's why we need the help of mentors. Because the reality is that God is doing so much more than we are actually conscious of at any given moment. God is changing us, moulding as, and growing us and the truth is that when I look back on my life, I can see some evidence of specific change, but the rest has just kind of happened slowly over time. And for this I am grateful: that God knows and me and loves me enough to want to change me where I need to most, without me even noticing sometimes. I like being more confident. I like being able to come alongside people without a lot of insecurities getting in the way. I like making friends. And, while getting excited about early bedtimes might not be an overly spiritual change, I know that I know myself more now than I did before, and I know how I need to take care of myself...and sometimes it is an early bedtime. And I am sure that in another 15 years I am going to be a completely different person again, and that's kind of exciting.
- For Rosie and her three weeks with us at FT.
- Craig is preaching on Sunday from 2 Kings 2; please pray for him as he shares God's word.
- We tried to apply for Sam's passport this week, after successfully applying for his Bolivian ID Card, and we hit some obstacles. So, please pray that we get his application submitted on Monday.
- For some delicate pastoral care situations that Craig and the other church leaders are involved in right now.
- For Sam's ID card and updated birth certificate being processed
- For Rosie's safe arrival and the arrival of her bag two days later.
- For a really beneficial staff training morning
- For a good time out with the other OANSA leaders on Wednesday night
¡Que Dios les bendiga!
Craig, Amanda & Sam