Last week I was the token American at a children's camp in a city about 60 miles from here. This children's camp was at Dětská Misie (Children's Mission) in Přibor. The name of this post actually comes from the meaning of the word Přibor: cutlery. I love the names of towns here...
The children's camp wasn't specifically an English camp, so I didn't have a LOT to do, but we did have three 40-minute English lessons which I led. It was wonderful to be with the children at this camp; I believe that my Czech vocabulary expanded quite a bit around these children who consistently forgot that I don't speak their language, and so they were always speaking to me in Czech, expecting me to understand. At times that was difficult and/or frustrating. More often, however, given the context of the activities we were engaged in, I could actually guess what the children were saying or asking, and I was occasionally capable of answering them appropriately out of my limited vocabulary. Another wonderful thing about this camp was the counselors at the camp. Most of them had very limited English vocabulary, but that didn't stop us from developing friendships based on our common faith in Christ, our willingness to struggle with our language barrier, and our ability to laugh with love at ourselves and one another. Because I didn't have a lot of actual English responsibilities and wasn't really able to interact with the children on a very deep level, I felt guilty being inactive while everyone was caring for the children. As a result of this, I made myself useful in the kitchen, loading and unloading the dishwasher, hand-washing other dishes a couple of times a day, helping to prepare food, tidying and cleaning in the kitchen, and cleaning up the dining room after meals as well. It was bizarre, but on Thursday evening as I was washing dishes and scalding my hands in the water, I had a realization that I was really very happy, that I couldn't imagine anything else (other than washing dishes) that I would rather be doing at that very moment. Weird.
This week we are having a children's English Camp here at the church hall in Třinec. I am helping to teach the advanced class of eight incredibly bright young boys (6-10 years). They have surpassed our expectations of them by learning in the first day all of the material that we had planned for the first two days. I am also leading the Bible story time of the camp. We are covering the Fall, the Flood, the Crucifixion and Resurrection, Zacchaeus, and the Feeding of the 5,000. This is actually causing me great anxiety, as I realize that teaching or even being in front of a crowd of children between the ages of 4 and 10 is one of my greatest weak spots. I find it very intriguing that I have such difficulty in front of such young children, when I'm sure that a crowd of most any size, between the ages of 15 and 100 would cause no problems for me. I could handle that. More than not being geared toward this age group, I feel the weight of needing to faithfully proclaim the Gospel to these children. This may be the main source of my anxiety; I want so much to be found faithful to the Lord in this task.
Another thing on my mind: school starts in 12 days and I still don't know the details of my responsibilities for the year. I know that we've talked about me teaching conversation to the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. But I haven't had a chance yet to have a meeting with my school's director to nail down exactly what will be my tasks during the school year. This is a major concern for me.
Right now I'm reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It's awesome. Bonhoeffer illustrates strongly the difference between God's real grace in Christ, which is costly, and cheap grace, the grace which people appropriate for themselves when they sin, but then say, "but I won't worry, Jesus has forgiven me for that, so I don't have to be too serious about radically putting that sin away (i.e. cutting off a hand or plucking out an eye if it causes me to sin-- Matt. 5:29-30). He expounds his thesis using the whole of the Sermon on the Mount. I highly recommend it.
Please pray that I would have peace about teaching and leading Bible stories at Children's English Camp this week and that I would have peace about teaching this fall. Pray that God would do away with my fears and my worries of inadequacy in these things and that He would lead me to rely on Him even more desperately. Pray that I would spend more time reading God's Word and talking to Him in prayer, lifting up to Him all my concerns. Pray that He would give me motivation to use my time wisely for Him and for serving those around me.
"Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." -Philippians 2:12b-13
Přibor, Cutleryville, was the birthplace of Sigmund Freud, for those who are interested. His family lived there until he was 3, when they moved to Austria. He is kind of a big deal to that town, as is evident in the Freud Inn, the Freud bust in a little green spot near to the town square, his preserved boyhood home (complete with psychologist's couch on the front lawn), and the Freud related items that are available for purchase in many of the shops on the town square.