by Amanda Judah
During my semester in Ecuador, I’ve been volunteering in a local elementary school a few mornings a week. The Bible is filled with examples of child-like faith, and so while it might be a bit cliché, getting to know the students has allowed me to reflect spiritually.
Being “in charge” of the students has caused me to consider the importance of having, and being, a positive role model. While my work is mostly focused on an academic lifestyle, it’s just as important to have spiritual models, and this is one of the most powerful benefits of a church community. It is incredibly encouraging and enriching to connect with other individuals whose spiritual trajectory reflects their personal goals. As I attempt to act as a mentor, I’ve had to recognize the hypocrisy of my own actions and truly reflect on what values I hold strongly enough to impart onto others. It’s easy enough to talk about the importance of certain morals, but actions do speak louder than words. In the classroom, I constantly encourage the students to stop getting distracted in order to complete their work. Each time I do so, I recognize that this is also a struggle I face when completing my own homework. If I’m disciplining the kids, I need to be disciplining myself, so that my daily actions can be a testament to my values.
Of course, the students themselves have also taught me a lot, including the value of discerning and following your God-given vocation. Although it’s easy for them to get discouraged in subjects they don’t like, they all have passions that I’ve been able to learn about outside of the curriculum. I’ve become especially close with one boy, who wears his Marvel vest every day over his school uniform and often spends recess telling me about his favorite movies. Seeing his eyes light up has convinced me of the importance of acting on the passions God has put on our hearts, especially once we are older and have the tools to bring them to fruition.
Lastly, the students have taught me to appreciate every individual day as a gift from God. They come to class with such energy, and every experience has the potential to be very formative for them. As we grow older, it’s easy to slip into a pattern of seeing every day as a series of boxes to check off, and to believe that every day contains “more of the same,” since we’re not experiencing it anew with childlike wonder. However, it’s been important for me to learn that every day God is teaching me something new, if only I’m open to hearing it. My time in the classroom has taught me that with a supportive community, discipline, and an open mind, we can get a bit closer to actualizing God’s kingdom.
Featured image courtesy of Marlith via Wikimedia Commons