I’m shocked but happy to say that I’m enjoying my work. In particular, I’m enjoying teaching these children.
This is shocking to me because I’ve never considered myself a natural with children. I mean, I’m friendly to them but if they’re not friendly back, I’m not bothered (unless they’re rude, then I’m very bothered) and I very easily leave them alone until they’re ready to be friendly. I thought that teaching this age group would be a ‘grit my teeth and get through it because it’s a part of the job’ type of thing. It absolutely hasn’t been. As I’ve told you before, I was nervous when I just started teaching my classes and I would sweat profusely for the first 10 minutes or so of class before my body would relax. Now, I start my classes cool as a cucumber and end it that way too.
I spend concentrated time each week planning my lessons so that I’m prepared for class and I give my students the best lesson that I can. Their attendance is sketchy but I’ve learned when preparing my lessons to expect any eventuality, including having only 1 kid show up for class. That happened in week 4 and threw me for a loop because the little girl who showed up was the 1 in the class with the worst English and starting a new topic with only her was senseless since my Indonesian was still very basic. We ended up practicing her English pronunciation by reading some stories. I’m sure she didn’t understand what she was reading but she improved the way she pronounces, ‘Who, How, Where, The, There, and Then’ and that was something, at least. That same week, I also prepared for another class, expecting the usual 4 children to show up. Instead, I had a class of 13, 6 of whom were new. I had to adjust quickly.
Another reason I expected to find teaching a chore is because I do it in the afternoons, since the children come after school. Being a morning person, beginning any substantial activity in the afternoons and evenings is not the most productive use of my energy because I usually tend to struggle through it. Also, once I get into a work activity, like doing a financial analysis or drafting procedures, I don’t like to surface until I’m done or until my brain can’t go anymore. I don’t have that luxury here because wherever I’m at with my online work, once it’s time for class I have to stop what I’m doing and go teach the children. I normally would be irritated by that type of interruption but during week 3 I was surprised to realise that I was fine with it.
Fridays and Saturdays, the days I have my SMA class, are my most challenging days because I don’t start teaching until 3 or 4 pm, by which time I’m really dragging. Even so, I find myself enjoying my classes with these eager-to-learn teens.
I also enjoy the online work that I do for the NGO. I lead the Hiring team (I do everything from the point of interviewing applicants up to onboarding them but excluding making the actual hiring decision – I have an assistant who does the groundwork with the applicants); and I’m a part of the Finance Reports team (I review the weekly, monthly and yearly finance reports for 3 centres in Indonesia). I also prepare various monthly reports for the centre where I live. Coming from an executive position in a corporate setting, these reports are minor compared to what I’m used to but they’re numerous and frequent so I can’t approach doing them with a laid back attitude.
In recent weeks, I’ve come to realise that the daily work I do for the NGO, both online and at the centre, is not the only work of my hands. This blog is also a work of my hands.
When I started it, I thought of it only as a way of keeping my family and friends informed of my experiences while I am far from them. But I found that I was pouring myself into this blog and baring myself in ways that I had never expected. Doing anything less felt inauthentic. Still, my audience was just my anam cara, my parents, my aunt and a few friends. Then 1 night, my friend told me by Whatsapp that she had been sharing my blog with people from her church and they were touched by it. I realised that God was using me in ways that I was totally unaware of (and still am, I’m sure) and the awesomeness of it caused me to burst into tears and prayers of thanksgiving. This was what I had asked God for as I was trudging up Mount Kilimanjaro on that gruelling fourth day – that He would use my experience to bless somebody, and it seems that He has.
So every morning before I start my workday, I commit my work, my day and my life into His hands. I ask that He use me to bless somebody that day, even if I don’t know about it, and that the work of my hands will somehow demonstrate the love of Jesus to someone.
Maybe that’s why I’m enjoying my work.