Hello again! It's 6pm and I am WIPED! We only taught two classes today, but it is so much more than the teaching. We got our official schedule yesterday and now know exactly who and when we will be teaching, so that is very exciting! All the days vary, from only one class to four classes a day. Bear in mind this is an outdoor, non-heated pool :)
Last weekend was draining as well, both physically(we did an intense hike) and emotionally(found out a friend at home passed away & my friend's daughter passed away)It has been a lot to process and this blog is helping me. Yes, it is great to keep everyone updated on what is going on, but I also want it as an outlet for me and for us to look back and remember what happened while we were here. Not just the teaching, but what emotions we had, our thoughts and feelings.Last weekend was extremely draining. I didn't fall asleep until 3am on Sunday morning because I was crying and having it out with God. I was upset, sad, confused and tired. When I found out that my friend's 5.5 month old daughter died i was heartbroken, then I was furious. I prayed through tears, "God, I know this isn't your fault and I am not blaming you, but WHY?! Why didn't you heal her? I've been praying for her since before she was born(just before my friend gave birth there were complications, she ended up giving birth at 24 weeks & her daughter stayed in the hospital until last week when she died) Why did you give her parents and family hope when you let her survive being born at 24 weeks?" I cried for quite some time. Asked God for peace for my friend and peace for me. I don't have the answer to those questions, and I don't need them, I just needed to be real with God. And real with myself, I don't always have to have it all together, or have the most faith, It's okay to cry and grieve. I needed a release of tears, fears and raw emotion. i know God is good and just and His ways are better than mine, even if I don't understand them. Sunday and Monday were nice days of recovery and refreshing. I had an amazing time with God and Kopo.
Yesterday was a full schedule, we had four classes of 20-25 students each! It was crazy. It was fun. It was overwhelming. It was lifechanging. These past two days teaching have really taken a toll on us: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. As much as I love what we are doing and know that we are exactly where we are supposed to be, it has not been easy. We have had students come that haven't been able to swim because they don't own a swimsuit, that was the one rule the school had regarding the swimming. However there are teachers that do not enforce it, so many students have swam in their boxers, tightie whities, undies, whatever they have. It's all the same to me. Yes, I am accustomed to children swimming in swimsuits, but I do not think that not owning one should stop them from learning to swim. Seeing their faces is absolutely priceless! Even taking a picture I cannot possible capture the joy on their faces when it comes time to swim. You would have thought we brought them to Disneyland! That is for most of the students. Yesterday we had three second grade girls that were so terrified, they screamed and grabbed onto us and did not want to even stand in the water. I had never seen anyone so scared, and I have worked with many a scared child, I was completely in over my head. I prayed and prayed and asked God to renew my strength like never before, and He did. I don't have it in me. Yes I love children but the love that is needed for this is too much for my heart. In the same class I wanted to scream & yell, or just hug and hold these students and cry. God is stretching me beyond my comfort, beyond my ability to love and teaching me so much in all of this. Yes, it can be frustrating, but I have to see beyond myself. These kids are crying out for love and attention, someone that will give them the time of day. I do love them, and I want my love to grow deeper as I seek God and ask Him to continue to change my heart. That God would help me to love like him, and that is crazy unless I really mean it. And He is testing that. Am I really willing to love people I don't know, that are irritating or rude or mean or whatever, not the students but everyone. I don't determine people's worthiness of love, HE does. This is all stuff I know, but really need to live out.
Something else God pointed out to me while I was writing the blog just struck me and brought me to tears, at the age of some of these students, I wouldn't be able to swim in that pool, neither would Kopo. We wouldn't have been able to go to that school either, it was a white school until 1994 when apartheid ended. That is mindblowing! Now, we can come and teach and swim freely, with all groups, blacks, whites & coloured. I believe this pool will be a pool of healing, not physical, but spiritual, emotional and mental. That children can come here and have fun and be loved on regardless of their home situation, social status or skin color. It is incredible and overwhelming, I am so humbled to be here. Today was great, challenging but rewarding.
We had freetime at the end of class and I had girls talking to me and grabbing me and just wanting to be near me, and i got to hug them and they got to hang on me. It was so fun and freeing. It just warmed my heart to be able to give love. One girl told me "You are so friendly to us!" I felt a connection with these kids, even the non-english speaking ones, they knew we loved them. That is all that matters. Do we want them to swim? Yes. Will it be a waste if they don't learn? absolutely not! I could leave today and know that I loved them with everything I have, and don't have! I am overwhelmed that God has chosen my husband and I to represent Him here, we will do our best with His strength. Here's a shot of us in the pool today