Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where I Am That Is Not Here

In sum, I'm helping out, in some fashion, at a 3-week Vacation Bible School for inner-city children, ages 4-12, in east Baltimore. The levels of authority are: the Missionaries of Charity sisters; then the teachers/class leaders; then, basically equal to the teachers, are the Bad Cops/Circulating Disciplinarians who "always pick on us!" and enforce such things as order during breakfast; no fighting during breakfast; no boys or girls at each other's tables during breakfast; order during class; no fighting during class; no boys or girls in each other's sections during class; order between classes; no fighting between classes; no boys or girls grouping together between classes; that children "going to the bathroom" every fifteen minutes give auditory proof of their actual need for said facility; probably that no boys or girls are in...yeah. There are also the Good Cop Helpers who evidently do not enforce any of the above but do help serve meals and do crafts with the children...

...but I think you can guess which group I belong to. It's been...instructive, thus far. Seeing how the children interact with each other and with adults, and where interactions, ah, break down. (If you're wondering at the boys/girls rule - that is the single largest breakdown of discipline, the way they act towards each other. Thus, no interaction.) They're good kids...but well on their way, especially the older ones, to being something else. :( We have 25 hours a week, for three weeks out of 52, to show them maybe there's something more to life than they've learned of it. Something else, and Someone else, than the fights and the eye-for-an-eye, 'I can do whatever I want to you but don't you *dare* do it back to me!' mindset. God gives the growth, to use Paul's phrase; we just plant and water. But the soil we're working with is so hardened by drought and neglect; it's hard going.

Anyway, that's my exhausted theologizing for the evening. I do ask for your prayers for the school: the children, the sisters, and we volunteers. The camp runs through August 8th, which hopefully *will* be the day at the beach that's been promised. :)

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