I’ve been processing, the past several days, I AM ART camp that took place last week at a children’s home in Guatemala City. It was a week that I dreaded, stressed over, planned for and simply, to be quite honest, didn’t really want to begin. Little did I know I would feel very differently by the end of it.
When I had heard that Athentikos would be leading two art camps this year, I signed up. My anticipation of my involvement was that I would help with translation like I had the year before. As logistics were being sorted out stateside, the team realized they needed more artists to teach workshops so they asked me what I thought. The idea of workshop leading excited and terrified me all at once. I responded to them that I’d pray about it but they could probably count on me to do it. It happened. I was signed up to lead a workshop. Then fear set in.
I had no clue of their expectation or what art medium I would use to teach the I AM ART curriculum. After a couple of days I decided on photography. Team Skype meetings came; I dreaded them. Every time it stressed me out to present my ideas to the more experienced artists. I had no clue how it was all going to pan out. A supply list was compiled, but there was no way I could afford to buy it all. I was overwhelmed! I was looking at the big picture or at least what I perceived it to be and it seemed impossible for my human form to accomplish. As time went on, I realized how right I was. God revealed His hand in three tiny miracles;
Miracle #1: God gave me community. A friend, the right artistic and creative friend, came alongside at just the right time. We spent 2 hours bouncing ideas off one another and developing a plan. I felt more at peace with the undertaking after having her help.
Miracle #2: He supplied the resources to make it happen. My mom shared the need with our support team and in little to no time all supplies were on their way!
Miracle #3: As time passed and I attended more meetings and my confidence and preparedness grew. I had freaked out about the details but He didn’t leave me there long. God provided. He is faithful.
The week approached and I was stressed. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I wished for more time. Feeling somewhat unprepared, I had forgotten Who had and would work it out.
Monday, the first day of classes, I was nervous. So many unknowns flooded my mind. I had no idea if the “plan” would work well, if it would engage the children or bore them, if it would last the full three hour session or leave me frantically filling time with unplanned games after completing the lesson in 30 minutes. Would the children behave, enjoy, tolerate, or act out? Perhaps the biggest uncertainty was that not only would I be teaching photography for the first time but I would be doing so in my second language, Spanish.
I survived day one. My Spanish held up. I didn’t love or hate the outcome of the day but was glad it was over. My kids were some of the oldest in the group so along with their adolescence there were the attitudes you might expect. With many of them having lived at the children’s home for the majority of their lives, they have come to be calloused to short term groups and teams. If they don’t allow themselves to feel attachment, they won’t feel the heart tugs as the short-termers skip country. This dynamic was fairly obvious from the get go. I didn’t struggle understanding their hesitancy or should I say their cool attitude. In fact, I’ve found myself, to some extent, on the other side. Me being the cold host. Sounds pretty harsh but I don’t have any lighter way to put it. I was thankful to have that deeper understanding of the children’s lives.
Slowly they began to open up. Not nearly as quick as I did but they got there. Very seldom was I able to see the excitement of the children as they learned. I guess partly because I didn’t truly know them yet. But I would. My first perception was I had a class full of uninterested young men and women, a potential flirt and a class outcast. Man was I wrong. I quickly learned (well perhaps it took me the whole week to learn) you can never know the heart from that which is displayed on the faces of others.
One example of this was one that brought tears to my eyes. It is that of a young man of about 15 or 16. He hardly ever spoke. I struggled to remember his name at the beginning of the week. So expressionless, I wondered if he even cared to be there. Second to last day, I sat down beside him on the basketball court and he turns to me and asks,
“Will you all come back next year? I mean to do an art camp?”
To which I respond “I really don’t know. Hopefully!”
“Well, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
This from the expressionless adolescent. His voice spoke with sincerity. It spoke deeply to me. As if that wasn’t enough to touch my heart, he wrote me a sweet note thanking me for teaching him so much, that he had really enjoyed it, and that he was going to miss me. I had observed this boy all week. During our large group session he would enter, his face would say “I feel alone in this crowd of people, I don’t even know where to go”, and then he would awkwardly shuffle to the back of the room. I had seen it happen several times as if he was lost and couldn’t find anyone he knew. But by the end of the week he knew me, that I was there because I cared about him and the others. That he realized that blessed me.
One of the older girls had an attitude at the beginning of the week but that disappeared as the week came to a close. She would walk up and greet me with the sweetest of hugs. Hugs of friendship.
…to be continued