First, I would say that being in a Christian bubble for over seven years and then being plopped down into a non-Christian organization was very difficult. It was so shocking to me that our time of orientation and training did not begin with prayer. Here we are launching into a ridiculously complex task and no one bothered to pray for us!
Long Days, Short Weekends
Each day (Monday through Friday) I had breakfast at 5:30am, had to be on a bus by 6:10am, and did not get back to my apartment until around 5pm. I had never done anything like this before so consistently. It was terrible! I was so tired when we got back but I still would have work to do. And some mornings I had to wake up at 3 or 4am just to finish my lesson. Terrible. Training this summer taught me what the weekends are for—sleep, more sleep, socializing, and gathering with the people of God.
Acceptance without Accountability
I am also learning a lot more about my generation. I see people are really transparent and vulnerable, but not to the point where someone can say that a decision they made was wrong or inappropriate. So many times I thought I would be left alone because I was that Christian guy but people who were outspoken about their unbelief warmly embraced me. This made me think about how if people who did not know the Savior could accept me, then I should be able to embrace them because I knew the Savior (while intentionally leading them to him).
At one point I had the chance to attend what TFA calls “Affinity groups.” The one I chose was the Christian affinity group. I was so pleased and so happy to attend it. Then later that night there was a party and some of the same people who were praying were the same who were drinking (in what I thought was an unwise manner), using foul language, etc. That discouraged me deeply. Yet I am very thankful for the few Christians I met that were deeply committed to Jesus.
What Made Me Laugh Hard
My co-teacher had divided the ten middle schoolers in our class into two groups, boys and girls. We each supervised a group. As I moved closer and closer to the guys, I could pick up on their conversation more. It soon became apparent that they were talking about where babies come from. I was hearing their less-than-scientific explanations and theories, and I burst out laughing. I called their theories a “collective pool of ignorance” (not to their faces). Middle schoolers are so much fun…always moody, always trying to prove something, and always doing it in a way that is deeply awkward/humorous.