Yesterday four Regent film students spent time filming in El Callejon. They are making a documentary about the community for a senior project. They interviewed some of the people in the community, including some of the women who come to the Social Work site.
They also interviewed me, asking some really good questions. It made me realize how much I do - and don't - know about El Callejon. In 4 1/2 months, I've learned a lot about the community and rhythm of life. But, there is so much yet to learn!
I'm beginning to realize that long-term ministry is much more complicated than coming on a two-week outreach. Duh! Yeah, that's probably pretty obvious.
It's like any relationship. We can all 'play nice' and be friendly on the surface. You say Hello to the cashier, you exchange pleasantries at church, you smile and talk about surface stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s all a part of beginning relationships. But, at some point, it has to go beyond that to really be a relationship.
In a lot of ways, it was easier to come to El Callejon for just a couple of weeks. I could connect – but on my terms, and then, I was gone. Now, I have to connect in a way that builds on last week, last month. I have to connect in a way that impacts how we relate next week, next month.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s good, and I know this is what relational ministry is all about. But, I have to admit that it is hard for me. Hard because of the barriers. Language, yes, but cultural, as well. I’m learning how much I have to learn about how the people of El Callejon approach life.
Angela shared yesterday about having to go to several neighbors in order to collect all the ingredients she needed to make lunch. Today, she may have to do that all over again. She said, We’re not like you Americans who can plan ahead.
She’s right. I have enough food in my apartment to last for several days, if not an entire week. I have enough money to go and buy another week’s worth of food for myself. As I shared with the film crew, I’ve never once had to pray for my ‘daily bread’ in the way the women of El Callejon have to.
When I prepare lessons, it is from a certain way of seeing the world, a certain way of reading the Bible, of understanding how things work. But, when my listeners don’t have the same view, how can I help them see in any meaningful way?
This morning I have a lesson with our Young Women. And… I don’t have a clue what I’m going to do. I’ve prepared a lesson on Joy, but now I’m wondering if any of it will resonate.
So, I’m analyzing all of this stuff, which is kind of hilarious, because it’s exactly that which seems to most separate me from the women of El Callejon.
The whole notion of planning everything out, looking at it from all sides, fretting and dissecting, all of that is foreign to those who are waking up not sure of how they are going to get food today.
What do I do with all of this? I have to admit, I don’t know. And, I truly hate not knowing! How would I cope with having the most basic things, like my next meal, be so far out of my control? How would I approach my days, my relationships, my understanding of God, if this was my reality? Hmm…
Father, You know that I desire to serve You in El Callejon. As the days and weeks go by, I’m learning more and more how much I don’t know. I’m so lost right now! Please take these feelings of confusion and bewilderment and somehow use even them for Your glory.
Thank you for taking me out of my comfortable little world and allowing me to experience more of You through the people of El Callejon. Today may I surrender my need to be in control for Your perfect plans. Whatever they may be.