Friday, January 28, 2011

What do I do now?

One of the ways God has been stretching me while I've been in Costa Rica is working with the kids here in the community. But, you say, didn't you work in pediatrics in the states? Yes...on a one-on-one my own language. Here it is typically for Christina and I to have 8 to 25 children in the house at one time, all yelling in Spanish....but mostly yelling "Julie! Julie! Julie!" When we first started our kids program, we wrote out very specific, very simple rules that hung on the wall and we would go over them each day:

1. No hitting, yelling, or running in the house
2. Nice words only
3. No drawing on the tables
4. Doors should stay open except for the bathroom door
5. No climbing on the outside fence
6. I am not your mother, pick up your own messes

Christina and I thought we had done really well with these rules. We even had a system of enforcement. Since all the kids know about soccer, we decided that if you broke the rules once, you got a yellow card (just like in soccer), which was your warning, and if you broke the rules a second time, you got a red card and had to leave the Casa Nueva for the day and couldn't come back until the next day. When the kids would misbehave, we would tell them what color card they got and if they got a red card, I would walk the child to the door, tell them why they had to leave, explain that we loved having them there, but they had to follow the rules. This worked well for the first week. Week two, enter Yuron.

(This is Yuron showing Veronia's baby, Genesis, how to make bracelets.
He asked me if I would make some for him.
I asked why. He told me he wanted me to make a bunch of them
so he could sell them for money.
I told him I would SHOW him how to make them, but he had to make them if he wanted
to sell them. He told me that wasn't as much fun.)

My favorite 6-year-old hand-full. Yuron's favorite thing to do is climb. I swear he is part monkey. For a week straight he ended up getting a red card for climbing the fence around the house and would be escorted to the door. Usually he ended up pouting on the other side of the fence. But the next day he would be back, happy as ever to be there. And without fail, despite reitterating the rule that there is NO climbing on the walls, he would receive both the yellow and red cards for disobeying. Then one day I decided the rules just were not working for Yuron. He wasn't understanding, as most kids his age don't, the word NO. So I changed my tactics. I pulled him aside right away and told him everything he COULD do in the front yard. He could dance. He could run. He could skip, hop, roll over, walk backwards, act like a puppy, run in circles, color with chalk, etc. etc. And finally something clicked. He managed to go the whole day without a colored card. The next day, after a full class, he came up to me and asked what color card he got. He hadn't gotten any!! I was soooo proud of him! And you know what? It's been 5 weeks and still no cards.

I think God did this for us, too. So many times we focus on the Thou Shalt Nots that we forget the You Mays. I have been thinking a lot about that lately....the things God tells us No to and the things that God tells us Yes to. How we should conduct ourselves and how we as children of God should behave. We have freedom to dance! To laugh! To run! To play! We have the freedom to worship and sing, to be ourselves, to live creative lives. We have the ability to discover who God has designed us to be and thrive in it!

I think Paul writes a great list of things we can do as Christ-lovers in 1 Thessalonians 5:
Christian Conduct
 12But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you,
and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction,
13and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.
Live in peace with one another.
14We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly,
encourage the fainthearted,
help the weak,
be patient with everyone. 
15See that no one repays another with evil for evil,
but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 
16Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 
18in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
 19Do not quench the Spirit;
20do not despise prophetic utterances.
21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
22abstain from every form of evil.
23Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 24Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
25Brethren, pray for us.
26Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 
27I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.
28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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