Saturday, October 29, 2005

Pre-Theology Ministry Log 02

(see here)

Pre-Theologian Ministry Log

Date: Thursday, Oct 27, 2005

Event: St. Ambrose Family Outreach Center: Tutored the same lady studying for her G.E.D. that I tutored last time. Her name is Ms. Jenkins.

Name the feelings you experienced during the event: On the way to St. Ambrose, I was feeling very tired and was worried about how focused I would be once I got there. But once I started working with Ms. Jenkins again, her lively personality kept me engaged. This week we worked on reading and grammar. We got a lot of work done but also laughed and joked (as quietly as we could, not to disturb the others) throughout, as well. I really enjoyed helping her. She got a little frustrated at one point and asked me how what was reading had anything to do with what she would be doing in life. She explained that she had been doing social work and how proud she was of the work that she did. But how would reading decimals and combining simple sentences help her with that? I tried to encourage her by insisting that learning is good, in and of itself. By exercising her mind, she could expand the way she thinks and manages other parts of her social work. When she would read the directions to the exercises we were working on, I could tell she was just reading them one word at a time rather than forming complete sentences in her head. She exclaimed at one point that she had no idea what she just read and often times just skips the direction anyway and goes right to the problem. I told her to not be ashamed to read a paragraph or even a couple sentences and then stop and ask herself, “OK, what did I just read?” and then reread it. I told her I had to do that often myself, especially with philosophy (!). I encouraged her to check out a book from the library and practice reading in order to prepare herself for the essay portion of the G.E.D. I asked her what type of books she likes to read and told her I would check her out a book from our library if she could return it the next week. She said she’s never really read a book before but also mentioned she’s Catholic and finds the history of American slavery to be interesting. I felt happy to be able to bring her a book the next time we meet.

Other feelings: At one point we took a break and I joined Vic who was talking with the ladies at the front desk. They were discussing the young man that Vic is tutoring. They explained that he had gotten involved with drugs but now wants to get his education and “come to the Lord.” I like how she equated the two ( Vic began to describe briefly his faith, appropriate to the discussion, and the ladies expressed how happy they were to hear young men like ourselves publicly talk about their faith. They said so many men in their community think “Jesus is just for wimps.” She was very encouraging to us.

What was difficult and or troubling? Why? Ms. Jenkins wore a very revealing blouse which made me feel somewhat uncomfortable. One slightly troubling incident also occurred when I was talking with her about reading. Seemingly out of nowhere she said “When I was in prison… I read all the time!” It caught me off guard and I hoped I didn’t betray a shocked expression on my face!... I don’t think I did.

Where was God in this event? In the Sister working with the G.E.D. students, of course, and in other moments: When Ms. Jenkins told me she was Catholic, in the joy and productivity of our time together, in the understanding I was able to show for her difficulties, and in the ladies at the front desk who were passionate about the Lord and thankful for our witness (Vic and I).

What have you learned about yourself in the wake of this event? I’m more patient with others than I am with myself.

1 comment:

subrosa said...

hey matt! sorry i missed you this sunday. i hope your service at the mass went well. i had actually gone to mass the night before (my theory behind going to mass at the basilica the saturday before sunday marine marathons: if i should die, i want my last memories to be something beautiful) ha!

but really - i finished, and i am still in a lot of hurt today, but not as bad as sunday afternoon.

sounds like your community work is getting challenging. my personal tip: whenever i meet people from backgrounds that are very different from mine (that would be all of my clients), i always prepare myself with an emotional/mental baseball glove and a sense of humor.

re: the woman you were tutoring. that's pretty cool that she got some reading done while she was in prison. it's also very cool that she felt comfortable enough to divulge that to you. next time you see her, you might ask her if she had done any work towards her g.e.d. or college credit.

if she talks more about her desire to do social work (1st: differentiate from social service), tell her one of your friends is a professional social worker, and is rootin' for her. also tell her - from me - that math is *very* important for social workers (especially statistics). ;-) peace out -