Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kinda Bad Can Be Pretty Good

Let’s just say that I’ve been having a rough go of things in recent weeks.  For the past month, it has been one thing after another, and to be perfectly honest, it has officially gotten under my skin.  A month ago, we (Quaker Cottage) took a residential up to a place called Corrymeela.  Essentially, residential involves taking a group of mums and their children on a four day holiday.  My role was to take the children out and about each day.  Now don’t get me wrong, I really had a great time, and it was fantastic growing closer to the kids in a way that isn’t possible when I see them only twice a week.  The problem was that some of the kids have behavioral issues, and I have very little experience with kids like this.  I had no idea what I could do to control them or help them have a good time.  At one point, I was so frustrated with both my inability to do anything and their inability to listen that I wanted to just sit right where I was and cry.  That was my lowest point in all of my time here so far.  However, through discussions with my coworkers, I learned that the others felt nearly the same as me and that there wasn’t much more that I could be doing. 

One week of stress finished. (There’s more bad to come, but bear with me. I’ll get to happy stuff at the end.)

As a part of my job, I have to cook lunch for the mums for an entire week every six or so weeks.  If cooking is an art form, then call me a struggling artist.  Thankfully, because it was another volunteer’s and my first time, we were told that we would be doing the cooking week together.  Still, this stressed me out, but I made it through.

Week two finished.

Haha! Just kidding! Because the two of you did the cooking week together, you get another cooking week!  Yeah, ok.  That makes sense.  Did you have to wait until Friday to let me know it’s not over yet?  I mean, I was all excited thinking I would finally be able to spend some time with the kids again.  Good news is that I only burned myself once!

Hallelujah! Second cooking week was done.

Now, in case you’re thinking that I’m a wimp because I get stressed out by a little food, let me just say that through all of this, I had also been working on editing a video for the residential we had gone on.  I had zero experience with video editing, and I didn’t even have a program on my computer that would do that sort of thing properly.  For those who don’t know, video editing is an extremely lengthy process.  With that in mind, it’s time to start the third week after residential.  I have already put a lot of hours into the video, but it’s time to really get down to business.  Much of my free time for the entire week was spent on the video, and in the final few days before the deadline, I spent every minute outside of work working on it.  I was ready for a break…

Fourth tough week finished.

And the break came! Except on Wednesday last week.  That was a bad day.  I was in a rush in the morning, and I had to fill up the tank in one of the buses.  Allow me to preface this by saying that at petrol stations here the petrol nozzle thingy is green whereas the diesel nozzle in the States is green.  Well, I filled up my tank with unleaded when I really wanted diesel.  That’s not a good thing.  Four hours of sitting in a bus while waiting for a tow truck and later waiting on a fuel evacuation service gave me plenty of time to beat myself up for my stupidity.  I was really upset with myself.  I was costing other people an awful lot of money because I didn’t pay attention.  

And now there’s today.  Again, I’m on the bus.  I’m on a week of holiday, so today I decided I was going to head into town to explore some and do a bit of geocaching.  I park in a car park and pay for a ticket.  Fast forward to when I arrive back at the bus.  Hmm…where’s the ticket I stuck to my windshield? It had fallen off of the windshield so that it was no longer visible.  And then I see the parking ticket under my wipers.  £90 fine!  Thankfully, I still have the ticket I paid for, so I will be appealing the fine.  We’ll see where that goes. 

So yeah, it’s been hard here.  But you know what?  A lot of wonderful things have happened too.  Like I mentioned, the residential brought out a new side of the kids, and I feel a lot closer to them now.  The cooking weeks are over, and I’m extremely thankful that I was able to do them with another person.  It allowed me to get a feel for how it’s done without everything being on my shoulders.  And the video?  I think it turned out exceptionally.  I am extremely proud of myself for the job that I did.  Probably more so than I should be but whatever.  

The day that I sat in the bus for hours beating myself up was odd.  I think I needed that time sitting there alone.  I had nothing at all to do during those hours except think, and it wasn’t until the end that I figured it out.  That time was like a metaphor for most of my life.  I’ve always been WAY too hard on myself.  The mistakes I make are carried with me long after anyone else involved has already forgotten about them.  But not me.  For whatever reason, I have to “punish” myself by mentally berating myself.  That way, I won’t do it again (which I do anyway).  I know that I do this, and I know that I shouldn’t.  So I’m sitting in the cold, dark bus, and here’s my revelation: Mistakes happen.  Duh-duh-DUHHH!  I don’t know, but I feel like maybe this time it will stick with me a bit more.  Hopefully, I’ll be a little bit nicer to myself.  I found a quote awhile back that fits with this perfectly:  “And on those days when I am really down and kicking myself, I have to tell myself, ‘Hey, be nicer to my friend.’”  (I don’t know who said it. It just wasn’t me.)

There have been so many more moments when I can feel God lifting me up.  In the middle of one of my tough weeks, I had told my mom that I just wanted a hug.  And wouldn’t you know it, the next day at work, I walk in to see the kids, and they jump up and nearly tackle me with hugs.  

After sitting in the cold bus for hours, I was shivering uncontrollably.  The man from the fuel evacuation service was so positive and let me sit in his vehicle to warm up while he was working.  Man, did I like that guy!

Well, I have tons more stories and things to talk about, but I’m tired of writing.  Ta-ta for now!

P.S. I tend to skip words when I write, and I didn’t feel like proofreading. I hope you’ll excuse the mistakes (that’s a life lesson right there!). 

1 comment:

  1. Andrew! I loved hearing from you by way of comment!! I love reading your blog, it makes me remember all the reasons we're friends which is a happy thing, but bums me out because I miss you!

    I know you're doing great work there and that your love for those children will certainly change their lives, even if they don't appreciate that right now. That's what I'm realizing working with middle schoolers. I just remember myself at that age and how little I appreciated things that were important. I was a twerp!

    And that thing about calling yourself your friend is an awesome idea! I used to tell that to people a lot, and I definitely use that with my kids now. It also works when they're being mean to each other, because once I say, "Hey, that kid is my friend too!" they tend to lay off a little. Little.

    I feel like we have such similar experiences even though we're half a world apart! Crazy, eh?

    Keep on keepin' on, friend. :)