Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Double Overtime Investment

One thing I could not fully appreciate about teaching until I was actually teaching was how emotionally invested in these dirty rotten scoundrels I would become. There are so many kids I care about deeply. Here are a few.

Basketball is a big part of life at Quisqueya. We have an amazing coach, our friend Art. The year before the quake, QCS won the national championship. But this year... is a rebuilding year. For weeks before the season, I joined a group of teachers and parents to scrimmage with the boys. I felt a little responsible for some of their improvement and I had high hopes. They are 0-3. They have been in a position to win every game, but have not.

It is tough for me to see young men like (we'll call him) Jacob pour everything into games and practices, but still lose. Last Saturday, the morning after losing in double overtime, Jacob came up to QCS to practice free throws by himself. Nobody made him. Oh, did I mention it was his 17th birthday? No biggie, he wants to be great. He could have been at the beach or out celebrating, but he showed up to shoot. How do you not cheer for that kid and grieve when he comes up short? (This says nothing for the admiration I have for Art who is trying to stay positive while coaching up these kids).
Writing about basketball is fun, and deserves its own blog entry later. But something else has taken priority in my mind this week. It is re-enrollment time at QCS. There are hundreds of applications pouring in, yet for the entire secondary there are only 10 open spots. Some of our current students will not be allowed to re-enroll. 

I disciple 3 young men in 9th grade, and it has been an exercise in patience (I now know how Rich, Matt and David felt working with teenage me.) I found out last week that two of my three students will not be coming back to QCS. Both have struggled all year. Not that I am hyper-critical to myself, but I'm trying to examine the role I played. Could I have done anything better? Would a more awesome Bible study from me have moved these boys closer to Christ, and from that would they have tried harder in school? Is that sacrilege, a low view of God's sovreignty? Could I have been more relational with them? Should I have been more strict as a teacher? I know I cannot save anyone. I know they have been a uniquely unwilling group. I also have not forgotten our often repeated mantra, that we plant trees beneath which we will never sit. Still, it was still disappointing to know that they will be gone because of poor choices, and they were my charges. I have shared the gospel with them, prayed with them, answered questions about females with them... but now that investment is moving on.

Another student I'm close to who won't be returning next year is just leaving to leave. Her grades are low. Her parents have split up, and she often talks about how her dad isn't around much. This year her brother was dismissed for his choices, then a few months later her best friend was as well. What a beating for her. I think she feels she might as well go too. This girl, however, has been at QCS since before the earthquake. We went through that really unique post-quake-teaching-in-our-living-room-keep-calm-and-carry-on stage. I know she is capable of so many things. I hate to see her go.
I have never known how to not get emotionally involved in anything. Katie thinks is one of my best traits. She always comments on how loyal I am to friends, to causes, to family- even to bosses and jobs (sometimes). So the maddeningly frustrating thing about teaching here is that emotional involvement is a risky investment. The person you are invested in might not produce a return while you are with them- they might in fact seem to do everything they can to reject my investment. Or, they might just move on.

Please do not think I am down. I love my job so much that it seems criminal that I get to do this full time. The last time I expressed something similar to these emotions I got an awesome email from my pops telling me not to be down. Down? Lord no. I love this more than I could ever express. But, as I walked off the court on Friday after the double overtime loss I realized that despite my love for teaching and specifically for these kids it is exhausting to care.



  1. Ben (and Katie), The Lord works through us, and sometimes He decides to let things happen that we don't like. You two are in the game, making things happen, while many (including me) are just watching (and praying). Look at the positive things He has done through you, the many small victories that you have seen, and the countless more you won't see but that you helped to foster. Just do the next right thing. God bless you both.

  2. "i am weary at the end of my work, but I never grow weary of my work."

  3. I love your blog, Ben and Katie! It inspires me to continue to study and work here, knowing that people and patients I work with may not appreciate it. Keep on sowing...your rewards will not only be in heaven but also here I'll bet! Just might take a while to see it all :)



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