Sometimes It Catches You By Surprise

Last year left me shaking like a leaf on a tree in the middle of a tornado.

First day of Shevchenko club 2011_2012
This was from the first day of club last year (2011). There were even more students this year!

So this time around I was determined to be more prepared. I had a plan. I had a backup plan.

Three minutes before the beginning of English club and I am looking at a room already filled nearly to capacity with maybe four familiar faces.

The deputy director walks through the door making  a beeline to my position. I’m not sure how she can so quickly and effortlessly cut through the crowd that reminds me of the Metro nearing rush hour, but I guess this special power comes with great authority.

Approaching she asks, “How did you get in here without me seeing you? I was waiting in the hall.”

I’m staring at a room full of strangers that I’m supposed to lead for the next hour and she wants to discuss my gift of invisibility?

I joke with her about practicing to be a ghost for Halloween. I’m not sure she’s amused. She informs me that she will introduce us to the students and then we are free to start. Well, I’m not about to argue with this woman.

An hour later and I am sitting in the cafeteria with a few girls that were free and willing to brave extra time with the native English speakers and excitedly they chat with us. New year. New faces. New friends. The joy and hardship of university ministry.

Two hours later as my teammates and I are walking away from the university en route to our next university, one of the guys asks if I realize that I didn’t freak out like last year even though there were more students this time.

Fifty-six students to be exact. That is just crazy, by the way.

And no I hadn’t noticed, but he was right. Last year I panicked, couldn’t talk and had Pete jump in to save the day as I silently mouthed “Pete. Help. Now.” from across the room. I was shaking for hours after and rather unhappy with God for my new position of leadership.

This time it was crazy, but it was fun. There was excitement in the air and the room was abuzz with conversations in English and people making new friends.  I was still nervous in the way one always is before a new venture before you sit back and just enjoy the ride.

One of the girls sent me this note on one of my social media sites today:

Dear Stephanie,
Thank you very much for this Wednesday classes. It was great and I am still under impression. I couldn’t even imagine that it would be so easy and funny just to get to know a girl or a boy I would never pay attention to going along the University corridors. And today we greet each other and smile to each other.
I had a great time and just can’t wait for next Wednesday.( But I know I must)))) Everything was just …perfect, amazing (I can’t even find the proper word)))))

It made me smile. It was encouraging. Students enjoyed the time and made some new acquaintances and so my goal for the day was met. And in the middle of it I found that I too have grown.

Who knows what the year ahead my bring!

Does growth ever catch you by surprise?

(Photos to come as soon as I get them from Pete. I was a little too occupied to take any pictures!)