Today my student council students hosted the annual Junior Unity Cup, a soccer tournament for elementary-aged teams at less privileged schools in our area. It’s a cool event, allowing the students to serve their community in a meaningful way. In addition to doing an incredible job refereeing, organizing brackets, and keepings teams organized, they also provided lunch, trophies, and an all around fun day.
The day started off under a scorching sun, but it soon began to rain. And it didn’t stop. Thankfully there was no lightening, so the teams played on, and [the majority of :)] my students did an awesome job getting out there, getting soaked, and getting filthy. I was so impressed to see them not complaining or hesitating, but instead taking the turn of weather in stride.
As the day continued and teams had certain rounds off, I encouraged my students to interact with the teams who had come. I, on the other hand, hung back, frustrated by my lack of Bahasa. I felt like I couldn’t communicate with the kids or coaches in any real way.
After a few hours though (unfortunately it did take that long… thankfully we were there for seven!), I realized how foolish I was being. Since when did I let handicaps stop me from being who I was, who I was meant to be? I usually work to be friendly and hospitable, but had thrown that out the window because of my fear of not speaking the same language?
I had greeted teams on the way in with my limited knowledge of the language, and the kids had laughed and imitated me (I’m still not sure if I was butchering the accent, or if they were just joining the list of people that laugh at hearing that I know some words in their language). But, my decision made, I headed over to the bleachers. (In what was most likely the most awful grammar I’ve ever employed) I said in my best Bahasa, pointing, “I’m going there to play. Do you want to play?”
To my amusement, the entire team joined and decided that they were only interested in playing with me. Now, I am an awful soccer player. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m not a soccer player at all.
To recap, I now have 10 elementary school children following me to another field, in the pouring rain, by myself, and I am completely incapable of playing their sport or speaking their language.
I have to tell you, though, we ended up having an absolutely fantastic time. We laughed the whole time, trash-talked, and forged fun friendships. We somehow figured out several different mini games, and I used my sedikit (little bit of) Bahasa to communicate what I could. And to make them crack up (accidentally).
The whole ordeal was a lesson for me in following what I know God wants me to do, being who I know He wants me to be, and trusting that He’ll take care of the roadblocks along the way.
It’s not that there’s some magic remove-my-weaknesses button to press, or that I’ll automatically be good at things in areas that I’m rather incapable. Unfortunately, there was no way that I was going to snap my fingers and start speaking fluent Bahasa. That was a weakness that I was going to have to deal with, but God was pushing me to face my fears in that anyway.
What I can do, though, is trust despite my weaknesses. To admit that, yes, I am unable to make things happen on my own. And to have faith that it’s the path I’m supposed to walk anyway, and that strength will be provided.
What a blessing these boys were to me today!