As you all know if you’ve been reading this blog, I’ve gone to Ciudad Juárez to work on a new project created by the Salesianos, a Catholic group devoted to helping young people. Well, things have taken an unexpected turn for me. I had expected to be a simple worker bee, inserted into some appropriate slot. But on my very first day at work on Monday, my colleague Aarón (pictured in the car with me below) asked me if I wanted to be co-coordinator of the entire project with him. With a mix of excitement and terror, I said yes.
So, I have been thrown in the deep end, and to be perfectly honest, it feels a bit overwhelming. It’s a huge job, unlike anything I’ve done before. I feel like Dory, the fish from Finding Nemo, saying “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” I’m trying to soak up as much as I can as quickly as I can. And since it is all in Spanish, the agua I’m in is muy profunda indeed. (Below: I’m at the door of our office on my first day.)
Yet along with the fear of going under, I feel genuine excitement and joy. I feel like I’m exactly where God wants me to be. And He has blessed me with lots of helpful people. I’m very grateful for Aarón and all of the staff at Desarrollo Juvenil del Norte (Youth Development of the North). They are deeply committed to bringing the love of God to our brothers and sisters in need, and they have all been so helpful and so patient with me. They’ve made it clear that they’re happy to have me with them. And frankly, they seem to have more confidence in me than I have in myself. (Below is a picture of some of our wonderful staff.)
I am, of course, learning more every day about the project that I’m now co-coordinating. It is called “Construyendo Sueños,” or “Building Dreams.” We will be working with youths who are either in trouble with the law or at risk of getting into trouble. We aim to give these youths tools they can use to build their dreams and live happy lives. We will be providing services like psychological counseling, family assistance, job training, cultural and sports programs, legal assistance, spiritual development, and more. Above all, we hope to simply offer our loving support and affirm our kinship with these young people as fellow human beings and children of God.
So, we’re off and running. On Wednesday, Aarón and I interviewed potential members of our team: social workers, attorneys, psychologists, etc. I never dreamed that I’d ever be able to conduct job interviews in Spanish, but I actually managed it pretty well, with a lot of help from Aarón. We have now hired all of the members of our new team. We had a team meeting on Thursday, and I’m already impressed with their dedication and passion for the project. I think we picked the right people!
Thus ends an amazing and life-changing week for me. It began in El Paso on Sunday, where Aarón and I went to do a little shopping. (I’ve included a picture of the border crossing above.) While we were there, we ate at the Panda Express Chinese restaurant, and my fortune cookie message seemed oddly appropriate, especially since the next day would be my first day at my new job. It said, “Your most important work is yet to come.” Fortune cookies are usually just silly fun, but I think God may have been sending me a message with this one. I’m clumsily dog-paddling right now, but this feels like it was meant to be. And so I trust that in time, I’ll learn to swim gracefully in the deep end.
P.S. Update on Scott Warren trials: Scott’s felony trial concluded on Friday. The jury deliberated for five hours on Friday but did not reach a verdict. Deliberations will continue on Monday. And still no verdict from the judge in his misdemeanor case.