Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble reflects on adjusting her expectations and what she thinks things “should” look like during her first months on mission at Carmen Pampa University in Bolivia.
Every Tuesday night, the university’s Pastoral group has a meeting. Pastoral is a group that comes together to share their faith with one another and put on different events for the university. It’s reminiscent of my own Newman Center at UNC.
The first couple of months of attending the Pastoral meetings were hard. Admittedly, I had come in with my own expectations of what a church ministry group “should” look like. Based on my own college experiences, this group “should” have student leadership and direction. They “should” have relatively consistent attendance. They “should” know what they want to talk about or what activities they want to do, and the planning “should” be able to happen within one to two meetings.
However, the Pastoral meetings are not what I expected them to be. There is no student leadership. In fact, they aren’t any student-run organizations on campus. There are only a small number of consistent attendees, and planning for events could go on for weeks if no one was there to guide it.
I spent quite a few weeks feeling frustrated by this. Honestly, I wanted this group to look more like what I was used to. I wanted it to look like my own college ministry experience. But finally I realized that this is not my college experience, and it probably shouldn’t look like what I was expecting. This is for the students of the Universidad Academica Campesina – Carmen Pampa, and it should look like what they are used to.
Once I was able to get over my initial frustrations with the group, I began to take note of the beauty of it. The students love playing games to start the meeting, and it’s so awesome to watch them grow closer with one another and simply have fun.
When we were able to decide what event we wanted to put on, it turned out beautifully. We hosted the first Café Tertulia of the semester a few weeks ago. Café Tertulia is a bi-annual event in which the Pastoral group invites a well-liked professor to speak about a theme that they choose.
This semester, the theme was values that the students show or don’t show at the university. The head of the Tourism major came to speak, and the students at each table were assigned a value to discuss and share with the group. Pastoral also organized the decorations and food to be served. It was a very successful night – about 40 students came out, which was great!
All in all, I am really enjoying our Pastoral meetings. I’m getting to know the consistent attendees better, and find myself having so much fun with them. Whenever we do lectio divina (a practice of scripture reading), the students always have wonderful thoughts and ideas to contribute that make me realize just how deep their faith is. They are teaching me to let go of my own expectations and ideas of what “should” be and instead embrace things as they are.
Reflection Question: When you’re getting frustrated because a situation isn’t going the way you wanted it to, how can you shift your perspective to remind yourself that often there is no “right” way to do something?