I used to be a Sunday school teacher when I was single. It was my first ministry at church (Greenhills Christian Fellowship South Metro) when I became a Christian in 2001. It wasn’t something that I had planned on doing though. The thought of being in a roomful of kids fighting and crying and not knowing what to do or say to them would instantly make me panic. Truth be told, my sister and the Sunday school ministry leader of our church then seemed to have conspired to get me on board. However, once I was onboard, I never looked back again. I felt fulfilled as I discovered that I absolutely loved teaching kids!
When I got pregnant with my first child, I stopped teaching because of my difficult pregnancy. I was always nauseated, vomiting, so I finally took my leave from the ministry (with a heavy heart). I continued to help in shaping the future of the children instead by developing Sunday school and DVBS (daily vacation Bible school) manuals–something that I could do from home–which were published by Church Strengthening Ministry (CSM).
Now, after having two children, ages 8 and 11, I find myself back again in the ministry, although this time, at a different church – Saddleback South Manila (Saddleback SMLA). I was invited to be part of the said ministry on the day it was formed, but I was too excited to put into practice my knowledge and skills in public relations, so I joined the church’s Marketing Communications Ministry (MarComM) instead. There’s no regret there, except this time, I now feel that familiar tug in my heart to teach young children again. My daughters have actually been asking me to join the ministry and be one of their teachers at our previous church (after GCFSM moved to another location), Christ’s Commission Fellowship. However, since they were still much younger then and we did not have a nanny, I had some apprehensions. Besides, I wanted them to be my sole ministry first and sort of perfect being a teacher to them, at least, before taking in more students.
Yesterday was my first day to handle a class at Saddleback SMLA. I have been assigned to a class of students ages 3–5. I had five students, plus a barely one year old baby in class. It was actually a challenge for me, since it had been a decade since I last taught at Sunday school, not to mention I used to teach kids ages 7–10 or primary level.
During the first half hour, I found myself getting frustrated by the minute. Apparently, the necessary props or materials needed for the lesson were not available and we didn’t even have a single Sunday school song to play. I couldn’t stop comparing things to my previous classes!
Anyway, while I was sitting on the floor surrounded by kids playing various toys and two adults assisting in class, our senior pastor dropped by. He’s our same pastor at GCFSM, Narry Santos. He’s simple question, “Is everything okay?” triggered something. Without a thought, I blurted, “It could be livelier” and immediately regretted what I said. He, of course, asked what I meant by it and I explained that the material we’re supposed to play on TV, containing music and video teaching, wasn’t available. I felt ashamed because despite everything that’s lacking, I was still in charge. I was the classroom leader, the teacher.
I started to rack my brain and tried to recall the songs and games I used to have with my pupils eons ago. I also asked the adults in the classroom to join in the brain storming, and just when we were about to sing our first song, Pastor Narry came to check on us again. At least this time, he caught us making the most of what we have. Thankfully, our young director came by and led the singing. After that, we had our Bible story and coloring activity, then back to playtime again. Toward the end of the class, the kids who were too shy to respond to everything I said finally started talking to me and even sat beside me.
There were a couple of things that I realized about myself while I was there. First, I have become dull and boring despite having kids of my own. (Okay, so my husband and kids are right!) I could no longer appreciate toys and play because it makes the room messy. Second, I have been valuing things more than relationships. Instead of reaching out to the kids, interacting with them, and trying to get to know them, I was stewing inside because I couldn’t start a lesson that’s right on schedule and complete with props.
It has been a humbling experience for me, nevertheless, especially with my youngest daughter assisting me in class. She was awesome, by the way, playing with the younger kids who were still rather new in class, leading the arts and crafts activity, and putting away the toys. My adult teacher assistants, Em and Tom, were also very helpful. They were both from my previous church, GCFSM, and Tom was even one of my former students there. Another adult, who was babysitting her four-year old cousin in class also helped. I guess all’s well that ends well.
Now, I can say in all honesty that I am–we are–all looking forward to seeing each other again next weekend and having more fun and exciting classes. Em and I had also made a pact to work together and be more prepared next time.