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Breaking barriers in Peru

From the June 17, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Timothy

Tim in front of a store in Cusco, Peru.

— Courtesy photo

Have you ever struggled to speak in a different language? Maybe you know the feeling of having no idea how to say what you are thinking. I have had my fair share of those moments since I grew up speaking English and had relatively few experiences to practice the Spanish I learned in school.

A similar situation occurred during the Pentecost, which is described in the second chapter of Acts in the Bible. There, Jesus’ disciples were confronted with a situation in which many different languages were spoken in the same place. The disciples had an important message to convey and an absolute trust in God to guide them. They were “filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4)—and this allowed everybody to hear that message in their own language, clearly expressing the one divine Mind that united them.

This past summer, I had a small taste of this kind of divinely guided communication. This experience was a wonderful proof to me of the loving care that divine Mind bestows on us every day.

I arrived in Peru with a group of young Christian Scientists and three adult leaders. We were going to construct a school for a village just outside of Cusco. We also planned to teach children in a neighboring village during that time. Three friends and I volunteered to teach music, and we spent hours before the trip preparing.

Right before the trip, however, I began to feel nervous. I knew very little Spanish, and much of the group did not know any at all. The leaders had passed out a sheet with some basic phrases, but they were looking to those of us who had learned Spanish in school to be the main communicators. I worried that we would not be able to communicate with these kids effectively and would miss an amazing opportunity to both teach and learn from them. Then, once we arrived in Peru, another teaching group was combined with ours, throwing off our carefully made plans at the last minute.

As we drove to the school, we frantically wrote down new lesson plans. Then there was yet another change: we were going to teach different age groups than originally planned! We came into the school disorganized, nervous, and with essentially no specific plans.

Gradually, I felt calm and confident in our group’s ability to love and do good at this school.

We first taught a group of fifth graders. When I was supposed to speak with them, my mind froze and the little Spanish I knew escaped me. We were able to continue the lesson by teaching some simple dances that didn’t require too much talking. But as it went on, I decided to rely on God for help—even though I’d recently had some questions about Christian Science, and even doubts that I could really rely on God. I remembered the spiritual theme our class had decided on for the trip, “Loving through the eyes of God,” and I asked myself: “What is your purpose in being here? Can you throw aside your own doubts and trust in God, Love, to guide and shepherd you?”

I realized that I needed to be open to trusting in Truth. That meant viewing these children as God saw them: perfect, upright, and loved. Gradually, I felt calm and confident in our group’s ability to love and do good at this school.

My doubt faded as the first lesson went on, and I was able to speak mostly in Spanish throughout our time with the fifth graders. By the end, most of the kids were having a fantastic time. And afterward, things got even better. We next taught second graders and kindergarteners, and we all saw the exuberant love and grace they expressed. By striving to love “through the eyes of God,” as Jesus did, I gained an entirely new, spiritual perspective of who these kids were.

While we were teaching the last two groups, I found that the spiritual ideas I’d been thinking about led to a clarity of thought that I had rarely felt before. I was able to talk with the kids easily—in fact, I had never before been able to speak Spanish so fluently! Everyone else was also able to communicate, even though many of them did not know Spanish to begin with. The experience reminded me of a quote from Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 by Mary Baker Eddy: “When the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts” (p. 262).

By being willing to trust in Love and see these kids as God’s children—who certainly have huge hearts!—we were able to have a fantastic time with them. I saw and felt God’s guidance as we loved through His eyes.


Tim Steckler is a junior in high school. He loves to act, sing, play music, run, and write.

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