07 August 2011

Teaching from Scratch

There was a short period during my childhood when I thought I wanted to be a teacher.  I set my dolls up as 'students' and pretended to give tests and assignments . . . but I realized early on that I seriously lacked the patience and attention span to spend my days imparting knowledge and wisdom to the next generation in a classroom.

So I became an OT.  Which I love.  And have never regretted.

But when I signed on to work at Galmi, I did so with the understand that I would be starting something new here . . . which meant from scratch.  And by 'from scratch' I mean 'FROM SCRATCH.'  When I arrived six months ago, I was given two dozen wrist splints that had been donated a decade ago, a handful of knee immobilizers, and the hospital had a guy that builds crutches.  I'll put it this way, if I were baking a cake, that would mean I've got some chickens out back that lay eggs, some wheat in a field ready to harvest, and a couple of rods of sugarcane.  SCRATCH, people!!

The good news is, our little therapy department exists.  It's there . . . it's functioning (well, as long as I get my coffee in the morning) . . . and it's figuring itself out.  But the time has come (already) to expand our personnel.  Which means I must dust off my seven-year-old persona . . . yet this time, instead of a worn out RaggedyAnn, I've got real-live people . . . who already have some nursing training . . . and have been working longer than I have . . . and who don't speak English.

Last week I had my first official 'teaching' session.  It was a half-hour/45minute presentation to the OR staff on La Rééducation.  They see me everyday doing woundcare, splinting and positioning, and stretching . . . but they didn't know why I was doing it.  They pass by my office on their way to and from break and always pop in to say hi . . . but they didn't understand why I have so many silly contraptions and random items laying around.  Now they do.  And in two weeks I will do the same session with the hospitals nursing staff.

I've also begun teaching two of our surgical ward nurses woundcare.  At first I wasn't so sure how I would be received by these two guys, but they've blown me away.  They are sponges . . . totally hungry to learn.  We started with a debridement of a leg . . . the kiddo had been bitten by a snake, which resulted in lower leg compartment syndrome and of course some necrosis.  I showed them what needed to go and what needed to stay: 'See that tendon?' I asked . . . wide eyed they answered 'That's a tendon?!'

It had never occurred to me that in their training they would have only seen tendons, muscles and bones as pictures in a textbook.  But that's the beauty of cooking from scratch, isn't it . . . you get to do it all yourself.

Living in Galmi has taught me that cooking from scratch requires planning, preparation, patience, skill, and a good sense of humor.  But teaching from scratch involves two people: teacher and student.  BOTH of whom have to meet in the middle.  Throw in the fact that this is going to be done in everyone's second language . . . and a culture I'm not sure I'll ever understand . . . and we may very well have a sitcom waiting to be written.

I'm not going to lie.  Somedays I think SIM picked the wrong girl . . . do I really have the patience and endurance to pull this off??  Is my French actually sufficient enough to TEACH someone else??  When it comes time to 'sink or swim' am I dropping straight to the bottom?? Can I keep laughing when it all goes wrong??

But you know, I'm not in this alone.  He who called me is FAITHFUL and He will bring it pass (1 Thes. 5:24).  Sure I'm going to screw up . . . that's about as guaranteed as gravity.  I'll mispronounce something (probably being obliviously vulgar in the process) . . . and break cultural rules (as if I haven't already) . . . and will get tired and cranky and impatient and will want to give up (hey, that sounds like the past six months already!) . . . but when I look through the Bible, I find myself in really good company!  The Word of God is full of screw-ups and failures (but imagine how much more fun they would have had in the process if they had all been OT's!).

13 comments:

Bradley and Lauren Washer said...

Well said, Deb!  You are definitely NOT on your own and God is using you powerfully to accomplish HIS purposes.  Right now His purposes are you there teaching in a different language to a different people for His glory!  Thanks for sharing this :)

Mamastouff said...

God never makes mistakes and everyone you are in contact with will see that!! They will see a child of God trusting her "Daddy" to guide and direct through each trial and challenge for His glory!!  The verse was in my head before I got to that part...keep trusting, praying and loving in His power and love.

Anonymous said...

When I grow up I want to be a teacher and an OT just as gifted and skillful as you!!!! I admire you. 

Shal said...

SIM definitely got the right girl. Out of every OT in the world, God chose you for this and I can't imagine a better choice. You are an amazing OT and a wonderful person. Stay encouraged!

Seth Montgomery said...

I love my God because he loves working with screw ups like me.

Erjeffer said...

Oh what a blessing you are to me as I read your blog ! you have taught me sooo much about how our Lord works in the lives of the faithful who follow His call. You GO GIRL ! Thanks for sharing in such a " real way". I am there with you in thought and prayer. The Lord is truly walking with you  one step at a time. You are thriving in a world that fails to thrive. Keep "scratching".

Deb. said...

Thanks for the encouragement!

Deb. said...

Thanks!

Deb. said...

Eh . . . growing up i§ over rated!

Deb. said...

Go Team OT! :)

Deb. said...

AMEN!

Deb. said...

Thank you! And thank you for reading and commenting! God bless!

Kari said...

Your cake analogy is GREAT! And yes, they DID get the perfect OT for this job! :)