Well, another sunny week has begun in Waco, and I, inspired by today's arrival of a shiny, brand new laptop on my doorstep, would like to tell you about the week that has just passed. Hopefully the laptop will continue to inspire me to write in coming days!
Last week, I was finally able to start volunteering at an after school program. I was supposed to start the previous week, but I was plagued, first by a cold, then by an ear infection--the first of my life!--and spent the time I would have preferred to spend with the kiddos, sleeping and visiting the doctor. I think my travel insurance has actually paid for itself at this point, which I didn't expect. I'm back in business now, though, and spending three afternoons a week at "Raising Saints Apostolate," which is run out of a church in Bellmead (a community just north of Waco). It has been great so far! The group is small, about a dozen kids grades 1 to 7, and there are enough instructors--mostly volunteers from Baylor--to give each of them individualized help with their homework. Plus they get music lessons every week: piano and choral.
I've been mostly helping kids with their homework, as well as doing general supervision. And I have to say, kids are not as scary as I generally assume them to be! It's true: I've been scared of elementary and middle school aged kids ever since I was one. What I am beginning to realize now, though, is that kids are far meaner amongst themselves than they are with figures of authority, and I have somehow, miraculously, become a figure of authority to them! In fact, I'm a pretty figure of authority, which is another mark in my favour! All I have to do is seem confident and cool, and the kids are falling all over themselves to gain my favour.
Having figured out that I am the boss, I think I'm beginning to be a real help to these kids. Despite my wariness of children in general, these ones actually are very sweet and eager and well-behaved. There are a few very young ones who are such dynamos: running around as fast as they are possibly able, falling down, crying, getting up and running around some more. I envy them their energy! I really like working with the older ones, though, who are serious about trying to get through difficult material. I like the challenge of finding ways to explain algebra, for example.
Anyway, as you can tell, I am quite enamoured of these young monkeys. It's fascinating the directions in which I have been led by just being open to the possibilities around me.
The weather has been getting cooler around here lately. Right now, it is a chill 84 degrees out, and my extremities are feeling a little bit frosty. Seriously. There is little humidity, which means that it can be balmy in the sun, and decidedly nippy in the shade: hence, my dark apartment is cold! Being down here has made me realize that I could become accustomed to a warmer climate with ease. I miss the changing seasons, but I do not miss the cold. We are approaching the rainy season at the moment, which is going to be another weather experience. At present, when it rains, it is such a momentous occasion that I feel like staying in all day and roasting marshmallows over a candle lantern.
This entry has not really been developing in any kind of logical order, so now seems as good a time as ever to enlighten you on a piece of trivia that I am anxious to share: Waco has a Democrat in Congress! Who knew? Here we are, a mere hour from the Bush ranch, and Democrat Chet Edwards
is Waco's elected representative! If I had to guess why this is, I would suggest that the combination of college students and the poor make the voting base Democratic in Waco, but that is pure speculation. Anyway, both Chet Edwards and Van Taylor, his opponent, have been running some pretty funny ads leading up to the midterm elections. My favourite is Van Taylor's scandalous accusation: "Chet Edwards gives food stamps to illegal immigrants!"
A damning allegation indeed!
Yes, Waco continues to amuse and bemuse. I have been bitten by another spider, and a mystery bug of some kind. Don't ask me what attracts them: no one else seems to have this problem. I must go, but I will write again soon, with more news from the Strange South.