July 28, 2015
By Megan Pike
“So, did you realize that teaching at swim camp would be a part of your job description?” asked Scott, a fellow swim camp teacher. “Well, it became a part of my job description,” I responded.
I recently had the opportunity to serve with our Together for Hope, Arkansas partners during the second week of the All Church Challenge (ACC). This was my first time to experience the ACC, let alone be a volunteer. I had planned to visit Helena-West Helena during both weeks of the ACC, but after talking to Mollie Palmer, Director of Together for Hope, Arkansas, I found out they still needed volunteers in critical areas of the operation. I told her to put me down for whatever she needed for the second week.
My assignment came in as swim camp teacher. I was excited about this assignment because I love to swim and thought spending a week in the pool would be a nice break during this intense summer heat. I packed my bag with swimsuits, beach towels, and lots of sunscreen. In Sunday school, the morning before I left Little Rock to head northeast, we were talking about the temptation to simply go through the motions of the Christian life. My Sunday school teacher asked if we were going through the motions or if we were responsive to the opportunities God presents us. I had already shared that I was going to Helena-West Helena for the ACC during the prayer request time and spoke up in that instance to share that I didn’t want my participation in the ACC to be simply going through the motions. Yes, I would be serving at the ACC because it is a part of my job with CBF of Arkansas, but I didn’t want to simply go through the motions of just another service project or mission opportunity.
I graduated with my Master of Divinity from Truett Seminary this past December and I often think back to conversations with fellow classmates and professors. One of the most impactful conversations I had while at Truett was with my professor, Mike Stroope. Dr. Stroope often challenged us, students, to reconsider our idea of missions. In these conversations we usually came back to the definition of missions he offered to us: People being transformed by people being transformed. This sounded pretty simple to me at first, but I have come to realize that the being transformed part is really difficult, on my part. If I had chosen to go through the motions of just showing up to the ACC for a week of service, there would be little room for transformation by God.
"Change is about adding something new.
Transformation is about letting something old fall away."
So, what would being transformed look like during the second week of the 2015 ACC in Helena-West Helena?
Have you ever had to teach something that is so familiar to you? A few examples came to mind when considering this question: writing a How-To speech for school on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or attempting to explain how to ride a bicycle. These can seem like natural activities soon after they are mastered, but were taught to us by someone. These activities, much like swimming is for me now, seem almost natural, but can be difficult to learn while attempting to stand in 4 ½ feet deep water when one is 4 ¼ feet tall.
me with two of my swim campers who taught me the most
As a swim teacher at the ACC I had the great privilege of breaking down the seemingly natural mechanics of gliding, blowing bubbles while under water, swim strokes, rhythmic breathing, etc. My co-teacher and I often had to let something fall away rather than add something new when assessing our students’ swim levels. For example, during our third rotation of students I realized that two of our swimmers were uncomfortable with the depth of the pool, so I had to re-imagine what their lesson would look like in a shallower part of the pool. Their confidence rose and they were able to make significant process in their swimming skills. These two swimmers made their way back to the original depth we started in by the end of the week.
The process of their transformation transformed me, too. As their teacher I had to meet them where they were and be willing to adapt for their benefit in learning skills of swimming. Trust was built and fun was had in the process. By not defaulting to simply going through the motions, I was able to learn from my students about boundaries, knowing when to rest, and to celebrate the successes of trying and learning something new while at the same time they boldly learned how to glide, blow bubbles, kick, and ultimately to swim.
It was a beautiful picture of people being transformed by people being transformed.
J (left) showing off his underwater bubble skills with my co-teacher, RJ
for more photos from the second week of the ACC in Helena-West Helena please follow this link