« Previous   |   Main   |   Next »

Rooks, Rubik’s, and Recess: A REACH Update

By Caleb, REACH Team Indochina

Often times as kids or young adults or old adults we may wonder about the passions and gifts that we have been given: Why do I care about this? What good is it that I am good at that? Growing up I had plenty of those questions. In school I very well could have been considered a “nerd.” While I didn’t have red curly hair or glasses or buck teeth or any of the physical features often associated with the label at the time, my talents and interests proved otherwise.

In middle school, I discovered an online program called “Scratch” which is essentially a computer programming language for kids. Through this I gained a passion for programming and for technology in general, that has led to me learning various other programming languages and skills. In high school, several of my friends and I became very interested in chess. We spent hours upon hours playing each other in games, either in real life or over the internet. We didn’t join the chess club, but that was only because our tiny rural school was too small to have one.

Later that year, the new hobby among my friends was to solve Rubik’s Cubes. We all learned how to solve ours, and then we practiced and practiced and practiced to make our solve times faster and faster and faster. When we got as fast as we could, we bought newer, faster cubes designed for speed-cubing. Needless to say, chess, programming, and Rubik’s Cubes aren’t the most popular or obviously useful skills for life.

Often you don’t know that you should be waiting for something to happen until it does.

When I first arrived at our apartment here in Indochina, I met the people that owned the place. The landlords have two kids: a girl and a boy aged 8 and 10, respectively. All four of them live here in the apartment alongside us. I noticed that the boy, who is somewhat quiet and non-talkative to the new strangers in his house, was carrying around a Rubik’s Cube. Over time, I also noticed that he did not know how to solve it. So, I showed him a couple of times that I could solve it, in an attempt to impress him.

A couple days later I realized I was probably in this situation for a reason. So, I decided to teach him how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. I actually already had instructions written down from when I taught someone else during training, so I brought those out, set them before us, and I taught him, step by step, how to solve his Rubik’s Cube. Doing this brought out a common interest, which allowed for more free communication and a more fun relationship between us.

Also during this week, Seth and I bought a chessboard. It came with no pieces, so one day I was sitting in the living room drawing out some chess pieces on paper. One of the other tenants, an American, walked by and asked if I was in to chess. I told him I was, and he informed me that he was also a fan of playing chess. We agreed that we should play a game together.

Lastly, this week began our teaching at the international school. Each day from 11:20 to 2:30 we work at a school where we eat lunch with the kids, play recess, and then teach them. Each day we typically teach only one class. Most days we teach either a sports class or a physical education class. Because all the classes we are teaching are considered “activities” classes, they are usually the fun classes where kids get to be active or creative without worrying about grades or assignments.

When planning for these classes, I had a very exciting idea. Remember that “Scratch” programming language I learned in middle school? What if I taught that as a class? Maybe I would be able to provide a starting point for any students who might have a passion for technology or programming! And so, this week I taught my first class in which the students are learning how to program using Scratch!

Just think back to the high-school version of me: I didn’t learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube because a voice from the sky told me “Caleb, you need to learn how to master this toy because one day you will be in Southeast Asia living with this kid who has a Rubik’s Cube but doesn’t know how to solve it; and you need to teach him how to solve it so that you can make an impression on him so that one day he might accept the Truth because some American was kind enough to teach him. If you don’t pull through for me, my plan is ruined!” No, that did not happen. I learned how to solve it because I wanted to. It was a hobby. I didn’t learn programming because I knew that one day six years in the future I would be teaching programming to some Korean kids living in Indochina. I learned it because I enjoyed it and it was a fun hobby for me.

“I realize that as long as I keep my eyes open to him and walk through life with an open heart, he will show me what he wants me to do…”I guess the biggest thing I learned through all of this is that I don’t need to worry about what he has planned for me. Why should I? He is truly in charge of everything, and he has just shown me three times in one week that he is willing to use things that I enjoy to further his kingdom. This has taken a lot of worry off of my shoulders about the future. I realize that as long as I keep my eyes open to him and walk through life with an open heart, he will show me what he wants me to do, and in the process I will learn why he has made me the way he did.

Take some time to thank God for the unique ways he has prepared you to share his love with those he puts in your life.


Do you want to join a REACH team in 2019-2020?
Click here to apply or learn more.