August 23, 2013 by nktaube
We just started a new school year. That means lots of seminars, lots of new policies and procedures, lots of new people to be trained. I commented to a friend that I've been impressed with how excited she is to have new teachers and that she is already reaching out to them and inviting them over. I find myself less thrilled with the effort to start new friendships, less thrilled at the learning curve that a new culture, new job, etc. requires in being in relationship with someone new.
In response my friend said, "It's refreshing to have new people. Nothing has gone wrong yet. There hasn't been any conflict."
And then another seminar started and so we were left to sit and listen. But her comment rolled around in my head and stayed with me. Because there is almost nothing appealing to me currently about exactly what she is choosing to find refreshing. It might just be a basic personality difference in what we look for in others. I don't want new and clean. I'm always attracted to friendships where I can see a little mess hanging out right away. I want to be surrounded by people who are known, who have wrestled through miscommunication with me, who have been willing to be upset and yet come back and work on it and try again. Clean is not what I'm looking for. Messy, broken and most of all honest is exactly what appeals to me. (I should also say that I think my friend does a great job at being this kind of friend as well.)
April 08, 2013 by nktaube
Last week at Carmen Bajo I sat in on the women's bible study since my first client hadn't arrived. I often get to participate in the beginning as timeliness is not next to Godliness in this culture! Picture a church with rough-hewn benches, a cement floor and a dull, stained carpet piece somewhere between mustard and pea green. Women arrive in little clusters and we sit near the front of the sanctuary. When enough have arrived they start the worship time, which is aided by a donated ipod that plays worship music. The women strain to hear the first notes since there are no speakers but once they've recognized the song they carry it on with abandon. No need to hear the melody. twelve or fifteen voices singing robustly, mostly in different keys and at different tempos. All filled with joy.
This time there was a new woman sitting beside me. Her behavior seemed strange to me as I turned and noted her staring deeply at me. I quickly averted my gaze but could still feel hers. Then she began making clucking sounds. I figured that there were some mental health issues, truthfully because of a bias that many times poverty and mental health go hand in hand.
A half minute later, as I continued my veiled observation I watched her plunge forward and immediately knew: Seizure! I went after her but she was about double my size so I wasn't able to break her fall (only somehow lose my shoe under her). I was able to roll her over just as others just started noticing. Two others got down on the ground with me and we held her hands and her head as she seized for some time.
As I held her I really noticed her. I noticed her sweaty palm in mine, the difference in the color of our skin as we clung together. I noticed how her cream pea coat, which at first glance seemed stylish, had layers and layers of dust and dirt caked on. I imagined how many times she had to hand wash that coat on a cement slab over years and years of use. I noticed her shoes on the floor, splayed out at such an odd angle as they fell off of her crashing body. I noticed her careful color coordination and lipstick and how meticulously she had tried to present herself. I cried a little inside thinking how much this must hurt to bare herself, to be totally vulnerable and unaware as a group of women crowded around and watched what probably brings her shame. (Epilepsy is not well understood in this community.)
But then I watched as we all sat around this woman, abandoning our singing, our agenda. Abandoning our formality with two of us now sh0e-less and many of us on the floor. I watched as she came to and the women started planning. How to care for her, how to help keep her safe. How to be a community to this new face. I sat with her hand still in mine as we prayed true healing over her. As we sought God on her behalf.
And I felt like God was giving me a gift that night. A chance to be something other than "the doctor, the therapist, the professional." To be one of them. To be another woman on the floor who loves God and loves people.
March 20, 2013 by nktaube
At 8am I blew into my office, unlocking the door just as the first bell rings. I spent the next hour listening to someone, racking my brain for the best questions to help me figure out what is really going on with this student. "What are possible differential diagnoses for Dissociative Identity Disorder? Is this indicative of a psychotic break, are there dissociative factors here? What about Borderline Personality Disorder?"
The rest of the school day didn't give me time for more research on this, as I had a revolving door of regularly scheduled students, walk-ins and consultations with other colleagues. Not a minute to complete the paperwork that all of these meetings require, much less do additional research.
Nate and the kids picked me up from work. They do this every Wednesday because I have 40 minutes from the time school ends until I have to be in my car and on to my next job. I try to make sure that every one of those 40 minutes counts, that I'm not figuring out dinner and more.
I read books and chased and played with cars and then too quickly I started the trip to Carmen Bajo. Once there I sat in on the women's bible study since my first client hadn't arrived. Within a few minutes I was on the ground helping an epileptic woman work through a seizure (I'll write more about that later.)
As I pulled myself up from that event I felt exhausted. Physically, mentally and I wanted nothing more than to be home in my pjs on this dark and rainy night. Secretly I was hoping that the next couple wouldn't arrive for therapy because I wasn't sure what I had left to give. But they did come and part of being a clinician is pushing all of myself and my needs aside to attend to theirs. An hour later I was so glad that I did.
I spent the last hour of my night witnessing a couple utterly break as they both got real about where violence, anger and infidelity has left their marriage. I experienced their deep sobs of regret and pain. And then I got to sit beside them and coach as they began to turn to each other, instead of away. As the wife offered her hand and the husband clenched onto it as if it was life itself. They began to experience the healing that comes from making yourself raw in front of someone else and having that other person still love you. The kind of love that God offers each of us.
And I didn't think once about my own tiredness or about my pjs as they did this work. I thought about how strong God is and how beautifully he creates people, messy and all. When I got home my tiredness was right there waiting (and so were my pjs) but along with them was a deep sense of satisfaction for the day.
February 20, 2013 by nktaube
Lately I've been doing reading and research on a specific type of healing based on Biblical principals. The literature developed on it promises a lot of BIG results. From what I've read it seems to come from a solid biblical and counseling foundation, however the big results promises leave me leery. The more I've read though, the more my stance is that it's worth integrating some of this into my work and testing the waters on it because I believe that a). it wouldn't be harmful and b). could in fact be very helpful regardless of whether the results are as BIG as they claim). At times, as I'm studying it, I get ahead of myself and picture a certain client benefiting from it.
"Imagine if Person A got some healing around X, how much that would affect his marriage."
"Imagine if Person B experienced total healing in regard to X how their bitterness toward God would leave."
Today I caught myself thinking as I was reading, "It would be incredible to give such results to people. For people to know that I'm able to really help." And therein I had to stop myself once again. And pray. "God let me not ever be motivated in my work by how others view me or what I can give. If this is a tool that I can use because of you then I would love to walk beside people in healing. Anything else is superfluous."
Because this profession isn't about my own success. It just isn't. And if it ever is then I've failed myself, God and probably a lot of clients along the way. It's about giving healing to people in a way that allows them to experience more of who God truly is. And that has about nothing to do with me.
February 09, 2013 by nktaube
I didn't imagine myself ...
- Doing what I call "open-air" counseling. Three cement slab walls, no final wall and no door. Kids running back and forth in the hall and two wires that have to be sparked together to make the lightbulb go on when the sun dips low.
- Being asked very direct questions such as, "Should I hit my child with my hand or a stick. I'll do whichever you tell me to do." Because this culture is so hierarchical many clients WILL do exactly what I tell them to do. I have to be extremely careful to not fall into a pattern of giving the answers or reacting to a question like this one with a strong answer.
- Being offered french fries and oatmeal shakes as a recompense for my services
- Counseling a couple who have brought a 3 year old boy into their marriage session. Not their 3 year old boy. The 3 year old boy that the woman watches for a living. Let me tell you what would happen if one of my babysitters took Canaan with to one of their counseling sessions ...
- Being called "Mi doctorita," (my little doctor) despite repeated explanations that I am not a doctor of any kind.
Counseling is a profession that throws you curve balls. That's just how it is. Someone shows up at your door unexpectedly. A client you thought was doing well is admitted to in-treatment over the weekend. A family vanishes, never to be seen or heard from again. Counseling in a foreign country at sites that don't provide a lot of structure or have much experience with how therapy works is just another level of curve ball!
February 06, 2012 by nktaube
At the end of January we participated in our second Annual Team Conference that our missions team does. It's a time to build team community and reconnect with teammates who we don't work closely with, as well as a time for spiritual growth as we listen to speakers and do small group activities. Knowing we would have a newborn this year, we weren't exactly sure how it would go!
This year it was a 3-day, 2-night event at Youth World's retreat center, about 45 minutes out of the city. Of course even 2 nights requires hours of packing and planning when you have to bring everything involved for both a toddler and a newborn. Two pack'n'plays, loads and loads of diapers, food for Canaan and so much more!
Youth World did an amazing job of accommodating us. They gave us the nicest cabin, because it had two bedrooms and had a heater. It gets really cold up in the mountains at night and the walls are thin. I had been worried about how to keep Eden warm since we don't use blankets with her, but someone else had already thought about this! A team who was ending a two-week missions trip did all of the childcare for the weekend, had activities planned and kids broken up by ages. Canaan had a BLAST playing with two 3-year-old boys all day long ... and playing in all of the "Agua" (water) that was in little ponds and puddles (it rained a lot!) around the site. In fact, the second morning he spotted his friend Jack and started jumping up and down and then tried to climb out the window to him (pictured below). He didn't miss us at all and at the end one of his babysitters told us that she just loved him and he'd been the easiest, happiest kid!
Eden was 100% spoiled the whole weekend. She didn't really nap in the cabin because it was too loud with 4 toddlers around. But there were so many arms willing and wanting to hold her constantly that she just dozed and lazed in people's arms. Some of the older men of our organization just love little babies and acted as great fill-in Grandpas.
I enjoyed reconnecting with people. Since Canaan's nap schedule changed over the summer and particularly since Eden was born, I don't make it to the weekly team meetings. It was nice to have a weekend where my kids were happy roaming free and being held and I could sit and talk with people and not have to think about dinner, laundry or anything else! It was kind of nice being on someone else's schedule and nice being out in the fresh air and quite, country feel. The downsides were that Eden slept HORRIBLY the first night, it was really cold all weekend and we lived in sweatshirts, and we didn't participate in some of the night activities because after the last meeting ended at 8:30 we were pretty much ready to get to bed, knowing we'd be woken up multiple times each night to feed and rock Eden.
January 13, 2012 by nktaube
I didn’t realize that the sports ministry aspect of what I would be doing here in Ecuador would involve chess. Is chess a sport? Kids at this school play chess. Not sure how it started, not sure why it continues, but kids play chess. So now I play chess. I’m not really good, but I play.
I run a study hall. The first few weeks nobody would talk to me. I started bringing a chessboard with me. Still nobody wanted to interact with me. As kids started warming up to me, one student would play me. Soon enough I can’t have enough chessboards in my classroom. Everybody is playing. And they’re talking…
I started an intramural chess tournament. Students are playing. People are talking. I’ve had more connections with students over chess than nearly any other method. I’m excited to see what God will do through chess. I certainly have more opportunities to talk to students then I ever have before. I’m become normal to students and friends with many. The more normal I become to them the more opportunities I have. The more opportunities God give me.
And I’m improving in chess… I made it to the final… where I got killed.
October 10, 2011 by nktaube
Just a little sample of some of Nate's work for Spiritual Emphasis Week. This was the intro video from day one. (Click link below)
September 22, 2011 by nktaube
Several ex-AAIers, both faculty and staff, were interested in seeing some of the changes and updates that have been done to our campus. Nate made a little video tour of our campus for anyone interested in where we work. Since it seems to be having trouble showing up here, I've got a link to the video: