International Ministries

Learning Empathy in Costa Rica

October 31, 2013 Journal
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Alternatives to Violence class

     Every day we read the headlines full of violence:  murders, armed robbery, rape, even neighborhood disputes.  It is no different in Costa Rica.

     This past semester at Pastoral Care for Women, we introduced a new class, Alternatives to Violence, which I co-taught with the program director.  The class was a learning experience both for the teachers and the students.  Most people consider themselves non-violent, but in fact, through the use of exercises, we discovered that we have been taught to compete, instead of cooperate.  It was an automatic response in the activities.  We need to re-program our thinking in terms of working for unity and cooperation instead of one person winning and the other losing.  (We do clarify that non-violence is not being a doormat, either, because it involves respect for both oneself and for others.)

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

     One of our exercises was “walking a mile in someone else´s shoes” or living out empathy.  After literally exchanging shoes in an activity, we then began exchanging difficulties in our lives, allowing someone else to walk in our shoes and give us a new perspective on ways to deal with the problem.

     One class member shared how a family member was terminally ill, yet other family members were in strife.  A classmate (a doctor) made some good suggestions about patient care and keeping things calm at this time.  Two weeks later the student reported that her relative had died, but that the class had helped her to deal with the family´s reactions.  They managed to begin a healthy mourning process without the major conflicts that were brewing.

Thank you

     Each week the students shared how the things we learned were helping them live out their daily lives in healthier, faith-filled ways.   This growth has been made possible by your generous support to targeted giving and to the World Mission Offering.  Thank you so much!

Upcoming Graduation

     Saturday, November 2, is the graduation ceremony for this semester – during which I have been directly involved in three classes.  Please keep the graduating women as well as the final preparations by the Pastoral Care for Women team in your prayers.  Thank you for your prayers and gifts!