By Caleb Pineda | RA, Black Forest Academy
Caleb is a TeachBeyond member serving in Kandern, Germany. Black Forest Academy needs male RAs willing to mentor high school guys. Find out more and inquire here.
I’ve been asked many times over the last year what exactly I do here in Germany. Honestly, it’s kind of a hard question to answer because every day looks different. My job is very different from any other job that I’ve heard of. It is part mentor, part chef, part taxi driver, activity organizer, life-skills coach, teacher, rule enforcer, and step-in parent.
When I came here, I thought my job would be best equated with a youth pastor, but I’ve learned since that it’s much more related to parenting than pastoring. A youth pastor gets to hang out with students in their work time, but then they go to the privacy of their homes at night. I live WITH my students – for better or worse, there is no getting away. That is parenting. Youth pastors don’t have to keep track of student’s schedules, take them to doctor’s appointments, make sure they’re doing their homework, or cook them meals. They also don’t usually have to discipline them when they make poor choices. Parents do those things.
It is in those moments, however, that God gives great opportunities to help students see their brokenness and their need for a Savior who offers healing and hope! (Note: I’m not discounting in any way the role of pastors, I’m simply pointing out differences between what they do and what I do.)
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Caleb, that’s crazy – you’re 24 years old, what do you know about parenting?” If you are, we’re in the same boat. I am not equipped or qualified to do this, but God has taught me so, so much this year and is somehow using me to serve Him. I’m also thankful that I work with four other people who are more experienced than I am in this field, including a set of wonderful dorm parents who are raising five of their own kids. Getting to learn from them has been such a huge blessing.
So what does my typical day look like? Again, every day is different, and weekends are totally unique, as the kids are home all day and we are responsible for cooking all of their meals. They are some very long and tiring yet fun and meaningful days!
Here is what a typical weekday looks like for me right now:
6:30 – wake up
6:45 – morning responsibilities (cooking breakfast, leading Bible study, driving kids to school early, etc.)
8:20 – kids depart for school
8:30-12:00 – varies by day – department meetings at the school, individual dorm staff meetings, grocery shopping (we buy a LOT of food!), etc.
12:00-4:00 – Time Off – most days, unless there are things that must be done during the afternoon (e.g. student doctor’s appointments)
4:00-6:00 – Track Practice – I’m helping out as an assistant track coach right now!
6:00 – pick up dinner at school & drive it back to the dorm (about a 10-minute drive)
6:30 – Dinner Time
7:00-7:30 – Chore Time – students do chores and staff check them daily
7:30-9:00 – Study Hours – students are required to study and keep the house quiet
9:00-10:15 – hang out with students
10:30 – Prayer time on the halls with students
11:00 – Bed Time!
It’s a very full day, and I assure you I go to bed tired every night. But I truly love and believe in this ministry. I don’t preach sermons or organize outreach events, but what I get to do is walk beside 20 young men as they walk through life. Some of them are far off from God and I get to ask them questions as they try to figure out what they believe about God. I get to be there when they’re struggling and lonely. Others are really pursuing Jesus and I get to study Scripture with them, help them figure out how to grow in Christ, and even be challenged by them! But all of that happens in the context of living everyday life alongside them. What a privilege it is to serve here!