My name is Brian Steiner, and I’ve been interning with Faith That Works for this past summer. The first day I stepped into the office, I had no idea what to expect - I could only hope that my role would include more than filing papers and taking out the trash. Little did I know that I would be teaching English one-on-one with Hispanic mothers, writing applications to win grant money, and even crawling on hands and feet through the dark underside of a trailer to turn on a water faucet. Interning with Faith That Works has been a phenomenal experience, not only because of my training in the nuts and bolts of how a non-profit works, but also because I was given an incredible opportunity to serve Christ in a ministry I was both very interested in and yet had never fully explored, as I helped lead the summer tutoring programs at the Chesterfield trailer park.
Brian offering homework support during the Tuesday tutoring program

Brian offering homework support during the Tuesday tutoring program

I’ve lived in Chesterfield for thirteen years. I’ve done my share of mission work, from locally in St. Louis to abroad in the Dominican Republic. As far back as I can remember, I was aware of the mobile home park’s existence, yet before this summer, I had never dared to step foot in a community in need that I drove by every week. It’s almost surreal - the trailer park, nested between the Chesterfield Mall and the largest strip mall in America. All of this makes teaching there an incredibly humanizing experience - people who live in conditions that seem unreal to residents of West St. Louis County become so very real. The statistics I cite in my applications for grants become people with names and faces. During the summer tutoring, I got to know the kids as they read and played, crafting colorful masks, bouncy balls, and their own kickball games. Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for these children’s parents was more challenging, yet also even more rewarding. I worked for eight weeks with one mother, using every bit of my Spanish vocabulary to help teach her English. There were small victories - on the first day, she could not pronounce the word “watch”, yet with weekly drilling, she could confidently say it (and many other English words difficult for native Spanish speakers). There were big victories - a group of sisters who were attending brought their mother halfway through the summer session, who spoke not a single word of English. Last week, we started up ESL classes again: the sisters, the mother, and several others had returned, as well as a few new students. The mother, when called on, could now tell her name, country of origin, and favorite hobby to the class. This does not sound like much, but for someone who saw how hard the students were working to learn English, and how hard the volunteers were working to teach them, I feel so blessed to have seen and led this vital work at the trailer park. Ultimately, it is stories like these that makes our Hispanic Outreach worth the time and effort. The relational ministry of Faith That Works, as volunteers work with children and their parents on a personal level, confirms the very human element of service. Whether helping a child read a book, guiding a mother’s English skills, or just playing a game of kickball with the kids, our works finds Christ in the community at the Chesterfield mobile home park. My internship has taught me how to find need right around me and how to confront it while affirming the humanity and dignity of those in need. That is an experience I can be proud of.
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