About a year ago Gil McConnell called our church to have a “spring 70” in which the campus staff would have 70 percent of its volunteers all set up for the 12-13 school year by the end of spring.
I had been feeling the rift between campus outreach, our churchs college ministry and its entire body. College kids are or think they are busy and fully participating in Campus Outreach events and discipleship is a lot of time when you have a full school load and work on top of it. I understand why we are not more fully invested in the church body but it made me sad that it feels as if we just picked this church to attend, not that we are really apart of it.
Thinking through my own lack of involvement I had become convicted. I felt guilty at how scarce my ownership was in the relationship between me and the church, and at that time the call for the spring 70 was made!
I decided to volunteer, originally offering to help in the nursey everyweek but low and behold I ended up in the 3 and 4 yr olds class. The nursey has workers that are only there once a month and so since I had offered to do it every week, Pastor Gil asked if I could/would be interested in the preschool room. I agreed not really thinking much about it and oh what a journey this year has been.
This is my small group^^
I first want to share about how many amazing things have happened through this opportunity
1. My preschool staff has encouraged and built me up more times than I can count, they affirm me as a care taker, as a woman of patience, gentleness, kindness, love, joy and a teachers heart. Im thankful beyond belief to be loved and thought for by them. They have challenged me and invited me over. They have pressed into my life and taught me so much about parenting and how to teach through a Christ-centered worldview. One of the moms, while having me over to teach me how to plan a scripture lesson asked me about life and through her husband ended up getting me a job that would have bn impossible without him. I got a recommandation to work there without having the accurate experience and have loved every minute of my new job. I was struggling at my old job and without a doubt, God’s sovereign hand was thinking ahead of me, for my every need. The good earth is more than I could have ever imagined at a restuarant, the people are soo friendly, welcoming and loving, I memorized the menu really quickly and have picked up skills (and extra cash) in a manner that took me months at my prior job and I’ve only been at the Good Earth for 2 weeks now.
2. The involvement aspect. I have gotten to know more church families through this adventure than I can count. I am so thankful to have letters sent to me from a family who moved from here to NC and encouragement from parents who’s kids talk about me when they go home. I feel much more connected to the church now and am so blessed to be a part of a movement in such a young generation. These kids, graciously, have been drawn to me. (I think its because I am the only one in there without a child in the room, all 7 of the other adults are married and have a child in the room.) I constantly have kids fighting for my lap. Such a small joy to be loved so much.
3. this leads me to talk about each child in the picture. (L to R)
Ronan: If Ronan is in Class, he is by my side throughout the whole hour. Ronan turned 4 last sunday and has now experience his very first “classroom” type activity. He had lots of trouble at the beginning of the year but has come oh so far. You see in the picture he has his blanket.. He keeps that for comfort, its an object to keep his hands busy. Each week I have to tell kids they can only sit on my lap untill or unless ronan arrives because he takes presidence. Ronan gets distracted easily and like to kind of do his own thing. We bribe him with a blue toy ( we have a few different ones he chooses from each week) the reward of a sucker after sunday school if he is good and the treat of calling daddy for punishment if it gets bad. This little boy is the joy of my week. I get disappointed when he isnt there because every week I get to hugg, kiss, snuggle and learn from. He has taught me how to think outside the box, how to be patient and be a better care giver. I wish everyone could see how this is handled because its hard, its very hard but its real life.
irene: is not there every single week but when she is, she always has lots of questions, she is a patient, kind child. Irene is waited untill asked to say the memory verses, she seldom says them with the group but knows them when asked. She NEVER wants to leave but oh what a treat it is that she loves to come and learn about jesus and say memory verses each week.
Jonas: I know we shouldn’t have favorites but I do. Jonas has a special place in my heart for a few reasons. First off, Jonas came in the very first sunday bawling his eyes out not wanting to come in. I had to pull him away from his parents and then hold him the entire hour. I read books to calm him down and then even when I would set him down for a minute he would grip my leg like his life depended on it. The next week he came bounding in with no regaurd for me whatsoever. I requested he be in my small group because I thought he was just the cutest little thing and have enjoyed him each week ever since. Over christmas I worked in the nursery, an off week for preschool because of the holiday and got to play with freiya his little 2 yr old sister. She hung out with me the whole hour insisting I sing songs to her.
Late winter we read the lesson about jesus calling peter to walk on the water. During discussion time I was asking the kids about the story (it helps them remember it better). Jonas is the oldest child in my small group and therefore does the best job on his memory vereses and talking about the story. I asked him why Peter started sinking and he said without missing a beat, “because he took his eyes off of Jesus” I could have cried right on the spot.
In the church service following preschool that day I was really struggling with jealousy of a friend sitting next to me and wallowing in distractive comparison. I prayed and asked Jesus to help me see the truth and right then all I thought about was Jonas. he was smailing at me and said “because he took his eyes off of Jesus” and I thought to myself, what an amazing testimony that a 4 year olds answer to a question about the story is a profound truth that I need to hear still. you fail and struggle when you take your eyes off of jesus. The best part of the whole story with Jonas is that this spring, one night after a bible study with mom and dad, Jonas asked his daddy if he could ask Jesus into his heart. Jonas prayed to our king Jesus to invite Him into his heart.
Claire is a sweetheart, she compliments me on my clothes and shoes and is always excited to just be near me. Claire asks about how others are doing and loves to give hugs. She is much quieter at group than i presume she is at home but is one of the most beautiful children I have ever seen (the souza family as a whole is the most beautiful family ive met at church thus last 5 years)
Roland is the spiffiest kid in the class. Every week roland comes in with cowboys boots on and a black belt in his dress pants. Occasionally a bowtie. I love his small still voice and his affection. Roland is a cuddler and often more emotional than the other children but he loves to color and dip his grahm crackers in water. Never fails to spill and make a mess each week but is faithful to help clean up and always push in his chair.
molly and noah are siblings, although they are not twins. Molly and noah LOVE telling me each week about things happening in the family and at home. Molly probably says something about her older sister ady 3 times each week. Molly and noah are always the first to say please and thank you and work really hard at their memory vereses. it is such a joy to me to see them love eachother and love their family. its evident their family is close by the amount and way they talk about each of them. Molly and noah are very obedient and smart. They always know the answers to the story questions, proving they are great listeners during story time.
lastly is carson(not pictured), he moved to NC about a month ago. although he was one of the younger ones he was the smartest by far. Carson was the first to answer questions, the best at memorizing verses and references yet be respectful and full of joy. I miss him very much and pray his little heart would continue to grow for jesus and hold fast to the word implanted in his heart.
4. there is so much more i could say about this year but this post is long enough. I love these kids and often cry praying for them. My hope is that the foundation we spend laying during this time would be fruitful in the rest of their lives and not that they would remember us, although we’d love that, but that they would grow up to follow Jesus as their lord and savior.