This week has been crazy, but wonderful. We started working with the kids this week, and it has just confirmed how much I love to do these kind of things. On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday we go to Melrose apartments. The kids there are insane. Apparently, there are a lot of groups who come to these apartments and so the kids are used to having people around and feel very comfortable with disregarding every word that comes from my mouth. On Mondays and Thursdays we are in charge of planning the afternoon for the kids. We hang out with the kids for a big portion of the time, but we also have a Bible time where we teach one of the ten gospel truths and then do craft and snack time. This past Thursday was an interesting experience to say the least. Jon, the guy who started this program, came with us to help us set up and then left because we only had about 6 girls. But, those six quickly multiplied into 20 screaming children. It reminded me of some days in Ethiopia when you just wanted to run and hide.
There is one boy, in particular, named Keshawn who reminds me of a boy in Ethiopia named Aylabe. Both of them think using their fists is the solution to everything, and they even kind of look similar. But what gives me hope is that Aylabe ended up being one of my favorite boys and I watched how slowly over the summer he became calmer and more kind to the others. I remember how this once, all macho boy, had tears in his eyes as I hugged him goodbye at the end of the summer. That is what makes me want to love Keshawn even when he is chasing another boy around the room with a chair raised over his head, intent on doing bodily harm. So despite the crazy day, and a part of me that wants to run out the door and not come back, I am also filled with an unexpected love for these kids and a desire to see them truly understand the gospel and the love that the Father has for them. I know these kids are the way they are for a reason, and it is not because they had a loving mom and dad to show them the right way to respond. Keshawn responds in violence because that is probably how he has seen the people in his life respond to adverse situations. Please pray for Keshawn’s heart to be softened and for him to be open to the gospel and be shown love. Pray for the hearts of the kids at Melrose to be calmed and for them to listen to what we are teaching them. Also pray for wisdom for Marianna and me as we learn to respond to the kids in a way that is loving yet firm.
Our time at Harrison square was the exact opposite of the time at Melrose. We went to Harrison square for the first time on Wednesday. Jon has been wanting to start a church there, and we are the ones who are going to start building that relationship with them. We had about 35 kids show up and they were all so fun and sweet. They were quiet and respectful during the story and they responded well to the memory verse. There was one sweet kid in particular who stuck around after it was over and helped us clean up and was even asking questions about the Bible lesson! It is cool to get to be a part of planting a church and I am excited to see how our time on Wednesdays takes us in that direction. Please pray for these kids to be responsive to the gospel. Pray that the groundwork will be laid for planting a church there and that through the kids, we will be able to reach the parents.
We also got to meet with the youth council at Jose’s church this week. We finally got to put some ideas into reality and today we mailed out a calendar to all of the youth about what’s coming up this summer. Our first event is a Bible study this Tuesday, followed by a cookout/bonfire next Friday. We are still not sure what study we are going to do this summer, but we have some ideas. Because they don’t have an adult leader on Tuesdays, we are looking for a video study where the kids can break into small groups and discuss without having to have a main leader. Please pray that the youth will be responsive to the Bible study and that they will hunger for God’s word. Pray that we will be able to reach former youth members who haven’t come in a while. Also pray that we will be able to reach the surrounding community. Jose’s church recently moved into a new building and they are in a strategic location right in the middle of “little Mexico”.
There is so much I could share, and I am sorry for the long-winded post, but thank you for your continued prayers!
Written by Samantha Burgess