Today was our first day to “get out and do stuff.” Our group, combined with another college team, visited an independent living facility for senior citizens. I worked with most of the others, organizing their library while some students played music and sang, some helped decorate for Easter, and some helped with other activities.
When the library was finished, Brian and I and a couple students sat down for a sweet visit with two chatty ladies named Miss Anna* and Miss Francine*. As they told stories about their lives before and at the center, several of their friends wandered past and stopped to meet us too. They may always be popular, but I like to think that sitting in the midst of “young” visitors gave them a little more street cred… Or whatever the senior citizen equivalent is!
After a late lunch, we set up for backyard Bible club and then combed the neighborhood for kids to invite. Altogether, we ended up with about 19 kids, a mom, and a dog! Conner and Julia and I led the group in rousing choruses of Father Abraham, Every Move I Make, and Lord I Lift Your Name on High (I just demonstrated the actions).
After singing, we broke into age groups that rotated between three stations. Andrew and Jennifer energetically led the games; Conner and Scottie creatively told the story of Moses and the burning bush; Julia & I guided crafts; Carol and Jessica were floaters and helped out wherever needed. Brian was our timekeeper and, together with three of the Street Reach staff, helped with behind the scenes things the rest of us barely noticed but kept us running smoothly. Many of us are already bonding with one or more of the kids and they with us. I asked several of the kids if they would hold up their crafts so I could take a photo and they all wanted their photos with me. I also got lots of hugs as we began walking them home!
I took the first photo below as we walked around the neighborhood this afternoon. I noticed several small churches and one had a cross in the corner of its lot. As I walked, the cross lined up with the rubble of a torn-down house and a still-standing but condemned house behind it. To me, it represented the hope that Christ offers even in bleak circumstances and that local believers have been shining hope here long before we arrived and will continue long after we leave. We are simply here to help out for a week and maybe to be a link in a chain of believers connecting people to Christ.
The funny quote for today was a conversation between Conner and one of the kids:
Conner: I’m a farmer
Danny*: No you’re not!
Conner: Yeah, see, I’m wearing boots!
Danny: So does my sister.
*Not their real names.