I don’t know that I really even have the words. This morning we had a great (though unique) breakfast and the sorted out all of the supplies that we brought with us. It felt like so much at that moment. We loaded up and headed to Light of the Valley School.
Light of the Valley has a little less than 300 kids. They have preschoolers up through about the equivalent of 8th grade (though 4th grade level education). The majority of these children come from the poorest of circumstances. Karen would point out to me where they live and it is heart-breaking. We were greeted with the most beautiful smiles you have ever seen in your life.
Laura and I began with handing out nametags. Their excitement over getting a nametag sticker was amazing. It gave us the opportunity to say their name and look each kiddo in the face. David and Karen spend each Monday doing large group sessions with different age groups. They use upbeat music and solid curriculum that teaches virtues that God desires for us to exhibit. It was fun to watch a chapel-full of kids jump up and down and sing about God.
Our kids went to classrooms with other kids their age. I was a little nervous for our younger ones, particularly Anna. I kept asking if she was ok. I couldn’t help but think how much faith and boldness it took for them to do that! Go to a classroom with kids you don’t know, with a teacher you don’t know, in a whole other country! But they all displayed such courage in the Lord. We say in our family ministry that we desire to provide challenging spiritual experiences and this is top of the line! 🙂
During the kids’ lunch break, Michael and I participated in lively games of Ring-Around-the-Rosie and Duck Duck Goose. For those of you who have seen Michael in action with kids, you know that he has an absolute gift from God. It is on full display in Belize.
We had a typical Belize lunch of rice, beans, and chicken. Vicki and Melissa pitched in to help in the kitchen. It was delicious.
I made special friends with a little boy named Aman. He is special needs and Karen explained that they keep him at the school so that they know someone is looking out for him during the day. He is precious and wanted huge hugs. One of my favorite moments was watching him play ball with Todd.
I spent the afternoon in the “Infant 2” room, which is probably a 1st/2nd grade equivalent. I’ll have to blog another day about the educational perspective, but let me just say that I had to repent for the days I taught school and complained about lacking supplies. The teacher asked if I could cut some posterboard. They needed it for cardstock for report cards. Her scissors were barely functional. You know when they get kinda sticky or rusty and you throw them away because they won’t open and close? That is all she had. Some kids weren’t doing work because they had no notebook. If they had a notebook, their pencil might be broken and they had no sharpener. We take such little things for granted.
It is amazing to see what a difference God makes using faithful people like Karen and David. There are so many needs and they are striving to meet as many as possible, often out of their own pockets. It has been a real reality check for me about how sharing the gospel has to be tied to meeting needs. Not just temporary needs, though that is good, but seeking to make a difference in a culture.
Again, this will be a whole other blog, but it has also reaffirmed how kidmin is not just another ministry tagged on. The way to change and impact a culture is to begin with the little ones. Even in the school, David and Karen can see their influence grow as the kids who began with them as preschoolers are growing up. This takes long term commitment from them and from us as we partner with them.
I’m reminded of a simple sentence one of my home group friends said last week: God loves kids.