After all the travel and sightseeing, we were ready to settle in on Sunday afternoon, July 6.
We checked in at the Donelson Fellowship and made ourselves at home in the classrooms-turned-dorm rooms. Cots were unfolded, air mattresses inflated, sleeping bags unfurled.
We also got acquainted with the restroom facilities. There were two toilets on our floor. Two toilets for 40+ girls? We also had two showers for all the females to share, and those showers happened to be camp showers outside! The living conditions weren't luxurious, but everyone in our group took in all in stride. And hey, we had A/C!
Before the first evening program, our kids continued their tradition of playing marathon four-square games.
It wasn't long before the other groups from Virginia, Illinois and Alabama were joining in.
|Ready to get this party started|
|At the opening evening session|
That night we had a time of worship, a brief devotional talk and some silly games. Then we finally got our work assignments for the rest of the week. We were divided into crews and assigned roles. Some crews were assigned to a "Feed the Children" program. Others would be working in a nursing home. A few were doing yard work and light maintenance. Our assignment? We would be working together at YES, a childcare facility for lower income families.
Monday morning we were up early for breakfast duty, but after that, we were on our way to work. We were already tired from all the traveling and activity, but we were ready to "be Jesus" to those children.
|On our way to YES|
|Getting our instructions from Mr. Dave|
|Working with our reading buddies|
|Taking on the big kids in dodgeball|
At the end of that first day, Katie confided that our day full of board games, crafts, tutoring and playing didn't feel like work at all! What a great group of children!
Some more photos from our week at YES and in the Week of Hope programs:
|"Front Row Joes" at the nightly devotional|
|Lovely scenery on our drive to YES|
|Arriving for our last day|
|With my buddies E and D|
On our second day at YES, E, one of the youngest kids there, became my best buddy. All I did was kick a soccer ball to him, but he followed me around the rest of the day. By week's end we had shared reading time, crafts, and our own version of mini-kickball. So sweet! Then D buddied up to me during our outing to a local YMCA for swimming. By our last day there, D and I had our own special handshake (borrowed from one that Katie and I have shared for years).
|Sharing the secret handshake|
|Katie helps with chapel time|
We went on this mission trip to work, but in our four days at YES, we saw all the ways God is already at work there. The leadership of that program is top-notch, and the children who attend, especially the older teenagers, are key to its success. Even though they range in age from kindergarten to 12th grade, those kids cooperate and get along with each other. What a blessing it was to get to love, help and encourage them!