Everyday I go to a site called Mary’s Place, which is a shelter for up to 92 homeless families. It’s really special because everything is completely free for the families as long as they can show that the adults are working to get jobs or trying to improve their funds by saving money. The buildings there also have a food pantry, soup kitchen, teen center, children’s center, and a lot of other recreational centers for everyone to do academic work and hang out in. We help in the playroom and the social center with the kids two to around 18 in the mornings and then walk over to the children’s center and work with the three to eight year olds and play with them. It is a blast. Today, in the morning, we played duck-duck-goose and played in the playroom (tag and “zookeeper”). In case you were wondering, zookeeper is when the big kids are zookeepers and have to catch the “animals” (the little kids) and put them in the cages (the rec play area place). One of the kids was having trouble getting along with others without hitting them or calling them names and kept singing some inappropriate songs, but it was super cool to see Amber read storybooks to him for at least 30 minutes straight…. He calmed right down and behaved perfectly when he did that.
In the afternoon we went to the children’s place and colored, played Play-doh, played house, teeter-tottered, played High School Musical DDR on Wii, played Legos, and a bunch of other fun activities. One little five year old, Ching, drew a picture for Jacob Beard. It was really cute. The kids were a lot of fun to play with and are so adorable because you can tell they really love and appreciate the attention.
After the children’s center, we took our showers and headed to the St. Matthew’s Church to serve at a food pantry with our crew, “Free” and some kids from the “Love” crew. It was so so so much fun. I talked to some moms and a little girl who liked my braid a lot. They were all really nice and it was neat to see that soup kitchens are not what they may be stereotyped to be – not everyone is homeless, some people may just need a little bit of help once in awhile. Isaac, Kristin, and I did dishes with the power dishwasher and fancy sink and pretty much got soaked. I rinsed off at least 230 trays of food covered in gravy, turkey, and the whole shebang of Thanksgiving dinner, which they have every Tuesday night. The leader of the kitchen, Mike, was really appreciative and definitely was a person that I admire. He seemed to do everything, from mopping to serving food to talking to the eaters to washing dishes. He was quite a guy – could put his hand flat on a 160 degree F dishwasher without even a jump. Pretty cool.
So, Troy got our small group Flavorices and it was a great day. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
For the past two days I have been teaching children going into the fifth grade math and English skills at a place called Hospitality House. Yes dad, I know that you’re proud. Some of them have trouble writing and reading, but I’m doing my best. There is one kid who is a bit smarter than most. I wanted to help him with factoring his numbers, but he had finished and had gotten them all correct. During the English part I proof read one child’s story about a prince-dragon whose father had died, and went off to seek help form a nameless wizard who would bring the other one back to life for a certain price that involved killing. It was a little grim for an eleven year-old, but it was a good story. Then I go out in the hall and read with one kid. They all want to come out but there’s only one of me. A lot of them are reading the Goosebumps books, which is neat because I read those too. After that we have lunch and then we play basketball. Right now I’m trying to learn how to double-dutch with jump ropes. It’s so much fun! I cant wait for tomorrow. I don’t want to leave.
So at the beginning of the week, I was terrified of my work site. I ran to the daycare inside of the retirement home and spent almost my whole day there. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to understand what any of the residents were saying, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find anything in common with the residents. But luckily, Andy and I were able to stick together on the second day (since we were both worried about the worksite) and meet some really cool people. We met John, who LOVES to play cards. So we were able to watch him play some cards with a couple of other residents and it was really a fun time! We also met Paulene who was playing cards with John, and we were able to take her to the vegetable garden that the residents keep right outside the building. Later, we met her roommate Virginia and the two were a hilarious couple.
My fears were put to rest and I’ve been having a great time since then (though I am still spending a lot of time in the daycare…), and tomorrow we’re going to play cards with John and another woman who lives at the retirement home. I’m surprised that I’ve already learned a new skill in just the two days that I’ve been here! I know that God put me into this position so that I could learn this and I’m really grateful for the opportunity.