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Summer Reading Program/Backpack Ministry Kick Off

Wow! All I can say is, wow. God is amazing and it was an honor to watch him in action yesterday.

We arrived at HEB at 8:30 a.m. and loaded the back end of four cars with $970 worth of carrots, lettuce, halo oranges, cucumbers, broccoli and potatoes. We arrived at the church shortly after 9:00 a.m., unloaded the cars and set-up the room. Then the teens helped move the books from the storage room to the rooms where we'll hold Reading Buddies this summer. They sorted the books by type and the teachers began to mark them by reading level. Over 400 books were donated and we have a small library with lots of reading options to get started! God is good!

Shortly after 11, the first family arrived. They checked in to receive a backpack of snacks weekly during the summer and registered for Reading Buddies. Then one of the teens walked the children to the Reading Buddy Room. The intention was just to meet them, show them the room and invite them to come back each week. The kids were excited. One jumped up and down, clapping his hands to be able to spend time reading.

After one little boy had read and played with his mentor, he returned to Fellowship Hall to eat lunch with his mom. As soon as he was done eating, he asked to see and play with his mentor again. He cried when it was time to leave.

I poked my head in the Reading Buddy room towards the end of the time and found two sets of teens sitting next to their buddy, reading quietly. Bonds are already forming and I know the time and attention poured on these children is going to make such a difference in all their lives this summer.

27 of the 86 children registered yesterday. The church, from previous experience, knows that number will grow over the summer. By Aug, they expect to have 100-150 children and youth. Wow!

After the families ate lunch, they selected the groceries they'd like to take home and we bagged groceries and took them to their cars. We knew we had plenty of food so we encouraged them to take as much as they wanted.

In addition to other groceries, one woman selected three bags of oranges, commenting how much her children like them.

Another filled three produce bags with cucumbers, as she told us how much her daughter likes them.

One woman came in with five young children and they made two trips of filling grocery bags and taking them to their car. As I told them good-bye and "See you next week," The oldest child, who was about 10 looked back at me with a big smile on her face and nodded yes.

We had groceries left over so we packaged an assortment of groceries into bags, tucked in a flyer about the summer program and loaded everything into the cars. Our first stop was the GRASP (Greater Randolph Area Services Program) thrift store and food pantry, where we dropped off the food that was still in boxes. They were so excited and grateful to be able to have the fresh produce for their clients.

Then we went to one of the low income apartments near the church and dropped off 10 bags of the prepackaged food, bags of oranges and a flyer about the summer program with the apt. manager, asking her to give to any of the families in the complex with children). It was good timing - since it's the beginning of the month, rent is due and she thought several would be in the office over the weekend.

Next we delivered food to one of the families that didn't have a car. Three children and their mom came outside to greet us and help carry the groceries. Then we headed to another apt. complex near the church. Although the office had an open sign and the lights were on, the door was locked. We knocked for awhile and then started to head back to the car. A man from the complex was walking near us, towards his car and I asked him if he'd like some groceries. He said Yes and we gave him a few bags. As we were getting ready to pull away, a woman came out of another apt. and looked at me. I asked her if she would like some groceries and she said Yes. I gave her a few bags.

Then the kids and I decided we should drive through the complex and see if we saw anyone else. Two boys were working on a car and I asked them if they'd like groceries. They said Yes, and both headed over for bags of groceries. Then we saw an apt with toys outside so I knocked on the door. While waiting at the door, one of the students called to me and pointed to two more people walking in the complex. I approached them, asking if they would like some groceries. The girl was in her early twenties, and ran over, clapping her hands with a grin across her face. A man and his daughter pulled up in a truck and we gave them a few bags. As I continued to ask people if they'd like groceries, it struck me that no one was skeptical. Surprised yes, but not skeptical. And not a single person asked what kind of groceries we had. They just each gratefully accepted a few bags.

I asked the man where more children lived and he pointed to two doors. I knocked on the first one and a boy about 10 years old cracked the door just enough that I could see his eye and part of his face. I asked him if he'd like groceries and he said Yes, opening the door to receive the bags. With him were two younger children. I handed him the last three bags of groceries. God provides!

I know that is the house we were meant to find.

Everyone we met was in need, so excited and grateful to receive the groceries. I know God has good plans for this summer and next year. I can't wait to see what unfolds next.

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