It's compelling, awesome, inspiring and wonderful to watch God's plan unfold.
Each week I'm in awe of the adult volunteers He led our way. We didn't advertise for adult volunteers and yet the first four that came forward are retired elementary school teachers with backgrounds in reading. How amazing is that! God is so good!
From the beginning they jumped in, organizing the books the school library donated by reading level so the children and teen volunteers could easily identify books to select for each child. As the weeks have progressed, they've each been drawn to a specific student.
Last week, with a cheerful smile, Ms. Sam proclaimed "I came here intending to help elementary school children, but God had other plans in mind!"
Over the last several weeks, Ms. Sam has poured her heart into Alaura, a thirteen year old whose mom runs a day care. The first week Alaura conveyed if she could have anything it would be time to herself. I have goosebumps as I write this, because that is exactly what God provided. Alaura, and sometimes a friend or younger sibling, is always one of the first to arrive. While her younger sibling meets with a teen volunteer, Alaura spends time with Ms. Sam. Over the last several weeks I've witnessed Alaura move from a stand-offish teen with low self-esteem to taking better care of herself, standing up straighter and smiling.
God placed Mrs. P right where she was needed as well. Her background is in reading recovery. Since recognizing Irene is in the third grade, yet can't identify most letters or read, Mrs. P has brought supplies specific to Irene's needs. Each week she waits patiently for Irene and her mom to arrive. As soon as she sees them, she warmly greets them, they sit down together and gently they begin the work of helping Irene identify letters and teaching her how to read. This week she brought a simple book, with two words per page, she crafted at home. Together they worked through the book and as they reached the end, I heard Mrs. P. proclaim "You can read!" Through God's love Mrs. P is building Irene up while teaching her to read. :)
After reading and game time concludes, Mrs. P continues to pour her heart into Irene and her mom as they move from the reading room to Fellowship Hall to have lunch together.
This one I feel a little funny sharing because it's my daughter I'm highlighting, but I'm sharing because each time I hear her speak, I know this is part of God's plan.
Due to summer schedules, after the first two weeks, we found out we wouldn't have a leader for chapel time for the next several weeks. I mentioned to my daughter, PIC would need to lead it. But life was busy with work and it was Thursday before I had time to think about it. When I mentioned it to her again and that we needed to form a plan and lesson, she already had it done. When we arrived at Reading Buddies to set up the next day, she led the other teen volunteers in brainstorming a game to play with the lesson.
During Chapel Time she and another teen volunteer led the game and then Kaitlyn led the lesson. I mention this because she feels called to be a minister and it's amazing to witness the first part of God's plan for her life unfold. She speaks to the children and adults, explaining the Bible and God's purpose for our lives in such an engaging way, you just know God is with her.
Each week we close Chapel Time by going around the room asking if anyone has joys, concerns or prayer requests. The first few weeks as we went around the circle almost everyone quickly shook their head "no". But this week hands shot up with praises - a job offer, grandparents back in town, answered prayers and requests - a job opportunity is open. It's touching to see the teens and children open up, sharing with one another while bringing their requests and praises before the group and God.
After Chapel Time we break into small groups and play games for about 30 minutes before going to lunch. Jeremy and his brother Jeffrey recently moved in with their aunt. Like many they were quiet the first few weeks. Jeremy especially was quiet and held back. But last week, Mrs. D played several challenging rounds of Dominoes with him and he came out of his shell. This week, Mrs. D was on vacation and my thoughts were on keeping Jeremy engaged, but as game time started he identified a game and group of kids he wanted to play with. As we were cleaning up, he also approached one of the adult volunteers, sharing that he was almost finished reading the book he had at home and could he take home another one. (So many books were donated we encourage the children to take home books so they can read during the week too.) Once again, my heart was touched as I witnessed needs being filled in his life.