Before the holidays, I was privileged to participate in the Boyd 4H program. Every other Wednesday at Boyd the 4H club meets from 3-4:15 p.m. 4H in most schools is focused on agriculture and animals…kind of a prerequisite to FFA. But at Boyd, 4H is focused more on life skills. They talk about babysitting, how to take care of younger siblings when mom & dad aren’t home, first aid, cooking, sewing, character traits, going to college, etc.
It gives an opportunity for our older teenagers who are out of school by 3 p.m. to mentor and be a consistent influence on these kids. Teenagers get to know people from different demographics and cultures while ministering to them and the children get a big kid friend they can look up to.
On this particular Wednesday, the 4H club walked a block down the street to the AISD main building to put on a play entitled Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type (something about cows who have unionized and enter into collective bargaining with the farmer). Very cute. Afterwards, we returned to Boyd and ate nachos, drank sodas, and talked with the kids.
From there, we adjourned to the playground. There, we decorated Christmas cookies, took pictures with a rather young Santa, played games, and goofed around for a couple of hours. Even more teenagers were able to come to this since it was after school.
I was so impressed by the kids there. I want my kids when the get older to be like that. To have the heart of Christ and be able to reach out so naturally to people from different backgrounds. I also saw a possibility of repeating at Boyd what has obviously been so successful in Regina, Canada (see the Canada Mission Blog). I love to see what God does through children.
Instead of me talking, let's hear from Courtey Mitchell, one of the teenagers who regularly goes:
This experience has definitely impacted my life. I have been a part of this ministry since its beginning in 2009 and longed to be allowed to participate since it was first suggested by Hilary Hoover. It was a real blessing that God worked out my schedule both years so that school and work didn't conflict with the meetings. I don't believe in coincidences and know that it was all arranged to serve His greater purpose. During the meetings we say the 4H pledge, which I almost have memorized, and pass out some sort of a snack/drink.
We have a project or a lesson the kids work on. Past favorites were plays put on for the faculty and Victoria Gardens Nursing Home, care packages made for the soldiers, and cooking classes in which we taught the kids to make homemade ice-cream and pizza bagels. The kids are always grateful and excited during the meetings, especially when we go to the fair in the fall to learn about the plants and animals shown.
I know a lot of the kids. It was hard to learn all their names the first year, but it became easier the second time around. I have not met their parents mostly because we never see them. The kids get picked up outside while we are cleaning up or walk home to the apartments adjacent to the park. The kids are great though, and make it all worth while.
During 'Love Where You Live' I noticed a stark contrast in the behaviors between the children from G.O. and the children from Boyd. The Boyd kids were so much more appreciative of the activities we had planned and the time we were spending with them. I guess I'm just a sucker for those kids because they have taught me so much and ask so little. I see God working in the roles we, as volunteers, play with the children. They love us because we can drive and are 3 feet taller than them, and I love them because I see them growing. As I get to know each child I learn about some of their problems and a connection forms. Then, as they take on leadership roles or really get excited about a service project, I see God working in their hearts and know that little by little they are growing up and that they truly are learning something. Although we can't pray with them or talk about Jesus, I hope that later on in life they will identify our actions as a product of our faith, and in turn seek a relationship with Him for themselves.
These kids have taught me humility, strength, joy, and hope. Despite their economical disadvantages they are still kids who focus on the same things we did. I talk with the girls about boys and about cars and stats with the guys. Perhaps the biggest impact they made in me was their complete acceptance. My presence may have been awkward at first, but now if I'm late they all notice and want to know what kept me. It sounds juvenile that such a small thing would matter, but to me it does matter. To me, they are really saying, "You are making a difference."
Posted on Sun, January 16, 2011
by Mark Maxey