Here I am on the other side of a week long missions trip. Been there done that got the
T-shirt. Honestly, this trip impacted my life. It showed me how blessed I truly am. There is a living God who helps me and cares for me.
I signed on to be a volunteer. I traveled ten hours to help run Vacation Bible School on a Native American reservation. Our group of volunteers was to meet at a recreation center (Rec. Center) located on the reservation. The Rec. Center was built and run by a church. The church’s mission is to reach out to the people on the reservation. To provide a safe place for the children and their families.
Once arriving at the reservation It was clear to me that I was out of my comfort zone. I knew the other volunteers were feeling the same way. None of us had experienced reservation life before. We had however, prayed and, practiced our program, and paid our way to be part of the outreach to children. Now it was time to love and play with these children. To be the hands and feet of Jesus.
We started our first day and those that followed, with free play in the gym at the Rec. Center. Next, fun songs, a Bible lesson/story, and a craft. Ending with prayer and a sack lunch handed to each child.
Day 2- I spotted a young boy strapping on a pair of roller blades. I greeted him with a
smile. When I asked him his name, he told me it was Bruce. I asked if he was any good at roller blading. He smiled. It was a beautiful shy smile. Bruce told me he had been roller blading for four years. My jaw dropped. I told him he must be a professional . I asked him how old he was, ten was his reply. With that, he got up and skated off. Bruce skated around the gym. Every once in awhile, Bruce would glance over to see if I was watching him. I was. I would wave or give him thumbs up as he circled the gym. His shy smile smiled flashing as he breezed by. I was going to keep an eye out for him the rest of the morning.
After the kids lined up for their lunch and were on their way. We, volunteers together with our Pastor gathered ate and, we discussed what we could do better the next day. We prayed and asked God to guide us wth the children. We thanked God for providing us with his help. We also prayed that word would get to to more families about our program at the Rec. Center.
Before our trip our group had to study up a bit, on reservation life, and Native American culture. One of the things we had been informed of, was that we should not expect the people to thank us. It was not rude it was just not deemed necessary in their culture. I found that interesting. I decided I would still use thank you in my speech when applicable.
Day 3- No Bruce today. We had a few new faces as we had prayed for and expected. The day went well.
At our break our Pastor told us he wanted us to try to make a connection with one or more of the kids. We all left to prepare for the next day.
Day 4- I am excited to see Bruce back again. He is not making eye contact with me this morning. We ended free play and started a group game with the kids.
Bruce was with a few boys that had not come before. We quickly realized that the boys were not interested in following the rules of the game. We tried redirection . We helped the kids that wanted to play the game. The boys continued to be disruptive. Bruce was going along with the boys. I can’t spell K-ous but I recognize it when I see it. And this was it.
This was our roughest day yet We continued on with our schedule. We had set up a video for the lesson time. Our Pastor talked to the boys, which included Bruce! They settled down and watched the movie with the other kids. Our Pastor then came around to the volunteers reminding us to make a connection with one or more of the kids before lunch.
I spotted Bruce lying under a chair facing the wall.
Oh boy I thought. Shaking my head, I started thinking of earlier that morning, prior to coming to the Rec. Center. I had been struggling. I woke up with a headache. I was hot, and a bad mood was rumbling inside me. My thought to was, how do I show God’s love to others when I am in a bad frame of mind? Our sleeping quarters were in the basement of a school building. It was hot, too hot! Large fans were blowing across our hot sweaty bodies. The high was to be 103 degrees and it was well on it’s way to breaking that temperature. I said a prayer as I rolled off my air mattress. “Lord, please help me. Let your words be my words.”
After coffee, and devotions I was determined to trust God. I climbed into the van for the 30 minute ride on the bumpy dirt road that lead us to the Rec. Center.
Day 4- (continued) I took it as a good sign that Bruce had not left the us. I breathed deeply. I walked over to where Bruce laid awkwardly under the folding chair. I sat down on the floor near him. Speaking to his back. I asked, “Is this the same Bruce I met the other day?” No response. I tried again. “The professional roller bladder.” He glanced at me.
I spoke again and told him, I sure liked the Bruce I had met the other day. He turned and looked at me. I asked him if sometimes he acted differently around other people. Bruce turned away from me.
“I think you do act different.” I said. I paused unsure of what I would say next. “I know you are a good kid. “I said . Bruce turned facing me then .
“Jesus knows the real Bruce. Jesus knows what’s in here”. I touched his chest. “You know what else I like about Jesus? He gives second chances. I really like that about Jesus.” “Bruce.” I said. “I am going to do that for you.. Jesus loves you.” I paused as Bruce looked at me. “I am giving you another chance.” I said with conviction.
Bruce smiled, that beautiful shy smile. It melted my heart. I thanked him for letting me talk to him today, and I stood up.
Bruce got up too and headed over to get his sack lunch. I watched him walk to the line. I suddenly felt that the words I spoke were not mine. They were the words God gave me to speak.
Next, Bruce was handed his lunch by a volunteer. Bruce without hesitation, said
thank you. My heart swelled. God indeed answered my prayer. I was bursting with joy!
My prayer now is that those of you that read this true story, will know of the second chance you have in Christ. Amen