“Big Fish” After School Program Update

by Cheryl on October 23, 2007

This was how we began early September:

I’ve been extremely busy lately preparing for our first week of the Big Fish After School Program next week, planning for our 2nd Big Fish Club, a missions fair at Regents on Friday night, and our first Cross Trainers on Saturday among other things. It’s easy for me to worry about the details coming together. God keeps reminding me to give it back to Him – His program, His children, His kingdom and purposes and ways.

He reminded me yesterday through 2 Chronicles and King Jehoshaphat – The king stood before the community and said, “We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” Through Jahaziel, God replied: “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s….Take your positions, then stand still and watch the Lords’ Victory.” He asks us to obey and show up, trusting the battle to Him.

Yesterday, a woman named Rebecca donated 12 boxes FULL of children’s Bible story books, games, flash cards, magnets, puzzles, books on tape, teaching materials, coloring books, activity pads, and MORE! I filled an entire bookshelf and still had books in boxes!! All Biblical literature, appropriate for the children who will come to the After School Program. She had only heard a vague rumor of our ministry and was cleaning out her old storage unit.

I cried.

God had supplied above and beyond more than I could ask for or imagine!! Monday will be our first day after school with the children, and I can not WAIT to show the children the treasures they will be able to “buy” with their behavior incentive monies. God is sending His word into the homes of children in East Austin. We will spend Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays using those puzzles, flash cards, and games – building relationships that reflect the character and love of Jesus Christ.

Be encouraged! The God we serve is a good and thoughtful and loving Father.

The following weeks were challenging. (In a word) : ) With every new environment and group dynamics comes a period of transition; we had our initial behavior issues, curriculum kinks, mentor switches, and slight schedule changes. We still have not found a volunteer van driver, but the time I’ve spent driving with the children has turned out to be a gift from God in disguise. Although I am still missing critical time to debrief with our volunteers, I’ve been getting to know the childrens’ families and their neighborhoods, and am able to set the tone for the day with some Wee Sing songs on the way to NYACC from their school.

All that to say that we are settling into spending time together. The last two weeks have been so much fun! As we follow in the rhythm of routine, we are now free to share and bond in a safe environment. What has struck me the most is how much the kids enjoy time to just be children. When given a choice to play a complicated board game, or sit on the floor with wooden blocks and trains – these 7 – 11 year old boys and girls children choose the blocks and trains. When Wee Sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It…” song comes next, the children shout, “Ooh! Ooh! Turn it up!” and “Can we sing that one again?” The freedom to be childlike and innocent is something that they relish. I giggle with them and hug them and praise God for his goodness.

We’re even talking about putting on a Christmas pageant to tell the story of Jesus’ birthday! : )

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