Wednesday, May 1, 2013


For the past few weeks I've been volunteering with friends at a local public elementary school.  My friend Holly Tumpkin has developed a fun and delightful after school program for 5th and 6th grade girls.  She's found a lot of support from teachers and educators in the area, and a loyal group of volunteers!

I am SO fortunate that she invited me to tag along.  (I'm one of two grandma's in the small group of helpers.)

You might think that when one volunteers it's because there is work to be done and hands and a warm body are needed to accomplish something.  Well, maybe!

But this two hour afternoon, once a week, program has given me an education that I otherwise might not have acquired.

The group consists of fun, silly, sweet, serious, shy, boisterous, and on the surface TYPICAL young girls.  They are various sizes, races, and backgrounds.  They giggle ALOT!

 They all live in a part of town that is far removed from my sterile, every body's grass is 2 inches high, beautiful houses, lakes with geese, golfing community.

The program begins with activities to force all the girls to become friends. It's a sight to behold when cliques give way to all-inclusive smiles.  There is talk of good friendships vs. bad friendships, emotions, and the differences between the way boys handle things vs. the drama of girls. Family relationships, personality types, good characteristics of people, and bad characteristics of future boyfriends are all subjects discussed. Most of our time is spent on issues that used to be covered by moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles.  They love coming to "Girls 101"

Nothing is banned and questions help the girls share what's on their minds.

They don't hesitate in that department!!

As much as I try to be the one helping them discover themselves and new ideas, I and the other volunteers are the one whose eyes have been opened. I'm going to be sad when it ends.

I have learned that not all moms love their children, care for them and protect them.  I have learned that sweet little girls know and see things that they should not even be aware of at their young age.  I have learned that they are making decisions now that will affect the rest of their life and they don't even know it.  I have learned that violence, mental illness and family dysfunction are elements of every day life for many children in my own town.

I have learned that rudeness is actually a cry for "help me."  I have learned that dreaming of a better future is almost impossible for those who have never seen anything good or what I would call normal. I have learned that an 8th grade boy can father two children and take them to football practice.

I have learned that even in terrible situations, sweet little hearts somehow cope!

I have learned that there are GOOD teachers and staff that give their lives to make a difference.

I have learned that money is NOT the solution for these little girls or their schools. Oh, sure, it would be nice to have some new THINGS, but these children need strong healthy families, mature and law-abiding daddies, and moms that understand their role as giver of unconditional love.

Drugs, guns, and gangs have replaced sanity and the God-given purpose of parents.

Lip service by politicians is useless.  I'm not sure churches know how or want to get involved. The DHS system is grossly overloaded.   The problems are pretty overwhelming.  Where oh, where are the good role models?  They are mising from the TV, movies, and video games.

I don't know what the future holds for these 19 little girls. If statistics are correct and projections valid, it won't be bright for most of them.   A few will prevail in SPITE OF THE ODDS. Hopefully they'll all be ALIVE to see their 18th birthday.

 I DO know they've won my heart.

I think it would help if we could tell them that God came to this earth in the form of a man called Jesus who loves them and has a plan for their lives, that HE can be their comfort, guide, and joy.  It would be helpful to be able to share with them that HIS way can bring peace to their hearts when there is none in their home.  It would be nice for them to know that there is a great community of believers that love them and want to help. It would be helpful to give them HOPE.

But, those days are gone.  It's illegal to give hope through speaking the gospel of Jesus Christ in public arenas these days.

Perhaps they'll SEE HIM in the eyes and behavior of Holly and her gang of volunteers. It would be a miracle, but HEY! That's the kind of business HE'S in!  Maybe that's been HIS plan all along!

Taking the body of Christ to school!  It's a FABULOUS, GOD-ORDAINED PLAN!

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