It was a particularly busy afternoon at the center, there were over 20 students and everyone was rushing in line for a snack. I noticed him run in from the corner of my eye and I knew he must have had a difficult day. Summer vacation is a great time for students to take a break from the daily grind of school work and for some it even means more visits to the park and pool! Unfortunately, for some it means being stuck in an environment that’s stressful.
Being 8 years old and having the signs of stress drain your face is tragic. An 8 year old shouldn’t be stressed, if anything he should be stressing out his parents! But when you’re expected to be the parent to 4 younger brothers and sisters the line between childhood and adulthood seem to become intertwined.
I can always tell when this young man has a hard day, he usually acts out in order to get my attention, he won’t smile, and refuses to work with anyone else but me (i’m starting to believe he feels safe with me). By the end of the day he was in better spirits and I felt peace knowing that he would be taking a little bit of that joy home with him. As we started to clean up and say goodbye to the students he came up and hugged me but not a bear hug type of embrace more like a ‘I don’t want any of my friends to see me hugging you’ deal. He slowly started making his way out the door and I walked him out and right before he left he came back quickly hugged me again and without another word was out the door.
Everytime I unlock the door to apartment 28 I can still feel the energy from the day before. It doesn’t feel right without the sound of jenga pieces collapsing and the hoots and hollers of the students. The silence is a reminder to me of what this place symbolizes. It’s the church, an after school program, a ministry, a place where marshmallow fights ensue and science experiments are held. It’s “una programa de la iglesia” as some moms call it and the place where moms can confidently drop off their children knowing it’s a safe and loving environment.
It’s the place where stressed 8 year olds come to give their teacher a hug before their friends can see them and the place where teachers and volunteers get to experience the love of Jesus in a whole new way.
LV Center Director