I did not want them to leave. I don’t even know how long i’ve been waiting for this weekend, and like that *snaps* it’s over. Outback will be sponsoring lunches for the kids and they each have host homes. I am so sad the I couldn’t keep anyone with me, but my little apartment is just too small. My heart feels so grateful to be such a close part of Free Life Chapel.
I met with the team this afternoon before everyone arrived at the park to set-up and get things organized for Italian Ice deliveries, etc.. My heart is so over-joyed this morning at the opportunity to share this weekend with Danita and her kids.
Funny side-note: We’re all so excited for the kids and when we entered the park there were a couple of children who looked a little “wander-y” so Marisol approached them and asked, “Are you with His Little Feet? It’s ok guys, you can go over there and play…” and the little boy looked at her – just like an American little boy would do – and replied, “I DON’T HAVE LITTLE FEET!” and ran away to play, away from the crazy lady.
On that note, the two of us began our trek to Bartow to get the icees, a variety of Peach, Mango and Watermelon, which we didn’t think through very well because all of these kids are islanders and they all looked at us l like we were crazy when we said the flavor peach. Everyone wanted mango (obviously) and they were just confused by the others. It’s so fun to work with Marisol, almost always the highlight of the particular day. Marisol is so humble and spicy. I can relate to the combination of the two and I love to watch her take on ministry and how to handle it. We stuck the styro foam cooler of icees behind my seat, which we then had to push all the way forward and laughed the whole way back at how awkward I looked driving all smooshed toward the front.
The host families are all excited and I cannot wait to hang out with all the kids. Initially, they were so shy until I mentioned to Jefferson that I know Mami Brittney, and like a chain reaction eyes lit up and such a drastically confused expression came across their faces – priceless! “YOU know Mami Bootney?” I had to make believers out of them so I flipped open the handy dandy iPad and showed them a photo of her and I and they were all so excited to see her face. They are all set that we are sisters because “same eye. same hair. yep, sisters.” You can tell that they miss her very much. I took them to Facebook and we wrote on her wall, which was the highlight of Jeff’s day. I quickly learned that those quiet and shy little kids are definitely kids none the less!!
Knowing Mami Bootney was apparently the ticket to break the ice because I got major cool points, and after that they were all so sweet and so excited. I was glad that they felt like they were amongst family this weekend. Jefferson and Moise stayed with Chase and Shannon and intense games of pool and Rory-fetch-games were played all night long, plus Jefferson taught me how to “blow it up, bring it back and slide” (it’s a handshake – I could teach you, but then I’d have to kill you). Later that night, the boys went to play laser tag – the next day I asked them about it and, they didn’t remember Chase’s name, what it was called, or who won, but they did know that it was so fun and had big guns to play with!
Sunday 7AM: I am in what will be the dressing room for His Litle Feet, waiting on the kids to arrive. I had an interesting conversation with Chrysta (HLF director) about missions and expectations and God’s word. I was such confirmation and comfort when my heart has been in such a place of transition.
Johnson is the first to arrive and he is the youngest of the group, and the sweetest 7-year-old. He keeps telling me a phrase in Creole and for the longest time I had no clue what he was saying. Then finally his room mate tells me, “He keeps saying you’re pretty.” My heart melted then and there and little Johnson was looking so shocked that his friend ratted him out. I knew that little Johnson and I would get along great today.
It’s amazing to me as the kids get dressed and prepared for worship, how the older girls mother the younger kids. Loudridge and Francia help everyone get dressed, hair fixed, cream on their legs, etc. They’re such sweet girls, purposely unattached, but it is apparent that there is so much in their spirits to offer. All the kids filed in for sound check and as soon as the worship team began their sound check all eyes were locked to the stage. They love singing and worshiping. Little Johnson came to stand next to me and laced our fingers together and looked up with a big toothy grin on his face as he watched, mesmerized by John and the team worship.
Their performance was so great! Everyone was so blessed by these kids and the fact that they were Danita’s was the icing. While they performed they were still such kids. I love how kids are kids universally. Some had attitudes, other were bouncing even when they were still, the little guys were nervous and the older girls were so confident and a sense of security for the younger kids. You could see them all as they performed, occasionally glance over to see if Mami Danita was watching them. I so admire what Danita has given these kids and how they look at her just like a mom that they don’t have. She is so fulfilling scripture and I hope to do the same soon as well.
Being the intern, it was my job to secure lunch. So I wasn’t able to stay for service, but no way I left before they performed. Got there in just enough time to get to Outback and pack up 23 lunches – chicken fingers and sandwiches – and get back before they all got grumpy.
I returned right as they were all getting restless from taking photos in the lobby and returning to their room to change aka to play for a bit. The girls stripped off all my jewelry and played with my car keys and took pictures with my phone. Everyone started goodbyes and my heart was immediately heavy, but excited because I knew that I would get to see them again soon. Little Johnson came over and I leaned down and he said with the biggest, most shy grin, “I love you”. I talked with the older girls and said goodbye to Jeff, who was still trying to unlock my car with the sensor thing through the walls, and walked out with them to deliver lunch on the bus.
Bitter-sweet, but one of the greatest weekends since we became Free Life Chapel on January 1.
*photos were lost in a “texting malfunction” so the photos here are courtesy of Karris Hudson’s Facebook page. 🙂