Friday morning was our last morning with our kids at Graffiti 2! The last day is always bittersweet – we are tired and ready for our own beds, but we have grown to love the kids we are with all week and hate to leave them.
In Summer Tots, we talked about Jonah and the whale – Abbi & Heather made a great whale for the kids to have their picture taken in! The kids enjoyed making a cool whale craft (although one of them told me that Jonah was a dinosaur), and playing in the park. We taught them one of our favorite songs from Children’s Worship –O Happy Day – and sang the 10 Commandment Boogie one more time. Then we took them back outside for water balloon games! It was a good morning with those precious kids and there were lots of hugs when they left.
Baseball camp went well over at St Mary’s Park. I saw the leaders leave with a big bucket of water balloons, so I think there was a lot of fun going on other than just baseball games! I know there were lots of hugs and sweet goodbyes with the baseball camp kids also.
During lunch we had the opportunity to talk with Andrew about our experiences at Graffiti 2 throughout the week. Everyone on the team talked about being affected in some way by the kids and by the staff at Graffiti 2. It is hard not to be. The love that the staff has for the community is evident in all that they do. They are true servants. They live in the community and have become a recognizable part of the community.
After lunch there was a lot of cleaning and packing and then it was suddenly time to load the bus and head back to Franklin TN. Once we got out of NYC and into New Jersey, John became the most loved person ever when he announced that we were stopping at Chick-Fil-A for dinner. There was a loud cheer from almost all of the students on the bus…one may have even shed a few tears of joy (we won’t name names). We got back to ClearView at 10 am Saturday, tired, but definitely changed from our week away.
One of the coolest things about going on a trip like this is that you always go with the intention to bless the people you are going to work with, but come away being blessed yourself by them. There is no way to spend a week in a place like Mott Haven/South Bronx and not be touched by the people you encounter and the stories they share. Even the little ones who can’t share their story yet have a powerful way of getting deep into your heart. I challenge everyone to spend a week at Graffiti 2 and not walk away a little bit changed.
After a great Wednesday night in Little Italy, Thursday started out a little sleepy for everyone!
In Summer Tots, we spent some time enjoying the amazing weather at the neighborhood park before we went back to Graffiti 2 for our bible study. Our kids acted out the story of David & Goliath and we made paper slingshots. Our little tots have been so much fun this week we are all sad that we only have one more day with them!
Baseball Camp had another fun day. They are still working on skills and the older teams has a chance to scrimmage each other. From what i understand, they had some really good games! The kids are all excited for the tomorrow!
We had our last afternoon of BKC in the park, and it was a fun one. We had several extra kids come today because they had heard how much fun we were having.
On Thursday evenings Graffiti 2 holds TNT (Thursday Nights Together). Our team, along with 50+ others from the community came together to share an awesome meal & then a bible study on Zaccaeus presented by our own John Gardner.
Out kitchen ladies completely out did themselves today. Not only did they provide us with a great lunch, they cooked the entire dinner meal for everyone. They made brisket, salads & an amazing rice dish that some of the ladies from the neighborhood taught them. This group of ladies has been a huge blessing all week.
One of the coolest things this week is seeing the kids/students from Clearview stepping up as leaders. From elementary to college age, our students are working hard and very much ministering to the kids in the community. ClearView is doing a great job training up leaders.
It's a been a great week & we will be as to see it end tomorrow!
Today was another great day in the South Bronx! We had some sprinkles in the morning, but the day ended beautifully!
In Summer Tots we had fun learning about friends and how to be a good friend. We played outside with the parachute and had popcorn and a movie later in the morning. Our group really loves doing crafts and DANCING!
The Baseball Camp brought some new kids today and we went up to 70! They worked on batting today and everyone had a great morning & worked hard! David Winton mentioned to me that if his 1st graders got the glove on the correct hand, they were having a great day!
Our lunches this week have been so great! Our Kitchen Angel team is awesome! They all work so hard making lunch for all of us, church staff AND volunteers. We really appreciate them so much!
This afternoon we were able to keep BKC outside. We had about 30 kids still and everyone had fun! During preschool bible story under the tree, we were talking about how after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples in the room and they were all surprised & some confused. When I showed the kids the pictures of the confused disciple, one of our sweet girls asked, "was he confused because Jesus was speaking Spanish?"
Construction is going well at Andrew's apartment. The section of hardwood floor has been fixed and they started laying tile in the kitchen floor! Another team is making repairs at the church to light fixtures, etc.
Tonight about 30 of us are headed to Little Italy for dinner together at Puglia's. The Napkin Dance is a ClearView NYC Missions team tradition!
Today was a great day in NYC! We finally got to meet the kids we would spend the rest of the week with.
Several of us are helping with the Summer Tots program at Graffitti 2. We have 18 4-6 year olds and they are a bundle of energy! Today we talked about the 10 Commandments and when they got their wiggles out they did a great job learning them. They seemed to like the 10 Commandment Boogie, but their favorite song was The B-I-B-L-E!
Our baseball camp brought 60 kids to St. Mary's Park! What a great turn out! The kids were broken up into 5 teams and started working on skills. One of the leaders told me that it was so cool to see 60 kids sitting on a tarp in a park in the South Bronx listening to a bible lesson. Everyone is excited to see what God does on Wednesday.
After lunch it was BKC time! Our family had the afternoon off, but I heard BKC was awesome! We had 30 kids register and ready to go....then the sky opened up and it started pouring! Fortunately the church is close to the park and they were able to get everyone inside. The leaders did a great job doing BKC inside and just combined both groups for rec and snack. Thankful we have such a flexible team!
We are all tired but having a great time with the kids here in the Bronx!
After a long bus ride and a day and a half of exploring, Monday was a day to get down to business! We met at The Congregation Yeshuwa, which is the temple Graffiti 2 uses for church ministry/services. We spent the morning with Andrew Mann learning about the concept of Upside Down Ministry. We focus on Ministry then Faith and then Church naturally follows. We talked a lot about generational poverty, and the area we are in. Mott Haven is listed as one of the worst places to raise kids in New York.
We had a chance to break into groups and prayer walk the community, so we all took off in different directions. It was interesting to see so many people, especially kids, outside. As we walked and prayed, we took in what the assets of the community are and how we could see the effects of the church. We happened upon a sweet little girl who knew right away we were here with Graffiti! We had fun talking to her and continued on our way.
After our walk we finished up our orientation with Andrew and had a great lunch provided by our ClearView Kitchen Angels!
The afternoon was spent in teams with the baseball camp leaders, summer tots and BKC. We finished out the day making decorations, preparing crafts, loading equipment and learning songs.
Our construction crew is hard at work at Andrew's apartment! They pulled up 3 layers of tile and found hardwood in the hall & a layer or tar in the kitchen. They will redo the floors and put tile in the kitchen along with a new backsplash & countertop! They have their work cut out for them!
Tuesday morning our kids come for camps! We are all tired already, but excited to get to work with the kids. We will be playing baseball and rocking out to the "10 Commandment Boogie"!