Despite the aching leg muscles…despite the moments of sheer panic…despite the frustration levels that were occasionally through the roof…in the end, VBS was a week I will never forget. I went thinking I was going to bless some kids. I left knowing that they blessed me far more than I could ever bless them.
I worked in the Special Needs room, where we had children with Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Asperger’s and others who don’t really fit into any box. We had 4 kids, plus 1 “floater” who would come visit me from time to time (my Matthew). In a VBS where we averaged 1200 on campus per day, four kids doesn’t seem that significant.
And maybe that’s why I loved working with them so much. Somehow, I think God places a great deal of significance on these children who may never really understand the evils of this world. In some cases, they will retain a childlike innocence despite their bodies growing into adulthood. And as I have pondered why they blessed me so richly this week, I think this is the real reason: all of our kids were willing to trust us completely and love us unconditionally, even before we proved ourselves to them. These are kids who hug you every time you walk in the room – even if you just stepped outside to go to the restroom! They don’t understand personal space, which is just fine with me, but they certainly understand praise.
I think praise must be the universal language, because I won them all over with it. All it took was a sincere “Wow, I can’t believe you knew the answer!” or “Look how well you’ve stayed in the lines with your coloring!” and they become completely devoted to me.
In ways I can’t really put into words, these kids were a daily reminder of God’s unconditional love for me. I think it’s because I can’t really get past the fact that I’m the LAST person who should be getting the blessing of working with them. In my arrogance, I prayed for each of my children to be “whole” (mentally) and “healthy” (physically) long before they were even conceived. I didn’t think I would be able to handle having a Special Needs child, and I suppose in my immaturity, that’s true. But in praying for my children to be “typical” children, I missed such a huge blessing. (Yes, Matthew is considered Special Needs due to his Aspergers, but he is high-functioning, whereas these kids could not have been put into the mainstream classrooms). Having a child who is 11 years old but gets truly ecstatic over finishing a 9 piece puzzle…moved me. And the girl – to have her face brighten like the sun had just come out from behind the clouds because I complemented her – almost made me cry. Moments like that will live inside of me forever.
I want so badly to put what this week meant to me into words but I can’t. There just aren’t words to describe it all – at least, not yet. So for now, here are a few more pictures and that will just have to be enough. 🙂
As I sit at home this morning, sipping my coffee and petting my dog, the song going through my mind was one that Wayne Kerr sang with us at VBS: “So good, so good, so good, I just want to tell You, so good, so good to me.”
He is so good to me.