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There have been so many different exciting things that have been happening since first day of after school programs, but I will highlight some of the key ones:
1) Most of our returning kids from last year have come back along with some of the newer kids from summer day camps! I'm thankful that we're maintaining our relationships with many of the kids.
2) Felicia came back from her mat leave in October (HURRAH) and she has been oozing with creativity especially through cooking/baking and reward points/displinary actions. I'm very much the traditional type; I like routine and following structure, which I didn't know about myself until recently. Felicia is much more spontaneous than I am and loves trying new things, which is what the kids needed as well. They LOVE participating in baking activities and being spoiled by what she cooks for them! But even though she has a big soft heart, she has a tough heart too.
3) We also have a new reward point system and it involves a big pary jar and lots of marbles. Good behavior leads to more marbles and bad behavior takes away marbles. By the end of the month, they have to fill it up to earn a party. It's amazing how much mercy she shows them, but firm discipline as well. I've really learned a lot and realized that I'm TOO soft. I've been learning that yes, mercy shows love, but discipline shows love too.
A friend of mine messaged me and it was really encouraging, "'For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives' (Hebrews 12:6). If you're without discipline, then you're not even in the family, because all God's kids are getting it. God's love is not a pampering love; it's a perfecting love. God's not saying, 'Here, Susie. Have another cupcake. Take the one with the extra icing on it.' He isn't interested in putting a smile on your face before bedtime. He's interested in making you an awesome light in this dark world over the next decade. Discipline is proof of His love. Using His example, I BELIEVE that when you discipline children for their GOOD, it's something MEANINGFUL and beneficial to them. Yes, it hurts, but it's right. And so I just wanted to say you're doing great as you're doing right now.'"
This week, I was reminded of what my friend told me. The key to disciplning is to let them know that despite their good or bad behavior, they are still loved just the same. It doesn't change how we care for them, but they must change their misbehaviors. It wasn't easy seeing one girl almost cry because she had to miss out on a baking activity today. Thankfully, she knows that we love her, but I hope she learned something and behaves better next time. I'm learning too.
4) Some of our graduated girls and boys (currently Grade 7) are now helping out as youth volunteers! And they even brought their friends so now we have a handful of young volunteers who are stepping up to be great examples for the younger ones. Today, we had a fellowship night with them for the first time filled with pizza, rice krispies and card games like Uno and Spoons. It was so intense, but so fun. One youth mentioned earlier that his birthday was tomorrow and near the end of games, he excitedly mentioned that this night was a gift for his birthday. It was so heart-warming. Next time, we are going to talk more deeply about their faith journeys and get to know them more!
5) Bible time has been really cool. We've covered the themes from The Creation, Noah's Ark, and God's promise to Abram and Sarah. It's exciting to see them ask questions, raise their hands for answers, memorizing verses, and applying what they learned in arts & crafts or other activities.
So please continue to pray for us whenever you think of us! Hope you also enjoy the pictures!