This summer, college and graduate students served in 18 locations around the world through CBF’s Student.Go program. This fall, Student.Go-ers will be at work in 8 locations. This is the third in a series of blogs from these students. Brett Greenfield served this summer leading a day camping program for urban children with National Baptist Memorial Church in Washington, DC. He wrote this reflection on July 28, 2013.
One week left. The last five weeks have flown by, even with days that seemed as though they would never end. When people ask me how my summer is going I always respond with, “It’s good!” and it is…but it isn’t the whole story. The truth is the whole story is one that is hard to tell. It is long, it is confusing, and it is full of highs and lows. In processing all that has happened I have realized that I have to process moments. Not weeks, days, or even hours because too many things happen in those spans of time. It is the moments that tell the story. Moments of joy and moments of sadness. Moments of triumph and moments of defeat. And the all important moments of hope.
Children are crazy, and it’s that craziness that sometimes produces the purest joy. Joy that comes from splashing in the pool, winning a game of Connect Four, or just putting an empty box on your head. It is this joy that keeps me going on the worst days. Even when I feel at my wits end, I can’t help but feel joy when these crazy kids run up to me laughing so hard I can’t understand a word they are saying. But joy is often lost in the sadness of children with no support at home, children who get left out, and children that have never been told they are loved. These are our kids. And to be honest sometimes the moments where sadness is at its worst are the moments when I don’t show children the love they deserve, or allow my tiredness to affect my patience, or let my desire for control overpower my desire for something greater.
Triumph is relative. And you may not think that a 5-year-old using the bathroom by himself without making a mess is that big of deal, but for me it was HUGE. The same goes for shoes getting tied, discipline tickets being kept all day, and kids remembering that Saul’s name changed to Paul. These moments may seem trivial in light of 6 weeks of camp, but in these moments I find triumph. However, where there is triumph there is also defeat. When a kid has an emotional meltdown and the only thing you can do is hold him while he screams and kicks you in the shins, it is hard not to feel defeated. Defeat is difficult to overcome and it hurts to the core. But I must remember these are only moments of defeat, and defeat in a moment is not the end.
There are so many moments throughout each day. But the moments I live for and yearn for are the moments that give me hope. Walking down the street holding the hand of a kid from Ethiopia in one hand and a kid from Eritrea in the other and realizing that an international conflict has no bearing on their friendship gives me hope. Telling kids Bible stories they’ve never heard and having them be genuinely interested and excited about what they are hearing gives me hope. And when kids get tired and fall asleep and I remember that even on their worst days they are still just kids with an entire life ahead of them. Those moments give me hope.
As this week begins and camp ultimately ends. I’m looking for the moments. And it is my goal to soak in every moment. These moments can last a lifetime. And for better or worse these kids will stay with me forever.